Leading from the front: Angela Fox on careers, achievements and building corporate culture

As the Managing Director of Dell Australia New Zealand, Angela Fox needs little introduction. After eight years at Dell, Angela returned to Australia last year to head up the tech giant as it builds on its PC roots to capitalise on opportunities in cloud technology, big data, mobile and security.

But there is much more to Angela than a long list of career achievements. A passionate leader and mentor, we chatted to Angela to find out more about her career, how she is leading from the front on diversity and inclusion, and of course, to get her tips on being a Leader in Heels.

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When talking to Angela, her passion to make Dell a great place to work is immediately clear. She walks the talk.

It’s really important when leading an organisation that you are creating an environment where you are getting the best from every body in the business. You are creating an environment where, irrespective of gender, ethnicity or sexuality, people are comfortable putting their ideas forward.

Beyond the policies and employee resource groups at Dell, Angela considers that it’s critical she maintains an open door policy, as an important way to get a “pulse check” on the business. As leaders or perspective leaders, Angela recommends demonstrating what we stand for, and setting this expectation and tone across the leadership and business. For Angela, these days, this also includes a commitment to her health and wellbeing and ensuring that she leaves the office in time to have dinner and quality time with her family.

Career sponsors have been critical throughout Angela’s career. In her opinion, sponsorship is more than ensuring that she was considered for roles and opportunities, it was also about giving herself the confidence she needed to move forward in her career, even when she thought that she didn’t have the right skills for a particular role.

Despite a long list of business achievements, Angela’s passion is ensuring that she provides the same opportunities for her staff. When asked about her career highlight, Angela immediately reflects on the pride she feels watching the individuals that she has worked with, or had a part in developing or mentoring, blossom and grow to take on opportunities.

Angela’s understanding of the human element at work was also critical as she worked in Asia Pacific roles, and relocated to Singapore. Angela encourages Leaders in Heels’ readers to grab opportunities to work overseas, and immerse themselves in a different environment. While Angela credits these roles in giving her perspective on the emerging markets in the APAC region, it was her understanding of cultural differences that was critical to her success.

As Australians and Kiwis we tend to be pretty upfront and forthright. It’s the cultural awareness of how you work with the different cultures, and the humility of understanding what works, where you are working, that is key. You can’t just take who you are and apply it directly, you may need to adapt your communication style.

Since returning to Australia, and following the privitisation of Dell in 2014, Angela is focused on realising the potential of Dell to deliver in cloud technology, big data, mobile and security. She is working tirelessly to build channel capabilities, and continuing to adapt and change to the market conditions in Australia and New Zealand. She speaks with pride on the flexible and entrepreneurial environment that is fostered at Dell – with this real innovative and entrepreneurial spirit exactly what attracted Angela to Dell in the first place.

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Angela Fox is a true example of a Leader in Heels. Before we finished our conversation, we made sure Angela shared her three tips on how to be a Leader in Heels with us:

  1. Draw on the experience of those around you and trust their experience. The art of delegation is critical.
  2. Build a culture of trust, communication and innovation. Just as importantly, make sure as a leader you are walking the talk.
  3. Lead from the front! Be authentic. Be confident about who you are, what you are, and where you are. Lay the ground rules that work for you and stick to these with conviction.