Engineering: a fulfilling career

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

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

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

Creativity

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

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

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

Changing perceptions

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

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

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

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

Attracting women

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

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

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

The future

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

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


Kate Dadlani featured

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

Kate Dadlani

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The World of AI featured

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

The World of AI featured

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

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

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

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

Is there really anything to be nervous about?

The role of AI in recruitment

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

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

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

Video interviews

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

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

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

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

Game-based assessments 

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

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

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

Preparing for success

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

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

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

Gema Ruiz de HuydobroAbout the author

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


diversity, boys club featured

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

diversity, boys club

By Alison Mulder, Reporting Analyst, Simpson Carpenter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Invest in your skills

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

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

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

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

Find a tech mentor

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

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

Join your own ‘girls club’

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

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

Our future

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

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


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Overcoming bias in the tech industry

Technology-community-feature

Article provided by Emma Sayle, Founder and CEO Killing Kittens, Safedate and Sistr

It is a stark fact that the tech industry – like so many industries linked to science, technology, maths and engineering (STEM) – remain disproportionately represented by men.

Just 16 per cent of computer science undergraduates in the UK are women, which means there is an automatic gender bias on graduates reaching the big tech companies. This bias continues deep into the economy, with only one fifth of UK businesses currently run by women and only a third of all UK entrepreneurs are female.  Balancing the books on gender is one of the most important challenges facing our society today because without equal opportunities, we put creativity, growth and diversity at risk.

The lack of female business owners and entrepreneurs is not due to lack of talent or aptitude.  Sistr – an all-female dedicated networking site for women in business – is proof that there are plenty of exceptional and talented women who have launched careers and defined new businesses with phenomenal success.  The long-standing bias towards men in the tech industry makes the achievements of these female-led ventures even more remarkable, especially when you consider only one per cent of investment funding goes to women.

But times are changing and whereas women still are very much the minority in the tech and STEM world, more women than ever before are taking advantage of the digital economy and the fact that anyone can start a business from anywhere, anytime.  The traditional playing field has already changed beyond recognition and the old rules no longer apply, which can only mean more opportunities for women as they start to populate male-biased industries and deliver new business models.

Whilst it will take a long time for more equal representation in tech industry and STEM, there is now a wealth of talented and influential female-led communities that are committed to helping women access all areas of business, as well as launching their own ventures.  This support and inspiration is key to helping today’s business-women push past attitude and gender barriers to reach their full and rightful potential.  What is remarkable about these communities, like Sistr, is the number of qualified mentors who have willingly agreed to give up their time to talk to women and share their own experiences of female leadership in business, helping them to navigate the challenges and bias they face in their careers today.

Perhaps one of the most obvious bias that many women will face is that of parenthood, a bias that is prevalent not just in male-dominated sectors but from society as a whole.  Subconsciously or not, there is an assumption that younger, childless women will want to have children and will therefore stop working at some point; whereas women with children are doubted on their ability to manage their career successfully alongside their parenting role.  For older mothers who have decided they want to launch a business, there is an undercurrent of it being seen as little more than a hobby now that they have children and are not in full-time work.

Taking on a male-led industry requires grit and determination because the fact remains that women continue to be unfairly judged on many variables that have nothing to do with their competency and ability to lead a business.  Re-balancing the gender equation in tech is key to creating a work environment that celebrates and supports diversity, rather than making women feel they have to be more ‘male’ in order to succeed.  Women need to have more self-belief in their ability to succeed and this is where a supportive mentor and access to like-minded female-networks can make a powerful difference.

Ultimately, in order to really tackle gender disparity, we need to start from the grass roots up to help educate the next generation that gender is not a barrier to any industry.  There has to be a deliberate and conscious change in dialogue, from the earliest of ages in our homes and schools, to stem the flow of gender-bias reaching the workplace, because if a young woman starts to doubt if she has got what it takes to launch her own business, the damage has already been done.

Emma Sayle featuredAbout the author

Emma is the Founder of Sistr, a platform that enables professional businesswomen to network, offer advice and mentor each other.

Find out more at sistrapp.com. You can also sponsor Emma and the rest of the Sisterhood for their Channel Swim.


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Top tips for building a Business Intelligence team from scratch

training, meeting, Business Intelligence

Article provided by Marcelli Brockmüller, Head of Business Intelligence at Savings United

Since only 17 per cent of the tech workforce are women, it’s no surprise that this decreases even further when looking at women working in leadership roles.

Prior to working with my current team at Savings United, I worked in tech roles for a number of years. I was almost always one of less than a handful of women in each organisation. After finishing studying Computer Science at university in my home country of Brazil, I went on to work for the biggest media house in São Paulo where I began working in technical areas such as management information systems. I later moved to Germany, and joined SU, where I am the Head of Business Intelligence.

Initially, I worked in a Content role in the LATAM region. Quite soon after joining the company, one of the co-founders noticed my skills with numbers, databases and reporting. At that time, a department for tracking key business data didn’t exist and I was asked to build the Business Intelligence department from scratch. Here is a selection of the key lessons I have learned throughout my career on the tools, business functions, and qualities necessary to lead and implement a BI team.

Develop trust and respect

When I began to gather the resources I needed, much of the information was held within the IT team. I had to work carefully and confidently in order to build their trust so that they shared their systems and processes with me. I did that first by getting to grips with what the business needed and working out how best I could help achieve our goals. By aligning myself with the business, I was able to make meaningful requests that my colleagues could see the value in. I was also careful to seek their views and opinions, in order to ensure that I was making use of their skills and knowledge. I developed trust with my co-workers by showing I wanted to learn what they had done before. In this way, I demonstrated that I respected their work and effort, which helped immensely.

Prioritise and distribute workload appropriately

When you work independently for a long period of time, prioritisation is both crucial and challenging. It’s extremely important to remain inline with company strategies and goals, which will help you know where to focus your energy and time. Requests can quickly build up and you can easily feel overwhelmed. You can alleviate this pressure through effective planning and regular catch ups with fellow members of the organisation’s leadership team.

When you work alone for so long, you get used to knowing 100 per cent of what’s on your plate. Although, sooner or later, you will have to take on team members in order to meet the growing needs of your organisation.

Initially, it can be a bit of a struggle to become comfortable with letting and delegating to your newly formed team. It’s paramount that you relinquish what were once your sole responsibilities not just so that you can concentrate on your own priorities but also in order to let your team members grow. However, one of the most important tips here is to have clearly identified roles and responsibilities. This will mean that tasks can be distributed appropriately and effectively, and it will be at weight off your mind.

Invest in time-saving technology

Investing in a powerful BI tool has many benefits. For example it can enable teams from across the business to access reports independently and it means your team can been freed up to work in areas where they can add even more value to the business. Introducing new tools is a big investment, so it’s important to undertake thorough research. Contact a number of companies that offer market leading tools, have in-depth talks with them and make the most of free trials and demos. You are likely to sign up with this company for a long-term. So, choose one that meets your needs most closely and is moving in a similar direction as your company.

Embrace difference

Teams are often made up of people from different backgrounds with a multitude of ways of thinking. My team is very multicultural and includes individuals who each have their own personality and ways of working. Some might be more practical, others more intuitive, and so on. Everybody has their own approach to work, it’s important not to take anything personally. Ultimately, we have the same common goal - to develop ourselves, and work hard in delivering information that helps the company advance. I like to lead my team interactively - we brainstorm and make decisions together. Their input is as important as mine.

Implementing a BI team, or any other team from scratch, is a project that requires dedication and cooperation from colleagues across the business. As a woman working in the male-dominated world of tech, this can seem a daunting task. However, as well as these tips, if you make the most of online and offline networking events, consider finding a mentor and take courses in order to stay up to date with developments in your field, you will almost certainly be a success wherever your path leads you. Remember to keep on reaching out in order to connect and share knowledge with other women in tech. We’re stronger when we work together.

Marcelli BrockmüllerAbout the author

Marcelli Brockmüller is the Head of Business Intelligence at Savings United. Leading voucher code partner of premium media companies, Savings United's partnerships connect advertisers with smart shoppers. Present in 13 countries, Savings United works alongside advertisers to engage a new audience of smart shoppers and achieve their business goals through brand-safe channels.


tech pioneers featured

Seeing is believing: Why it’s important to increase the visibility of female pioneers

tech pioneers, women in tech

Last Tuesday, Cori Gauff stunned Wimbledon in her debut match by beating the five-time tournament champion, Venus Williams.

It was an utterly gracious and measured performance on and off the court – if you didn’t see it, I urge you to watch the highlights - and in Gauff’s post-match interview, she humbly told us that she wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Williams who she said was her inspiration.

There’s no denying, when you can see and relate to someone in a role, you find it easier to imagine yourself walking in those same shoes. Imagination is the starting point of a journey, it’s a magnet for making things happen and this story is the same no matter what the end-goal – Wimbledon Champion or otherwise.

And what, might you ask, does last week’s first-round tournament knock-out have to do with women in tech?

The world is going through a dramatic change with the Fourth Industrial Revolution and although female pioneers have - undoubtedly – played a critical role, it’s a demographic that is systematically underrepresented. So, what’s the impact of this lack of female visibility? It is not possible to imagine yourself walking in the same shoes as someone, if that someone does not exist and although equality strides are being made, the imbalance of the status quo is stifling the diversity in our pioneers of the future. And, if diversity does not exist amongst those who are building the new digital world, we will find ourselves with a world that does not resonate with the people living in it.

Launching a ship in new waters is an exciting endeavor but it requires someone to dare to be the first; challenging conventional ways and stepping outside of their comfort zone to create new opportunities for those around them. I’m VP of Worldwide Sales at Chargifi and pioneering is a major part of our culture - it’s a major building block of our brand and the foundation of our growth. We are always looking for kindred pioneering spirits and to help pave the way for others, no matter what their role in the organisation.

Six-years into the Chargifi journey, we are at an inflexion point in the wireless charging market and we’re at a time that requires us to be more creative and curious than we have ever been to ensure we are not just dipping our toe in this new territory, but that we are seizing the opportunity to lead the way. We are constantly inspired by our growing team, our partners, collaborators and those like-minded pioneers in the industry who are striving to create solutions that will drive our world forward.

Which is why it is hugely important for women and other historically underrepresented groups to be able to imagine themselves doing something, and for that to happen, we must collectively work to increase the visibility of these role models. It takes a much bigger leap of imagination for someone to believe they can achieve something if there is no precedent to follow.Williams’ inspirational story was one of the guiding lights for Gauff on her journey to Wimbledon. With a focused and purposeful effort from the tech industry, we can inspire and support female pioneers of the future, too.

Helen Attia, VP Worldwide Sales, ChargifiAbout the author

Helen Attia began working at Chargifi in 2015 and now runs their Worldwide Sales. Helen is responsible for business development, sales and all customer and channel relationships - proactively driving the business’ global presence and growth.

Throughout her career thus far, Helen has worked at technology firms big and small, including Oracle and Adobe, developing their European, Asia Pacfic and more recently US business. She has extensive experience in marketing too, both digital and traditional.

Chargifi builds foundational technology that transforms the way the world Mass-Deploys, Manages and Monetizes power. We deliver a market-leading cloud management platform that enables the smart mass deployment of wireless charging; our patented solution turns wireless power into a service, delivered by our expert partners, that adds real value to business. Open API’s and SDK allows integration into software and apps, allowing data to be blended for greater insights. This valued and connected service provides a unique touch point and value exchange opportunity that can impact engagement, satisfaction and overall customer experience, which in turn drives revenue.

Chargifi is deployed by over 90 organisations in 21 countries and is backed by leading technology investors including; Intel Capital, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Techstars, Accelerated Digital Ventures, firstminute capital and R/GA Ventures.


Career Path

Go your own way | Amy De-Balsi

Career Path

By Amy De-Balsi, Head of Partnership and Innovation at Bruntwood SciTech

Successful digital tech entrepreneur, Amy De-Balsi has experienced many twists and turns on her journey to become Head of Innovation and Partnerships for Bruntwood SciTech in Leeds, where she’s helping tech start-ups to grow and championing female tech talent in the city.

Here she talks about her own career path, how she founded the Leeds Digital Job Fair and how there are more routes available than ever for women wanting to get into tech.

My own background is proof that there’s no one set way to build a successful career in the tech sector. I’m a University of Leeds geography graduate and my core skill is project management – which I’ve applied in a range of different roles in different sectors but always around tech. I worked for Yorkshire Forward, the regional development agency managing a project portfolio worth £20m before joining Sky Betting & Gaming to deliver technology solutions.

In the seven years I was with Sky Betting & Gaming I moved around the organisation a lot. I was Head of Social Responsibility and Compliance for a while, working with regulators, before a stint as Head of Communications for Leeds. It was only when I left the company that I started to forge my future as a digital tech entrepreneur. When I left, I wasn’t sure where to go - I didn’t have a ‘traditional’ career path to continue along, so I created my own opportunity.

The Leeds Digital Job Fair was borne out of having some time after being made redundant. I was aware employers were struggling to fill digital jobs in Leeds, so I mapped the city’s digital and tech sector, the vacancies in those companies and realised that filling them could boost the regional economy.

From there I worked with Leeds City Council around how to address the issue, and the first job fair was launched. It was a huge experiment, but the risk paid off. The Leeds Digital Job Fair has since become an annual event, covering the whole range of roles in the tech sector, at all levels; from apprenticeships to director appointments. It has over 50 exhibitors each year and approximately 2,000 people through the door. It’s a great way of showcasing the breadth of the digital sector in the North and the different routes into it.

There’s an enduring myth that you must be someone who’s studied computer science to work in the digital sector but that’s simply not the case. Anybody can - people will train you. And you don’t have to start off as a graduate either. Often, employers want bedroom coders or those who have an interest in coding and want to take it further; and you can be trained through degree apprenticeships or graduate programmes. That’s not to say that digital tech is just about coding, of course, there are all sorts of different roles available in the sector and the exciting thing is that new ones are cropping up all the time.

Employers will be looking for people with a positive and passionate attitude, and an ability to work well as part of a team. People who’ve studied music or languages can be attractive to them because of the way they apply logic – you should never count yourself out.

My mum was a coder and when she started there weren’t computer science or computer gaming courses available. Candidates were recruited based on how they approached logical problems.  I think it’s starting to go full circle now, it’s not just about what you study it’s about finding people with multiple disciplinary approaches and backgrounds.

Thankfully, in Leeds, there’s lots going on to tackle misconceptions around entry into the digital tech industry and to boost awareness of opportunities. It’s something we need to see replicated across the UK. Leeds has a Digital Skills Action Plan in place, to create and promote entry points to the sector, like degree apprenticeships or coding bootcamps. We’re very proud to say that the Northcoders coding bootcamp, the first of its kind in the city, is based at Platform, which is also home to a thriving tech community.

Platform, is playing a vital role in providing all the elements that tech start-ups and entrepreneurs in Leeds need to grow their businesses, helping to create new jobs in the city and keeping tech talent in the region. Part of my role as Head of Innovations and Partnerships for Bruntwood SciTech is to work with tech businesses in Platform to develop links with each other and the rest of the city, including universities, professional service firms and corporate tech teams. I also work with investors to broker relationships with businesses that need investment and help start-ups access mentors and business angels.

I understand from my own experience how important it is to surround yourself with the right core network of contacts and advisers and one of my biggest pieces of advice to female entrepreneurs looking to gain a stronghold in this industry would be to network, network, network!

The tech industry is thriving in Leeds and the next generation of talent is being proactively nurtured but we could be doing more to open the door to the sector at an earlier age for women. My daughter goes to a primary school in Leeds and she’s been learning coding since reception. She even has coding homework, which is

amazing. There is a big aspiration in the city to have somebody teaching coding in every school. Let’s hope this ambition is realised. In the meantime, the industry should do all it can to encourage females into tech, whatever route they prefer to take.

About the author

Amy De-Balsi is the founder of the Leeds Digital Jobs Fair, an annual event which now attracts over 50 exhibitors each year and approximately 2,000 people. Prior to this, Amy spent five years at Yorkshire Forward running a £20m portfolio of projects to develop the region digital sector, then spent a further 7 years at Sky Betting and Gaming delivering new technology projects.

Amy recently joined Bruntwood SciTech as Head of Innovation and Partnerships in Leeds. In her new role is focused on bolstering Leeds’ tech cluster, working in partnership with universities, professional services providers, investors and corporate tech teams in the city region to create opportunities.


binary code, data scientist featured

Women in tech - the why, what and how of building a career in data science

binary code, data scientist

By Joanna Hu, Principal Data Scientist, Exabeam

With a growing number of organisations recognising the financial, social and cultural benefits of recruiting more women into data science, isn’t it time to explore the opportunities on offer?

Like many women who graduate with a tech degree, it took me a couple of years to figure out that data science was my niche. Thankfully, I eventually found my way and went on to forge a rewarding career in this exciting field.

With advancements like machine learning and big data now in the frame, I’ve been lucky enough to contribute to discoveries and solve real-world problems in healthcare, energy, and now – as principal data scientist at Exabeam – the cybersecurity industry.

I’m not alone in thinking that data science is a rewarding field to work in. Based on overall job satisfaction scores, the role of data scientist is ranked #7 in the Glassdoor ’25 best jobs in the UK for 2019’ listing – with an average base salary of £46K.

A long heritage

Historically, women have made a significant contribution to the evolution of computer science.  Before the invention of electronic computers, women were more prominent in the computer science field, and contributed a lot to the invention of the first electronic computers.  As well as Joan Clarke, who worked alongside Alan Turing to crack the Enigma cyphers during WW2, the other female codebreakers at Bletchley included Margaret Rock, Mavis Lever and Ruth Briggs.

More recently, there’s been trailblazers like Dame Steve Shirley, who first embarked on a technical career at the prestigious Post Office Research Station in Dollis Hill, where the Colossus codebreaking computers used at Bletchley were created. Founding her own software company in 1962, her team of female freelancers would go on to undertake many cutting-edge projects – including programming the black box flight computer used in Concorde.

Today, a new generation of women are forging their futures within the tech sector. Coming from a diversity of backgrounds, they’re making great strides in the field of data science – and many have done so without an initial background in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM).

A field rich with opportunities

Make no mistake, data scientists are in high demand. A recent study found that 80 per cent of UK businesses are looking to hire a data scientist in 2019, and IBM estimates that by 2020 the demand for data scientists and analysts will leap by 28 per cent.

That said, while women represent 47 per cent of the UK workforce, they only hold around 19 percent of all available tech jobs. Clearly, it’s time to redress the balance.

That’s certainly the opinion of bodies like the Alan Turing Institute and organisations like the International Women’s Day (IWD) movement. Indeed, the IWD #BalanceforBetter 2019 campaign is making great strides in changing hearts and minds – by showcasing how women in tech are achieving impressive outcomes for themselves and others.

The good news is a growing number of companies now acknowledge there are significant gains to be won by addressing the issue of gender inequality in their tech workforces. As a result, they’re eager to hire more female data scientists. Indeed, Gartner projects that in the next three years, both women and men will equally populate the role of chief data officer (CDO).

Why companies want more women in data jobs

Research organisations like McKinsey have found that highly diverse companies are 15 percent more likely to outperform those that are not gender diverse. Alongside enhanced financial performance, reports by analysts such as Morgan Stanley, McKinsey and Gartner confirm that having more women in the tech workforce creates a more cooperative and collaborative atmosphere.

Their research findings also highlight how women are more aware of risk, which in the field of big data is a major plus. What’s more, women tend to excel at communication, team nurturing and problem-solving—all vital qualities when working in the field of data, where outcomes depend on asking the right questions, and listening to the answers.

Finally, and perhaps most interestingly, the research findings illustrate how women are strong advocates for data-driven decisions and tend to be more solution-oriented than male counterparts.

I’m not a rocket scientist – can I make it in data science?

Absolutely. If you’re a curious person, are passionate about innovation, and have an interest in technology, then this may well be the career for you. Stephanie Glen’s recent blog – charting her life-changing journey from office cleaner to data scientist – highlights that as far as she’s concerned, a love of logic problems is the most important pre-requisite for the job.

Typically, the skill sets required include math, statistics, coding and system design. But, as a recent article in CIO magazine highlights, exacting true business value from data requires a unique combination of skills that includes storytelling and intuition.

Truth is, women with a passion for learning who want to try something new will find there’s a number of big-name tech companies out there that only too ready to help you develop the digital skills you need to embark on a career in data science. Plus, there are organisations like Girl Geeks that are proactively supporting women to enter and progress in the field.

Top tips?

If you’re already working in the tech field, or are ‘data science’ curious, then teach yourself the data science knowledge and network as much as you can.  Before deciding this was the path I wanted to commit to, I spent time talking to people about their work, went on workshops, joined weekend meetups and tried out small projects from the online courses.

These days, there are lots of resources available to women who want to make a go at it in this field. Find out about which new tools you’ll need to learn, then use your free time to hone your skills – pretty soon, you’ll become an expert.

When it comes to seeking out new job opportunities, follow good companies and people rather than high salaries. Ideally, you’ll want to work for companies that have intelligent leaders and care about their female talent. Most importantly, hunt down a great mentor and commit to continuously learning from superiors and peers.

Finally, believe in yourself and, no matter what roadblocks you face on the journey, don’t let anyone limit your potential.

Joanna HuAbout the author

Joanna has rich industrial working experience within data mining and big data analysis for healthcare institutions, energy companies, and retailers. Through her work she aims to help them identify frauds, predict risk and outcome, reduce cost, and estimate product qualities.

Joanna has a Ph.D. from University of California, Berkeley, in Nanotechnology and a Ph.D. from University of Michigan in computational earth sciences. Before joining Exabeam in 2015 as a senior data scientist she worked at Ayasdi as a data scientist building and improving algorithms for client healthcare institutions to produce the best treatments for patients. Since October 2018 Joanna has been principal data scientist at Exabeam.


Juggling motherhood, twins and being a racing driver

Rebecca Jackson

As a new mum to four month old twins, you’d imagine Rebecca Jackson already has her plate pretty full.

But the TV presenter and racing driver somehow manages to hold up her career and be a hands on mum. We caught up with Rebecca to find out how she juggles motherhood with a busy career.

Rebecca is an advocate of the mantra ‘trust your instincts’ when it comes to her life as a mother and on-screen and on-track superstar. ‘When the twins were born I made sure I spent time getting to know them, I was extremely lucky that Royal Berkshire Hospital supported my decision to co-sleep for the first few nights in the hospital. I focussed all my strength into relying on and nurturing my motherly instinct so I could empower myself to be the best mummy possible to these awesome little people.

‘Being a mother is such a blessing and with twins that’s doubly true! I am also very blessed to have great support around me enabling me to focus my energies on the babies. Whilst I didn’t do any preparation classes or read any self-help parenting books before they arrived, I did make sure that I asked for advice and help from experts when I needed it - for me it’s all about balancing my instincts with help where I need it.’

For her, flexibility and balance are her lifelines, Rebecca now has a live-in nanny to help with twins during the day from Sunday evening to Friday evening, meaning she can fit in work alongside caring for the twins. ’We 100 per cent work as a team, when I have a meeting Jess and I will walk to the venue, introduce the babies and then Jess will walk with them whilst I discuss work. We arrange everything around breastfeeds and nap times so that I am as present as possible for both the children and my work commitments. I do all the overnight parenting so I’m really proud of how far the twins and I have come on our journey so far.’

But it’s not just at home where Rebecca is part of a great team, she is also lucky to have a fantastic support in her racing and on-screen endeavours. ‘I’ve been working with a host of sponsors for a number of years now. This is my second year working with Morris Lubricants who are such a great team and I’m very grateful to them and my other sponsor Motor Easy for their support with my racing career and as a new mum. I took the twins into meet Motor Easy the other day and it was so much fun! I’m really excited to get back in my car later this year and have plans for some Hot Laps in the autumn.

‘I’m also starting to do a little bit of filming and the babies have expressed milk whilst I’m on camera. Once they are a little bit older and are weaned I’ll be doing some more on-screen work which is something I really enjoy.’

Whilst Rebecca admits she is very lucky that her twins are easy babies, she has worked extremely hard to establish a feeding and nap routine as well as building exercise into her daily life. ‘I walk everywhere and try to involve the babies in all my activity.  I have a Bugaboo Donkey 2 pram and I can often be found doing fast cardio walks along the river or up a huge hill - if the babies are asleep I take full advantage and walk mega fast! When it comes to strength work I do squats whilst holding the babies making sure I always have a correct hold and that they are completely comfortable. In fact, I’m always moving with them, rocking, dancing, and jiggling away! Their weight is gaining daily too so it’s gradually becoming more of a workout!!’

Human support is one thing, but technology is a vital part of life for us all now, not least for a busy mum! ‘I’ve always made use of my phone and gadgets to manage my diary, keep in touch with friends and my fans via social media, but it wasn’t until I had the twins that I realised the amazing number of apps out there for new mums! I breastfed exclusively for the first three months, and I still do throughout the day, but now I also use the Elvie Breast Pump in the evenings whilst the babies are in bed to build up a freezer supply of milk for my upcoming filming work.  It works with an app which is great as it’s handsfree and means I can see how long I’ve been pumping for. I also make use of Wunderlist to keep on top of all the stuff the babies need - it’s a God send!’

When asked if she had any tips for mums trying to juggle work and family commitments Rebecca is pretty clear. ‘Nothing is more important to me than my children. I am extremely blessed to have such a network of support around me, but I know that if my life is in balance then I am fulfilled. I swear by mindfulness; you won’t be breastfeeding all night forever, never feel guilty about whether you work or don’t; get your hair done or don’t. Embrace everything, look forward to weaning and messy bath times - wear a swimming costume if that’s easier! - try and savour each chapter as much as you can. Don’t be afraid to cry in front of your children in tough times - it’s healthy for them to see you show emotion. Do what is right for you and what feels right for your children - you’re the expert in your own life. Just as in motor racing - your line is the best!’