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Tech Sperts Leading Change In Tech With Faye Thomas
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Tech-sperts: Leading Change in Tech with Faye Thomas

  • Publish Date: Posted 10 months ago
  • Author:by VANRATH

An inspiring interview with tech leader, expert and award-winner Faye Thomas, Chief Commercial Officer of Vyta

In our Tech-sperts series, we turn the spotlight on Faye Thomas, an accomplished tech leader and Chief Commercial Officer at Vyta. Faye is driving innovation in Northern Ireland's tech industry, specialising in Secure IT Asset Recycling and Data Destruction.

Following her recent victories as 'C Level Woman of the Year' and the recipient of the 'Green Impact Award' at the Women in Tech Awards 2023, we delve into Faye's remarkable journey and her vision for the future.

Interested in a career in technology? We have new job roles from entry-level to senior and managerial positions live on our website - VIEW HERE!

Congratulations on Winning at the Women in Tech Awards! How do these awards reflect your journey in the tech industry?

I'm truly delighted! Hearing my name called the first time was a surprise, but the second time left me speechless, which isn't an everyday occurrence! It's a great honour, especially considering the many other deserving candidates. The most crucial aspect of these awards is the opportunity they provide to advance inclusivity for women in tech.

At Vyta, we focus on the circular economy, by reusing redundant IT hardware where possible rather than simply recycling it so it was amazing to be recognised for the positive impact on the environment this has. These awards have provided me with a platform to share experiences and insights to empower more women to pursue leadership roles and make their mark on the tech sector in Northern Ireland.

As Vyta's Chief Commercial Officer, how do you align various responsibilities to achieve long-term goals?

Making sure I have the right team is absolutely key and I'm fortunate to have a solid group supporting me and more importantly each other. When recruiting, I look for different personalities, qualities and traits to build teams; no two people should be two similar. We're not just colleagues, we're friends.

I like to nurture a collaborative environment where different functions work together towards shared objectives through regular cross-functional meetings, open communication and knowledge sharing. This approach ensures teams stay aligned in their efforts and can openly discuss ways to improve performance and meet commercial targets.

Continuous improvement! I know it’s probably a bit of a cliché but in Vyta, the rule is that we don’t say "That's the way it's always been done." We consistently review processes to ensure they're fit for purpose, encouraging teams to identify areas for improvement, streamline processes and find synergies to maximise efficiency and effectiveness.

Supporting people as they grow in their roles is essential. Being accessible to everyone is massively important, despite our fast-paced environment. I do my best to ensure I am approachable to everyone in Vyta.

Can you share insights into the challenges and opportunities in Secure IT Asset Recycling and Data Destruction while ensuring security and sustainability?

Secure IT asset recycling and data destruction is critical to the tech industry as it involves safeguarding sensitive information while ensuring environmental sustainability. When we rebranded in 2021 from AMI to Vyta, we wanted to encompass just that. One of the messages from the rebrand really stuck out to me – ‘With Vyta, you never have to compromise – to us, security and sustainability go hand in hand.’ This is the epitome of what we are about.

With the drastically increasing volume and complexity of date, it is crucial to have robust processes and technologies to guarantee complete data erasure and prevent potential data breaches. We maintain incredibly high standards when it comes to security and compliance and work incredibly hard to uphold the best security practices and certifications in the industry.

Our challenge has been to educate organisations that they can have this level of security while keeping their IT equipment in use for as long as possible and out of landfill. In the last number of years, as sustainability has (rightly so) moved up in the corporate agenda this challenge has turned into an opportunity as we can offer businesses complete data security in the most environmentally responsible way. The fast-growing awareness and importance of sustainability present opportunities for implementing eco-friendly practices. By promoting responsible reuse, minimising landfill waste, and implementing energy-efficient processes, we can differentiate ourselves in the market and appeal to environmentally conscious clients.

How has your background in Key Account Management, Sales, and Process Management shaped your leadership and business strategy at Vyta?

My experience has taught me the importance of building solid client relationships, understanding their needs and developing tailored solutions. This approach is reflected in my leadership style as I always place an emphasis on nurturing long-term client partnerships at Vyta.

I've learned the significance of effective sales strategies, achievable targets and motivating teams through their continual development. Learning how they tick is key!

I hold a deep appreciation for the importance of streamlined, effective processes. Continuously evaluating and optimising workflows and systems drives efficient business growth. My experience in various organisations exposed me to different business strategies and approaches teaching me how to create an environment with the professionalism of a corporate but the agility and pace of an SME.

Can you tell us about some initiatives you've been involved in to promote diversity and inclusion and their impact on the industry's future?

We've partnered with AEL (Access Employment), a Larne-based social enterprise supporting those with disabilities, health conditions and social disadvantages into meaningful employment. We provide their trainees with suitable work tasks. I’ve found this experience overwhelmingly rewarding and look forward to a long standing mutually beneficial partnership

When I joined Vyta over 9 years ago, I was just one of four females. Now, I’m proud to say we have a growing number of wonderful female colleagues. I'm dedicated to helping each of them fulfil their professional goals. I’ve been working closely with Vyta's People Department to develop initiatives and offer flexible working arrangements, particularly for women returners or those with caregiving responsibilities.

Partnering with Timely Careers, a social enterprise supporting women returning to the workplace, tapping into invaluable talent. Vyta has become corporate members of Women in Business NI, offering personal and professional growth benefits to our female employees. Having been an individual member for many years I know how incredibly useful the network is and I’m excited to share this with the women at Vyta.

Can you share an example of a challenging project where Vyta's secure, sustainable IT disposal principles played a crucial role in delivering value to clients?

We often encounter projects that push us beyond our usual operating environment, requiring a blend of security, technology and environmental solutions. For instance, we work extensively with financial institutions. In one project, we worked overnight to replace older equipment, install new ones and even cleaned the workspace. Clients were pleasantly surprised to return to fully functional new equipment.

Security was a top concern for this client and they traditionally preferred equipment destruction to ensure data safety. We demonstrated that our ADISA certified service meets GDPR regulations, certifying data destruction without equipment destruction, promoting sustainability. For end-of-life equipment, we collaborate with downstream providers to ensure comprehensive material recovery, closely tracking the process from start to finish, achieving a recovery rate close to 100%, verified by our R2 Responsible Recycling Certification.

With over 20 years of industry experience, what IT trends do you foresee shaping the future?

The Right to Repair Act will disrupt the industry, enabling consumers and third-party repair businesses to repair electronic devices, reducing electronic waste.

Cloud computing will continue to rise, with AI tech advancing and impacting business operations. IoT will grow, connecting more devices and enabling data collection and analysis.

Cybersecurity will remain crucial with the increasing frequency and sophistication of cyber threats which means the demand for robust security solutions will continue to grow, along with the prioritisation of data security.

How does Vyta balance commercial success with environmental responsibility?

Vyta's ethos centers on sustainability. From the beginning, our service has focused on doing the right thing with retired IT equipment, aiming to keep as much customer equipment in use for as long as possible. Sustainability has also become a priority for our clients, creating a win-win solution. Educating them on managing their IT lifecycle optimally results in more tech reuse, better revenue returns and environmental benefits.

We've achieved PAS2060 carbon neutrality certification for two sites and have ambitious goals for Carbon Neutrality by 2023 and Net Zero by 2050.

What advice do you have for individuals, especially women, aspiring to leadership roles in the tech sector?

Don't let imposter syndrome get in your way. Believe in yourself and your skills and recognise your individual strengths. Seek out mentors and role models – look for successful women in leadership positions and learn from their experiences. Pursue continuous learning and skill development as the tech industry evolves. Be adaptable and embrace change. Take calculated risks - don’t shy away from stepping out of your comfort zone. Never stop advocating for diversity and equality and support initiatives promoting equal opportunities for women in the sector. Remember, everyone’s journey is unique, so stay true to yourself.

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