Inspirational Woman: Dr Vedrana Högqvist Tabor | CEO & Co-Founder, BOOST Thyroid

Dr. Vedrana Högqvist Tabor

Dr Vedrana Högqvist Tabor is the CEO and co-founder of BOOST Thyroid, the world's biggest community and solution for people with thyroid diseases.

Vedrana holds a PhD in cancer immunology. She has worked for 15 years in academic research and the last five years in digital health. Vedrana has published research on a digital approach to health, and is a public speaker on female health empowerment.

In 2018 she was named to the “Nordic 100” as one of the most impactful people in the Nordic tech scene. Vedrana’s mission as a patient, researcher and CEO of BOOST Thyroid is to bring equality to health.

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

My name is Vedrana and I am a Swedish-Croatian scientist and the CEO of a health tech company, BOOST Thyroid. I hold a PhD in cancer immunology and have spent 13 years as an academic researcher. Six years ago I left academia after I realized I can help advance science and human health through a digital approach.

BOOST Thyroid is a free mobile phone app and community for people with an autoimmune thyroid condition called Hashimoto’s. We are building a personalized ML-powered coach and we bring patients and research together to create better health outcomes.
BOOST Thyroid aims to help by providing scientifically vetted information, strengthening the thyroid patient community, supporting research, and developing new technological approaches to improve personalized healthcare as well as patient-doctor conversations. You can read more about us on www.boostthyroid.com .

We are supported by the European Commission's Horizon 2020 funding as well as prominent Nordic investors (Sophia Bendz, Futuristic VC, Hampus Jakobsson, Wave Ventures and Simon Josefsso, as well as the Fast Track Malmö accelerator), Vodafone Institute and the German ministry of education and research.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Not in its entirety. I reflect on things: what would be an impactful thing I would enjoy doing and be good at. I follow my passions, and what I believe would be the best use of my time and capabilities.

I did 13 years of cancer research because I thought that was the best use of my time, knowledge and passion at the moment. Then when I felt a spark for the digital world, I thought about how we could utilize technology to bring people an earlier diagnosis of chronic conditions. I see technology as an awesome facilitator to improve quality of life as we age.

BOOST Thyroid started from a personal reason: I myself have the autoimmune condition Hashimoto’s. In this condition, one’s own immune system slowly destroys the thyroid by making it underactive. This is an ongoing process, resulting in a variety of symptoms, including anxiety, fatigue, weight gain, “brain fog” and fertility problems. I found no comprehensive solution that would help research and patients at the same time, with the tandem goals of contributing to new knowledge and improving patients' lives.

So, I did not plan, but I researched and realized that autoimmune conditions are chronic, progressive and are currently incurable. In addition, it takes a long time to diagnose them, and sometimes they are misdiagnosed as depressive disorders. 350 million people live with autoimmune conditions, meaning that even if you don’t have an autoimmune condition, people you love and care about likely do.

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

Yes, many. I decided to leave my relatively safe academic career after 13 years and dove into tech and entrepreneurship. I was quite unprepared for what followed but I learned relatively fast and kept going. Owning my mistakes and learning from them has helped a lot.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I believe I have three that are equally important for me

The very first thank you email from one of our users, telling us we helped them with their health - One thing we've heard repeatedly from people using Boost Thyroid is it helps them identify areas in their health they need to address, whether it's meals, exercise, or sleep, so they can prioritize their self-care instead of feeling overwhelmed and needing to fix everything at once. Another piece of feedback we get is that people appreciate advice without it being tied to trying to sell them a product like supplements or powders.

Having an awesome group of people to work together with on this project - this is an incredible privilege, to have a people I admire and learn from. I have dedicated huge parts of my heart and energy to BOOST Thyroid, and it is awesome to see other people finding it equally important and rewarding.

Not giving up when it was the hardest - getting through hard times is a remarkable success

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

My stubbornness, my perseverance, my passion. I don’t give up when I work on something impactful. I did 13 years of academic cancer research that was triggered by the premature death of my grandma. I wanted to understand what cancer is and how can we stop it from becoming so powerful.

Equally, I left academia after I felt I could contribute to the betterment of human health in a better and faster way, facilitated by the exponential digitalization of the world surrounding us.

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

No awesome career is meant to be easy, but it is meant to be interesting. For me a few things have proven to be of high importance:

    • Staying on top of the things - tech is evolving so rapidly, one must learn continuously.
    • Persevere - tech careers are full of challenges, and especially at the start one can be

      challenged around the clock. It’s equally important is to know when to give up,

      especially if you work in a toxic environment.

    • Focus - after figuring out what to do and how to do it, your focus needs to be razor

      sharp. That’s the best way to deliver projects and preserve your energy. It is

      challenging, because it seems we are precluded from doing the next cool thing.

      Standing up for yourself - being your own champion as much as possible and letting

      your voice be heard.

    • Have a good work-life balance - work should not be a single thing in your life defining you. Keep your health in check, and save enough quality time for your family and friends and your out of work passions.

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

The fact is there are barriers for an opportunity to succeed for people who are different than what is considered the “standard”, whether that is biased by sex and gender, age, health, or cultural and religious backgrounds.

I think we can overcome these by showing the accomplishments of a diverse group of people and talking to them about what they do and how they do it instead of talking about how different they are. Put their achievements into focus, not their personal characteristics.

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

Commit to hiring a diverse group of people and make workplaces inclusive and safe. If you don’t know how - ask around. Ask people who do not look or behave like you what they think.

Start treating people as equal in salaries and in their right to learn and advance in their careers. Offer support for parental leave and facilitate coming back to the workforce from any kind of career break. Don’t make people ask for things that should be normal to have. Invest in women-driven companies more; do not value a company less because it is led by women.

There is currently on 17 per cent 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?

Everyone commits to quotas by 2022 to increase the number of women in leadership and engineering branches of tech to at least 50 per cent.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Kim Scott, Arlan Hamilton and Susan Fowler in any form - book/video/podcast/twitter/live

FemGems podcasts for inspiration.


Inspirational Woman: Shefali Davda-Bhanot | Director, Seventh Degree

Shefali Davda-BhanotShefali Davda-Bhanot in her capacity as the Director of Seventh Degree, assists technology starts ups headquartered in Silicon Roundabout to Silicon Valley to scale and grow from seed funding stage to IPO.

She has seen through the exponential growth of technology starts ups including unicorn business, Anaplan, start-up City Pantry and is currently working on the international growth strategy and tech talent growth of AI Healthcare company and now unicorn, Babylon Health.

She initiated the set up the Women in Tech & LGBTQ+ “power of diversity” groups at Babylon Health in 2018 which has grown to a group of 50 people. In 2018, she launched her book ‘Start Up to Scale Up: Practical Tips & Strategies to Scaling Up Start Ups’ at the Web Summit conference in Lisbon, and in 2019 spoke to an audience of tech talent specialists on inclusive hiring and the challenges in hiring diverse tech talent.

She is champion of diversity within the field of recruitment and is a member of an organisation called Women in Recruitment which aims to attract, develop and retain female recruiters. Her role has seen her organise a number of events such as hackathons, talks, workshops and spoken at  parliamentary events to mark occasions such as International Women’s Day.

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

My name is Shefali Davda-Bhanot, and I’m the Director of Seventh Degree, a leading firm specialising in niche technology talent consultancy, with clients ranging from one-person bands to companies valued at over $2bn.

I was born and raised in London and studied Pharmaceutical Sciences in the sea-side town Portsmouth.

When I took my first few steps into the world of recruitment, I realised that a great deal of analytics and human-emotional intelligence applies not just to sales, but to leadership in general.

Coming from an analytical background, the fit to recruitment felt natural and I loved the industry upon entry. Albeit noted it was extremely male dominant in not only the industry I worked in, but the sector I had chosen to recruit into- technology.

I’ve worked in the recruitment industry for almost 10 years now. Today I oversee the Seventh Degree’s ongoing business and growth mission—that includes hands on recruitment and embedding within internal onsite talent teams however prior to this, I worked for a number of agencies including global RPO & agency, Experis.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

The simple answer to this is no. My plan is to not to plan too much! During university and early on in my professional life, I’d say there was an degree of planning but I was much more focused on short term goals and small triumphs. As I  built up more experience in a field, I thought I was good at, it became straight-forward to make longer term plans, understand and harness passions and set more ambitious career goals to keep me motivated.

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

Many! The recruitment industry operates almost entirely on financial targets, so when I initially started, I was always on edge about hitting these targets- or finding myself out of a job! Other career challenges have included (and still include) tackling diversity and inclusion in both the tech and recruitment sectors. It was important right from the start to ensure my voice wasn’t getting drowned out by the 20 men on my team!

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to speak in front of Parliamentary Peers in the House of Lords about Women in the City, Women in Tech and Diversity within working environments. Having had the opportunity to consult with two unicorn businesses and collaborate with some incredibly talented individuals along the way for me is also a great note of accomplishment.

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

I can’t say I have achieved success, however I believe there have been some great triumphs in my decade so far. I would lead these to, following instinct and passion, this allows an authentic and unique perspective to shine through. and acting on the 3 L’s of continuously listening, learning and leading from others and from the front.

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

Invest in your personal development and learning.  Learn new tech skills, attend meet-ups and hackathon, network within your industry,  create Github projects, be active on Stackoverflow, try new roles, read books, stay curious, ask for help and opportunities, listen to others career stories – ideally seek a mentor or a role model.

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

More and more studies are being released that reveal the challenges women face in workplace, compared to men, which extend well beyond pay differences.

The tech market is approx. 80 per cent male dominated at present, with this, I have been told it can feel divided at times to potentially be the only woman in a team. A solution for this would be to hire junior, newly qualified grads where there is a wider talent pool of diverse talent.

In most workplaces, there is still a lack of flexibility in working hours, or access to childcare – this can also prove a barrier for success for women working in tech.  Businesses can really support with this by introducing greater flexibility around the ways in which people work and to switch the focus to “results-based-work”, as opposed to the number of hours put into a task.

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

Creating mentorship and coaching programmes with role models within the business. Assist with elevating women in tech profiles, such that their work can be observed and evident to others both inside and outside of the organisation.

Training and Development – organisations should have training and development budget assigned to each employee and it is pivotal for businesses to support the progress of women working in technology by using the budget toward upskilling. A lot of businesses don’t use up their allocated budget for L&D.

There is currently on 17 per cent 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 have a number of highly performing engineers and senior leaders within Engineering & Product spaces,  carving the way as mentors to a younger generation of technologists. Breaking down prejudice and breaking the invisible glass ceiling. I would also want to encourage more awareness to the younger generation about product innovation and a career in technology.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Podcast: The Women in Tech Show: A Technical Podcast - A women in tech podcast featuring technical interviews with prominent women in technology. The interviews explore topics in software engineering, software design, artificial intelligence, research, entrepreneurship, career strategy, machine learning, security, and more. Hosted by Edaena Salinas, Software Engineer at Microsoft.

Meet-up: Women Who Code (WWC) – a membership of almost 6,000 members – probably one of the most active community of engineers dedicated to inspiring women to excel in technology career.

A must read: The Lean Start-up: offering a scientific approach to setting up a successful business.


Inspirational Woman: Marie Lallia | Senior Operations Manager, Artist Marketing, Deezer

Marie LalliaMarie Lallia is the Senior Artist Marketing Manager at Deezer.

The music industry is extremely tough for females to break into, with the industry notorious for being male-dominated. Billboard's top 100 people in the music industry in In 2018, a mere 17 per cent of the list were female.

Marie began her career at Deezer as an intern in 2012 and has risen through the ranks to become a Senior Manager, working directly with artists, artist management and record labels to discuss how to market and promote their music in Deezer while building their fanbase.

Marie works with artists at all stages of their careers from the new and developing (identifying artists for the Deezer Next programme) to global superstars like Ed Sheeran, Metallica, Pharrell Williams, Muse and many others.

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

I’ve been with Deezer for over seven years and started my journey as an artist marketing intern. Now as Deezer’s Senior Operations Manager within the Artist Marketing team, we are responsible for helping artists, labels and managers grow their fan bases and reach new listeners through special campaigns and projects. We work with artists at all stages of their careers, from the emerging  artists on our Deezer NEXT support programme, through to superstars like Ed Sheeran, Metallica, Pharrell Williams and Dua Lipa.

Prior to Deezer, I worked at EMI Music publishing in the sync department and hold a degree in Management from Université de Paris Dauphine.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I think it’s difficult to sit down and plan a career.  life is hard to predict and advances in technology mean everything is rapidly evolving. When I was growing up, music streaming wasn’t really around, so planning a career in streaming would have been impossible. It’s actually more about feeling confident about something you genuinely love. I have always been passionate about music and I initially wanted to work in classical music. But I remember sitting down and evaluating opportunities every time they have come up, and from there having a better judgement and understanding of what direction I’d like my career to take, step by step.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Streaming is still a fairly new industry - Deezer is just over ten years old - which means it’s still maturing. Our artist marketing team relies on the trends and patterns of our users (for example, if our users are increasingly listening to a certain musician) as well as our team’s expert knowledge. However due to the nature of streaming, these patterns and trends are always changing. So when we run a successful artist campaign, we have to be creative and change our approach to find success. The challenge is to always stay on top of the very latest in digital marketing and the music industry -  but that’s a great part of the fun!

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

I’m really proud of the work I’ve done for International Women’s Day, involving artists like Annie Lennox and Anitta. However one of the greatest achievements that the team and I have worked on is establishing Deezer as an artist-friendly platform. This is down to our artist-focused campaigns that help build their profile and showcase what they’re about and not just about increasing streaming numbers.

Our various projects try to cover all aspects of the artist and music creation. Ranging from the musician’s influences and inspirations through to production and live music. We build plans that help build the artist’s story and that’s really gratifying!

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

At Deezer, I’ve been lucky enough to work with great managers that have trusted me and pushed me to break outside of comfort areas, to always think big and overcome even the hardest of challenges. A strong team is vital in the music space, and we’re all trying to achieve the same goals, to bring success to truly talented artists all across the world.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Don’t give up if things don’t work out after your first try, or the second, or the third… For something you really want, give things time and you’ll get there by persevering.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

Deezer NEXT, our support programme for emerging artists, is always a very exciting challenge. We launched NEXT in 2017 and were the first to launch this kind of initiative, which I’m really proud of as it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to create an industry-first and keep it alive for over three years and counting.

To kick start our annual programme, we link up with labels, management and artists to select the talent that we feel have great potential. Once selected, these artists are given an avenue for new exposure to local and worldwide audiences with 12 months of support from our Artist Marketing and Editorial teams. This includes playlisting and creative marketing campaigns with special content, fan events and social media amplification. Since we started the programme, we’ve been able to work with some amazing Deezer NEXT Alumni, like Jorja Smith, Rag ‘N’ Bone Man and Anne Marie. My goal for the future is to continue the success of Deezer NEXT and keep helping artists to grow their fanbase and get the recognition they deserve!

What are your top tips to break into the music industry?

Networking is extremely important as the music industry is a people’s business, but not as much as being thorough in your work ethic. There’s getting your foot in the door and finding ways to contribute. Always make sure you bring added value to every project you work on and leave a good impression with everyone you work with.

One top tip in the music industry is to take ‘name-dropping’ with a pinch of salt...people do that a lot! Instead, do the research on the artist, check the data and work hard. As that’s what will actually get the job done.

How do you get the best out of a team?

You can definitely get the best out of people by getting them excited about a project or what they’re working on. I guess that’s quite easy for us at Deezer because we work in music and music is what makes us thrive. There should always be something interesting for everyone in each project. So find what it is that motivates people and capitalise on that. Also, be nice.


Ruth Bates featured

Inspirational Woman: Ruth Bates | Head of Data Arts, Saatchi & Saatchi London

Ruth Bates

Ruth is Head of Data Arts at Saatchi & Saatchi London. Ruth likes to put data and analytics into action. 

She passionately believes that data, working seamlessly with creativity, is the best way to achieve effective communications. She gathers people around her in the data community to get things done, and communicates the implications of data analysis to those who are less familiar with it.

After graduating from the LSE she worked for a loyalty marketing company before joining Deloitte Consulting. During her 9 years at Deloitte she worked mainly with clients in telecoms, media and entertainment industries, helping them to use data to achieve transformation. She helped to establish the customer analytics and data science community within Deloitte, and she was leading Data Science within Deloitte Digital when she left to establish Data Arts at Saatchi & Saatchi in February 2018.

The work bit…

I joined Saatchi & Saatchi London last year to set up their Data Arts team. The name of the team was quite deliberate as it reflects my philosophy on data in advertising: I believe data shouldn't only be a facilitator of targeted communications. It isn't only data management, data engineering, measurement, and reporting, or even producing and deploying algorithms. It is a powerful creative tool for insight, inspiration, and communication and I think it’s as much an art as a science.

The career history bit…

People are surprised when I say I studied Government and History as a degree. I always enjoyed trying to understand why people behave the way they do. But I was always a little better at maths and science than essay-writing. My brain naturally classifies the world and thinks spatially, so I found the social science approach stretched to be more conceptual in my thinking. After university I worked for a loyalty marketing agency where I was fully immersed in coding SAS, I then joined Deloitte Consulting. I loved my time there, but after nine years I found myself missing my initial love of understanding human behaviour and decided to go into something different. Advertising.

The personal bit…

I love to dance, hike, sail and ski. I love spending time with anyone with an individual perspective on the world. I’m passionate about the arts, mental health and sustainability.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Not really. I landed in it without knowing what I wanted to do. But I did think that I wanted to get as far in my career as I possibly could in my 20’s so I could have more choice if and when I decide I want to raise a family.

And I do take time out each year to reflect on what I’m doing, what I want to achieve and what my priorities are. I do this with my husband because we both want to be satisfied in our jobs and that means that sometimes we have to make compromises and we have to agree with what they are. It also gives me clarity on what I’m trying to build, what I want to learn and it helps me communicate that clearly to those around me.

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

The biggest challenge in my career has been handling my own anxiety issues! I’ve had some personal problems along the way which made me anxious. And I’ve had lots of small career challenges when things don’t seem to be going so well and I start to worry the world is going to fall apart (e.g. majorly delayed or over-budget projects to say the least!)

But I’ve learnt three things that have enabled me to cope, progress and enjoy my career:

  1. Getting a strong support network. I got to this stage in my career by surrounding myself with people I can trust and be honest with. It starts by being honest about my own needs, strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Keep clarity on what's important. Sometimes the things that stressed me out weren't that important. I've got practical methods I use to help me ruthlessly prioritise and work out what I need to work on.
  3. Communicating well. I spend a lot of time considering whom I'm talking to and the messages I need them to hear. When I really get my head into the space of the person I need to get a message across to, I can understand things from their point of view, then I can adapt my style or method of communication so that my message comes across clearly.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Building teams. At the BBC. At Deloitte. At Saatchi & Saatchi London. Understanding what the team needs to deliver, finding the right people, providing a vision and nurturing their talent and ideas. I can’t take credit for the amazing work they do, but I love that I was part of making it happen.

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

I’m a translator. I like to understand the problem and translate it into a technical brief or approach. I like to understand a piece of analysis and translate it into something actionable. I’m good at taking the conceptual and structuring it.

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

For data scientists, I'd say… always look at the data! The human brain recognises patterns brilliantly. You'll understand your raw material and you'll spot quality issues more quickly.

More generally, always keep learning. At the outset of your career, get a really good grounding in whatever your technical skillset is. I took a low-paid job straight out of university, but it was the most valuable 18 months of my career. And then keep on learning. If you’re not learning or consolidating your learning in your role, then look to change it.

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

I’m fortunate to work in advertising where diversity is actively encouraged. And I’ve also seen a massive improvement in women in technology throughout my career. There are barriers all over the place but I think we’re heading in the right direction. I’m lucky to work in Publicis Groupe UK where we have a female CEO (Annette King) and a female COO (Jo Coombs)

I’ve seen women with amazing gravitas control a room full of men just by leaning into a conversation, clearing their throat and saying one well placed, beautifully structured sentence. I’ve seen women advocate on behalf of other women to go for promotion and get a pay rise, even though they wouldn’t have put themselves forward. I’ve seen women run all-male development teams really efficiently while considering the individual and varied needs of those in their teams. I’ve seen men actively putting their partners’ career first. I’ve seen older men be a “work dad” and look out for younger women. The best thing we can do is to play to whatever our strengths are and look out for all those around us.

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

Recognise the "soft" skills as well as hard tech skills. Within data science, these skills include defining the question, determining the right approach, clearly communicating the brief, drawing insight from the results, sharing the outcomes effectively, nurturing the talents of the team, helping teams collaborate better or be more honest with each other… These are the skills that really turn technology into a force for good in the world and help projects deliver on time. I’ve found women often have these skills in abundance, but they aren’t always valued as much as they should be.

There is currently on 17 per cent 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?

At the moment, not enough of tech finance is controlled by women or invested in women. My magic wand would be money! I’d give every woman working in technology £1000 to invest in the one thing they believe in most.

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

Is it bad that I don’t set out to read that much about technology?! I guess I’m obsessed with the intersection between technology and human behaviour, so I find it more valuable to study the things that fascinate me in the world outside technology. Currently, I’m in a phase of reading all the poetry I can lay my hands on, from Shakespeare to Stormzy!

(But the “work” book I’ve read that has had the biggest impact on me has been “lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg).


Chloe Booth featured

Inspirational Woman: Chloe Booth | Chief Product Owner - Tech Talent, Nationwide Building Society

Chloe BoothChloe’s tech career started when she joined IBM Global Services as a STEM graduate.

She has since worked for multiple financial services organisations over the course of her career including; Zurich, AXA, JP Morgan Chase, Credit Suisse and, currently, Nationwide Building Society.  She has held a variety of roles in her career; systems tester, application support, market data infrastructure specialist, PMO, and project and programme management.  More recently, she has led strategic programmes and held the role of Head of Technology Strategy at Nationwide Building Society, defining how their investment in technology would be leveraged.

Chloe’s current role is Chief Product Owner for Tech Talent, with the mission of attracting new technologists to Nationwide Building Society and helping it to feel like home to them.

Outside of work, Chloe is lucky enough to be a trustee for Play Gloucestershire, a brilliant children's charity, and to be the co-founder of an online network for working women – Women at Work – which she helped to grow from scratch.

Chloe lives in Gloucestershire with her family.

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

My first degree was a BSc. (Hons) in Physiology, which I studied at the University of Edinburgh. My claim to fame from studying Physiology is that my research was published in the Journal of Neuroendocrinology and I was the first person in the world to photograph the GLUT-5 (glucose) transporter in brain cells.

Following my degree, I joined IBM Global Services in Edinburgh, marking the start of my technology career.

I have since worked for multiple financial services organisations over the course of my career including; Zurich, AXA, JP Morgan Chase, Credit Suisse and, currently, Nationwide Building Society.  I have held a variety of tech roles in my early career; systems tester, application support and market data infrastructure specialist before transitioning to programme management. More recently, I have led strategic operational programmes and held the role of Head of Technology Strategy at Nationwide Building Society, defining how their investment in Tech would be leveraged.  I recently studied for an MSc. Leadership and Management at Loughborough University which I loved, and I’m secretly itching to do a PhD!

I’m also lucky enough to be a trustee for Play Gloucestershire, a fabulous children's charity, and to be the co-founder of an online network for working women – Women at Work.  Women at Work is a hive of almost 3,000 women who share their work experiences and wisdom to help each other.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I didn’t when I was younger; I do now. However, I would caveat that as the technology world is changing rapidly, new roles are being created all the time.  Therefore, I think it’s only possible to plan in detail for a 12-24-month horizon – however as a good friend reminds me, it’s good to have a personal BHAG (a Big Hairy Audacious Goal) for where you want to get to.

I also think it’s all too easy to go where you are asked to work-wise, especially if you have a reputation for doing complex work.  Therefore, I really recommend taking the time to reflect on where you want to go, vs. where others may want you to work, and build it into your plan.

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

Whilst not a career challenge as such, a significant life challenge which impacted my career was the birth of my eldest daughter Lucy, who was born profoundly disabled. Whilst I had been hugely ambitious in my twenties, the shock and sadness that I felt at the time hit me from leftfield and left me winded. As a result, my ambition waned.

However, there is a very happy end to this story. We have built a life where Lucy is happy, as are my other children, but one where I am able to go out into the world and create the impact that I want to have.  There were times when Lucy was small when I used to believe that we would never be happy again, and that my career was over. Thankfully I know now that neither of those things are true. I have been lucky that my current employer has supported me in being able to have plenty of new opportunities, including being sponsored through an MSc. I have always been able to be seen there as ‘Chloe Booth’, rather than being viewed as a parent carer, which has helped me significantly.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Leading the team that delivered Nationwide’s Tech Strategy, which underpinned a £4.1bn investment in technology over a five-year period – it was fascinating, stretching content and the team were fantastic. We covered a lot of ground in a relatively short space of time.

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

Resilience.  There have been times in my career when things haven’t gone the way I’d have liked them to and the biggest lesson has been to get back up and move on again. I believe that the quicker that you can do this, the quicker you are moving yourself onto being ready for success again. I think that it’s important to see these moments as ‘masterclasses’ – opportunities to learn how you would approach things differently in the future.

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

Invest in your personal development.  Learn new tech skills, try new roles, read books, stay curious, ask for help and opportunities, listen to others career stories; just don’t wait for someone to say that they are going to sponsor your development. You own your journey. It took me a long time to realise this and it’s a life lesson I wish I had learnt sooner.

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

Yes, I believe that there are still barriers for women working in tech.

The market is largely male dominated at present, so it can feel isolating at times to potentially be the only woman in a team; it’s therefore key to build a wide support network both internally and externally to your organisation.

Lack of flexibility in working hours, or access to childcare, can also prove an obstacle.  Organisations can really help with this by introducing greater flexibility around the ways in which people work and to switch the focus to ‘outcomes, not hours. Decent provision of shared leave for both parents is also key in helping women to come back to the workplace on their timetable.

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

Firstly, make it easier for both men and women to work flexibly and dynamically.  With the advancement of collaboration tools, it is getting easier and easier for companies to offer dynamic working – which makes it far easier for parents to balance work with home life.

Secondly, help lift the profile of women working in tech, so that their work is visible across the organisation. We need to amplify the ideas and contributions from tech women – mentoring, coaching and sponsoring women helps to make a real difference.

There is currently only 15% 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?

Whilst not an overnight fix, I think greater promotion of STEM subjects in schools would make a significant impact to the female tech talent pipeline over time. I was lucky to have a Dad who strongly encouraged me to do STEM subjects at school and University, and I’m glad that he did.

In the shorter-term, I would love to see more men join the conversation around gender equality in tech, and for all of us to lift and celebrate the careers of women working in tech. We all have a responsibility to help others and to create new opportunities and greater visibility for those women who are wanting to progress. We recently created a mentoring programme for both men and women technologists at Nationwide called #BUILDIT, and I’m excited to watch everyone’s journey through the programme.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I love podcasts. From a tech perspective I really enjoy the Wired and TED Talks on Tech podcasts. Looking more widely I’m a fan of the following podcasts: Stuff You Should Know, The Economist, Work Life with Adam Grant, Masters of Scale, The Guilty Feminist and Conversations with Remarkable Women.

My favourite work-related books are ‘The Big Leap’ by Gay Hendricks if you are looking to get ‘unstuck’ in your career, ‘Fierce Conversations’ by Susan Scott for having better conversations at work and ‘Physical Intelligence’ by Claire Dale and Patricia Peyton if you want to understand how your physiology plays a role in how you show up at work.

As for website recommendations a firm favourite is www.remarkablewomen.co.uk by Danielle Macleod and Nic Devlin, which I delve into when I’m looking for some inspiration or a kick to do better.  I wholly recommend following these two superwomen on LinkedIn for motivation to be more and to bring purpose into your work.


Kate Beaumont featured

Inspirational Woman: Kate Beaumont | Innovation, Technology and Services Director, Samsung UK & Ireland

As the Innovation, Technology, and Services Director at Samsung UK & Ireland, Kate Beaumont is one of the UK’s leading women in technology, spearheading change for a business that is at an exciting juncture in its growth story.

Joining the business back in 2015 as Director of Product Planning & Strategy, Kate is a firm believer in the power of collaboration to drive success, a culture that runs through Samsung’s veins. In her time as one of the leaders of the UK and Ireland business, Kate has established the structural governance required to improve business performance, drive profitability and bring relevant and meaningful innovation to market. She is dynamic & results-driven with a proven track record in operational transformation.

As ‘5G concierge’, Kate has driven Samsung’s strategic direction in this new area of innovation. Kate recently oversaw the introduction of the Galaxy S10+, and Galaxy S10 5G, devices which are redefining the smartphone market and setting up the next decade of innovation at Samsung.

Outside of work, Kate is a passionate wildlife photographer, a skill she has honed from a young age, and one that has taken her to remote locations around the world in pursuit of the perfect shot. It’s an interest that has married well with her role at Samsung, as smartphone cameras have evolved so dramatically, giving everyone that has a Samsung smartphone the ability to take professional grade photos.

Her global experience in the mobile sector spans a range of roles including VP Portfolio & Supplier Strategy at Deutsch Telekom. Prior to that she led Supply Chain and Product Management at Spark NZ.

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

After completing my BA in New Zealand, I started my career in insurance then advertising. I made the move to technology about 20 years ago. Whilst NZ commerce is small in scale it’s great for breadth of role so I’ve worked in sales, marketing, procurement, supply chain and product management which has become my passion.

I moved to the UK and joined T-Mobile and then Deutsche Telekom, working in their international division from Bonn.  I’ve been at Samsung for 4 years, recently changing roles to look after innovation and emerging tech like 5G and Services.  These are the areas which will future proof us as the mobile industry continues to be highly competitive.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I am a planner by nature, but in hindsight the only thing planned about my career has been progression.  I made a conscious decision to leave insurance, switching to consumer electronics, then tech, as I wanted to work in a sector with more flexibility and growth. My career path has been driven by curiosity – the desire to learn and then find a way to share and apply those learnings to bring about positive change.

I’ve primarily worked for large corporations and learnt that it’s important to find a match between the company values/culture and your own – this fit is what helps you thrive and find your place in a large organisation.

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

Starting out in insurance (a conservative male dominated industry in the 90s), was challenging as I was constantly judged on my age and gender. Whilst this was tough at the time it taught me a lot about building my credibility, and learning how to do that in my own authentic way. It gave me confidence to have a voice, and as my roles have progressed, I feel empowered to call out bad behaviour when I see it.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

When I arrived at Samsung UK IT & Mobile communications, it was completely chaotic from an operational perspective. I was brought in to rebuild the Product team, but also directed my energies into creating the wider operating rhythm, governance and commercial process to enable all teams to perform more effectively. I’m proud of the business efficiencies this achieved, but I think the greater achievement from a personal perspective was enabling a passionate team of people to collaborate and perform better.

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

A combination of curiosity and accountability. There are a lot of managers with responsibilities but only a few who are prepared to put their head above the parapet to make bold decisions and be accountable. I do this myself but also support my team in the decisions they make.

This, coupled with being curious, means questioning the status quo and finding new and innovative ways of doing things, or solving complex business problems.

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

They say it’s not what you know but who you know.  Personally, I think both are important.  Whilst it depends on the area in tech you want to develop, the one thing that is consistently important is constant learning.  This includes keeping yourself informed on new developments and any far-reaching implications. This helps to build a strong network in your area of interest and expertise; something people are far more open to now.

I would say to stop worrying about being a woman in tech. Be brave. Tech is all about pushing boundaries, so take a risk!

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 are barriers to success for women in most industries and unfortunately no silver bullet fix.  There are initiatives which need to be driven by tech companies like working with schools to encourage girls into STEM (Samsung are working on this) to pay parity and mentoring programmes.

There are also things we can do as individuals, from speaking out and joining forces with groups who are working to pull down these barriers.

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

At Samsung we have Individual Development plans for all staff as well as informal coaching & mentoring programmes.  These can be used to focus on the specific needs and development of women in tech.

Education across an organisation raises awareness which is the only way to change attitudes and beliefs. Samsung have also introduced a focus on diversity into our recruitment training for hiring managers.

There is currently on 15 per cent 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 have higher performing women in senior management paving the way as role models and breaking down prejudice.  It's critical to encourage girls into STEM but if they hit a glass ceiling early in their career, then we lose them to other sectors.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

The best approach is to decide which area of tech you are interested in and focus on that – find the relevant websites, newsletters, network groups and conferences etc. and build your network.  If your company has access to industry analysts subscribe to their newsletters. When you are clear in your objectives, reach out to people who have careers in your area of interest to ask for recommendations.

Check out the best women in tech podcasts to see which appeals to you.  I’m inspired by other people’s journeys and learning's so I’m following podcasts with in depth interviews like The Tim Ferris Show or The Guilty Feminist.


Lisa Agona featured

Inspirational Woman: Lisa Agona | CMO, Ensono

Lisa AgonaLisa Agona is CMO of the global IT service provider, Ensono.

Under her leadership, Ensono has become the number one company in customer satisfaction for IT outsourcing, and has doubled its revenue to an impressive £420 million in under three years.

Lisa has been in the marketing industry for thirty years, with previous roles in Accenture and LexisNexis. During her previous position as CMO for LexisNexis, Lisa helped grow a nascent US-based $500 million identity risk management business to $1.5 billion, spanning multiple industries and countries.

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

I’ve been the global CMO of Ensono, the private equity backed hybrid IT services company, for over three years. What I particularly enjoy about my job is having the opportunity to work with my colleagues around the world to build Ensono, a new brand,  into a recognized global transformation company.

I studied at West Virginia University right after high school, earning an Economics degree, which initially sparked my love of learning. I later returned to university, attending Columbia Business School and achieving an MBA in Management. This drive to learn has really helped me embrace new opportunities, most notably taking on my first global CMO role at LexisNexis where we drove 7 consecutive years of above-retail growth to $1.5 billion.

I’ve spent the majority of my personal and working life in New York City, and have moved to Atlanta and now Chicago for new roles. Armed with two suits, little cash and the dream of launching my career in marketing, I bought a one-way ticket to New York City and haven’t looked back since!

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I never plotted out my desired career bath – who does nowadays? But I knew which direction I wanted to be moving in. Typically, I’m a keen planner but there have been situations and opportunities in my career that I could never have foreseen, let alone plan for.

I’m driven by a desire to make a difference to my own life and to the lives of others, to be financially independent, and to experience new places and discover new cultures. I knew I didn’t want to stay in my hometown but, at first, I wasn’t sure exactly where these motivations and beliefs would take me.

I’ve worked for a lot of large global companies, and a few years ago I felt it was time to take my career in a different direction and diversify. When Ensono reached out to me about a CMO position, I was drawn to the prospect of helping reinvent a company and have enjoyed the challenge of building up the brand, our market, and creating a new team.

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

As with any career, I’ve faced challenges along the way. I come from a working-class family in a former steel town, so leaving home to go to college was a massive step for me. After that, I faced the typical financial challenges all students face, and while I knew that I wanted to advance my career and make a difference, I didn’t know what that looked like straight away.

I think one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced as a woman in business and as someone entering the tech field for the first time is having the confidence to make myself heard. Knowledge is power, and key to confidence, so I went back into education after my economics degree to pursue business school. There, I met people from across the world, built up my base business knowledge and really worked on my confidence.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

One of my biggest career achievements to date has been securing my first CMO position at LexisNexis. I had been working with the legal research and risk analytics firm for a couple of years before the promotion, and proved myself during a large scale acquisition of a big public company. While this position initially felt daunting, I surprised myself with what I was able to achieve and learned a great deal from the experience.

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

I think that having a serious internal drive and persevering, even when things get tough, has helped me get where I am now. A big driver for me is the belief that it is important for everyone, especially women, to establish their own financial independence, and I’ve always taken pride in my career and my ability to provide for myself. Everyone should find what it is that drives them, and harness that.

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

A common misconception that people have about careers in the technology sector is that high-level tech skills are valued above all else. I’ve found that many people, myself included, really value the softer skills involved with a career in technology. The industry has its own language and expertise, and being able to communicate these effectively across all audiences – not just to the tech aficionados – is a real talent. I would urge anyone looking to launch or accelerate a career in this sector to invest in their communication skills. While technical skills are important, it’s emotional intelligence and the ability to build trust that’s going to get people noticed.

For women entering the sector, I think it’s especially important for them to get involved with community organisations – both inside and outside of work. These could be anything from women in tech communities, to profession-led communities, to hobby-related communities. It’s crucial for women, who are vastly underrepresented in the tech sector, to identify their supporters and advocates, and build these up over time. Communities are a great way to network with likeminded people and for women to support other women in their careers.

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

There are still barriers for women working in tech to overcome. One of the hardest to combat is unconscious gender bias. This gender bias stems from our continued buy-in of traditional gender roles, which typically allocate computing skills and interest in technology as masculine traits.

While nobody is deliberately circulating this bias, its effects can be felt from the C-Suite all the way to the graduate level. In order to combat these biases, building awareness of them is key. At Ensono, we have just started a company-wide ‘Women’s Initiative’ scheme, which has already seen our senior executive teams trained on unconscious bias and its insidious effects. I’m also a big fan of women in tech conferences that give women the space to share stories and help change the narrative around gender in tech.

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

Until unconscious bias is completely eradicated, companies will continue to need to implement formal programs that support women’s progression in the tech industry. While large leaps towards equality have been made, a lot more needs to be done to truly diversify the face of tech. Ensuring that at least one qualified woman is on the down select slate for each open position is a start.

One of our female spokespeople, Lin Classon, attended a tech conference last year only to find herself in a shocking minority. After raising this with us, we launched an independent research project into the diversity of tech events, discovering that 70% of women were the only female speaker present. Not only did this motivate us to continue our internal women’s initiative schemes, but we also raised awareness of the problem in the wider press.

It’s vital that organisations don’t just wait for change, but make a stand and evoke change internally, whether that’s investing in career programs for women, encouraging women to take part in community organisations or raising awareness of the ongoing gender bias issue.

There is currently only 15% 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 banish gender roles and unconscious bias completely. Women are often given negative attributes – bossy, hysterical, overbearing – while men in the same position are described as confident, firm, assertive. In order to level the playing field, we need to stop making assumptions based on gender and stop allocating characteristics to women that are viewed as inferior.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I am particularly inspired by the researcher Brené Brown, whose Ted Talks and books teach us all – men and women – to explore our ability to be vulnerable, and to overcome our fears. Other resources that I have found empowering include Thrive Global for lifestyle and professional enlightenment, and Internationalwomensday.com for professional resources that can be used to advance your own workplace and communities.


Haley McPherson featured

Inspirational Woman: Haley McPherson | Global Marketing Leader, ProLabs

Haley McPhersonHaley McPherson, Global Marketing Leader of ProLabs is an experienced brand expert, marketing strategist and is skilled in: internal communications, analysis, promoting education and communication in the industry and social media.

Aged just 32, Haley has created a new era for vendor ProLabs, implementing and leading a complete global rebrand just six months after assuming the role in 2017, and has significantly improved internal communications and brand confidence, shifting ProLabs’ position in the market from an “average compatibles vendor” to a “high quality connectivity expert vendor”. The new messaging and positioning introduced by Haley challenges industry norms by looking to disrupt the OEM market by creating a new tier of expertise, quality and value.

While she excels at marketing and communications, she’s a keen advocate of promoting ProLabs’ people and team’s expertise and has pushed Thought Leadership as a key PR tactic, along with creating the CHOICE concept. Broken up into two segments: ‘CHO’ refers to the simple fact that they should “Choose ProLabs”, while “ICE” represents ProLabs as the “Intelligent Connectivity Experts” that they are.

Haley has worked in the industry for almost ten years across intelligence, cyber security, media and TV, where she has gained key skills and has kept in touch with everyone who has ever worked with her. A keen advocate for internal communications and a “happy workplace”, she knows the importance of a happy work place to encourage motivation and continued learning for staff morale.

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

After graduating from university with a degree in Media Production and Communications, I had my heart set on a career in TV. I spent the summer volunteering at small TV stations and eventually ended up as a researcher on The Trisha Goddard Show! When the show ended, I knew it wasn’t for me and used my creative background to look for more communications/branding roles. I have now worked within marketing for nearly 10 years, from junior roles to where I am today as Global Marketing Director at the age of 32. I was headhunted for ProLabs back in April 2017, the CFO at the time was looking for someone who could build a team to execute a marketing structure and a global re-brand. I started as the Global Marketing Lead and with a large task ahead and a limited team, I found a great designer to help. Within 6 months, we had re-branded the business, built a new website and revitalised the internal culture to be proud of the business. I worked hard to reposition the business in the market, create a new style and differentiate the messaging, content style and thought leadership approach. I focused on building a new strategy that delivered results, ROI and a new era for the business – this new face of the business was an important factor of the merger that took place the following year. After a year leading ProLabs, I was promoted to Global Marketing Director and tasked with replicating the success of the ProLabs brand onto the AddOn brand which now sat under the newly formed Halo Technology Group – post merger.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Yes and no. I knew that whatever I did in life I wanted to make my parents proud of me, my dad’s work ethic has always been my driving force so whatever career path I took I knew I had to work as hard as he did when I was growing up. I have always been creative, not necessarily academic, and I hit a rocky patch in my early career when I could have thrown it all away. My mental health was suffering, and I was on self-destruct, I pulled through and got my head down and gave my everything to my career and received promotion to Head of Marketing in my previous business. I love my job, I don’t actually see it as work, so I am lucky for that, marketing and communications are my passions and I am fortunate that this has been recognised.

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

Being a young female in a male-orientated industry has had its challenges. I have had to introduce a fresh lease of life and new ideas to what could be seen as a dated industry. Being in a senior role in my early 30’s was tough – sometimes people would assume I didn’t know what I was talking about for someone so young or presumed inexperienced, but I have proven a lot of people wrong through my actions and deliverables.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

It was a huge honour to be recognised by CRN at the Women in Channel Awards, and recently being awarded Marketing Leader of the Year at the Tech Marketing and Innovation awards, both have most certainly been a highpoint and something I am extremely proud of. Aside from award recognition, seeing the impact of the global re-brand of ProLabs has been a particular highlight for me; the work that went into the project, the long months and late nights have paid off and the brand is now a market leader. On top of this, I have built an amazing team and watching young talent in my team thrive and grow in new roles makes me very proud.

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

My driving force along with my parents’ hard work ethic have been key in me being able to successfully complete the goals I wanted to achieve, not only for the global re-rebrand of ProLabs, but also in my life. I have been a long sufferer of mental health issues; I’ve had some very tough years and days due to this, but I am so fortunate to have a strong support network around me. My dad is my hero, a self-made man and my inspiration, he makes me want to be a better person and prove that you can do anything if you put your mind to it.

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

Don’t be afraid to be different, the industry is continually changing and growing and what may seem too bold now, could be the future. People told me that the branding we decided on for ProLabs was too modern, not like the rest of the industry and it wouldn’t go down well – this was not the case.  The visual identity of ProLabs is now industry recognised and the messaging and positioning has steered us towards being thought leaders.

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

I think it has improved significantly, it is still a male dominated industry, but I do see barriers breaking as strong women lead tech and are recognised for it. Your gender shouldn’t define any role that you can do and promoting success and empowering each other will always be key. If you have great people in your business, shout about it!

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

Internal up-skilling and training programmes. We had a great Coding Manager within the business who started as a customer service rep, she had an interest in engineering and tech and we nurtured that interest. Within a year she was working in the lab and after 2 years was our Coding Manager and then trained as an Engineer. Just because someone starts a business in one role, doesn’t mean it’s the right one for them. A good leader or business should encourage growth to nurture potential. Its easy to be scared off by technology roles and technical job specs, but if someone has the skills and drive to learn they should be encouraged.

There is currently only 15% 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?

Continued awareness on training and skills development. There are grants available out there as well as awards, publications and lots of amazing initiatives to promote women in tech, but more awareness of these is needed. I have been in a marketing role in technology for over 5 years and only recently aware of these myself.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Never stop learning – I learn something everyday and do not be afraid to admit that. I am studying for my leadership qualification with CIM and even after 10 years in marketing I am learning more every day.

I watch Ted Talks, read industry blogs and articles, as well as keep up to date with market journals for trends and analysis. I read a lot on LinkedIn from peers, its good to keep up to date with other people’s successes on social channels.

Networking and any events you can attend will also help with confidence and meeting new people, the first networking event I attended when I was about 23 was terrifying. I stood in the corner, ate the canapes and didn’t know how to approach anyone - but they are all designed to be open and friendly places to meet people and learn. I now go to several networking events and love them.


Dipti Dey featured

Inspirational Woman: Dipti Dey | Director of Professional Services, Hootsuite

As Director of Professional Services at Hootsuite, Dipti Dey has joined a company which empowers women to fulfil their potential.

As a leader and firm believer in mentorships, Dipti believes Hootsuite is making great strides to improves its diversity and inclusivity in the workplace. It hasn't always been like this for Dipti in the technology industry though. Whilst Dipti has been fortunate during her time at Cision, the technology industry as a whole can be debilitating for women's confidence. Over the years, Dipti has seen many women, including herself, fail to recognise their worth and not step up for positions they are more than qualified to do. Dipti believes that women are too focused on ticking all the boxes before they progress, but this isn't what's important nor is it what men do when they are in similar scenarios. Showing confidence, taking risks and learning as you go is an important way for women to progress in the technology industry especially as businesses become more conscious than ever to diversify their leadership teams.

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

I have always considered myself a changemaker, and that’s the reason I joined the tech industry, as change is always guaranteed.

I have been at Hootsuite for nearly four years now, and I have worked my way from Professional Services Manager for Customer Success to Director of Professional Services across EMEA. As this was a new role in the organisation, it really gave me the opportunity to make the job my own and carve out a place for myself as a female leader within the company. Over the past four years, I have had the privilege of seeing the company evolve into a more female-led organisation that champions diversity and encourages women to be ambitious.

Before Hootsuite, I worked at Cision for nearly fifteen years. I started out as a contributor and left heading up the customer success division, and I think that was a real career-defining moment for me.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

When I first started my career, I didn’t really have a clear career plan. It’s only when I landed my first management role that it changed. I had the responsibility of making my team successful and to do so meant getting plans in place!

When I had my son, I created a 5 year career plan which I wanted to achieve in 2 years. I wanted to work for a company that was considered a game changer in its field and held strong values that I could relate to. That’s why I joined Hootsuite in 2015. Making my son proud was a big part of my career plan too. Whilst the role I took at Hootsuite was a step down in seniority, I knew I would love working at the company and embrace the challenges I would face. I had the ambition that within two years I would work my way up to Director level - and here we are!

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

I have been very lucky in the sense I have worked with some hugely supportive male leaders throughout my career, who championed female leadership and encouraged movement up the career ladder. But that’s not saying I had an easy ride, like most women in the industry I had to fight to be noticed and that was a challenge. Early in my career I definitely also struggled with having the confidence to step up and put myself out there, but as I learnt to believe in myself, understood what I could bring to the table that was different from everyone else, and began to see which direction I could take the business, I started to be judged on my credibility and not my gender or race, and that’s got me to where I am today.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

It’s definitely hiring and promoting all the talented individuals I work beside. Many of those that I have mentored over my 15 + years of experience in tech have developed and become highly successful people leaders in global organisations, which makes me very proud!

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

That’s easy, it’s down to two words: Hard work! There are no shortcuts to success and that’s a fact. It’s something I tell all of the individuals I mentor - you have to put in the hours, show commitment and be determined to get the best results. You can’t be afraid of failure, and above all, as a female leader, self-believe is absolutely key.

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

The number one tip I can offer to someone in the tech industry is to be confident in yourself and what you can offer, because there will be times when you’re the only person that does. If you are resilient, hardworking and determined to excel, there really is no reason why you can’t. The industry is heading in the right direction when it comes to diversity, and I personally cannot wait to see where it will be in 20 years from now.

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

Yes, I do believe there are definitely barriers to success for women working in tech, and while the industry has developed, it still has a long way to go. Having said that, I do think something can be said for hard work, doing your research and showing resilience. It is so important for women entering the industry to know their worth, and not being afraid to step up. I often see young, capable women who won’t put their hand up because they don’t think they’re fit for the role, and it's a real shame. You don’t get anywhere in life without taking a few risks.

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

There are plenty of things companies can now do to ensure they are supporting women working hard in the technology industry. It needs to come from leadership, having someone in charge of inclusion and diversity, who has the first-hand experience of the issues in the industry, and is passionate about making a change. Hootsuite has definitely stepped up its game in recent years, and we now have Heidi Rolston who looks after inclusion and diversity, across the business.

Something we do regularly at Hootsuite is to bring together all female leadership, across every different department, to brainstorm what is working well at the company, lessons to be learnt and how we can improve in the future. These sessions are led by our Chief Marketing Officer, Penny Wilson who is hugely inspirational to me and a great role model for everyone within the industry.

The brainstorm sessions ensure we get multiple different viewpoints on how we can support women, instead of it coming straight from the top down. These brainstorms resulted in the company creating a female mentorship program which is soon to trial launch in Vancouver, as a way for junior women in the industry to learn skills from women at the heart of it.

There is currently only 15% 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?

The first thing I would do is change the recruitment process to be more inclusive. At Hootsuite, we strive to make the recruitment process as inclusive as possible. We don't just consider gender, but other intersections like race and sexuality etc. It's important that the industry as a whole does the same. Making the recruitment process inclusive for all, and setting up the company that it's a welcoming environment. Having said that, it’s great to see more high profile roles in tech go to female leaders, such as Susan Wojcicki, CEO at YouTube, Ginni Rommetty, CEO at IBM and Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, does make me more hopeful that things are slowly changing.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

In terms of podcasts, I love to listen to ‘Witty: Women in Tech Talk to Yaz”. It’s a bi-monthly podcast about women disrupting the technology industry, including the challenges women face in the industry and their first exposure to tech. The conversations are genuine and the humour is smart, it’s a refreshing take on addressing the issues within the industry head-on.

When it comes to books, one of my favourites is Indra Nooyi’s biography. She has been a huge inspiration for me throughout my career, and her book is no exception. Other authors include Steve Jobs, he’s extremely insightful and his books are highly informative. I’m also a  huge fan of Start with Why by Simon Sinek and The Wolfpack by Abby Wambach.


Caroline De Vos featured 1

Inspirational Woman: Caroline De Vos | Co-Founder & COO, SatADSL

Caroline De Vos

Caroline’s background is in astrophysics, she has an MBA and has previously worked at the European Space Agency as a candidate Astronaut.

In 2010, Caroline Co-Founded Satellite Service Provider, SatADSL. SatADSL designs and offers innovative satellite networking solutions to banks, microfinances, broadcasters, NGOs, Governments, ISPs, telecom operators and other companies in worldwide remote areas or where terrestrial infrastructure is not reliable. SatADSL has already installed more than 3,000 VSAT networks in more than 45 countries. It specializes in providing tailor-made solutions based on customers’ specific requirements and flexible service plans that meet its clients’ budgets. SatADSL is the creator of the innovative Cloud-based Service Delivery Platform (C-SDP) which serves as a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) solution, enabling operators to deliver satellite-based connectivity without investing in additional physical infrastructure.

Caroline is based in Belgium and travels extensively around the world with SatADSL, participating at annual trade shows including IBC, Africacom, CommunicAsia and many more.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role (this can include anything you are up to in terms of projects/initiatives – feel free to plug)

As Co-founder of SatADSL, I have master’s degrees in physics, Space Science and a Space Executive MBA from the International Space University. I have had a fascination in space science since a young age and in my earlier years I was proud to be an astronaut candidate at the European Space Agency (ESA). Little did I realise at the time, my love of space and heights was to play a starring role in my career path!

SatADSL was formed in 2011, in part out of an idea coming from a market study that I undertook with the other three SatADSL Co-Founders, Thierry Eltges, Co-Founder & CEO, Fulvio Sansone, Co-Founder & CTO and Michel Dothey Chief Commercial Officer.  While we were working at the ESA on a satcom study (https://artes.esa.int/projects/use-satellite-triple-play-services-emerging-countries) we realised that there was a way for us to channel our expertise to new places to find communities in need of connections using satellite communications. These connections could transform ways of life and enterprise beyond all recognition and I was certainly intent on doing this successfully!

Today, at SatADSL, we design innovative satellite networking solutions for areas where terrestrial infrastructure is not reliable. Our company has already installed more than 3,000 very small aperture terminal (VSAT) networks in more than 45 countries. Its tailor-made solutions are based on customers’ specific requirements with flexible service plans to meet budgets. SatADSL is also the creator of the innovative Cloud-based Service Delivery Platform (C-SDP) which serves as a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) solution, enabling operators to deliver satellite-based connectivity without investing in additional physical infrastructure.

I enjoy the balance I have between my career and home life, as a sporty mother of two girls aged 7 and 5. I never wanted to hold back on my goals and I always wanted to apply myself to be a strong leader for both my family and my business partners and peers. I feel that I have successfully achieved this so far, managing to still travel as my business requires while providing the supportive home life that my family deserves and expects.  My ethos has essentially always been this - dream big and encourage others to want to do the same.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I always knew I wanted to do something that would make a difference in the world. I hoped that I would be able to apply my skills to make my dreams a reality. In terms of planning, I felt that I knew the direction I would head in as I became a candidate astronaut to further my knowledge of space.

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

As a candidate astronaut, I narrowly missed the chance to become an astronaut, but this did not hold me back in furthering my ambitions! In a situation like this some women may have been discouraged but I took this as a turning point and an opportunity to channel my passions in a slightly different direction.

As a woman working in what is still predominantly seen as a ‘man’s world’, I have sometimes come up against challenges. Not only in tech today but in the past when I was a qualified mountain guide following my time at the ESA. It seemed back then that sometimes it was difficult to be the one to call the shots when surrounded by men. Why should it be that a woman is less deserving to have a leading role in a physically challenging environment like the mountains? I could say perhaps that my strength back then was to empathise my fellow climbers and an to apply my sensitivities to help them succeed in reaching their goals. I hope today that those I trained will remember my encouragement and perseverance, thinking of me as a strong leader, even in adverse terrain!

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Co-founding SatADSL with my three business partners was a huge achievement me. Starting the business allowed me to cement my goals with a tangible outlet for good. What I love most is that SatADSL is a truly unique business offering. We took a vision to market and we now have limitless potential to offer satellite services to communities close to our hearts, in Africa and beyond. The uniqueness of what our company can offer can completely transform lives and communities.

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

Many people say that they have a drive to succeed. For me, this was certainly the case as I knew I would never feel accomplished unless I tried to succeed from the start. As I began to travel the world in my younger years as a mountain guide, I realised there were new heights to be discovered, physically and mentally. A sense of exploration was always within me right from dreaming of space as a child, to translating this into real life as an adult. People need connections to flourish and I am so proud to have been able to apply my skills with my teams to connect people and unite dreams as often as possible.

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

I believe that anyone should be able to excel in a career in technology, if that is their dream. If they have confidence in themselves then there is no reason why they should not be able to reach the level they want – in any industry. For me, it was not always simple, but in combining my will to succeed with my knowledge of space, physics and human empathy I managed to succeed.

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

As far as I can tell, the barriers in tech are still there for women and a lot of this comes from an existing mentality that women are not strong enough to be successful in technology. This of course is false, and I am quite sure there is an appetite for change. As more opportunities arise and more positions are held by women, the environment will hopefully start to look very different.

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

It seems obvious to say but it remains to be seen in practice that more women will begin to take up positions at the highest level. I do feel encouraged to see more leading women in the technology sector and I hope that the unique strength women bring to leadership continues to stand out and that in a few years’ time this will be much less of an issue.

There are currently on 15% 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?

For things to change there needs to be more women approached for senior roles and more of an expectation that they will take the highest positions, if they have the right skillset. Women need to be empowered to go for those high-level positions in the first place to make this happen, especially in tech and to know that they can do it and be part of the change.

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

Networking is good - the more women are out there showing that they can be the best, the better!