Inspirational Woman: Debra Charles | Founder & CEO, Novacroft

What inspired you to start a business?

Inspirational Woman - Debra Charles
Inspirational Woman - Debra Charles

Technology and determination! Novacroft is a smartcard programme and software solution company, which I founded in 1998 after working for Apple and Westinghouse, where I fell in love with the tech world. The internet was just taking off and I saw how it could be used to give stakeholders transparency across their projects. There seemed to be particular potential in the transport industry. I kept the idea for an online database in my back pocket for a while and then, when my parents passed away, I realised that the only barriers in life were the ones I'd made for myself. I knew it was time to turn my idea into reality.

Today we work with public, private and third sector clients, including Transport for London on their concessionary Oyster photocard schemes, to help them simplify complexities and achieve efficiencies through innovation and technology. We’ve also recently begun implementing a social action programme, called Ucando­it, which helps organisations across all sectors recognise and reward their customers, volunteers and team members for all the positive things they do, whether that’s using public transport, recycling, keeping fit or donating their time to charity.

What is the greatest challenge and the greatest reward in being your own boss?

Running a business means bringing people together. People matter ­ at the end of the day everyone needs to put food on the table. But despite all the people, running a business can be lonely. It’s a great responsibility, I take it very seriously. Sometimes you have to make difficult decisions. But I don’t think of worst moments, it’s about ensuring you invest in capability and capacity. You learn from experience and continuously improve.

The greatest reward ­ apart from walking into our sensational new offices each morning and looking around at the amazing Novacroft team, you mean?! The next best thing for me will always be looking ahead, scanning the horizon for the game­changing ideas that will open up exciting new opportunities for our clients so we can keep helping them get more for less ­ and making life easier for everyone!

What motivational tips can you give to our members about goal setting and managing both successes and failures?

The first piece of advice I’d give is to embrace your differences and what makes you unique, and set goals based on what you want to achieve, not what others tell you. For instance, having dyslexia hasn’t hindered be as everyone said it would – it’s actually helped me be a stronger, more confident person and given me a helicopter perspective of the world, which means I see problems and solutions in a different way to others. I use mind maps, illustrations and charts both in my thinking and when explaining my ideas because, for me, these are far clearer than words on a page.

I was never given much of a chance at school, due to my dyslexia, and as I got older and started working I wanted to show people what I could do. I often feel I wouldn’t have set up my own business if I wasn’t so determined to beat the challenge of dyslexia. It’s been a gift.

Anyone can achieve their goals and manage the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, so long as they have a clear purpose. Stand out from the crowd, explore what makes you happy. Find an idea or a passionand make it different, forget about conforming. Then it’s having the energy, will and determination to follow it through and to ensure you’re creating something that will work. But leave your ego at the door.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a business owner?

Early on I learnt a huge lesson about having faith in my own ideas and standards. I invested
£90,000 of my inheritance in the development of Novacroft’s first data management system and it didn't work. Being too lenient with the developers cost me the bulk of my parents' estate, which was really upsetting because they'd worked so hard for everything. I persisted, though, recruiting my first team member, who turned my vision for the system into reality ­ and is still evolving and enhancing it all these years later! Another challenge in the early days was getting organisations to realise that using online application processes could solve so many of the problems they had with manual interventions involving postal forms and delivery. We've come a long way since then and have enabled many public sector organisations to embrace the change!

How have you benefited from mentoring or coaching?

Mentoring is a huge part of being a good leader. For me, it’s about giving something back and unlocking the talents of the next generation, to inspire them and give them confidence to pursue their dreams. I was recently fortunate enough to provide mentoring to a number of tech start­ups as part of the HackTrain Accelerator programme. Our aim is to make the use of public transport more attractive, and make it easier to use. The Accelerator programme perfectly encapsulates the essence of innovation in rail and is an obvious fit for us. I was delighted to be able to bring my expertise, technological know­how and passion for innovation to the programme so that we can really make a meaningful difference to society.

What advice can you give about the benefits of networking?

I see it more as collaboration, and collaboration is a very positive thing. There are some amazing people in the world, and as a business leader I feel that it’s essential to reach out and share ideas ­ together, people can do good things. One of the big challenges of collaboration, is that it requires you to take a leap of faith and someti-mes get out of your comfort zone. But the results can be amazing ­ the people you meet, the things that happ-en. So look at events, groups, at any event where you can collaborate and add value.

What are your tips for scaling a business and how do you plan for and manage growth?

Have clarity around your vision, ensure it makes sense. Turning your vision into a reality is about investment into the products and services required, having the right processes, and ensuring you have the right talent. The people around you must be people that can help ensure the validity and robustness of the organisation’s vision, ensure it’s realistic and financially viable. Organisational resilience is key, enabling you to be adaptable and agile, ready to tackle opportunities and risks.

There’s also a personal element to this. We need to ensure that we care for ourselves as individuals. As a leader, how can you give your organisation and team the motivation they require and deserve if you haven’t looked after yourself?

What does the future hold for you?

The future is very bright! A huge opportunity for us lies in our Ucando­it programme and supporting positive community action in collaboration with charities and volunteer organisations. We’ll continue to invest in our future too because we’re always looking to improve, so we’ll further develop our core products and services as well as enable our R&D team to develop game­changing innovations.

While today we are aiming to put people in control through our smartcard and software solutions, helping our clients get more for less and making life easier for all, in the future we’ll help them say goodbye to the mundane activities in life. Our goal is to develop smart solutions for things like remote­control homes and next­generation communities, freeing people from unwanted tasks and giving them more time for fun.

CA holds I’m a Girl & IT Counts female summer school as part of London Technology Week

CA recently held a summer school event as part of London Technology Week called ‘I’m a Girl & IT Counts’.

house of parliament london - London Technology WeekThe event was hosted by IT Counts & Queen Mary University and saw 50 Year 10 female students from Acton School in London experience a lecture, campus tour, ICT Workshop, lunch, career panel discussion and learnt about what it’s like to study IT.

IT Counts is a social enterprise started by a group of IT Management for Business (ITMB) students in 2014 from Manchester University. The group launched the initiative to inspire students to consider careers in technology.

CA became the first partner of IT Counts in June 2015 in a bid to help the group research and develop education materials, and form a teacher-training programme. The partnership was also formed to host five one-day workshop/summer school for students and a one-day summer school for teachers.

This week’s summer school event is IT Count’s first step in showing other universities how to run their own to engage with local secondary school students.

CA’s own intern Annabel Sunnucks took part in a career panel discussion at the event.

Sarah Atkinson, Vice President, Communications and Exec Sponsor Gender Diversity EMEA, said: “This program is a great example of paying it forward. The ITMB students will be great role models in inspiring the next generation to consider careers in STEM.”

This week marks London Technology Week which sees a variety of city based companies and enterprises working together to shine a light on the IT industry.

London Technology Week kicked off with an exhibition of the best British fashion technology.

Some of the UK’s leading fashion technology designers showcased their work, which included a 3D printed wearable garment designed by Modeclix; the world’s first holographic intelligent mannequin from Headworks; and a behind the scenes look at London Fashion Week using 360 degree video and content curated by creative communications agency Village.

Winners of TeenTech Awards 2016 announced with more female finalists than male

Winners of the TeenTech Awards 2016 were crowned during a ceremony at the Royal Society London this week.

TeenTech Awards (F)More than 120 teenagers were chosen as finalists out of 1,400 contenders across the UK. During the day the finalists presented their ideas to a judging panel of celebrity science presenters, journalists and academics.

Teams compete for a cash prize and the opportunity to pitch their ideas to industry experts who can make their product ideas a reality. Winning teams are also invited by TeenTech Patron HRH Duke of York KG to a reception at Buckingham Palace in the Autumn.

The 2016 awards challenged entrants aged 11-18 to develop scientific and technological solutions designed to make live “better, simpler or easier”. The TeenTech Awards encourages teenagers to use technology to solve real-world problems.

Each category for the event is sponsored by an industry partner, which in 2016 included: Maplin, National Grid, Airbus, JVCKenwood, Symantec, Atkins, Cranfield University, AQA, CILIP IL Group and Dell.
Co-founder of TeenTech and former BBC Tomorrow’s World presenter Maggie Philbin was joined by the likes of Professor Brian Cox, theoretical physicist and broadcaster Professor Jim Al-Khalili, Gemma Morris from SKY, Fran Scott, CBBC Science Presenter, Channel 4’s Dr Christian Jessen, BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones, Tech reporter for BBC Click LJ Rich, Channel 4 News’ Geoff White, science and tech reporter Dallas Campbell, and Jo Johnson MP.

This year there were more female finalist teams than male. Philbin said: “It’s gratifying to see 75 girls and 69 boys in the finalist teams. Students from all backgrounds come to our TeenTech events and begin to understand that working in tech is about finding real solutions for real needs.

“They work really hard on their own ideas with support from some brilliant mentors and surprise themselves as well as our judges when they see what they can achieve.”

TV’s Professor Brian Cox, said: “I always look forward seeing what the students at TeenTech come up with and I’m never disappointed. We are seeing the next generation of scientists and engineers, and it fills me with optimism. TeenTech’s great contribution is to re-enforce their enthusiasm and to provide them with both the inspiration and information they will need to build successful careers. Every finalist was a worthy finalist and as for the winners, I congratulate you. But the real prize is your future in science and engineering.”

Iona and Alice from James Allen’s Girls’ School in London, winners of the 2015 Consumer Innovation Award, brought a working prototype of their product ‘Indicate’ which was a winning project in 2015. Since their win they have been working with Maplin making their designs and concept a reality, with the end goal is selling it at Maplin stores. ‘Indicate’ is a high visibility jacket that allows cyclists to indicate using LED lights worn on their back.

Iona and Alice said: “For us TeenTech has been a really life changing experience that’s helped us see the world in a different way. It’s made us realise that if you have ideas you don’t have to wait to be 18 or wait until you graduate from university to make something of them. You can start whenever you want – coming up with ideas and designing products that can actually make a difference and people want to use”

Recently Philbin was presented with the Digital Leader of the Year for her work with TeenTech.

The Digital Leaders 100 Awards presented her with the award. The CEO of Lloyds Bank described her as having very special qualities as a leader.

On her award Philbin said: “It’s incredibly humbling to win something like this. There were some brilliant people nominated, and that’s the whole thing about the digital space. There are so many people doing such incredibly significant work.”

“By default digital has created this whole community because we know about each other and support each other. The award has come as the most wonderful surprise and is an absolute credit to the brilliant team of people across the UK and Ireland who make TeenTech the very special organisation it has grown to be.”

Winners of the TeenTech Awards 2016 were as follows:

Healthcare Category
Loughborough Grammar School – David, Sankha and Hari for Medivest
Wearable technology designed to combat cases of severe epilepsy, allowing patients to monitor and send their vital signs to their doctors.

Energy Category sponsored by National Grid
Westcliffe High School for Boys – Adwaith for “The Palat Engine”
Adwaith set about investigating different forms of fuels and alternate engine configurations. The result is the Palat Engine, the emission from which is almost pure water.

Transport Category sponsored by Airbus
Caterham School – Casper, David and Oliver for “Sensosafe”
A bike light that senses when a car is approaching and notifies the cyclist.

Education Category
Woldingham School – Milan, Imogen and Maria for “MyST App”
My School Trip is an app designed for teachers to find new and exciting school trips. Trips can be arranged for all age groups/Key stages with over 20 subjects included and 100+ excursions to choose from.

Wearable Technology Category sponsored by Maplin
Alton Convent School – Alexandria for “Bras with Benefits”
Bras with Benefits is a cancer detecting bra, designed to identify early stage breast cancer before outward signs are visible.

Music, Media & Entertainment Category sponsored by JVCKenwood
Gillingham School – Thomas and Sol for “Sabretooth Music”
An audio system that enables multi-room speaker from any device and any digital music collection.

Environment Category
James Allen’s Girls’ School – Isabelle and Kyoka for “GreenNet”
A biodegradable fishing net that will break down in water after only two weeks.

Safety & Security Category sponsored by Symantec
Welland Park Academy – Ted, James and Joshua for “Blue-Key”
BLUE-KEY can be connected to a central hub using the app provided on your smart phone to open or close selected doors remotely, helping a wide range of people including the elderly, disabled, and emergency services.

Retail & Finance Category
Notre Dame School – Eve, Zara, Tia and Niamh for ‘Trolley Knowledge”
A built-in tablet for your shopping trolley which helps make your weekly shop a whole lot easier.

Design & Construction category sponsored by ATKINS
Westminster Academy – Siana for “Emergency Necklace Bridge”
An emergency bridge that can be easily transported to and assembled at the site experiencing critical conditions such as damaged infrastructure.

Future of Food Category
Alton Convent School – Iona, Isabel and Lucy for “Natural Nutrients”
Natural Nutrients capitalises on the resources of a living rainforest, providing local people with the tools and skills to produce nutritious food supplements from edible bugs.

Digital Skills Category sponsored by DELL
The King Edward VI School – Alistair, William and Matthew for “NavBand”

Manufacturing Award sponsored by Cranfield University
Loughborough High School – Chloe, Lini and Ashley for “Steerclear”
An adaption of the modern steering wheel to make driving a more enjoyable, safer and interesting experience.

Research and Literacy Award sponsored by CILIP Information Literacy Group
Oakham School – Matthew, Oliver and Archie for “K-Charge”
A shoe integrated with a battery, which charges by converting the kinetic energy generated by walking into electrical energy.

Teacher of the Year Category
Natalie Radmore: Passmores Academy

Best Innovation – Concept category
Sandbach High School & 6th Form College – Amy for “Bluetooth Speakers”
A bluetooth speaker that is made from obsolete books and vinyl records.

Best Innovation – Model, Prototype or Product category
Oakham School – Harry for “Gust”
An ergonomically redesigned hairdryer that is cordless, heats using semi-conductors to minimise damage to the hair and is modular.

Best Research Project
Loughborough Grammar School – Sai for “Biosense”
Research into the detection of glucose in the urine of undiagnosed type 1 diabetes through a toilet block that causes a colour change in the toilet bowl signifying a positive result for a disease test.

Consumer Innovation Award sponsored by Maplin
Oakham School – Harry for “Gust”
An ergonomically redesigned hairdryer that is cordless, heats using semi-conductors to minimise damage to the hair and is modular.

People’s Choice Award
Impington Village College – Peter, Jim and Eddie for “Let’s Get Biking”
An app aimed at young children who like biking. Includes parental control to monitor bike travel to allow parents to select safe routes and traffic information.

Female founders of Outfittery win Digital Masters Awards

Founders of online style advisers Outfittery Anna Alex and Julia Bösch won the Women in Digital prize at the third annual Digital Masters Awards last night.

Digital Masters Awards (F)
Anna Alex and Julia Bösch collecting their award

The Digital Masters Awards took place at London’s Freemasons’ Hall, where 800 attendees gathered from global companies.

This year’s winners were judged by a panel of 20, including investors Robin Klein, Sonali De Rycker and Daniel Waterhouse. The event is organised by digital executive search and networking firm The Up Group.

On receiving the award, Alex and Bösch said: "We are happy and honoured to receive this award. It feels especially great since I still remember the times four years ago, when we started Outfittery in Julia's living room and no one in Europe knew what online personal shopping is. I am lucky to have such a great team who is giving its best every day to make our 300,000 men happy and well dressed.”

Robert Swerling, Co-CEO of The Up Group, said: “We’re proud to honour these outstanding individuals, and delighted to be able to bring together such a fantastic audience to celebrate their success”.

Alex Deplege and Jules Coleman from Hassle were also celebrated and named runner up.

The 2016 Digital Masters Awards winners were:

CEO of the Year
William Shu- Deliveroo

Excellence in Business Intelligence and Data
Vince Darley – King

Excellence in Commercial
Jesper Frederiksen – Docusign

Excellence in Digital Transformation
Ralph Rivera – BBC

Excellence in Finance
Hope Cochran – King

Excellence in General Management
Mark Logan – Skyscanner

Excellence in Marketing
Stephanie Horton – Farfetch

Excellence in Multichannel Retail
Dom McBrien – The White Company

Excellence in People and Talent
Lorraine Metcalf – Zoopla Property Group

Excellence in Product
Dave Price – Spotify

Excellence in Technology
Dan Teodosiu – Criteo

Women In Digital
Anna Alex and Julia Bosch – Outfittery

Student Nannies launches to solve working parents' childcare nightmares

Working parents looking for an answer to childcare nightmares, your prayers have been answered in the form of a site that connects local students and parents with a twist.


The site, Student Nannies, aims to connect parents with students who are studying subjects that their child loves. The service enables parents to search for local students via the subject they study and students to search for parents based in the professional industry they would like to break into.

The company is not a nanny agency, but instead finds local matches which suit both student and parent.

Speaking to WeAreTheCity, Founder of Student Nannies, Tracey Blake, said: “It is a service created for working parents, by working parents. Students have a lot of spare time. Some may only have eight hours of lectures a week and some of the jobs available to them can be pretty miserable.”

Student Nannies was born out of Blake’s need for support with childcare for her daughter Minnie, 6, and son Monty, 4, due to her full-time role as a journalist on a national newspaper and as a children’s story book author.

She added: “My daughter Minnie, who is six, loves art and we have an art student called Louise who collects her from school every Wednesday and then they hang out and do really creative craft projects together - most recently making marbled paper using shaving foam and food colouring -  before Monty arrives and joins in. Students are smart and sensible, and they really can contribute positively to your child’s development - especially if you choose a student with a different skill set to your own as parents. The aim and goal is to create a community of parents and students who are helping each other.”

Tracey Blake, Minnie and Monty

“You can search via a variety of filters. You can search by times students are available to work, skills they have, whether they are happy to tutor too, do homework, be a pet nanny, can cook, will work in the school holidays, etc.”

It is free to register with a fee charged to exchange messages between matches as a VIP member. VIP Membership is just £10 a year for students while parents pay a monthly subscription of £15. Once a connection is made, the parent and student negotiate hours and rates.

Students Nannies launched last week and is currently focusing on growing its community to build up the amount of profiles available on the site.

“If we notice that there are lots of parents signing up in one area of the country, then we’ll go in there and market to local students to highlight that there are parents looking for childcare,” added Blake.


Student Nannies does not vet students, but offers parents a service so they can run a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Check on potential Student Nannies for peace of mind, plus the company stresses the need for safety and offers advice on everything from where to hold your first meeting with a student nanny you have matched with, to how to keep your online identity safe and how to check a student’s ID and references.

Blake said: “We take safety seriously because we know that, for parents, their children are

Left to right: Kim Colley with her son Charlie, Sarah Brown with daughter Georgia Rose, James PInniger (Tracey's other half), Tracey Blake with Minnie and Monty

their most precious thing in the world.”

Entrepreneur mum

Blake said that starting her own business during her evenings and weekends has not been easy, however it has been very rewarding: “It is hard as we all have full-time jobs. I get the kids to bed and I’m back on my laptop to check copy and send emails.

“Don’t be naive about the amount of work that goes into starting a business - luckily the more challenging it is the more rewarding and satisfying your achievements become.”

Blake advised: “If you have an idea in the back of your mind, just do it. It’s better to do something than regret not doing it.

“Women are very resourceful, so a word to all the mums out there – if you’re sitting on a great idea just go ahead and do it.”

Sheryl Sandberg, of Facebook, takes women in tech pole position on Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women

Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg has been named the most powerful woman in technology for the fifth consecutive year, as part of the Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women list.

sheryl sandberg
Sheryl Sandberg

Sandberg placed seventh on the list overall, but was the top ranking woman in the tech sector to feature. She has a personal fortune to the tune of $1.4 billion and is a voice for female empowerment in the workplace and shared responsibilities at home. In June 2012, she was elected to Facebook’s board of directors by the existing board members, becoming the first woman to serve on Facebook's board.

Of the 100 women on the list 16 were from the technology sector. After Sandberg these included YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki (No. 8 overall), HP CEO Meg Whitman (No. 9), IBM CEO Virginia “Ginni” Rometty (No. 11), Apple Senior VP Angela Ahrendts (No. 15), Oracle Co-CEO Safra Catz (No. 20), Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat (No. 27) and Ursula Burns (No. 34), the CEO of Xerox since 2009. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer (No. 55).

In addition China’s Lucy Peng (No. 35) cofounder of Alibaba and CEO of affiliate Ant Financial Services Group also ranked in this year’s list. She was followed by Hong Kong billionaire-chair of Lens Technology Zhou Qunfei (No.61), Solina Chau (No. 81), cofounder of Hong Kong-based Horizon Ventures and Jenny Lee (No. 100), managing partner of Singapore’s GGV Capital.

Outside of the tech arena, Queen Elizabeth II and SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon, also ranked on the Forbes World’s 100 Most Powerful Women for 2016.

German chancellor Angela Merkel topped the 100 list with Presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton coming in second place.

Other UK women on the list included Katherine Viner, editor-in-chief, Guardian News and Media (No. 68), Nemat Shafik, Deputy Governor, Bank of England (No. 59) and Eliza Manningham-Buller, Chair of Wellcome Trust (No. 88).

You can view the complete list of 100 women here.

WeAreTheCity and Huddle event | Imposter syndrome is normal and so are you

“Every person that comes out of every womb has imposter syndrome. It is normal and so are you,” said Deena Gornick, Executive and Board Level Coach at Penna, during a WeAreTheCity and Huddle event recently.

WeAreTheCity recently partnered with Huddle to hold an event entitled You are not an Imposter: How to Beat Imposter Syndrome. 100 ladies gathered at Huddle’s offices, in London, to overcome their own worries about feeling like a fake in the workplace.

During the event Deena Gornick, Executive and Board Level Coach at Penna, (pictured below) led an interactive workshop on how to overcome imposter syndrome.

Deena Gornick, Executive and Board Level Coach at Penna delivers her session on Imposter syndrome

She explained: “I was an actress in Los Angeles and I trained to become a psychotherapist and later became a coach to help businesses.

“I was sat in black wooly tights, Doc Martins and denim skirts and I sat with high up people during meetings and they’d lean over to me and say: ‘I’m frightened I’m going to get busted and found out.’ I was amazed that people so accomplished and earning so many zeros could feel that way.”

Gornick admitted that she still suffers from imposter syndrome herself: “After working with such companies and taking all those notes on the subject, I’m still suffering from it.

“I’ve read a lot and sat down and looked at my own imposter syndrome and I have experienced it through board members too, but I know the pain you feel and I know the talent I don’t own.”

She noted that many perfectionists are frightened of following through on plans, because they do not own their own talents: “Procrastination is down to perfection and architects live in crap houses because the one they designed in their head is a phenomenal.

“90% of success is showing up. Perfectionists forget to show up.”

Locus of Control

Gornick continued: “It was thought for a long time that only women suffered imposter syndrome, but men suffer it too. Locus of Control is where we feel Guest strike a power pose to overcome Imposter Syndrome

we have control over our lives and influence our own destiny.”

“Women have an external Locus of Control, which means if they want to apply for a role, internally in a company, and they think the role is great but they’ll get in early and leave late and will wait to be asked to apply. Whereas a man has an internal Locus of Control and will see the ad, will feel it’s not right for him but will apply anyway. Both places are terrifying if you’re not owning your talent.”

She stressed how it is important to own your talents and to know that when you succeed that it was not through good luck but through your own hard work: “Being in this world requires lots of courage and that means vulnerability. We think we achieve things with luck. Luck is what happened to Cinderella. Hard work leads to preparation and that leads to opportunity.”

“We don’t take our vitamins when we’re given praise. We deflect it instead of saying thank you and taking the vitamin.”

She finished her interactive workshop by saying: “Know that you’re normal. Stay present. Take your vitamins. Every person that comes out of every womb has imposter syndrome. It is normal and so are you.”

Panel of imposters

To finish the evening Huddle invited a panel of industry experts (pictured right) to share their own experiences of imposter syndrome.

On the panel Vanessa Vallely, Managing Director and CEO of WeAreTheCity, said: “I was in a job when I thought I was not worth my salary and that HR would come in one day and tell me that they had made a mistake.”

Ian Cooper, Head of Architecture at Huddle, said: “I have thought that other employees are better than me or have questioned why am I here. I reacted badly to this and overcompensated by coming across as too pushy and in your face.”

Vanesa Vallely, Managing Director of WeAreTheCity; Deena Gornick, Executive and Board Level Coach at Penna; Rosemary Cooper Clark, International Executive Coach and Management Consultant; Ian Cooper, Head of Architecture at Huddle discuss their own experiences of Imposter Syndrome

He advised: “Have a support system – someone that you know well enough and can say to them that you’re worried and you’re really not for this role. A support system can help silence those voices.”

Rosemary Cooper Clark, International Executive Coach and Management Consultant, said: “I was headhunted so I hadn’t been through an interview process for a while. I remember candidates talking about their degrees. I didn’t go to university until I was a mature student, so I used to wake up at 3am thinking they haven’t found me out yet.

“You should talk to yourself as if you would to your best friend. We talk terribly to ourselves sometimes.”

Vallely agreed and added: “I didn’t go to university so I feel out of my comfort zone when people are knowledgeable with a posh accent. But I know that is my problem not theirs.”

Gornick said: “After 32 years of coaching imposter syndrome and the only time I don’t suffer it is when I’m with the person I love. I am a trained actor so I know what to do with my body, to breath and to make eye contact. But I suffer it every day.”

“When you think or know that someone has imposter syndrome be open and warm to them.”

Vallely said: “Everyone has a persona that they’re trying to get across. When I think of imposter syndrome I think of someone that looks like a rabbit in the headlights, but they do not look like that because they are hiding it.

“If you never take praise or always say it wasn’t you then people will start to believe it. Just have a polka face and say thank you.”


WeAreTheCity and Huddle event | You are not an Imposter: How to Beat Imposter Syndrome | In Pictures

WeAreTheCity recently partnered with Huddle to hold an event entitled You are not an Imposter: How to Beat Imposter Syndrome.

Led by Executive and Board-level coach, Deena Gornick, and featuring a panel of business leaders, attendees learnt how to overcome Imposter Syndrome, how to increase confidence and better celebrate their successes. Guests left feeling empowered and able to properly take credit for and acknowledge their successes.

100 ladies gathered at Huddle's offices, in London, to overcome their own worries about feeling like a fake in the workplace.

To realise your full potential you not only need to have the skills, you need to be confident in them – to not only succeed, but to take ownership for this success. And yet, for the 70% of people that suffer from Imposter Syndrome this is much easier said than done.

“I am not a writer. I’ve been fooling myself and other people,” John Steinbeck wrote in his diary in 1938. 

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has said, "There are still days when I wake up feeling like a fraud."

Deena Gornick

Executive and Board-level coach Deena has over 20 years’ experience in coaching both men and women to help them with confidence, presence and communication. Deena will give a short introduction to the subject of the Impostor Syndrome, then she will run 3 sessions that have the aim of enabling attendees to stand by their achievements and to be able to articulate them to others clearly without feeling like a fraud.

You can find pictures from the  Imposter Syndrome event below.


Salesforce increases diversity through education and development of young people and returners

Salesforce is focusing its efforts on education and developing young people and returners to increase diversity within the technology sector, says Charlotte Finn, Vice President, Programs-EMEA at

Speaking to WeAreTheCity at the Salesforce World Tour 2016, which took place recently at the London Excel Centre, Finn said: “Salesforce has been focusing on workforce development and education.”Salesforce logo - increasing diversity

“We have been bringing kids into Salesforce tower to experience what working in technology is like and also we have invited the unemployed and those that wish to return to work after a break. Unemployed candidates and returners are being encouraged through Salesforce’s Trailhead path, which is a training course for developers to learn Salesforce at all levels.

“It’s about reminding them of the confidence and getting the Salesforce staff to tell them what’s possible,” Finn added.

“When they come in they get to meet all levels of Salesforce staff including the likes of Andy Lawson, SVP and UK Country Leader at Salesforce, to encourage them to believe that they can do it.”

Finn said there is not a shortage of volunteers at Salesforce willing to sign up for opportunities to support people visiting the Salesforce tower or taking part in programmes that the company supports.

“We have had a 85% take up rate for volunteering which has equated to 500,000 hours globally so far this year. Last year in June we celebrated one million hours of volunteering since the programme’s inception which was 15 years ago,” Finn added.

Salesforce employees have the flexibility to decide when, where and for what cause they volunteer. Employees receive seven days of Volunteer Time Off (VTO) per fiscal year a $1,000 Champion Grant to donate to the nonprofit of their choice once they reach seven days of VTO and access to Team Grants to support employee volunteer activities.

“Volunteers offer a range of skills such as interviewing and mentoring or they support not-for-profits who can’t afford an IT department by offering their expertise. There is a retention correlation of best places to work and opportunities to volunteer. Six out of ten millennials say they want to work for an organisation with a purpose and you are 2.3 times more like to retain an employee that feels engaged.”

Inspirational quotes: Notable women in technology

Despite the technology industry only being made up of 18% females, there are many notable women who have contributed advancing the tech sector.

Below you will find a selection of inspirational quotes from notable women in technology.

“A ship in port is safe, but that is not what ships are for. Sail out to sea and do new things.”Women in tech awards feature

— Rear Admiral Grace Hopper the US Navy’s oldest active-duty officer at the time of her retirement. She developed the first compiler for a computer programming language and was a developer of UNIVAC I and COBOL. She also coined the terms “computer bug” and “debugging” after she opened her computer to fix it and a moth flew out of it.

“Any girl can be glamorous. All she has to do is stand still and look stupid.”

— Hedy Lamarr, actress, and co-developer of a frequency-hopping/spread spectrum technology based on a player piano. Described as “the most beautiful woman in Europe,” Lamarr never earned a penny from her patent, however after her patent expired, the tech was picked up by the US Navy during the Cuban Missile Crisis in guided torpedoes.

"I think it's very important to get more women into computing. My slogan is: Computing is too important to be left to men."

— Karen Spärck Jones, Professor of Computers and Information at Cambridge Computer Laboratory. Jones introduced the concept of inverse document frequency (IDF) used by most search engines.

 “Be First And Be Lonely.” 

Ginni Rometty, Chairwoman and CEO of IBM is an American business executive. She is noted as the first woman to head IBM. Prior to becoming president and CEO in January 2012 she held the positions of Senior Vice President and Group Executive for Sales, Marketing, and Strategy at IBM.

“I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.”

 Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo! Mayer is an American business executive and computer scientist, currently serving as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Yahoo!, a position she has held since July 2012.

“That brain of mine is something more than merely mortal; as time will show.”

— Ada Lovelace was a Mathematician and Computer Scientist. Countess of Lovelace was an English mathematician and writer, chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage's early mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. She is widely reported as being the first female coder.