Director of Subsea Networks
An engineer at heart following in the footsteps of her father, brother, and uncle, Lynsey Thomas, Director at Subsea Networks, has been involved in the subsea industry since 1995. At the age of 17, she had just completed her A-Levels and was about to start university. During final school awards ceremony, she was approached by a member of the audience who was impressed by her work.
“He asked me to meet him at Southampton docks, so I went along, I took my mother of course! and he gave me my first ever tour of a cable ship. I was completely overwhelmed,” Thomas recalls. The gentleman, Eddie Neylon, worked for a company called Cable Wireless Marine, which is now known as Global Marine Systems, and offered Thomas a sponsorship through Oxford University during which time she worked for them in the holidays whilst studying for her master’s degree in Engineering Science.
Work experience provides a ‘good foundation’ for the subsea industry
After University, she briefly worked for the Cable & Wireless Submarine Systems Engineering team in London. She is also a freelance writer and former columnist for The Guardian. Discussing how her previous work experience has prepared her for her role at SubSea Networks, Thomas says that her time with Cable & Wireless gave her a good foundation in the industry. The job allowed her to work in cable stations and on cable ships, travel to international meetings, and involved a lot of job shadowing, which was important to her career.
She also went on to become the Apollo Operations Director, as part of the Cable and Wireless team. “This involved looking after the O&M side for the Apollo transatlantic cable system, which was great exposure to a real-time working on a live network and was a good foundation to help me form the basis for becoming a consultant in the future,” Lynsey said.
Then she had three children which, Lynsey said, is the best work experience you can get. “Becoming a parent teaches you to be patient. It teaches you to deal with conflict, delegate, and multitask,” she said. So, when she came back to the industry and became VP of Sales at Xtera, she had gained several varied new skills.
Lynsey is a member of SubOptic’s Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging working group and helped to start their mentoring programme, a subject which she feels passionately about. Our goal is to foster innovation and attract diverse talent into the submarine cable industry; we aim to promote cultural and ethnic equality, respect and value differences. She also participates in many initiatives to promote women in engineering including celebrating ‘International Women in Engineering Day’ with her peers and encouraging a diverse participation at conferences and events. As part of the Advisory Board for ‘Submarine Networks EMEA’ Lynsey said she was “pleased that the conference will have free tickets for students and recent graduates this year”.
When asked what she thought were the essential traits of an aspiring leader, Lynsey put the ability to listen at the top of her list, saying that “listening to the market, your competitors, your customers, your supply chain, and your employees” was really important.
Lynsey Thomas has great admiration for the outgoing German Chancellor, Angela Merkel. She admires her as both a politician and, as some may not know, a scientist, too.
“When we look at her history as well, she's performed a lot of roles in government that I'm interested in. She was the minister for Women and Youth. She was the minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Strategy. These are very interesting roles and she's always emphasised cooperation, whether that be within the EU or within NATO. I think her cooperative approach has been brilliant and is why she has for a long time been one of the most powerful women in the world.
When it comes to her career though and looking to improve her work-life balance, Lynsey has always followed the words of Dame Judi Dench, who once said: “I think you should take your job seriously, but not yourself.” And that is exactly the kind of person Lynsey Thomas is.
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