Marc Woodhead featured

HeForShe: Marc Woodhead | CEO & Founder, Holograph

Marc Woodhead

Marc Woodhead is founder and CEO of cutting-edge software development business Holograph.

With 25 years’ experience in graphic design, computer system design, human-computer interaction and psychology, he is recognised as one of the UK’s most inventive creatives.

Why do you support the HeForShe campaign? For example – do you have a daughter or have witnessed the benefits that diversity can bring to a workplace?

I am blessed with two daughters; I am also lucky to have three women running my business. Operations Director, Finance Director and Platform Producer.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

To provide a balanced and normalised environment for everyone.

How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?

I don’t feel most men feel comfortable in the conversation, which is creating something of an imbalance in my opinion. There appears to be what amounts to a fear/anxiety being generated for the revised generation of men, by the appropriate response by women, after the actions and previous hundreds of years of misogyny and abuse by men in power.

Do you think groups/networks that include the words “women in…” or “females in…” make men feel like gender equality isn’t really their problem or something they need to help with?

Interesting, in a sense, I don’t feel men should be ‘helping’, I think they should be ‘not focussing’ on any concept of gender in making their decisions.

What can businesses do to encourage more men to feel welcome enough to get involved in the gender debate?

I’m not sure I have the experience to comment on this as I have been lucky enough not to directly experience the kind of business that might make gender biased decisions. I suspect that a forum within which everyone is welcome to openly discuss things, including nurtured feelings of bias on both sides, may be a big ask!

Do you currently mentor any women or have you in the past?

Yes, I am developing my Operations Director, supporting my Finance Director and working closely with both the aforementioned to bring our Platform Producer to Director level. I am also working closely with both our senior designers (one man and one woman) to impart my background experience and ideas in developing our brand, design culture, and managing our close working relationship with our clients.

Have you noticed any difference in mentoring women – for example, are women less likely to put themselves forward for jobs that are out of their comfort zones or are women less likely to identify senior roles that they would be suited for?

In my experience I have found the women on my team to be strong minded and focussed on success, driving change and defining their own futures within our business.


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Talent retention is dying: here’s why that’s a good thing

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By Christina Petersen, co-founder and Head of People at Worksome

For people of our grandfathers’ generation, career progression was linear.

They got jobs straight out of school, gradually moved up the corporate ladder, gained more pristine job titles and a bigger paycheck. He knew he had made it when he reached the corner office – perhaps even one in the executive suite. He stayed at his company until he retired, having only had one employer his entire career.

The world of work is very different today:  people change jobs like babies change diapers. Adam Kingl, a professor at London Business School, found that number of jobs increase exponentially per generation. Our grandparents had 1-2 jobs, our parents had 2-4 jobs, Gen X will have 7-8 jobs, and Millennials are expected to have 8-16 jobs. If this trend continues, Gen Z-ers are likely to have 32 jobs in their professional lifetime.

Of course, one must take these numbers with a pinch of salt. The takeaway isn’t that people will be bouncing mindlessly from one full-time position to another. Rather, people are likely to complete more project-based employment as freelancers and independent consultants.

This means that current working generations’ career paths are more non-linear than linear, and play out across functions, jobs, and even industries.

One of the reasons for this trend towards non-linear careers is that young workers, while no less driven by professional development, prioritize flexibility and hunting down work that they find meaningful. As a result, increasing employee turnover has become an inevitable byproduct of the modern career path.

What does this mean for HR?

HR has for a long time had a visceral drive to retain great employees when they find them, as shown in a recent LinkedIn Global Recruiting Trends. Retention has been viewed as critical to maintaining a competitive advantage.

However, this kind of thinking is no longer sustainable. According to Deloitte, half of Millenials will leave their employer company within two years. Gallup states that 60 per cent of employees are open to accepting better offers from a competitor. And West Monroe Partners found that 45 per cent of employees applied for a job opening at a competitor company within their first year.

As the average tenure of employees is decreasing, retention seems like an increasingly impossible task. Companies that fail to develop strategies that specifically address the higher employee turnover rates risk limiting their access to critical skills.

Instead, companies should focus on creating strategies and a culture that embraces a hybrid workforce, consisting of a mix of full-time employees and external workers like freelancers and consultants.

Fostering a hybrid workforce gives companies access to the critical skills they need to pursue their goals. PwC found that 76 per cent of CEOs are concerned about the availability of critically needed skills in their workforces. Only 26 per cent find that it’s easy to attract such skills.

 In fact, the vast majority of companies surveyed respond to these challenges by accessing talent from the rapidly growing freelance economy.

Since 2001, the number of self-employed workers in the UK has been increasing at a fast rate. And self-employed people (including entrepreneurs, contractors, and freelancers) now account for around 15 per cent of the working population in the UK. One of the reasons for this boom in the freelance economy is people’s want for increased flexibility.

But while the gigster tends to receive most of the publicity, it’s the other group – the highly skilled independent consultants and freelancers -- who are changing the way companies get access to much-needed skills.

Deloitte and PwC both predict that companies in the future will employ more of these highly skilled freelancers to support their businesses. Accenture asserts that future businesses may have only have a small minority of full-time employees, while the majority is freelance.

In Jon Younger’s research for Agile Talent, business leaders explained why they’re increasing their reliance on freelancers. Some of the advantages include greater access to expertise, reduced startup time, being able to attract talent who are otherwise unavailable or too costly to go full time, the ability to manage cost and scope, and increased knowledge transfer to internal staff.

HR plays a key role in handling the current changes in the labour market. But HR has to step up and embrace a larger vision than traditional employment in a traditional company.

Sustainable recruitment practices are all about looking at recruitment as being about accessing talent, not about owning talent.

Retention is slowly dying. And may it rest in peace.

Christina Peterson featured

About the author

Christina Peterson is co-founder and COO of Worksome.

Worksome is a matchmaking platform that connects employees with prospective employees in 24 hours via AI and in work within four days.


Sukhi Jutla

Learning from my mistakes | Sukhi Jutla

Sukhi Jutla

Throughout my entrepreneurial journey, I have won a number of awards (such as the WeAreTheCity Rising Star Award).

Some might think that awards like these come from always doing the right thing at the right time. But I believe that awards like these are awarded to those who do more than just get things right. They are given to those who make many mistakes and experience any setbacks but still find a way to push forward.

Just ten years ago, I was working in the corporate world; I ticked all the right boxes and was doing all the things I felt I was supposed to be doing but felt miserable inside. I have now reinvented myself as the entrepreneur I feel I was born to be. I am now the co-founder and COO of MarketOrders. Whilst it has been a lifechanging experience, my journey was peppered with numerous mistakes I made.

Mistake one: Not believing I could be an entrepreneur because I wasn’t like Richard Branson

I learnt to understand that entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes. Each entrepreneurial experience is molded by individual personalities; not all of us are extroverts, and that’s fine. Find your key strengths and play to them, as this is exactly what Branson does and why he does it so well. Be authentic to yourself. I have recently published a book, ‘Escape The Cubicle: Quit The Job You Hate, Create A Life You Love’, which offers advice on how people can identify and work with their key strengths.

Mistake two: Not trusting my intuition

There was a significant learning curve whilst changing my mindset from being a corporate employee to an enterprising entrepreneur, and often times I felt out of depth. In the early days of being an entrepreneur, I often prioritised the opinions of others rather than trusting myself. However, I found that each time mistakes were made, it was almost always because I had ignored my initial instincts. Developing self-confidence has taught me how important it is to be aligned with your decision that you are making, as opposed to years of experience. Have courage and confidence in your own choices.

Mistake three: Being my own worst critic

Not all decisions will lead to the outcome you desire. As an entrepreneur, bad decisions cost you time and money which are two key resources that come in short supply to a start-up. The desire to make the right decision is, therefore, even higher. However, sometimes no matter how much you listen to your instinct or take precautions to mitigate the risks, things might not turn out the way you expect them to. I have taught myself to let go and not give myself such a hard time when things go wrong. Accept it, move on and learn from the experience, whether it is good or bad. Don't let any experience go to waste.

Mistake four: Not saying ‘no’ enough

In the early days of MarketOrders, I wore myself out. I saw myself attending every workshop, taking every meeting or call and taking in every bit of information possible. In hindsight, I can see why I did this; I was afraid that I would miss out on the next big deal, or information that would be vital to the business. I almost ended up accepting funding from a Venture Capitalist because I thought it would make the business look bad to turn down money that MarketOrders so desperately needed. Now, I know that it is essential to learn to say no, so that you are able to say yes to the things that really matter. Looking back on my journey, turning down the £250,000 from a VC was the best move I could have made. Saying no to ‘bad’ money, has lead me to our Crowdfunding campaign which is now live and doing well. The whole process of crowdfunding has taught me so much, and I am so much more grateful for the outcome.

Mistake five: Taking things too seriously

Owning a startup comes with a lot of responsibility. You are accountable for others’ careers, their livelihoods and wellbeing. As a founder, you are required to be a number of different roles at the start; you are the legal team, marketing team and finance team, and it can get overwhelming. In the early days, this often caused me to burn out.

If I could go back, I would advise myself to enjoy the journey and the process. It’s important to acknowledge that it can be very difficult to accomplish great success, but it doesn’t have to be a painful process. Remember to give yourself a break, savour every achievement whether it is big or small, and enjoy the journey.

About Sukhi Jutla

Sukhi Jutla is an award-winning entrepreneur and author of three books. She is the co-founder of MarketOrders, an online B2B platform for the gold and diamond jewellery industry. She is a leading international speaker, influencer and thought leader in tech and a qualified IBM Blockchain Foundation Developer. She is recognized by a number of industry awards including the Asian Women of Achievement Awards, Management Todays ’35 Women Under 35′ and named a Top 100 European Digital Pioneer by The Financial Times and Google. In April 2018 Sukhi made global headlines when she became the World’s First #1 Bestselling ‘Blockchain’ Author.

MarketOrders is an online marketplace helping independent retail jewellers to source the products they need faster, cheaper and direct from suppliers. Find out more at https://www.marketorders.net/

Connect with Sukhi

LinkedIn: Sukhi Jutla / MarketOrders

Facebook: MarketOrders Official

Twitter: @SukhiJutla / @Market_Orders

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/market_orders/?hl=en

Instagram: Market_Orders

Book: Escape The Cubicle

Website: https://www.marketorders.net/


Christina Peterson featured

Inspirational Woman: Christina Peterson | Co-Founder & COO, Worksome

Christina Peterson

Christina Peterson is co-founder and COO of Worksome.

Worksome is a matchmaking platform that connects employees with prospective employees in 24 hours via AI and in work within four days.

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

I was born in Nuuk, Greenland in August 1982, and lived there until the age of seven. I am currently based in Holte, just north of Copenhagen, where I live with my husband and three children – all boys – aged nine, seven and our latest addition who is only a few months old.

Generally, I have always been interested in social dynamics, and what drives and motivates us. This has influenced both my education and career choices, which have centered around psychology and Human Resources. In terms of academic achievements, I am a Master in Human Resource Management, primarily focused on Performance Management and incentive structures. And in terms of my current professional status, I am a co-founder and the Head of People at Worksome. My role is to ensure a scalable and highly motivated organisation, enabling us to realise our vision of becoming facilitators of the free and meaningful work-life.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Absolutely not! My educational and career choices have always been driven by interest and passion, not by blue prints for the future. Looking back, my path has not been a straight line, and it wasn't even on the cards for me to start my own business, but Worksome was too good an idea to let go.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Challenges come with ambition. If you want to develop, to improve, to find that motivation that makes you try even harder, then there will always need to be challenges along the way.

And when you overcome them – because you always do – you not only feel satisfied, but sharper than before.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Besides my children... Definitely founding Worksome. It is an amazing feeling to execute on something you strongly believe in, and actually see it fly. Worksome is not just about building a company. It is also about making room for new and more contemporary ways of working. It’s about helping people to build a better work-life balance and unlock potential.

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

Focus on what's important and what is not. Not just focus in terms of concentrating on what´s agreed on, but focus in terms of working out what's the best choice for me, my family, my business in the given situation. It means I am pragmatic and what matters is what works.

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

I have mentored many students on their last year of their Master’s degree. Mentoring is important and is meaningful - both ways. I believe mentoring/knowledge sharing is crucial professionally and it builds trust between people.

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

Well, I think the general discourse on the topic will be even more relevant and interesting if we start acknowledging differences in preferences between men and women. If we want to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, we have to be that change in our own choices - IF the choices are right for us and are what we really want.

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

Doing everything with 100 per cent perfection won’t get you anywhere. Learning to prioritise effort is key to success.

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

Getting the organisation ready for scale-up. I am so excited and thankful for how far we have come, and I am looking forward to working with our team to build a strong presence across many new markets, as a preferred partner to both companies and independent professionals.


Inspirational Woman: Tiffany Hall | Chief Information Officer, Cancer Research UK

Tiffany Hall

Tiffany Hall joined Cancer Research UK as Chief Information Officer in July 2017 – the first person to hold the role and one of the first technology board positions in the charity sector.

CRUK is the UK’s largest charity, encompassing ground-breaking research and lobbying on government health policies, all supported by fundraising initiatives and over 600 retail outlets.  Tiffany is responsible for setting and delivering the overall CRUK technology strategy to maximise the value that technology can bring to the Charity in support of its aims. Since joining CRUK, she has steered the organisation through its largest ever reconfiguring of their digital and IT teams, triggering wholesale culture change across the organisation.

Prior to joining CRUK, Tiffany worked at the BBC for over 20 years in a range of technology leadership roles across the enterprise IT and broadcast engineering spectrum, including that of CIO. Her earlier career was spent in IT roles with Shell UK. She has been very much engaged in the UK digital skills agenda, in an advisory capacity with the Tech Partnership, as a STEM ambassador, and by working with DCMS on the Tech Talent Charter to help employers tackle the challenges of diversity in UK tech roles.

In January 2019 Tiffany was awarded CIO of the Year at the UK’s Women in IT Awards - the world's largest technology diversity event.  And in May 2019 she was ranked number 9 in the UK CIO top 100.

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

I did a degree in Maths with Computing – a long time ago! – and worked briefly editing primary school maths books.  I then joined Shell UK as an IT graduate trainee, starting with coding.  I worked up and through various roles at Shell for seven years before joining the BBC as an IT project manager.  I was 20 years at the BBC and my career there took me into the broadcast engineering part of the technology function, so delivering hardware tech solutions as well as software ones, which was hugely enjoyable, particularly my time working with BBC News.

I joined Cancer Research UK (CRUK) as its Chief Information Officer in July 2017 to bring together two disparate technical teams into a single Technology department with a common culture, and to deliver more value to the organisation more efficiently.  It’s an inspiring and rewarding place to work, full of amazing and impressive people, passionate about our belief that together we will beat cancer.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

There were a couple of deliberate interventions I made to get some specific experience that I realised was missing from my career to date, that would stop me from making the next move.  And before I left the BBC, I had a very deliberate long hard think about next steps Other than that, not really!

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Oh yes.  There was one role at the BBC where I was really stretched outside of my comfort zone, and really didn’t do very well which led to some difficult conversations with my boss and with our HR business partner.  We all concluded that I was a square peg in a round hole, and to cut a long story short, I moved instead into a different role.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

I am very proud of my part in taking the BBC newsroom off video tape onto desktop and server-based video editing.  This seems very straightforward now, but back in the late ‘90s, for full broadcast-quality high definition video, it was ground-breaking and difficult.

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

Always thinking across organisational boundaries, looking at what is needed from an org-wide perspective, rather than a narrow and parochial one, and creating and using the connections and networks to help make that happen.

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

I think mentoring can be incredibly powerful, and I have informally mentored and supported many colleagues.  I have also been mentored, and the HR team at Cancer Research UK (my employer) are currently seeking a mentor for me.  I’m also currently sponsoring three of our high potential leaders at CRUK, at our “Head of” level in the charity, with a view to their development to become candidates as Directors.

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

I would run a targeted programme of training and development for primary school teachers – also open to parents – to show them the huge range of professions and roles that are out there for all children to consider themselves candidates for, and ensure that these teachers (85 per cent female in the UK) are stretching the aspirations of the girls as well as the boys.

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

Work a ski season!  That is the real answer, however, on a more career-focussed note I would have liked to have worked in an IT role outside the UK at some point.

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

I’m new enough in my current role for my next challenge to be right here at CRUK, as the culture-change journey I mentioned earlier is still very much underway and is hard.  In future, I’d really like to become involved again in the UK education sector in some way, which - other than my early publishing work - I’ve only done on a voluntary and fairly occasional basis.


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What five skills do finance professionals need to work in the tech sector?

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Clare Crook, finance director at Force24, delves into what it takes to marry budgets with digital developments – and the importance of the two working in-sync.

It’s easy to think about employees being stuck behind a desk juggling numbers and spreadsheets when considering the role of working in finance. But there’s so much more to this important profession, especially when embedded within the technology industry.

To be a success in such a fast-paced sector, finance professionals have to be able to think on their feet and react swiftly. They must also be strong communicators and the gatekeeper to the crucial make-up of a digital business – from forecasting and building projection models, to looking ahead and inspiring further growth processes.

Online developments have created workspaces that are exciting places to be in, and there’s so many more opportunities made possible thanks to technology, no matter what the speciality of the employee.

And, auditing is very much a part of the evolution of a modern-day workplace, plus a department people need to embrace if they are to make a success of marrying it up well with technology.

There’s great news here too because the analytical side of finance and the creativity of technology can work in-sync – so, as a result, financial professionals should possess skills that are very transferable, and desirable, in the tech space. But what are the true qualities to really home in on?

Able to adapt to change

It’s not just about implementing a process and completing projects from start to finish for people working in finance – a modern-day employee understands there’s so much more to the role now.

They have to be agile, ready to embrace change, and prepare organisations for financial flux during the unpredictable times the tech industry is accustomed to. Being part of this sector requires a dynamic individual to steer the ship swiftly – with control and clear judgement – to respond to what the market instantly craves.

Plan, plan, plan!

Being able to bring analytical skills to the fore means businesses can greatly utilise their finance department to effectively forecast for the often erratic nature that comes with technological developments – and work on ways to overcome impending budgetary obstacles.

Having the capabilities to produce processes which outline how the company can operate successfully, in a rapidly-changing industry, further cements the crucial position a financial employee holds.

Not only that, they are the key to cash flow and budgeting – a huge factor in how tech firms take on new clients, and how often. This department must also consider what’s needed for retained clients and the management of ad-hoc projects to plan so the firm can continue to generate much-needed leads.

Staying ahead of the curve

Within a fast-moving industry, decisions must not stall any processes – they need to be swift and strong.

Effective, financially-based judgement calls can help ensure a business always moves forwards, which can be crucial to survive, and thrive, in the ever-evolving technology sector.

If an organisation becomes stagnant because it’s unable to react well to digital developments, that could be a huge – almost impossible – mountain to overcome when they’re desperately trying to recover lost time and resources.

Strong communication skills

Not only does a finance professional have to be an approachable ‘go-between’ for staff and clients, they should also be personable, knowledgeable of the sector, and be able to offer clear advice and support throughout.

Luckily, this is where technology can really come into its own because not everything has to be done face-to-face for customers to feel they are getting a rounded experience. With personalised processes, such as marketing automation, finance can use the tools for internal and external communication, track conversations and ensure the organisation’s messaging and audit updates, are accurate – and distributed – in a controlled, humanised way.

The endeavour to upskill

In today’s modern workforces, there seems to be a real urgency to keep learning and developing to stay up to date with developments – thanks to the impact technology has truly made across every walk of life.

That shouldn’t be any different for financial staff either. If there’s a willingness to develop skillsets and become engrained in how technology can help with training, that can be a pot of gold for any organisation.

It’s vitally important for employees to understand the industry they work in – even if it doesn’t directly link with their primary skill-set – and the urge to progress can provide a real benefit to them, plus their business and its clients.

Clare CrookAbout the author

Clare Crook is a Financial Controller for Force24 – she is responsible for the financial activities such as planning, cash management and reporting – as well as forecasting and building project models for the company.


female leader, women leading the way featured

How women are paving the way in tech

female leader, women leading the way

The technology industry has historically been dominated by male professionals.

So much so, that when we think of tech we naturally think ‘male’. We think of technology workplaces filled with developers, ‘IT geeks’, and programmers, all as masculine professions. However, like with many industries, ‘tech’ is such a broad title. Businesses do not have to be totally tech focused to be classed as a tech company.

What is key to remember is that as a woman running a tech company, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be techie yourself. The big sea change in the industry is recognising that women bring an amazing amount of wealth and experience to the party, and that their skills can really help to develop a company to grow. Women don’t need to be a trained programmer to make a positive impact in a technology company.

I am Managing Director at a digital affiliate business, but I am not from a tech background. My key skill is ‘people’. I thrive in managing the people in a business to be aligned to the organisation’s vision, which results in a united team working together to help to achieve the company’s business goals. I believe that women in the workplace excel in ‘getting things done’, managing projects, and looking at situations from an ethical perspective. We’re brilliant at observeying business challenges through a detailed eye, to ensure we are always doing the right thing. I work for two male founders, who have realised and accepted that they needed the skills of a woman who could help them take their business further. Although they are excellent businessmen, they lack the skills to manage people in a detailed way on a day to day basis. They know this attention to detail is important to take the company to the next level, which is why they brought me on board.

Tech and digital organisations are waking up to the benefits of a more gender diverse work force. There’s so much buzz in the industry about encouraging women to enter this male-dominated landscape, and systems have been put into place to encourage a gender balance. Events like the yearly international #WomenInSTEM days promote women working in the science, technology, engineering, and maths industry, and gives those businesswoman a platform to share their stories and tips for a successful career.

The Women In Tech website is a hub of knowledge for our industry, but they reflect on some worrying statistics. In the UK, only 17 per cent of professionals within the technology industry are female, as are only 7% of students taking computer science at A-Level. Although those figures may be low, I am confident that through events like #WomenInSTEM, STEM Women Career Events, and Tech Up - the latter which champions the ‘tech revolution’ of women in the industry. This revolution is happening on a global scale, with supermodel Karlie Kloss opening a free ‘code camp’ for girls in the United States, where young women aged 13-18 can spend their summer a ‘Kode With Klossy’.

Small tech businesses are also looking within their structures to help identify those rising stars, so that they can develop the next generation whether they be female or male. Many workplaces are now offering flexible working packages to help attract businesswomen who may have family responsibilities, so they can continue to develop professionally whilst also maintaining a work-life balance.

It’s inspiring that we have a group of young up and coming professional women in the tech industry, paving the way for a more diverse technology landscape. The key to any successful workplace is to have a true balance of staff - both with gender and background taken into consideration.

About the author

Nicola Short is the Managing Director of Redu. Nicola is also a leading business expert.


Inspirational Woman: Rachel Bridge | Communications Co-ordinator, Ansible Motion

Rachel Bridge

Rachel Bridge is currently Communications Co-ordinator for Ansible Motion's technical and commercial groups.

Her role includes research and copy writing, coordinating and managing digital assets, filming and photography oversight, and liaising with press, media, and public relations.

Ansible Motion creates Driver-in-the-Loop (DIL) simulators for vehicle engineering.

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

I was probably the only seven year-old at school who could rewire a plug and change a fuse, and almost certainly the only 10 year-old who could solder and rebuild a computer (all skills I’m now woefully unpractised in), but these were the perks of being raised by an engineer! I didn’t continue down that path though and my degree is in youth and community work, which couldn’t be less tech related if I tried. I soon switched to marketing and fundraising, during which time I set up my own business offering marketing, design and research support to charities and companies both in the UK and USA, however, after 10 years, I was keen to move into the technology and engineering sector.

That’s how I started at Ansible Motion, a company which specialises in automotive simulation technology and driving simulators. Having always been fascinated by cars and motorsport, it was a dream opportunity. My job title is Communications Coordinator, which draws heavily on my previous marketing experience, but my role is varied as Ansible Motion is a small company achieving big things. For example, the latest Driver-in-the-Loop simulator product, called the Theta C, involved everyone in the company, and I was involved in the product development from day one to shipping the first unit off to Asia.

My current focus is on the company’s 10-year anniversary. In order keep up with our customers’ needs around the world, our simulators have changed and improved in radical ways since 2009, and the company has grown significantly.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I probably should have done, but no. I actually ended up in this sector after an offhand comment from my dad about why I didn’t work in tech?

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

Plenty. I lived in London for 10 years, and when I moved back to Norwich it was hard to find any jobs, let alone any that were engineering, and tech based. I asked for introductions from friends and friends of friends to get meetings with tech companies based in Norfolk, but Ansible Motion was always the company I wanted to work for. After a number of false starts elsewhere, I managed to get a meeting with the Technical Director at Ansible Motion. I went in initially asking for part-time work experience, but after a few months I was offered a full-time job.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Finding a role that combines my marketing experience with my love of engineering and technology. Being able to connect customers with high tech offerings challenges me to convey complex messages to in ways that are understandable and easy to digest across a variety of platforms.

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

Persistence. I’ve heard ‘no’ a lot and when things didn’t work out, I found something else to do, something else to learn, another opportunity to try, even if I had to create them for myself.

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

  1. Volunteer! I started out asking for work experience, offering a couple of days a week and from there got a full-time job.
  2. Ask questions, even the ones you think are stupid. It can feel awkward asking lots of questions, or observing other people working but it shows people you are interested and invested and in turn they are more likely to invest time and resource with you.
  3. Find an apprenticeship. Learning and working at the same time is the best way I’ve seen people advance, they get to put into to practice what they learn in the classroom immediately and get the necessary work experience to move straight into a job once they qualify.

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

Absolutely, although I think it is improving. The importance of starting early is now widely understood, and the removal of gender play barriers will make a big difference. I loved the school lessons that included building with LEGO® Technic™, making simple machine models with lolly sticks, rubber bands and cardboard tubes. And I think it’s fantastic that kids are learning to code in primary school, more lessons like these will help to break down barriers.

The media can also play a big role in this through the portrayal of women in technology roles which have a large influence as well, for instance I couldn’t name a single TV or film character growing up who was female and heavily invested in tech and engineering, I don’t remember any articles about female tech CEOs, without these role models it’s harder for young girls to imagine themselves doing these jobs.

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

Investment in early (and ongoing) education is the long-term key. Providing funding to schools for tech specific equipment for use in lessons and after school clubs, opening facilities for school trips, providing role models for young girls to meet and interact with, and offering awareness sessions that demonstrate all the facets of engineering and technology. Companies have a chance to shape the narrative that technology isn’t just for boys, and that if you’re interested you have an equal chance, reinforcing this from a young age I think is the best way to support the progress of women’s careers in technology.

Currently only 15 per cent of people working in tech are women, 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 strongly dislike the idea of forced diversity, and I genuinely believe that to even the playing field, things need to be better for everyone. Flexible working is probably the biggest opportunity, giving men and women equal amounts of time to spend with their families. It’s a model that is proven to work well in Scandinavian countries, Denmark in particular, and companies still have a full workforce, only the hours look a bit different.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech, e.g. podcasts, networking events, books, conferences, websites etc?

There are a number of support groups and networks around, such as the Women’s Engineering Society and WISE, and I’d definitely recommend LinkedIn for connecting with other people in the industry, they can often be a great gateway to new opportunities and experiences. Because my dad’s a member of The IET I’ve always found them a helpful source of information and inspiration, especially E&T Magazine, which I reference both for work, and my own personal learning and interest. I’m a member of Dare to be Different, who do fantastic work with girls from a young age introducing them to motorsport and automotive technology, they also have amazing networking events. I attend Autosport International every year, they host tech talks, interviews with technical staff and team managers and have a wealth of info and people wanting to connect, making it great value for money.


Dawn McGruer Keyboard, digital skills gap featured

Tackling the digital skills gap

Dawn McGruer Keyboard

Article provided by tech though-leader and author, Dawn McGruer

As a businesswoman with a background in programming, I’m very interested in technology as a whole but in particular, I have a passion around helping businesses and brands shine online.

Although we have seen massive growth in the use of digital marketing within business and budgets allocated towards online activities it is extremely disheartening to see that we face a worldwide digital skills gap.

The Office of National Statistics is reporting that we will have almost 750,000 jobs unfilled if we don’t focus on up-skilling and developing digital talent but this isn’t just focusing on the youth of today but also developing digital skills in current marketing roles.

There is a vast amount of expertise available in terms of business development and sales and marketing but we must not neglect our workforce who perhaps may feel slightly daunted and overwhelmed by the fast-paced, ever-evolving world of digital. Even now many marketing degrees contain little focus around digital marketing and this is indeed due to a lack of digital talent in lecturers not just in business.

Digital Managers and Directors who are not necessarily involved at a practitioner level still need a clear understanding of the latest trends, tips, techniques and tools available to be able to advise and lead teams at a strategic level.

If we consider that only about 20 per cent of tech jobs are held by women this just highlights the need for positive tech role models and inspiring leaders in digital so we can move towards a digitally empowered nation that can reap amazing results in an economic climate that perhaps feel a little uncertain right now.

The emergence of amazing qualifications focused towards real-world business marketing has been a welcome addition such as the CIM Digital Diploma in Professional Marketing and we see students excelling in the digital arena even before graduation because often they are confirming what has been self-taught which is a massive boost to confidence but also they are confident they have the latest knowledge and proven strategies to drive their businesses forward.

As much as there needs to be a focus on recruiting more women into the tech sector there also needs to be recognition around equality of pay. There is a gender pay gap across most sectors but we are seeing differences as much as £20,000 for the same role which is just astonishing in this day and age.

So as a whole there needs to be a shift in the way we retain and recruit new talent. As digital marketing is such an essential skill in business today an investment into schools to encompass digital in the syllabus and forge a clear career pathway into the world of digital. The average salary for a digital marketer is £38K and dramatically rises to £50K + with experience and being qualified.

I have recently designed a curriculum used in one of the UK’s biggest apprenticeship providers, Just IT which is geared towards not only upskilling apprentices but guaranteeing an actual paid job to progress their careers.

This is a fantastic tip forward and for those interested in tech or who have a more creative flair these types of business placed learning routes are exactly what is required to help bridge this epic digital skills gap we face.

I am also a big advocate of continuous professional development programmes so the fact that the world’s largest institute – The Chartered Institute of Marketing offers progression through encouraging on-going learning through their study centres.

For instance our Academy, Business Consort has trained and certified round 25,000 professional in digital and social media marketing but their journey doesn’t stop at graduation because they can work towards the highest accolade in marketing – chartered Marketer status through investing time in up-skilling every year. The CIM CPD programme is free for members and should be advocated by employers to ensure they not only have a happy skilled workforce that achieves great results but they having cutting-edge knowledge to adapt to the business environment and technology advancements.


Lea von Bidder featured

Inspirational Woman: Lea von Bidder | Co-Founder & CEO, Ava

Lea von Bidder

Lea von Bidder is Co-Founder; VP Marketing and President of Ava Science Inc.

The idea for the Ava bracelet came from Pascal Koenig, Philipp Tholen, Peter Stein and I (Lea) around five years ago when we were confronted with our own reproductive choices in the modern world. We almost immediately started consulting with several gynaecologists from around the world, mainly in Europe and the US, asking what is important for women’s reproductive health needs. When Pascal, Philipp, Peter and I founded Ava in 2014, it was with the mission to advance women’s reproductive health by bringing together artificial intelligence and clinical research. And I’m proud to share that we’ve just achieved a major milestone: Our clinical research has just been made public in a scientific paper published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Medical Internet Research. The paper demonstrates that five physiological signals change throughout the menstrual cycle, and that by tracking these signals, we can identify the fertile window of a woman’s cycle in real time. Our flagship product, the Ava fertility tracker, is the only fertility-tracking method available that measures all five of these signs.

We have around 120 employees worldwide distributed among Zurich, San Francisco, Belgrade, Makati and Hong Kong. Around 80 of these sit in our Headquarters in Zurich and work in various departments such as Clinical Team, Data Science Team, Product Team, Marketing as well as Customer Success.

We are proud to count over 20,000 pregnancies worldwide and 50 new pregnancies a day among our users

The tracking of a woman's cycle, fertility, and pregnancy is just the start of many exciting possibilities. Ava continues to conduct clinical studies to improve its accuracy and increase its capabilities. Ava and the University Hospital of Zurich are conducting a new large cohort study with several sub-studies that will address topics such as irregular cycles and pregnancy complications. We are also working with several thought leaders to conduct studies in assisted reproduction and gestational hypertensive populations.

Our vision of wanting to be a long-term companion for women, providing data-driven and scientifically proven insights along all stages of their reproductive lives, as well as our mission, wanting to advance women’s reproductive health by bringing together artificial intelligence and clinical research, are our biggest drivers.

Please also have a look and feel free to use parts of my most recent opinion piece covering the topic of women’s health.

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

I have a master's degree in global entrepreneurship from EM Lyon in France, Zhejiang University in China and Purdue Krannert University in the US. I completed my bachelor's degree at the University of St. Gallen and at HEC Montreal in Canada. During my studies, I worked in the Marketing Department of Procter & Gamble in Frankfurt and for a strategy consulting firm in Paris. I am also a co-founder of L’Inouï, a company that produces and distributes high-quality chocolate in Bangalore, India.

We founded Ava in Switzerland in 2014 and a year later I moved to San Francisco to open Ava’s US office as VP Marketing & President.

Commercial Photographer, Advertising Photographer, Lifestyle Photographer, Fashion Photographer, San Francisco, San Francisco California
Commercial Photographer, Advertising Photographer, Lifestyle Photographer, Fashion Photographer, Travel Photographer, Fitness Photographer, Video Director, San Francisco, San Francisco California, California, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, James Bueti Photography, Lifestyle, Fashion, James Bueti

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No never, but what I always knew was that I wanted to have an impact on important topics such as women’s rights, representation and health.

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

Founding your own start-up comes at a price and it’s inevitable that you work on something you’re passionate about and that you have a great team around you – always hire people that are smarter than yourself!

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I will move into my new role as CEO of Ava in January 2020 and am very excited about this new challenge. You can find the press release in regards to this move here: https://3xwa2438796x1hj4o4m8vrk1-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/06022019_PressRelease_Ava_Announces_Change_in_Leadership_Team.pdf

Also, have a look at this latest CNN Executive Talk to learn more about myself 😊

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

Having a great co-founders team by my side who are all experts in different fields such as Data Science, Operations, General Management and Marketing, and we therefore complement each other very well. Also, being open to new challenges and ideas - just because you have chosen a path at some point, doesn’t mean you need to follow exactly that for the rest of your life. Things change and so should you.

I must also add – the support from family, friends and my husband.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome? What do you think companies can do to support to progress the careers of women working in technology?

I believe the root cause of this starts when we are children. We need to stop thinking so gender biased and teaching this to our children. General sayings like, girls are better at languages, boys are better at maths etc, need to be revised so that we give our kids the opportunity to choose their own path even though it might not fit into our society.

Also, I don’t think that its only tech missing out on vital female input, it’s the same in many industries. We need to get much better with public childcare opportunities, maternity/paternity regulations, flexible working hours, also men being encouraged to work part-time, etc. The environment and circumstances we are still stuck in do not give us the possibility to thrive fully just yet.

Have a look at this LinkedIn post that touches nicely on the gender gap in Switzerland.

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

Get yourself a wolf-pack, everything is so much better and easier when fighting something together.

Make sure you attend as many conferences relevant to your industry as possible to network and put your name out there. My favourite conferences are: