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ANNA CICOGNANI

Chief Executive Officer, Orbx Simulation Systems.

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Anna Cicognani, CEO Orbx Simulation Systems

High level overview of current remit: Aggressive revenue growth, adjacency expansion, team in AU and UK, M&A, IPO in the next 12 months.

What sort of flexible work practices have you undertaken in your career?

I have always encouraged employees to balance their family commitments with work life, not just women, but men too! Working remotely has been normal for our team as we are scattered a bit everywhere, so people are very result driven rather than being bound to a desk

What are the biggest barriers or challenges you have overcome in advancing your career so far ?

There is definitely more willingness to give a female executive a go, compared to a few years ago. I believe there is still quite a bit of gap in pay between males and females though, in executive roles, and especially CEOs.

2020 could perhaps best be described as a bit of a shitshow. How have you managed to stay on track personally and professionally ?

Staying physically active is vital to find motivation every day to get out of your PJs. As a CEO, there is no time to feel isolated as the team is looking for an example and role model, so you need to be dynamic and provide guidance on a daily basis — even if you are on VC many hours a day and it can get a bit monotonic. That, and finding some space to think at the end of each day, so trying to switch off. Having a separate work space also helps.

You have managed very large teams throughout your career. What drives maximum engagement?

A mission. When clearly articulated, the team (any team) can really achieve the impossible. Respect for each other is also a big must — learning from people around you is very rewarding and it develops trust, as you know your colleagues are experts in their field and you can have an open and/or challenging discussion without feeling threatened.

Your one tip to senior managers on managing a remote team ?

Daily VCs are great — chat rooms (we use Discord) and frequent “pings” to people during the day, less emails and more instant messaging.

56% of women in tech are reported to leave their industries after 10 years. What is driving this in your view and what needs to change to correct this ?

Never heard of this stat before, so I believe you on face value 😉 Assuming that is true, I guess you need to look at higher education programs. I guess a passion for technology comes from an early age too, maybe girls are (still) not encouraged to be tech versed from an early age, though I would have thought access to computers, tech and connectivity would level the ground.

Note: For anyone interested, here’s a link to more on the above stat — Ed

Give your crystal ball a polish for us. Is this really the beginning of the changes the world has desperately needed on so many fronts despite such harsh realities ? Could your share your top 2 or 3 predictions for what the new future may hold.

Less travel for business, better online communication, survival of the the-fittest, both in business and in life.

I live on a farm in rural NSW now, and there is nothing “remote” about it because of technology. I think decentralisation is going to be more and more prominent. This is different from living in the “burbs” — it is a very different lifestyle.

Anna shared her insights with Puffling’s Lija Wilson.

If you’re interested in more on Puffling or being featured in a future interview profile, connect with Lija here.

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