A Conversation on Finding Your Place and Motivation in the Corporate World

Sponsored by Seagate Technology

Noa Franko-Ohana and Helen Sweeney. Photos courtesy of Seagate.

Noa Franko-Ohana and Helen Sweeney. Photos courtesy of Seagate.

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Fairygodboss
May 23, 2024 at 9:56PM UTC

This article pulls from the Women History Month Series of the Championing Diversity: Voices of Seagate Podcast featuring host Helen Sweeney and guest speaker Noa Franko-Ohana.

Noa Franko-Ohana started her career as a programmer at 18 when she participated in a programming course after joining the Israeli army. From there, she pivoted to a career as a product manager for a few years before moving to the world of innovation. “I discovered that innovation is something that I really really like,” she states. Now, Franko-Ohana is following her passion as the Director of Lyve Labs at Seagate Innovation Center. 

To unpack the lessons she’s learned along the way, including how to find your place and motivation — especially as a woman in STEM — Franko-Ohana was recently interviewed by Helen Sweeney, a program manager and part of the Seagate Women's Leadership Network’s EMEA chapter. 

Sweeney shares that this group was formed as “a supportive community network for women to help them in their careers as well as to build their confidence and a support network that they could reach out to when they need it.” And, in this interview, Sweeney follows the goals of this group by widely sharing support and advice women can use to elevate their careers.

Here, we’ll take a closer look at this interview and some of the great lessons we learned from  Franko-Ohana’s and Sweeney’s conversation. (Please note that the following interview has been lightly edited and shortened.)

Sweeney: How did you find what you were really passionate about and what gave you motivation?

Franko-Ohana: It was a journey. When I was a programmer, I was mostly inside the company, inside with my team, and not facing out. Then, I went to product management, which is a bit of a facing out... And, when you do innovation, you are constantly facing out. I found out that this is something that I really like: discovering new technology, talking to innovative startups, hearing their journey, and seeing how this can benefit a big corporation like Seagate or Microsoft or IBM. 

There are so many innovations out there, and I found that what motivates me is to experience the outside and not just the inside of a company, to see what is going on in the ecosystem… What fuels me is to hear about these technologies to see how we can utilize them. And so this is how I found what I love — I kept going to the outside, until I'm all out there now. 

Sweeney: Do you have any advice for others in terms of how they can try and find that passion themselves? 

Franko-Ohana: If you feel like you're not maximizing your potential in your current role, you can try new things to get out of your comfort zone. When I was a product manager, I kept looking for innovative ways to enrich the product that I was responsible for, and this is how I discovered that I like innovation… So in each role that I held, I kept thinking about the next step and always tried to find out what makes me happy and motivated. 

Sweeney: How has working in the tech world and a predominantly male sector of business affected your motivation to succeed? What have your experiences been in this male-dominated area?

Franko-Ohana: I always felt the need to prove myself and to give 200%. Especially when I was a new mom and my kids were little, I put in extra hours opening up the laptop after the kids went to sleep. I always kept myself in the forefront and took on interesting projects. I never gave up on opportunities or interesting projects. The only thing that was a red line for me was travel when my kids were little. But, other than that, everything that came into my path, I said yes to

Sweeney: You're also very passionate about having an online presence [...], so could you tell us a little bit about your brand and how did you formulate that?

Franko-Ohana: When you have an online presence, people approach you. It makes it a lot easier in my role when startups come to me, and my online presence is branded as innovation. It's helping a lot in the Innovation Center that startups know they can approach us. And not just startups — developers, too. We also have a community of developers in Israel. So, it's also part of our brand to have a community

I believe that everyone should have a presence on LinkedIn and a profile that is managed. It's also good that Seagate employees are our Seagate ambassadors and that they're sharing Seagate News and Seagate success. We're proud to be at Seagate. 

Sweeney: Do you have any tips on how women can determine their brand?

Franko-Ohana: First, they need to have a list of their strengths and projects that they are responsible for to start building their profile from. For example, if somebody is talking in meetups, she can post it in her profile. Or if somebody is doing diversity work, their profile can be focused on diversity and sharing things like diversity articles… So, it's about getting to show your work on a social channel and branding yourself as a professional in what you do to find your strength and find your voice… 

You can also check other profiles that are similar to you and take inspiration from what other people are doing on social media.

Sweeney: Could you tell us about what empowers you the most?

Franko-Ohana: My kids and family empower me. I want to be a role model for my kids and show that women can be successful in high-tech senior roles. I have a daughter, she's 14, so it's very important to me to show her that [...] women can have senior roles. My husband and I try to do everything equally. It really empowers me to show to my kids, including my two sons, that a woman has a career and can do everything. 

Besides that, what empowers me the most is also the feeling that I can make a real impact. Sometimes in my role, when I'm connecting a really innovative technology to Seagate, I can make a true impact on the business. This is also something that really empowers me and my team — we can really change things inside of Seagate



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Speaker bios:

Helen Sweeney is a program manager based at Springtown in Northern Ireland. She has spent 20 years in a variety of roles, from production manager, industrial engineer, product engineer and RHG program manager. She is the co-chair of the EMEA chapter of the Seagate Women's Leadership Network. She has a Bachelor's degree in engineering in manufacturing systems, an MSC in manufacturing engineering and an MBA in business management. She enjoys aerial yoga, running and choral singing. She is married with two children.

Noa Franko-Ohana has extensive experience in corporate innovation, product management, technology, building programs for working with the ecosystem and more. She has been working at Seagate for over three years and is now leading Lyve Labs, Seagate Innovation Centers in Israel as a director. As a professional with nearly two decades of experience, Noa is passionate about innovative technologies and how they can impact and boost digital transformation. She began her career as a programmer in the Israeli Defense Forces and grew her experience both on the business side and the technology side. She holds a BA degree in computer science and management, an MBA in business management, and an MA in conflict resolution, management, and negotiation. A travel enthusiast and a music lover, she is married with three children.

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