assorted numbers on a board, women in data

Working with numbers | Women in Data

assorted numbers on a board, women in data

When Lyndsey Swann needed a career reboot, she studied for an HND in computing at night school and this led to her first role in data. Lyndsey now heads up ‘customer excellence’ for Gazprom Energy - a role all about maximising and monetising data and insight across the organisation. Lyndsey tells us why she thinks women are underrepresented in the data sector and what can be done about it.

The percentage of roles linked to data science being taken by women has dropped from 41 per cent in 2005, to 34 per cent in 2009, and to 27 per cent in 2019.

Despite millions of pounds being spent to encourage greater diversity in STEM careers, worryingly, jobs involving data are neither attracting, nor being secured by, female candidates.

I love working with data because it enables better business decisions. It often takes the emotion or guesswork out of decision making and will ultimately improve an organisation’s performance by enhancing service to the customer and increasing revenue to the business. It’s fantastic to create a compelling story through data that makes people think differently and introduces them to new ideas. Data can surprise, prove wrong or validate original thought – you never know what you are going to find.

The unconscious message

But clearly data isn’t the career choice for many women. I think this is due to the choices young girls make at school, as well as the unconscious messages they are given. For a large part, data analytics and data science doesn’t inspire young girls. While many enjoy maths and sciences at primary school, interest wanes when they move into senior school and become teenagers - where many conform with ‘the norm’.

The way data science is ‘sold’ in many schools is also partly to blame. Even today people assume that girls’ minds are less technical and not as logical. Although this is unconscious in many cases, it puts girls off studying these subjects due to the fear of failure. This perpetuates the vicious cycle of lacking female role models that could then inspire the female data scientists of the future.

So how can we improve the situation? Firstly, we must engage young girls when they are in high school and making those crucial GCSE choices. It needs to be made clear that a career in data is a rewarding, achievable and sustainable career choice. Bringing women in data into high schools to inspire others would help.

Secondly, a clearer career roadmap would be useful. Data science is not the only role available to those who are inspired by analytics. There are also areas like customer insight, or research and marketing roles that all utilise data and would benefit hugely from greater diversity.

Broadening the spectrum

This diversity would bring tangible benefits and improvements to industry; for example, a broader spectrum of views and different approaches to solving business problems. Women tend to excel in problem solving, agility of thought, and communications – all crucial attributes in my line of work.

I also think women are generally strong at logical decision making, are highly action-orientated and active listeners. These are essential attributes in data analytics & data science, especially when it comes to asking the right questions of the data and insight to monetise the outcomes as constantly demanded in business today.

However, we should be aiming for a place where gender is irrelevant and the most talented people should grow and thrive equally in the data sector, regardless of this. As in many areas, this requires substantial effort to remove unconscious bias.

Making a difference

Another way the sector can nurture more talent, including women, is by demonstrating the connected worlds that data science is part of. My career transcends two very different but connected worlds – deep data insights and customer experience. Connections like these are important because they highlight the wider impact that working with data has. It’s not just about being into numbers. It’s what you learn from them and how you can make a difference.

These ‘data connections’ should encourage more people who are data literate but also enjoy creative thinking and problem solving, to look further at data analytics & data science as a rewarding career path. The industry needs the right combination of technical data science and programming skills but also the ability to utilise that insight for commercial gain.

Now that so many customer interactions are digital, there are new opportunities for younger candidates to shine earlier. They can quickly dominate the field in new data areas such as web analytics, social media listening, sentiment analysis, and AI.

My own journey

I’m both proud and lucky to work for a business today that takes diversity seriously. It’s this attitude and the people within Gazprom Energy that sets it apart from other B2B utilities suppliers. Within the UK we have a balanced senior team in terms of outlook, gender, and specialism, which makes for fair leadership and a strong foundation for the business.

The skillset I need in my customer excellence team is widespread, from research professionals and process specialists, to customer insight analysts and CRM experts. This should ensure diversity. First and foremost, I want to recruit people that are passionate about creating best in class customer experience using data, insight, research, and technology, so we are continually able to grow and innovate.

Gender will not be the primary factor in choice of recruits; however, I strongly hope that I can build a diverse team that benefits from great female candidates in the mix.

Lyndsey SwannAbout the author

Lyndsey Swann is Head of Customer Excellence at Gazprom Energy.

With over 15 years’ experience in in customer insight and analytics, research, strategy development, segmentation, customer experience, CRM and customer services, Swann works to put the customer at the heart of decision making whether that be B2C or B2B.


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


Chief Technology Officer (CTO)

Understanding the role of the Chief Technology Officer

Chief Technology Officer (CTO)

The role of the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) is usually one of the most misunderstood of the C-suite.

However, in simple terms, the CTO is the executive who holds responsibility for the technology within an organisation.

Depending on the type and size of the business, the role of the CTO can vary, however some of their main responsibilities usually include:

  1. Innovation
  2. Architecture
  3. Technology vision and strategy
  4. Infrastructure
  5. Software development

Of all of the C-suite, the CTO is probably the role that has been most affected by the digital age.  CTOs usually focus on external tasks such as technology propositions for customers, which has allowed more room for CIOs to concentrate on internal tasks such as IT applications and services.

Although the roles vary between organisations, there are a few core CTO responsibilities:

  1. Innovation and R&D

Technology advances are constantly changing, and so CTOs need to stay up to date with trends, or a business can quickly be left behind. CTOs also need to be able to drive business value, using a combination of competitor analysis, customer intelligence, and judgement.

As the company’s public face of technology, they will also need credibility with stakeholders, potential employees, partners, customers, and investors – something that is vitally important but will take time to build.

A CTO who does this well is Rebecca Parsons, ThoughtWorks CTO, who regularly publishes on the Technology Radar report and manages responsibility for over 7000 software engineers, all using innovation to drive business value for international companies across the globe.

  1. Technology Governance

Governance is important in any C-Suite role, but CTOs will need to be able to handle their large portfolio of projects and manage the needs of multiple stakeholders. In order to generate the most value for the company, a CTO will need to prioritise the right projects with a clear process.

A CTO is first and foremost a business leader, and so they will need strong financial skills to manage large budgets and complicated rules. One CTO who successfully managed this is the former CTO for the UK Government, Liam Maxwell. Throughout his time in office, he advocated simplified but effective governance by reducing the number of governance forums and keeping the remaining forums focused on decision making, to cut through bureaucracy.

  1. Technology Leadership

A CTO needs to be able to use technology to generate Enterprise Value and help a business reach its objectives. They will need to be able to convey complex technical concepts to non-technical employees so that the team understands the possibilities of technology-enabled products and services.

One example of a CTO using technology to drive company values is the CTO of Amazon, Werner Vogels. He gave Amazon a huge head start in the cloud services industry by building Amazon Web Services – one of the most profitable areas of Amazon.

  1. Product Development

A recent development in the CTOs role is taking a lead in product development. CTOs will need to utilise technology within products and services to make them more profitable or appealing, and will therefore require a thorough understanding of user experiences, consumer trends, user research, and digital design.

We have seen recent pairings of the CTO and the Chief Product Owner (CPO) within C-suites to develop new technology-enabled products. If this pairing works well it should mean improved sales opportunities and revenue within businesses.

Gerri Martin-Flickinger, Starbucks CTO, headed the successful development of the brand’s mobile ordering system. She did this by centring her agenda centred around product development and customer experience, using technology to deepen customer connection to Starbucks.

  1. Business IT

Business IT is one of the more traditional aspects of the CTO’s role. Something that has always been at the core of the CTO’s role is the management of critical operational systems like CRM and ERP, which are being increasingly relied on to deliver for customers.

CTO’s need to constantly be looking out for technologies that can improve the way a company operates. Innovation in core business systems is something that is often overlooked but it can add huge value to the functionality of a company.

Summary

Technology is becoming increasingly critical for business success, and the role of the CTO is something that will only gain importance. We are living in a digitally-driven technological age and the future of the Chief Technology Officer looks bright.

Arif HarbottAbout the author

Arif Harbott is a Chief Technology Officer and digital business leader who specialises in working with organizations undergoing large-scale transformation or disruption. He is the co-author of The HERO Transformation Playbook with Cuan Mulligan


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


woman-stressed-with-a-burnout-featured

Ten techniques to combat stress and anxiety at work

Stressed woman suffering from a burnout

Article provided by Liz Walker, HR Director, Unum

Practice mindfulness

Many of the techniques mentioned involve mindfulness, which is a popular method of combatting anxiety. Mindfulness can stop you worrying by bringing your attention back to the present through acknowledging your worries and letting them go.

Mindfulness allows you to get in touch with your emotions and recognise how you feel.

Take a step back

Viewing thoughts and worries as if they are show or film you're observing can be a good way to disconnect yourself from them and to finally put them out of your mind.

Accept strange thoughts

We all have strange thoughts from time to time, such as 'what if I scream during a presentation?'. These thoughts are natural and will jump out from time to time. When this happens instead of focusing on it, describe it to yourself as the curiosity it is and move on. Remember, our minds are creative with lots of little thoughts floating about.

Recognise false alarms

Everyone has the sudden worry they didn't lock the front door or left the iron on, however rarely do these things actually materialise. When you find yourself thinking along these lines and notice your body responding with a rapid heartbeat, recognise the situation for what it is. Acknowledge the thoughts and sensations but let them pass.

Positive Self Talk

Often, we're far harder on ourselves than we would be on others. Try to talk positively to yourself rather than putting yourself down, like you would if you were talking to a child or friend who was nervous. Telling yourself phrases such as 'this feeling will pass' and 'I will be ok' could help to reassure you and reduce stress or worry.

Set Aside Worry Time

Sometimes worries can niggle at us and prevent us from doing things we should be doing. When this happens jot down the reason you're feeling anxious and resolve to think it through later. By the time you get to doing that it's likely many of the worries you've noted won't be an issue anymore.

Question Your Thoughts

Feeling anxious can make our thoughts spiral out of control and think outlandish things. When you find this happening try to question your thoughts by asking yourself such questions as 'is this worry realistic?' and 'what is the worst possible outcome and would it really be that bad?'.

Learn to Say No

Don't take on too much, if you're overloaded with work and extremely busy but given more work, try to push back. Talking to your boss about the situation will give them a better understanding of your workload and could allow you to push back deadlines or receive some help with a task.

Keep Track

Keep a diary for a week or two to track which situations make you feel most stressed and how you respond to them. Record your thoughts and feelings and what you did as a result; this can help you find out what situations make you stressed and your reactions to it.

Talk About It

Voicing your concerns, worries or feelings to an attentive and trusted listener can feel very cathartic. The person you speak to doesn't have to 'fix' things, just listen to you even if it doesn't change the situation.


networking featured

Progressing your career through your network

networking

By Juliet Eccleston,co-founder of talent crowdsourcing platform, AnyGood?

Despite the constant talk about equality, statistics show that women still remain vastly underrepresented in top roles across the business world.

Figures from 2017 showed that in the UK, female professionals held only 12 per cent of jobs paying £150,000 or more.  It’s clear that traditional routes to progression are preventing a lot of women from attaining their goals. However, by utilising the power of personal networks, I believe women can further their career and bypass the obstacles put in their way.  This is something I’ve learnt from my own experience in over 20 years as a programme director. When hiring professionals for the delivery of large scale projects, my experience of the traditional hiring process was predominantly negative. It was only until I actively turned to my network for hiring that I found my best employees. Secondly, and more recently, I have witnessed first-hand just how well it works by starting my own business which empowers people to capitalise from their own networks.

Power of networks

The power of networks is huge and constantly increasing. This can be demonstrated by the recent rise in the use of peer-to-peer recommendations, something that I would attribute to a lack of trust in traditional sources of information, and to the ease at which we can now all stay connected. In early 2018, the Harvard Business Review reported a survey in which fewer than half of participants said they could trust businesses, the media, and government and non-government organisations – including charities. On the other hand, 60 per cent of respondents agreed that you can believe ‘a person like yourself’. What this indicates is that people are far more likely to believe peer appraisals than those with a vested interest. For this reason, recommendations and reviews, such as those on TripAdvisor, and Glassdoor have become a critical way for individuals to decide whether to trust a business, and the star ratings on apps like Airbnb and Uber have become so crucial in individual’s decision making

The same holds true for people

Clearly people are putting more stock into the opinions of others in their networks than ever before. For this same reason, I believe women should take greater advantage of their wider personal networks and use them for career advancement. By calling on those who most intimately know your professional capabilities, this endorsement can help remove any potential bias, allowing you to be promoted or hired based on your own merit alone.

Greater opportunity

Perhaps more importantly, your network has the potential to open up greater opportunities than those you are actively pursuing yourself. In our own company research, we found an overwhelming 95 per cent of people stated that they would be more likely to apply for a role if it was recommended to them by a peer rather than a recruiter. Recommendations made in this way are not only more personal and engender the trust that is so important for women to be given the chance to progress their careers, but also encourage individuals to go for positions they may have deemed beyond their reach.

Why is networking so important

With the potential power of personal networks so easy to demonstrate, this makes actually creating those networks even more significant. The evidence showing the importance of networking is extensive, and certain studies claim that women who avoid this are actively damaging their careers. A study undertaken by the AVTAR Group revealed that women usually begin networking at the age of 42, while men start as early as 17. Another study from the University of Notre Dame shows that more than 75 per cent of women in high ranking positions have a female-dominated inner circle, or strong ties to a few women within their network who they are in frequent contact with. However, while I encourage traditional networking, there are many different approaches to it which are also suitable, even for those who don’t feel they are outgoing enough to do so. Actively reconnecting with your existing network wherever possible is incredibly powerful because you already have a relationship in place. This can be done in a number of ways, be it through picking up the phone, email, or even through social media. Other interesting approaches are ‘career drafting’, asking someone you admire if you can help with any overflow they have. Finding a professional one or two steps ahead in your industry and letting them know you’re prepared to do this is an extremely powerful method of creating connections that could later help you advance your career.

Nothing holding you back

Unfortunately, the barriers to women progressing their career are numerous. There is much evidence to show that men are judged to a more lenient standard than women, and that gender stereotypes and unconscious bias play large roles in hiring decisions.  Furthermore, one McKinsey study found that women tend to undervalue their contributions at work, with 70% of female respondents rating their performance as equivalent to their co-workers, while 70 per cent of men rated themselves higher than their co-workers. This makes tapping into the power of networks even more important, as many women will have highly vocal advocates capable of championing them in a way they may not do themselves. I am firmly of the belief that barriers can be overcome through actively networking, and that despite the challenges, women have more opportunities to network than ever. By building your own strategic network of professional peers and using this network to your advantage, the sky is the limit.


Charlotte Knill

Why study digital forensics?

 

Charlotte Knill, aged 23, is an Information Security Consultant and Forensic Analyst for Security Risk Management Ltd in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Here she shares why she decided to study digital forensics.

Firstly, it might be easier if I explained why I chose it.

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It wasn’t until around the age of 18/19 I decided I wanted to take myself down the digital forensics path. I came across this field because I started seeing it become more common in the news that criminals were being caught out by digital evidence. I found it really interesting that when the police were attending crime scenes, they weren’t only seizing physical evidence they could see (weapons or DNA), they were also seizing devices where they would be examined for evidence.

The difference between physical evidence and digital evidence is that you can see one but not the other. You can’t tell just by looking at a mobile phone what evidence is on it – I am a naturally nosey and curious person, so this field of study was definitely for me! I was more interested in the evidence “you can’t see” and wanted to be able to use my curiosity to find answers. I wanted to search through phones for texts, computers for documents, emails, internet history etc. Basically, just be nosey!

I was able to put my passion for being nosey and curious into practice during my placement year in a real digital forensic environment. Working on real criminal cases affecting real victims – there was no better feeling than my curiosity helping to solve crimes and remove criminals from the streets.

So, that was why I chose it……..But digital forensics doesn’t stop there.

You also have data breaches that affect companies worldwide every single day. Part of my job now is to find out how company websites were breached, identify malicious code that hackers have placed onto their websites and see if any card details have been stolen. That could happen to me, you, your friends and family at any point – being part of what prevents these breaches from occurring/helping companies become safer in the large cyber world we all live in is a rewarding feeling.

Identifying things like malicious code or retrieving deleted texts, images or documents etc. are done so through the use of specialist software. There are many different types of software out there but the ones you will hear about the most will be:

1. EnCase
2. Forensic Tool Kit (FTK)
3. Internet Evidence Finder (IEF)
4. Cellebrite (Mobile Phones)

Digital Forensics is a field where you learn new things every day. If you go into a Digital Forensics job, don’t feel like you have to know EVERYTHING because you don’t….you can’t – it’s impossible to know everything because of the new devices, software and technology being created all the time. The cyber security industry as a whole operates on the basis of people sharing thoughts and ideas – it couldn’t operate without this.

So, if you like the idea of:

• Someone telling you “it’s deleted and you won’t get it back” and proving them wrong by retrieving deleted things using special software
• Removing criminals from the streets
• Stopping a crime before it has happened and saving potential victims from harm
• Preventing companies becoming victims of serious data breaches that could affect you or everyone around you at any time
• Helping companies stay safe from breaches
• Learning new things every day
• Sharing thoughts and ideas to help those around you stay as many steps ahead of cyber criminals as possible

You really should consider digital forensics!

TIP:

Autopsy is a great tool to download and experiment with (free and legal!) – http://www.sleuthkit.org/autopsy/ – memory sticks are ideal for experimenting with. Try placing word documents on at first and then deleting some (but remember to note down what is on the memory stick and what has been deleted, this is also great practice for taking notes as digital forensic investigators need to take down lots of notes during an investigation).

Another tip: Don’t throw away any old laptops – you could practice taking out the hard drive and plugging that into Autopsy.

If you get stuck, I would recommend using YouTube because you can follow videos in your own time and actually see what is happening. I used YouTube a lot to help me learn how to remove hard drives from many different laptops.

About Charlotte Knill

At the beginning of July this year, I graduated from the University of Sunderland with a first class honours degree in Computer Forensics with Sandwich Year. My sandwich year/placement year was spent with Northumbria Police in their Hit-tech Crime Unit. Before I graduated, I was offered a job with Security Risk Management Ltd as an Information Security Support Consultant and Forensic Analyst where I help to identify how company websites have been hacked and personal details have been stolen. Initially, this was part-time while I finished off my University studies and then moved into a full-time role once my studies were completed.

I have recently set up a blog to help encourage women into cyber security by sharing my journey into the industry and my fun stories from within it.

Social Media Links:

LinkedIn

Twitter


Navigating the Journey to Success in UX

By Elite Avner Torbit, Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting UK

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

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

What do you do?

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

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

How did you get into UX as a career?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


coding

How a Woman Over 40 Broke Coding Stereotypes

 

Patricia Ehrhardt wanted to become a full time web developer so she enrolled at Bloc in the Web Developer Track.

Patricia spoke with Bloc about her experience of re-training to become a developer. Bloc shared the story with WeAreTheCity, which you will find below.

coding featurePatricia wanted to become a full time web developer, but being a woman in tech can be difficult. Women face stereotyping and imposter-syndrome and the best way to close the gender gap is to give female coders support systems that can help them thrive. That’s why in 2014, Women Who Code and Bloc partnered to create a Women Who Code scholarship program that offers two women each month a $1000 scholarship toward their Bloc tuition. To-date this scholarship program has funded over $48,000 in Bloc tuition.

Patricia had two mentors while completing the program. For backend web development she worked with John Sawyers, a 20 year software developer veteran who has previously worked as a software architect and CTO. And for frontend development, she was mentored by Alissa Likavec, formerly a City Director for Women Who Code who works as a software engineer at Bedrock Media Ventures in Seattle.

We sat down with Patricia to hear about her journey to becoming a developer. Patricia stated, “When I was accepted into Bloc’s Bootcamp it felt like I was making an Olympic team. I knew I would finally be getting the training I needed that eludes so many of us that don't want to go back to the traditional school environment. It felt fantastic, and like I was closer to reaching my goal. Bloc was the easiest choice because of the 1:1 mentorship commitment, and because it was 100% online.”

Patricia stated that her biggest challenge in her journey was the ever present imposter syndrome. She would constantly berate herself for not knowing general CS concepts, or not grasping the logic of an algorithm, and basically feeling like she didn't know what she was doing. Having a mentor there to help her through these doubts was key to her success.

Patricia experienced stereotyping, being a female developer. She loves attending hackathons, but every time she went to one, there would be teams of men that were not open to having a woman on their team. When asked about the hackathon she said, “The general vibe I get is that, we [women] are too slow, or want to learn things (GOD FORBID) or that we are only good for html and css. The way I get over it, is to correct people’s perceptions by actually saying my title “Hi, I’m Patricia I’m a RoR Engineer”, and let them know I am a polyglot (Ruby, Python and Javascript) then ask them to give me a task. They rarely say no to that.”

When asked what advice she would you give to women who are thinking about enrolling in a coding bootcamp she stated, “Invest in yourself. Don’t make excuses like you can’t afford it. If this is truly something you are passionate about, invest the money, invest the time, invest your heart and soul and it will all work out.”

Patricia says that Bloc changed her life by providing the one on one mentorship she so desperately needed to get over the hump of learning online and solo. It also provided a platform to work on real live projects and feature her skills to add to her GitHub and ultimately her resume.

Patricia is excited to continue learning and becoming an even better engineer at her new job at Epublishing. Eventually she hopes to create a piece of software that will be useful for organisations like the Innocence Project, Missing and Exploited Children, or the poverty abatement and battered women’s advocates.

Finally, you can read Patricia’s blog about her experience learning to code as someone over 40.

Patricia was born in Dover, DE but grew up in Southern California. Her interest in technology came from her father who was a nuclear physicist. He would always create techy experiments in the house while watching Star Trek. When everyone else in the neighbourhood had Atari, Patricia had Intellivision. Gaming was her first real introduction to tech, and she was hooked.

Patricia studied Traditional Chinese Medicine at Emperor's College in Santa Monica, and then studied Cell and Molecular Bio/Pre-Med at Humbolt State University. She entered the workforce as a touring band member, playing the bass. Later she became a bartender, and lastly worked in Administration. She loved helping her co-workers in an administrative role but after 8 years she was bored and felt she wasn’t being challenged.

She decided she wanted to learn to code when she remembered she had been interested in coding, tech and gaming since she was 13 years old. She knew it was time to do what she had always wanted to do.

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Five reasons to become a coder in your 30s

Wild Code School_remote learning, woman learning to code

The opportunities and benefits within the tech industry have long been a draw to job seekers.

Indeed, the ONS reported in 2019 that the tech industry had amongst the highest number of job vacancies, increasing salaries and attractive flexible working benefits. And as a largely digitised industry it is no surprise that it has fared relatively well in lockdown with a high proportion of employees able to work from home.

But if you ever thought coding was a young person’s game and not for you, think again. Coding attracts recruits from far outside traditional STEM-based careers and education. In fact, students from Wild Code School, a web development and coding school, are upskilling and career changing from diverse backgrounds that range from dance and textile design to chemical engineering, gaming and communications.

And it’s not just school leavers or people early in their careers – in fact it’s people in their 30s who are leading the charge.

Anna Stepanoff, CEO and Founder of Wild Code School, explains the five reasons people in their 30s are turning to coding:

  • It’s not rocket science – there is an increasing awareness that you don’t have to be a Matrix-inspired hyper-brain to work in tech, and as 30-somethings have inevitably come into contact with the digital world in their existing careers – they’re wanting to get involved and understand how it works.
  • Coding is creative – while the initial draw might be the competitive salaries, we find what keeps people interested is the realisation that coding is a highly-creative industry that allows a person to problem solve and bring their own ideas to fruition.
  • Autonomy and Flexibility – people in their 30s who no longer want to work for someone else are realising that the tech industry provides options to go freelance, to choose their own clients and the flexibility to work from where they want.
  • Being a part of what happens next – from the way we consume music and media, eat out, work from home, communicate and stay fit, the tech industry is changing the way we live, and touches all aspects of our lives. Being a part of that is exciting.
  • In-demand skills – there is a widely-discussed skills gap in the tech industry, and we work with employers to understand what they are looking for and how to ensure training is commercially relevant. They are skills sought by a diverse range of companies and will become increasingly important.

“It’s a myth that if you didn’t get into coding at school, then it’s already too late,” Anna says. “If you’ve got the creativity and the drive, then we’ve got the school to help you realise your ambition.”

During the month of August 2020, anyone curious about tech, passionate about learning or considering a new professional career can register to Wild Code Summer School. Week after week, it is offering a month-long programme dedicated to discovering the tech world.


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woman remote working on video conference

How to get a remote working role in tech

By Verónica Miñano, Head of Talent Acquisition, Kwalee

woman remote working on video conferenceOne of the great benefits of working in the tech industries, and something that has been brought into even greater focus during the global COVID-19 pandemic, is the potential in these roles for remote working.

With tools like Slack and Zoom already commonplace, there are many opportunities for tech-savvy professionals to build their careers beyond the traditional office setting as employers become increasingly open to remote applicants.

This includes ourselves at Kwalee, as we have made a commitment to embracing remote work indefinitely following our productivity while working under restrictions related to the virus.

So if you’re looking for a role in tech but you believe that your future lies outside of the traditional office setting, here are my top tips for identifying and securing the right remote-working opportunity for you!

#1 Identify your role

It almost goes without saying, but even within tech, some roles are better suited to remote work than others.

In our experience of transitioning to remote work over these turbulent past few months, we have had some individuals and teams whose roles rely more heavily on in-person collaboration and they have been extremely keen to return to our office.

Others, meanwhile, have had very little trouble adapting and have enjoyed the productivity and comfort of working from home. This is why we have begun our foray into permanent remote work by opening only certain vacancies to remote candidates, and you will find across the board that there is more openness to working from home when it comes to certain positions.

Think about the tasks you are expected to perform every day in your job and whether you would be able to perform them as effectively in a remote setting. If you conclude that this isn’t the case and yet remain committed to pursuing remote work, you might consider switching to an adjacent discipline requiring a similar skillset, but with more opportunities for working from home.

Speak to friends or colleagues who have made the transition to remote work to learn more about how the nature of their work changed when they moved away from the office and consider whether you would be willing to make such changes yourself. An employer will want to know you have given serious consideration to this transition, so show them you are ready to take responsibility!

#2 Find a supportive employer

Just as employers expect certain things from their remote-working employees, you should find a company that will be willing to support you -- wherever you make your workspace.

For instance, while continuing to grow our team throughout the coronavirus pandemic, we have been making sure to send any necessary office equipment to team members who need them, to make their temporary workspaces more comfortable.

Just because you’re not working at the office, you should not feel disconnected from the rest of the team! As a parent, I am 100% understanding of why remote working holds such appeal for some people and we want team members to feel valued wherever they are based.

Make sure that your employer is of this mindset and is prepared to give you the necessary support to do your job.

#3 Seek inspiration and start a side project

This one is particularly relevant if you are not currently working in the industry you’re pursuing a role in, but seek out role models who are currently working in your ideal roles and see how they use platforms like LinkedIn.

Look out for any insights they share on how they got into their positions and see what you can learn from them.

It will also be a big help to have a side project that’s more aligned with your desired field, if you’re looking to change careers. For instance, when hiring game designers we are always just as keen to see what they have made in their spare time as well as any formal training they have done.

This is even more applicable when it comes to remote roles, since having worked on something in your own time shows that you can be productive and motivated outside a traditional working environment!

Our team at Kwalee is growing all the time and you can find all our open positions, including our remote working opportunities, here.

Verónica MiñanoAbout the author

With more than a decade of HR and recruitment experience, first in the engineering industry and more recently in gaming, Verónica Miñano has built Kwalee’s Talent Acquisition team from scratch and has overseen the company more than tripling in size in less than four years. She is passionate about how different personalities and skill-sets can be best combined to create a harmonious and creative working environment.


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


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Raising funds as a tech entrepreneur

women-in-finance-Jessica Jackson, Investment Director at GC Angels, offers advice to female founders seeking funding to grow their business and stresses the importance of understanding the options that are available.

Raising investment for the first time can feel daunting. For many, securing finance, be it through debt or equity, is completely new and it can be difficult to understand the options, let alone make a call about which is best for your business and its needs.

The Alison Rose Review highlighted that awareness of, as well as access to funding are the two most common issues faced by female entrepreneurs, whether running a start-up or an established company. It also reports that female-led businesses receive less funding than those headed by men at every stage of their journey – but why is this? The report argues that women typically have higher risk-awareness compared to their male counterparts and are more cautious considering financial products. Women typically don’t have the same professional networks that male entrepreneurs benefit from, and are therefore less likely to know other entrepreneurs or to have access to individuals and organisations that are in a position to support them as they navigate the complex finance landscape.

Although the review states that it is difficult for female founders to find the right support in accessing finance, it’s important to know that there are a plethora of organisations and networks working cohesively to advise female founders. One such example is The Knowledge Transfer Network. Part of Innovate UK, they are actively working to support female business owners through its Women in Innovation programme. The network consists of universities, funders and investors who facilitate idea sharing, and encourage founders to embrace opportunities to innovate and scale to the next level.

Whilst it’s advisable to tap into any networks or organisations, the first point of call should be to gain an understanding of the different types of finance and which situations they are best suited for. This will help you make your own financial decisions and provide clarity on what you should be seeking.

Debt finance

This type of funding works in the same way as debt in everyday life – if you want something immediately but don’t have the required funds, you can take out a loan and pay it back later. In business, that funding could make a huge difference in striking a deal with a major supplier when you need to scale up on your stock levels for example. Debt is a great option: it’s quick access to finance which can increase working capital, allowing you to invest in growth. The downside is that the loan will accrue more interest the longer it takes to pay off, but hopefully the benefits of being able to grow your business quicker will far outweigh the costs of taking out the loan.

A good example of this is YourZooki, a premium liquid supplements brand our Debt team at GC Business Finance has worked with recently. The firm took out a £150k loan in February this year in order to invest in a new warehouse and create four new jobs. This was followed up with a second £150k loan in June, after the company had doubled its turnover in just four months, which has allowed it to increase its stock levels to cope with unprecedented customer demand.

Grant funding

Unlike a loan, grant funding does not require repayment. This type of finance is often overlooked by entrepreneurs as it can sound too good to be true, but it’s definitely worth checking your eligibility for business support. The Government website offers a useful tool to help business owners identify the various different grant schemes, which can be filtered by region and sector. It’s also worth discussing your options with your Local Enterprise Partnership or Growth Hub – you can find yours via the LEP Network.

An institution we work closely with is Innovate UK, which provides government grants to helps businesses “develop and realise the potential of new ideas, including those from the UK’s world-class research base”. This year, Marion Surgical, a company building a next generation suite of surgical simulators through virtual reality, received backing from Innovate UK alongside an investment from GC Angels. The funding allowed the company to invest in new projects, as well as create five new jobs.

The Knowledge Transfer Network is also a partner of Innovate UK, and is working hard to help female entrepreneurs with start-up grants, of which applications from female business owners has increased by 70 per cent since 2016.

Equity finance

Equity finance is the process of raising capital through the sale of some shares in your company in return for cash. The money can then be used to take on more staff, purchase equipment or invest in product development, which can in turn increase the value of your stake in the business without the worry of having to pay off loans and accrued interest. This can be useful for startup businesses which have not yet turned a profit but are showing signs of rapid growth – much like many innovative technology businesses we are seeing emerge today. However, the only downside is that you will no longer own the entire stake in the business, but there is real value in bringing an investor on board as it allows you to tap into their knowledge and expertise – they want your company to grow just as much as you do!

We have backed many excellent women founders with equity funding, and it has allowed them to take their businesses to the next level. In January this year, GC Angels co-invested as part of a £260,000 equity funding round in Immersify Education, a Salford-based EdTech start-up. The company provides learning tools for university students using augmented reality, interactive animation, gamification and personalised learning. Whilst the founder, Chloe Barrett, had launched a research-driven pilot across eight universities, she required capital to build out her development team and prepare her product for the market. Following the investment, the company is now targeting an official launch in the 2020/21 academic year.

Stories such as Immersify Education show what founders can do with the right funding behind them; all the more reason why it’s staggering to see that only one per cent of venture capital funding in the UK goes to all-female teams. GC Angels is striving to invest as equally as possible into entrepreneurs with funding ranging between £100,000 and £2m. Not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because it is estimated that up to £250bn could be added to the UK economy if women started and scaled their business at the same rate as men.

If that doesn’t inspire you, then you could always attend our events in Greater Manchester. Before the COVID pandemic, we hosted regular ‘#LaterPitches’ and ‘We Smash Barriers’ events – something I am keen to restart once social distancing guidelines are relaxed – providing ambitious women with the opportunity to hear and learn from other successful female business leaders.


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