Padma Ravichander featured

Inspirational Woman: Padma Ravichander | CEO, Tecnotree

Padma Ravichander

I am Padma Ravichander, CEO at Tecnotree – a post I have held for the past 5 years. 

I have been in in the IT industry holding global CXO level positions for the likes of HP, Oracle, Dell-Perot and most recently, for the past decade, for Tecnotree. I am a Canadian citizen and have lived and travelled globally extensively. I have always been in the technology field, mostly focused on telecoms and financial services leading and managing large, global product engineering organisations.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Not really but if you ask me if I am happy with my career development and progress – I would say yes both in terms of the field I am in, the career opportunities I have enjoyed globally, the leadership opportunities I have been given and the learning they have all provided me.  My career has also introduced me to global customers, across various continents and has exposed me to managing and integrating large teams to deliver technology solutions across numerous cultures.  It has been an exhilarating journey and I have enjoyed the opportunity and the challenges along the way.

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

As a woman in the technology field, I have often met challenges along the way – but I have never shied away from any of them.  During the initial days of my career I was often the only woman in technology and in many situations among many of male colleagues.  Often, I would have to work harder and longer to prove my capabilities and sometimes found it hard in senior positions to break the “old boys club”.  But my critical strength was always my passion for my work, competence and an enduring spirit to see a job well done. These three attributes have inspired me to overcome some very hard and negative situations.  It’s not always important to win every argument but it is important to participate, to put your ideas across effectively and to learn the ability to negotiate and influence others in the process.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

In every one of my job opportunities, I have had great triumphs, excellent achievements and several firsts however if I were to pick one it would definitely be what I have done at Tecnotree. We have turned the company from being in a difficult financial position of debt re-structuring in 2016 when I became CEO of Tecnotree, to a fully financially stable company in 2021 completely out of debt restructuring.  Today the company is leading digital transformation of CSPs in emerging markets, has launched a fully cloud enabled digital BSS stack ready for 5G along with a fintech solution for a digital wallet and an e-commerce platform to cross-sell and upsell partner offerings in the areas of sports, entertainment, gaming, healthcare and education. We call this our Tecnotree Moments platform. The journey has been unstoppable in 2021 too with the increase of 16% in revenue, 60% in net income and the share price reaching a 52-week high this year.  The Market Capitalisation of the company surged past 400 Mn euros registering an increase of  approx 1400% over the last 24 months. In addition, the company has won several new awards, recognition from industry analysts, media and associations like Gartner, Financial Times, TM Forum, Omdia, Kauppalehti, etc. It’s a great achievement by the team over the last 3 years achieved through lots of dedication and hard work by many employees across the globe and the results speak for themselves.

It’s an incredible turn-around story which has been truly an inspirational journey for me.

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

The success of an organisation is never just down to one individual. It’s always the result of a great team coming together and believing in a shared purpose. We all work together seamlessly with extreme focus, commitment and dedication to see it through.  The one major factor for Tecnotree’s turn around is our Tecnotree Team!

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

Firstly, you have chosen absolutely the best field to be in especially post Covid.  Being digital is no longer a nice to have but a necessity for all lines of business and digitally connected communities.   The technology field poses huge opportunities for men and women alike to learn, adapt and excel.

My top tips are to:

  • Seize every opportunity to learn and contribute. Technology is a dynamic, ever growing field and staying relevant non-stop is key
  • Be agile in your ability to adapt and change in your work environment and be perceptive to the greater purpose and vision of the organisation you are serving
  • Aspire to be the absolute best in everything that you are at work and at home, creating a winning spirit and a leadership quality that becomes part of your DNA
  • Share and celebrate your success at work with your teams, and your family – always

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

In the 21st century, I believe we are in a digital age, where physical attributes of gender are no longer really relevant. What truly matters is your intelligence and ability to create and to innovate.  In this new age, where  instant gratification is propelled by the high speed internet, intense automation and ubiquitous access to information, success is no longer measured by one’s physical abilities or wealth but by one’s capability to innovate and create new experiences that are unique and can touch and empower the lives of others.

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

In our post Covid world, I feel companies have a greater opportunity to support women especially those returning to work after having children.  Working-from-home (which was once a request denied to many) has become part of the way we work which has enabled a much  better work-life balance for both sexes, creating more opportunities for men and women to work. This will create a far greater gender diversity in the workplace helping to enrich the contribution we all make to the teams we work in.

There are currently only 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?

Nature has a way of self-correcting itself.  I believe that with the pandemic behind us our acceptance of new work models will force more gender diversity in the global talent pool which will blur gender differences and force a richer work experience which will cause a greater amount of men and women to contribute to work products.  Diversity, regardless of industry is a necessity. It strengthens the capacity of an organisation in terms of how it reacts to change and how it delivers on results.  Most successful companies with a strong outlook, and a good balance sheet have been proven to be driven by diverse teams that are equanimous.

At Tecnotree the impact on our bottom line is well documented by the diversity of our organisation. We have a global foot print with an HQ in Finland and offices across the globe, in Argentina, Peru, Brazil, Mexico, France,  Dubai, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, Ghana, The UAE, The Middle-East, India and Malaysia. Tecnotree is among the top 100 most inclusive companies in the world today in terms of the Diversity index – something we are proud of and something we want to continue to build on.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

All the above and more.  One of the keys to success within technology is to always continue learning. Micro-Learning whereby you can improve your knowledge within key areas helps you to respond to challenges quickly and dynamically. And with today’s e-learning tools this is more easily and readily available on demand.

For women beyond technology who want to be the true benefactor of the new digital age we are entering in the 21st century I have 2 pieces of advice:

  1. There is nothing wrong to desire to have it all and you can but what we need to realise is that you cannot be successful alone. Far more success comes to those who collaborate and share success as a team – whether that is professionally with work colleagues or personally with family and friends. You have to trust, care and nurture people along the way in a way which makes them believe in your success as much as you do.
  2. Finally, for great success, you need thorough planning, and impeccable execution and discipline. We are truly blessed to be in this time of change, because with every change comes the opportunity to change, learn, grow and experience new forms of inclusion and diversity. With this we look forward to a new beginning.


Covid-19 and our growing digital skills crisis

three people working on laptops smiling, digital skills

Article by Julia Beaumont, CTO of Prince’s Trust youth charity

As the UK continues to embrace digital working life, there is a widespread belief that young people have the digital skills to hit the ground running as they enter the working world. 

However, not all young people are as digitally savvy as we assume, and we need to work to change this to bring equality in terms of the opportunities, access, experience, and socialisation that the digital world can provide, as well as being able to overturn the burgeoning digital skills gap within the UK economy.

According to a report by the Learning and Work Institute published in March this year only 62% of young people think they have basic digital skills, such as the ability to communicate digitally or use common software, and only 18% thought they had more advanced digital skills employers might need, like coding. This is a concerning thought with jobs increasingly demanding that people possess strong digital capabilities.

Fixing our digital skills gap is not going to happen overnight, but there are a whole host of proactive steps to take that will help mitigate the risk of further divisions and start closing the gap – this begins with considering the barriers to accessing digital devices.

Nominet, the registry running the .UK domain, recently released a report which showed that 94% of 8–11s and 99% of 12-15s were online last year. At first glance this seems like a very high percentage, but even so it means that as many as one million children missed out on online learning during the first lockdown due to having little or no access to technology.  Solutions to get every child online are urgently needed, as this imbalance and the setbacks it creates for disadvantaged young people must never happen again.

But it’s not just a question of devices and connectivity. Young people are also being held back in the digital space by their lack of softer skills, namely communicating effectively online, online judgement and decision making, and navigating websites – all of which could adversely hamper them in the long run given that digital skills are not just desirable but necessary in the world of work.

The short-term fixes to alleviate the impact of digital poverty throughout the COVID-19 pandemic have been positive, but they are only the start. Digital technologies became the critical enabler of the continuation of schools, universities, and businesses – and schemes to roll out devices to the digitally unconnected increasingly entered the mainstream. In fact, we became more connected than ever before and according to Ofcom, more than 7 in 10 online adults in the UK are now making video calls at least weekly since the start of the pandemic.

Now we need to look further ahead, and to really consider the long-term plans that should be implemented to provide young people with the education, resources, and insight they need to make the most of their future working lives. Collaboration will be key to ensuring this.

For example, the Prince’s Trust is currently working with Nominet to update its digital toolkit to bridge the gap between young people and potential future employers. It aims to connect young people across the UK to meaningful entry-level jobs within the Prince’s Trust’s partner networks.

Nominet is also supporting The Prince’s Trust with its broader data transformation strategy by helping the Trust to understand more about the young people they are supporting, and the outcomes being achieved. This will mean institutions aiming to tackle the digital skills gap will increasingly gain the insights required to make a tangible difference. Collaborations like this are invaluable, as they foster a supportive environment for young people to improve their digital capabilities which is key for catalysing change.

The past eighteen months of the pandemic have raised a number of questions surrounding digital transformation and the future of work – not only in the UK but across the world. To give young people a fighting chance to succeed we need to give them the opportunities to improve their digital skills by providing them with the digital support, tools, and education required to flourish.

Julia BeaumontAbout the author

Julia joined The Prince’s Trust as their Chief Technology Officer in November 2020. In her role at The Prince’s Trust, she is leading the transformation of technology, digital and data services for the charity’s employees and volunteers, as well as for the young people they serve.


Inspirational Woman: Nabilah Hussain | Head of FinCrime, 3S Money

Nabilah HussainBeing raised along with my three sisters in a single-parent household by my mother, I always had a shining example of an independent and hardworking role model.

It was this support from my family that drove me to attend Queen Mary University, where I received a Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Mathematics, Finance and Accounting, and subsequently, an International Anti Money Laundering (AML) Diploma from the ICA. But like so many graduates, I graduated from university having little idea of where or how I wanted my career to progress.

One thing I did know is that I wanted to work with technology and to establish a career that I not only enjoyed, but that also constantly challenged me to learn and grow. So by chance – and walking past a high-street bank job advert – I fell into finance, which led me on my path to FinTech.

I spent nearly six years at Metro Bank, starting as a Customer Service Representative, working my way up to Risk & Compliance Manager. I later moved to BFC Bank where I was the Financial Crime Officer and I’m now Head of FinCrime at 3S Money. In my current role, I manage a team of Financial Crime and Compliance Officers and lead our efforts in tackling risk and compliance for client onboarding. I also work on consistently developing and enhancing our AML policies and procedures in line with regulatory changes and ever-evolving risk challenges in the FinTech space.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Absolutely! However, I’ve never been one to set very long-term goals. I find they can often become intimidating, overwhelming and most often unattainable.

Setting short-term, manageable goals allows me to plan more efficiently. I find these far more effective and achievable. I believe they give you a clearer sense of direction to help work out the steps needed to achieve desired outcomes.

I also like to use personal affirmations, focusing my energy on controllable aspects – such as my mindset. Given that we regularly encounter variable factors in our personal and professional lives that we can’t control, these help me remain grounded so that I can realign the best version of myself.

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

Yes absolutely. It took going through lots of challenges, big and small, to help me find my niche. You have to be fluid and adaptable when moving through your career. For instance, if you try to rail against the challenges you’re facing too much, you’ll only crack and burn yourself out. By working with the challenges you face, and in many cases willingly put yourself in challenging situations, over time you become more resilient.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

My greatest achievement has to be finding my niche. As I mentioned, I came out of university with absolutely no idea what I wanted to do next. With no direction and little guidance, it would have been really easy for me to float around different industries, working in various roles before I found what I really wanted to do. I fell into finance almost by accident and from then on, having found my niche in compliance early on in my career, it’s really helped me focus my efforts.

Another achievement is that I’m now an advocate for female empowerment and leadership. I’ve experienced first-hand from my mother the positive influence strong female leaders can have on others. I channel these values in my professional career by sharing my experiences and helping my peers to grow.

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

Growing up, my mother always instilled in us the true value of working hard, and encouraged us to be ambitious, independent and dedicated from a young age. Her determination and ethos helped define how I work and interact with others today, and she’s played a huge role in my success. I wouldn’t be here without her. She is also part of the reason why I’m now a passionate advocate for female empowerment and leadership in the workplace.

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

It’s really challenging to shadow people when working in a big corporate environment, and networking isn’t for everyone. I’d advise everyone to do their research online. The internet is an incredible resource and you can learn so much by researching about the broader industry and reading and listening to first-hand accounts from those on the front lines, so to speak. Getting a realistic sense of an area you want to work in and what that actually entails is invaluable, as then you can make informed career decisions at every stage.

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

Perhaps because I entered the industry at a time when there was already a lot of positive change, I haven’t personally experienced any barriers as a woman in finance or fintech. I’m often told how lucky I am to have not experienced barriers in my career because of my gender.

Having said that, I’ve never worked for a company like 3S Money before. There is so much female empowerment and it’s actively encouraged by our CEO. Nearly two thirds (61%) of our team is female and I’m one of five female heads of department. We recognise the value in having different experiences and opinions in the workforce, which is why culture-add always comes above cultural fit.

I’ve also been appointed as a mentor in our internship programme at 3S Money and I’m currently offering coaching and training to a compliance intern in my team. I’m delighted to have been given the opportunity to influence a culture that tones from the top to create a skilled, inclusive, and friendly work environment.

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

We need to lead by example. After all, it’s our future leaders we need to worry about. We need to see CEO’s taking tangible action to make gender equality a reality. It’s critical they realise that it’s their own responsibility to educate and explain the importance of diverse teams and how everyone benefits from learning from each other. Otherwise, nothing will change. It all starts from the top.

What I want to see is CEO’s challenging themselves to monitor the number of female hires they make each quarter and watch the changes within those teams over time. It’s by holding our own companies and the broader industry accountable, that we will watch positive change follow.

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

I’d increase the awareness of inequality in the midst of great change. As only by being aware of a problem can we all come together to enact change for good. I have an amazing team of women supporting me at 3S Money, there is a genuine sense of female empowerment, support and community.

Creating a top-down culture will also help accelerate the pace of change. Ivan, our CEO, is a true advocate of female empowerment and has created a culture where everyone is supported and all opinions are valued and respected. If we had more environments like this, we would see the pace of change skyrocket.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

EventBright is invaluable. For me personally, I knew I was interested in compliance so I wanted to find and attend all the compliance events I could. It helped me understand what the industry looks like and what working in compliance would actually entail. As well as what I needed to do to enter the industry. When I did eventually apply for a job in compliance, I not only had the knowledge I needed, but I also had a clear view of the current risk climate in Finance.


Inspirational Woman: Diana Florescu | Board Member & Director, Wolves Summit

Diana FlorescuDiana Florescu is a leading light in the investment and start-up world in Europe.

She is a non-executive director sitting on the board of directors and advisors at Wolves Summit, bringing five years of experience in leading corporate-startup engagement programs as well as one of the largest early-stage investor company.

Her objective is to make Wolves Summit the region’s leading innovation and startup event acting as a soft-landing pad for international founders and investors that want to do business in this market and equally, as a gateway for ambitious founders looking to scale in the UK and beyond.

Founded in 2015 in Warsaw, Poland, the conference grew to become the largest tech event in Central and Eastern Europe. Wolves Summit dedicates itself to fostering deep and productive collaboration between regional and international angel investors, VC funds, corporations, and the most promising startups in CEE.

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

I started my career in startups. In the last seven years, I’ve held various marketing and sales roles working at all levels up to CxO.

I’m a board member and director at Wolves Summit, one of the largest tech conferences in Europe. I’m a founding member at Grai Ventures, a venture building studio headquartered in Romania. Formerly I led global marketing at two of the world’s largest networks of accelerators and corporate innovation companies.

Over the years I’ve specialised in building and delivering B2B marketing and strategy programmes for some of the world’s largest accelerators, tech conferences and innovation consultancies. My projects span multiple sectors including technology, gaming, media and entertainment, retail, among others. I’ve honed my global perspectives by working and living in five countries including the UK, USA, Qatar, Germany, and Romania.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career? 

I did plan the basic path by which I sought to become qualified and stay effective in my career as a marketer. However, careers do not progress in linear or predictable ways. As an entrepreneur, my career is so much more than a job: it’s a big part of my life. I launched and failed my first business when I was 19. I learned a ton from it, and then I spent a few years honing my skills as part of larger organisations knowing that it’s only a matter of time until I would start a new venture.

In the early days of my career, it was less about comparing jobs but rather taking a holistic approach to how my career fits in with my broader life ambitions. Some of the greatest changes and opportunities resulted from these practices: regularly seeking change and self-improvement, willingness to take calculated risks, empowering others, and surrounding myself with mentors and experts seeking constant feedback.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

My greatest accomplishment is sitting where I am right now. I believe that life is a constant work-in-progress and that all moments, the great huge ones and the small quiet ones, all make-up who I am.

There’re a few good ones I always look back on and smile at: winning the Lloyd’s Banking People’s Choice Award with my first company, Local Spoon, having worked and lived in five different countries, Grai Ventures ranking no 1 in Google Search for “media for equity” and having our publications recognised internationally.

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

Balancing self-confidence with humility.

I left Bucharest, my home town, when I was 18 years old. I remember juggling two part-time jobs and university. I also decided early-on to join the world of startups. I’ve always valued autonomy at work and making a meaningful impact, however, the startup life could be filled with a lot of risk and uncertainty.

These early experiences and career choices taught me how to become my own best advocate; how to develop a sense of who I am, what I can do, where I’m going coupled with the ability to influence my communication, emotions and behavior on the way to getting there.

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

If you have the time (and resources) to pursue a bachelor’s or Master degree, this is a great way to begin or advance your career in tech.

As someone who has a Masters degree in Technology Entrepreneurship, I will say that my education gave me the foundations for an entrepreneurship career. I’m not a software engineer but I can work closely with a development team and “speak their language”.

It’s true that most of the learning and applicable know-how I’ve gained has been “on the job” or self-taught. Shortly after graduation I joined Startupbootcamp, one of the world’s largest networks of accelerators. I was exposed to hundreds of startups and technologies every year.

I’ve also built a support network over time and surrounded myself with people that I can trust and I can ask for help when I need it. There are many non-profit organisations and communities designed to support ambitious people to advance in their tech career such as Women Who Code, ProductTank (product owners and managers), Dribble (for designers), GrowthHackers (for growth marketers).

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

Every technology company talks about its dedication to diversity and inclusion, however, the numbers show only slight progress in this area.

The overall tech and venture capital industry needs to become more inclusive. Starting in this industry has always been biased towards those with demographic privilege. There are hundreds of overlooked candidates that could provide unparalleled value to the industry if they are supported in getting experience at leading funds or technology companies in Europe. While the pool of talented Black professionals or women in tech is wide and deep, this group lacks visibility and opportunity.

It’s encouraging to see more initiatives and funds popping up on the market to support diverse and/or underrepresented founders entering the tech market and progress through their careers. At Wolves Summit we are proud to name some of them our partners including The Female Factor, Women in Tech, Perspektywy, Women in Law.

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

Having worked at all levels up to CxO and across multiple organisations, I’ve seen how a gender-diverse board could make a huge difference to the company’s overall performance. At Wolves Summit, 60% of our employees including senior management are women. Without having a diverse representation of culture and backgrounds, organisations often will not understand the many barriers that women face.

Also, businesses pursuing gender diversity should champion successful women, and highlight female role models – setting an example for other female employees across the organisation and proving that it’s possible to get ahead.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech? 

I’m a big fan of podcasts. I often listen to Women at Work – a podcast from Harvard Business Review that looks at the struggles and successes of women in the workplace. When I want to learn from some of the most successful CMOs and how they got to where they are today, I tune in to CMO Moves – a podcast hosted by Nadine Dietz, former Adweek Chief Community Officer.

I’m also part of a few communities that value diversity and inclusion in tech such as Diversity VC, a non-profit partnership, made up of interested individuals working in venture capital, who seek to increase diversity of thought in the venture industry.

Would you like to share any exciting updates or news?

I’m excited about the upcoming edition of Wolves Summit on October 19th-21st which will run both online and in-person. We’re expecting over 400 people on-site and thousands online, it will be by far our largest edition since the start of the pandemic. This year’s event includes over 15 topics including: IPO & Private Equity, Corporate Venturing, AI for Earth, Circular Economy, Technology Transfer, Embedded Finance, Manufacturing, 5G & IoT, Emerging industries, Healthcare & Sexual Wellness.

I’m particularly excited about joining ITV, Brand Capital and startup founders on a panel discussion about media for equity. The full event programme and line-up of speakers are now available on the website at https://www.wolvessummit.com/agenda-2021


What does working in Technology look like? WeAreTechWomen & Speakers for Schools event image featured

Recommended Event: 02/11/2021: What does working in technology look like? | WeAreTechWomen & Speakers for Schools

What does working in Technology look like? WeAreTechWomen & Speakers for Schools event image

Have you ever wondered how apps are made or how social media platforms are built? Have you ever seen computer generated images in movies and wondered how they did that?

Have you ever played a game online and questioned how those images were made or wondered how websites are built? The answer is technology – something we all use every hour of every day!

From buying tube tickets, to buying clothes online, Googling, making calls or sending messages. There are millions of technologists all over the world, in thousands of different jobs, who bring this technology to life. These individuals not only enable us to enjoy life through the use of technology,but they also build tech and systems that save lives and help solve big societal issues,like poverty and climate change.

So would you like to work in tech? Do you want to change the world through technology? Are you an app developer just waiting to be the next millionaire? Or perhaps you are a future cybersecurity analyst that wants to work for MI5 one day!

Join Speakers for Schools and WeAreTechWomen as we take you on an incredible journey, where you will hear career stories from a group of super-talented technologists in gaming, special effects, climate change, cyber security, web design, artificial intelligence, robotics, engineering and space technology. The day will run from 10.30am-2pm on 2nd November. During this event there will be the opportunity to pose questions to our experts and to find out what a career in technology really looks like. What are you waiting for?

*Please note – to register for this event, your school/college must be registered on the S4S portal. They can sign up here.

AGENDA

10am: Opening with Vanessa Vallely OBE
10.05am: What is Artificial Intelligence? | Rob McCargow, Director of AI, PwC
10.25am: Question and Answers with Rob
10.30am: How are websites built and what skills do you need? | Cheryl Laidlaw, Founder, Website in a Day
10.50am: Questions and Answers with Cheryl
11.00am: Break Time
11.15am: How are apps made? | Dionne Condor Farrell, Agile Development Lead, TfL
11.35am: Questions and Answers with Dionne
11.45am: What is Coding? | Avye Coloute, Maker, Coder, Tech Advocate, Social Entrepreneur & Founder, Girls Into Coding
12.00pm: What is virtual reality and augmented reality | Jeremy Dalton, Head of XR, PwC
12.20pm: Questions and Answers with Jeremy
12.30pm: Break Time
13.00pm: Visual effects (VFX) with Technology in movies | Vicki Lau, VFX/VR Specialist & Author
13.20pm: Questions and Answers with Vicki
13.30pm: What is it like to be an engineer | Anastasia Perisynakis, CEO & Co-Founder, Pleotek
13.50pm: Questions with Anastasia
14.00pm: Close with Vanessa Vallely


Looking for more events or networking opportunities? WeAreTechWomen has a dedicated events calendar with thousands of different events to help broaden your network and learn new skills. We have also launched WeAreVirtual – a series of free webinars to help expand your learning online. 

Don’t forget, you can also sign up to our bi-weekly newsletter to keep up-to-date with our upcoming events and webinars. 


Why crypto is the smart choice for women who want to build wealth

Cryptocurrency

Article by Katharine Wooller, Managing Director, Dacxi

Over the past few years reports from respected commentators such as the FT, the well-known investment blog The Motley Fool, and Forbes have shown that women are better investors than men.

There is one main reason for this – women tend to think more strategically and are, in my experience, more patient when the market moves in a way they didn’t expect.  Whereas men want to trade the market, trying to make a ‘fast buck’, women are far more likely to buy and hold.

We’re talking about men who are amateur or hobby investors. If they buy something that doesn’t quickly go up, they get bored, sell out and buy something different. This could equally translate as ‘all the gear and no idea’ – you’ve may have come across men like this in all walks of life!

In truth this is really quite bizarre as the legendary ‘alpha male’ professional investors like Warren have a philosophy of buying into good ideas then sitting and waiting. It might not drive much adrenalin, but Mrs Buffet is probably very happy they have male partners who buck the trend.

Of course, on a day-by-day basis, cryptocurrency looks to be something of an adrenalin driven sector. But, in my experience, there are two sorts of investors in the cryptosphere. The first are those with a gold rush mentality who are trading and trying to ‘game the market’ looking for short-term returns to turn back into their local fiat currency. The second, however, believe that crypto is the future of finance and that, unlike fiat currency where sovereign governments can print money at will, blue chip coins with a finite quantum will increase in value over the long term.

Of the many reasons I believe crypto is a natural fit with women who want to invest, one of the foremost is that we feel a natural affinity with decentralised finance or DeFi.  In global terms governments, still predominantly male driven, waste fortunes whilst enabling financial institutions to make millions from bank charges on cross-border transactions.  Crypto, for many reasons is fairer, more democratic, and – to be blunt – doesn’t care about your gender.

Decentralised finance, facilitated by cryptocurrencies, will save a fortune on the digital purchases we want to make from the USA, China, or the rest of the world. Whether they come direct, or are manufactured there and sold here, there will be currency costs. DeFi and crypto will dramatically reduce these costs. The fact is that women buy 90% of just about everything, and no one likes to pay over the odds, as anyone who has had the misfortune of being on the end of my haggling skills will attest!

Recent statistics suggest that as few as 15% of those who invest in crypto are women. My business, Dacxi, a dedicated wealth building platform for crypto investors, recently staged its first post-lockdown event in London. I am enormously proud to report that at least half of the investors that attended were women.

We have been running a dedicated ‘Women Who Crypto’ group now for a few years now, to introduce women to the cryptosphere and enable them to invest. We run webinars and events, and, through the Dacxi platform, you can start to invest for as little as £100. If you want to know more about crypto, why not come and join our community? Find out how at https://dacxi.com/womenwhocrypto

Katharine WoollerAbout the author

Katharine Wooller is managing director, UK and Eire, Dacxi – a digital crypto fintech platform specialising in bringing cryptocurrency to the ‘crowd’.


The importance of inclusive and accessible user research in digital transformation projects

Since the onset of the pandemic, businesses have had do to do much more than adapt their workplaces with new health and safety measures. Many have had to digitally transform at an unprecedented pace and overhaul their tech infrastructure.

However, with any technical overhaul, it’s crucial that an inclusive approach is taken, to ensure that the end result is truly accessible, and all user needs are met. That’s why research is a vital stage in the process – and shouldn’t be overlooked.

Clare Gledhill, operations director at CDS, shares her thoughts, below…

An upsurge in digital usage

Digital transformation is one of the buzzwords from the last 18 months, with many companies having fast-tracked their plans due to the impact of Covid-19. However, while it may have already been on the cards for some, for other services and sectors that weren’t yet on that digital journey, they soon had to be.

As a result of needing to work at such a rapid pace though, this has meant that in some cases, businesses have cut corners to roll-out new systems and comms channels quickly – and often to the detriment of user experience. It has been a baptism of fire for both parties.

Approaching a project without user research, journey mapping, persona development, pattern analysis, and experience prototyping, results in a lack of real evidence on which to base design and usability requirement decisions. Consequently, this runs a huge risk of excluding people.

In truth, there’s a huge paradox between digital inclusion and digital exclusion. Online solutions can undoubtedly enable organisations to operate more effectively and be in-tune with their audiences, however, if designed using subjective, opinion-based methodologies – without user input – this can have the reverse effect and cause more feelings of disconnect and frustration.

Research to understand users’ needs

At the cornerstone of any successful digital application – whether that’s a website, content management system, or mobile app – is satisfaction from the people who will be using it.

The key point here is to note the difference between ‘want’ and ‘need’, too. For example, do users want to call you because they don’t find the website accessible? Or do they need to communicate via a certain channel, but can’t find it easily?

Research is the key to unlocking this insight – with ethnographic, observation, and flexible styles allowing more people to be a part of the fact-finding process.

This inclusive approach has also arguably never been more important than it is at present. Following the pandemic, people who had previously managed their lives without using technology have been forced online, as companies and services made the shift from face-to-face to digital.

This has meant that while user segments have previously been dominated by digital natives and early adopters of technology, we now have to recognise that inclusive design means understanding the full spectrum of user needs, motivations, pain-points, ambitions, hopes, and capabilities – in relation to access to technology, alongside digital experience understanding and confidence.

Digital transformation offers the opportunity for companies to change positively rather than simply keep amending or retrofitting features onto an existing, not-fit-for-purpose solution. Businesses have the chance to step back and do things properly – segmenting audiences and tackling persona profiles in a much broader, more accurate way.

Ultimately, the research phase is essential for building a deep and meaningful picture of your audience and their requirements.

Research is the biggest long-term gain

Working at speed and needing to implement new channels or features quickly can often see companies rush into their digital transformation projects – believing that the fewer stakeholders involved, the better.

Yet while involving a fewer number of people in the process may initially accelerate the overhaul, this time-saving is short lived. Conceptualising and building a new solution based on one person or a small, select group’s opinions is never going to be reflective of the true end-user – meaning they’ll experience more challenges and frustrations when the product finally reaches them.

This is why the fear that research will slow a project down is unfounded. The irony is that incorporating research can actually make the process move quicker – everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet, no one is making decisions based upon guesswork, and design is completely user-centric.

It’s no secret that a lot of digital transformation projects are commercially driven, streamlining operations and offering greater employee and customer satisfaction, so getting it right is understandably important. But this can only be achieved through taking the time to get to know users and placing them at the heart of the project.

Finally, while embedding inclusive and accessible research into digital transformation ventures is important, it needs to be fully valued by companies – not simply seen as a tick-box exercise. When carried out properly, it can empower an organisation with true audience understanding and guide decision-making, which not only has a positive impact on user experience, but this translates across brand reputation, customer and employee retention, and bottom-line impact, too.


Cyber resilience planning has to be taken as seriously as health and safety for every business

Article by Joanna Goddard, Director of Programmes, Business Resilience International Management (BRIM) and Board Member of Converge.

cybersecurityCyber-attacks are on the rise. In the past few weeks, hackers brought down the entire IT network of Waikato District Health Board in New Zealand  that led to surgeries being postponed and emergency operations cancelled at public hospitals.

Indeed, this crippling attack was just one among a slew of daily cyber assaults hitting New Zealand's health and hospital network in recent months, according to the country’s Ministry of Health.

In recent days, we read about a ransomware assault on Ireland’s health network where hackers stole health data of thousands of patients, the ramifications of which are yet to be fully realised. Another recent attack shut down an important United States fuel pipeline last month.

Hackers are increasing their cyber-attacks on public health and corporate entities across the world, with their impact increasingly make the headlines, but these attackers are prepared to hit any business – large or small  - so why do businesses not make this a priority and treat cyber resilience in much the same way as it does with its health and safety procedures?

After all, a new start up business, for example, will have IP to safeguard and protect, but a vulnerable and unprotected IT and people infrastructure which doesn’t have the necessary protocols to mitigate against cyber-attack, could very much spell the end of a new business before it properly gets off the ground.

The key word here is ‘Prevention’.

The UK Government offers a lot of free guidance and tools , through the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – the Cyber division of GCHQ. It has a raft of measures such as a toolkit for company board members which includes  ‘Exercise in a Box’ a very useful practice, similar to running a fire drill for your company.

Instead, however, you get your team involved in running a mock cyber-attack drill. This will help any business identify any gaps that need to be plugged. It is often lack of staff training that can lead to cyber risk, long before an attack on IT systems causes a problem.

With this support from Government, it is now down to each start up to engage with their nearest resilience Centre and absorb this valuable support There is a similar centre in Scotland, The Scottish Business Resilience Centre, also chaired by Paul Atkinson, Chair of Converge, a renowned start up investor.

As cyberattack incidents become more sophisticated, there is a consensus that it will be not ‘if’, but ‘when’ a situation arises.

Today’s prime concern in business continuity planning should be about what happens if your management and IT systems go down, as a cyber-attack takes hold. Would you know who your customers are? Can you contact them?  Can you contact your suppliers? Importantly, Can you still access your bank accounts?

Hacking and online fraud are damaging for any firm but for small businesses – particularly start-ups with limited resources – they can be devastating.  One shocking statistic is that 60% of small companies go out of business within six months of falling victim to a data breach or cyber-attack.

In recognition of this, Converge will be hosting a special session this autumn to help academic entrepreneurs adopt strategies for fighting cyber threats.


WeAreTechWomen covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in technology, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here

Don’t forget, you can also follow us via our social media channels for the latest up-to-date gender news. Click to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube


Sruthi Mohan featured

Inspirational Woman: Sruthi Mohan | Solutions Engineer, Cloudera

Sruthi MohanSruthi Mohan is a Solutions Engineer at Cloudera in the DACH and Central EMEA region. In this role, she works across multiple industry verticals to help architect modernised data platforms.

Prior to joining Cloudera, Sruthi honed her skills and built her career working with companies such as Cisco and SAS Healthcare and Lifesciences. Sruthi is a strong advocate for diversity in the workplace and currently sits as a D&I Advisory Board Member at Cloudera.

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

Having studied Environmental Studies, with a focus on Chemical Engineering and a minor in Economics and Business, I’ve found my somewhat untraditional tech education incredibly useful for my career development.

For example, my minor in Economics has proven immensely helpful when navigating value management conversations, understanding what market potential exists for my customers  and informing them on why Cloudera is the right solution for them. On the flip side, my interest in environmental sciences has helped shape my understanding of the wider industry and supporting our customers in this space. In both cases, it has been the problem-solving mindset I’ve learnt throughout my education that has really equipped me for my role today in technology. It’s all about the skills you learn and how you apply them. It doesn’t matter so much how you get them or what you apply them to, so long as you can align the two, you’re on the road to success.

At present, I am focused on ascertaining where my key strengths are and how I can optimally make use of them for my current job role and industry that I work in.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I was never the girl in school who sat down and had her year on year career plan. However, as I’ve developed through my professional life I have started to curate a plan around my own board of directors to ensure my career is going in the direction I want. Simply put, this is the idea of having not just one career mentor but multiple, offering different perspectives and helping to shape your career progression. After a colleague first brought up this notion of having a personal board of directors for your own company – yourself – it made me question; what does a board of directors mean to me, who do I want to have a seat at the table and what role will they play?

For me, it was important that the members of the board were invested in my life, willing to let me vent when things weren’t going to plan and there to give me honest feedback at crucial moments. Having input from people who are going to cushion the truth and tell you what you want to hear is ultimately not going to take you in the right direction. As such, these members have often been those closest to me, such as my mum and dad as well as my best friend.

Secondly, I realised at this stage of my career, it was important for me to include people that I didn’t know that well and who I didn’t work closely with. This has been invaluable for me in gathering an ‘outside’ perspective as sometimes you can be too close to a task to have clarity. I was able to receive guidance from others on things I was or wasn’t doing well in a way that meant no long-term relationships were in danger of being damaged.

Lastly, and what has been most important for my current board of directors and career, is ensuring that I am accountable as chairman. And this would be my advice to anyone looking to build their board of directors – you can get counsel and guidance from your board but it is you who is ultimately responsible for the decisions you make.

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

When I first started out, I suffered a lot from imposter syndrome. Questions of whether I belonged there were asked on a daily basis and I had an initial worry I wasn’t capable enough. Looking back, I suppose it was nothing out of the ordinary for someone working their first ‘proper’ job. I’ve managed to overcome this feeling by learning to accept within myself that I am good enough for the role I was hired for. On this journey, I have actively requested advice from others, asked questions and sought mentorship to lay these self doubts to rest. My managers have played an important role in bolstering my confidence in the technical sales space and making me recognise that not only could I achieve my goals but I could always go that one step further.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

My biggest achievement to date would have to be dealing with what seemed a major professional setback at the time in a positive way. It all started with keeping a positive attitude throughout it all which led me to see the “setback” as an opportunity to reflect, reassess and act, rather than a disappointment.

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

Mentorship has and always will be key to my development. Part and parcel of this is having access to a blend of strong male and female mentors to provide fresh perspective and guidance on the journey.

Within such a male-dominated industry as tech, I’ve found it extremely useful to first have a fleet of male mentors. Men often don’t see the same ‘ceilings’ on ambitions that some women have grown to internalise. In my experience they have helped challenge and provide alternative viewpoints to support my progression. Seeing that men don’t encounter the same challenges as women, and that they tend to focus on what they can do – rather than what they can’t – by default, has given me the encouragement to adopt a similar mindset and do the same. That being said, it can’t go unmentioned that female mentors are equally as valuable. Unlike our male counterparts, I’ve encountered first-hand how female leaders can relate to the issues that we as women face, offering a level of empathy and understanding.

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

Go for it! We want you in the tech industry to shake up old ways and bring a fresh perspective to the field so we can drive positive change for future generations. By bringing true diversity to the tech sector, you and I can help overcome gender biases and challenges such as better informing AI to lessen prejudice and inspire new talent into the industry. My overall advice to women is to be your authentic self, be bold and don’t hold back.

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

There are certainly still many barriers for women in tech. This was an industry predominantly designed by men and they continue to be the heavy majority today. So first of all, for example, less representation is a starting barrier. This then also bleeds into other obstacles experienced as well. But they can all certainly be overcome and I think the best approach to do that is to change the obstacle into an opportunity. For example, I can use my lesser representation as an advantage – I am able to really hone in on my uniquely different perspective to challenges we face on a daily basis. This has particularly come in handy in customer conversations to add diversity of thought to an issue.

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

The technology industry needs and wants more women in tech, to bring a new, more diverse, offering to the business. However, to make this happen, we need to see an institutional interest in attracting more women into the space. Companies need to drive greater awareness around the avenues available to women, the benefits that come, and how they can create real societal impact. What’s more, this encouragement for women into technology roles should also be reflected in educational systems and via government support. It is only when this holistic approach is taken will we really start to see meaningful change.

The accessibility to support systems and internal programs within companies is also vital to support women’s progression within technology. It is for this reason that I am a D&I Advisory Board Member at Cloudera, working to encourage a more diverse workforce. As part of this, we have a committee in place that meets on a regular basis to discuss and reflect on these matters. The committee also arranges inspiring sessions from a DE&I perspective on a monthly basis. Beyond this, we have multiple newsletters that guide us with suggested books and blogs on this topic. Most importantly, we are a group of employees who genuinely care and prioritise diversity issues and that is reflected in each and every one of our day-to-day interactions with one another.

There is currently only 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?

This is a tough one, as I’m not sure if there is one thing that can change but rather it is many small things changing all at once that usually results in a large acceleration. However, if I had to pick one, I might choose to invest more in getting young girls into STEM programs. Your career progression unbeknownst to you, can start at such a young age, based on the types of content and situations and opportunities we are exposed to. As such, it is crucial we get in there as early as possible to help inform and shape the minds of the next generation and open them up to every opportunity available to them.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I love reading and so I can recommend many books, but I don’t believe they necessarily need to be women specific for women to be able to benefit from them. HBR’s Managing Yourself which is a collection of articles on this topic was one of my recent reads that was a favorite. Influence, the Psychology of Persuasion was also wonderfully insightful especially given that I came into reading this book from a pre-sales perspective. Grit by Angela Druckworth, while also not just about technology was also inspirational in that it made me question and find the source of my “why” or “raison d’être” which then further helped me find the grit to push through challenging situations – a lesson learned that is relevant for life but also specifically my professional role.


Melissa van der Hecht featured

Inspirational Woman: Melissa van der Hecht | Field CTO, Kong

Melissa van der HechtI’m a proud nerd working in tech!  I’m a natural empath and relator with a technical background, which means I get to understand how technology works, build it, play with it, and talk to all different kinds of people about it.

I’m incredibly lucky to have fallen into something I love so much.  I was the enthusiastic one at school – that hasn’t changed – and, not knowing what I wanted to do with my life, studied Maths and Computer Science at university because my brain loves problem solving.  Unlike most of my mainly male peers, I’d never coded before and had a horribly steep learning curve to catch up with them, before coming out the other side and becoming a fulltime programmer after I graduated.

A couple of years in, I decided I wanted more interaction with people and joined MuleSoft, a pre-IPO startup, as the first woman in the pre-sales team, not knowing what any of that meant but thinking it sounded like a fun challenge.  What followed was another steep learning curve, but one so rewarding at the same time that it really defined my career and the core of my professional identity.

I loved it so much, in fact, that several years later after Mulesoft IPOed and got acquired, I wanted to do the whole thing again and joined another start-up called Kong.  At Kong, we power the connected world, with the world’s most widely used API gateway.  I’m the Field CTO, and I love my job: I get to use my creativity, empathy, and technical knowledge to bring to life the art of the possible with Kong technology.  I tell stories to inspire change and get to learn from and brainstorm with some of the most innovative companies in the world.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career? 

I’ve never had an answer to the question “where do you see yourself in five years” and at this stage, I don’t think I ever will!  It’s taken me some time and several conversations with people on the subject to actually reconcile myself to this fact.  In a male-dominated environment, and particularly at the beginning of my career, I’ve found the women that thrived have been strong, driven, and have always had a plan, and a part of me felt ashamed that my plan wasn’t so well defined.

That’s not to say I’m not career-driven – I’m incredibly ambitious and always demand the best from myself – but my path has been more opportunistic, making career decisions based on what I’d find the most fulfilling, challenging, and inspiring.  I check in with myself regularly to make sure that my career is still delivering these things and making me happy.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Every day!  For the most part, they are challenges I create for myself.  I’m a terrible perfectionist, and Imposter Syndrome is my worst enemy.  My biggest challenge, which was also my biggest learning in my career, came a few years in.  I was the only woman in an all-male team, speaking to and visiting prospects that were also made up of all-male teams.  My role in the room was the technical expert on the product.  To do my job well, I needed lots of knowledge and lots of credibility (this was sales, after all), but I felt I had to work harder than anybody else to prove I was capable because I didn’t conform to who everyone expected me to be.

I was also noticing more and more that the way I approached problem-solving and explained technical concepts was quite different from my colleagues.  They defaulted to technical details, whereas I naturally went to analogies and stories people could connect to emotionally.  As the most junior member of the team though, I worked hard to be like them rather than having the confidence to do things my own way – so hard in fact that I was on the point of burnout.

This was my lightbulb moment.  Someone held up my work as an example to others of an alternative approach to a problem we’d been working on, and I realised that actually, what makes me different makes me and my team stronger.  And I’ve been proudly “different” ever since.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

This is a personal one.  I was a victim of stalking and harassment from an ex-partner, and what started as running for my mental health in the aftermath turned into a year of fundraising for a great charity that supports other domestic abuse victims.  I raised a bit over £4,000, and the events I did culminated with reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro and then running a (very, very slow!) marathon three weeks later.  Crossing the finish line with my brilliant friends there to support represented more than just finishing the race, and this is a feeling of accomplishment I will never forget.

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

I’m going for two here because they are inextricably linked.  Firstly: resilience.  I’ve been overwhelmed several times by the pressure I felt (or put myself under!) to prove myself and wishing I’d chosen an easier path, but I grew the ability to just keep going.  This leads me to my second answer: champions.  I’m incredibly privileged to have made best friends with very strong women and brilliant male allies along the way that really are the source of my resilience.

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

When it’s done properly, mentoring is powerful.  I’ve seen occasions where mentoring can be a buzzword to tick off a list, and people meet for the sake of meeting or expect a mentor to be the source of all truth, and this isn’t helpful.  Instead, when you have a clear and agreed goal, a mentor can be a brilliant way to help you make progress towards it.

I’m part of the Women in APIs community, and one of the founding members of our GET /Speaking programme (any API fans, see what we did there!) \ is all about coaching in small groups and 1:1 mentoring to build confidence in public speaking.  I’ve been very privileged to meet and learn from many brilliant women all over the world that I’ve mentored through this, and it’s such an uplifting feeling to see them go on to present at international conferences and do an excellent job.

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

Where to start!  No single change in isolation is going to be the full solution.  We need more women with decision-making powers in government and business to create a society in which women’s needs are better represented.  We need a huge change in how the media portrays women, with unrealistic body types and constant pressure to be the right kind of strong woman.  We need better education, social care, and childcare.  We need to stop male violence against women that makes people like myself feel nervous walking around London when it’s dark.

The thing that frustrates me the most, though, is how the world we’ve built tells young girls that they must be beautiful, and young boys that they must be strong.  You want some astronaut pyjamas?  Sorry, that’s only in the boys’ section, girls can’t be astronauts.  Right from the very beginning, everybody needs to learn that they can be anything and do anything, and the world they grow up in needs to encourage that rather than limit it.  So I’d change how we’ve made the world look to someone figuring out their role in it.

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

I’d want to accelerate the time it took me to see being different as a positive thing (see above).  This is one of my personal goals now as a DE&I advocate in my home and work life: to make sure that people at the beginning of their careers are given the support and strength they need to avoid learning my lessons the hard way.

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

My goal is to leave a legacy in the industry and prove you don’t have to use the buzzwords.  You don’t have to look or sound or think like everyone else.  I want people at the beginning of their careers to know their worth and the value they can bring by non-conforming.

Challenge-wise, I’ve just ticked off the top item on my bucket list and done my first skydive!  Alongside booking my second, I’m planning what the next thing should be, so watch this space…