All Articles

Celebrating women in technology at Rogers

On International Women’s Day, we celebrate women at Rogers who are leading the way and driving our purpose – to connect Canadians – through technology and innovation.  

Shannon Bell, SVP of Information Technology, has built her career across global telecommunications companies and is now responsible for all of the systems that support our customers in interacting and transacting with Rogers across all of our lines of business. Tisha Rattos’s career spans various operations, marketing, and technology roles across the telecommunications sector, and she is currently Vice President of Wireless Product & Device Management, overseeing the product vision, roadmap and operational plans for our wireless business, transformation of modern business support systems and 5G, and more.  

Shannon and Tisha recently attended Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. We caught up with them to ask about trends (both in technology and representation), their professional journeys in technology, and how to make the field more accessible to women and other equity-deserving people building their careers. 

You were recently at Mobile World Congress. Why is it important for Rogers to attend, and what were you watching for this year? 

Shannon Bell – MWC is the industry’s largest event that brings together operators, equipment manufacturers, handset vendors, and software and service vendors from around the world. Technological change is a constant in our industry, and so having the opportunity to come together with other operators and learn from their experiences, and also understand what is happening at a macro level across our industry is important. It is also an opportunity to investigate new technology and innovations, and to validate our strategy and roadmap against what is happening in the industry. 

Tisha Rattos – The theme of Mobile World Congress is Velocity, which captures the high pace of change in the mobile and tech sectors. We learn first-hand from other thought leaders, vendors, partners, and carriers about their experiences, roadmaps, and visions, especially as mobile moves into adjacent industries. This enables us to verify our strategy and how we bring the best products and services to Canadians, now and in the future. Some areas of interest are the evolution of 5G, conceptual stages of 6G, digital everything, Reality+, satellite evolution, and other disruptive mature technologies.  

Rogers sent you — a delegation of two women — to the conference this year.   From what you are seeing at MWC, as a snapshot of global trends, are more women taking on leadership roles in technology? 

TR – This is my first time at MWC and I am proud to represent Rogers as a leader in technology, along side Shannon. While there is more opportunity for the advancement of women in technology at senior executive roles, we are seeing progress. At MWC, 35% of speakers are women and we’re seeing more representation from women in leadership roles.  

SB – I’ve attended MWC more than a dozen times through my career, and it is great to see the number of women attending is steadily increasing year on year. In recent years, the number of women attending MWC has grown to 25% of attendees, so there is still room to go, but its trending in the right direction. I’m encouraged to see a growing number of strong female executive leaders in technology companies, which is very different from what the industry looked like 20+ years ago when I started my career.  

Looking at your own leadership journey in technology, was there a moment where it “clicked” for you?  A decision you made about education, finding the right mentor, or an opportunity that set you up for success? 

SB – Technology was not an easy career choice, especially with the lack of representation in my early days in this field, but it has been the most personally rewarding choice. Women have been historically under-represented, so I felt an early push to take risks and challenge myself. My turning point came when I was working in Europe in the early 2000s, deploying new technology. While it was incredibly difficult, I knew, in that moment, that working hands-on as a leader with the team solving complex technology problems was my passion. And its driven me through my career to seek out the most challenging problems to solve and this is what motivates me as a technology leader. 

TR – Growing up I wasn’t exposed to building a career in technology and am so grateful that I stumbled into it. I started out in operational roles after university, which led to further education opportunities in telecommunications and leadership. Doing your best work in your role and approaching it with curiosity and a desire to learn is key. The pace of telecom change, solving complex problems through technology, and building high performance teams keeps me continuously motivated. I have been fortunate to have several leaders, both female and male, that were not only mentors and role models, but fueled and supported my passions. They enabled me to do my best work, showing and supporting my paths to advancement. One of the best pieces of advice I received was to take the seat you are given – you’ve earned it.  

The theme for International Women’s Day 2023 is #EmbraceEquity. What do you think we need to do as an industry to make work in technology accessible, appealing, and achievable for women and other equity-deserving communities? 

TR – We all have a responsibility to create healthy work environments, put practices in place, and hold accountability that produces diversity of thought, gender, experience, and background. This drives positive business outcomes, enabling a more engaged and equitable culture. Leaders at all levels need to get involved through active listening, participating early at the education level to inspire and show pathways, and support advancement through mentoring and sponsorship. As a woman in technology, with lived experiences, I have to be extra mindful and active on building an inclusive culture, and fostering an environment for all leaders to thrive. 

SB – It is our responsibility as leaders to understand the roadblocks and challenges our teams are facing, and work to remove those to ensure that talent can grow at all levels. Equity, inclusion, and diversity needs to be part of our team culture, to ensure we are creating an environment where people feel comfortable talking openly about the challenges they are facing. Research shows that diverse teams perform better – and in technology it is critical that we have extremely high-performing teams. As an industry, we need to continue to focus on equity and representation at all levels – both in terms of the talent we are bringing in, but also understanding and eliminating barriers that exist to promote individuals. As a female technology leader, I feel responsible for ensuring that I am creating this culture that enables our team members to be successful and eliminating some of the barriers I faced and fought my way through over the years.