The World will Embrace the Pacific

Swashna Deo
ICT Sales Manager – Digicel (Fiji) Ltd



Swashna Deo works as ICT sales manager for Digicel in Fiji. For a few years she was the only women on the team, but she says that changed and more women were recruited, recognizing that women were increasingly being as empowered within organizations.

How would you describe your work?

I manage the ICT sales team for Digicel Fiji. My team reaches out to customers, both existing and potential, to consult and supply business solutions that meet their requirements. The core of my job is to supervise these consultations and negotiations to ensure that they fully meet the needs of both the customers and our business. Managing pricing, processes and protocols of all negotiations is key to ensuring that our business makes a profit. My work also involves negotiating with our international vendors on cross-selling and re-selling.

I understand you did the leadership course through the Business Coalition for Women in Papua New Guinea – which was set up by IFC – how helpful was that in terms of your job?

I think it was very helpful as it empowered and strengthened my inner abilities and brought out the best of my personality, which is the foundation of my role and my capabilities.  The course helped me to create a routine about myself. It empowered me on various protocols of self-presentation; from simple things such as using the correct tone and body language to measuring business risks. The course connected me to my source of power and amplified my inner strengths.

What do you see as the main impediment to women being seen as leaders in the Pacific?

I think in the Pacific people generally have a pre-determined perspective about females. Some think that women are mostly meant to be doing administrative work in offices, while other women are judged and bound through culture and tradition. Therefore, visioning women as leaders is quite diluted in the Pacific. I would say that this is a global issue, but we in the Pacific face it at large. Organizations often make gender diversity a priority during recruitment and training and development drives but nothing happens much afterwards.  This is often due to mismatch between experiences associated with leaders and their capabilities. Women would often rank lower due to the education and cultural cycle.

So how can that be overcome?

I think you have to continuously fight to prove yourself. Women leaders need to step out and empower more women to come out of their comfort zones and do the best of their abilities. Education is key. We need to empower more women to apply for roles and to enroll in education. The context is to brace willpower to lead and hopefully enable more women to feel encouraged and empowered. But over the past few years, there has been a substantial amount of female graduates throughout the Pacific, so  females are conquering.

Given that you are a manager for ICT with Digicel, what do you see as the future for ICT in Fiji?

It’s evolving with the global rise in internet and data demand. Fiji is very close to the data usage demand in comparison with Australia and New Zealand. And we are now a hub for the Pacific for most of the global businesses. We’ve had global requests coming from really large organizations. ICT is evolving in Fiji rapidly, the population is very literate and aware of the global transformation of the information and technology. Infrastructure in Fiji is expanding as more businesses are investing. Fiji has a lot to offer to the world as it is a very prominent destination for business due to location and time zone.

And if think broadly about the Pacific look forward 20 to 25 years what do you see?

The Pacific nations are not far behind from the globe. Every nation is close in its path to achieving sustainability and transformation. With the support from the globe, I believe the Pacific will see more female leaders as more females are getting better education and support. The culture and diversity will also attract enormous investors and the world will embrace and celebrate the Pacific.