Rebecca McKelvey featured

Inspirational Woman: Rebecca McKelvey | Founder & CEO, In2ScienceUK

Rebecca McKelveyPrior to co-founding in2Science, Rebecca was a Teach First teacher and Head of Science at an East London-based school for four years.

Her experiences during this period brought to her attention the extreme lack of information on and opportunities to pursue STEM careers for students who come from poor backgrounds.

In 2010, Rebecca decided to set up in2Science to bring this issue to light in the UK, with the intention of supporting young people from low income backgrounds to progress to university to study STEM degrees and ultimately progress into a professional STEM career.

Since its inception, in2Science has supported thousands of UK students. Each year, Rebecca receives 1,000 student applications to join her programme. To date, 75% of her participants progress onto STEM degrees.

Looking ahead, Rebecca has ambitious plans to expand across the UK in the next five years. Her ultimate goal is to bring diversity to the STEM sector, enabling children from disadvantaged backgrounds to pursue their academic and professional dreams, as well as support the country’s growing problem of a lack of STEM professionals.

Rebecca holds a PhD in neuroscience from the University College London.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I am the CEO of In2scienceUK, a charity with a mission to improve social mobility and diversity in STEM. Following my degree, I completed the Teach First graduate programme, taught for two years at a school in Walthamstow and then progressed to Head of Science at the same STEM specialist Academy.

I taught young people from year 7 to A-levels; many of who were from low income backgrounds and despite being very intelligent, weren’t progressing to university or realising their potential.  I subsequently left teaching after four years and began studying a masters in neuroscience. Seeing the lack of diversity in research and the fact that some of the amazing students I’d encountered were never going to access such a career compelled me to set up in2scienceUK during my master’s, and I ran it as a side project during my PhD.

The programme works by enabling 17-year old students from poor backgrounds the opportunity to gain work placements in a STEM setting, working alongside STEM professionals and in turn, increasing the likelihood of them being interested in attending university and a career in STEM. Participants also get access to high quality information and guidance on university and career pathways as part of the programme. We support over 350 young people a year from low income backgrounds, predominantly in London, Oxford, Cambridge and Exeter. In 2020, we are expanding to another region which we’re incredibly excited about and will be announcing soon.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Absolutely not. Planning out your career is something that’s incredibly difficult for anyone, particularly in this day and age. You’re still learning about yourself, what you enjoy doing and what you really excel at, on top of a thousand other things. Plus, there are jobs that exist today and probably in the future that weren’t a consideration years ago; the world of work is moving very quickly.

There are limitless jobs in technology and the broader STEM sector for example, and quite often, students I encounter are completely unaware of the diversity of STEM careers, so the need for constant education and awareness is crucial.

I initially believed a career as a teacher would be my path. However, the realisation of the lack of opportunities for students from low income backgrounds to gain high quality information and STEM opportunities has taken me in a completely different direction as the Founder of a non-profit. My focus now is on driving more awareness of STEM and helping students believe in themselves and follow a path that may not have been previously accessible to them.

Most importantly, following your heart and passions tends to steer you in the right direction of your calling; certainly in my case, but also for the students I see go through the programme who may not have realised they have an interest to be a video game designer, automotive engineer, or perhaps go in to space one day!

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

At the end of my PhD I was at a career crossroads and unsure if I should follow a research career or take a leap of faith in setting up in2scienceUK. I followed my heart as I really wanted to make a change in the UK and help bright young people from low income backgrounds achieve their potential and have the same opportunities as everyone else.

Thankfully, the desire to make a difference in this area is shared by so many others, and I was blown away by the appetite from research volunteers, academic institutes and corporate partners to be involved. Even programme alumni have come back to volunteer during their studies because they’ve experienced first-hand, the benefits this experience can afford. It’s that collaboration which has seen us grow so exponentially and the success stories coming out of the programme seek only to inspire wider participation. So, despite the initial hard work, it’s very rewarding to want to go further in making this programme as accessible as possible.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Expanding in2scienceUK outside of London. There are a lot of charities operating in London which is great as there is a clear need, but research shows that poverty is worse and opportunity less outside the capital. Facilitating over 1000 STEM placements for our students was also an amazing feat for us and a milestone we want to keep building on through continued regional expansion.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

It’s hard to say. There’s always more than one factor as to why something or someone becomes successful. We wouldn’t be a success if we didn’t have the passion and hard work of the research and STEM community and volunteers who have come together to support our cause. Since 2011, we have worked with over 800 volunteers from STEM researchers in academic settings.

Our charity really made the leap when we started to partner with the likes of Roche, UCL, and NESTA. The support and engagement from a variety of organisations has been incredible, and as we continue to grow, we’re continuing to lock in more and more partners to support even more students across the UK.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

The obvious thing is to build your professional network. There is such a wealth of information and expertise available through industry events, mentoring programmes and membership organisations, to name a few. Beyond this, staying on top of the latest trends is important, particularly for such a fast-moving sector which continues to revolutionise the way we work and live. Following businesses or individuals on social channels such as Twitter or LinkedIn is a great way to get short, snappy insights on particular sectors or themes. LinkedIn is also great for group conversations whereby you can often pose questions or prompt debate among like-minded individuals and start a conversation. Finally, never stop learning. I don’t think anyone, regardless of how established they are in their chosen profession, ever gets to a point whereby learning new things isn’t valuable.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

Women make up 49 per cent of the British workforce, but just 19 per cent of the digital tech workforce, so there is still work to be done. That said, I do think we are generally more aware of this shortfall and better at understanding the barriers to entry. We’re seeing more proactivity from the sector as a result, such as Mastercard’s Girls4Tech STEM education platform, which aims to reach out to one million girls globally by 2025. Ultimately, we need to get young women to be motivated and excited by the professions that a career in tech affords. Encouragingly, the recent A-level results demonstrated the number of girls taking science A-levels has overtaken boys for the first time in history, suggesting that we are seeing a shift in uptake among girls.

What do you think companies can do to support to progress the careers of women working in technology?

They should do two things. First, promote women. Be deliberate. It is likely that when two individuals attend an interview, they will both be very smart and hard working. If you are an organisation where men outnumber women in the top jobs, promote the women.

Second, as a mother of two children under the age of five, flexibility is king for me. I would only work in a role where I can be flexible regardless of the salary or other perks. I work hard, I put in the hours, just not always between 9-6. I’m writing this at 22:15 on a Wednesday night and I think flexible working is becoming the increasing expectation from people in the modern age.

There is currently only 17% of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

Technology in early years primary education needs to improve. I would have every primary school teacher trained to deliver a creative and engaging technology curriculum which includes coding. Then every young person (regardless of gender) would be engaged and skilled.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech, eg Podcasts, networking events, books, conferences, websites etc?

LinkedIn is fantastic for connecting with like-minded individuals in the tech space, as is the likes of Tech City UK and Tech Nation. Codefirst:Girls is a social enterprise which delivers free education to young women across the UK to increase the number of women in tech. I think it depends on the stage of your career and your preferred method of getting information, but the reassuring thing is there is an abundance of information and a vibrant community out there dedicated to ensuring the number of women in tech continues to prosper.


Tamara Littleton featured

Inspirational Woman: Tamara Littleton | Founder & CEO, The Social Element

Tamara Littleton is founder and CEO of The Social Element, a consultancy-led social media agency advising some of the world’s biggest brands on how to use social to solve business challenges.

Tamara LittletonShe founded the company in 2002 before the explosion of social media with the ambition of challenging the conventional agency model; pioneering and building her global business (now 300+ strong) predominantly through a remote working model that to this day is truly innovative in the agency market.

In 2013, Tamara also co-founded Polpeo, a crisis simulation platform for brands and their agencies so they could prepare for how a crisis would affect them online.

Tamara is a tech pioneer, a champion of the diversity, LGBTQ and female entrepreneurial agenda and passionate about keeping children safe online.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role?

I’m Tamara Littleton, CEO and Founder of The Social Element and Co-Founder of Polpeo. The Social Element is a social media agency I founded when social media was in its infancy and has been going for 17 years. In 2013 I co-founded Polpeo, which helps brands rehearse a reputational crisis breaking on social media on our bespoke simulation platform.

My Co-Founder, Kate Hartley, and I kept seeing big brands getting their crisis communications so very wrong on social media and by combining her PR and crisis background and my social media expertise, we joined forces and created a tool that allows brands to fail safely so they can be better prepared.

I’ve always been in pioneering technology and I’m unashamedly geeky. My early career included working with an academic publisher to create the first online journals being downloaded on the web, and my other seminal job was running the Webmaster Team at BBC Online in 1999 when the BBC was at the forefront of digital. It was truly an incredible time.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

My career planning is probably best described as a series of unusual events. I studied Psychology at Manchester University and threw myself into the sports scene whilst I was there. I was a goalkeeper and represented the University, Manchester County and England Universities too. I won trophies and got my colours but along the way forgot to really focus on my studies. It’s fair to say I scraped a 2:2 in my degree and when I left and went to London, my plans to be a criminal psychologist came to a brutal end as the competition in the job market was too strong. I was unemployed and so I went back to my geeky roots instead.

I’d always loved computers so I taught myself to touch type using a computer game, and was lucky enough to get a publishing secretary job with my Hockey Captain as I was still pursuing my Hockey career. Being able to touch type ended up being the single most important thing I’d done. I progressed in publishing and ended up moving to Chapman & Hall and eventually taking on the new online publishing project with a then small start up called Adobe as my predecessor got head hunted and I was the only one who’d been shadowing his computer work. It was the mid 90s and it was all very exciting.

At 25 I was put in charge of the entire department and got to fly around the world working with people who were the driving force of digital publishing.

I was an internet consultant for a brief period before making myself redundant by accidentally falling off a ladder and breaking my right wrist and left elbow. Finding myself once again unemployed, I landed an amazing role at the BBC and that was the springboard for me starting The Social Element (called Emoderation at the time) and building it into a 300 person strong, global agency.

What was your motivation in setting up your agency? 

One of my key motivations was seeing the rise in online communities such as forums and virtual worlds. I predicted that brands would want to move more into this area of community and social media and I had a vision that they would want to protect their reputations and their users online. I am also passionate about child safety online and was shocked at how bad the early virtual communities were - to describe it as being akin to the wild west wouldn’t be an exaggeration.

Anyone could setup a virtual world without moderation or guardrails in place and children were exposed to harmful content, bullying and grooming by pedophiles as a result. The industry was very young so in the early years I was helping to educate industry, charities, schools and parents on the potential dangers that such a cavalier approach to digital communities could bring . I ended up being part of the original Internet Taskforce for Child Protection on the Internet which led to guidance being published in 2005 that set the standards for the world. That commitment to child safety is still at the heart of The Social Element and we've been honoured to work over the years with like minded clients such as LEGO, Disney and PlayStation.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

The main challenge has been building my own confidence. I was always very happy in a leadership role and creating teams around me. I’m a natural communicator but I suffered from low confidence when it came to selling. I had to really work on what was holding me back and how to overcome it. I’m an ambivert and often have very introverted days so networking and public speaking were far from my comfort zone. Again, I had to work hard and get training to push through this and two years ago I gave a TEDx talk - something I would never have believed I could do. I’m now a big fan of pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Running two companies at the same time makes me incredibly proud and having one of them still growing and adapting after 17 years is a big achievement. I’ve worked hard to surround myself by brilliant people who allow me to focus on the vision and driving the agency forward.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?  

I would say that I am driven by a dual approach of passion and tenacity. To build a company takes grit and you have to be able to navigate a lot of anxiety and dark moments, then huge waves of excitement as you win new clients, take on new staff or change direction. I’m hugely passionate about business, growth and my industry, and I think that rubs off on the team. Tenacity allows me to get up every morning and keep going even when it’s not easy.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I belong to various groups focused on entrepreneurs and I’m committed to helping other women scale their businesses. As an out LGBTQ leader, I’m particularly focused on LGBTQ entrepreneurs and I’m part of Series Q which is a group that supports that vision. I also run a group called Evil Genius locally in East London which helps female entrepreneurs. It has been incredibly rewarding and I get a thrill when people take the plunge and start a company.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?

I’ve been championing the use of a remote workforce for 17 years and I see the impact that flexible working has on gender parity. Having the choice to choose your hours and your place of work has a major impact on women returning to work or juggling family commitments and their career. To me it’s such an obvious way to work that has a positive impact on diversity. I would like more airspace given to why this is the work model of the future.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

It’s ok to be different; in fact it’s an advantage - embrace it.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

I’m on a mission to prove that creative collaboration is possible using a mixture of the traditional agency model and the remote working, agency of the future model. I’d also like to write a book on remote working models, company culture and I wouldn’t mind launching a business networking club centred around karaoke too.


Inspirational Woman: Wendy Johansson | Global Vice President, Experience Transformation Lead, Publicis Sapient

Wendy Johansson headshotWendy built her 25-year career on leading UX teams as an early employee at successful early-stage startups.

She was the first designer at Loopt, Sam Altman’s YC-funded startup that later sold for $43 million. As the UX manager at Ooyala, she helped build the marketing, videography, and UX teams before the company were sold to Telstra for $400M. Wendy also led the global UX team at AppNexus, sold to AT&T for $1.6B, before joining Wizeline.

Wendy studied Cognitive Science with a specialization in Human-Computer Interaction at UC San Diego. She has also received executive education in product management at U.C. Berkeley. During her time at UCSD, she led the Society of Women Engineers chapter and Society of Automotive Engineers. She is the winner of the regional .NET challenge in 2004.

In 2019, Wendy was invited to become an investment committee member of CompuSoluciones' Corporate Venture Capital fund. She hopes to use her new position to mentor women entrepreneurs and identify overlooked startups in Mexico that have the potential to disrupt industries.

Wendy is passionate about felines and females in technology –in no particular order. She volunteers at the San Francisco SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) in her spare time. As part of the Society of Women Engineers, she mentors young women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and speaks at SWE’s regional even

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I studied Cognitive Science with a specialization in Human Computer Interaction at UC San Diego. During these years, I was painfully shy and quiet, but found a purpose in my university chapter of Society of Women Engineers. Serving our community of women engineering majors while being mentored by professional women engineers in industry, I found my voice leading and facilitating a group of amazing young women. I continued to find opportunities to foster and grow my voice early in my career as a UX designer, then UX manager, and later as a co-founder of a global product startup, Wizeline. During my time at Wizeline, I led our UX team and created Wizeline Academy, our community initiative to teach tech skills to emerging markets for free. After 6 years growing a product design and development team of nearly 500 people worldwide in San Francisco, Mexico, Vietnam and Thailand, I left to seek my biggest challenge to date – as Group VP of Experience at Publicis Sapient, which is nearly 40 times bigger than my startup!

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

It’s difficult to plan your career when there’s no “industry standard” or role models to refer to! I graduated university and became a web designer before tech design was a popular field. So I’m at the forefront of my discipline, which has gone through so many iterations of job titles – web design, User interface design, User experience design, product design, CX design… It’ll continue to change, but now as a GVP of Experience, I try to make myself visible and available to younger folks in my industry so they see a path and a role for themselves in the future.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

Early in my career in the 2000s, I was always the token woman on every product engineering team. At my second job, one of the male engineers made a point to tell me he was required to shower daily and wear a shirt now that a woman was on the team. I don’t think I realized how uncomfortable I was on my teams at the time, as it wasn’t a time and place in society where gender equality or diversity were topical or even discussed amongst friends.

As my career progressed and inclusion has become more of an open topic in recent years, I’ve used my power and my voice to be a role model for my team members - showing that I am a leader, but also a person. I let my personality shine through my leadership style, so people know they can grow into these roles and retain *themselves* and their values in a corporate environment.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

By my measure, my biggest career achievement has been impacting the lives of the many people who have been on my teams and coaching them to grow into new skills, new roles, and new opportunities. I’ve never been prouder than when my team members are too big for the challenge my team can offer them, and can go flex their new skills in a new role!

By the measure of industry, co-founding my own company and working 24/7 for 6 years to grow an amazing culture and team. I’m proud of this learning experience for myself, but the tangible value is still measured by the success of the people who have grown with me on that journey.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Success never comes without massive failure. I have a great support system around me in terms of family and friends who are always there for me without judgement and don’t treat career as a competition. Without this support system, I couldn’t get through my personal and professional hardships.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

It is not your skill alone that will help you excel. You need to learn to contribute to the natural communities that form in the workplace and socially. Only when you have meaningful skill-based and community contribution can you master your own career.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

Aboslutely! There are biases against women that exist in all levels of tech, every single day. The barriers can only be overcome when we have normalized what is typically characterized as female. Today, male traits are normalized and we’re challenged to be more like men, but we need to turn the tables and challenge our male colleagues to be more like women. Only then can we come to the table equally.

What do you think companies can do to progress the careers of women working in technology?

If companies want more gender equality, they need to foster an environment where they can hire for those ratios no matter what career level. It’s easy to highlight a near equal ratio of young women in junior tech roles, but what about manager and director level women? Are there policies in place to support women with families to stand as role models in mid-manager positions? Are there women in the C-suite who can have a voice in ensuring these policies are designed, by and for women? Without a range and ratio of female voices across all career levels, we can never close the gap for women in tech.

There is currently only 17% of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

Magic swap to make it 17% men in tech. Let’s see how that works out.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

If you like to spend your downtime on social media like I do on Instagram and Twitter, go follow some empowering women accounts rather than the usual influencers. Get empowered even in, especially in, your downtime. @17.21women, @ladiesgetpaid, @elainewelteroth, @rupikaur_, @girlsatlibrary


Didem Un Ates featured

Inspirational Woman: Didem Ün Ates | Senior Director, AI Customer & Partner Engagement, Microsoft

Didem Un AtesFollowing her Electrical Engineering and Management studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Didem started her career with management consulting at CapGemini and Motorola.

After graduating from Columbia Business School (CBS) in 2005, Didem continued her career at Greenwich Consulting (now part of EY) and British Telecom in London, UK.

Her passion for technology led her to join Microsoft’s Information & Content Experiences Group where she and her team signed c. 1,500 partnerships across 60 markets. She held other business development and partner management roles as part of Microsoft Accelerators and the Business AI teams. In her current role, Didem is focusing on scaling Microsoft’s SaaS AI solutions such as Dynamics Customer Service Insights and Virtual Agent.

Didem has 20+ years of multinational leadership experience in business development, management consulting, and product management in executing international roll outs, implementing new market entries, and building new revenue streams from disruptive technologies in EMEA, APAC, and LatAm.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

Following my Electrical Engineering and Strategic Management studies at the University of Pennsylvania, I started my career at CapGemini and Motorola. After graduating from Columbia Business School (CBS) in 2005, I continued at Greenwich Consulting (now part of EY) and British Telecom in London, UK.

My passion for technology led me to join Microsoft’s Information & Content Experiences Group where my team and I signed c. 1,500 partnerships across 60 markets. I held other business development and partner management roles as part of Microsoft Accelerators and the Business AI teams. In my current role, I am focusing on scaling our SaaS AI solutions such as Microsoft Dynamics Customer Service Insights and Virtual Agent.

As part of my Diversity & Inclusion and STEM related social impact work, I have been leading a global volunteer team to host ‘Girls in AI’ hackathons and bootcamps to increase female participation in AI/ML technology sector worldwide. I am including a few videos and blogs for those who might be interested in replicating these events or collaborating in future ones:

Videos:

Blogs:

Podcast:

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Of course. With every job or team change (which happens roughly every 12-18 months), I re-evaluate my path and potential career options following my latest move. I check my thinking with my mentors and trusted advisors every 3-6 months.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

As a diverse talent and immigrant working mother in tech sector, ‘career challenges’ have simply been part of life. As such, I do not even label such situations as ‘challenges’, ‘problems’, etc. I visualize the lotus flower during these periods – it grows in the smelliest, muddiest, most disgusting waters but is still able to be beautiful and to radiate positivity to its surroundings.

So whenever I face such a situation, I ask myself: “How can I raise a lotus flower in these circumstances? How can I turn this situation upside down and make it an advantage (as opposed to a hurdle) for me and my career so I land in an even better place?” I think of these incidents as potential spring-boards rather than handicaps or crises. If one takes the time to look inside and think creatively, there is always a solution.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I have been fortunate to make notable financial and business impact to all my employers and teams in terms of scaling disruptive technologies, generating new revenue streams, launching new products and markets, expanding partnership ecosystems, etc.

All of these achievements, especially when they involved building new teams and creating win-win solutions, have been fascinating and extremely meaningful for me.

The most fulfilling and rewarding achievement in my mind though, has been with my recent volunteer work on ‘Girls in AI’/ ‘Alice Envisions the Future’ bootcamps and hackathons, where I lead a phenomenal team of volunteers at Microsoft to host these events globally. We have successfully demonstrated how effective and impactful these hackathons and bootcamps are, so now numerous teams in the company are scaling these efforts worldwide. If we can improve that terrifying – and declining - %12 diversity figure in AI/ ML to a more acceptable figure, I will be a very happy person. 😊

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Perseverance combined with hard work.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

Think of the Lotus. See challenging situations, people, projects, etc. as opportunities for growth and think about how you can use them as spring boards, as advantageous opportunities to progress in your path.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

Sadly, the answer is ‘of course.’ I would strongly recommend the book Brotopia for a comprehensive study of these barriers and potential mitigations. My humble view is we should start by enhancing diversity in our sector so that barriers can actually be un-earthed and acknowledged. If 90% of the workforce does not ‘see’ any barriers or ‘feel’ any of the pain, you have a much steeper mountain to climb. Sadly, 10%’s pain and the negative consequences in the business are misinterpreted are ‘just noise.’

What do you think companies can do to support to progress the careers of women working in technology?

We have to work on both sides of the diversity and inclusion equation.

On the diversity side, the key is to ensure diverse talent has hope of career progression and plenty of job opportunities. On the inclusion side, we need to ensure they feel included and treated fairly when faced with discrimination, bias, etc. so that they can survive and stay in the organization.

There is currently only 17% of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

Education system – inspiring girls, especially 7-18 year olds, to embrace and make the most of technology regardless of their passions. In the end, even if you want to be a dancer or artist, you will be a better one if you know how to use technology. We have to land this message and enable girls to be digital natives as well.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Trainings:

  • Public speaking training – the best quality you can afford…
  • Coding trainings, AI hackathons/ bootcamps, online courses (Please see the blog for details)

Books:

  • Brotopia, Emily Chang
  • Playing Big, Tara Mohr
  • A Life of My Own, Claire Tomalin
  • Inferior, Angela Saini

Podcasts:

  • Women in Tech, Marie Wiese

Women in Tech York

Women in Tech York

Who are we?

We are a community of like-minded people studying, working or interested in technology. Our goal is to run events in which we can share our knowledge and interests as well as encourage and empower one another. This event is not exclusive to women; we welcome anyone passionate about tech and increasing diversity in the field.

We also welcome all students who are interested in learning more about Tech, and the careers it entails.

FIND OUT MORE


Zoe Morris featured

Inspirational Woman: Zoe Morris | President of Frank Recruitment Group

Zoe MorrisZoe Morris is the President of niche IT staffing firm Frank Recruitment Group.

Zoe has played a vital role in building Frank Recruitment Group into the global, award-winning specialist recruitment firm that it is today; under Zoe’s leadership, the company has consistently achieved substantial year on year growth as well as winning many industry-based awards.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

My name is Zoe Morris, and I’m the President at Frank Recruitment Group, a leading firm specialising in niche technology staffing. I was born and raised in Kent, and have lived in the capital ever since moving here to study psychology at the City University of London.

When I took my first few steps into the world of recruitment, I realised that a great deal of psychology applies not just to sales, but to leadership in general. It felt like a very natural fit for me from day one—I just fell in love with the industry. Finding and landing your dream job is a special achievement, so helping driven people build their careers and getting a front row seat to that experience is one of the most satisfying parts of the role.

I’ve worked in the recruitment industry for almost 20 years now, and before joining Frank Recruitment Group, I was a Director at Hays plc. Today I oversee the organisation’s ongoing business and sales operations—that includes anything from employee training through to investigating new sales territories we should open additional offices in.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Throughout university and early on in my professional life, I’d say there was an element of planning but I was much more focused on short term goals and achievements. I think that when you’re just starting out, it’s natural to want to get your bearings before committing to a long term plan. As I  built up more experience it became easier to make longer term plans and set more ambitious career goals to keep me motivated.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Yes, loads! The industry we’re in operates almost entirely on short term targets, so our monthly performance could change direction at the drop of a hat. Externally, we navigated the 2008 global financial crisis while carving out a space in a highly competitive tech market. We didn’t just weather the storm—we came out stronger on the other side, entering the European market by 2009.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

One of my proudest moments at Frank Recruitment Group came when, in my first three years here, we more than tripled our global headcount from 500 to 1600 and opened a 11 new office locations around the world. Being a part of that kind of success is a unique experience, and drove us all to aim higher and push for excellence with more zeal and commitment than ever before.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Confidence. A lot of professional success hinges on having the kind of confidence that allows your unique perspective and experience to shine through. We saw nothing but opportunity in this untapped market for niche technology recruitment—it was just a matter of knowing where to start. Always strive for confidence in what you’re doing, because it’ll inspire confidence in those around you and make the journey that little bit smoother.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I feel that it’s our duty as seasoned professionals to act as mentors, and being asked to help people realise their potential is always an honour. When you’re lucky enough to mentor others, each new stage of your career brings with it fresh opportunities to encourage growth and inspire people to believe in their own abilities.

It could be as simple as offering a quick word of advice when an issue arises, or carving out 30 minutes to grab a cup of coffee and catch up. There’s no need to be formal; what matters is the quality of your guidance and what others can gain from the time you share.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?

We need to do more to foster confidence in girls and women when it comes to entrepreneurship or careers in STEM, and change attitudes towards gender stereotypes. A major part of that comes from empowering women to claim their space in the workplace, and making the business world a more inclusive place. If girls don’t see strong, relatable role models in the industries they’re interested in, they’ll struggle to see themselves succeeding there.

We can work towards greater gender parity by building programmes to help women get back into the professional world, and by developing benefits packages that are better suited to working caregivers. At Nigel Frank—our brand dedicated to Microsoft recruitment—we created the Diversity in Dynamics programme, a return-to-work initiative to get more women back into the tech sector after taking a career break.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

You need to get out there and forge your own opportunities instead of waiting for them to fall into your lap. We miss out on so much by waiting for the ‘right’ opportunity to come along—a great deal of our achievements have come from creating our own opportunities. We’ve carved out our own space in the industry and mapped our own path to success rather than following the ones well-travelled.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

In my capacity as President, it’s my aim to continue growing the business and ultimately achieve market domination in every niche technology we operate in. As part of that, I want to foster a new style of management that will continue to sustain the company beyond my leadership.


Women in Tech

Women in Tech

Technology for all – Bridging the gender gap

Women in Tech® is an international non-profit organization with a double mission: to close the gender gap and to help women embrace technology.

The organization focuses on 4 primary areas that are a call for action: Education, Entrepreneurship, Events and Research. The aim is to educate, equip and empower women and girls with the necessary skills to succeed in STEM career fields.

More than an organization, we are a movement representing all people – regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, class, age, sexual orientation, or disability status. We have members in over 60 countries.

Open minds for a more Inclusive Tech

There are numerous issues that restrict the number of women in tech roles today. If we want to bridge the gender gap, then we need to begin by introducing girls to the benefits of technology at an early age. By creating a strategy that covers everything from education to entrepreneurship, we can help women in technology to embrace tech, and discover a new world of opportunities.

Education

We believe in raising awareness for more accessible, all-inclusive education and training strategies for women in tech.

Entrepreneurship

We offer networking opportunities, mentorship from leaders in their space, and support for project incubation and acceleration.

Awards

Women in Tech ® awards recognize and celebrate the leaders that are doing their part to transform the digital ecosystem.

Challenge

We are launching a Challenge to identify and reward projects and initiatives that take action to bridge gender gap.

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Women of Wearables

Women of Wearables (WoW)

Women of Wearables (WoW) is first global organisation aiming to inspire, support and connect women in wearable tech, fashion tech, smart textiles, IoT, health tech and VR/AR. 

With headquarters in London (UK) and more than 10,000 members located around the globe, WoW has become a global movement that supports its growing community through events, mentorship, educational programs and collaboration with its network of local ambassadors and partners. Our community is composed of startup founders, SMEs, industry experts, accelerators, incubators, STEM organisations, bloggers, journalists and investors.

Women of Wearables (WoW) is not just for professional women, but for anyone with an interest in wearable technology and providing women with a platform for growth.

We welcome trans women and men, non binary folks, and allies. More important than your gender identity (or lack thereof) is that you're a supportive and contributing member of our group.

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Beckie Taylor

Inspirational Woman: Beckie Taylor | Co-founder of Women in Technology Northern Chapter

Beckie TaylorBeckie is an Ambassador for Tech and Women in Leadership, and the Co-founder of Women in Technology Northern Chapter.

In 2017, she launched Tech Returners to empower returners and enable their opportunities in tech, by providing development and creating accessible routes into businesses through continual training and technology, resulting in more diverse and inclusive workforces. 2018 also saw the launch of ’Tech Future Female Leaders, a programme designed for female technology leaders to develop themselves to succeed and inspire others.

Tech Returners was shortlisted in the Northern Power Women awards for Innovation 2018 and for e-skills Initiative of the year at the Women in IT award 2019 for its practical guidance, and personal development coaching.Additionally Beckie has been shortlisted in the Women in IT Awards 2017 Advocate of the year and voted one of the Top 30 Women in Technology for Greater Manchester 2018.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

With 17 years experience in People /  Talent / HR, 11 of which has been in the tech sector, I have been actively involved in scaling tech businesses through the importance of the value of people.

I am an Ambassador for Tech and Women in Leadership and am Co Founder of Women In Technology Northern Chapter which has grown to 1500 members in just 3 years.

In 2017 I launched Tech Returners to empower returners and enable their opportunities in tech by providing development and creating accessible routes into business through continual training and technology, resulting in more diverse and inclusive workforces. Tech Returners was shortlisted in the Northern Power Women Awards for Innovation 2018, E-skills Initiative of the year at the Women in IT awards 2019  and I was shortlisted for Advocate of The Year 2017 at the Women in IT Awards 2017 alongside featuring in the Top 30 Women in Tech in Greater Manchester in early 2018.

Since its inception the ‘returner’ programme has enabled 23 careers in technology, 22 of those were women and we’ve worked with businesses including AutoTrader, the BBC, Manchester Airports Group, Lloyds Banking Group and ANS Group. 2018 saw the launch of ‘ Tech Future Female Leaders, a programme designed for female technology leaders to develop themselves to succeed and inspire other. Only 5% of tech leaders in the UK are female and we’re committed to working with businesses to change that, our pilot cohort saw 12 individuals complete the course, we’re on Cohort 2 currently bringing 8 individuals through the programme and we’re also working exclusively with the Co Op to deliver our programme in-house for 24 of their tech leaders.

2019 for Tech Returners has seen the roll out of more cohorts of our programmes, the growth of our team and a partnership with University of Manchester Business School to produce first of its kind research into women returners in the tech industry. It’s also seen an addition to my family, a daughter Emmie May (12 days old at the time of writing) and sister to Ethan (5).

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No, when I was younger I wanted to be in the mounted police but due to losing hearing in my left ear meant I wasn’t able to pursue this dream. I then fell into recruitment and progressed into HR and once I realised I had a passion for developing people I then focused on my own career and progressed into senior leadership positions.  I always ensure that whatever I do has a core purpose and aligns with my personal values and beliefs and contributes to making a real difference.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

As a senior woman in tech I have sat on all male leadership teams and faced challenges of not being listened to and faced inappropriate comments all of which only served to make me more driven to change the landscape for future women in technology and to educate and support businesses to make these changes. I’m very fortunate to have a strong support network which has been there during these challenging times and I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for those people.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Having my children and also having a successful career – don’t get me wrong getting the balance right isn’t always easy however it is something that is important to me to have both, I am clear with my expectations and try and plan where I can but at the same time remembering to be kind to myself when things don’t always go to plan. Being shortlisted for a number of awards in the infancy of Tech Returners has also been such an honour along with hearing feedback from our returners that the opportunity has changed their life, it’s quite difficult to articulate how much that means to me in terms of achievement.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Having a strong support network, being surrounded by people I can talk to, trust and who can offer me constructive advice.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

For all the programmes we run we use a tool called “your journey to success” which helps to map out current achievements and skills and then focuses on what success means to the individual, thinking about personal values and professional goals and then using these to focus on what the goals or stepping stones are to support that success, individuals can then identify where they need support or where they need to develop whilst keeping track of what’s important to them.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

Yes, companies need to provide opportunities for women in tech whether development opportunities or opportunities to enter the sector and this begins with looking at their culture, do they have an environment and values which support this? And I mean actions and not just words, ensuring they practice what they preach is essential as there are women who want to progress in the sector, the desire is there but right now the support is not.

I am also on a campaign to re-frame the narrative around women in tech – it was pointed out to me no wonder we have a lack of women in tech as all the blogs, videos and content out there, focus on the negatives of being a women in tech and whilst it’s important to highlight challenges we also need to focus on the amazing achievements and role models we have in the sector which is why we’re going to be launching our own conference run by Tech Returners and Women In Tech North to highlight these role models and the positive reasons why more women should be in the industry.

What do you think companies can do to support to progress the careers of women working in technology?

The reason we set up Tech Future Female Leaders was two fold, the statistic of just 5% of tech leaders in the UK being female but more than that the shocking lack of resources and programmes to support their development, this needs to change with businesses taking a look at what they can offer internally through mentoring and coaching and if that’s not something the business can support then reaching out externally to networks like Women In Tech North who can offer the support, finances and resource to make this happen.

There is currently on 15% of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

I think we need to look at it from a different angle we need to work with schools/colleges and university to build the talent pipeline but also focus on retaining the female talent we have in the industry and then create opportunities for women returning or entering tech after a career break, a multi pronged attack in which we all support one another.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech, eg Podcasts, networking events, books, conferences, websites etc?

WIT North – our network group

Growth Mindset – Carol Dweck

Eat Sleep Work Repeat – podcast

Ted Talks Daily

Tech Tent

Invisible Women  - Book


One HealthTech featured

One HealthTech

One HealthTech is a volunteer-led grassroots community that supports and promotes women and other under-represented groups to be future leaders in health innovation.

We inspire, celebrate, enable and champion diversity in healthtech. The OHT community comes from many different sectors, countries and backgrounds, and includes health and care providers, startups, corporates, academics and charities, as well as individual chaos-creating innovators.

Having started as a small meet-up in London in late 2015, OHT has grown to now have hubs all over the UK, as well as internationally, in Ireland, Sweden and Australia. All hubs are led by local community-builders, passionate about healthtech in their region.

We inspire the community through showcasing, connecting, profiling and laughing. We bring together doers, thinkers and trailblazers to change the face of future healthcare. The community is free to join – we feel our resources and the opportunities we provide should be as accessible as possible.

Vision:

That healthtech is vibrant, open and accessible.

Mission:

To empower local grassroots communities to thrive by inspiring, celebrating, enabling and championing diversity in healthtech.

Beliefs:

We believe innovation in heathtech should be accessible to everyone. We also believe in the power of human networks and communities to drive change, and that every voice should be heard so that technology can positively impact all.

 

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