E7 - Silvia Saldana at Telia Company

Maddy Norris
Silvia Saldana

By Maddy Norris & Silvia Saldana

In this episode, our host Maddy Norris welcomed Silvia Saldana, the Transport Network Manager at Telia Company onto our Women in Tech spin-off series. Silvia talks to us about her unique perspectives, including minorities and diversity. She brings a positive light to the podcast, and it was great to understand her views on women in technology, stay tuned!

From a young age back in school, she knew she liked numbers and Maths so every course she did pointed in that direction. She was convinced that she wanted to be a Maths teacher. When it came to deciding what she had to do when leaving school, she went to the maths department at the University of Barcelona to see what that career path would look like. She realised it wasn’t for her, as there wasn’t much career opportunity and it would mean she could only be a Maths Teacher. She had a brainstorm of where she could see numbers and play with technology and that’s when she decided to become an Engineer.

She took her degree in Telecommunications because she thought the internet was growing a lot at that time (she was right). She wanted to become a professor but knew she would have to publish articles/papers, but her English level wasn’t great. She relocated to Denmark to improve her language skills but still was able to study Telecommunications at the same time. Silvia is very much driven by happiness and the professor’s path was no longer something she wanted to do so it was only right for her to investigate what working in the industry looked like.

Whilst taking her bachelor’s degree, her professor corrected himself from ladies and gentlemen to ‘lady and gentlemen. There were 299 men, and she was the only female in the room. Not only was she the only woman but she was in a brand-new country so was a minority of different verticals. She could’ve taken this negatively but with her positive outlook, she decided to think of it like this… With the 299 men, they would all have to shine extraordinarily to be recognised but for her, she didn’t have to try to be noticed and she used that to her advantage by knowing she had already been seen. she just had to make sure that whatever she did say, she made sure it made sense, so she wasn’t seen as the person who didn’t know what she was talking about.

From university, she started as a Network Planner then became an Architect and then went on maternity leave in 2018. One week after she gave birth, her old manager called her to ask if she wanted a job as a manager for her former team. This was the start of her journey into management and leadership.

Silvia’s leadership approach is based on empathy and understanding of her team. She says if you are looking to take on leadership roles, you need to listen to what people say and be prepared to handle conflicts. As a leader, you need to be able to have conversations with lots of different people and get some difficult discussions out of the way. You need to have conversations that you are not always comfortable having. Silvia’s tips for finding success as a new leader are to listen more and encourage your team to feel that they can speak up about what is bothering them.

Diversity in the workplace…

As a leader, she encourages diversity from all angles in her team of different backgrounds/ages etc. Although there still aren’t as many females as she would like on her team.

As a woman in a male-dominated industry that’s really worked her way up into a leadership role, Silvia shares some amazing advice to any minority who may feel like they are holding back because of that reason. Make sure you tune in now to hear it!