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Travelling Down an Exciting Road with Vodafone

Fini Irles

Head of Data Core Engineering Delivery Unit

I feel like my career with Vodafone has been something of an endless travelling experience, where instead of a suitcase of belongings, I have a suitcase full of learnings courtesy of my colleagues, managers and mentors.

Life at Vodafone has always meant caring for our legacy while pushing hard towards our future. We do this with a clear vision and a determination to deliver only the best customer experience.

Currently, as Head of Data Core in the Engineering Delivery Unit, I lead a team that works in eleven markets. Being spread across many countries, we are naturally very diverse and as the Vodafone way is, we all embrace that diversity and our inclusive company culture every day.

My Vodafone beginnings

I joined Vodafone in the Networks team in Technology in 2004 and I subsequently held different positions across both Engineering and Operations.

My first role was an Operations Engineer, which gave me a solid and fundamental understanding of our network. My team were true pillars who never let me down, and my manager was a challenger and a very knowledgeable technical specialist who encouraged me to be the best engineer I could be. He constantly pushed me out of my comfort zone, and I learnt how to pursue operational excellence, efficiency, continuous learning and growth.

My next stop was Project Manager, since I have always been interested in people-oriented roles. The position was a cornerstone to improve processes with the corporate business unit to reduce time-to-market of our solutions and improve customer experience. My manager there had a lot of trust in me which gave me confidence. He foresaw what I could do before I could even see it for myself.

Moving into leadership and continuing to grow

I was soon promoted to my first people manager position and I learnt how important it is to treat everyone in your team as unique, support them in their development, trust them to go far, and always be present and stand by them if things take a bad turn.

Ever since, for the last nine years, I have held a succession of managerial roles that have given me a wider view of the company. People management and technology are my passions, so I get to really enjoy what I do here every day.

I particularly enjoy how innate diversity and inclusion are at Vodafone. I collaborate every day with people from so many different nationalities, backgrounds, ways of working and thinking. It requires me to be flexible and very open-minded, and I have come to love that there is no day the same as another!

Challenges are opportunities

Right now, Vodafone is in the midst of transforming into a Techco, which we are doing as ‘One Team’ across the whole business in Europe. That ‘One Team’ mantra is always present. We need to be adaptable and flexible, and we have all learned to join forces when facing challenges.

I am a very optimistic person and I see challenges as opportunities to become more efficient, do things differently or just learn and grow. We have very active ‘lessons learnt’ sharing practices to avoid making the same mistake somewhere else or to make sure everybody is aware of relevant changes in design principles, or workarounds to overcome obstacles, etc. We are very aware that knowledge-sharing is key to our innovation and to satisfy our customers.

Love innovation, technology and making the impossible possible?

There is so much training and learning on offer at Vodafone. All employees are given access to coaching and mentoring, talent development programs and explicit initiatives for new people managers – I have done several myself.

‘GROW’, our leading online-learning platform, lets you define your own training itinerary based on artificial intelligence. You can also make changes to your career path if you want to explore new fields and directions.

Over the years, I have led and actively contributed to several projects that I am very proud of. Some of these are the Ono-Vodafone Engineering integration, the launch of commercial products across Europe (Vodafone Pass, Unlimited Tariffs and SecureNet), several processes optimisation and organisational and network transformations. Recently, I have been enjoying working on virtualisation, cloudification and the journey towards 5G.

Every day means a new adventure at Vodafone. I really love that. If you are passionate about innovation and technology transformation and like finding solutions to the seemingly impossible, this is your place!

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