Women in Sustainability series: Meet Ioana Tanase

Ioana Tanase is a Project Management Team Lead at Technology_VOIS (Vodafone Intelligent Solutions) in Romania. She manages a team of 18 project managers, working to ensure they are delivering excellent project management in areas ranging from IoT to communications and connectivity. She is also involved in local improvement initiatives aiming to create a better and more efficient working environment.

As a Vodafone Foundation Instant Network volunteer, she dedicates her time to creating sustainable solutions for people in vulnerable situations. Instant Network Emergency Response initiatives often use renewable energies, such as solar and wind power, to support areas affected by disaster quickly and sustainably.

Instant Network Schools gives young refugees, host communities and their teachers access to digital learning content and the internet, improving the quality of education in some of the most marginalised communities in Africa.  Often powered by solar energy, the schools offer extra-curricular activities linked to wider societal issues, designed to help students become global citizens and build sustainable communities.  

I’m on a personal sustainability mission

I feel very close to nature. I have five rescue dogs, and I live in a village 30 kilometres outside Bucharest. The richness of the plant life and animals around me amazes me every day. I would love to see that being passed on to future generations.

Because of the pandemic a lot of people are moving closer to nature – to less populated areas – just as we did, 10 years ago. We own some land, and every year, we plant a few trees. We have close to 50 now. I plan to have my own forest someday.

We use sustainable products from the village to help the local economy, and we have solar panels and biodegradable waste disposal systems. We’ve seen first-hand how our quality of life improves and how the environment around us changes.

My work has changed my perspective on the world

It’s amazing to see how Vodafone’s IoT technology products are being used for sustainable development. For example, one of my colleagues is driving a project for safer transportation in Europe. Having an intelligent transport system is so important for creating sustainable communities.

My work has shown me that if you use technology with a sustainable mindset, you can make a difference in the world.

I’ve seen first-hand how technology can transform communities

We take connectivity for granted. But I’ve seen how grateful people are when you bring connectivity to an emergency, meaning they can let their loved ones know they’re OK.

What I love most about volunteering is the fact you get to experience how technology can change lives - either in emergency situations like natural disasters, or in remote areas, where it can help people get a better education. It gives you a real sense of purpose.

In 2018 I volunteered as part of an Instant Network Schools workshop in Nairobi, Kenya. We had people from DRC, South Sudan, Kenya and Tanzania there – it was so moving to hear their stories and see their determination to learn, despite all the challenges they've faced.

Never underestimate the value of people skills in tech careers

As a project manager, there’s an important lesson to learn: you can have all the processes, tools, and systems in the world – but in the end, you are working with people.

We have a saying in Vodafone: “Change is the only constant”. You are rarely in control; you just have to adapt to everything that comes along. People look to the project manager when challenges appear, so it’s important that you can adapt to them quickly and inspire others to do the same.

One of the few positive things to come out of the pandemic is that people have started putting a lot more emphasis on wellbeing and emotional intelligence in relation to leadership. My top piece of advice would be not to neglect the qualities that are often referred to as “soft skills” - stakeholder management, communication and leadership skills - because in the end, they make all the difference to a project.

Ioana Tanase about woman in sustainability.