In celebration of International Women’s Day on 8 March 2019, we will be featuring women making an impact in the digital space. Let’s speak to these women about their successes and learnings in the workplace and life.
Today we are honoured to have Ivonne Bojoh, Chief Technology Officer & Co-founder at GoBear – a leading comparison website for financial products in Asia.
GoBear’s impact on the lives of millions of users has established them as a household name and a force to reckon with in traditional finance and the fintech arena. Ivonne has a pivotal part to play in the company’s growth as part of the pioneering team and even was their Chief Experience Officer for a period of time to embed the importance of human-centric thinking. Come find out more about this fantastic tech femme today.
Hi Ivonne, let’s discuss how underrepresented women are in STEM despite the fact there is an increasing number who enter the field. Why and what made you choose engineering as an education first? What was the challenge like in the classrooms with male students?
I didn’t go to college or university. I picked the tough route and went straight to work after completing high school. By working hard, learning fast and taking on challenges others would shy away from, I developed quickly and ended up being the only woman and the youngest team member in most of the (management) teams. I grew up among brothers and I didn’t notice there would be a difference being a woman. Unfortunately, I came to realize that there is a gender difference I was paid less, I had to work harder and was never part of the (male-dominated) in-crowd.
Do you think it is getting easier for women to get into Tech now?
Yes, because there are more women in tech today compared to 20 years ago. Women aren’t smarter or more capable today. Don’t get me wrong, it simply took time and female predecessors to clear the path and break down barriers for the future generation. Women may have been reluctant to face challenges 10 or 20 years ago but look around now. It is possible to have a career in tech and still be a woman (and a mother!), that inspires me to keep at it.
What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about working in the Tech sector as a woman today?
There are 2 sides to the coin. Managers who are not hiring women because they have the notion that men are better -that’s nonsense. An engineer is either good or they’re not, that has nothing to do with their chromosomes. On the other hand, women may perceive the tech sector to be impenetrable. It is not. It may be tough (at times) but we’re made to overcome challenges and thrive because of it.
What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in the tech industry, who may be put off by the preconception that it is predominately made up of white male privilege?
Keep your head up, work hard, follow your heart, and find a female mentor in the tech industry who understands the challenges you will face.
If you have a spouse and/or children, how have you managed to devote time to both a successful brand and your family?
When you’re home, be at home. Spend quality time with your loved one(s). Whether that’s 10 hours a week or 1 hour a week. It’s all about connecting and nurturing your relationship. And having a great husband who doesn’t get mad when you’re home late again – helps! 😉 And if all fails, just make sure to keep dancing and laughing. It’s the best remedy. For everything.
As a woman of ambition and vision, where do you see yourself in the next five years?
In 5 years I will look back at this very exhilarating time in Asia. Technology ignites opportunities for young and old, women and men, regardless of cultural or religious background to have better lives. I will celebrate my 50th birthday by waking up, meditating, drinking a soy-mochaccino while I look out onto beautiful nature and hearing the birds sing. Right there with me will be my best friend, life partner and coincidentally lawful spouse, Patrick. And then I’ll commute to work – a place where I can make an impact with my skills and experience to care deeply for people, Mother Earth and our future generations.
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That is something to look forward to. Thank you Ivonne, for taking the time to speak to us and our readers. We wish you success and joy fulfilling what you set out to do at work and in your personal endeavours.
Connect with Ivonne here.
Cogs celebrate all the achievements women have made to make their workplace and the world a better place. Happy International Women’s Day and Women’s Month to all the ladies.
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About Ivonne Bojoh
Ivonne Bojoh, as GoBear’s Chief Technology Officer, is 100% focused on user happiness. From product design to engineering, Ivonne believes that by having the users’ best interests at heart, companies can truly make a difference in people’s lives – especially in emerging markets like Asia. While working for US-based broadband internet provider start-up @Home, in 1999, Ivonne learned that metrics are key to understanding how the business is tracking – applying those insights to user experience is how a company can rocket past its competitors. This role kicked off her passion for the challenge of start-ups – she has since worked at four more, mastering the art of how to deliver exceptional customer experience.
Ivonne’s happy place is where she can take a speck of an idea and mould it into something amazing. It’s no surprise then that GoBear became the #1 comparison site in Asia within 2 years of launching (according to Think with Google). Ivonne gets her kicks out of helping up-and-comers thrive – she mentors her teams not to focus on problems, but how those problems affect the user or customer.
Ivonne has previously held roles as Chairperson of the Email Advisory Commission in the Netherlands, Chairperson of the Mobile Association in the Netherlands, and Advisory Board Member the Secret Little Agency in Singapore. She was nominated for Talent Unleashed’s Most Disruptive CIO/CTO award in 2016 and has presented at conferences such as Agile Singapore Conference 2016, Startupbootcamp 2016 and TNW Conference 2018. She is fluent in three languages – English, Dutch and Indonesian. Ivonne will find any excuse to bring chocolate cupcakes to the office.