Leading from behind by Linda Bovaird, Director IT Architecture

Technology plays an increasingly important role in our society. In this sector (Tech), also known as a man’s world, women are still significantly under-represented; only 16% of Tech is female. So, gender equality is within this world hard to find. Still, there seems to be a cautious increase in the number of women in Tech. And that is positive!

This brings us to the story of Linda Bovaird. Nine months ago, she walked into bol.com and almost immediately found her place. When this interview took place, Linda was still team manager IT, but that didn’t last long?. She has took a step towards Tech Management as Director of IT Architecture. In this blog, Linda tells us more about her career, her vision on bol.com and her leadership.

Thinking in possibilities

Linda has been in the Tech world for some time now and says she has seen several roles within this sector. She was a Developer, Business Analyst, Coach in development processes, and even a Project Manager for a while. Eventually, she ended up in leadership roles in which all her experiences came together. It is here where she discovered her passion:

“I have always been concerned with the question: how can we do things better? Which steps do we need to take, and how do we connect these steps? If someone tells me that something isn’t possible, it lights my fire, and I feel the need to show that it is possible.”

By identifying and addressing problems one by one with the team, you can make huge strides.

Her experience, the successes and also her setbacks have shaped her into who she is. Linda wants to use that experience, pioneering, and thinking in terms of possibilities in her new position at bol.com.

Diversity and ownership

“For me, it’s incredibly important to make a change within a company that I know from top to bottom. When bol.com approached me for an interview, I thought: first I want to get to know this company, get my hands dirty. The autonomy you get at bol.com, the trust within the teams, the attention for the people, and integrity make bol.com an ideal company for me to work for. Those are elements that I support 100%.”

For Linda, the teams always come first. Diversity, including women in tech, is important to her: “as a woman in the Tech Management team, I can highlight certain topics from a different angle. That helps. In the past, I have worked with women a lot. Over those years, I saw that women are outstanding on an operational level. Think about keeping many plates spinning or switch quickly within work activities.

Besides that, it also adds something to the overall picture of diversity. What do we see within our culture? What will the future look like, and what do we want to emphasize? These are all questions that help define our culture and are essential to keep on the agenda.”

Leading with femininity and the power of teams

”I think that I have a different approach as a woman when we talk about leadership. I embrace my femininity. That means that sometimes I can be very gentle, and sometimes – when I need to be – I can be somewhat tough. I’ll be clear about what needs to happen. But if and when I do that, it will be in a constructive way. In general women are more empathic, which colleagues can greatly appreciate.

Also, it’s imperative to put teams in their power. How can we help them to make full use of their potential? Leadership is not about telling everyone what to do, but rather about listening to what does and does not work for the team. It is mainly about coaching so that they can tackle the problem themselves. That’s something I would want to make possible.”

Meanwhile, her new adventure as Director IT Architecture has already started.

”I want to make my mark by being my authentic self, take responsibility, and immediately get to work with everything that comes our way”

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