Technology Leadership featured

Unique challenges female leaders need to overcome | Dr Pippa Malmgren

Leadership

By Dr. Pippa Malmgren, Co-author of The Leadership Lab, Winner of the 2019 Business Book of the Year

Women need to overcome many things in the work place, and so do men.

So, what is more specific to women than to men? A few things. First, we have to remember that humans are still part of the animal kingdom. They respond to many things subconsciously. Studies cosnsistently show that humans are more likely to designate someone as a leader if they are tall and loud. Many organizations are thus run on the “whoever speaks first and loudest” principle. This results, as everybody knows, are not great. We end up promoting the blowhards not only because of these qualities. It is also because we believe that confidence equals competence. As Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic says in his Harvard Business School article called “ Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders?” So, women not only have to learn how to speak up. They have to learn to be more confident.

This is easier said than done. Chamorro-Premuzic found that men typically say they are ready for a job when they are only 40 per cent to 50 per cent ready. Women typically wait until they are 100 per cent ready before they will say so. What is the end result of this gap? We get many men who overpromise and underdeliver and almost no women who underpromise and overdeliver. Maybe women should step forward and alleviate this gap?

But, you cannot change your height. So, for women, competing on size is never going to work. It’s not just height as well. Notice how men will drape their arms over nearby chairs and manspread across two places at a table. They are commanding space. Women are not designed for this. But, there are ways of taking the control back. One is to be better prepared. This does not just mean doing the homework. It also means figuring out where all the vested interests are. Women may not have height, but they have convening power. They can figure out how to align opposing interests before the meeting starts. They can be ready to explain not only the best course of action but to show that she had already garnered support for her vision. If she can also show everyone why it would be in their best interest to follow her, they are far more likely to. People trust someone who has thought through the consequences for someone else. Men could do all this too. Good leaders always do this. But we have few really good leaders these days. Women can easily take advantage of the shocking shortage of good leadership.

Not all women want to be leaders. Not all men want to be leaders either. But we still have to learn how to successfully swim in a fluid environment. Too many people think a job or a role or a current project are fixed and lasting things. Organizations are not fixed like a mountain that we are learning how to climb. Organizations are fluid. They are in perpetual motion. The skill needed is less like a mountain climber and more like a surfer. The people will change. The purpose of the work will change. So, women need to get better at managing highly fluid and ever-changing environments. A smart move is to set one’s sights on the next job, role, career, organisation that looks interesting to you.

Men constantly work with headhunters so that they know exactly what their skills are worth in the open market. Those relationships lead to the phone call about a new job that the man can fill before its even advertised. Headhunters regularly complain that women won’t take their phone calls. They want to recruit them but can’t. This is often because the woman either feels unready for the role (see above) or because she is happy where she is. That’s fine. Be happy where you are. But find out what the market rate is for your skill set. Take the free opportunity to build relationships with the headhunter who will help you find the next job even if it’s years away. Know your market.

Finally, women, and men, need to build out interests other than work. Life is short. It is important to find fun and balance. Having outside interests also makes you a more interesting person. But it serves in one further way as well. Most people solve big problems at work when they are 1. Not at work. 2. Not working 3. Not trying to solve a work problem 4. Doing something pretty inane like taking a bath or washing the dishes or going for a walk. Therefore, if you want to really excel at work, you must leave bandwidth for your brain and build in time for switching your head off. Men should do this too. But it is possible that women have an advantage here. Men more frequently pin their identity on their work. This makes them slaves to work and prevents them from switching off. Women are less likely to believe that their work role equals their identity. So, they have more freedom to park work at work. This is a gift that not many men have and many others wish they had. Take advantage of it.


Technology-community-feature

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.


female data scientist, woman leading team

The world needs more data scientists

female data scientist, woman leading team

Dr Anya Rumyantseva, Senior Data Scientist at Hitachi Vantara

Data science is often referred to as a ‘dark art’.

As a data scientist myself, I don’t think the field is that mystifying. But for those outside of the profession, there is some lack of awareness of what a data scientist actually does, and what pursuing a career in the field entails.

This can be a real problem – because today, data makes the world go around.

Most companies, regardless of industry, are seeking new ways to leverage the vast amounts of data at their fingertips as a tool to drive efficiencies and transform their business model. But like any tool, data is only useful if it’s in the hands of someone who knows how to use it. It’s easy to forget that digital transformation is as much about people as it is about technology.

The talent deficit 

The UK has been struggling with a skills shortage for some time now. As digital transformation influences every sector, businesses are turning to experts who can help them harness their data. Companies are on the hunt for data engineers, machine learning engineers and data scientists. One study found that in the UK, the demand for people with specialist data skills has more than tripled over the past five years, while another projected the data scientist role will account for 28 per cent of all digital jobs by next year.

It’s a case of supply and demand – but unfortunately, many companies are encountering a sparse talent pool to recruit from. Some estimates even suggest that Europe needs around 346,000 more people trained in data science by 2020. That’s a big gap to fill – and it’s only going to get wider unless the industry takes action.

The data landscape is getting increasingly complex – how much data we’re generating, the types of data and how we’re storing it is changing. To put this in perspective: I’m working on a project right now that uses a petabyte of data. I’m able to work with this huge amount of data because today we have the infrastructure to store it, process it and apply machine learning models. Rewind to the 80s and it would have cost around $600 billion just to store that much data.

Now that we have the tools to work with such large data sets, we’re able to leverage data in exciting new ways. However, this also means we need more people capable of doing so. Considering that IDC forecasts a massive 163 zettabytes of data will be generated by businesses every year by 2025, it’s no wonder UK businesses are worried about a deficit in data specialists.

So, how do we mitigate an impending skills shortage? Well, a good place to start is by changing perceptions of what a data scientist actually is and what they do.

Demystifying the ‘dark arts’

I’ve been a data scientist in Hitachi Vantara’s Solution Engineering team for over two years now. When people ask me what I do, the answer may not be what they expect. My role is to understand the business challenges of our customers, consider potential analytical approaches to solving these challenges and prototype solutions by using advanced analytics, machine learning and deep learning techniques.

In short, I leverage data and mathematical techniques to solve business problems. It’s an exciting field to work in – and can have a significant real-world impact.

As an example, consider the UK rail system. It’s one of the busiest in the world, ferrying thousands of people from point A to B every single day. When you’re a passenger, you probably don’t think about the intricate and nuanced system that keeps your train running. That is, until something goes wrong. Like when a train door gets jammed and is prevented from leaving the station on time. One seemingly minor fault can have a huge knock-on effect further down the line, causing delays and disruption for thousands of passengers.

That’s one real-world problem that I’m trying to help to solve right now. Leveraging data collected from thousands of sensors on the trains themselves and working directly with rail engineers, as a data scientist on the project I bridge the gap between engineering and mathematics, uncovering insights that can drive efficiencies and reduce delays.

Diversity matters

Hopefully now you’ll think of a data scientist as more than just someone who sits behind a computer screen doing equations all day! But the tech sector needs to work hard to build a more inclusive environment where young people – regardless of their background, gender or race – consider data science as an attractive career option.

At Hitachi Vantara, we run a data science internship programme in our London office for talented and intellectually curious young people from diverse backgrounds. Our interns roll up their sleeves and get stuck into analytical projects. They are an important part of the team and their opinions matter. We challenge them to think creatively, asking them to leverage publicly available data to uncover insights into real-world problems – like using data from the Department of Transport to think up new ways to reduce carbon emissions from private and commercial vehicles in the UK. It’s not just a fun thought-experiment – it’s an accurate glimpse into the life of a data scientist.

Data science is a diverse, interesting and constantly evolving field – so it needs people who can think differently, bring new ideas and offer fresh perspectives. If we’re going to tackle the skills shortage, the industry must hold the door open for people from all walks of life.

Anya Rumyantseva, Senior Data Scientist, Hitachi VantaraAbout the author

Anya Rumyantseva is a Senior Data Scientist at Hitachi Vantara. Anya received a Ph.D. degree from the University of Southampton and BS/MS degree in Physics from Lomonosov Moscow State University. Anya is also a fellow of the Nippon Foundation (Japan). Her PhD thesis was focused on using IoT data obtained from marine robotic systems for improving our understanding of phytoplankton blooms and their impact on the global climate. At Hitachi Vantara, Anya is working on projects that use advanced analysis and machine learning techniques to improve business operations in the railway, manufacturing and other industries traditional for Hitachi group. 


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.


empowering junior women in the workplace featured

How to empower junior women within your business

empowering junior women in the workplace

Veronique Barbosa is the Co-Founder and COO of Flux, a digital receipts and rewards platform that lives inside your banking app and is currently partnered with the likes of Just Eat, KFC, itsu, and EAT.

For women in business, it’s no secret that getting ahead can be a challenge (to say the least).

Just one in five of Britain’s six million businesses is run by a woman.

Only 32 per cent of directorships on FTSE 100 boards are held by women.

And across the top ranking companies globally, only 18 per cent have a female leader - a figure that’s barely shifted in the last few years.

When it comes to women working in the technology sector, specifically, it’s the same story - or rather depressingly, a little worse. Currently, just 17 per cent of people working in tech are women.

Clearly, there’s a lot of work to be done, and it’s my firm belief that if we are to tackle and finally overcome the issue of gender equality in the workplace, empowering junior women is a huge part of the puzzle.

In my career to date - both as COO and co-founder of Flux, and prior to that as Head of Partnerships at Revolut - I’ve been lucky enough to have hired and managed many talented and inspirational women. Here are three things I’ve learnt along the way about how best to empower junior women within your business.

Recognising the barriers

It might sound counterintuitive, but the first step to overcoming the barriers for women in business, is to recognise those barriers. It’s the job of managers and senior leaders within business to acknowledge the challenges facing women, and seek to understand them: where do these barriers stem from? How are they perpetrated? How much of the problem is in deep-rooted bias (a sub-conscious preference shown towards male candidates at interview, for instance), and how much is down to practical systems in place within your business (such as flexible working policies or maternity and paternity leave)?

Once you can answer some of these questions - even if only in part - you are one step closer to being able to break down the biases and address the problems.

Champion change

Secondly, communication plays a vital role. When it comes to business leaders and business founders, there is plenty of data to back up the suggestion that women hold themselves back. In a recent All-Party Parliamentary Group survey, female respondents cited social expectations and gender stereotypes as some of the reasons preventing them from applying for a new position or a promotion.

Meanwhile, data from the Young Women’s Trust found that 54% of women aged 18-30 said they lack self-confidence when it comes to applying for jobs, compared to 39% of men.

Empowering junior women in business starts with getting them through the door in the first place, and that means championing the opportunities that are there. It starts in the education system, but doesn’t stop there; young women need to be made aware firstly that the opportunities are available to them, and secondly equipped with the confidence to apply for them.

Mentoring

Finally, I urge all business leaders to consider introducing mentoring initiatives within their business. These needn’t be directed solely at female employees - after all, we can all benefit from some guidance in our career - but what I would say is that these initiatives should be tailored, and accessible to all. For young women who are starting out in their career, there is huge value in having visible female role models, who have trodden a similar path and can share their own experiences of overcoming certain challenges.

Of course, depending on the size of a business, frequent and readily available mentoring isn’t always a possibility, so I also point my team in the direction of the many useful resources available in literature and online. Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In is a book I often turn to, and I’m also a regular listener to the Girl Boss podcast.

I am very thankful for the growing community of women who are committed to lifting each other up. Whatever stage of career we’re at, we can all benefit from seeing and sharing relatable, real-life success stories. We might have a way to go, but we’re making unprecedented progress: let’s celebrate that.


learning, digital experience

How to gain free digital experience before you have a job

learning, digital experience

Article provided by Jo Callwood

Digital marketing and technology is such a rewarding career.

It may be hard to get the first foot in the door, but once you’ve landed that first job, you’ll never look back.

It seems every employer wants experience… but how do you get that experience without actually having a job?

Although women are underrepresented in the tech and digital world, there is a silver lining for a woman striving to enter the field. We’ve reached a time where gender equality is continually hitting the headlines and employers and influencers in the industry want to make a change. With this, comes plenty of opportunities for women to take advantage of when they’re starting out in the digital world.

Whether these opportunities directly link to your desired career or not, taking part in these events or courses gives you plenty to talk about in interviews, provides you with experience in the field and displays your passion for the industry.

Below are some of the best, free courses and events for anyone wanting to start out in a digital career. Some are specifically for women and others, anyone can join.

Codebar.io - a fantastic not-for-profit who provide completely free workshops teaching women how to code.

The sessions are one-on-one with an expert mentor, focusing on either HTML, JavaScript or CSS. The courses are around the country including, London, Brighton, Kent, Peterborough, Cambridge, Edinburgh and many more locations.

Plus, if there isn’t a session locally to you, you can complete the free, online courses here.

This isn’t the only of its kind - check out a comprehensive list of ‘places where girls can learn how to code’ here.

Accenture Digital Skills - Online, free, interactive courses that help to prepare you for getting a job in digital. The courses focus on a variety of skills such as, social media, mobile, digital marketing, user experience, web analytics and more.

Unfold UK - a networking group powering diversity and inclusion in VR, AR and immersive technologies. Whether this is a hobby for you or a potential future career, they offer free dedicated workshops covering a breadth of skills, and exclusive access to conferences and job opportunities.

Sky’s Get Into Tech Initiative - for women with little or no previous experience in tech. This initiative provides a supportive environment for women to learn the necessary skills to start a new career in technology.

Google Digital Garage - Google are helping you to learn some of the most in-demand skills in the industry. You can learn online for free and they cover topics such as, ‘explore how websites work’, ‘create a long term social media plan’, ‘build a strong online strategy’ and more.

Joining any of these initiatives and courses looks fantastic on a CV and really stands out to employers in a competitive job market. It shows passion, a willingness to learn and will really help with answering those interview questions.

Take a look here at even more career tips on how to get into digital marketing from an agency marketing team.


Cloud computing featured

5 must-know job roles in the cloud sector - who do you need on your team?

Cloud computing

When it comes to securing the best people for your organisation, there needs to be considerable thought put into what is needed, which will vary depending on the size of the project.

Working in the cloud sector means employees require knowledge of advancing technologies, what role they play in a company, and the security features and cost involved. But there are also a range of soft skills needed, to run throughout a successful team which should not be overlooked.

To be part of a modern-day workforce in such an industry, staff members need a collaborative approach. They have to be open and embracing to change, understand DevOps, and be willing to upskill to remain relevant in an ever-changing tech arena. Organisations are increasingly working in flatter structures, meaning employees need to perform in an autonomous, agile way.  Adopting the mindset of lifelong learning is useful and people can fine tune through learning on the job – through mentoring, formal training and boosting qualities via cloud specific tooling skills, such as Amazon Web Services Training.

But what does it take to ensure a well-oiled machine operates in the cloud sector in today’s society? Elements covering infrastructure, security, storage, networking, and governance all have to be acknowledged. Rachel McElroy, sales and marketing director for cloud sector and DevOps specialist Cranford Group, underlines the five key roles every business needs, to be a success when using technology.

Product owner

Also known as a ‘project manager’ or ‘cloud project manager’, this person understands the commercial and governance sides of the firm. They’re the all-seeing eye, ensuring the team keeps in-line with the budget, and understands what’s needed – in relation to timings and resources – to complete the project. They usually work with other teams during the sales cycle, so they can outline a project’s delivery, and are adept at constructing high-level plans, delivering reports, and leading meetings. It’s a role which suits customer-facing people who can manage several projects at once, and have excellent communication and written skills.

Cloud architect

Usually an IT specialist, they oversee cloud strategy and are concerned with the design network, and the project’s infrastructure. They understand what the customer wants, and work on the best ways to achieve those needs, with a measured approach. They must possess the technical expertise to understand sysadmin, as well as have software development experience, and a good knowledge of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). It’s a position that’s very hands-on, so needs an innovative thinker, who can lead on cloud efficiency.

Developer

A strong background of specific skills such as streaming analytics, data integration, and knowledge of .NET, Java and AWS or Google Cloud Platform are a must for the strongest developers. They should be able to build cloud-compatible frameworks, evaluate emerging technologies, and ideally have DevOps experience. These kinds of positions suit those with a background in computer technology and often a qualification in computer science, or something related. There are also many soft skills involved, including leadership to plan and co-ordinate projects, an agile mind-set, and ability to adapt to lots of change within the cloud sector.

Security architect or analyst

Another highly important role within a team, this person keeps computer systems safe from cyber-attacks. They also need to translate security features to customers, so must be a strong communicator with stakeholders and colleagues. From a hard skills perspective, this is somebody who understands Windows, Cisco systems, VM (virtual machine) work, and testing, amongst other services. A security architect is likely to hold TOGAF, SABSA or CCP accreditations, and be familiar with cyber-attack pathologies, as well as cloud service models. There might also be a junior architect involved in the team, to support ongoing projects.

Service desk

Fully embraced in being customer-focused, those on the service desk completely understand their company. They have to be knowledgeable, approachable and personable with every side of an organisation’s cloud capacity – from the security aspects to the installation process, data and knowledge of the technology customers require. Strong in problem-solving, this position welcomes trouble-shooters and those with a calm attitude when the pressure is on.

It’s vital that, when putting a team together, each person has a key role to play in the delivery of a successful cloud project. A balance of soft skills and team ethic – alongside relevant qualifications – is crucial. And, those that are willing to upskill and fine tune their experience to keep up with ever-evolving industry trends, can keep an organisation ahead of the curve in a competitive sector.

Rachel McElroy, Sales and Marketing Director, Cascade Group 1About the author

Rachel McElroy is a director at Cranford Group – a cloud resourcing specialist – and passionate about a variety of tech topics including digital disruption, tech skills development, agile working, remote working, women in tech, talent on demand, and DevOps. She is currently penning a white paper which will take a comprehensive look at the effects of technology and cloud adoption on the workplace. Covering topics from AI to diversity, and change management to leadership, such contributors to her research include Microsoft, ServiceNow, Alibaba Cloud, Cloud Industry Forum, AutoTrader, Ensono, Cloud Gateway – to name just a few! An eloquent and well-respected industry commentator, Rachel spoke at Cloud Expo Europe in March 2019 and in February, was appointed as a judge at the UK Cloud Awards 2019.


job-interview-featured

Tips for a successful job interview

job interview

So you’ve secured a job aligning with your professional and personal skills, but you’re not sure how to actively prepare?

We’ve collated effective tips to display further confidence and aiding in a successful job interview.

How to prepare for a job interview

First impressions count

As the old saying goes, first impressions always count. An appropriate outfit should be considered dependent upon the particular sector the job role is in. It’s as inappropriate to turn up in complete formal attire for a creative startup role as it is to wear your dress-downs to a corporate office job interview. Go onto the website of the employer and check their recruitment photos and videos to get an idea of the attire and match it. If you immediately look like you fit in due to your clothing, you’ve ticked one box straight away.

If you’d like to wear makeup, it’s advised to wear lighter daytime makeup. By applying more neutral colours on your eyes and lips this will not distract away from anything you have to say. At the interview, it’s crucial to feel the best and put forward the most confident version of yourself. Act on whatever you feel would be appropriate for the particular role, and staying authentic.

Ensure to bring any documentation with you

If in your invite, it states to bring with you certain documents such as; passport or driver's license, have copies ready, as well as the original in-hand. This will display effective organisation skills and attention to detail upon reading briefs. Be sure to have these neatly organised within a folder, and not loose and stuffed within a large handbag.

If you are being recruited for a more creative or technical role, it could be a good idea to bring along a portfolio of your work. If you’re going to a front-end web developer interview for example, having a GitHub account to show your employer throughout the interview could be a way to really stand out from the crowd, and a chance to talk through previous projects.

Remember to relax

Most people find being interviewed a stressful and anxious experience. Whether you’re feeling nervous during the night, 15 minutes before, or actually in the interview, it is vital to relax. Relaxing can help your true persona to shine through, and your ability to answer interview questions and match your accomplishments will be more effective. Practising relaxation techniques, such as listening to calming music, deep breaths to the count of 10, and focusing on your posture, can all help to increase your confidence levels going into an interview. For a unique tip, before the interview look into a mirror and make yourself as big as possible in an almost bear-like pose. It’s proven to trick your brain into giving you a quick confidence boost. Just ensure to check the bathroom or lift is free before trying this method.

Show enthusiasm

During an interview, the employee hiring would be much more inclined to take a liking to an individual who is actually interested in the business itself. To show that you’re being observant, complement something about the organisation itself, or even the office, as this can be regarded as a huge bonus. This can also set an initial positive tone upon entering the interviewing room. Another way to display your enthusiasm is through your body language throughout the interview. Confidently keep your chest open, with shoulders slightly down and sit slightly forward to show your active engagement in the two-way conversation.

Ready with questions

As the interview draws to an end, it is more than likely that the interviewer will ask if you have any questions. This is the perfect opportunity to find out more about the company, job role, pay, or anything else not covered during the interview. Even if you personally do not need to know the specific answer, this again will show enthusiasm and present your willingness to learn more about the role. Questions could include the following;

  • What is the company culture and the vision?
  • What is the long-term vision for the company?
  • What does the typical work-week look like for a personal in this position?
  • What are the next stages in this interview process?
  • How does teamwork and collaboration work within this team?

After the Interview

As well as first impressions, last impressions also have a longstanding impact. Upon closing the interview be sure to firmly shake the interviewer’s hand, and thank them for their time. Soon after, or the evening of the interview, be sure to follow the interviewer up with an email again. This can again thank them for the opportunity, state how you’d be a great fit for the role and how you’ll look forward to hear from them soon.

Each aspect of this job interview help guide can aid in presenting the ‘true you’ to a potential employers. However, you secured this interview because the organisation is intrigued in finding out more you as a person, and how you would fit into the company. Be confident, on time and polite and the interview will go as well as it can do.

About the author

James Calder is chief executive of Distinct Recruitment, a recruitment agency based in Nottingham, UK, focusing on hiring across the following sectors; finance, human resources, procurement, supply chain, marketing, office support, and web technologies. James founded Distinct in 2014 and the business has now grown to almost 30 employees.


Young asian female chemists with senior caucasian chemist working together in lab, looking into microscope, Women in STEM

Success in STEM and overcoming hurdles – from one woman to another

Article provided by Amy Nelson, Chair of the TCG PC Client Work Group

It is no great secret that women are disproportionately underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

In fact, according to the World Economic Forum, under one third of the world’s researchers are female, and even women that do work in STEM careers are published less frequently and receive less pay than their male counterparts.

But it is vital that we have women working in these fields. The United Nations recognise that science and gender equality are of the utmost importance for the achievement of internationally agreed development goals, yet girls are continuously excluded from participating. What’s more, a study by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) showed that companies that make an effort to diversify their management teams see more innovative products and services, and higher revenue as a result.

The large number of males in STEM careers is something I have witnessed first-hand throughout my career in cybersecurity. This being said, my experiences at Dell and Trusted Computing Group (TCG) have revealed that women are consistently breaking barriers in the technology industry, and gaining well-deserved recognition for doing so! But obviously, there are still hurdles for us to overcome.

The importance of diversity in cybersecurity

 If the last year has shown us anything, it is the importance of the internet for staying connected and allowing us to function through the strangest of times. However, the more we rely on technology, the greater the threat is for interference and attacks, and the more devastating their potential. That is why the importance of cybersecurity is more prevalent than ever, and why diversity lead innovation is vital to the industry right now.

With over 25 years of experience in the field, I have come to understand the layout of the technology landscape well. After undertaking a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Texas Tech University, I landed a job as a Component Engineer at Dell, where I have worked my way up through the company ever since. I am also the inventor or co-inventor of eight patents. I represent Dell within TCG, where I hold several positions including Chair of the TCG’s Technical Committee, and participate in a number of work groups, driving forward cybersecurity within the PC industry.

Alongside my technical contributions across the cybersecurity landscape, I am passionate about promoting technical careers as viable paths for young women. Alongside mentoring women in STEM programmes and technical roles within Dell, I have participated in Dell recruiting events at the Grace Hopper Women in Computing conference, making invaluable connections with the next generation of empowering females in our industry.

How I overcame the hurdles

One of the first questions I was asked by a new mentee related to the corporate culture - what the environment is like, whether people are collaborative or confrontational, whether there will be diversity of opinions? In short, the corporate culture is a difficult place to navigate as a woman.

Women who end up in engineering are talented and can do the work, but sometimes the biggest hurdle is how they progress and influence their career while remaining true to their core personality. There is a certain set of behaviours that are encouraged that women don't typically find a natural fit for, which means we have to work a little harder to earn our space in an arena dominated by men.

I had to find the space to be heard using my soft skills as well as technical knowledge to find that space. In a corporate environment, attributes like creative thinking, resolving conflicts and communication are fundamental, and arguably equal in importance to your specialised skills. Advancement gets progressively more difficult as candidates for promotion are identified by the outcome of self-promotion and open conversations about career goals. In my personal experience and from insights gained from mentoring other women seeking to advance, women engineers have the skills, experience and talent needed but feel uncomfortable with self-promotion and career advancement networking.

TCG provided me with an avenue to learn and develop. To be successful in TCG requires communication skills, being able to verbalize an idea succinctly and coherently is important. I have found other useful skills to be negotiation, networking skills and being able to advocate and sell your proposals. It offered me the ability to observe various communication styles, assess what was effective and what was not, and the opportunity to develop leadership skills by volunteering to co-chair work groups or edit specifications.  Participating in a standards organization has served me well in my career because this type of participation is prized by managers when looking at candidates for advancement.

My advice for women in STEM

 Some of my biggest struggles and experiences have helped me mentor and support other

women in STEM careers. Figuring it out as I went along has allowed me to recognise specific pieces of advice that I can give to young women starting out in this tough industry.

My main piece of advice would be to rely on those women around you; it is important to support each other and find allies when we’re the minority gender in the field. Seek out diverse mentors; there is a lot to learn from others’ experiences, struggles and victories, whether they’re similar or starkly different from your own.

Be confident in your career aspirations, and don’t be afraid to vocalise these. Talking to others about where you hope to be, and what you hope to achieve will open doors for you, as they will make you aware of opportunities to get there and achieve those goals. After all, those in STEM careers are working towards new ways to innovate and advance, every day.

Focus on the skills that each job will offer you to advance in your career. Don’t just consider whether you will like the position but view it in terms of where it will take you. The perfect position doesn’t exist, but each job will provide you with a specific skill set that will aid you in advancing your career.

Lastly, make yourself known to management and others in the organisation. Of course face-to-face meetings have proved difficult over the course of the last year, and while technology has offered us so much, connecting in person will always remain unparalleled. Help quieter voices be heard and get things on the table in a way that people are comfortable with, rather than allowing dominating voices to flood discussions. That’s how diversity, not just in terms of gender, race and age, but in terms of opinions, will lead to meaningful advances and innovation.

Amy NelsonAbout the author

Over the last 25 years, Amy Nelson has built up an extensive repertoire within the IT and cybersecurity space. She represents Dell within the Trusted Computing Group, where Amy holds several positions, including chair of the PC Client Work Group and TCG’s Technical Committee. Alongside her technical experience and contributions, Amy is keen to promote technology as a career for women and has served as a mentor to young women in STEM.


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.


women-in-finance-featured

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