Young ICT Lady: an exciting adventure
In February, Bélise Songa, team manager Digital Customer Services at Colruyt Group IT, was elected Young ICT Lady of the Year by the readers of the magazine DataNews. How did she experience the past eight months?
How are you doing, Bélise?
"Great! As a Young ICT Lady, I was especially able to attend many events in the past months. Last week there was IT Connect where I got to appear on stage for a moment, next week an event with DataNews... All fun and exciting! (laughs) I did not really know what to expect from this year, and it is not that I had a particular objective in mind either. Apart from creating awareness with people: making it clear that ICT is a very exciting sector where women and young people definitively also have their place. A sector in which many, very different profiles can start working, in lots of positions: as a solution analyst, project manager, IT architect, software developer, programme manager, etc.
I have met a lot of new people in the past seven months. Through IT events but also through LinkedIn, for example: it is incredible how many people - young and old, man and woman - spontaneously contacted me and struck up a conversation. Sometimes, this resulted in unexpected collaborations: a contribution to an American podcast, traineeships within our company... As I now also am a somewhat more familiar face - I regularly see an image of myself passing on social (laughs) - I also cooperate in the recruitment process of new candidates for a job within Colruyt Group IT."
Those are quite concrete results, nonetheless.
“Indeed. And I really want to emphasise that I am not doing this on my own! I am surrounded by a team of great colleagues who make all this possible. Each in their own way, they have made this Young ICT Lady adventure into a great experience. This really is teamwork and there also is an intense interaction with other colleagues within IT. For example, as a Young ICT Lady, I receive a lot of requests for events. If I am not free or if someone else within Colruyt Group IT is better placed to speak about a certain theme, we try to send someone else. In this way, we as a company are also broadening our horizon.
From October, the She Goes ICT ladies will again organise a Young Potential Boostcamp, in cooperation with other companies such as Microsoft and Accenture. Colruyt Group IT is now also a part of that, and that is a nice opportunity for us as a company to be in the spotlight. I am an ambassador, but some colleagues will actively mentor some young women. It is not sure that these will then start working at Colruyt Group IT - the choice is free - but, of course, the chances are good! (laughs)”
What did you like most so far?
"What I have always loved doing and what I was also able to do a couple of times this year: talking about my career with young people. They often have a lot of questions. What will I be doing in the future? How decisive are the choices that I make now? I started as a legal adviser myself, so by means of my career I illustrate that it is especially important to know who you are, what you like to do and what you can contribute. For example, during the weekend I gave a lecture in the Flemish African House Kuumba, I visited the Kunga organisation...
Via Impala Bridge, the NGO I am an ambassador of this year, I also had the chance to participate in an event with young people in Benin. Online though - because I found the current situation there a little too unsafe. But I hope to visit in person one day. All those talks and contacts with young people: they give me energy; I really love doing that! I also gave a lecture at the Heilig-Hart College in Halle, where I went to school myself. Those youngsters knew me from LinkedIn, while they do not have a job yet!"
Finally: what has this year brought to you personally?
"I have especially learned a lot on a personal level. I have met so many new people, heard so many stories about other careers, other ways of approaching. I received a lot of feedback that way, which also makes you learn about yourself and others. In October, I will also start a master-class Digital Transformation at the Antwerp Management School, two days a month. That training course is a part of the Young ICT Lady track, and that, of course, is an added value. But it is especially the strong ties within Colruyt Group itself that I cherish most. All those opportunities and nice collaborations. Although I have not worked here for so long, I feel completely at home here."