Inspirational Woman: Carolyn Crandall | Chief Deception Office & CMO, Attivo Networks

Carolyn CrandallCarolyn Crandall currently holds the dual roles of Chief Deception Officer and CMO at Attivo Networks. 

She is a high-impact technology executive with over 30 years of experience building new markets and successful enterprise infrastructure companies such as Cisco, Juniper Networks, Nimble Storage, Riverbed, and Seagate. Her current focus is on breach risk mitigation by teaching organizations how to shift from a prevention-based cybersecurity infrastructure to one of an active security defense based on cyber deception.

Carolyn is an active evangelist, blogger, byline contributor, author, speaker on industry trends and security innovation, and mentor for women.  She has spoken at industry events around the world, been a guest on Fox News, been profiled by the San Jose Mercury News, and received many industry recognitions including Top 25 Women in Cybersecurity 2019 by Cyber Defense Magazine, Reboot Leadership Honoree (CIO/C-Suite) 2018 by SC Media, Marketing Hall of Femme Honoree 2018 by DMN, Business Woman of the Year 2018 by CEO Today Magazine, Cyber Security Marketer of the Year 2020 by CyberDojo (RSA), and for 9 years a Power Woman by Everything Channel (CRN). Additionally, Carolyn serves as an Advisory Board Member for the Santa Clara University Executive MBA program and in 2019 co-authored the book, Deception-based Threat Detection, Shifting Power to the Defenders.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Honestly, I can’t say that I have formally planned my career. What I do, however, is actively track hot companies and technology that I find interesting, as well as follow trend-setting CEOs and venture firms associated with companies I might want to work for next. I also stay in regular communication with executive search firms so that when I am ready to make a move, I have a relationship so if something really hot comes up, I’m on their radar. I also use these discussions to help others by making introductions when I know a company is seeking and someone is looking. Although, most people cite word of mouth or relationships as a reason for securing their job positions, I think I am tracking about 70% of my placements based on working with an executive search firm.

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

I have had my share of career challenges and setbacks.  This often occurs when leadership changes are made at a company and a new CEO or department leader wants to bring in their own team. It was particularly difficult when this occurred during the 2009 recession when new roles were not being created and people were not actively shifting out of their current ones.  What I did during these times to get not only what was available but what I wanted was to be patient and to network like crazy — not in the form of calling people to ask for a job, but more to check in and see how they were doing, what projects their companies were working on, and if they needed any contract help. This often opened a dialogue when they or colleagues had an opening that matched my skills. I expect during these COVID-19 times, many people will be feeling dejected and want to give up.  I encourage you not to. Be smart and don’t fixate on filling out mass applications. Seek out the positions you want, be as patient as your needs will allow, and come prepared to stand out with your resume and your interview. Also, I must admit, unless it was very early in my career, I have never had any traction submitting a resume online and would not count on this as a way to get noticed.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

My biggest career advancement so far has been making it to the C-level. My biggest personal career achievements are better recognized in two ways. First, I have been able to take new companies into market leadership positions and second, I have had the opportunity to create new jobs for college hires and watch them flourish as they grow and gain new skills. It is extremely fulfilling to see members of my team hit their stride and do things in remarkable ways.

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

The biggest factor is in not holding back and not restricting myself to only doing things that I have done before. I constantly try to learn, and I’m willing to try new things and risk small setbacks along the way. I have also forced myself to keep a stiff upper lip when it comes to the criticism of those who don’t feel I am credible or deserving of what I have achieved or am trying to do. Living in world where I present myself in both a technical and marketing role has definitely had its challenges as all too many people dismiss you immediately for having a marketing title, even if you carry the technical chops required.

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

Never stop learning. On-the job experience, self-learning, and certifications can all be incredibly useful in advancing your career.

Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know. If you don’t know something, find a way to learn it. Surround yourself with people that do know — whether colleagues, mentors, or outside advisors.

Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know and to ask others for their opinions and support. Leadership is not based on telling people what to do. It is based on setting a vision and then utilizing your team and resources to best accomplish that vision.

Be visible and build your reputation. Celebrate your successes and don’t be ashamed to communicate your achievements. Don’t forget to share your knowledge with others.

Measure your success not only on what you achieve but also on what you help others achieve.

Remember, when looking to advance, it is always tempting to ask for a title, but the request will often get brushed off if you’re just asking for it for the sake of a title. It is much better to ask what traits a person with a certain title needs to possess, where your skills are compared to those required, and what actions you could take to close any gaps. It is then fair to ask, if I possessed these skills, would I be able to advance to the next level. In some cases, for whatever reason, a company won’t be able to accommodate your growth even if you achieve these things. It’s best to fully understand the reality of the situation and to know when it is time to move on.

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

Yes, there are still barriers for women working in tech. These barriers will be overcome with time and grit. Women need to not give up and not get disheartened by being a part of a team or sitting in meetings where no one around them looks like them. Over time it will get better and as women have more time in cyber, they will also rise in roles, which will make way for the power to hire more women and drive momentum in diversity. Throughout this growth, women also need to take the time to help each other. Sometimes we fight so hard that we don’t realize the impact of our actions. Women in leadership roles can often be viewed as “aggressive” – I’ll refrain from using the b word. I have found that women often have to work harder than men to be heard and taken seriously. Men appear to more automatically gain respect with their given title, whereas women with the same title often have to fight for or be pushed to prove themselves to garner that same respect.

As we seek to fit in and advance our careers, please be mindful to have a positive effect on other others and to not intentionally or accidentally create “road kill” of other women along the way. As the saying goes, be careful of who you burn on the way up as you might see them again on your way down.

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

Companies can help support women in cybersecurity by making sure to offer support programs so that they don’t end up feeling isolated, ignored, or alone. This can include creating strong support networks and a culture that welcomes women and the different views they bring to the table. This can be as simple as helping create social situations so that leadership and colleagues can get to know these new team members, offering mentoring, or creating online groups of like-minded people to learn how they cope with similar circumstances.

The tech industry has a lot to offer women, and women have a lot to offer the tech industry.  By being welcoming and supportive, we can attract incredible talent and be a better workforce for it.

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

If I had a magic wand, I would create a subsidy program that would cover the payroll of new graduates and women looking to change careers for their first year, offering shadowing and career advancement opportunities. This would create new opportunities that would not be there otherwise, and after one year, these women would have gained valuable experience and proven their value, which will help them in establishing required skills and experiences needed for advancement.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Podcasts and webinars are fantastic ways to continue to learn and access to them is often free. I would try to listen to one podcast a week while exercising or driving or watch a webinar over lunch.  Vendors provide access to free training, and these can be great sources of education and information. I also think every individual should attend at least one conference a year for learning and networking. I would negotiate being financially supported by the company to do this into any final offer. Also, when you are at the event, as tired as you may get, make sure to attend as many sessions and meetings as you can.  The last thing I would do is to blog at least once a month. It will drive you to learn and make sure that you really understand the concepts. Writing it down and adding your perspectives will make you think through how well you really learned the material.


WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here.


Inspirational Woman: Cathy Southwick | Chief Information Officer, Pure Storage

Cathy Southwick Cathy Southwick joined Pure Storage in 2018 as Chief Information Officer. In this role, she leads Pure’s global IT strategy and advances the company’s operations through the delivery of next-generation technology capabilities and systems.

Cathy is an accomplished leader with over 20 years of experience defining andexecuting forward-looking IT strategies. Prior to Pure, Cathy held leadership positions at AT&T, including Vice President, Technology Engineering and Vice President, Cloud Planning & Engineering. During her tenure at AT&T, Cathy led the planning and execution of IT strategies from the Core Network, IT application modernization, and the IT cloud.

Before joining AT&T, Cathy spent 11 years at Viking Freight System (now owned by FedEx) where she held escalating leadership positions in IT architecture and planning, software development, merger integration, strategic planning, human resources management, procurement, project/portfolio management, and process re-engineering.

Cathy holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Saint Mary's College and an MBA from the University of Phoenix.

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

I’ve spent over 25 years working in the technology industry, and I’ve loved every moment. Technology has evolved so much over that time, becoming increasingly integral to every aspect of our lives, and it’s been fascinating to be at the forefront of technology innovation and  transformation.

My current role is CIO at Pure Storage, a company that, despite only being ten years old, has completely disrupted the data storage market. Data is more essential than ever for the success of a business, and my main focus as CIO is making sure we deliver the next-gen technology that empowers our customers to live the Modern Data Experience only Pure can create.

Before joining Pure, I held various leadership positions at AT&T where I gained extensive experience with IT innovation, network functions virtualization, IT transformation, application and cloud migrations, engineering, and cloud infrastructure. Spending such a long tenure at a company gave me deep insight into not only what it takes to build a successful tech team, but also how to play a crucial part in the running of a business.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Yes and no. I’m definitely goal-driven, which has its benefits as it’s always given me something clear to work toward. But I’ve also learned that adhering too strictly to a certain vision or plan for your career can hold you back--you risk getting tunnel-vision that shields you from other, potentially better, opportunities to diversify your career. If you spend too much time honing one specific set of skills, you may see other doors for career growth closed. You never know what opportunity might be right in front of you, especially in the technology industry, so I’ve learned to strike a balance between setting clear goals and looking for opportunities to try something new.

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

Like many of my peers, my career began at a time when it wasn’t common to have women in tech leadership roles. As a result, I didn’t have many role models, and on many occasions I’d be the only woman in a meeting. Early in my career, I’d feel the need to say something unique and valuable every time just to prove why I was in the room, but not any longer.  I now focus on the outcomes we’re trying to drive and how I can help amplify other voices in the room that may not feel like their voices are being heard.

Another challenge I’ve faced is learning to not over-manage people – something I readily admit to having done as I’ve risen up the leadership ranks. It takes time and experience to overcome, but I realised that management and leadership are not about getting involved in every granular detail of every project taking place on your team. Rather, being a leader is about removing roadblocks, focusing on the bigger picture, creating a vision and creating an environment in which your team can achieve greatness on their own.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

When I reflect on it, I would say my biggest sense of achievement comes from the different teams I’ve built and managed. Everyone brings something unique to a team and has their own way of looking at a problem, and I always strive to encourage my team members to take ownership and explore how their skillset can contribute to a collective goal. It’s been incredibly rewarding to watch individuals flourish when they’re empowered to make the decisions that lead not only to their own personal success, but also to that of the business.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had the opportunity to lead some of the most successful technical challenges to enable a business, but in the end, it’s our people who deliver the results.

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

I’ve always had a genuine passion for technology, and no matter what role I’ve held, technology has always been at the core of my work. It may be a cliché, but you really do have to do something you love to be successful – it’s a motivator in itself. I’ve also been fortunate enough to have amazing mentors all throughout my career, both men and women.

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

Seek out a mentor! Whether it’s a woman or a man, finding someone who has a role you aspire to and asking for her/his mentorship is one of the best ways to learn and make the connections that can end up benefiting your career down the road. You cannot be afraid to ask for help or guidance. What’s the worst that could happen? If the person says no, you’re exactly where you were before you asked.

On the flipside of that, you have to learn to be the driver of your own career. That would be the advice I would give to my younger, more naïve self. Doing more takes courage, whether it be networking, speaking up in a meeting or learning something new - but it also pays off. It seems obvious, but a surprising amount of people go to work, doing the exact same thing, day in and day out, expecting that it will be enough to get them noticed. But in reality, if you’re just doing the work, and not sharing or helping others, you could easily be seen as just doing the bare minimum.  Real growth means stepping out of your comfort-zone and sometimes even having to take on new challenging work that you never dreamed you could accomplish..

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

I think one of the biggest barriers is encouraging people into the tech industry in the first place. This issue extends beyond that of gender, but relates to a wider one around the lack of diversity in the industry. A lot of people have this idea that there’s a certain “type” of person who seeks out a career in tech, when in reality, the potential for diversity in this industry is endless--you don’t have to look, talk, or behave in any specific way to excel in this field.

One way to overcome this stereotypical idea involves placing a greater emphasis and appreciation on the wide variety of opportunities and routes into a tech career. The greater emphasis being placed on STEM education for example is great, but more must be done to encourage other types of “soft skills” and demonstrate how they can serve as a route into a successful technology career.

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

I’ve been fortunate to work in several companies in which there was a big focus on creating opportunities for women to excel, and the same can be said of Pure Storage. There’s such a big emphasis on fostering a culture of inclusivity and equality, encouraging mentorships to ensure everyone can reach their full potential.  We need to ensure that companies and employees are talking about the challenges and differences that exist in the workplace for their talent… education of the issues and finding creative ways to solve problems should be at the forefront.

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

Increasing and changing the pipelines for recruiting female talent at all stages of careers can be a game changer.  Additionally, being more supportive of one another is a topic that’s come up a lot among Pure’s Women’s Leadership. It’s common for women to be hesitant to vocalize support for their female peers because there’s a fear that if their colleague isn’t successful, then it will look bad on them as well. But we need to embrace the idea that we can bring one another up and boost our collective confidence in the workplace by being more vocally supportive of our female peers.

I’ve had the opportunity to participate in many conversations around diversity and inclusion, and the idea came up that even if you’re in an environment that’s accepting of diversity, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll feel like you belong. In that sense, we need to try to go beyond just accepting our female peers and instead embrace and actively promote the unique ideas and perspectives they’re capable of bringing to the table.  Be the Change you want to see!

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

There are too many to list!  There are many organizations that are focused on helping women in tech.  I would encourage everyone to get engaged and involved… it could be with your company’s ERG, networking events (CIO roundtables), technology conferences, partnering with vendors and partners on their events, etc.  Do a search in your area on the internet or reach out to other women peers to find out what is available locally to you.


WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here.


Julia Fraser

Inspirational Woman: Julia Fraser | Vice President of Sales, UK & Ireland, CenturyLink

Julia FraserWith more than 20 years of experience in the technology industry, Julia leads a team of Sales, Customer Support and Sales Engineers at CenturyLink, a global technology company that operates one of the world’s largest and most interconnected networks.

Her team deliver secure and reliable hybrid networking, cloud connectivity, and security solutions to meet the growing digital demands of businesses, with a focus on delivering technology that enhances the customer experience.

Julia is a strong advocate for the power of technology to transform business and improve lives, customer-first service excellence, and diversity and inclusion.

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

My technology career started at Symbian, a smartphone software start-up during the late 1990s. It was an exciting experience that inspired me to continue my journey in this industry. We made the internet available on a phone years before an iPhone was even created.

Now at CenturyLink, I’m Vice President of Sales for the UK and Ireland, responsible for a team that delivers innovative digital business technology solutions and manages more than a thousand customer relationships.

A customer first approach is one of our company’s key differentiators. We are focused on delivering exceptional customer service, including advancing automation and customer self-service to continue to enhance the ease with which customers can access and utilise our network platform.

On top of my day to day role, I’m also extremely proud to support our company’s diversity and inclusion strategy. CenturyLink actively promotes inclusion as an integral part of our corporate culture – and as a key contributor to our success. ‘Champions diversity’ is one of our employee goals. We recognise that creating an environment where everyone feels empowered and respected, helps us to fulfil our potential and to deliver the best solutions for our customers.

A recent company-wide initiative has been to train staff in unconscious bias awareness. I also lead mentoring groups to develop and encourage female talent across our business. We want to attract and retain the best people and these types of programmes help us do that.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

My career hasn’t always been linear. I initially studied law at university. The potential for technology to transform the way we work and live, sparked my passion to change paths.

My legal knowledge has proved extremely useful in my technology career, but I’ve never looked back. Today, more than ever before, expanding digital demands mean that the technology industry is an area of growth and innovation. It never stands still, which is why it’s such an exciting industry to be part of.

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

It can be a challenge to maintain a healthy balance between your personal and professional life, particularly when you have young children and a demanding career. I learned early on that you need to effectively prioritize your work and leverage agile ways of working, in order to protect your personal time. If you can get that right, you are also a more productive and inspirational business leader.

I am a strong advocate of initiatives that allow employees to work smarter for a better work-life balance. In my experience, technology companies tend to be more progressive than many other sectors in offering flexible working time options and opportunities for mobile working. With technologies such as video conferencing, group chat, and collaboration software, employees do not need to be face-to-face to successfully communicate or meet their business goals.

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

Having the confidence to step up and make things happen.

I’ve always believed that regardless of your gender, achieving success is about working hard and taking on new and challenging projects to build your knowledge and skills. It’s about continuously learning and ensuring that you are visible by jumping at opportunities within your organisation and industry.

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

While there is still more to be done to erase gender inequality, the technology industry has made significant progress. Today, many tech companies are working hard to attract top female talent to accommodate the industry’s accelerating growth.

A key hurdle that I come across is cultural, and broader than a technology industry issue. In my experience, women often underestimate their abilities, which means they can miss out on opportunities. It’s well documented that women wait until they are certain that they meet 100% of skills required in a job description before they apply for positions. I encourage women to push themselves out of their comfort zones and consider roles where they don’t have all the criteria nailed. Take the chance, go for the job and learn as you grow.

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

Best-in-class employers understand that equality is not the responsibility of women, it’s an issue for everyone. Senior leaders have a vital role to play in steering diversity and inclusion policy and culture strategy. It’s also essential to engage employees at every level, to accelerate progress.

Initiatives such as employee resource Group’s (ERGs) can be incredibly successful in bringing like-minded people together across a company to learn, develop and enact change to help foster a diverse and inclusive workplace.

CenturyLink’s largest ERG, Women Empowered, has more than 2,700 members in seventeen countries. Membership continues to grow, the group increased by approximately 35 percent in the past year. It’s a vibrant group of employees who we increasingly draw on for input to key employee focused initiatives.


WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here.

 

 

 


Rachel Clancy featured

Inspirational Woman: Rachel Clancy | Co-Founder & Creative Director, Tea Creature Designs

Rachel ClancyRachel left her job as an advertising art director to develop a game she has made called ‘Get Closer’, where players open dialogue with a forest creature who needs their help.

The game teaches young people how to talk about emotions and support themselves and others through mental health issues.

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

My name is Rachel Clancy, and I am a game designer and mental health advocate. In 2019 I received the Sky Women In Tech scholarship to set up an independent game design studio with my partner Aida Sancho-Lopez. Tea Creature Studios is an indie game company that publishes educational mobile games tackling themes of mental health and emotional literacy. We are currently developing our first commercial product, an interactive narrative game called A Hero's Guide To Gardening.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I’ve always wanted a creative job. I knew I wanted to go to the art college in Limerick, and I guessed that studying graphic design was a good bet for being able to find a job afterwards. After I graduated I found myself in art direction after I moved to Boston in 2014. I think the company gave me the job because coming from Europe made me sound fancy and sophisticated. I grew up with video games but I never considered making them, I was pretty bad with maths and thought programming might be out of reach for me. Thankfully, moving to London and getting involved with Code Liberation opened up those possibilities for me.

Designing games is an amazing intersection of so many different creative practices. I’m able to draw on what I’ve learned in my creative career and still keep learning new disciplines.

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

The biggest ongoing challenge I currently face is balancing my job with developing our game. I think a lot of independent game designers go through this experience where they still need their day job to support the launch of their first project. It’s extremely demanding, I work as an advertising creative during the week and I develop Hero’s Guide with Aida over the weekend. At first we had to learn how to manage our workload and our stress levels, some weeks are more taxing than others. Now we have a better sense of our needs for breaks and taking a rest. We’ve realised we don’t do good work when we’re burnt out and so we will make time for getting out of the house or going on dates to make sure we have energy to keep going.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Being awarded the Sky Women In Tech scholarship was a huge achievement that I share with Aida. This is a project that is hugely meaningful to us both, we are passionate mental health advocates and being able to make a game on this subject together is our dream collaboration. To be chosen by Sky was such a wonderful endorsement of our work, I am so grateful they’ve given us this chance.

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

I’m a fan of the phrase “you make your own luck”. I know I work very hard and that definitely helps, but I also will take a shot at any interesting opportunity that comes my way, even if I feel like I might not be ready for it yet. I’ve been turned down for way more jobs and funding opportunities than I’ve ever received them, but I kept going and tried to learn something from every rejection. I think something that can happen to talented people is that they get knocked back and they take it as an indication of their value - rather than a bit of bad luck on the day. Two more useful sayings - You miss all the shots you don’t take and hard work trumps talent.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I think getting connected with different communities in tech was really helpful for me. There is an organisation called Code Liberation and they offer free coding lessons to female identifying/non binary people and they’ve been a great support network ever since. There are networking groups like Ada’s List for female tech executives/professionals who we’ve tapped into while we were looking to hire a developer for Hero’s Guide. There are specific groups for game designers, for women in games, for LGBT technologists, both online and as meetup groups, and I’ve found them really helpful for getting advice and support with our project.

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

When we look at the stats for young women considering a career in technology, the numbers are pretty disappointing. 20% of 16-18-year-old girls will be advised to consider a career in technology in comparison to 45% of boys. Almost half of girls (48%) aged 16 - 18 have discounted a career in technology compared to only a quarter (26%) of boys the same age. Sky started the Women In Tech scholarship as a way of addressing this gender imbalance, their aim is to create visible female role models in the tech sector so that young women can see themselves reflected in this industry. Another figure from research by Sky is that girls are three times more likely to think the technology sector is sexist than boys. I think the industry needs to take a critical look at itself and its practices to find out why young women feel this way, and use that as the basis for reform.


WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here.

 

 

 


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

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

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

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

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

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

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

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

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

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

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

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

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

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

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

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

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


WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here.

 

 

 


Rebecca Saw featured

Inspirational Woman: Rebecca Saw | Freelance Developer & XR Designer

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

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

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

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

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

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


WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here.

 

 


Joanne Storey featured

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

Joanne Storey

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

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

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

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Colleen Wong featured

Inspirational Woman: Colleen Wong | Founder, My Gator Watch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

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

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

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

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

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


Louisa Hodges featured

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

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

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

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

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

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

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

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

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

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

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


Olga Kravchenko featured

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

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

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

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

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

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

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

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

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

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

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