Inspirational Woman: Shefali Davda-Bhanot | Director, Seventh Degree

Shefali Davda-BhanotShefali Davda-Bhanot in her capacity as the Director of Seventh Degree, assists technology starts ups headquartered in Silicon Roundabout to Silicon Valley to scale and grow from seed funding stage to IPO.

She has seen through the exponential growth of technology starts ups including unicorn business, Anaplan, start-up City Pantry and is currently working on the international growth strategy and tech talent growth of AI Healthcare company and now unicorn, Babylon Health.

She initiated the set up the Women in Tech & LGBTQ+ “power of diversity” groups at Babylon Health in 2018 which has grown to a group of 50 people. In 2018, she launched her book ‘Start Up to Scale Up: Practical Tips & Strategies to Scaling Up Start Ups’ at the Web Summit conference in Lisbon, and in 2019 spoke to an audience of tech talent specialists on inclusive hiring and the challenges in hiring diverse tech talent.

She is champion of diversity within the field of recruitment and is a member of an organisation called Women in Recruitment which aims to attract, develop and retain female recruiters. Her role has seen her organise a number of events such as hackathons, talks, workshops and spoken at  parliamentary events to mark occasions such as International Women’s Day.

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

My name is Shefali Davda-Bhanot, and I’m the Director of Seventh Degree, a leading firm specialising in niche technology talent consultancy, with clients ranging from one-person bands to companies valued at over $2bn.

I was born and raised in London and studied Pharmaceutical Sciences in the sea-side town Portsmouth.

When I took my first few steps into the world of recruitment, I realised that a great deal of analytics and human-emotional intelligence applies not just to sales, but to leadership in general.

Coming from an analytical background, the fit to recruitment felt natural and I loved the industry upon entry. Albeit noted it was extremely male dominant in not only the industry I worked in, but the sector I had chosen to recruit into- technology.

I’ve worked in the recruitment industry for almost 10 years now. Today I oversee the Seventh Degree’s ongoing business and growth mission—that includes hands on recruitment and embedding within internal onsite talent teams however prior to this, I worked for a number of agencies including global RPO & agency, Experis.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

The simple answer to this is no. My plan is to not to plan too much! During university and early on in my professional life, I’d say there was an degree of planning but I was much more focused on short term goals and small triumphs. As I  built up more experience in a field, I thought I was good at, it became straight-forward to make longer term plans, understand and harness passions and set more ambitious career goals to keep me motivated.

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

Many! The recruitment industry operates almost entirely on financial targets, so when I initially started, I was always on edge about hitting these targets- or finding myself out of a job! Other career challenges have included (and still include) tackling diversity and inclusion in both the tech and recruitment sectors. It was important right from the start to ensure my voice wasn’t getting drowned out by the 20 men on my team!

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to speak in front of Parliamentary Peers in the House of Lords about Women in the City, Women in Tech and Diversity within working environments. Having had the opportunity to consult with two unicorn businesses and collaborate with some incredibly talented individuals along the way for me is also a great note of accomplishment.

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

I can’t say I have achieved success, however I believe there have been some great triumphs in my decade so far. I would lead these to, following instinct and passion, this allows an authentic and unique perspective to shine through. and acting on the 3 L’s of continuously listening, learning and leading from others and from the front.

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

Invest in your personal development and learning.  Learn new tech skills, attend meet-ups and hackathon, network within your industry,  create Github projects, be active on Stackoverflow, try new roles, read books, stay curious, ask for help and opportunities, listen to others career stories – ideally seek a mentor or a role model.

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

More and more studies are being released that reveal the challenges women face in workplace, compared to men, which extend well beyond pay differences.

The tech market is approx. 80 per cent male dominated at present, with this, I have been told it can feel divided at times to potentially be the only woman in a team. A solution for this would be to hire junior, newly qualified grads where there is a wider talent pool of diverse talent.

In most workplaces, there is still a lack of flexibility in working hours, or access to childcare – this can also prove a barrier for success for women working in tech.  Businesses can really support with this by introducing greater flexibility around the ways in which people work and to switch the focus to “results-based-work”, as opposed to the number of hours put into a task.

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

Creating mentorship and coaching programmes with role models within the business. Assist with elevating women in tech profiles, such that their work can be observed and evident to others both inside and outside of the organisation.

Training and Development – organisations should have training and development budget assigned to each employee and it is pivotal for businesses to support the progress of women working in technology by using the budget toward upskilling. A lot of businesses don’t use up their allocated budget for L&D.

There is currently on 17 per cent 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?

If I could wave a magic wand I would have a number of highly performing engineers and senior leaders within Engineering & Product spaces,  carving the way as mentors to a younger generation of technologists. Breaking down prejudice and breaking the invisible glass ceiling. I would also want to encourage more awareness to the younger generation about product innovation and a career in technology.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Podcast: The Women in Tech Show: A Technical Podcast - A women in tech podcast featuring technical interviews with prominent women in technology. The interviews explore topics in software engineering, software design, artificial intelligence, research, entrepreneurship, career strategy, machine learning, security, and more. Hosted by Edaena Salinas, Software Engineer at Microsoft.

Meet-up: Women Who Code (WWC) – a membership of almost 6,000 members – probably one of the most active community of engineers dedicated to inspiring women to excel in technology career.

A must read: The Lean Start-up: offering a scientific approach to setting up a successful business.


Engineering: a fulfilling career

Engineering touches every aspect of our lives, whether in computing, electrical, mechanical, and many more, and therefore offer a wide selection of career opportunities for future generations.

However, for some, and particularly young girls and women, it feels like society is discourage from considering them.

It’s a well-known fact that women are underrepresented in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) occupations. According to a survey by PwC, women make up just 15 per cent of people working in STEM occupations in the UK. Clearly, there is an issue and sadly, it means women are missing out on a fulfilling and creative career path and as an industry we need to help address it.

Creativity

When talking to several engineers at Imagination Technologies, it was felt that there was a disconnected with how the industry is perceived and the reality. They spoke with passion and conviction about just how creative the industry actually is.

Brigid Smith, director of hardware engineering, said, “I was surprised a few years ago to be asked by a friend if I regretted not going into a creative career. To me, it was a strange question, as I would never consider engineering not to be creative. Engineering is about problem solving and at Imagination we are constantly coming up with new and innovative ideas to improve what we do. I worked for years as a hardware design engineer, so it was my ideas, my solutions to the specification that was given which I coded up and ended up becoming part of the customer’s silicon. That’s my design in millions of phones out there – exciting stuff!”

“I definitely think electronic engineering is creative. Problem solving is one of the main skills we need, and this requires creativity to find new ways to solve the problems,” says Anna Hedley, senior customer engineering manager. “We are designing IP for future products so through collaboration and imagination we need to work out what future requirements are going to be and how to implement, sell and support them. My role as customer engineer involves finding creative ways of presenting information to customers from around the globe to help them best understand our cores and solve any issues they have with implementation. Without imagination, we would never be able to provide the advancement that is seen in the electronics industry around the world.”

Changing perceptions

So why are people, particularly females, overlooking engineering as career option in 2019? A lot of it probably comes down to perception. Engineering as a career choice has generally been labelled masculine, despite programming in the early days being considered a woman’s job. It’s not necessarily anti-female but rather, historically, it has typically attracted and celebrated males. If you Google “greatest engineers,” all the engineers that are listed are men. Where are Edith Clarke and Emily Roebling?

It could be that some people simply “opt out” too, thinking that they aren’t smart enough or don’t have the skill set to become engineers. However, that really isn’t the case. One way to combat this issue is to reassure people that being good at maths and science at school isn’t the only thing that makes you a good engineer.

“To me, electronic engineering is like playing with more advanced LEGO pieces. There are infinite ways to build something, so the final design depends on what pieces we use and how we choose to put them together. This creative aspect is a large part of why I chose electronic engineering, plus it is very rewarding to see the finished product doing something useful,” says Simon Van Winden, graduate hardware engineer.

Imagination’s head of talent acquisition, Nick Burden, added, “We must raise young people’s awareness of how fulfilling and secure an engineering career path is so they can make informed choices for their future. This is why a number of our engineers have been visiting local schools to tell students about their experiences of studying and working in engineering.”

Attracting women

There isn’t a “quick fix” when it comes to addressing the lack of women in STEM. It’s even been suggested to me that since a number of high profile initiatives have been launched encouraging girls and women to study STEM subjects, numbers have dipped further – currently it’s just one in four graduates in core STEM subjects are women. We must change this, and Imagination’s Elliot Taylor, hardware engineer, makes a compelling point about the importance of diversity.

“We all think differently, and every individual is uniquely creative. By increasing the diversity of engineers, new ideas and thought processes are brought to the table, improving the workplace and the quality of our work. Approximately 50% of the population are women who are from a multitude of different backgrounds, with a vast range of experiences. By increasing the number of female engineers, the technology industry will become far more diverse which has the potential to lead to exciting new discoveries and breakthroughs.”

To make engineering a sought-after career, we must dispel the image of it being dull and boring and show how creative and exciting it really is. It’s not just about being the most technical, the best engineers will have other skills. We need female role models to normalise engineering, to influence parents and teachers, and to increase activities in schools.

The future

With the increasing demand for new technology, products and materials, tomorrow’s engineers have an exciting and valuable career ahead of them. As Elliot Taylor, comments, “Engineering is such an exciting field that is completely changing the world as we know it. Being an electronic engineer allows you to be truly creative, to design products that will change how we tackle anything from health to entertainment. Technology is becoming more and more prevalent in every part of our lives, why would you not want to be involved in shaping how this world changes?”

My hope is that in the years to come, when my children and grandchildren Google “amazing engineers”, not only will they continue to see amazing advancements that have transformed the world for the better, but that there will be a lot more women credited with these advancements.


Inspirational Woman: Marie Lallia | Senior Operations Manager, Artist Marketing, Deezer

Marie LalliaMarie Lallia is the Senior Artist Marketing Manager at Deezer.

The music industry is extremely tough for females to break into, with the industry notorious for being male-dominated. Billboard's top 100 people in the music industry in In 2018, a mere 17 per cent of the list were female.

Marie began her career at Deezer as an intern in 2012 and has risen through the ranks to become a Senior Manager, working directly with artists, artist management and record labels to discuss how to market and promote their music in Deezer while building their fanbase.

Marie works with artists at all stages of their careers from the new and developing (identifying artists for the Deezer Next programme) to global superstars like Ed Sheeran, Metallica, Pharrell Williams, Muse and many others.

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

I’ve been with Deezer for over seven years and started my journey as an artist marketing intern. Now as Deezer’s Senior Operations Manager within the Artist Marketing team, we are responsible for helping artists, labels and managers grow their fan bases and reach new listeners through special campaigns and projects. We work with artists at all stages of their careers, from the emerging  artists on our Deezer NEXT support programme, through to superstars like Ed Sheeran, Metallica, Pharrell Williams and Dua Lipa.

Prior to Deezer, I worked at EMI Music publishing in the sync department and hold a degree in Management from Université de Paris Dauphine.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I think it’s difficult to sit down and plan a career.  life is hard to predict and advances in technology mean everything is rapidly evolving. When I was growing up, music streaming wasn’t really around, so planning a career in streaming would have been impossible. It’s actually more about feeling confident about something you genuinely love. I have always been passionate about music and I initially wanted to work in classical music. But I remember sitting down and evaluating opportunities every time they have come up, and from there having a better judgement and understanding of what direction I’d like my career to take, step by step.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Streaming is still a fairly new industry - Deezer is just over ten years old - which means it’s still maturing. Our artist marketing team relies on the trends and patterns of our users (for example, if our users are increasingly listening to a certain musician) as well as our team’s expert knowledge. However due to the nature of streaming, these patterns and trends are always changing. So when we run a successful artist campaign, we have to be creative and change our approach to find success. The challenge is to always stay on top of the very latest in digital marketing and the music industry -  but that’s a great part of the fun!

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

I’m really proud of the work I’ve done for International Women’s Day, involving artists like Annie Lennox and Anitta. However one of the greatest achievements that the team and I have worked on is establishing Deezer as an artist-friendly platform. This is down to our artist-focused campaigns that help build their profile and showcase what they’re about and not just about increasing streaming numbers.

Our various projects try to cover all aspects of the artist and music creation. Ranging from the musician’s influences and inspirations through to production and live music. We build plans that help build the artist’s story and that’s really gratifying!

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

At Deezer, I’ve been lucky enough to work with great managers that have trusted me and pushed me to break outside of comfort areas, to always think big and overcome even the hardest of challenges. A strong team is vital in the music space, and we’re all trying to achieve the same goals, to bring success to truly talented artists all across the world.

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

Don’t give up if things don’t work out after your first try, or the second, or the third… For something you really want, give things time and you’ll get there by persevering.

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

Deezer NEXT, our support programme for emerging artists, is always a very exciting challenge. We launched NEXT in 2017 and were the first to launch this kind of initiative, which I’m really proud of as it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to create an industry-first and keep it alive for over three years and counting.

To kick start our annual programme, we link up with labels, management and artists to select the talent that we feel have great potential. Once selected, these artists are given an avenue for new exposure to local and worldwide audiences with 12 months of support from our Artist Marketing and Editorial teams. This includes playlisting and creative marketing campaigns with special content, fan events and social media amplification. Since we started the programme, we’ve been able to work with some amazing Deezer NEXT Alumni, like Jorja Smith, Rag ‘N’ Bone Man and Anne Marie. My goal for the future is to continue the success of Deezer NEXT and keep helping artists to grow their fanbase and get the recognition they deserve!

What are your top tips to break into the music industry?

Networking is extremely important as the music industry is a people’s business, but not as much as being thorough in your work ethic. There’s getting your foot in the door and finding ways to contribute. Always make sure you bring added value to every project you work on and leave a good impression with everyone you work with.

One top tip in the music industry is to take ‘name-dropping’ with a pinch of salt...people do that a lot! Instead, do the research on the artist, check the data and work hard. As that’s what will actually get the job done.

How do you get the best out of a team?

You can definitely get the best out of people by getting them excited about a project or what they’re working on. I guess that’s quite easy for us at Deezer because we work in music and music is what makes us thrive. There should always be something interesting for everyone in each project. So find what it is that motivates people and capitalise on that. Also, be nice.


Kate Dadlani featured

Letting the mask slip - how transparency transformed my career journey | Kate Dadlani

Kate Dadlani

Kate Dadlani, CISO at Logicalis UK, a provider of IT solutions and managed services, became one of the industry’s youngest CISO’s when she was appointed to the position in her twenties.

But how did she accomplish this and what advice can she offer to other women? 

If you’d told me five years ago, when starting out in my career in information security, that I’d become a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) before turning 30 I wouldn’t have believed you. In fact, I’d probably have laughed.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve worked really hard to get to where I am. I’ve always been very driven, and my degree in forensic computing at De Montfort University gave me a great grounding for the career that’s followed. My final year dissertation, which looked at iPhone backup files as a source of evidence, not only helped to earn me a First, but was published internationally in Digital Forensics Magazine.

I’ve also been lucky enough to work in a number of different environments already in my career, beginning as a Cyber Intelligence Analyst at Lockheed Martin in the aerospace and defence sector before moving into a consultancy role at Ernst & Young. This allowed me the chance to work with global clients in the financial services sector such as Aviva, the Financial Conduct Authority, HSBC, Morgan Stanley and Lloyds TSB. I joined Logicalis UK as the Security and Compliance Manager almost three years ago, with the aim to bring security to the forefront of the organisation’s agenda and promote security conscious behaviour. Within 15 months, I was promoted to CISO.

Now, I work as part of the Senior Management team. That means that I have responsibility for the information security of the company and its employees and spend my time collaborating with experts from all parts of the wider Logicalis Group. I have also recently been promoted into a data protection role, which I manage alongside the extra qualifications and exams that I take to aid my professional development.

I’m extremely proud of how far I’ve progressed, and grateful that Logicalis has given me this opportunity so early on in my career. Getting to this point, however, has not been without its challenges.

I am an extremely young CISO, which means that I have significantly less experience than others in my position. Most CISOs have fifteen years of experience - I have a third of that. At times, this difference has affected my confidence. Before I had even walked into a room, I used to fear that people would think I was less competent, that they wouldn’t take me seriously, and that they wouldn’t value my input. I thought that I wouldn’t be respected - because of my age and because of my gender. Though I’d faced this challenge to varying degrees throughout my entire career, after I took on the role of CISO, it became more pertinent than ever.

What I failed to realise was that these presumptions didn’t just affect what I was thinking, they affected my behaviour too. This, in turn, provided others with an inaccurate representation of my qualities and attributes. It struck me that the only way to address this professional challenge was at a personal level. I needed to take the emotional aspect - the underlying fear, anxiety, and lack of confidence - out of the equation before I could change my behaviour. That way I could deal with the rational aspect, learn from it, and grow. I also realised that there were other ways to enhance my confidence before walking into these situations, such as expanding my knowledge through additional training courses and extra qualifications. I know now that my presumptions only hold me back and that I must allow people to respond to my input in a positive way before I shut it down. This has given the capability to show myself, as well as those around me, who I really am and what I have to offer.

I’m not alone in facing this challenge. ‘Imposter syndrome’ is widespread among women in business and especially common among those in senior positions. And, while I certainly wouldn’t wish professional insecurity on anyone, I can offer some advice to others in a similar position. For me, it’s all about being transparent: transparent with your colleagues, transparent with your managers, and, crucially, transparent with yourself. Of course, it’s only natural for professionals to portray themselves as confident, capable individuals and to mask any underlying insecurities or fears that they might have. We all do it; we use different masks for different occasions. However, my belief is that we can only reach our full potential when we take these masks off and when we embrace who we truly are. Recognise your strengths, recognise your weaknesses - and be upfront about them both.

I believe that we must bring our whole selves to work - not just the professional self. That means that I often open my interviews or my presentations by explaining, candidly, that I suffer from anxiety. Likewise, it’s important that organisations acknowledge the dual reality that is faced by many professional women. Women can be more risk-averse  than their male colleagues, perhaps because of their underlying personal insecurities. In the technology industry, where there’s an enormous gender disparity, the problem is at its worst. Organisations must understand these challenges and they must give women the skills they need to deal with them. Without that awareness, women may find it harder to advance from middle management to senior leadership and the problem will remain unaddressed.

You shouldn’t have to prove your competency because you’re younger than those around you or because you’re a woman in a male-dominated industry. Nor should you have to wear a mask. I believe that allowing women to feel secure and accepted is fundamental to supporting their career journey.

Women need to develop their own self-belief on a personal level, but they also need organisations to address the challenges that they face in the workplace and to enhance their professional confidence. That’s the key to the door of success - and it’s the key we have yet to unlock.


The World of AI featured

What are AI-driven hiring assessments and how do they work?

The World of AI featured

By Dr Gema Ruiz de Huydobro, IO Psychology consultant at HireVue

As anyone who has gone through it recently will well know, looking for a new job is practically full-time work in itself.

Every application requires a significant time investment to tailor your CV and cover letter before completing any specific requirements for the company in question (such as a multiple-choice questionnaire or aptitude test). If you’re then invited to an initial interview, you will need to spend even more time preparing for a short conversation, which too often provides limited opportunity to showcase your full potential.

Meanwhile, organisations continue to drown in endless piles of CVs and struggle to differentiate the deluge of applications. For instance, a financial services company opening new banking centers internationally has been receiving nearly 100,000 job applications each month for well over a year. Such high volumes of applications have led many companies to invest in both on-demand video interviewing and pre-hire assessment tests driven by artificial intelligence (AI). This helps both recruiters and candidates save time and begins to democratise the hiring process by offering all candidates an equal opportunity to be considered for the role. However, if you’re invited to a video interview or AI-driven assessment for the first time, it’s perfectly natural to feel a little apprehensive about how it will work.

Is there really anything to be nervous about?

The role of AI in recruitment

AI in recruitment typically involves machine-learning algorithms which analyse your answers to questions and provide insights to help hiring managers make more informed decisions at an early stage in the interview process. Rather than submitting a CV and cover letter, you may be invited to complete a short video interview and/or games-based assessment to apply for the role. We’ll explain these in more detail later.

Following your assessment, the AI algorithm (also called an assessment model) helps the recruiter to make a more informed decision by evaluating your submission and measuring data points which are scientifically proven to be predictive of successful performance in the specific job role for which you’re applying. A pool of candidates, ranked by their fit for the role, is presented to the recruiter, who then reviews the recommended shortlist, and decides which to progress to the next round.

Sounding straightforward so far? Now let’s look at how video and games-based assessments work in more detail…

Video interviews

If you’re invited to take an AI-powered video interview, you will likely receive instructions via email and will need to follow the link to enter the interview, so you can choose to complete it at a time and place convenient to you from either a computer or smartphone. Most AI-powered video interviews take 20 to 30 minutes to complete. It’s important to note that this video interview may only be the first step in your interviewing process, as those who are successful are very likely to meet one or more people face-to-face later in the process.

You should expect a format which is similar to a traditional interview in which you are asked a series of questions. The questions will be relevant to the success in the role you are applying for and every candidate will be asked the same set of questions. This creates a much fairer process for all candidates and helps to minimise bias.

While it’s natural for most people to feel a little self-conscious on camera, keep in mind that you’re u

nlikely to lose out on the job simply because you don’t smile enough, don’t make enough eye contact, or blink too much. When building assessments, only data features related to success in the role are leveraged. Physical appearance and other demographic factor-related data that have nothing to do with it are not considered - on the contrary, assessments should always be tested for adverse impact to avoid anybody to be adversely impacted in this regard.

Game-based assessments 

Games are another popular part of AI-powered assessments, as they are scientifically proven to measure cognitive skills including problem-solving and working memory, as well as job-relevant personality traits. Their accuracy is similar (and often increasingly higher) when compared to longer and more repetitive psychometric tests.

Again, you will receive an email with a link to enter the assessment, and it can be completed on your smartphone from any location and typically takes just 15 minutes. Safe to say, a game-based assessment is typically more fun than a traditional psychometric test containing hundreds of fill-in-the-circle questions!

Game-based assessments will also be tailored to the role you’re applying for. For example, both entry- and mid-level jobs require cognitive skills, but a manager may need to demonstrate more sophisticated organisational and problem-solving skills.

Preparing for success

Regardless of the type of interview, preparation is key. If you’re invited to a video interview with an AI assessment, take the time to practice potential interview questions, or take advantage of the practice tests often offered with most games-based assessments. This will ensure you aren’t taken by surprise and can showcase your full potential.

It’s also a good idea to create a calm environment where you won’t be disturbed. These types of interviews provide an opportunity to choose a time and location that suits you, so you won’t need to worry about taking time off work, the bus being late or getting lost en route!

Finally, take a deep breath and remember that the premise of this technology is to give everyone an equal opportunity to be recognised as a great candidate for a job, regardless of background, gender or race.  Given the increased awareness on the importance of hiring impartially, businesses have more need than ever to ensure they’re reflecting this in the interview process. Good luck!

Gema Ruiz de HuydobroAbout the author

Dr Gema Ruiz de Huydobro is an accomplished business psychologist with over ten years experience in both academic and business fields. In her current role as I-O Psychology Consultant at HireVue Gema is responsible for designing scientifically validated pre-hire assessments to enable organisations to identify high quality candidates while minimising bias in the selection process.


Caroline Criado Perez featured

WeAreTechWomen Conference Speaker Spotlight: Caroline Criado Perez OBE

Caroline Criado Perez

WeAreTechWomen speaks to Caroline Criado Perez OBE, Writer, Broadcaster and award winning feminist campaigner, Author of Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men, about her career.

Caroline is also one of the keynote speakers at our upcoming WeAreTechWomen: The Future World of Work conference on 22 November. Caroline will be discussing how, in a world largely built for and by men, women are systematically ignored.

Caroline is a writer, broadcaster and award-winning feminist campaigner. She is published across the major national media, and appears in both print and broadcast as a commentator on a wide range of topics.

Her first book, Do it Like a Woman, was published by Portobello in 2015. It was described as “a must-read” by the Sunday Independent and “rousing and immensely readable” by Good Housekeeping who selected it as their “best non-fiction”.Eleanor Marx hailed it in the New Statesman as “an extended and immersive piece of investigative journalism.” Her second book, INVISIBLE WOMEN: exposing data bias in a world designed for men, is published in March 2019 by Chatto in the UK & Abrams in the US.

Caroline has a degree in English language and literature from the University of Oxford, and studied behavioural and feminist economics at the LSE. She was the 2013 recipient of the Liberty Human Rights Campaigner of the Year award, and was named OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2015.

At the conference, Caroline will expose data bias in a world designed for men. She will be discussing how, in a world largely built for and by men, women are systematically ignored.

WeAreTechWomen, the Technology arm of WeAreTheCity, is hosting its fourth full-day conference in London, aimed at over 400 women who are wanting to broaden their technology horizons, learn new skills and build their tech networks.

Our unique conference will include the opportunity for our delegates to learn about a variety of technical topics and get involved in Q&A’s, hands-on activities and interactive workshops. Our aim is to provide an environment where our delegates can upskill and grow their skills/networks for the future.

Can you tell us a little about your background? Where you’ve come from, where you’ve worked, how you got to where you are today?

I took my time figuring out who I was and what I wanted to do. I didn’t go to university till I was 25. It was there, in my second year, that I read a book called Feminism and Linguistic Theory – and everything changed. I had always dismissed feminism and feminists, preferring to see myself as “one of the guys.” But this book made me realise that one of the things I had always dismissed (that so-called generic male words like “he” to mean “he or she” or “man” to mean “humankind” were in fact not generic at all) was absolutely correct. Because it made me realise that I was in fact picturing a man whenever I heard those words. And that completely transformed my world view, in no small part because I was just so shocked that I had been picturing men for 26 years and had never noticed. It made me evangelical about making everyone else see this bias too. And that is what pretty much everything I’ve done since has been about.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Absolutely not! I meandered to where I am today.

What inspired you to get involved with in motivational speaking?

I’m not sure I particularly see myself as a motivational speaker! I am passionate about changing people’s minds about feminism and speaking is one of the ways I try to do that.

Do you have a favourite experience from your career?

When the Scottish government announced that they were setting up a working group on collecting sex and gender disaggregated data in large part because of my book. That was incredible.

What do you think WeAreTechWomen guests will gain from your talk?

They will understand why it’s so important to collect sex-disaggregated data!

What are your top three tips for success?

Do what you’re passionate about.

Don’t worry about people thinking you’re not “nice”: if you’re a woman trying to change things, a lot of people won’t like you.

Get a dog.

What has been your biggest challenge during your career?

All the hate that accompanies any woman with a public profile

Which female role models are you most inspired by?

All the women who fought for our right to vote. They were so gutsy and fierce, and more radical than we can ever imagine being. The sheer effrontery of demanding the vote in the 1800s! I don’t think we can understand how outrageous a demand that was. But they fought all their lives for it against seemingly insurmountable odds – and they won. That gives me hope when I feel hopeless.

In your opinion, what is the biggest obstacle for women at work and how can it be overcome?

Women do 75 per cent of the world’s unpaid carework and it has a massively negative impact on their health and their careers. It can be be overcome by governments collecting data on this work (without which everything would fall apart) and creating policy to support it, including policy that encourages men to do their fair share.

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

Free universal childcare.

What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?

If boys think you’re too loud they are the problem, not you.


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FlexTech - flexible working in the digital age

Muslim woman working from home, flexible working

Article provided by Jenny Mowat, UK Managing Director, Babel PR

It’s a fact of life that we will all need to work out of the office at some point.

Everyone’s lives are just full of things to do, whether it’s work itself, or an electrician coming around, or even just trying to beat the rush hour crowds on your commute. In ages gone by, this was made a lot harder due to slow internet connections, non-instant communication, maybe even having to rely on…the post. However, in the pervasive digital economy, the ability to work from almost anywhere is almost a reality. Despite the technological and infrastructure advances, there continues to be some hesitancy from employers to support remote, or even flexible working, on a regular basis.

Other countries seem to have this perfected – whether it’s the Nordics and their trust that the work will be done in whatever way you do it, or maybe it’s the Netherlands where you often prioritise time away from your desk in the day to spend time with your colleagues. This different approach to work/life balance has led to businesses reporting higher levels of productivity and work satisfaction than in the UK.

I know that flexible working is sometimes an ask for employers, with some expressing fears of opening the floodgates with everyone demanding the same agreement. When coming back to work with a young family, I knew what my ideal role would look like, but I had next to no hope in finding it. I wanted something that would primarily offer a flexible working environment, something that would challenge me, have a team I could learn from and a chance to trust my gut. I believe all these areas should be available for everyone, not just those returning to work from maternity leave. But this wasn’t what I found when I started looking for a role both in-house and agency side. But that doesn’t mean to say it can’t happen.

Babel, for example, champions the use of the technology to enable flexible and remote working.  We work in a service industry, so we need to have to an always-on culture and mentality to a certain extent. Particularly when working with clients across different time-zones to ours. Practically this can make flexible and remote working more complex, but through technology services such as Slack, Skype, Zoom, Trello, Google Docs or just plain old Email – it all adds to the ease of collaborative working, from any location or time. To ensure this all works in reality though, you need a culture built on trust.

Flexible working can offer so much more than opportunities for parents to spend time with their children. We need to think about those who want to invest more time in their favourite charities, sports teams, even hobbies. Enabling communications through tech ensures that ideas can still be bounced off each other, thoughts can be shared, and updates can be given even when not physically with your teams. These are all points that apply to all, not just mothers and fathers with young families.

Ultimately, employers need to accept that a one size fits all approach isn’t always the best way. Realising this and listening to employees’ needs and wants will bring about happier, healthier and more loyal teams. And who doesn’t want happier people?

Jenny Mowat, UK Managing Director, BabelAbout the author

Jenny has over a decade of experience driving international and UK specific award-winning campaigns. Jenny is responsible for expanding Babel’s UK B2B client base across the technology, media and telecoms sectors. Her client experience includes Dell EMC, Darktrace, Verint, CA Technologies, Citrix, Experis and Premier Inn, delivering integrated campaigns (spanning PA, PR, social and marketing) with impact. She is well versed in adapting themes to meet different audiences – from verticals, enterprise business to consumers – and works closely with her teams to ensure all KPIs and expectations are exceeded.


Ruth Bates featured

Inspirational Woman: Ruth Bates | Head of Data Arts, Saatchi & Saatchi London

Ruth Bates

Ruth is Head of Data Arts at Saatchi & Saatchi London. Ruth likes to put data and analytics into action. 

She passionately believes that data, working seamlessly with creativity, is the best way to achieve effective communications. She gathers people around her in the data community to get things done, and communicates the implications of data analysis to those who are less familiar with it.

After graduating from the LSE she worked for a loyalty marketing company before joining Deloitte Consulting. During her 9 years at Deloitte she worked mainly with clients in telecoms, media and entertainment industries, helping them to use data to achieve transformation. She helped to establish the customer analytics and data science community within Deloitte, and she was leading Data Science within Deloitte Digital when she left to establish Data Arts at Saatchi & Saatchi in February 2018.

The work bit…

I joined Saatchi & Saatchi London last year to set up their Data Arts team. The name of the team was quite deliberate as it reflects my philosophy on data in advertising: I believe data shouldn't only be a facilitator of targeted communications. It isn't only data management, data engineering, measurement, and reporting, or even producing and deploying algorithms. It is a powerful creative tool for insight, inspiration, and communication and I think it’s as much an art as a science.

The career history bit…

People are surprised when I say I studied Government and History as a degree. I always enjoyed trying to understand why people behave the way they do. But I was always a little better at maths and science than essay-writing. My brain naturally classifies the world and thinks spatially, so I found the social science approach stretched to be more conceptual in my thinking. After university I worked for a loyalty marketing agency where I was fully immersed in coding SAS, I then joined Deloitte Consulting. I loved my time there, but after nine years I found myself missing my initial love of understanding human behaviour and decided to go into something different. Advertising.

The personal bit…

I love to dance, hike, sail and ski. I love spending time with anyone with an individual perspective on the world. I’m passionate about the arts, mental health and sustainability.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Not really. I landed in it without knowing what I wanted to do. But I did think that I wanted to get as far in my career as I possibly could in my 20’s so I could have more choice if and when I decide I want to raise a family.

And I do take time out each year to reflect on what I’m doing, what I want to achieve and what my priorities are. I do this with my husband because we both want to be satisfied in our jobs and that means that sometimes we have to make compromises and we have to agree with what they are. It also gives me clarity on what I’m trying to build, what I want to learn and it helps me communicate that clearly to those around me.

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

The biggest challenge in my career has been handling my own anxiety issues! I’ve had some personal problems along the way which made me anxious. And I’ve had lots of small career challenges when things don’t seem to be going so well and I start to worry the world is going to fall apart (e.g. majorly delayed or over-budget projects to say the least!)

But I’ve learnt three things that have enabled me to cope, progress and enjoy my career:

  1. Getting a strong support network. I got to this stage in my career by surrounding myself with people I can trust and be honest with. It starts by being honest about my own needs, strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Keep clarity on what's important. Sometimes the things that stressed me out weren't that important. I've got practical methods I use to help me ruthlessly prioritise and work out what I need to work on.
  3. Communicating well. I spend a lot of time considering whom I'm talking to and the messages I need them to hear. When I really get my head into the space of the person I need to get a message across to, I can understand things from their point of view, then I can adapt my style or method of communication so that my message comes across clearly.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Building teams. At the BBC. At Deloitte. At Saatchi & Saatchi London. Understanding what the team needs to deliver, finding the right people, providing a vision and nurturing their talent and ideas. I can’t take credit for the amazing work they do, but I love that I was part of making it happen.

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

I’m a translator. I like to understand the problem and translate it into a technical brief or approach. I like to understand a piece of analysis and translate it into something actionable. I’m good at taking the conceptual and structuring it.

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

For data scientists, I'd say… always look at the data! The human brain recognises patterns brilliantly. You'll understand your raw material and you'll spot quality issues more quickly.

More generally, always keep learning. At the outset of your career, get a really good grounding in whatever your technical skillset is. I took a low-paid job straight out of university, but it was the most valuable 18 months of my career. And then keep on learning. If you’re not learning or consolidating your learning in your role, then look to change it.

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

I’m fortunate to work in advertising where diversity is actively encouraged. And I’ve also seen a massive improvement in women in technology throughout my career. There are barriers all over the place but I think we’re heading in the right direction. I’m lucky to work in Publicis Groupe UK where we have a female CEO (Annette King) and a female COO (Jo Coombs)

I’ve seen women with amazing gravitas control a room full of men just by leaning into a conversation, clearing their throat and saying one well placed, beautifully structured sentence. I’ve seen women advocate on behalf of other women to go for promotion and get a pay rise, even though they wouldn’t have put themselves forward. I’ve seen women run all-male development teams really efficiently while considering the individual and varied needs of those in their teams. I’ve seen men actively putting their partners’ career first. I’ve seen older men be a “work dad” and look out for younger women. The best thing we can do is to play to whatever our strengths are and look out for all those around us.

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

Recognise the "soft" skills as well as hard tech skills. Within data science, these skills include defining the question, determining the right approach, clearly communicating the brief, drawing insight from the results, sharing the outcomes effectively, nurturing the talents of the team, helping teams collaborate better or be more honest with each other… These are the skills that really turn technology into a force for good in the world and help projects deliver on time. I’ve found women often have these skills in abundance, but they aren’t always valued as much as they should be.

There is currently on 17 per cent 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?

At the moment, not enough of tech finance is controlled by women or invested in women. My magic wand would be money! I’d give every woman working in technology £1000 to invest in the one thing they believe in most.

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

Is it bad that I don’t set out to read that much about technology?! I guess I’m obsessed with the intersection between technology and human behaviour, so I find it more valuable to study the things that fascinate me in the world outside technology. Currently, I’m in a phase of reading all the poetry I can lay my hands on, from Shakespeare to Stormzy!

(But the “work” book I’ve read that has had the biggest impact on me has been “lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg).


How to inspire the next generation of females in tech featured

How to inspire the next generation of females in tech

By Rachel McElroy, chief marketing officer for cloud based resource specialists, Cranford Group.

How to inspire the next generation of females in tech As digital developments continue to diversify the way people work, innovators should be doing the same – and that means giving a voice to a range of tech talent.

There has been much debate concerning women in tech and the role they play, but – even with vast transformations happening daily within the industry – there is still some way to go to ensure that females are seen as leaders and true influencers in the field.

Things are improving yes, but it’s a slow process.

So, why is it taking so long for the sector to open up and embrace the key role that females can play to push tech forwards?

It’s no secret that this has been a male-dominated industry for many years but, as digital developments evolve, organisations must take responsibility and move with the times too. They should also encourage change-makers to feel comfortable enough to enter into the arena in the first place.

It’s an exciting time, so why is tech suffering a skills shortage on such a global scale? Maybe it’s because the talent available feels under-represented and the sector isn’t as inclusive as it should be? And, that’s something all businesses have a duty of care to challenge.

This needn’t be merely a ‘tick box’ exercise either, but rather firms should showcase just how cool tech is, and why people now don’t necessarily need digital qualifications in order to be a success in this field.

Tech firms must evolve across the board

The industry is vastly different to what it was five or 10 years ago – and the modern day workforce is too. Now, employees need to be great collaborators, creative thinkers and effective communicators, because that’s what the sector requires.

And, none of that comes down to gender.

What it does involve though, are soft skills – many of which can often be overlooked by organisations. Yet, having such personable and professional traits is becoming more important to the tech sector as more automation comes into play, and employees are released into meaningful work.

The ability to work in small teams positively – whilst being analytical and learning quickly – is just as important as having digital qualifications, maybe even more so. There is also a requirement for empathy and warmth, as understanding the needs of each team member – and keeping the group motivated – during challenging times is key.

All this has to be communicated by tech businesses, to encourage those job-hunters who may feel overlooked when applying for tech-based roles, particularly those which focus solely on having a computer science degree, for example. Statistics show that on average only 20% of girls at Key Stage 4 take a computer science GCSE and only 17% of the tech workforce is female.

Many people will also remember the Hewlett Packard report some years ago stating that men will apply for a role if they meet just 60% of the criteria, whilst women won’t unless they hit 100%!

Women in tech are vital for the industry’s progress

It’s important to empower talented females to apply for tech roles, and inspire the next generation of digital leaders. And, they absolutely don’t need to be ‘ball-breaking bosses’ in order to do so, they merely need to be dedicated, encouraging, and given the confidence to make a difference.

This industry cannot afford to lose out on more strong female change-makers simply because they haven’t been represented from the get-go. It is the responsibility of all to hold the door open and support the need for diversity across every demographic.

Employing a diverse range of people who focus more on how and why things work in tech – and who have critical soft skills – will help workers feel valued, and part of an inclusive environment.

If not, the sector will continue to roll out machine learning and AI technology with built-in inherent bias that has been developed predominantly by white males – and could prove to be a dangerous notion which will have far reaching effects. Why? Because businesses cannot build digital solutions on top of data that is not representative of all the people that may use it.

There is a sea of change occurring, and it’s up to those in the industry to inspire the next generation of tech leaders and mentors – known for their aptitude, attitude and what they bring to the table, nothing else.

Rachel McElroy,About the author

Rachel McElroy is passionate about a variety of tech topics including digital disruption, tech skills development, agile working, remote working, women in tech, talent on demand, and DevOps. She is currently penning a white paper which will take a comprehensive look at the effects of technology and cloud adoption on the workplace. Covering topics from AI to diversity, and change management to leadership, such contributors to her research include Microsoft, ServiceNow, Alibaba Cloud, Cloud Industry Forum, AutoTrader, Ensono, Cloud Gateway – to name just a few! An eloquent and well-respected industry commentator, Rachel spoke at Cloud Expo Europe in March 2019 and in February, was appointed as a judge at the UK Cloud Awards 2019.


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How women can beat the ‘boys club culture’ in tech

diversity, boys club

By Alison Mulder, Reporting Analyst, Simpson Carpenter

I have a confession to make - I’m rubbish at conforming to stereotypes.

A reporting analyst with a side career as a competition level glider pilot, I’m used to being outnumbered by men.

Yet, when I compare my experience as a woman in these two areas, my greatest challenge hasn’t been learning to fly, but rather negotiating the barriers and obstacles to forge a career in the tech space.

Don’t get me wrong. Competing as a glider pilot has required real grit and perseverance. But once I slip into the cockpit to compete against my male counterparts, the test is one of skill not gender.

By contrast, as a woman working in the tech scene, despite high profile women in tech such as Kathryn Parsons, Eileen Burbidge and Amy Chang, my gender has been a real issue for some of my male colleagues. Unfortunately, these colleagues have often been the gatekeepers to progressing my career.

The challenges began when I discovered my fascination for data analysis after writing code for market research questionnaires early into my career. From a lack of management support for helping me acquire the necessary skills, to having colleagues take credit for my work, I felt that my tech aspirations were not taken seriously simply because I was female.

Even though I’m very technically minded, the gender-based assumptions my colleagues and superiors made about my capabilities meant that I have worked extra hard to get where I am today.

I’d love to be able to say my experience is the exception, not the rule, but it’s simply not the case. Despite all the awareness around gender equality and equal opportunities, deep rooted and pervasive gender bias continues to exist in tech, especially when it comes to the data space. At Simpson Carpenter, I’m part of a team that values a person’s skills rather than what gender they are.

So how can women beat negative gender stereotypes to progress their tech careers?

Here are three insights I’ve learned along the way.

Invest in your skills

A company I used to work for made the decision to switch its programming language to Python and, naturally, I was keen to get myself trained on it. But the company wouldn’t agree to this and said it wasn’t necessary for me and my role. Today Python is considered one of the top five coding languages every techie and data analyst should know. Missing out on Python training could have been a potential career blocker. I wasn’t prepared to be held back by this decision, so I took the initiative and learnt about Python myself online, along with other programming languages.

With new coding languages emerging all the time, learning the right one at the right time can open up doors and opportunities that give you a real edge in this field. If an employer is not willing or able to offer you the training you believe you will need, look into alternative sources.

For example, Code: First Girls offers coding courses aimed at female professionals while 23 Code Street runs classes and workshops in London in addition to an online webinar. If you are not able to pay for training, check out this list Geek Girl Rising has put together on free online coding courses.

Finally, to stay at the cutting edge in tech, we need to continuously assess our current skills versus the skills we are likely to need in the coming years. This means reading as much as you can lay your hands on about current and future tech trends in your sector, particularly around emerging technologies and the skills likely to be required to work with them.

Find a tech mentor

Whether it be learning from their achievements and mistakes, or being able to tap into their network, having a trusted mentor can help fast track your career progression. But the lack of women within the tech industry means it can be hard to meet and get advice from a woman who has walked in your shoes.

Thankfully, there are now organisations set up to connect aspiring female tech talent with experienced mentors. Some of my favourites include London-based Girls in Tech, which runs six evening speed mentoring sessions, along with MentorSET that helps to match mentors with rising female professionals in STEM. And if you don’t have the chance to meet face-to-face, there are also a slew of podcasts you can tune into like Women who Startup or Fearless Women, which invite real female leaders on to share their stories and offer essential career advice.

Join your own ‘girls club’

No matter how much I got along with and respected my male colleagues as professionals, being the only woman on a tech team can sometimes be a lonely experience - from occasionally being excluded from post-work drinks to not always picking up on the male banter. Pixar’s “Bro Co”, a fascinating short animation perfectly captures what it can be like for women in the workplace.

Thankfully, there are now a growing number of groups that bring women in tech together and help them to grow their support network such as Girls in Tech and Girls Who Code. Tapping into these can help to make you feel part of vibrant and motivating networks of like-minded women.

Our future

Today, in the UK alone, it is estimated that there’s a shortfall of 173,000 skilled STEM workers. With new STEM roles expected to double in the next 10 years, the tech skills shortage can only deepen. The sector urgently needs to encourage more women to fill these roles, and give them the training and support they need to succeed.

But in order to do that, harmful gender stereotypes and sexist views around the roles women can and can’t do need to be weeded out of all organisations. When I’m competing against male glider pilots in the air, gender is not seen. Other pilots, the judges and spectators recognise and celebrate my flying skills - nothing more, nothing less. This gender-blind perspective is something talented women in tech could really benefit from.