Inspirational Woman: Paula Fanning | Co-Founder and Creative Director, Rock Pamper Scissors

Paula Fanning is the Co Founder and Head of Creative at Rock Pamper Scissors, a hairdresser booking app which provides instant on-demand access to individual stylist appointments near you.

Paula’s impressive experience in the tech industry, combined with her love of working in startups and enthusiasm for m-commerce led her to join forces with Mat Braddy (former CMO at Just Eat) in 2014 in their own start up venture.

1. What inspired you to start a business?

Inspirational Woman - Paula FanningI worked with Mat at toptable, I was his wing woman and we supported each other during this time. We parted ways, but always flirted with the idea that one day we would do our own startup. He was busy with Just-Eat and I was busy with Shutl. We were both very familiar with aggregator models (Just-Eat/ toptable) and were looking for something new to round up. We saw a gap in the hair & beauty sector, brainstormed, and came up with the name ‘Rock Pamper Scissors’. (He will say he came up with it but it was definitely me!)

2. What motivational tips can you give to our members about goal setting and managing both successes and failures.

Success inflates confidence which is great as we need this to strive forward, however it is critical to realise that there can be a number of factors that can lead to success, so although I believe it is important to celebrate our successes it is also just as important to examine them! Failure and success are on equal footing in my opinion in terms of growing a business. Both should trigger further investigation which helps us revise the way we work. We all know that failure is inevitable in life, but how we overcome challenges and use them to our advantage is what really matters. Innovation is key here.

3. What is the biggest challenge you've faced as a business owner?

As a startup, rapid growth is the name of the game and for this to happen you need to be able to scale effectively. Knowing when to bring in the right talent and at what level is crucial - the whole thing is a bit of a balancing act. Managing finances to cope with these ever changing demands is paramount.

4. What is the greatest challenge and the greatest reward in being your own boss?

The main challenge is to create a healthy, safe and inclusive environment in order to be free, to be creative and achieve great things - whilst having fun in the process. I am really proud to be a founder at Rock Pamper Scissors, and as the only female founder, I’m in a strong and influential position as a result.

5. How have you benefited from mentoring or coaching?

Part of being a good leader is being a good mentor, the two should go hand in hand. As well as the transferral of important knowledge and skills, mentoring helps to develop a pipeline of future leaders. I have definitely benefited from both good mentoring and also worked in environments where it hasn't existed. The latter doesn't work. A healthy business environment should instill this as part of their culture. I am actively involved in mentorship with my team and I’m also looking forward to meeting other females in my position and using my learnings to increase awareness for women to get involved in digital.

6. What advice can you give about the benefits of networking?

There are many benefits to networking; friendships, opportunities, advice and positive influences to name a few. We stand stronger when we stand together. It’s also empowering to have a strong network to draw on for support. There is little point going in with a “what can I get out of this?” attitude as that is going to sink your efforts before you even begin. I feel the real key to successful networking is that it must be authentic!

7. What are your tips for scaling a business and how do you plan for and manage growth?

I’ve said it before and i’ll say it again, for a business to succeed you need really good people. You need to invest in holding onto these good people and also think how you can attract new ones. The importance of diversity and inclusion in a business is imperative to its future success.
It leads to people being their authentic self at work and thus to contribute more creatively, feel empowered and be much happier as a result. The best thing a startup can do is provide a safe creative environment that embraces innovation at every point.

8. What does the future hold for you?

My aim first and foremost, is to make Rock Pampers Scissors a huge success! Then I’d like to spend more time rowing. I am a member of a rowing club and love to get out on the water as much as possible, I feel it’s good for the soul.

9. What makes Rock Pamper Scissors unique?

Initially it really struck us that no-one had built an excellent app for haircut booking. We believe less than 1% of haircuts are currently booked online which is crazy! By focusing our brand and thinking on the millennial consumers, who require instant access to services right now, we believe we have come up with a compelling approach which will finally solve this dilemma. Our vision is to boost confidence in booking a skilled stylist, confidence in online as the best channel to do this with, and personal confidence for the client by getting the best hair cut.

Read more inspirational profiles here.



Inspirational Woman: Mou Mukherjee | Director of Marketing at .CLOUD

Mou Mukherjee is the Director of Marketing .CLOUD, a top-level domain extension that launched last month

You’ve had an interesting and diverse career – what led you to your role today?

Mou MukherjeeWhen I was at the start of my career deciding which path to take, I had a passion for the internet and knew I wanted a career in technology. Back in 1998 when the internet became mainstream, it allowed people to connect in a different way. I wanted to be part of that new world so I took a job at a startup web hosting company. I started in customer service and quickly moved into technical operations. I was able to grow in my role as the company grew from 6 to more than 200 people before it was acquired. It was a very dynamic and thriving environment and I loved watching it grow. I will never forget those early days and I’m grateful to the people that opened the door for me.

Since then I’ve taken various positions, I’ve been in and out of the domains and hosting industry, worked both client and agency side, and even on a few projects outside technology. There are some very intricate transitions you can make if you find the right timing and opportunities.

Today I’m the director of marketing at .cloud. In this role I look after digital marketing, work with our channel partners, and manage PR operations and events.

So why did you choose to work in technology?

I’m glad I specialised in technology because look at the world we live in now. Even if you are not working in technology, technology affects our everyday lives.

During my career I literally grew up with the cloud and watched how cloud computing transformed our business and personal lives. Currently at .cloud, I get to interact with a lot of cool and creative people and companies that are very passionate about the cloud; that’s a very fulfilling part of my job.

I never expected that a very niche experience in the world of domains and web hosting would lead to this wonderful opportunity with .cloud.

What other invaluable things have you learned along the way?

Firstly, it really helps to be passionate about what you do. You might not love every aspect of your job but you’ve got to love the core of what you do because you spend a good portion of your life at work.

Secondly, relationships are key. It is important to treat everyone with respect. That goes beyond your customers and immediate teams, it includes partners, vendors, pretty much everyone you interact with. Everyone has a job to do and everyone is different in their approach. If you try to understand life from
another person’s perspective, people are more likely to respect and enjoy working with you.

Also people remember experiences - when you shared a laugh, got through a hard time, celebrated a success, had some fun, or went out of our way to connect with someone. We work in a very stressful environment at times, small things can make a big difference. And it is because of relationships that I am where I am today. My boss Francesco, was a former business partner of mine, and I was connected to Aruba SpA (the parent company of .cloud) through a previous job in the industry.

Finally, be flexible and adaptable. Not everything goes according to plan. Sometimes you need to get a fresh perspective. Over time, you’ll learn what motivates you, what inspires you, how to overcome challenges, and in what environments you excel the most.

What has inspired you in your role today and your latest project to launch .cloud?

I'm returning to an industry that I used to work in previously so renewing all my former relationships has been very inspiring. But ultimately I choose this job because it was a chance to build something new and watch it grow.

Working for an Italian company has in itself been very inspirational and rewarding. The team here is very creative, passionate, and they have been exceptionally welcoming and supportive. Through them I have gained a different perspective on business and culture.

Do you have any other advice to pass on to women looking to work in technology today?

If it’s your passion, pursue it! Talk to people you aspire to, and learn how they got there. There will be some common challenges that women face and it’s good to know about them, but ultimately you have to figure out how you want to make a difference, what’s worth fighting for, and what you need to be happy and successful.

It’s also hard to learn that we don’t live in a perfect world. But if you’ve built good relationships, people will help you on your journey. So be memorable and remarkable at what you do. Your career is going to change, it’s meant to be dynamic. You don’t know sometimes how long or short your journey will be, but relationships and experiences can last a lifetime. You never know where you might find yourself one day.

Inspirational Woman: Liz Bonnin | Biochemist, Wild Animal Biologist & Presenter

Liz Bonnin - Inspirational Woman

Liz Bonnin, is a Biochemist, Wild Animal Biologist & Presenter, and is currently a role model for EDF Energy’s #PrettyCurious campaign.

The new programme, launched by EDF Energy, aims to change teenage girls’ perceptions of science and inspire them to pursue science-based careers. EDF Energy has collaborated with Liz and three other role models to help demonstrate to teenage girls the breadth of career opportunities available to them. A short video about these role models can be found here.

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and what you do currently

I studied Biochemistry and Wild Animal Biology at University. I fell into television after my first degree and presented entertainment shows like Top of the Pops, but my first love has always been science and I returned to academia to complete a Masters degree.

I then got the chance to combine my passion for science with a new found love for communicating it on television and have worked on all sorts of science and natural history programmes, including Bang Goes the Theory, Horizon, Stargazing Live, Operation Snow Tiger and Super Smart Animals.

I just returned from California, filming a programme about marine wildlife called Big Blue Live and am currently working on a series about animal migrations for BBC1, filming in Canada, Kenya and Botswana. I’m also gearing up for another series of Stargazing Live in January.

I have always been curious about the world around me and dreamed of travelling the world when I was little. My career allows me to meet scientists working at the top of their field and l am constantly learning new things about the natural world. I feel very lucky to be doing what I do.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I’ve always loved science from a young age and knew I wanted to learn about the world around me, but I never really planned exactly how I would achieve that. In fact my career path has changed several times over the years.

After graduating with my Biochemistry degree I took a year out, sang in a band, travelled and then got the chance to present a music show in Ireland which led to me presenting other programmes in the UK. I had a fantastic time, but I missed science and that’s when I decided to go back to school and complete a Masters in Wild Animal Biology and Conservation.

It was only then that it all came together and I got the chance to become a science presenter - communicating what I am passionate about and hopefully inspiring others about the world around them too.

I am a big advocate for not putting yourself under too much pressure to find to perfect career early in life. My advice would be to experiment and to not be afraid to try new things and change your mind. It’s the only way to discover what you love and what’s right for you.

Unfortunately many young girls do become disengaged with STEM subjects

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?

Of course I’ve had many challenges along the way - it certainly hasn’t always been easy - but I’ve found that if you believe in something enough and are prepared to work hard for it, you can achieve your dreams. The most important thing is to do what you truly care about and not make money or other factors influence your decision. This will make it so much easier to get out of bed in the morning and to work really hard when you have to. My most rewarding experience was to complete my research project in Nepal when so many things were working against me. But I desperately wanted to work on tiger conservation so dug my heels in and refused to give up. And it was so worth it in the end.

I was lucky to have great support from my family and teachers who encouraged my love for science. Unfortunately many young girls do become disengaged with STEM subjects at some point and currently only one in 7 people in the STEM workforce are female. As a science communicator I feel very strongly about doing my bit to tackle this issue.

I’m currently working with EDF Energy on the #PrettyCurious campaign to try and address the gender imbalance in STEM careers. Research has shown that young girls are just as capable as boys in all the sciences so it’s important to encourage and inspire them to maintain this inherent aptitude and their curiosity for the world around them.

On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?

The nature of my job means that there is rarely a ‘typical day’, which I find exciting. I could be in accompanying scientists as they tag blue whales to learn more about their ecology or at interviewing the NASA engineers who made it possible for the Curiosity Rover to land on Mars. I also have days at my desk, pouring through scientific papers in preparation for the next shoot, and I relish those days too because I get to learn about the latest exciting discoveries and developments in all sort of STEM fields.

The perception of scientists working in a lab 24/7 is so outdated. In my career I have met so many scientists doing incredible things around the globe, pushing boundaries to discover more about this extraordinary planet of ours. Hopefully through the programmes we make we can inspire young people to embark on similar career paths. Scientists are adventurous, creative and passionate people who are often the happiest people I’ve ever met.

How have you benefited from coaching or mentoring?

I’ve never really had any official coaching or mentoring but I have been inspired by so many of the scientists I’ve met throughout my life - from my lecturers at University to the scientists I meet when we film. Not only do they inspire me to want to do more to protect the natural world but they’ve also shown me how important it is to be passionate about what you do in life, and to be resilient, determined and hard working, even when the odds are against you.

That’s why I believe that my role as a science communicator is to help to inspire the next generation and why campaigns like #Pretty Curious are great vehicles for this.

What does the future hold for you?

I hope to continue to do what I do for many years to come. I can safely say that I love my job and I know that this is still somewhat a rare thing to say, so I do feel very lucky. I’d like to go back to University again and complete a PhD, and the topic is changing all the time - from field research for tiger conservation to something that can lead to influencing much needed changes in conservation policies at government level. So I am stewing over a couple of ideas but hopefully this is something I can do in the near future.

Ultimately as long as I’m doing something that excites me and challenges me every day, I’m happy.

Marie Curie - Celebrating an Amazing Woman

Marie Curie is a lady synonymous with the area of science and in particular cancer research. An astounding and truly inspiring lady, she would be due to turn 147 this November. Born in Poland into an unassuming family, Marie Curie was determined to have a career defined by research even at an early stage. For a woman to show such determination in terms of her career at that particular time of the century is remarkable.

She moved to Paris to further her studies and it wasn’t without its challenges in terms of funding. However, this never halted the determination or tenacity of Marie Curie. Still today a hugely respected figure head in science worldwide, read more in this info-graphic about this woman who defined areas of science and learning and also learn how she made a name for herself even in the darkest of circumstance.



Inspirational Woman: Sheila Flavell | COO & part-owner of FDM Group

sheila-flavellTell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role (eg what you studied, school, where you grew up)

I grew up in a small town outside of Glasgow in Scotland, where some of my family members still reside. I’ve enjoyed 25 years in both the public and private sectors of IT, completing both an MA and an MBA, whilst raising my family. I am the COO and part-owner of FDM Group and played a leading role in the flotation of the company on AiM, before taking it private again in 2010 and then re-floating on the LSE in 2014. I am passionate about diversity in the workplace and spend a lot of my time spearheading FDM’s Global Women in IT initiative in Europe, North America and Asia.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Not really, to be honest. The only constant in my life seems to be breaking the norm! I started my career working in the Police Force in Glasgow and was one of the only women patrolling the streets back then. After that I spent over a decade working for an Arabian Airline in the Middle East. Although that was a long time ago and IT is obviously a very different industry, I am still one of the few women working in the tech sector and one of the even fewer women on the Board of a tech company listed on the London Stock Exchange.

If I could change one thing for women in the workplace it would be equal pay. We still live in a world where many women earn less than men for doing the same job, which really is disgraceful.

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?

I’ve faced many challenges along the way. Working in male dominated industries all my life has taught me that you don’t have to prove you’re as good as your male counterparts, most of the time you have to prove that you are better and have to work even harder just to be seen as equal.

On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?

An ideal day starts with a warm black coffee and ends with a chilled glass of wine! Ha, If only! For me every day is different depending on what geography I’m in. The one thing every working day has in common for me is waking up to hundreds of emails despite where in the world I may be.

Tell us a little bit about FDM?

FDM is a professional services provider, with a focus on IT. Currently, FDM is one of the fastest growing companies in Europe and the UK’s leading IT graduate employer. We bridge the gap between academia and employment by training, employing and placing graduates on client sites worldwide. Through the FDM Careers Programme, we transform graduates and ex-forces personnel into successful IT or business Consultants.

Working in male dominated industries all my life has taught me that you don’t have to prove you’re as good as your male counterparts, most of the time you have to prove that you are better and have to work even harder just to be seen as equal.

What are you hoping to achieve with your Women in Technology programme?

Through FDM’s Global Women in IT initiative, we aim to increase the number of women working in the sector by promoting, training and placing more female IT Consultants onto our client sites. FDM has selected circa 20 Female Champions internally to showcase role model behaviour, support other women and mentor those in need. I personally mentor many of my management team and they do the same with others. Through the Global Women in IT initiative we have managed to increase the number of women at FDM to 25% as well as circa 50% of the management team being female. This is way above the industry average.

Do you have any tips on how to manage a demanding job alongside raising a family?

In my opinion there is no specific recipe for success in order to achieve this, because different strategies work for different people. From experience, something has got to give; it’s about what that will be and how much of it. Managing the balance and prioritising where necessary is essential.

The only constant in my life seems to be breaking the norm! I started my career working in the Police Force in Glasgow and was one of the only women patrolling the streets back then.

Have you ever had a mentor or a sponsor or anyone who has helped your career?

I’ve never had a mentor unfortunately. Having one may have saved me from making many mistakes in the past! However, I’ve had several sponsors at work that would have happily put their reputation on the line for me. I think it is crucial to build strong relationships and most importantly to lead by example so that people see the value that you add to the business.

If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?

If I could change one thing for women in the workplace it would be equal pay. We still live in a world where many women earn less than men for doing the same job, which really is disgraceful.

If you were to look back in five years, what would you see in terms of your achievements?

I think I would be proud of my achievements. Completing an MA and an MBA, whilst working full time and looking after children is not easy. Being recognised as Corporate Leader of the Year at the 2012 Cisco everywoman in Tech awards and being named one of TechCityInsider’s top 100 remarkable people that make digital London tick was an honour. Last but not least, contributing to the impressive growth that FDM has experienced over the past 20+ years makes me very proud.