Inspirational Woman: Jung-Kyu McCann | General Counsel, Druva

Jung-Kyu McCannJung-Kyu McCann brings more than 20 years of legal expertise to Druva, having represented public and private companies of all sizes.

She joined Druva from Broadcom, where she served as Associate General Counsel, focusing on corporate matters and strategic transactions.

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

I am a first generation Korean-American - my mother and father are both from South Korea. My mum studied chemical engineering in Korea and immigrated to the United States on a scholarship to the University of Iowa, where she was one of the first women to graduate with a Ph.D. in chemical engineering. My mum has worked as a chemical engineer for as long as I can remember, so I grew up in a family where women were expected to pursue their own successful careers.

I have been a lawyer for more than 20 years, representing public and private companies of all sizes. Before Druva, I focused on corporate matters and strategic transactions at Broadcom, including its attempted hostile takeover of Qualcomm and CA Technologies acquisition. I also spent time at Apple, focusing on corporate finance and treasury matters and building its corporate governance framework. I started my legal career with more than a decade at Shearman & Sterling in New York and California.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

From a young age, I knew I would either go to law school or medical school. Even though both of my parents are chemical engineers, I knew I would not pursue that path. After growing up mixing foul-smelling thick liquids in my bathtub, while my mum discussed viscosity and pH levels, I knew chemical engineering was not for me. Law school served as my default choice since I was also squeamish around blood (still am today). My oldest brother also went to law school and I always looked up to him, so my path was pretty clear.

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

A law firm is a very fast moving, competitive environment, full of ambitious motivated people. I had three children while working at the law firm, and each time I returned to work, I felt a sense of surprise (especially after my third child) as partners assumed that I was no longer committed to long days, late nights and long-term constant travel. I started to realise that I was being sidelined from the high profile (aka more desirable) projects that often lead to more visibility, career progression and promotions.

After years of moving up the ladder, it felt like I had to prove myself all over again each time I returned from maternity leave. I had to work harder and longer than my peers to prove I was still very much interested in my own career progression and being part of the competitive law firm environment.

The reality is this is still the case for many women, not only in law firms but in tech companies too.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I’ve been blessed with opportunities to work on deals that make headlines and cover stories in the newspapers. However, my most rewarding achievement is building relationships that last a lifetime. Over the years, I have built teams that eventually move on to other jobs, but then seek to work together again in the same place . These people are very capable and have achieved success in their careers, and yet they continue to want to work together. The collaboration and camaraderie - that feeling of choosing the people you want to be in a fox hole with - without a doubt it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but also the thing I’m most proud of.

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

The ability to build genuine lasting relationships. That includes the senior executives who have mentored me, and the junior colleagues I’ve had the opportunity to mentor. Spending time and effort nurturing relationships has had a huge impact on my career - these people recommended me for new jobs and vouched for my character and integrity. As I became more senior, my credentials and technical skills were largely assumed. I’ve found that companies focus on “cultural fit” and that is when your network - the people you’ve spent years with nurturing relationships - support you, often leading to new opportunities.

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

Firstly, find your passion - what technology are you most passionate about? Next, find a role that gives you an opportunity to learn and grow, including a well-respected manager who will give you opportunities to learn new things within a supportive team. But don’t depend entirely on others to learn. Dedicate time to learning on your own, because business moves quickly and technologies evolve constantly. If you show initiative, that you can lead a project and run with it, then you’ll find more opportunities coming your way.

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

The biggest barrier to success for women in tech is the lack of women in tech. Companies can expand where they are looking for talent and hire more women into technical roles. There is a plethora of organisations that support diverse female candidates for technical and non-technical roles in tech companies, such as Grace Hopper and various Women in Tech initiatives. Companies can also encourage their female employees to form affinity groups that can sponsor outside speakers or create other initiatives that facilitate the recruitment, development and retention of women at their organisations.

It is also important for companies to support STEM programmes in schools, such as Girls Who Code, in order to create a robust pipeline of women who are passionate about technology and see themselves succeeding in tech companies.

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

Companies can offer opportunities for their employees to have more direct interaction with senior leadership. For example, a few senior leaders may offer to have a small group lunch once a month with female employees. I think supporting women in tech involves men and women - that is what I see at Druva. Companies can bring various speakers (male and female) to talk about their careers in tech, particularly speakers that may have faced challenges or taken non-traditional career paths.

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

I think it’s very interesting to consider instituting something like the “Rooney Rule”. The Rooney Rule is a National Football League (American football) policy that requires league teams to interview at least one ethnic-minority candidate for head coaching and senior football operation jobs. I don’t like the idea of hiring quotas, because I think it comes with an assumption that candidates are less qualified, but the Rooney Rule gives individuals an opportunity - a foot in the door. It’s then up to each individual to prove themself and earn the position.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Creativity Inc. by Amy Wallace and Edwin Catmull - my favorite book on leadership because it emphasises that everyone is always learning and should be open to feedback from all levels.

The Innovators by Walter Isaacson - this book reminds me that it is more fun when success is not guaranteed. It is more rewarding when we are forced to take chances, live with the consequences, and move forward.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi - if we could all live and die as gracefully as he did. . .

I don’t really listen to podcasts. I am surrounded by words, talking and listening, all day. When I’m driving, I usually enjoy silence.


Rebecca Saw featured

Inspirational Woman: Rebecca Saw | Freelance Developer & XR Designer

Rebecca SawRebecca is looking to create never-before-seen interactive story-telling that will mix linear television and gaming to provide viewers with a dynamic blended reality. 

She recently worked on Traitor, a VR-live theatre thriller that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.

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

I’m a freelance developer - I code Virtual Reality experiences as well as Android and iOS apps.

With the Sky Women in Tech Scholarship I’m creating a proof of concept for a piece of Interactive Television. I’m using emerging technology to create a new form of storytelling, that encourages rewatchability, increases engagement and sparks discussion after viewing.

Without revealing too much, it’s a piece that the viewer watches on their TV, interacting with their remote control. It’s not ‘Choose A or B’, instead it’s something which is designed to feel a lot more natural to the traditional TV viewing experience.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Not really! Once I knew I wanted to create a piece of interactive television, I wrote a list of steps to get the project funded, things like getting advice on the project and researching funding opportunities. The Sky Scholarship was actually the first funding opportunity I applied to!

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

I’ve struggled with imposter syndrome. One of my first jobs after uni was in an office where everyone was male and older than me. It felt like what I was working on was easy compared to what they were doing. I found the best way to overcome imposter syndrome is to talk about it - those negative thoughts lose a lot of their power when you take them out of your brain and can see them for what they are.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I was the Assistant Developer on Traitor VR - a live theatre, mixed reality escape room by Pilot Theatre. We took the piece to the Tribeca Film Festival in 2019 which was a fantastic experience - I was very fortunate to work on such an exciting project, and with a brilliant team that I learned a lot from.

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

I’ve got a really clear vision for what I want my project to be. I genuinely believe that storytelling will adapt with new technology in a dramatic way in the next ten years, and I want to be one of the people carving that path.

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

Be bold, and think bigger! It’s great to have loads of ideas, but pursue the one you can’t go a day without thinking about.

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

There can be barriers, but I think generally now is a great time to be a woman in tech. Mentorship and role models are great ways to support women starting out in the tech sector.

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

There’s loads of companies that do this really well. Mentorships schemes where younger women can learn from people of all genders in senior roles can be incredibly valuable. Encouraging creativity and development opportunities is also great for everyone.

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

Media representation of the tech industry tends to be skewed very young, white and male. I’d love to see more TV shows or other media showing a more diverse range of people represented.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Code First: Girls do great work in increasing the number of women in tech. They offer free coding lessons for women and non-binary people at Universities across the UK. If you’re already in tech, they have a range of volunteering roles which is a great way to support other women and build a network of contacts.


Joanne Storey featured

Inspirational Woman: Joanne Storey | Research and Development Lead, James Cropper

Joanne Storey

I’m a 29-year-old scientist working as programme leader for the research and development team at James Cropper.

James Cropper is a 175-year-old prestige papermaker based in England’s Lake District. I actually grew up in the Lake District, so feel very lucky to be working in a rewarding job, right near home.

I’ve worked at James Cropper for almost four years, first starting as a technical graduate and now leading the research and development team. It’s hard to describe what we do in just a few words as our day-to-day tasks can be really varied, but to put it simply; we research, innovate and create beautiful paper and packaging solutions with sustainability a cornerstone of everything we do.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I never sat down to plan out my career, but I knew university wasn’t for me. I did, however, want to further my education and develop the problem-solving skills I had enjoyed nurturing in chemistry and mathematics during my A-Levels.

With this in mind, at the age of 18, I undertook a science apprenticeship through distance learning while working full-time in a research and development (R&D) laboratory within the energy sector. This meant that from very early on in my career, I was gaining practical knowledge while learning and earning a wage.

Once I had established myself in the field of R&D, I was asked to become an assessor for future apprentices. I really enjoyed teaching and watching others progress by sharing advice based on my own experiences.

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

After seven years in the energy sector, I felt that I needed a change. One of the challenges at this point in my career was not having a mentor – I definitely think I could have benefitted from some guidance during this period. I’ve learned that mentors are hard to come by, let alone those who have spare time to give thorough advice!

Thankfully, I made the decision to move into further education, teaching applied chemistry at Furness College in Barrow-in-Furness, which has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my career so far.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

My biggest career achievement to date has been earning my current role at James Cropper as R&D programme leader.

Having worked in R&D for over 10 years, I’m now leading a programme of projects that directly contributes to the future success of the business. That’s always a good feeling! My role is to help maintain the company’s position as experts in fibre and colour; constantly driving to innovate beautiful, sustainable solutions for paper.

I’m also enjoying supervising our two graduates in James Cropper’s technical department, who are in the midst of a research project looking at the global sustainability movement and effects and challenges for the paper industry. Guiding the graduates through this research project has been really rewarding.

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

Having grown up on a working farm in the Lake District, my work ethic has been engrained in me since I was very young. A thirst for knowledge combined with my practical problem-solving nature has really helped me in my career progression.

For example, at James Cropper, we are constantly on the lookout for new technologies and innovations that can help provide environmentally responsible solutions. This requires a lot of patience as well as a love for learning and problem-solving.

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

I would encourage anyone who wants to work in technology to explore all entry points. University is not the only option; there are apprenticeships available at various levels in varying sectors, and it’s just a case of exploring what’s out there.

For me personally, I felt that going down the apprenticeship route and continuing further education in the workplace suited my character, learning style and personality. By looking at the opportunities available and pairing these with your unique skillset, you will find a role that you can excel in.

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

One of the barriers which I think is hindering young women from entering the tech industry is a lack of visible female role models.

It’s so important for young women to see female leaders in this industry who are driving change and having their achievements shouted about. If we can make our voices louder and highlight these women, we could make a real difference and inspire the future generation of women in tech.

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

To support their female staff, companies should strive to have role models at every level who can share their experiences and support team members. I think that leading by example and making positive changes for the future generation is key, while also providing mentors and coaches to encourage everyone to reach their full potential in the workplace.

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

If I could wave a magic wand, I would eliminate any preconceived ideas of what the skillset of women is limited to.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech, e.g. Podcasts, networking events, books, conferences, websites etc.?

Having a supportive network around you is crucial. Luckily for us, with social networking sites such as LinkedIn, we have access to likeminded professionals around the globe, at our fingertips. My advice is to utilise the networking functions on these sites; connect with others, share stories, shout about the achievements of others. Build others up and they will do the same for you.


Colleen Wong featured

Inspirational Woman: Colleen Wong | Founder, My Gator Watch

Colleen WongWith no technical experience Colleen set-up the successful My Gator Watch for children and seniors.

Now, the inspirational mother of two plans to evolve the product from a tracker for kids, to a wearable mobile device for seniors that can track location and detect falls, to help the elderly maintain independence

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

My idea for My Gator Watch came to me almost four years ago when I was with my two babies, then aged 4 months and 18 months old. I saw a fellow mum running around looking for her young child and my first thought was ‘how can we be more connected to our younger children so we don’t lose their minds.’ A few weeks later, Techsixtyfour was born.

My Gator Watch is a mobile phone and GPS/WIFI tracker made for children between the ages of 5-11. It does not have access to the Internet, social media or games. The watch is designed to offer peace of mind to parents who have a child too young for a smartphone but old enough to want some independence. My Gator Watch is pre-installed with a sim, mic and speaker and can be used almost anywhere in the world.

I raised £200k in July 2017 through crowdfunding which allowed me to build a team and focus on marketing. I now have a team of 13 flexible working staff, most of whom are mums of young children. I strongly believe in the flexible work culture because so many mums and dads just want to put their children first but can’t or feel guilty doing it. I tell my team to put their family and health above work and the productivity is the best I have ever seen. I hope to build the first technology brand which hires only flexible working staff.

I have now put together a world class team to build a wearable for the ageing and dementia market. We are building Freedom G, a wearable tracker and mobile phone that has the world’s most accurate location tracking (sub 1m) both indoors and outdoors. We have focused on making it extremely simple, useful and affordable.

We have listened to hundreds of people tell their stories about living with dementia and we believe we have a revolutionary solution that can track, protect and communicate with our loved ones while giving us peace of mind.

Before starting Techsixtyfour, I was a stay at home mum for 18 months (hardest job in the world) and before that, I was a VP in sales in investment banking.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No. I never ‘planned’ a career in technology. I just had an idea which could solve a big problem amongst parents. I took everything day by day. I do plan the business strategy in advance now but I am always agile and ready to pivot and adapt accordingly.

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

Every day is a challenge. I overcome challenges by talking to others who can share a different perspective. I learn a lot about the issue which is challenging me and find a way to ‘beat it’ and I also go to the gym a lot. It clears my head which makes me approach challenges with a clearer mind.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Building my team. I have built a team of flexible working staff and each and every one are passionate and dedicated about the journey we are all on together. The culture I have created is family and health first, then work and this has proven to be extremely productive.

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

I have built some incredible relationships with people through simply just being honest, confident and supportive.

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

Listen and learn from people who know more than you. Be humble. Have some fun! Being serious and focused all the time doesn’t build long lasting relationships!

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

I personally think barriers are only there because of the lack of knowledge which leads to lack of confidence. The more you can learn and understand, the lower the barriers will become.

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

Offer courses not just in technology but in other subject areas such as finance and marketing as it is important to always see the bigger picture in anything that we do. I also think that companies should be supportive of women who need a career break to have children and who want to return with a flexible role. When a working mother can put her children first without feeling guilty, this leads to productivity and loyalty.

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

I would use my magic wand to make more TV shows which show women doing amazing things in technology and not just programmers or computer scientists but roles which people can relate to which involve technology. I would also use the same wand to remove reality shows as I find a lot of those shows don't encourage young women in positive ways.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I am a big fan of networking events as I love talking to people and learning from them. I think building long lasting relationships is key to success and so any resources that allows you to meet new and amazing people


Louisa Hodges featured

Inspirational Woman: Louisa Hodges | Business Relationship Manager, Companies House

Louisa Hodges Louisa Hodges is Business Relationship Manager at Companies House, the register of limited companies in the UK.

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

My current role is Business Relationship Manager at Companies House. I provide a link between IT Services and the business, particularly our customer facing teams. Prior to this I was the Release Manager and have spent the last 16 years working in various IT Support teams.

Companies House takes a very forward-thinking approach to how we design and deliver our services. It’s about focusing on the outcome our users need - to be able to register and operate their businesses in compliance with the law as easily as possible. Whatever we can do to make that happen is important and as a digital function, we’re empowered to challenge the way things are done and to use our knowledge and skills to change things for the better - for us and for our customers.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No, I left school after my GCSEs and became a Youth Training Scheme (YTS) apprentice at Cardiff Job Centre. My first role in tech was at the age of 18 as a trainee developer for Principality Building Society. I stayed there for three years then took a year out to travel. After returning home (and various temporary admin jobs) I found myself working as a document examiner at Companies House. 12 months later there was an opportunity to apply for a trainee post in IT Support, I got the job and my career has progressed from there.

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

The biggest challenge I’ve faced throughout my career has been my lack of confidence and self-belief. It’s getting better, but it’s something I have to work on to keep pushing myself forward. Fortunately, Companies House employs some great women in senior positions who help other team members to navigate ‘imposter syndrome’. We’re encouraged to embrace failure which helps to remove the stigma around it.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Each time I’ve been promoted I’ve felt a huge sense of achievement. My most recent promotion has made me part of the senior leadership team in my area. As currently the only woman in a team of 10 I feel proud that I’m in some way readdressing the gender balance and hopefully proving to other women that they can do the same. Diversity within teams is something that Companies House is actively promoting. Across the business, over 50% of senior roles are held by women, and we always make sure we employ people based on their skills, not gender. We’re also always looking at ways to address the balance, and how we can support this kind of work.

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

Five years ago my circumstances changed and I found myself as a single mum with two young children and limited family support. From that point being successful in work mattered even more, I needed to prove to my children that a woman didn’t need a man to succeed either at work or at home. It gave me the drive and determination to be the best I could be, to enable my progression and be a role model for my boys. I’ve also been lucky enough to work for and with colleagues who have supported and encouraged me at each stage in my career.

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

Do what you enjoy and find where your strengths lie. A career in technology isn’t just about coding, it’s about the people, problem solving and creative thinking. Explore as many areas as you can to find which is the best fit for you and where you can excel.

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

I’m sure there are, although I’m fortunate enough not to have come across any in my own career at Companies House. For women that do face these barriers, look to other women for support and mentorship, believe in yourself and aim high.

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

Normalise part time working and make more senior roles available as part time or a job share. Companies need to accept that women often have other commitments outside of the office but that doesn’t mean they are any less capable of carrying out their job.

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

You need to see something to believe it. If there are very few women working in an area, particularly at higher grades, it’s hard to imagine yourself in that position. Companies need to have a strategy in place for encouraging more women to apply for roles within IT, for keeping hold of those individuals and helping them develop their careers which in turn encourages other women to do the same. At Companies House 30% of our digital team is female – this is a great step towards supporting change in the industry, and something that we’re truly passionate about.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Attend conferences and networking events, it’s inspiring to listen to the stories of other women in the industry, the challenges they’ve faced and how they’ve overcome them. Also take advantage of any mentoring schemes that your company may offer. If nothing formal is in place approach a colleague you admire and ask if you can set up some informal mentoring.


Olga Kravchenko featured

Inspirational Woman: Olga Kravchenko | CEO & Co-Founder, Musemio

Olga KravchenkoOlga’s VR App Musemio transforms the way children experience culture by using engaging VR elements to educate.

She now plans to develop the app so that parents and families can track how their children are learning, whilst also continuing to help cultural institutions improve how they interact with younger digital generations

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

I am CEO and co-founder of Musemio, a VR edtech platform that brings culture to life for children. We create educational games based on cultural concepts and museums around the world to open up children’s imagination. Our next biggest project coming right after International Women’s Day is an international museum partnership that will help children to get excited about technology and coding all powered by culture and history. Our newest product that is selling internationally is a unique AR/VR book “The Case of the Missing Cleopatra” that allows children to deepen their knowledge in Egyptian history and develop 21st century curriculum skills at the same time.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No, but I was always encouraged by my parents to explore any crazy ideas that would come to my head of what could be my passion in life - from being an actress to running a VR startup.

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

As a young woman in technology, people have been very encouraging and supportive of my initiative, while at the same time, some people have not taken me seriously enough to want to do business with me. I believe this is a persistent unconscious bias that exists in business relationships, but I just keep going and find people along the way that see me as s professional and help me to get to the next step in my entrepreneurial journey.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Launching the Dino Learning Pack, this is an educational box that expands and it bridges physical and digital learning. We’ve seen a huge spike in users on our app on Christmas Day.

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

Support from people around me. From my universities, both Queen Mary and King’s College London, who provided me with free business education as well as my first funding to prove the idea to initiatives like Sky that helped me to believe in myself and actually turn the concept into a business.

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

Don’t be afraid to try and believe that you are capable of delivering on a big vision. Follow your passion, find people that achieved what you want to achieve in 2-5 years time, and try to make them your ‘secret’ mentor’. ‘Secret mentor’ is an individual you look up to and who can help you with practical advice on how to get from point A to B.

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

We live in the best time for women to realise their potential and there is a huge amount of support available to kickstart careers both in technology and entrepreneurship. However, unconscious bias is still an issue that stops our society from becoming its best version of itself – a safe and equal space for everyone. Also, we need to take intersectionality into consideration when speaking about equal access and barriers and think critically whether we are really creating equal opportunities for all.

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

I think that there is a lot of talk about diversity in the workplace and tackling gender bias, but not many actions are being taken in reality. Companies should stop just talking about it being a safe place, but put the actionable steps to actually make it inclusive. This would encourage more women to get into the tech sector which is still very male-dominated and can seem intimidating, especially for young women.

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

Stop parents from calling their daughters bossy when they assertive and show leadership at a young age. It seems irrelevant, but those early years really shape us and our perception of our self-worth. Technology has the power to change the world and I wish young girls were encouraged to think seriously (but in a playful way) about how they can contribute to this world when they grow up.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

  • com
  • Femstreet
  • Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men
  • LikeMindedFemales

Inspirational Woman: Melissa McBride | CEO & Founder, Sophia

Melissa McBrideMelissa McBride is a mum of three and has 16+ years' experience as a teacher.

She’s held various senior roles in London, Canada and the Middle East and became one of the youngest headteachers in the country (at age 29!). After a ‘Sunday morning crisis moment’ over the Maths homework of her own daughter, she left her successful career and set up her own business.  She is the founder of an Edtech app Sophia has been recently featured on Channel 5.

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

CEO and Edtech startup Founder of the UK’s first on-demand App for Private Tuition, Sophia.app. Mom of three!  Doing my best to wear a cap and tiara at the same time.

Canadian Trained Teacher - came to the UK in 2005 to teach.  Joined Thomas’s Battersea in 2006 where I developed my teaching career as a teacher, Head of Department and Head of Year.  In 2012 I was appointed to my first Headship as Founding Head of SW London Independent School and went on to open as Founding Head of Primary a British International School in Dubai. In 2016 I supported the opening of King’s College, Doha before returning to the UK to work as Project Advisor to the CEO of a Global Schools Group and leading a 6m pound expansion project as Headteacher for one of the Group’s Independent Schools.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Full disclosure - I never wanted to go into education. At least not during the years leading up to and including my undergraduate degree at University. My mom constantly told me that I would be a great teacher and I told her constantly I'd never go into Education. But I’ve always been an ambitious, ‘what’s next’ person.  Even in my high school days, I worked as a coach and leading was what I was good at. Leadership and team development have become my special skills and I attribute much of my success in my career to building excellent teams.  I can’t say I’ve ever planned out my career, and I certainly would never have seen myself as a Co-Founder and CEO of an EdTech company, but I’m a big believer in ongoing learning and seeking new challenges in order to grow.

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

From wrong turns, U-turns and searching for new routes - all of these experiences have shaped my career.  I try not to look at challenges as a failure, more as opportunities for learning.   I’m a big believer that everything happens for a reason and if you have a creative positive mindset and surround yourself with a great team, any challenges can be overcome.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I’ve been fortunate enough to feel like I have had many achievements.  Being appointed as one of the youngest Independent founding Headteachers in the UK when I was 29 and taking that school to ‘Outstanding' in our first inspection was one of the highlights in Education.  CoFounding an EdTech startup has been another exciting journey.  To lead from the front and bring best practice in safer recruitment in Education to an unregulated private tuition market is fast-paced, challenging and exciting. Seeing the first client book our services and receiving the excellent feedback on tuition sessions  has been a huge highlight after more than 18 months of hard work to make it happen.

’Safety of children’, a topic which seems to be everywhere, yet nobody had thought about the lack of regulations in the private tuition sector. This is something which Sophia, your brainchild, aims to change. How did the light bulb moment come? 

The idea for Sophia actually came one Sunday morning when I was sat at the breakfast table trying to help my daughter with her Year 5 Maths homework. You would think that my background in education would have put me in good stead but the reality is you don’t fully understand the stress and pressure that is put on our children until you experience it first hand with them. Needless to say that particular incident ended in a tantrum and tears (mine and hers) as I was not able to ‘teach her in the way she understood’.

So as with many people, the best ideas to start your own business come from your own personal struggles. What did concern me when I began to investigate private tutors was the lack of regulation. I realised that this sector lacked the Safer Recruitment Process used in schools. Therefore a private tutor working 1:1 with children in their own homes does not need to be suitably qualified or verified with professional references!

So my main aim with Sophia was to deliver the regulations that we expect in our education services replicated in the private tuition sector: Enhanced DBS Checks and Insurance (Public Liability and Professional Indemnity).

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

My ability to develop great teams.  Leading from the front, making people feel valued and developing their skill sets.  I always attribute my success to the hard work and involvement of the people who have worked alongside me to make our vision a reality.  Strong leaders are those who can mobile their team and build trust.

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

My top advice would be to be open to learning, ask questions, admit when you don’t understand and never be afraid to ask for help.  Be willing to be a lifelong learner and don’t be afraid to get into the weeds to develop your understanding of unknown tech areas.   You don’t need to be an expert, but it helps to have an understanding of the concepts or flow of your design strategy.  Do your research and take your time when making tech appointments; if you get it wrong, own up to it, but take a decisive call and then find the person you need in order to be successful.

Also, being agile is extremely important. What’s exciting about technology is how fast-paced it is and you need to be constantly adjusting to the current climate and market demands. Say for example now, with everything happening around Covid-19, many children, students and parents are looking for ways to minimise disruption in their education and reduce stress from future assessments. Sophia has now launched 1-1 online tuition for clients in London and the wider UK. This wasn’t our initial plan at all, but we’ve identified the need and had to adapt quickly.

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

I think there is always room for talented people; male or female.  Tech requires you to wear many hats, draw loosely and plan widely.  Women are often experts at multitasking and managing multiple relationships required in tech.  I think we are well-suited to this industry and now that the door has been opened, it’s up to us to go through it and change the dialogue of gender equality in tech.

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

So many groups are setting on diversity and gender groups - it’s not about just women in tech, it’s about all minority groups being represented. Starting at the school level, companies can begin to change the narrative amongst children and students regarding opportunities for girls and boys in tech. Breaking gender stereotypes is an opportunity to provide role models and guidance on career opportunities in tech fields.

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

Provide more opportunities for girls to be introduced to tech from a young age.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Networking events are great, but it’s hard to beat great books which outline the experience of fellow women in the industry.  Join a blog, follow LinkedIn pages of tech women in tech.


Inspirational Woman: Katie Jansen | Chief Marketing Officer, AppLovin

Katie Jansen

Katie Jansen is Chief Marketing Officer at AppLovin. AppLovin gives mobile game developers of all sizes the ability to publish, market, and grow their businesses.

Katie joined AppLovin in 2012 and has since been named by Business Insider as one of the most powerful women in mobile advertising. She was previously Vice President of Marketing at PlayFirst, a mobile gaming publisher acquired by Glu in May of 2014. Katie is an advocate for women in tech and workplace equality. She serves as a marketing advisor to organizations including Women 2.0 and Women in Wireless, and mentors women in technology.

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

I’m Katie Jansen, Chief Marketing Officer at AppLovin, a mobile games company that fuels many of the world’s most popular mobile games and game studios. I have been at AppLovin for more than seven years, and I oversee the marketing and creative services team. Since I’ve been here for so long (AppLovin is only 8 years old!), I have seen and helped drive a lot of positive growth within the company. In addition to the teams I run, I’ve also been fortunate enough to help establish AppLovin Cares — a group of employees across all our offices committed to giving back to the community through volunteer hours and donations.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Nope. While I did take time to consider my next moves, I never had a master plan. I found that by working on what I was passionate about, finding great companies and people to work with, and taking time to network and consider my next leap, good opportunities usually popped up. Early on, I started in biotech because it interested me, and then I made a move to online games. Obviously, that’s not a typical transition, but this was 2009 and social games like Farmville had just taken off. I found the convergence of players to this new platform and all that marketing could do with it fascinating. Very quickly that led to mobile games taking off, and now I can geek out on how mobile is driving an economy that didn’t even exist when I first started out 15 years ago. As a marketer, mobile is perfect for me because it moves and evolves to provide so many opportunities to connect with consumers, and my team and I can constantly be thinking about the next best way to engage.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way? And if so, how did you overcome them?

Every job has its challenges. I’ve grown over time not to consider challenges as obstacles, but rather as learning opportunities. One easy example is AppLovin’s accelerated growth — this  always made for interesting changes along the way. I was the first in marketing and now I run marketing and creative services, a team of over fifty people. Determining the best way to grow these teams in a way that contributes to our hyper growth was not always easy or obvious, but it’s allowed us to build a very efficient, skilled and outstanding team who have delivered outstanding results.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

My greatest achievement has definitely been growing the team at AppLovin into the successful marketing and creative services engines that are humming along today. Many of my team members I have today have been with me since the very beginning and it’s a real blessing to not only work with them, but see their growth along the way. I count success here as having the confidence to let these teams get on with the day-to-day and let them take a first stab at solving challenges and overcoming obstacles.

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

My success is directly correlated to the overall success of my team, the managers I’ve had during my career and my peers. My ability to surround myself with a nimble team that is efficient and effective at their jobs has helped me grow the team and the business at AppLovin. At AppLovin every executive is a “working” executive. We are involved in larger business decisions and dive deep on product, design and marketing campaigns. I work to not only lead the team but really be a part of it.

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

Tech is a constantly shifting space, and companies are always pivoting and looking to make a big splash in their respective industries. Be ready to bring new ideas to the table, and be okay dropping a project to pick up something else as a backup. A sense of urgency that isn’t overwhelming is key. And, with a lot of smart people in a room comes a lot of options. Don’t be afraid to take and give constructive feedback. A mentality I always look for when hiring is that hunger to grow and learn. I want to make sure that my team is always looking to iterate and improve on what they last completed.

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

The technology industry has come a long way — even during my relatively short career in this space. This is evident from top to bottom — we have more female leaders now than ever before, and young grads entering into the tech world have less barriers. However, we still have a long way to go. Continuing to give women opportunities to grow their careers and learn from leading are guidelines I like to infuse into the AppLovin culture. This is why I helped found an internal group for women at AppLovin. This group specifically focuses on introducing our employees (mostly female join, but anyone is welcome) to businesses founded or run by women. We’ve had the founder of popular clothing brands, the CEO of a franchised spin studio, and various female technology CEOs come share their story and answer questions about their journey.

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

Offering women and men equal pay is an essential place to start. As is continuing to remove bias in the hiring and promotion process. While representation of women at board level is improving, there is still a lot of work to be done. Ultimately, women need to support other women. Women need to find more ways to engage, help and mentor other women in our industry, and help pave the way for growth. Companies should also try and offer networking opportunities geared toward women gathering and sharing advice and increased education and workshops — whether in the organization or via outside resources.

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

I’d like to see more companies increase adding more women on their boards. Transparency can only help shine the spotlight on how companies can really improve. In 15+ years I am still seeing few changes made toward leveling the gender disparities represented at the board level. Equilar looked at the 3,000 largest U.S. publicly traded companies, and only about one in five board members are women. One in ten had no female representation at all. As an individual, I think there are small actions that business leaders can take that will net a big impact. Whether it’s offering to be a mentor, thinking beyond the traditional means of hiring at entry level, or going into schools to educate the future workforce on your industry and the potential career opportunities.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I read a lot — my favorite books for women working in tech would include The Moment of Lift (Melinda Gates), Dare to Lead (Brene Brown), and Because Internet (Gretchen McCulloch). When I’m in the car, I listen to a range of podcasts but for industry-related content like This Week in Startups or Mission Marketing Trends. When it comes to inspiring others, I recommend the Girl Geek X events, because of its global reach and accessibility.


Inspirational Woman: Patricia Keating | Executive Director, Tech Manchester

Patricia KeatingPatricia Keating heads up Tech Manchester, a non-profit organisation funded by British hosting firm UKFast, which supports early-stage technology companies and is the internal lead on Diversity and Inclusion within UKFast.

Tech Manchester provides tech-focussed businesses with a host of support initiatives including intensive educational workshops, a structured mentor programme, PR and comm’s support and soon a media centre and workspace incubator space through UKFast.

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

I am currently the director of Tech Manchester, an incubator for early stage tech startups in the North West. We deliver a full programme to support new businesses. This includes a mentoring programme and a full programme of workshops and events. I host FastForward, a weekly podcast which offers tips and advice to early-stage tech founders and focuses on telling the real stories of what it’s like to start and grow a business. Tech Manchester also delivers social mobility career programmes for women through Tech Equity.

Although my current role is all about helping the North West tech scene to thrive, I am a relative newcomer to the tech industry. I didn’t do any digital qualifications at school and left university with a degree in sport science. In 2017, I was offered the opportunity to head up the Tech Manchester programme. The timing was perfect; I had just made the decision to close the concierge business I was running. I packed my bags in Belfast, made the move to Manchester and hit the ground running.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Despite leaving university with a degree in sport science, I realised that I had no intention of using it vocationally. Instead I started working in a sales role and fell in love with it. At that time in my life there was no grand career plan. Until my mid-thirties I only ever looked three to five years ahead. For me, it was about acquiring the skills and learning best practice for what I was doing, whether that was searching out the best sales training course, which I found by flicking through the Yellow Pages, or investing in my leadership and management skills. As long was learning and developing it didn’t really matter what industry I was working in.

Now I have I have a longer-term vision for the future, but the principles remain the same. My 18-year plan is to achieve a non-executive portfolio by the time I am 60 years old to allow me to leave full-time employment and blend a mix of paid and pro bono part-time roles. I am currently working on gaining the appropriate skills and financially planning to allow me to achieve my goals.

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

Facing redundancy three times the first five years in the corporate team at Regus brought challenges. The destabilisation of my financial security was extremely difficult. If you have been through redundancy you know that feeling. On the third redundancy round I lost my position and to make matters even worse, on the very same day my then husband was also made redundant.

These events pushed me sideways. I applied for an immediate role within Regus to manage the business centres in Northern Ireland. I secured the role, however, it came with new challenges of managing under-performing teams and assets. I had no experience of how to positively manage or coach a team that wasn’t meeting its job requirements and I was given no support or training. I was left to figure it out on my own and what resulted taught me a valuable lesson.

My vast lack of knowledge in this area saw me accused of bullying and as a result I lost team members. I quickly realised if I wanted to be a good manager, I would need to improve my leadership abilities. I embarked on my leadership journey with the Chartered Management Institute and the Institute of Directors. I went on to I build a new and happy team and 18 months later the business centres were turning over a profit.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Without doubt it has to be the Tech Manchester programme.  The opportunity to have such a value-driven role and the resources made available to me by UKFast allow us to do some incredible things. In three years, we have supported 500 companies through almost 100 events and workshops. We have trained 200 mentors and created 190 mentor partnerships. Tech Manchester now has the largest mentoring programme for tech businesses in the North West. It’s also incredible to see the reins of all our programmes and initiatives now firmly in the hands of my colleague Nicola Ellis. I recruited her in May 2018 and it’s wonderful to see how she has grown and developed both professionally and personally.

Handing over much of the day-to-day responsibility of running Tech Manchester has allowed me to invest time into helping women to qualify as Linux administrators. 18 women have been given a £9000 training opportunity with guaranteed job interviews with UKFast on completion of the course. These women are from some of the most under privileged wards in Greater Manchester, three quarters of them are from an ethnic minority background for some English is their second language. The part-time course is wrapped with holistic professional and personal skills development and pastoral care to prepare the participants  enter the digital workforce for the first time. You can read about their progress in my blog. Seeing their growth in the face of the challenges life has thrown their way is so inspirational.

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

People often ask what barriers I have experienced being a woman in business/technology. I have never seen things that way, a view that I believe has comes from my parents.

Life was tough when I was young. My dad, a mechanic, was diagnosed with debilitating back injuries and was unable to work. At the time there were eight children between the ages of five and sixteen years old. As a family of ten we all lived in a three-bedroom cottage, but with eight women in the household you could say it was a matriarchy!

There were extreme challenges: living on the poverty line, on benefits, using food banks, and multiple borderline house repossessions. But I had resourceful parents, who created what we would now call ‘clean eating’. We had a cottage garden with all the vegetables and fruits you could imagine and a ready-made mini workforce to cultivate it. Valuable lessons learnt; if you wanted something you went and got it for yourself! I think that’s still how I approach things now.

That’s what each of us did. From an early age I was a gifted runner, but I needed money just to get to the start line. So that I could run I did whatever part-time jobs I could; picking potatoes, selling balloons on the street, ice-cream seller, fast-food joints, housekeeper, lifeguard, you name it I did it!

I remember my childhood as crazy, growing up in a house full of friends; always finding ways to create new imaginative games and have fun! I don’t know how my parents did it! We grew up in the countryside, so we had plenty of space to roam about. ‘Tollymore Madhouse’ my dad calls it. We may not have had much money, but we were rich in other ways.

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

The first thing would be is to ask yourself about your appetite for learning. Technology moves at such a pace that no matter where you enter the career chain you are immediately on a life-long learning path. Once you are in technology then think about the other skills you need to be successful, ultimately, at the end of every technology is people. You get the best technology outputs if you get the best out of people, so actively seek out ways to improve your leadership skills. You can do that through qualifications, like the CMI or ILP, Institute of Directors or others as well as simply joining leadership groups on social channels, there are tons of free resources you can use.

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

Yes unfortunately, although I believe, as women, some of this stems from our own self-doubt, our compulsion to play down our skills and abilities or a lack of confidence to go for it for fear of failure. Most of us will experience these feelings at some point in our careers. I had it badly when I first moved to Manchester. Lost in a new city, in a new industry, within a laissez-faire management style- business, which you can read about in a blog I wrote: https://www.northernpowerwomen.com/lack-confidence-patricia-keating-talks-fear-failure/

Although the concept of imposter syndrome is often reported negatively, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. These feelings mean you are pushing yourself outside your comfort zone which ultimately mean you are growing. As long as you can keep a rational grasp on it, you should have a little of it in your life, otherwise you are just treading water.

Sadly though, some barriers are man-made. There are still incidents of sexism in the workplace, in different guises, intentional and otherwise. I believe we need more balance in business, especially in the boardroom. Having diversity throughout a business from top to bottom, inevitably leads to better decision making and mitigates unconscious bias.

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

Women approach things in different ways. We make decisions differently. Leadership teams need to be aware of this and be open to seeking solutions. This may involve bringing in external expertise to help understand how to best aid the progression of women in a business.

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

Tech has a brand issue. For many it conjures up images of people sitting in dark rooms drinking energy drinks with dark screens or the black humour of the Silicon Valley sitcom. It certainly doesn’t appeal to young women in secondary school. Less than 1 per cent of female students choose technology at A-Level. Of course, it’s more than just a brand issue but I certainly think helping more education professionals and young people understand the myriad of roles that are available in tech and the exciting career opportunities able would be a start.

I read in an article that we needed a coder on Strictly Come Dancing; I would agree! Look what happened when Youtuber Joe Sugg appeared in the cast in 2018!

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

There are so many resources out there it’s hard to know where to begin! I would say start my finding your tribe. I found mine in Lean In, the Sheryl Sandberg inspired professional network where members, both men and women, ‘lean in’ to support each other. There are circles all over the UK, virtual circles and focused on-demand discussion topics.

Women on Boards has also been an excellent recent addition to my new professional development journey, where I have met numerous like-minded women. Most recently, I have started engaging with We are the City, We are Tech Women, who are fantastic!

I recommend joining Career Mum and Ladies Life Lounge on Facebook for ad-hoc advice and guidance. If you’re a reader try ‘Love Invisible Women’ by Caroline Criado Perez. It makes me angry reading it, but that serves as a powerful motivator and reminder.

We are moving into a world of automated intelligence which is fed by historical data that largely excludes women. This amplifies the bias. The only way to change this is for us women and everyone that self identifies as a woman to step up, use our voices and the resources available to us to make a difference.


Leena Koskelainen featured

Inspirational Woman: Leena Koskelainen | Vice President of Product Engineering, Tecnotree

Leena KoskelainenLeena Koskelainen is Vice President of Product Engineering at Tecnotree Corporation, a position she has held since 2018.

In this role she heads up global operations for Tecnotree’s Product Engineering division.

Before becoming Vice President of Product Engineering, Leena held a number of other roles having started with the company in 2006.

Leena is a technology specialist having started her career as a software developer in 1987. She has held several demanding positions, leading large multicultural teams from all over the world. Leena is highly respected and trusted throughout the telecoms industry and an inspiration to women and girls wanting a career in tech.

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

I have a background in mainframe software engineering from the 1980’s. After that, I moved into the telecoms domain essentially to help people communicate more easily across the world. I’m currently supporting communication service providers by offering high quality customer service and I’m involved with digital transformation programmes to bring legacy business support systems into the modern age with the latest technology, automation, analytics and machine learning capabilities.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Not particularly, I have simply always been curious and hungry to try new things and keep on learning. This approach has opened up many opportunities; some I was able to handle well and others were a challenge, but this helped me to grow. I have worked for Tecnotree over many years and I have been very fortunate to experience different roles and activities.

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

I once made a career move from working in the back-office of a local Finnish company to a front-line role in an international company. It was a wise move as this came at the point when the internet was becoming commonly used and telecom and mobile services were starting to conquer the word. While it was the right decision, it was far from easy. I went through a series of challenges starting from using English as the standard working language and learning completely new technologies and concepts involved in telecoms. Suddenly I found myself explaining the signalling patterns and SMS protocols over the phone to a specialist in Kuala Lumpur and the next day to someone else in Sao Paulo. It was initially daunting with so many new things to learn.  Little by little I started to see the light in the end of the tunnel, and the day eventually came when I was completely in control. I knew what I was doing, customers appreciated my help and I felt valued. This was probably the most important lesson for me – never give up and the reward always awaits you in the end.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Personally I feel that my biggest achievement has been to learn to appreciate cultural diversity and all the victories and challenges it brings. Being able to think differently and learning to collaborate effectively across the world, brings a meaningful sense of community and togetherness.

Professionally the biggest achievement is related to crisis management. I was involved with a production roll-out which didn’t go so well. I had to stabilize the systems whilst reassuring the workforce. Telecommunication systems are known for their availability and reliability and having that stability compromised can be mission critical.  Managing the crisis became our team’s mission and our confidence grew as we resolved the issues.

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

I learned a very valuable lesson as a child: If you undertake a task, do it properly.  ‘Doing it properly’ is a very relative concept, but I maintain that mantra today in everything I do:

  • When I write an e-mail, I try to write it so that the recipient can understand it without needing to call me and ask what I meant.
  • When I make a plan, I try to cover all aspects, make it as practical and implementable as possible.
  • When I make a report, I collect enough data to have the facts right, make it complete and put it in the format which is clear and understandable for the audience.
  • When I prepare training, I always start from training objectives and make sure the training content is relevant so that employees will learn the key points of the subject.

The list goes on, but my principle is to spend a little bit more time doing things properly to ensure there is no confusion from the outset.

I become very motivated when faced with a challenge. If someone says it can’t be done, I’m ready to prove them wrong.  In business things change all the time so you need to be  relentlessly positive in the face of adversity.

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

The technology industry is full of extremely intelligent individuals who often face challenges in communication and collaboration. The industry needs leaders who can listen, understand, bring people together and utilize expertise. Enabling collaboration, creating excitement and a sense of togetherness are such important qualities to demonstrate through any career journey.

Another important point is to do your best to comprehensively understand issues your business faces. Technology is all about solving everyday problems and getting to the bottom of things is crucial. There is no stupid questions in our field, all questions must be asked as many times as needed to achieve 100% clarity.

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

Generally no, I really don’t see significant barriers. Women have unique capabilities which help them to be successful. I see equal respect towards men and women everywhere I work and I have not faced any glass ceilings hindering my success. Finland is known for its equality, but I think the same thing is also being seen elsewhere. In Asia, Africa, Middle-East, etc. – women are doing well in the field of tech. The only thing stopping women to reach their full potential is not believing in their own capabilities. Women have patience, diligence, accountability and endurance and we are great communicators. This helps us to provide real value in the communities we work in.

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

Women are great assets to the companies they work for but even greater assets to their families. Especially during the years when careers are often built, women often have children and extended families depending on their care and support.

Finland’s model is to understand the family-related requirements and consciously make it possible for women to work. Some examples of this are the equalization of maternity and paternity leaves, right to stay home to take care of sick child and providing affordable day care for all families even if they work in odd hours or in shift work. Companies can also follow some of these principles and provide support for women who work committedly in the middle of family challenges.

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

Announce a full ‘Women in Tech’ year campaign and build interesting programmes around it to help executives to understand unique talents and capabilities of women, and make the recruitment of women a strategic priority. Companies must also totally erase prejudice towards women and remove barriers to women being successful.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

In general, networking is very important and exposing yourself to new concepts regularly. It is important to make time for this even when your capacity is limited. Technology changes so fast that if one settles with routines and things already known, they are very quickly left behind in progress.