5 mins with Janette Phillips, ITP Woman in Telecoms 2018

Can you tell us about your career history?

I worked at Openreach for eight years, starting as a field General Manager, following with two field director roles before taking on the job of Director of UK South. This was a large role with around 8,000 people in my team.

Priorto Openreach, I worked for BT and at Three where I was lucky to get the opportunity to work out in India for a couple of years.

I have enjoyed a great career so far having had opportunities to travel and experience different cultures. I’ve also been able to take on some roles wherea huge amount of transformation and change has been required. 

I recently left Openreach and am looking forward to my next challenge and continuing to learn as I go.

What is your biggest achievement so far?

There have been lots of achievements across the years and I would say so far, my biggest has been becoming a director and being successful in the roles. I started work straight from school and I have always worked exceptionally hard to get on – so becoming a director was a very proud moment for me. 

It has also felt like a great achievement winning this award – especially as I was nominated for it by my team.

Would you say you have ever faced any challenges as a woman in telecoms, if so, can you tell us more?

I have always taken an approach of being open to learning and always take the time to listen to my team and engineers about what it’s like being in the frontline. This way I have been able to influence and make changes as necessary to ensure we were doing the right things for our customers and our engineers. 

I can’t say I have encountered any issues being in telecoms – it is still a very male dominated environment, but we are seeing women coming through and being very successful in many different roles. I enjoy the environment and the pace at which the industry moves, it’s full on and feels like you are part of creating an exciting future.

Do you think the industry should be doing to encourage more women into telecoms, if so what?

I have always loved the telecoms industry and have spent the majority of my career in it, I followed my dad into BT and I feel like telecoms has been part of my life for a long time. I believe that passion has helped me to do well and achieve what I have. I think it’s important for any individual that they have a passion for what they do – telecoms or not. I do believe women bring a different perspective in the workplace and I think it’s vital that we are challenging and pushing hard to make a difference. 

The balance could still be improved, I think there is a lot more to do on thatfront. I like to think I am seen as a good role model for women wanting to get into telecoms.

How important is mentoring to you?

I believe mentoring is hugely important. I always have someone to bounce things off – that could be informal, a good friend who understands the challenges you face, or it could be more formal, whatever way I find it hugely helpful. 

I have mentored a lot of people throughout my career, especially in the last five years and it’s great to see them achieving great things. 

What advice would you offer women considering a career in telecoms?

I would say go for it! I have had an amazing time, I have learned so much, got excited about the people, enjoyed the journey, and seen huge changes in technology and what it does to our life! There are always lots of opportunities to be part of transforming, creating new ways of working and shaping the future.

What does winning the WIT Award mean to you?

Winning the award means a huge amount to me, I have worked for many years in the industry and it is fantastic to be recognised for that. I really appreciated the nomination and was absolutely delighted to win. My award takes pride of place on my desk and always will! Thank you!


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