Rhonda Doyle Talks Energy and Passion

19th September 2022

This week we hear from Rhonda Doyle, Director of Operations, Services and Projects at Schneider Electric.  Earlier this year, Rhonda lifted the WMB Businesswoman of the Year Award. She was attracted to Schneider due to the company’s mission and vision for sustainability, along with its very active role in diversity and inclusion.

Q: You are the Director of Operations, Services and Projects at Schneider Electric Ireland.  For our audience, can you give us a bit of background about this global entity?

Schneider Electric is a leading digital partner for sustainability and efficiency, specialising in the digital transformation of energy management and automation for homes and industry. We work hard to advocate and support our partners and customers through energy saving, electrification, and decarbonisation in the fight against climate change.

As the Director of Operations, Services and Projects, my role is to ensure we provide best-in-class service to our customers. Working with the rest of Schneider Electric’s Irish leadership team, I oversee the delivery of solutions dispensed by field services and engineering project teams, whilst maintaining profitable growth.

Q: Prior to joining Schneider Electric, you were at eBay for 17 years rising to the position of Director, Operations & Program Management, Global Customer Experience.  How did you make the necessary transition across sectors?

I enlisted the support of a professional coach to support me, researched the company and their values, and throughout the interview process I checked if I was a good match. On joining Schneider, I met as many people as I could to quickly make connections, learn, and get up to speed. I was like a sponge for about 2-3 months and formed a high-level plan which I validated with my leader to ensure I was on the right course.

Listening and seeking feedback is key.

Q: How did you feel when your name was called out as this year’s recipient of the WMB Businesswoman Award?

It felt surreal given I was surrounded by so many talented women with their great achievements highlighted throughout the event. It was a true honour and, for me, cemented that the risk of making my career move across industries to Schneider Electric Ireland during the pandemic was right.

Q: How important is it to recognise women’s business achievements?

I am a big believer in the power of role models and if we can see women who are successful, we are more likely to believe we can achieve inspiring and great things.

Celebrating women’s achievements paves the way for others, whilst creating connections and a network of support.

Q: What policies are in place at Schneider to ensure greater diversity, equity and inclusion?

DE&I is an integral part of our history, culture, and identity. We are increasing the number of women we employ at all levels and have committed to our 50 / 40 / 30 goal – women should represent 50% of all new hires, 40% of all frontline managers, and 30% of senior leaders by 2025. We are diversifying recruitment strategies, sourcing channels, and talent growth to improve reach to people of different backgrounds, genders, and ethnicities, and pay equity is embedded in our annual salary review campaign. We also run employee resource groups to create a trusted and safe community for women’s professional and personal development.

Q: Can you describe the various roles open to women at Schneider, which may traditionally have been viewed as more suited to men?

Over time, we are seeing more women take up roles as field services engineers, project engineers, project managers, and technical leads.  Often there is an assumption in our industry that all roles are hard hat out onsite, but there are many office and hybrid roles.

Q: Do you believe that women in positions of power have a duty to throw back down the ladder?

Leaders at all levels have a responsibility to coach and develop others, regardless of reporting lines, and help the next level rise.

I am very passionate about women supporting other women, particularly through life stages like returning mothers post maternity.

Q: How would you best describe your leadership style?      

Whilst I have high expectations of myself and others, I would describe my style as more supportive and collaborative, focusing on what we can do and what is possible. I am always thinking about what we can improve and what next.

Q: Do you think, as women, we are susceptible to ‘self-sabotage’.

Self-doubt and imposter syndrome are more prevalent in women, linked to our lack of role models and sense of belonging.

In my experience, this often shows up in readiness for the next role, where I see women holding back due to confidence or waiting until they have achieved everything in their existing role.

Q: Who supports you in your career and life ambitions?

Having the right support is key. Within the business I have informal mentors and I reciprocate the same for others.  Certainly, I could not do what I do without the support of my husband and family, and they have always been a great source of comfort and advice. My husband also works, and we have learnt that communication is key in making it work for our family.

Q: How do you maintain a healthy lifestyle with so many demands on your time?

Being completely honest, this is my weak spot.  I am pretty good at rest and recovery as I believe that to show up at your best, you need the right sleep and rest, so I have cut-off times at night when I stop work and have core family time. Time to exercise and eating healthily is my challenge and post pandemic I have made this my new commitment and am making small, realistic changes.

Q:  You’re a mother of two. How do you separate work life and family life? 

I think through the lens of balance rather than separation. I proactively look at my personal and professional demands and what days I can give more to work or rebalance at home. It can be as simple as taking a half day to pick the children up from school after a trip.

Q: What advice would you offer your younger self just starting out?

If I could have removed some of the self-doubt I experienced in my career, I think it would have allowed me to enjoy the journey even more and find my voice earlier. On the upside, although it took me longer to find my voice, I became a great listener and sponge for information.

A little bit about You

If you were a superhero who would you be?

Wonder Woman was very popular when I was growing up.  She could fix just about any situation with a smile and was an early representation of female empowerment and strength.

Alternative career choice, no limits?

After having children, influencing support and services for children is an area that I would not have thought of before. If we invest in our young people early and get it right, imagine the impact it would have.

The person who has influenced you the most?

Like so many others of her time, my mum left school early to go to work to support her family. Still, she went on to raise two children, go back to education and progress in her career. I think that influenced my work ethic in addition to having many great mentors along the way who challenged my thinking through asking powerful questions and including me in strategic assignments.

Name three things that you’re passionate about

1. Sustainability – leaving the earth better than we found it

2. Learning – I am a lifelong learner

3. Fun and Quality Family Time

If you had a magic wand?…

If I had a magic wand, I would make sure everyone on the planet was able to access clean, green energy. The good news is with the right commitment and collaboration from world leaders and organisations it can be a reality in our lifetime and for future generations – we don’t need a magic wand.