Working in technology is rewarding but tough, and it’s often been said that difficulties are amplified if you’re a woman.
Dana Farrugia is breaking the mould. After a long career in the telecoms industry and the Ministry for the Economy, she has been appointed CEO of Tech.mt, a partnership between the Maltese government and the Chamber of Commerce to promote the national strategy for technology and innovation.
With an emphasis on emerging technology like blockchain, AI, IOT, cloud services and data analytics, Dana probably knows more than most about what the future will look like and she’s now shared some advice.
Here are six things we’ve learned about Dana Farrugia from Lovin Malta’s new video series Meet The Boss.
1. She believes in risk but not in difficult decisions
Perhaps unsurprisingly for someone in the tech world, Dana fully understands the value of risk and indeed her advice to her 16-year-old self would be to take more chances in life.
“I think we were brought up in an era where risk wasn’t part of our culture,” she says. “I would tell myself to be more entrepreneurial, take more risks at such a young age, go for it, do a lot more mistakes and learn from them.”
However, she doesn’t believe there is such a thing as a ‘difficult decision’, arguing that all decisions are mere decisions that must be owned up to and executed.
2. She loves helping struggling businesses get back on their feet
Dana’s line of work puts her in touch with all kinds of businesses, successful entrepreneurs but also those whose ideas and decisions have failed and whose financial projections turned out to be off track.
And the Tech.mt CEO takes particular satisfaction in helping these people get back on track.
“Sometimes you feel like you’re stuck in a rut and you just need someone with an outside perspective, who can be objective about it and give you advice to get back on track.”
3. Her answer to the ‘gender gap’ question is to fight back
A lot has been said worldwide about how the tech industry is male-dominated and rife with sexism against women, but for Dana, the answer is simple – fight back when the going gets tough.
“I like to look at it from a genderless point of view,” she explains. “It’s not the quantity that will make the difference but if you really want to be there, you have to work hard and you will find your place there.”
“If you want to make it in any industry and you find this attitude towards you, you cannot quit and say ‘Listen, I can’t take it anymore’. You have to fight back, you have to be aggressive and dominant in the same way and level yourself to the same attitude, and this is anywhere not just in technology.”
4. Her COVID-19 advice is to stop fretting and start planning
Most businesses have been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and, contrary to some perceptions, these include companies in the tech space.
Dana’s advice to businesses struggling to cope with this new reality is straightforward – first realise that everyone’s facing the same storm, then make plans for the next few months and finally understand that this too will pass.
“In the short term, we know COVID-19 won’t go away, so what can you do in the next few months to optimise your processes and operations to make sure that you stay afloat?”
“You will then have to plan for post-COVID-19, when we decide that it’s here to stay or when we find a solution with a vaccine.”
“Whoever is expecting a solution for tomorrow would only be exhausting themselves to the point of almost breaking down.”
5. Michelle Obama is her biggest inspiration
Dana cites as her inspiration Michelle Obama, the former US first lady who penned the bestselling book ‘Becoming’, due to her inner strength and stability.
“If you look at her journey, you’ll see that she was a major strength in politics, not just her husband, and she kept everything going at a very stable pace. Stability is a trait that not everyone can master.”
6. She used to want to work in construction
Dana rubs shoulders with the business builders of the next generation, but it was an altogether different kind of building that attracted her in her younger days.
“When I was growing up, I always asked my parents for trucks, bowsers and cranes, and I’m not kidding,” she recounts. “I didn’t know what the construction industry was but I was never the doll and pushchair girl.”
This is the third episode of Meet The Boss, a new Lovin Malta series in which we sit down with local CEOs to share their vision and business tips and discuss some crucial topics. More interviews will be uploaded in the coming weeks.