Interview with Edge Women of the Year Finalist. Giulia Merlo – Senior Manager | Edge Computing & 5G | Business Development | Product | Strategy at Vodafone
In the lead-up to Edge Computing World, we’re taking some time to speak to this year’s finalists for The Edge Women of the Year Award.
Today we’re talking to Giulia Merlo, Senior Manager | Edge Computing & 5G | Business Development | Product | Strategy at Vodafone
- How do you see the edge market developing over the next few years?
Despite Edge Computing technology still being in its infancy, it has already provided tremendous benefits for enterprises, ISVs, and developers across multiple industries. The latency benefits, improvements in jitter and packet loss, the bandwidth efficiencies, combined with the inherent security gains and compliance advantages that Edge Computing brings, are drivers for higher productivity and competitiveness.
We are just at the beginning of the transformation that Edge Computing will generate. And I expect that this technology will continue to drive a new wave of disruptive innovation and to deliver better outcomes where milliseconds matter. Businesses will be able to build and deploy applications not possible before. Imagine the power of AI and machine learning coupled with video analytics to automatically spot medical conditions or instantly detect manufacturing defects and re-aligning a fast-moving production line.
Investments are likely to focus on making edge computing infrastructure and platforms more widely available and interoperable, on enhancing networks, on developing new edge-native applications and on building interconnected ecosystems.
In the future, as more and more businesses move decision making to the edge, information and machines will connect and communicate with each other without us being aware at all. Workers can then spend more time focusing on strategy and less time on maintaining the daily tasks. It is a very exciting technology so I look forward to seeing how it will evolve!
- How does diversity benefit the edge environment?
Fostering diversity and inclusivity should always be a priority. And especially with emerging
technologies like Edge Computing, we should ensure that this environment and the related solutions
are being crafted to actively contribute to promoting diversity, pushing for fair representation and
creating belonging. I strongly believe that Edge Computing has a high potential to bring a positive
societal impact, for example by enabling physically impaired individuals to get jobs they would have
not otherwise qualified for, thanks to the use of real-time Mixed Reality and Digital Twins solutions
at the edge.
Different voices and perspectives will also contribute to creating a diverse Edge Computing
ecosystem, encompassing varied use cases, solutions, offerings and ways of working. Especially
when it comes to designing related systems leveraging Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning,
diversity is essential to ensure that they are programmed in an inclusive, fair and unbiased way,
which helps prevent perpetuating human and societal biases and, in the end, makes them function
- Tell us one lesson you’ve learned that’s unique to being a female leader in the Edge space.
Like other minorities, women are unfortunately still underrepresented in the Edge space. What
working in Edge Computing taught me is that being a female Edge leader is a brilliant opportunity to
make a positive impact. Not only does it allow me to bring a different perspective to the evolution
and potential of Edge, but most importantly it further motivates me to give back to society and to
push for more diversity and inclusivity. I find it very inspiring and humbling to read the pioneering
stories of the women that have fought in the past for these values. And I feel indebted towards
those that have allowed me to be here and that fight every day for meritocracy.
For this reason, I take it upon myself to be the change agent to make the Edge space even more
diverse and inclusive. If we all feel empowered to increase all types of diversity, regardless of the
industry, market, or seniority, I am sure that we will very quickly have fairer representation and many
more brilliant ideas to stir things up!
- What advice would you give to other women entering the edge space?
It’s a very exciting space and one where you can certainly grow and make an impact by shaping the
future. My advice is to be intentional about how you want to contribute to the Edge Computing
space. To do this play to your strengths, remember your values, be open minded and willing to learn,
but stick to your guns when you know you are right on the facts.
Finding people that can champion and mentor you in this space is also really important. Feel free to
reach out to me and to the other wonderful finalists of this programme, as I am sure we will all be
more than happy to share our experiences and provide guidance and support on how to make the
most of it.
- What are some ways in which you have helped to support and lift other women in the space up?
I am passionate about fostering a diverse and inclusive environment where everyone can thrive and
feel they belong. I make it a priority to build highly diverse teams, well balanced from a gender and
ethnicity perspective and with a thriving community of interns, graduates and other young talents. I
am also a STEM career mentor and enjoy guiding teenage girls from disadvantaged backgrounds to
help them achieve their aspirations to work in the tech industry.
As a keen gender diversity advocate, in 2016 I co-founded the Vodafone Women in Business
initiative, with over 2,200 members in 21 countries, created to inspire and attract, empower and
progress female talents at Vodafone globally. To foster a supportive and trusting environment for
members and allies, this also included the launch of a new mentoring programme, of which I am an
active member, as I strongly believe in the significant impact that mentoring, coaching and
sponsorship can have, especially on women’s careers. I was honoured and grateful to be recognised
for this as a “Vodafone Woman in Red” (Top 100 Women Award).
There is still so much that can be done to propel diversity, inclusion and belonging and I am excited
about the idea of continuing to contribute to it in the Edge Computing space!