ServiceMax shows how gender parity in tech can be done

Madeline Bennett Profile picture for user Madeline Bennett November 23, 2022
Ahead of its acquisition by PTC, Noor Tarin, VP of Talent Enablement & Development, explains how the firm rapidly increased its women VPs

Noor Tarin

When ServiceMax split off from GE Digital in 2018, just 16% of its vice presidents were female. Four years on, the company has achieved gender parity at leadership level, with women accounting for 16 of the 33 VP roles at the business.

This rapid increase in senior women has been achieved by an equal mix of internal promotions and external hiring practices targeted at diversity.

Internally within the organization, there were a number of women who had naturally grown into their new VP roles. At the same time, ServiceMax created opportunities to ensure that individuals were given additional responsibilities beyond their current role, as well as mentorship and coaching to develop their skills for promotion.

When it comes to searching for new talent to bring into ServiceMax, the first step is creating job descriptions and adverts that are gender neutral. This means using terminology and language that ensures the role and profile attract individuals regardless of gender, and don’t favor one gender over the other.

Gender diversity also impacts the selection process carried out by the firm’s talent acquisition team, explains Noor Tarin, VP of Talent Enablement & Development at ServiceMax:

We aim for a 50/50 split of gender representation when a slate of candidates are provided to leaders. We have done manager training as well, ensuring that the types of questions asked and the language spoken are sensitive to ensuring individuals do not feel a particular role may be better suited for a particular gender versus another. We have leaders hiring individuals all over the world. It’s just really making sure nothing gets lost in translation.

The company didn’t set a specific target for gender ahead of reaching 48 percent women VPs, but in the male-dominated tech sector, Tarin says it most definitely overachieved its own expectations. However, achieving the 50/50 gender split in candidates before they get passed onto hiring managers for shortlisting is not always an easy task, especially for certain roles:

We find sometimes in certain engineering or sales roles, it is difficult to find, but at the same time, it's something that is part of our overall ethos as an organization. So our talent acquisition team is always looking at creative ways of ensuring that they are attracting the right talent.

More representation 
When it comes to marketing, HR, administrative and finance positions, Noor says they see more female representation in the industry:

Having said that, considering that we've managed to increase our VP community from 16% to 48%  within a span of a couple of years, shows that things are changing around us and that there is fantastic talent out there. If you hold your leadership accountable and you just do a little bit of a rejig on what you're focusing on, there is a lot of female talent out there. It is more prevalent in some of the back office roles, but we are starting to see a change. Some of our strongest engineers at ServiceMax are females.

At ServiceMax, which employs 600 staff across various global locations, VP Engineering, VP Engineering Services, Senior Director Software Engineering and Director Quality Assurance Engineering are all roles held by women.

Female representation in roles under leadership level is also growing, Tarin says. As well as the diversity-targeted hiring and promotion processes, she attributes the increase to creating role models and teams where individuals can see they have opportunities to grow. Having these senior role models across the globe within the tech industry and beyond is what paves the way for the younger generation to pursue education and career opportunities in spaces they may not necessarily have seen women in previously.

The post-pandemic flexibility to work anywhere has opened up new opportunities to women, who would have been struggling to juggle between their home life and professional life before, Tarin adds.

ServiceMax also ensures there is accountability for diversity initiatives at the highest level. Part of the firm’s quarterly business review meetings requires leaders to show what progress they have made when it comes to fulfilling particular D&I initiatives within the organization. Tarin explains: 

It is a primary focus both for Neil Barua, our CEO, along with his leadership team, owning the diversity initiative that each of them had within their teams, and ensuring that they're crafting and retaining and growing the careers of diverse talent in each of those specific teams.

As many organizations struggle to attract and retain staff in the midst of ongoing tech talent shortages, ServiceMax has been able to demonstrate to potential candidates and existing employees that diversity isn’t just a tick-box activity. Tarin argues: 

The proof is in the pudding. We've truly progressed in that space, it's evident and individuals can see it. We often see during the interview process, individuals may ask that question, but their interviewers are both female and male, individuals of all ethnic backgrounds. It's just part of our DNA.

Tarin cites herself as an example of the opportunities now available to women: born in London, grew up in Pakistan, lived in Brussels, lives in London now with her Jordanian husband, a VP with a global role leading talent development and European HR lead at a tech firm:

By looking at our overall employee base, we truly live by it. When I started my career 20-something years ago to what I see today, I’m feeling extremely optimistic about what all of us have done when it comes to ensuring we are holding people accountable, that we are bringing in processes that bring the diversity.”

My take

ServiceMax has gone through some major adjustments over the past six years. Acquired by GE Digital in 2016; just two years later the company sold a majority stake in ServiceMax to private equity firm Silver Lake; and now four years on, PTC has just announced it’s buying ServiceMax for $1.46 billion. In its latest guise, ServiceMax has clearly made great strides in diversity, something which its new owner can build on even further. For her part, Tarin says: 

We fully expect to continue our commitment to DE&I initiatives. More information will be available once the acquisition is complete. We also want to learn from and collaborate with the DE&I leaders at PTC, whose values align with ours.

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