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 only 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!


Inspirational Woman: Alison Horton | STEM Ambassador & Principal Engineer, Curtins

Alison Horton Headshot

Alison Horton is a senior engineer at the Birmingham office of built environment consultancy, Curtins.

Horton is also a STEM ambassador and is passionate about encouraging more people - both male and female - into STEM related jobs.

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

Following the completion of my master’s degree at Loughborough University, I joined built environment consultancy Curtins in its Birmingham office as a project engineer. Since then, I’ve progressed to senior engineer, and at the end of 2018 I was promoted to principal engineer and I’m running several high-profile projects within the company. I have also recently completed my chartership with the Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE).

I oversee the management of projects, liaising with my team, the client and external third parties. I am responsible for overseeing the production of drawings and manage work delivery and proposals. I’m also part of the graduate recruitment team at Curtins. Within the Birmingham office I review graduate, placement, work experience and apprenticeship applications and play a part in the interview process.

I’m also a STEM ambassador aiming to inspire the next generation to consider construction and engineering as a career. This sees me working on a variety of activities, from one-off session in schools, to year-long commitments with charities such as Scale Rule and their Next Generation Design Work.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Not really! I knew that I needed to get my A-Levels to go to university and I knew that I wanted to get my master’s degree, then get chartered, but that was about as far as the planning went. Even during my time at university, I didn’t have any plans to do a year out or study abroad - but as soon as those options were presented, I immediately took them and made them a part of my journey. I’m now chartered and at a point where I need to decide how I want my career to progress in an industry where there are so many possibilities.

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

As a graduate I realised the company I was working for wasn’t providing me with what I needed to progress my career in the way that I wanted. It was hard to make the decision to move on and leave behind those who had supported me through a placement year, but I knew I had to make the right decision for  my career and myself; I definitely haven’t  regretted the decision.

More recently, I found myself being given more responsibility and my role within the office was quickly escalating. However, my job title didn’t match up to this change, so I made sure to speak to the relevant people and communicate the work I was doing and the value that I was adding. I don’t think we should ever be scared to start conversations and make things happen off our own backs – honesty and being able to demonstrate value are key.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Getting chartered was a huge achievement for me and it was a relief to finally get there!  I’d been focussed on achieving it for five years following graduation, so it was nice to finally have it under my belt.

One of the achievements that really made me realise how far I’d come was when I became someone else’s mentor and role model. It had a big impact on me as a person and how I respond to my role and responsibilities at work. It’s a great feeling to find out someone looks up to you and it’s something I’m now very aware of in every aspect of what I do.

I’m proud that my work has been recognised by both my employer and the industry. I was awarded the Curtins 2018 Everyday Hero award and achieved Highly Commended in the ICE West Midlands Young Achiever Category.

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

The right boss is so important. At the end of the day, you can work as hard as you like, but if this isn’t recognised and acknowledged by your superiors then I think your chances of progressing diminish. The best advice I can give is find the right company, find the right boss, be passionate about what you do and don’t be afraid to move on if where you are now isn’t right for you.

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

Always ask questions. Not only will you learn more, but you’ll be showing enthusiasm and will be more engaged in what you do. Find what works for you. Know how you work and learn best, then find ways to adapt that into your work.

Don’t be afraid to give things a go. If you are given the chance to be a project lead, work abroad or run a team, don’t regret not having given it a go in the future.

Know your limitations. If you need help, you need to say so. People would rather know when you are struggling than you get something terribly wrong – speaking up first prevents any major issues arising on both a professional and personal level.

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

I’ve heard so many stories from women in engineering and construction and the problems they have had throughout my career. Some stories are decades old, but some are sadly very recent, so there are definitely still barriers that need to be overcome.

Although many of the stories I’ve heard can be attributed to the individual and their mindset rather than a company-wide issue, there is still a definite belief that women need to perform better than men to achieve the same recognition.

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

Getting women into the industry in the first step but getting them to stay is just as hard. I think it’s important that women aren’t treated any differently throughout their career. In general, women have the same needs and career aspirations as men, so should be afforded the same opportunities to grow, learn and showcase their talent. We just need to remember that men and women may achieve the same goals in different ways – just as you and your colleagues will have different ways of working.

Unconscious bias is a factor to consider as well. As the label suggests, many people don’t know they are even doing it. Inevitably the time may come where a woman wishes to start a family – but why should this be treated differently to a male member of staff having a child? Don’t alienate or isolate, but support and talk about their career and how things can work around their lives so they can continue to achieve their goals.

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’m a staunch believer in diversity being a huge strength and a positive thing. It is so important to have different opinions and outlooks for something to be successful, so having more women in the industry works towards this. But it’s not as simple as “we have to get more women into engineering”, it’s about education and talking to students before they choose their GCSE subjects.

I’ve learned through my time working with schools that girls and boys need to be educated on their career options at an early age. However, many schools, teachers and parents are not equipped to do this. It’s important for all industries to highlight the work they do and the opportunities they provide as a career path. After that, students can make an informed decision on what’s right for them – and all industries will then benefit from having the right people.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech/STEM? E.g. podcasts, networking events, books, conferences, websites etc.

I found the European Women in Construction and Engineering Conference a great place to share ideas with like-minded people. I do think that women feel the need to connect with others in a similar position more than men do. I think it’s important that we are all looking for role models, as well as advice and guidance, so it’s about finding that inspiration from people you know and respect.

LinkedIn is also a must – I use it to follow certain groups and companies to keep up to date with things in construction and engineering, as well as using it to share my achievements and work.


Inspirational Woman: Ida Tin | Co-Founder & CEO, Clue

Ida Tin, Co-Founder of Clue

Ida Tin is a Danish entrepreneur and author, who is the co-founder and CEO of female health app Clue (www.helloclue.com).

She is also the woman responsible for coining the term ‘femtech’.

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

I am Ida Tin, the founder and CEO of the female health app Clue (www.helloclue.com). I started Clue because I was puzzled that there had been so little innovation in family planning, and why it still wasn’t possible for me to really know what was going on in my body related to my reproductive health - I had questions like, can I become pregnant today? Have I gotten pregnant? What side effects will I have from different types of birth control - and even a simple thing like, when will my next period come? So I started to build Clue. It is a free period tracking app, designed to help women and people who menstruate around the world track their cycles and unlock the power of their bodies. To date, Clue has over 12 million active users across more than 190 countries.

Through the Clue app, users can: track their period, symptoms of PMS, fertile window, moods and cramps; they can also log food cravings, energy levels, skin and hair quality, exercise and weight. Users can also track their birth control methods, log basal body temperature and ovulation, set reminders to alert them of when their next period is due or when they should take their oral contraception.

Our long-term goal is to be the go-to, scientifically-reliable source of information for women, addressing all aspects of their reproductive health - from their first period, through to pregnancy and menopause. We want to open up the conversation around this topic and aid in furthering research into this crucial aspect of female health.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I actually wanted to become an artist, but literally got lost in the hallways of a university in London and ended up doing an entrepreneurship course for people in the creative arts. That was in 1999, and I have been self-employed since then, I have never actually held a job anywhere other than in companies I have started myself.

I have always been fascinated with stories of strong women fighting for equality. I grew up travelling the world on motorcycles and having seen the lives of women all over the planet, and their strength, it is close to my heart to build technology than can support them in unfolding their potential - and quite literally the potential of the world. I would always encourage anyone to pursue their interests and do what they are truly passionate about – that’s the best way to decide on a career that is right for you.

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

I would say that in my role as a leader, the biggest challenge is to keep learning and growing as a human. There is a maybe surprising, but clear correlation between my personal growth and that of the company. I focus on what I do best, and try to be humble enough to step aside in all the many areas where people I have hired are far better than myself. This can be difficult as the company grows and in a sense, my area of responsibilities keeps shrinking. At the same time, what’s left gets harder - culture, long term strategy for the company and becoming a sustainable company in its broadest sense. And to keep defining my role myself, as the pressure from the outside to fulfill it in ways that others have before me, increases. I don’t feel I fit the mold of a traditional CEO in many ways and it takes a lot of courage to keep staying true to what I am, my potential and my desires.

In terms of the business as a whole, when Clue first started, it was a challenge trying to prove the value of what many think of as a ‘niche’ women’s product. Now “femtech” is a known category and apps like Clue affect women, science communities and crucially, culture as a whole. In this sense femtech doesn’t only encompass products for women, but instead tools and services that advance all of society, and we must keep this in mind as we seek and provide funding, and hire talent.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I would say that two of our main achievements have been when we surpassed 10, and then very quickly, 12 million global users. Knowing that the product we created was needed and was used by so many people, in over 190 countries around the world, has been a huge achievement. Similarly, launching our  website, HelloClue.com, in 2018 was a great highlight, and was one of the many examples of our company developing in response to user demand. In the course of 2017, our Support Team received over 1,000 enquiries relating to menstrual health, contraception or symptoms, which meant that the answers were not readily available online. We decided to create a resource that would address these questions and provide reliable, scientifically accurate information to anyone who might be looking for it. Launching this resource and watching it grow has been a hugely rewarding experience.

I am also both proud and grateful for the culture we have in the office, with people from all over the world and of different sexual orientations. When people tell me that for the first time in their careers they can come to work as their full selves and feel included, that makes me think that we are doing something right. I also know that as different as we are at Clue, we share a big sense of purpose doing the work we do, and that feels like both a huge resource and a gift.

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

I think that one of the main factors for Clue being as successful as it is, is the fact that when we started, I was surrounded by dedicated and passionate co-founders who believed in Clue as much as I do. Since then, we have grown an incredibly strong and supporting team, including our investors, all of whom share the same vision - we want to give people greater control of their own bodies, and arm them with knowledge about this fundamental aspect of their lives.

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

I would advise anyone who is keen to pursue a career in technology to never hesitate in seeking advice. Entrepreneurship, even though it is hugely rewarding when you succeed, can be tough, so advice and a sympathetic ear can go a long way in helping. I would especially recommend all budding CEOs to reach out to existing technology leaders for support, advice and mentorship. By supporting one another in our pursuits, tech entrepreneurs will continue to develop and grow in whichever industry their choose.

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

I think we still have some way to go towards achieving gender equality within the workplace in general, and not just in technology. To do this, I think men and women alike need to support each other, and open the conversation around how we listen, or not really listen, to women’s ideas and perspectives. Women are more angry than we notice even ourselves, and we are taught to suppress this anger. This is a huge energy drain, and it also means that women don’t take, nor are given, the airtime, the space and - essentially, the power that the world would be well served to make use of. When we are angry there is most likely a good reason for it; not being met at eye level, not having our boundaries respected, not being given the opportunities we have earned. With our anger comes clarity and more space for unfolding potential. This does not mean that we should forget good communication, but that we shouldn’t just smile when we’re feeling angry.

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

The best thing companies can do is listen to women – to their ideas and their concerns – and support them in achieving their aims. We should be supporting them through all areas of life, from the start of their career, through to maternity leave and their return to work. Providing adequate support and encouragement maintains talent retainment and is good business sense.

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?

I would give woman belief in themselves. Confidence that what they care about is valid, that they have good solutions to difficult problems. That they can learn along the way, and that what they think is smart. More than anything, women are often the ones holding themselves back. Be brave. That doesn’t mean be hard, or completely unafraid, or refuse to ask for help, or never fail. It means having the courage to try, and try again in the face of all these difficulties. The world needs more diverse voices to be heard, and more options for doing things in new ways. The old models are breaking, have already broken. It’s paramount that new values are expressed and lived.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I listen to audiobooks whenever I can - on my commute, as I do laundry. That’s how I get to “read” a fair amount of books because sitting down to read is not really possible in my life right now, while juggling a business and two small kids. I love listening to women who have broken the norm, fought for their communities. I also listen to lots of non-fiction about leadership, the future of technology, data, algorithms, ethics and health. And of course I love books that teach me new things about the female body. It’s an absolutely fascinating system that we still need to do much more research on. When it comes to conferences, they can be inspiring and mind opening, but also a bit overwhelming. It’s often the few deeper conversations I end up having with someone that I will remember.

I have a number of various teachers, coaches, trainers, advisers. Right now, I am particularly excited about working with a somatic body coach and a spiritual teacher.


Bernie Elliott Bowman featured

Inspirational Woman: Bernadette Elliott-Bowman | Invention Developer, Iprova

Bernie Elliott BowmanBernadette is an Invention Developer at AI-driven invention company, Iprova.

The start-up, which has offices in Lausanne, London and Cambridge, works to develop inventions for multinational clients such as Philips, Deutsche Telekom and Panasonic.

Having graduated from Aberdeen University with first class honours in Mechanical Engineering, Bernadette has led a varied career with roles including Undergraduate teaching assistant, Freelance journal editor, and Consultant - focusing on emerging technology tracking.

Bernadette joined Iprova two years ago upon achieving a PhD in Materials Science, attracted by the breadth and diversity that the role offers.

She is a member of the Institute for Engineering and Technology (IET) and, in her spare time, is a keen hockey player, coach and umpire.

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

My name is Bernadette (Bernie) Elliott-Bowman, I’m 31 years old and I live near London with my wife and two cats. I studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Aberdeen, followed by a materials science PhD at Imperial College London. I’m currently working as an Invention Developer with Iprova, a start-up that’s pioneering data-driven invention. The diverse range of different things I get the opportunity to work on is one of the most exciting elements of this job: projects I’ve worked on have ranged from surgical robotics and the internet of things to sports and fitness. In my spare time I like to play hockey with my local club and read sci-fi books.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Yes, but that isn’t to say that my career has actually followed that plan in any way! The roadmap seemed fairly clear when I was first starting out at university – complete my engineering degree, join an exciting company, work towards becoming a chartered engineer. But I think what you actually want to do in life has a way of sneaking up on you, usually helped along the way by different opportunities that fall into your path. I definitely didn’t expect to be writing “Invention Developer” as a job title on my LinkedIn profile!

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

After finishing my undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering, I switched disciplines to materials science. It was a steep learning curve, particularly when you’re trying to counterbalance learning a completely new field with actually starting your research. One of the things that really helped me in this situation was having a great support group of friends in the research community at Imperial College. Just having people to have a coffee or go to the gym with who are in the same boat as you, dealing with the same problems and stresses, is a huge boost. And that’s something that’s relevant for women in science and technology too – shared experiences let you know that you’re not on your own.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Finishing my PhD is my biggest career achievement so far. To me, a PhD doesn’t only tell you that a person is an expert in a particular field. It tells you that this person is resilient, that they can work through intellectually, emotionally and psychologically challenging scenarios, and has the commitment and self-motivation to come out the other end with a positive result.

On a day to day basis, I’m lucky to work in an environment at Iprova where I’m able to create inventions across a really diverse range of technology areas that can end up as a patent. Given my background, I never thought I would be able to say that I’ve created patentable inventions in fields such as sports, industrial printing and augmented reality. Collaborating with machine learning software like we do at Iprova can really enhance your creative potential as an inventor.

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

Being open to a lot of different experiences and opportunities. Across my career and education so far, I’ve tried to take the time to become involved in other things outside my main line of study or work. As an example, while I was completing my PhD I was also involved in technology consultancy and freelance scientific editing. While there’s an element of needing paid work to survive as a PhD student, these are the kinds of things that really set me up for the future, broadening out my knowledge and skillset for employment in a sector that doesn’t necessarily only value high specialism like it may have done in the past.

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

Stay up to date with new developments and take opportunities when they present themselves. Technology is constantly shifting and developing, and anyone wanting to make a career in this sector has to be prepared and flexible enough to do the same.

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

We’re making a lot of progress, but there are definitely still barriers for women working in tech. The lack of equality in pay (while a feature of other industries too) is a reason in itself why women may not choose to pursue a career, never mind the continuing lack of visibility of women in technology jobs as a whole. I can’t count the number of times I’ve walked into meetings, conferences and seminars and had to search the crowd for another female face, and at times it can make you feel like a bit of an oddity. Many of the barriers women face in the sector boil down to perceptions and assumptions, but there’s no easy solution for that.

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

It’s great that more and more companies are developing support initiatives to help women’s careers, whether this is networking and training opportunities or increasing visibility within an organisation. However, it’s crucial that women are consulted on what they actually want to get out of them, and how their needs can be met. Female employees will only feel more alienated if the career initiatives that tech companies are offering aren’t fit for purpose.

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?

My magic wand wish is summarised perfectly in a Medium writeup from Rebecca Shaw, which features the excellent quote by Sarah Hagi: “Lord, grant me the confidence of a mediocre white man.” Women face the daily challenge of convincing others (and sometimes themselves) that their work, ideas and opinions are just as interesting and valuable as anyone else’s. Finding the confidence to do that is half the battle.

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

Some of the institutes are working really hard to increase the visibility of and networking opportunities for women in tech. I’m a member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and they hold regular women’s networking events and conferences. There are also some great Tumblr accounts for a more irreverent and relatable take on the day-to-day challenges women face in industry.


Inspirational Woman: Alexandra Craciun | Audio Algorithm Engineer, XMOS

Alexandra Craciun, Algorithm Engineer at XMOSAlexandra Craciun is an Audio Algorithm Engineer at XMOS.

Alex specialises in the field of voice technology, and her current work revolves around the science of speech. Specifically, she develops speech detection algorithms capable of distinguishing between a human voice and sound from a non-speech source. Alex personally holds five patents relating to her work in this space.

Prior to joining XMOS in 2017, Alex worked as a researcher at Fraunhofer Institute of Integrated Circuits and International Audio Laboratories in Erlangen, Germany. Previous projects include audio watermarking, spatial sound, sound scene segmentation and speech modelling.

Bristol-based XMOS stands at the forefront of the global far-field voice interface market as the first company to win Amazon AVS qualification for a far-field linear development kit. Its engineering has spurred a wave of third-party products that are democratising access to technology and transforming the way humans interact with their AI-enabled assistants. Examples include Pillo, the healthcare robot from Pillo Health, and Audio Spotlight, the directional speaker from Holosonics.

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

Currently, I’m an audio algorithm engineer at XMOS, working on designing low complexity algorithms, which allow our chips to efficiently detect when someone is talking.

I’m lucky, because my job is a good mixture of engineering and research work. It’s very hard to find a job that allows you to do both!

Prior to working at XMOS, I lived in Germany for thirteen years, where I settled after leaving Romania. In Germany, I enrolled in a private university, where I studied both electrical engineering and computer science.

I was fortunate enough to be chosen for an internship at Fraunhofer IIS, better known as the “home of MP3”, at the end of my university studies. This was a huge opportunity for me, because I had the chance to work and cooperate with many audio experts. It was at Fraunhofer that my passion for acoustic research blossomed!

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

People always expect a “Yes” in response to this question. In my case, the answer is no.

What I thought my career path would look like at the start of university and what I’m doing now are totally different. I thought that after my electrical engineering degree I would be tinkering in a shed, fixing TVs and radios. Funnily enough, it didn’t quite turn out that way!

In my opinion, planning in advance is overrated. What you really need to learn is how to adapt. Technology is advancing at such speed that it quickly makes yesterday’s plans and ideas obsolete, so adaptability is key.

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

Of course, everyone encounters challenges in the workplace sooner or later. Sometimes these appear when the management changes the priorities of a project or when you encounter an unexpected technical problem, which requires substantial framework restructuring.

The key to overcoming career challenges is to never be afraid to ask for help. There is a lot to learn from the experience of others. Nobody is born an expert after all!

Also, you should see every change, whether good or bad, as an exciting new challenge. Trying something new can sometimes result in a solution that can be used to tackle old problems, for instance.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

No single achievement stands out—there are many moments I’m proud of! I consider all the things I’ve helped create, and the people I helped along the way, as equal achievements.

If I had to choose one moment, it would be when a former student sent me an unexpected email thanking me for my support and guidance. Sharing knowledge with others is so important, and to know I had shaped the path of another person made me immensely proud.

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

I always think of myself as very fortunate, because I’ve always had the chance to work with amazing people, from whom I’ve learnt so much.

My career has involved large amounts of hard work and commitment, of course, but sometimes it’s just a case of being in the right place at the right time.

It’s also vital not to let anyone tell you you’re not good enough or that you can’t achieve something. Have faith in your talent!

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

In technology, I believe it’s important to find a good mentor, or someone who inspires you, because these figures show us how much better we can be. It’s not about reaching perfection, but about becoming a better version of the person you were yesterday.

It’s also important to give yourself free time now and again, to have absolutely nothing on your to-do list. We all try to fit as many things into as little time as possible today. But great ideas often come about as a result of freedom to think, without the pressure of time weighing on your shoulders.

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

In theory, if you’re good at what you do, you should have the same level of success, irrespective of gender.

However, some women might not be so confident or might not fight as aggressively for promotions and raises. While there are an increasing number of women working in STEM, there aren’t all that many women working in leadership roles within these industries.

I’m confident that this will change with time, if we raise young girls to believe they can do anything they turn their hand to!

In Romania, there is an extremely high percentage of women in STEM. This is because our parents teach us that we can do whatever we want, and this is instilled in us from a young age.

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

The first step should be to ask women what they need to progress.

Some of us would profit from a mentor, others would like to try out different roles or learn new skills, some need flexible hours, or subsidised baby-care.

It’s normal to talk about salaries, but not so much about the needs of the person. We need a system with greater focus on the needs of the individual, instead of the broad brush-stroke approach we take today.

There are 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?

It’s important to start early. Tell young girls stories about science, and they’ll develop curiosity! Encouraging girls to think from a scientific perspective would go a long way to encouraging them into STEM careers.

Beyond that, juggling family and a career is difficult for women. There’s definitely a space for better family support programmes offered by the government, to support those that require childcare.

Removing that stress from the equation would motivate more women to pursue a career in tech.

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

Thankfully, there are plenty of resources and events to choose from these days.

At the first conference I ever attended, I could count the number of women in attendance on one hand, but that has changed so much in recent years.

Now, there are many talks and events designed specifically for women in STEM, and there is a lot more effort invested in making women feel welcome in a tech environment.

In Bristol, we have specific tech meetups and groups for women, such as Women’s Tech Hub or Geek Girls Dinner. These groups offer a number of perks, including programming workshops, subsidised event tickets, or help in preparing for a job interview.

Thanks to the work of many talented and devoted individuals, there is no shortage of help out there for women looking to set out on a career in STEM.