Chirpa Santhanam featured

Inspirational Woman: Chirpa Santhanam | Head of Performance, Programmes & Quality, GBG

Chirpa SanthanamAs Head of Performance, Programmes and Quality at GBG, the global identity data specialist, Chirpa is responsible for ensuring that the best performance in our products and services is delivered both to our customers and for internal operations.

GBG offers a series of solutions that help organisations quickly validate and verify the identity and location of their customers, and detect and prevent fraud. Through the fundamental belief that the digital economy relies on everyone having access to data they can trust, GBG enables companies and governments to fight fraud and cybercrime, to improve the customer experience and help to protect the more vulnerable people in our society.

GBG works with over 20,000 clients in 72 countries including some of the best-known businesses around the world, ranging from US e-commerce giants to Asia's biggest banks and European household brands.

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

I’m Head of Performance, Programmes and Quality for GBG, a group-wide role responsible for ensuring that the best performance in our products and services is delivered both to our customers and for internal operations.

With a wide range of experience in science, engineering and management, I have always been inquisitive and have never been satisfied when I hear “that is the way it is”.  I’ve always strived to get answers for how things work and how we can make them work better – and I won’t stop until I get one.

10 years ago, when I came across the job opportunity in GBG, I knew the company was embarking on a growth plan and quality would be an integral part of it. I instantly knew I could make a difference.  Although I knew it would be challenging, as it entailed setting up everything from scratch, that challenge and the value it could bring really appealed to me.

I was not wrong.  A decade later, GBG has QA engineers acting as quality assurers, analysts and ambassadors, and the team ensures to deliver high quality, working software to customers. They are also breaking boundaries and reaching new heights, with notable achievements including being finalists at the 2019 European Software Testing Awards under two separate categories.

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

When I joined GBG in 2010, there was no dedicated Quality Assurance (QA) team. QA existed and was highly valued, however there were no formal processes or consistency across the business. The company was growing at an incredibly fast rate, so they hired me to establish and develop a team that focused on QA and the needs of customers. This was an exciting challenge and prospect for me, but I never anticipated how big the project would be.

When it comes to People, Process and Tools (PPTs), building all three from scratch within an incredibly fast-growing organisation was a challenge in itself.  Tasks ranged from recruiting, training and developing talented and motivated graduates, to instilling new processes, and designing and implementing tools for test automation. To then bring all of these elements together while meeting the continuously growing business demands required a strong focus and hard work.

However, the biggest challenge of all was aligning the QA functions from all our regular and periodical acquisitions and establishing the community of QA.  Although having well-established foundations massively helped here, the building up of the QA community and creating GBG’s centre of excellence wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the incredible QA team.

Since 2010, the team has rapidly expanded and we are currently located in UK, Turkey, Spain, Malaysia, Australia and USA with 40% females – leading the way for women in tech industry.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

My biggest achievement during my work with GBG is how I have balanced the establishment between people, process and tools. Identifying and developing talented individuals, designing and implementing Quality protocols, developing tools for quicker deliveries and, above all, establishing the QA centre of excellence in GBG.

Of all, I personally take pride in developing people. I’m proud of the role I played in helping my team build their knowledge base and then go on to achieve internal promotions, or move on to another area of the industry, armed with their experience at GBG.

I’m also proud that I have achieved what I set out to do for GBG. Over the last few years, the company has acquired and integrated a number of acquisitions, and I have been a crucial leader in ensuring their success.

What do you think companies can do to encourage more women into the IT sector?

When it comes to encouraging women into the tech sector, I think we need to reflect on journeys and success stories from all levels of the industry. For example, highlighting the valuable work that a junior role is contributing to business operations shows that you don’t need to be the CEO to make an impact. People should be able to see how the work they do contributes to real life technology solutions – for example, tech used to predict disasters, or to create lifesaving apps for paramedics.

Companies should also reach out to local schools and encourage working in the sector from a young age. While speaking in schools would be a great way to reach out, making videos of women in tech at various levels and having available representatives to answer questions and offer support would also be good. This type of initiative can progress onto senior schools, colleges and local universities to promote graduate programmes and internships. Ultimately, the sector should aim to encourage young women by providing insight into the industry and exploring the opportunities open to them.

There’s often the misconception that working in tech is a very demanding career path. It’s important that we assure women that a career in this sector doesn’t require more hours than any others, and that they can still have a work-life balance. Using employee testimonials and feedback from workers in the field would be a good way to encourage women who are unsure.

What is your top tip for anyone looking to start a career in IT?

Remember, it’s just a field like anything else and there should be no difference between men and women looking to start a role in IT. Working in technology requires a combination or analytical skills, technical skills and problem solving – and there is no difference between men and women when it comes to this. If you have the right skills, you should seize the opportunity and run with it!

If you can do your best, enjoy what you’re doing and understand the value you bring to your work, you will automatically be successful and engaged in your role.

Perseverance when it comes to gaining value from what you do is also key. I always strive to find value in my learning, to add value to the organisation, wherever I am working, and to share valuable insights with my team. If I’ve done these three things, I am both growing my team and contributing to the business, and I see that outcome as automatic success.

Any final advice you’d give to people in the industry?

There is never a full stop on continuous improvement and continuous growth. Whatever you do, you should look at what is next and think about how you can take what you’ve learnt into the future. If you embrace a continually seeking, adventurous, thriving attitude, there will be no hindrance to growth. Growth has to come from your mentality, and adopting the mindset of continuous improvement will be the driving factor for progression in everything you do. It’s important to understand that there is always room to learn and grow as we progress in our careers!


WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here


Sharmadean Reid

Inspirational Woman: Sharmadean Reid MBE | Founder, WAH Nails & Beautystack

Sharmadean Reid

Sharmadean Reid is the founder of globally renowned brand WAH Nails and breakthrough beauty booking startup Beautystack.

Entrepreneurial from the start, Reid first launched WAH (We Ain’t Hoes) as a fanzine about girls in hip-hop while she was still at university. Reid later worked as a stylist and opened the WAH Nails salon in London as a place for the WAH community to gather.

Over the next decade, Reid expanded WAH Nails into a product line, with nail polishes and nail art tools stocked in Topshop and Boots. They created pop up nail bars for brands such as Marc Jacobs and Nike and celebrity fans including tennis champion Serena Williams and film star Margot Robbie.

Keen to empower other women through knowledge, Reid also is an advisor to charity Art Against Knives (to train women from disadvantaged backgrounds to be professional nail artists) and published her own nail tutorial books (with some 70,000 copies sold). In 2016 the entrepreneur cofounded Future Girl Corp, an online platform with advice, events, and information for future female CEOs and published an online course.

Today, Reid is bringing beauty booking software into the social media age with Beautystack, an image-led network for beauty professionals. Founded in 2017, this has raised $6.1 million to date and closed its latest £4 million round from Index Ventures this spring.

A recipient of numerous awards, Reid was presented with an MBE in 2015.

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

I come from Wolverhampton but moved to London in 2003 when I was 19 to do a degree in Fashion Communication at Central Saint Martins.

The best way to learn is through real projects, so I started making a  fanzine to learn how to use software like Adobe InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator.

WAH helped me communicate what I was feeling at the time: that hip-hop music was becoming a big deal and that the women within it were being marginalised. I didn't really know what feminism was at the time, I just knew that it felt weird and I wanted to change that.

After I graduated, I was travelling around for styling and decided to open a nail salon because getting your nails done was very much part of hip hop culture and I thought it would be an amazing physical space for all the girls who read the magazine.

It was through this I realised the services in the beauty industry were so old school. I felt compelled to solve those problems with Beautystack. Before we raised earlier this year, we had a very basic MVP. Our goal this year is to finish our development.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I never had a grand master plan. Although, before Beautystack, I did a lot of thinking.

Putting the plan together requires you to step away from your day-to-day stuff, and I don't think I would have had that clarity if I hadn’t spent 18 months back in Wolverhampton.

As a founder, it’s critical to work through what you're passionate about—to ask yourself what do you know, what you can win in, and where you can build a business model.

I knew I loved beauty services, being in that environment where you're with (usually) another woman, for at least an hour, that’s a rare 1:1 customer interaction. I knew I loved building technology—I’d already built a VR app for nails and a chatbot for our booking systems. So I decided to do services and technology and a business model that allows women to be economically empowered.

Going back home gave me the freedom to go deep. I did a lot of writing about my thesis for the future of work and the future of beauty services. That cemented my thoughts and meant the business has a theoretical unpinning to it, it wasn't just an idea that sounded cool.

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

Definitely the biggest challenge I’ve had has been finding and hiring the right team.

If I  don’t understand how to build a strong team, I can't build a business. It's really easy to be a CEO who doesn’t delegate, but the reality is you can’t build a long-lasting business alone.

Today I read a lot of books and ask people for their advice. I surround myself with people who've done it before and get their perspective. If I'm not good at something I try and find all the experts who are good at it and learn how they did it, and what will work for me.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

The thing that's made me proudest has been working with Art Against Knives to help bring women from disadvantaged backgrounds together to run a nail bar. The charity has trained over 500 young women with my books and my nail products.

People shouldn't think of charity as a tag-on to their business activities, they should think about how their business could do good for everybody. It’s good business sense.

What Art Against Knives are doing means everybody wins: the girls get training, they’re working towards economic empowerment, from a community point of view they're not in crime and I have a future pipeline of supply for the Beautystack app.

Where does Future Girl Corp fit in?

If I'm learning, I always feel compelled to share it. With Future Girl Corp, I was inspired by the Harvard i-lab and wanted to build something like that for me and my friends.

The whole point is to essentially help women 10x their businesses: if you have a passion for flowers, rather than just have one flower shop on the corner, could you run a flower marketplace?

There’s a need for places like us that are non-BS. I won't ever get someone on a panel and say, ‘Tell me your inspirational story’. You can Google that.

I will say, ‘You’re a food business and you had a partnership with Waitrose, how did you do that?’ It’s about providing step-by-step actionable advice on how people actually achieve things.

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

I’ve learned that I am incredibly resilient. If something’s hard, I’ll wake up the next day, and think today is a new day. If there are bumps in the road , it doesn't stop me, I'm just like, 'Oh well, I’ll figure this out.'

I don't know where it comes from, I don't even know if you can train it. Sometimes on the rare occasion I feel things are never going to get better, I almost feel it's a chemical imbalance, like it’s not natural to me

I’ve just got this strong instinct to survive. No matter what, I'm always going to figure out how to survive.

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

People assume that to be in technology, you have to have a tech background when actually that’s the biggest problem. Technology is for everybody, we're all consuming it, so why shouldn't we all be building it?

More people who study humanities, who study philosophy, and art and design should be involved in tech because it has the same type of feedback loop and criticism process.

We need different voices, especially female voices.

So be curious. I went to every single workshop that was related to what I was interested in.
If you want to work in tech and you're interested in it, you should find faults in things that satisfy your interests.

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

There are so many different barriers to success, not just for women.

If you're introverted, you're less likely to like climb to the top of the ladder than someone who's brash and wants to be powerful, but introverts are just as important to your business environment as anyone else.

We have to think about creating work environments that welcome people who don't fit the stereotype mould of an ambitious, young man.

At Beautystack we do lots of personality testing to make sure that no one personality type is dominant, otherwise you become an echo chamber. But unless you're going to start your own business, it’s up to leadership teams to make this change. All parties have to come together to acknowledge the old way hasn't been working and create a new future.

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

I would like to see companies having better transparency on how you can progress in your career.

At Beautystack we do continuous feedback loops, not just an annual performance review or a six-month performance review. We talk a lot, but we also listen. When we do our Org Chart, we also write under someone’s role their future scope.

You have to make sure you’re building a good working environment for all types of people and what they need, whether that’s better parental leave, flexible working or anything else.

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

Make government subsidised childcare available full-time from age one.

Right now, you get a couple of days a week from age three. That means that until children go to school age five, the caregiving of the child is always an issue that sadly often falls  on the woman to take care of.

How can women possibly go and work in a startup environment, which is typically long hours with a frantic pace, knowing that? Instead, they’re forced to have this five-year gap where they get out of the loop.

I’m a parent who’s coparented 50-50 since my son was one. But even then I never really stopped having anxiety about childcare until our son started full-time school. That means for five years, my head wasn't able to fully focus because I was always thinking about childcare.

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

You should look at Future Girl Corp obviously. I would also recommend that anyone building a business in tech read The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. Even if you're not in tech, it will help you understand how to iterate, how to build things with speed and how to test.

I actually have a whole list of book recommendations on my website so you can see everything there!


WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here.


Navigating the Journey to Success in UX

By Elite Avner Torbit, Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting UK

Elite Avner TorbitElite Avner Torbit is Lead UX Designer at Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting UK.

She is focused on introducing design thinking methodologies that put customers at the centre of the design efforts of the company’s tax and accounting solutions. She is responsible for creating the environment for everyone involved to be creative, experiment and collaborate every day, with the ultimate goal of delivering products that customers will love.

What do you do?

For the past seven years, I’ve been a digital UX designer predominantly focused on B2B applications. For the uninitiated, UX is the applied practice of guiding users on helpful, easy and satisfying user journeys, both in digital products, and physical products as well.

I have worked with a wide range of businesses, from large retailers and finance companies, to independent businesses, SMEs, non-profits and start-ups. It’s been a tremendously varied career so far, but what is common among all my roles is my focus on user experience at the centre of all design. I enjoy helping businesses relate to their customers and solving complex problems by making solutions simple. I also love the variety of facilitating workshops, running user research, sketching ideas and creating wireframes and prototypes.

How did you get into UX as a career?

In my career, it’s safe to say that pre-UX I was a bit of a digital generalist. I held different digital roles in project management, digital strategy and CRM management. I also managed project delivery for websites, and this was what piqued my interest in UX. UX designers are a bit like conduits as they talk to all the different people involved in producing a product or service. I liked that, because I’ve always been the type of person who liaises between everyone, acting as a bridge to various project needs.

I was looking for a new career direction…and began studying UX independently, applying what I’d learned along the way for charities and small businesses either on a voluntary basis, or for nominal fees. I did this for a year, and after that year, I had a portfolio I could use to begin applying for ‘real’ UX jobs, which is exactly what I did. 18 months after my self-directed journey into UX began, I got my first proper UX job as a contractor through an agency.

It goes to show how important it is to have a portfolio in UX, as, in my experience, companies won’t hire designers without a portfolio of work. They want to understand your thought process and how you approach something, whether you know the domain well or not. In most roles, the end result is usually the most important thing, but in UX, the process takes precedence in many ways. When you create a portfolio, it’s important to show your own journey through each project. You want to demonstrate how you contributed to the deliverables of each project phase, showing that you understand the UX process and everything that goes into it.

It’s all based on design thinking. Generally, I focus on B2B, but it doesn't actually matter whether you’re designing a gardening app or a large-scale tax and accounting solution, which is my current focus: the process is the same. Design thinking is about empathising with users, exploring the problem and understanding how the people who use the product or service may behave in the moment, and why.

The importance of talking to customers. We start with a short discovery phase. This gives us a chance to learn, up front, about our customers’ needs so that when it’s time to start building a solution, we’ve already had a thorough validation of our ideas, and we deliver great outcomes based on research.

What’s it like being a UX designer at Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting UK?

I enjoy the fact that we’re effectively a ‘floating resource’ and can join any team that needs us at a specific time. For example, UK UX designers recently joined the Wolters Kluwer Virtual Code Games, where teams of developers collaborated and connected to develop inventive solutions as part of our ongoing innovation stream. With over 500 participants and 100 teams across the globe, it was an amazing initiative to be part of, and we loved helping teams tell their stories by considering the user journey at all times.

Within our local community of UX designers, and more broadly at a global level, there's a lot of support and activity taking place. We have coaching and best practice sessions, and we help each other to embed UX firmly across a future-focused technology business – it’s a great place for any UX designer to be, and I’m glad my journey has brought me here.


If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here


She Talks Tech Podcast - Extending Reality through VR and AR with Jeremy Dalton

Listen to our latest She Talks Tech podcast episode on 'Extending Reality through VR and AR' with Jeremy Dalton

She Talks Tech Podcast - Extending Reality through VR and AR with Jeremy Dalton

Today we meet PwC’S Head of VR/AR, Jeremy Dalton in his session about virtual and augmented reality.

Jeremy Dalton helps clients understand, quantify, and implement the benefits of virtual reality and augmented reality technology. He  is a regular contributor of thought leadership in the space, giving talks all over the world, from Twitter’s headquarters in London to the SXSW technology festival in Austin, Texas.

If you want to find out more about Jeremy, you can connect with him on twitter @jeremycdalton or on LinkedIn

LISTEN HERE


‘She Talks Tech’ brings you stories, lessons and tips from some of the most inspirational women (and men!) in tech.

From robotics and drones, to fintech, neurodiversity and coronavirus apps; these incredible speakers are opening up to give us the latest information on tech in 2020.

Vanessa Valleley OBE, founder of WeAreTheCity and WeAreTechWomen brings you this latest resource to help you rise to the top of the tech industry. Women in tech make up just 17 per cent of the industry in the UK and we want to inspire that to change.

WeAreTechWomen are delighted to bring this very inspiring first series to wherever you normally listen to podcasts – and the first three episodes are now live!

So subscribe, rate the podcast and give it a 5-star review – and keep listening every Wednesday morning for a new episode of ‘She Talks Tech’.

Produced by Pineapple Audio Production.


Hilary Mine featured

Inspirational Woman: Hilary Mine | Vice President & Market Unit Leader, Nokia

Hilary MineI am Vice-President & Market Unit Leader for 11 countries across the Nordics, Baltics & Benelux at Nokia.

In this role I lead sales, delivery and operations across the region ensuring our customers, stakeholders and employees are as successful as possible. I am also deeply honoured to have been elected the first female President of Digital Europe earlier this year, a role I hope will inspire women exploring a career in tech.

It was while completing my bachelor’s degree in Economics that I developed an appetite for technology. I was the editor of my college newspaper and I drove the transition to a digital format.  It was 1981, so this was on punch cards and a DEC mini. It was the beginning of my love affair with technology and the impact it could have on our everyday lives.

My first management job was as an Administrator at UC Berkeley in an engineering research institute.  My parents were starving musicians and I did not even know the word “engineering” before that. During the day I managed a pool of technical typists, edited technical papers, ran the budgeting, helped raise money and so on, but in the evenings I worked on completing my MBA. It was around that time also that someone explained the concept of fibre optics to me, and my eyes lit up.  This was going to change the world.

From there I carried on building my expertise in techno commercial modelling, traffic engineering and market forecasting and ran my own analyst and consulting company for several years. I was subsequently recruited by Alcatel to run marketing and strategy for North America, and over the course of the next seven years was given more and more responsibility. That included running the business in Australia, New Zealand and eventually North Asia as well. I left Alcatel to become CMO at Thompson which I helped rebrand as Technicolor, took a short break to care for my family, and then came back to Alcatel-Lucent in 2010 to develop its cloud strategy. Following that I ran the consulting business worldwide which is now part of Bell Labs.  After Nokia acquired ALU, I moved to Amsterdam to run sales and delivery in Nordics, Baltics and Benelux.

Now, at such a crucial time for telecommunications I am focused on growing the business as well as harnessing the power of 5G to create new and exciting opportunities. The current pandemic has demonstrated the critical need for high speed connectivity in safeguarding business continuity. The shift, almost overnight, requiring us to all work from home saw a dramatic spike in the capacity needed on the networks. Our industry managed well but this has underlined the need for next generation fibre optic and 5G networks to provide better video quality and higher levels of security.

Fully integrated, end-to-end networks are essential for building a safe and futureproof system guaranteeing better connectivity.  The ongoing development of new technologies such as AI, robotics and machine learning will enable complete, seamless connectivity that is so important to our customers such as Telia and Elisa in Finland and Proximus in Belgium with whom we have collaborated on numerous Industry 4.0 trials and early implementations, including automated factories, port operations digitisation, and consumer applications including e-gaming.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

My only plan was knowing my career would be my life’s work, I wanted to be sure I chose something enjoyable and engaging. I didn’t ever sit down and plan my career, but I have always been aware of the opportunities available to me. I am a big believer in having the courage to take risks and to avoid closing doors. At one point in my career I left a senior, well paid job to start my own consultancy. It was terrifying at first, but I doubled my income within a year and learned an enormous amount. I have also demoted myself three times to achieve a better quality of life or to learn new things and have never lost sight of the bigger picture. For example, when my mother became ill I knew I wanted to be there for her and my daughter. I took a 40% pay cut and left the company to do what I needed to do for my family. I have never been afraid to take risks or take career breaks and it has always paid off. If anything, I should have done it more. My favourite quote comes from the American actress Ruth Gordon who said: “Courage is like a muscle; we strengthen it with use.”

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

I like to be liked but I’m also a bit of a perfectionist, so the first challenge was to learn to be successful as a manager – to not micromanage, but to also drive for great results.   Another key challenge was learning to give clear, concrete and fact based feedback and to have difficult conversations.  Not my strength as a young woman for sure.  But it helped to go into  sales where you have to lose your ego to be successful and learn to listen really effectively, and then it helped to manage large projects and have to face customers with every hiccup,  You learn quickly that it’s always best to give bad news fast, and always with a plan.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I used to talk about big project wins and delivery, but at this stage in my career, for sure my greatest achievement is having supported many amazing people into broader roles. Seeing so many people whom I have managed, mentored and encouraged to blossom, has been extremely satisfying.

I am also really proud of the work we have undertaken at Nokia and Digital Europe in promoting diversity. At Digital Europe, 40% of the board are now women and at Nokia we have pioneered programmes to accelerate the number of women in our leadership team. Our outgoing CEO, Rajeev Suri has been instrumental in this and set up a programme called Panorama to personally support the careers of promising leaders in the organisation. He pushed for 30% to be women which for our industry, where just 7% of top leaders were women, was unprecedented. The programme has been a huge success and has personally inspired me to improve diversity within my own team.

We also invest in encouraging women and girls into STEM education by fostering programmes that develop and nurture talent – hopefully driving the interest of 11–15 year-old girls. We collaborate with Greenlight for Girls, a non-profit organisation focusing on driving girls’ interest for STEM through interactive and fun workshops, including coding. The girls get to participate for a whole day in workshops designed for them, and importantly talk with women who have been in their shoes.

In addition, we pursue pay equity by closing the ‘unexplained pay gap’ in 2019 and achieved a perfect 100% in the ‘equal pay / gender pay parity’ category of the  Bloomberg Gender Equality Index (GEI) for 2020 – well ahead of the average, which was 50.12%.

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

I’d put my success down to three key areas:

  • Courage - having the mettle to push boundaries and challenge myself has helped me get to where I am today. It doesn’t come naturally to me but is something I’ve worked at and has paid dividends in the long run.
  • Listening to people and learning from others - this has really helped to develop my judgement and is also a great way of building a network.
  • Working hard – put simply, you cannot excel unless you put in the time and effort needed to do a great job.

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

I think my top tips would fall into three main camps:

  • Breadth is important. If you are only ever looking down a narrow path you will always follow that track. Seek out new opportunities where you can add value.
  • Curiosity is king. Never be afraid to learn more about the way things work, especially in tech!
  • Define what success means for you and don’t be afraid to make changes in your career to achieve it.

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

Overall, I think the sector is progressing, but some barriers still exist. As I see it, the first is confidence and self-belief. Regardless of ethnicity, research finds that women are more likely to be unsure of their own abilities in computer science than their male counterparts, with their confidence level at roughly 70% of that of men. This tech confidence gap of 30% is much higher than in other fields – 11% in business, 7% in humanities, and 5% in the social sciences. This lack of confidence is the primary reason more women are not participating in the tech industry.

The second is personal networks. While young girls and boys have similar levels of formal access to computer science classes and programmes as those people who work in tech, a gap emerges in college and beyond. Between the ages of 18 and 25, young men’s social circles develop in such a way that they are 1.5 times more likely to know someone working in the field than young women. The social and professional circles of young women are more likely to be filled with people working in fields other than tech.

The third is a negative perception of the industry and the tech culture: Given the poor perception of their own computer science abilities, it’s not surprising that females are 2.5 times more likely than males to say that people who work in tech are “nerdy” or “not like me”. Women also drop out of pursuing computer science at every stage of the journey, at rates 1.2 to 1.7 times higher than their male counterparts.

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

Companies can offer initiatives for inspiring future engineers and computer scientists either in partnership with existing education-related programmes like CODE2040 or Black Girls Code, or by developing their own programmes. Initiatives to encourage computer science education in local schools is also worthwhile - perhaps you have staff who could volunteer to help tutor students or donate equipment to schools in need?

Then there is the topic of how to change the perception of technology. Children and students know that taking biology classes potentially puts them on a path toward becoming a doctor or medical researcher and at a very young age they can see that this impacts society and people directly. No such line of sight exists between taking algebra, calculus, computer science or engineering and how those subjects result in a career that clearly impacts society, friends and family.

It’s important to try to reshape the perception of computer science and engineering among young women and girls, so at Nokia we encourage our employees to be role models or mentors for tomorrow’s technologists. We have a programme at Nokia Software called IdTech, which combines leadership development of women leaders with mentoring of young women with an interest in STEM and with socio-economic challenges. This enables our Nokia female employees to gain an education on what good mentoring looks like, how to transfer their knowledge to others in a digestible manner and how to support young women. They then use this knowledge to support other young women.

In general, better education is necessary, not just for women but for men too. Unless we have male advocates championing the roles of women as well as men, we won’t achieve genuine parity.

Currently only 17% of women work 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 you look at STEM degrees, 51% of students are now female but if you look at engineering degrees in isolation only 10-15% are women. We need to start within schools as we lose girls at roughly age 10. They don’t see the power of engineering in changing lives in the same way they see biology as paving the way to a career in medicine with a clear and obvious impact on society. If I had a magic wand, I would encourage all girls everywhere to see engineering as a way to change the world for the better, and as an approachable and family friendly career path.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

My one piece of advice would be to read everything you can about your industry. Knowledge is power!


WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here


PLAYBACK: Making the most of cloud technologies in a multi-cloud era with Stephen Gilderdale

Making The Most Of Cloud Technologies In A Multi-Cloud Era

The cloud revolution is real, and it’s great to see that more organisations are seeing the value in multi-cloud IT environments, but are businesses truly maximising its benefits?

The latest research on cloud technologies commissioned by Dell Technologies suggests the majority are not. That’s despite the fact that the number of enterprises leveraging public cloud services has more than tripled since 2011. Uncovering today’s cloud challenges and reaping the rewards of multi-cloud environments is essential for success – so, what’s holding them back?

Stephen GilderdaleAbout Stephen

Stephen is a Senior Director for the UK Presales organisation at Dell Technologies, leading a team of highly passionate technologists who are helping customers realise digital transformation. Stephen is deeply engaged in supporting customers exploit their data assets to drive exciting opportunities that Artificial Indigence, Machine Learning, 5G Networks, and Edge computing promise - while ensuring we meet our ambitious corporate social responsibility objectives.  

 


Jaime Pearse featured

Inspirational Woman: Jaime Pearse | Game Design Lead, Clipwire Games

Jaime Pearse

Jaime Pearse is the game design lead at fast-growing mobile game development studio, Clipwire Games.

Jamie has been working in the gaming sector for five years after initially working in healthcare. At Clipwire games she designs features for Bingo Story, the top grossing game in the app stores by a Canadian developer.

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

I’m Jaime Pearse, Game Design Lead at the fast-growing mobile game development studio, Clipwire Games. I kicked off a career in games after leaving the healthcare sector in 2015. At Clipwire Games, I design features for Bingo Story, the top grossing game in the app stores by a Canadian developer. Our audience is primarily women, and I’m very proud to have the opportunity to share my love of games and advocate for women who play games.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career? 

Definitely no plans here. When I was younger I wanted to be a nurse, so I set off down a path in healthcare but eventually realized it wasn’t for me. Prior to joining Clipwire Games I was in a customer service role and saw an opportunity to improve our marketing and event content, which led me to connect with the content team manager. I asked for extra work from that team whenever it was available. Soon enough, a position was created and I jumped into it and it took off.

I feel especially lucky with synchronicity and that things happened at the time they needed to happen. I didn’t go to school for game design but I knew that I had an ability and talent. I was looking for something else and it felt like my creative potential was being underutilized and so I started looking for open doors.

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

When I started in games, I started at “zero”. I came from a different sector, work environment, and I hadn’t worked in an office before. There was a steep learning curve in my first job for both soft and technical skills and without mentorship, I was left to figure stuff out on my own.

I approach challenges as part of my own growth. I’m learning things along the way, and recognize where I have an opportunity to grow, which in some cases means learning to get out of my own way. I’m also very fortunate that I work in an environment where it is possible to be successful. I am so very grateful to the amazing leadership team at Clipwire Games. They are supportive in not only my professional development, but my personal development as well.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

The journey itself and totality of my career is an achievement. I am especially proud to work at Clipwire Games, I’m very proud of my team and the work that we do. We have a really great atmosphere of collaboration and creation and to be a part of this rapidly growing team is part of my achievement. Working at Clipwire Games has produced a real feeling of accomplishment. The work that my team and I do makes a real impact and at the end of the day I am a necessary component to this operation. Our main title Bingo Story has climbed up the top grossing charts by leaps and bounds since I started with the company, and the climb is only just beginning.

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

There’s definitely an element of synchronicity involved, but taking the time to be aware of my successes and areas of growth as they arise has been essential in my success. Perseverance on the path through the challenges is the way for me. As cliche as it may be, really recognizing and deeply understanding that there is no final destination. There’s no finish line to cross, no “Ahh, finally I’m there” moment, it’s all about the experiences and lessons on the journey. There is no there, there’s just an ever changing now.

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

My top tip is to embrace change. Don’t be afraid of it. In tech (and in all things) it’s definitely going to happen, and sometimes pretty frequently. Be brave in the face of discomfort, embrace it and learn from it. There are lessons to be learned in everything you do.

And, take on roles when you’re interested in them and don’t wait for opportunities to present themselves. My career in games has been very fluid and experiential. There’s been several pivots into different positions and that’s okay...welcome it.

What advice would you share for finding the right culture fit? 

To be able to find a place that encourages the personal and professional development plus offer the company/office perks and benefits is a bonus. I knew Clipwire Games was the right place for me because I really felt heard, valued and there was no ceiling -- it’s actually encouraged here not to see one. For me, culture is not just about company perks and benefits but about the development and learning of the one thing that you work on everyday...YOU. The development and constant iteration of every individual’s learning, adds to the company’s culture.

What overall lessons are you sharing with direct reports and/or people on your team? 

I’ve learned lessons the hard way, sometimes learning the same lesson a few times. Games are an ever changing landscape, so being quick to change is important. Being an ever cautious over-planner and synthesizing multiple viewpoints was not a particularly ingrained skill of mine, so it took some shifting to be able to allow and welcome that flow. The role of a designer includes listening to feedback, welcoming ideas and suggestions and then being able to take all those ideas and the meaning behind it and bring it all together. It’s tough to know how to do that when you’re still learning and gaining experience.

What have you learned from working with other women?

In my experience here at Clipwire Games, women are seen as absolutely equal to men. I recognize that while game design and development can typically look like a boys’ club, Clipwire Games is leading the way with a more diversified team. Women here have total equality, we are talented people and that’s all that really matters.

I’m fortunate that I work and can learn from other females and from their experience.  My manager has been in the industry for the last 15+ years and her discipline has also been in design -- she’s been extremely instrumental for me. My direct report is also female and a wonderful talent who is newer to the industry. Together we are proud to be working on our top games and have a fair amount of influence in the games we work on and in the studio.

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

I think there’s still a little bit of catch up for women working in games. The games we create are played by women and we need women who play the games to make the games. Companies should hire women as there’s magic that happens when the “audience” who plays the game influences the creation of it. Ultimately, the real enchantment happens when you’re making the game that you love to play.

What resources do you recommend for people working in tech? 

I highly recommend Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear as it has helped me improve my own time management, and building better habits overall. PocketGamer.biz covers our industry and is another good source for news and upcoming events for those who are in mobile gaming development. I’ll also listen to “Deconstructor of Fun” from time to time because the hosts cover a wide range of gaming topics and companies on the show.


WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here


VIDEO PLAYBACK: Augmented working and the future of work in this new reality webinar

WeAreVirtual - Augmented working, webinar, new

Dell Technologies Chief Digital Officer, Margarete McGrath will host a discussion on the future of work with guest speaker, Mona Bitar, who is an EY Partner and leading EY’s client response to Covid 19 in the UK.

In recent weeks, we have seen technology enable communities to connect, engage and share not just workplace exchanges but family moments using collaborative technologies. Recent weeks have also highlighted the need for technology to become almost a utility that everyone has equal access to. This conversation will explore some of the emerging workplace trends and how workplaces are being reset for a new reality. Imagining a new paradigm where workplace and home become closer, where technology is used to augment working and living in a new way. Join us for what will be an engaging discussion on the workplace reality, one that is unlikely to revert to old patterns but presents an opportunity to reshape workplaces as we know them.

 

About Margarete

Margarete McGrathMargarete is the Chief Digital Officer for Dell Technologies for the UK and Ireland.

Previous to that, Margarete worked as a Management Consultant where she worked for EY and PwC leading complex change programmes. She previously worked for PwC in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and more recently in Ireland. Margarete supported many public and private sector clients with their business transformations.

Alongside this, Margarete previously ran two successful start up’s focusing on sharing models in food sustainability and building social networks while in New Zealand.

Today, Margarete works with a diverse group of Dell Technologies clients to support them with their digital and security transformations. Dell Technologies provides a wide range of solutions ranging from edge computing delivering smart solutions to advanced analytics to drive enhanced and secure customer experiences and new business model opportunities for leading financial institutions.

Dell Technologies is continuing to invest and innovate in research and development across its seven technology businesses which enables Dell Technologies to partner with leading global clients to support them automate, modernise and transform their business models.

Margarete is a champion of diversity in digital and a strong advocate of STEM. She is big believer in female entrepreneurship and green technology. Margarete is an advocate of Mental Health and Wellbeing in Dell.

About Mona

Mona Bitar Mona is an EY Partner and is leading EY’s client response to COVID-19 in the UK.

Mona is experienced in operational turnaround and business redesign for large corporates, she advises clients who need to drive significant performance improvement across a spectrum of high performing and distressed organisations.

Mona has supported clients across many sectors including consumer products, retail, life sciences, diversified industrials, telecommunications, media and technology and her experience has involved spending time in the UK, North and South America, India, Europe and Africa.

Mona has worked with several FTSE 100 executive teams and her style and bold challenge helps to rapidly drive change and creates a coherence that transforms outcomes. She has been privileged to work with a cross-section of clients including a year on-site working side by side with a CEO. Using her unique view as an experienced strategy practitioner with deep operational experience, Mona can turn ideas into plans that can be executed, at pace, to rapidly create value.


The Importance of Female Role Models in STEM

Sophie DenhamSophie Denham is a Senior Engineering Manager in Technical Project Management for Shark Robotics. She is incredibly grateful for the opportunities her career in Design has given her, enabling her to work at world-leading companies and study abroad.

She puts much of this down to the incredible female role models she has been lucky to have around her. Here she discusses her experiences and why she jumped at the chance to get involved in SharkNinja’s WeLead programme, an innovative global support network for women across the company, as well as education and entry avenues into STEM through joint ventures with universities and schools.

For most of my childhood, I had my heart set on joining the Police Force, but also knew I wanted to go to University first. During secondary school, I studied Product Design and was fortunate enough to have a truly inspiring Product Design teacher, who had built the department up using the very latest technologies in 3D printing and had worked in the industry for years before turning to teaching. This meant I was exposed to what Product Design was, both as an industry and what it could mean as a career, whereas in most other subjects, it was difficult for me to perceive how they would be used in real life. I loved the ability to combine maths, physics and creativity to produce products that people actually wanted and needed, so felt this was the perfect degree for me. I studied BSc in Product Design at Brunel University - it was rigorous and demanding and I could genuinely see myself pursuing a career in design if it weren’t for my dream of joining the Police. Yet upon graduation, I didn’t even look at Police recruitment. By the end of those four years, I realised how much I had loved my course and the real insights I had given me into the worlds of design, engineering and technology.

So, I began my career as a Design Engineer with Dyson and following that, moved to Auckland to work for a medical company Fisher & Paykel Healthcare. Here I specialised in consumer research and front- end design, taking a leading role in running global clinical trials on an innovative new technology to treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Across these two roles I was involved in designing technology leading to three patents, which is a great achievement for any designer. I then joined SharkNinja when I returned to the UK, first as a Design Engineer before transitioning into Technical Project Management.

After over two years working in the Ninja category, I left the company to pursue another interest, joining a small startup in London that makes hardware and software to empower young people to learn to code in a creative environment. Here, I learned a vast amount about software development, becoming a qualified Scrum Master as well as taking a leading role in restructuring the manufacturing division of the company.

Earlier this year, I then rejoined SharkNinja to begin an exciting new challenge within the Robots division, combining my experiences in hardware and software as Senior Engineering Manager, Technical Project Management. In this role, I am responsible for ensuring the products within this Robots category are delivered to the requirements set by both the consumers and the business, by ensuring collaboration and cohesion across the different teams within the global Robots division.

I am truly thankful for the opportunities my career in Design has given me, enabling me to work at world-leading companies and study abroad. Much of this I put down to the incredible role models I was fortunate enough to have in school, university and workplaces. As a woman in STEM, it is especially important to have these role models, yet shockingly, only 22% of students are able to name a famous female working in technology. Having spent much of my career being the only female within an engineering team, I am so grateful to the incredible support network of female mentors and colleagues who have guided me along the way. With their support; whether that has been highlighting when I’ve done something really well, or given me a gentle (or not so gentle) nudge when I have made errors in work or judgement, I have grown from being a timid, quiet member of the team to someone who feels confident speaking out. Without these incredible female role models, I fear I would still be the quiet mouse of the team, afraid to speak out when I have ideas.

That’s why I jumped at the chance to get involved in SharkNinja’s WeLead programme. This is an amazing initiative which provides a global support network for women across the company, as well as education and entry avenues into STEM through joint ventures with universities and schools. Naturally, this is something I wanted to be a part of; to connect with the wealth of talented, strong women at SharkNinja, both to offer my support to others and to continue to support myself.

SharkNinja has such an array of female talent and having the chance to expose that talent to girls and women who may not have considered a career in STEM is also hugely important to me. Throughout my life I have been passionate about exposing more school aged children, particularly girls, to our industry, by tutoring STEM subjects through to A-level and speaking in schools about what real jobs look like within STEM. WeLead gives me an incredible platform to continue this at SharkNinja.

The importance of female role models in STEM is unparalleled and I am so happy to be working for a company which recognises and actively promotes this. The future is bright for women in tech.


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Lisa Krapinger featured

Inspirational Woman: Lisa Krapinger | CMO, breathe ilo

Lisa KrapingerI was born and raised in Vienna, and have been ambitious my whole life. In fact I was a professional diver at the age of 8! 

I started working in marketing at Red Bull, leading the sampling and promotion team, in order to combine my passion for sports with my career. Then I moved to Heineken, where I was responsible for promoting the cider brands in Austria through  sponsorships and events.

What I realised from these two roles was that I loved working to build new brands and products up from scratch - hence why Carbomed Medical Solutions GmbH was the perfect next step in my career path.

Tell us more about your current role

I took on the role as CMO so I could share the news about breathe ilo and its benefits with women all around the globe. breathe ilo is the world’s first fertility tracker that uses breath analysis to identify ovulation patterns -  whether you want to track your cycle or increase your chance at conceiving.

At breathe ilo, my key responsibility is to lead the entire sales and marketing team while helping spread the word and raise awareness of the product by using various channels such as social media, influencers, PR, trade fairs and events.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Believe it or not, I actually do have a five years career plan and a more detailed one year career plan with small steps and goals. I believe you can only achieve success when you always have it in front of your eyes.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

I face challenges on almost a weekly basis but I continue to stay positive, focused and never lose my passion. The main challenge at breathe ilo is that we are talking about a “taboo” topic. Word of mouth is not as easy as women who get pregnant easily with breathe ilo don’t want to admit that they initially needed help. Therefore we feel it’s important to go back to the root and speak about the overall topic of fertility and pregnancy in order to break the taboos and make such conversation normal.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

My biggest achievement has been receiving the testimonials from women since the inception of breathe ilo; this continues to be a huge achievement for the entire team. We are continuously receiving emails from women sharing stories of how they got pregnant now with breathe ilo, after months or years of trying. Reading messages like these gives me all the energy and motivation to try to do my best everyday. As we have just launched into the UK market, I believe that the more people know about the technology, the more people we can help.

What excites you the most about your industry?

The world has been focused on men’s health, and it’s sad to see that  the depth in which the health industry has been explored the  female body is around 300 years behind. However, I love the femtech industry as we can see that several startups are emerging to change that.

Most of them have one goal: understanding the female body better and empowering women. This is something I also want to stand for and it excites me everyday, as with every new user we get, we are one step closer to filling the void in the gender data gap.

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

The support of my friends and family has been a major factor in achieving success. Above all my sister and fiance always believe in me and help me to stay one step ahead. I am very thankful to have them both on my side, discussing ways I can progress in the future, helping me to set goals and working out how I can achieve them.

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

I would give myself a lot of advice if I could. Most importantly, however, is to learn to take a more relaxed view of difficulties. You can’t change an issue unless you take one step back and see the bigger picture. Also, another piece of advice I would give myself is that each challenge will ultimately teach you something.

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

My primary challenge now is making breathe ilo a global brand. We want to provide our technology to the whole world, help every woman in need and make fertility tracking as easy as breathing!


WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here