Inspirational Woman: Anna Tsyupko | CEO, Paybase

 

Anna Tsyupko

Anna Tsyupko is the CEO and co-founder of the B2B payments company, Paybase.

They provide the most flexible payment solution for platform businesses - such as online marketplaces and gig/sharing economy platforms. Their goal is to ensure that all businesses have the freedom to build the exact business they want!

Anna manages the overall direction and strategy at Paybase, working closely with clients and suppliers whilst overseeing all aspects of the business. Before founding Paybase she held positions in private equity, after receiving her BA from the University of Oxford and Masters from the University of Cambridge.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No - if I had, I think I probably would have planned something different! The old adage that “life is what happens when you’re making other plans” certainly resonates with me. After university I went straight into the world of work so didn’t really have time to set out a plan.

However, this is not to say that I just stumbled into my career unknowingly, it was a case of recognising opportunities and reacting quickly. To me that is far more important than planning - being able to identify opportunities and then being ready to act on those that appeal to you.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Many! I don’t think you will find someone that has started a business and not faced challenges - but that’s no bad thing! Challenges are how you learn. When attempting to redefine the payments industry, the challenges are going to be numerous and varied.

You have to approach things creatively and that act of constant problem-solving is very rewarding.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I’m not currently mentoring anyone but it is something that I’d love to get into at some point - I strongly believe in mentoring as a concept. I have a mentor who is fantastic. We don’t see each other that often, but when we do the interaction is invaluable.

What is so useful about a mentor is that they know you, where you are in your journey and your strengths and weaknesses, but they are far enough away from your business to offer a fresh perspective on it. Sometimes you can miss things by being too close to them, a mentor provides that top level clarity.

What do you want to see happen within the next five years when it comes to diversity?

We could speak about precise figures and percentages now, but what it ultimately boils down to is an equality of opportunities between men and women. Whether this can be achieved in five years, I don’t know, but the sooner it happens the better.

If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?

I think one thing to examine would be the maternity/paternity leave situation. Obviously having a baby affects both parents, but most would agree it is far more disruptive for a woman’s career. If maternity and paternity leave was awarded equally, we would alleviate this issue of men being chosen for positions ahead of women due to the “risk” women pose of needing to take maternity leave.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Paybase, without question. In the financial space there is a very high barrier to entry due to the large amount of regulation involved and the power of incumbent financial institutions, such as banks. For me and my co-founder to take Paybase from the idea stage to
a live product which is now onboarding its first clients and beginning to generate revenue is something I’m very proud of. This progression has taken time, but we are now beginning to reap the rewards of our efforts - it’s an exciting time for us.

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

Our next challenge is to scale to Europe, which is a big but exciting challenge. It will be the first time I have taken on international expansion and there will be challenges that we are not even aware of yet. But as I’ve mentioned, challenges are necessary for
you to grow as a business and as a person - it will be a positive step for us and I’m looking forward to it!

On a more personal level I of course look to the future and hope to establish myself as an excellent leader with a track record of successful businesses!


Inspirational Woman: Tamar Sharir Beiser | Vice President, Head of Cloud, NICE

 

Tamar Sharir Beiser

Tamar Sharir Beiser is the Vice President, Head of Cloud at NICE.

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

I joined NICE almost ten years ago. It was initially meant to be a temporary position for six months as an analyst, but it’s been such a challenging and rewarding experience that I’m still here. I started off in corporate development, then moved to different product leadership positions. Fast forward to today, I now lead our suite of solutions in the cloud as Vice President of NICE’s Cloud line of business.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Absolutely. Since I was young I have had an interest in technology and knew that I wanted to work in the technology arena. Therefore, it was natural for me to study Computer Science at university and later join a leading global software company where I could grow professionally with the eventual aim of leading a team focused on bringing innovative offerings to market.

I always knew where I was heading and that my direction was to manage large teams that drive innovation, but I was also open to opportunities along the way. I made sure to seek out opportunities in which to grow and develop in any new role I took and that it aligns with my overall objective.  Luckily for me, NICE encourages and provides space for employees to grow and try new areas of the business they wish to gain experience in.

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?

One of the biggest challenges I have faced in my career is working across a global cross-functional team. When you’re working across a group of people with different expertise and roles at varied levels, it can be challenging. Successfully bringing together different individuals who (at times) have different goals can seem like an uphill battle.

To overcome this challenge required a lot of work, especially a significant investment in team communication. This meant creating opportunities for team members to connect and a space that allows everyone a chance to contribute. As a result, we built stronger relationships throughout the team, but also has allowed them to form relationships with one another, boosting team collaboration and engagement and fostering trust and dialogue which ultimately drove more innovation and which I believe has driven stronger overall results.

If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?

I don’t think there are enough woman in tech and I would encourage others to look for the opportunities as they can be exciting, fulfilling and impactful.   There are simply not enough women in technology and especially in senior roles. Successful organisations recognise that diversity when hiring is an advantage and the time is now.

I understand that it can be easy to surround ourselves with people that look and think like us, but many studies have revealed the benefits of having diverse teams. From increasing innovation to improving performance, diversity in the workplace is not just a ‘nice to have’. I have seen it first-hand here at NICE and believe that a diverse workforce, delivers many business benefits that would otherwise not be available.

How would you encourage more young women and girls into a career in STEM?

For me I knew from an early age where I want to be.  I could see it and would encourage young women to do the same.  Picture yourself in STEM roles!  The truth is that we as businesses can help them achieve this.  It is as easy as exposure.   Access to positive role models, mentors and internships, going into schools and pre-schools, giving young women access to speak directly with women in STEM, having relevant work placements or internships will all make it easier for them to have something to relate and we can reap the benefits of a more diversified workforce.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Mentorship has always been important for me.  I believe as leaders we have a responsibility to help young professionals as they begin their careers.  It has been a career honour to recruit, mentor and develop talent who have joined NICE over the years. And it doesn’t have to be in the workplace only, I also volunteer in a NPO that helps students to develop their business skills through consulting work to NPOs. It has been great watching my mentees rise through the ranks over the years and being part of their stories.

Another equally important achievement for me was serving as agent for change having led the product development of NICE’s applications into the cloud. This meant bringing a new solution into the market for the first time and helping to establish ourselves as the most innovative cloud player in our industry.

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

As the market is booming, and with NICE having solidified its position as a leading cloud player, I would like to help more companies in their transition to the cloud. This involves bringing more analytics capabilities and AI so they can be smarter about their customers, and simplifying deployment models so they can meet their customers' needs and changing market dynamics.


Inspirational Woman: Faye Banks | Open University student & Director of Energy, Costain Group

 

Faye Banks

Open University (OU) engineering student, Faye Banks, left school at 16 and started her career path in low skilled manual work in a meatpacking factory.

After growing frustrated about her limited career opportunities, she went back to college, achieved straight As and then went on to study for a BSc and an MSc in Engineering with the OU.

Studying with the OU has helped Faye to completely transform her life, leading to her securing a top role as the Director of Energy for one of the UK’s leading engineering companies, Costain.

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

I grew up in Barnsley and came from a family of four girls. We had a bit of a turbulent childhood and I was taken into care aged nine. It's safe to say that I had a lot of difficulties growing up. I left school at 16 as I’d never engaged with the education system and thought it was completely flawed.

The reality hit me when I left school and realised that there were no opportunities available to me, I had no formal qualifications and the jobs that I was applying for were really low skilled. I ended up getting a job in a manufacturing plant, packing meat into plastic containers. This meant having to work repetitive 12-hour days and night shifts - it was incredibly boring, and I knew then that I wanted to do something different. However, the harsh reality was that I had no qualifications. I then started looking for new highly skilled jobs, although at the time, I knew I was very far away from being able to apply for them.

I was bored and frustrated with my limited career options, so I decided to go back to college to study for my GCSEs – I managed to achieve 10 grade A’s. After spotting an ad in the local newspaper, I registered with The Open University (OU) to study for a BSc in Engineering. I absolutely loved the course and I’ve been studying with the OU ever since, for over 17 years now. I’ve achieved an MBA, MSc, MEng, and I am now currently studying for my PhD.

I’ve completely transformed my life and I now work for Costain, which is one of the UK’s largest engineering companies. As a result of my studies, I was successful in climbing the career ladder to become director of their energy department for electrical generation, transmission and distribution.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

For me I’d never really given much thought to my career when I was at school. I had my lightbulb moment about six months into my job at the meat packing plant after we’d had a major operational failure and were under pressure from one of our clients to supply the product that we were manufacturing. There was nothing that I could have done to repair the failure and the only people that could were the engineers.

At that moment, I realised just how important and significant the roles, skills and capabilities of engineers were – and that I had to go back to school and get some qualifications to be able to do a job like this.

The main issue for me was that I couldn't give up work to go back to college to study full-time, so I went to night classes to retake my GCSEs over the course of the year. The following year, I managed to secure 10 GCSEs at grade A.

I then approached one of the engineering managers at the manufacturing plant to see if they had any trainee or apprenticeship roles available. Fortunately, I got my qualifications in July and there were openings for apprentices to start in September. I was successful in my application, secured a role and have never looked back. It was definitely a life-changing point in my career!

Thanks to studying with the OU, I’ve been able to secure my dream role in the industry as the Director of Energy at one of the UK’s leading energy companies, Costain.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

When I was younger, and I was taken into care, survival was my number one priority and education was quite low down on my list – I never thought I’d have a career.

Then, when I knew that I wanted to go to university later on in life and obtain a degree so that I could become a chartered engineer, there was the realisation that I couldn't stop earning as I still had a family to support. If I'd pursued the traditional route, I would have lost income and that just wasn’t an option for me.

It was also difficult to even consider part-time learning at a brick university. I could never guarantee that I would be able to go to the classes as my schedule would often change at work and I was also raising a family. That's when I started to look into distance learning providers and I knew, after doing some research, that the OU was the perfect match for me.

When I think about the low skilled roles that I’d had previous to becoming an engineer and how monotonous and unchallenging they were, these never really inspired me. So, when I then fast forward to what I’ve achieved over the last twenty something years and I look at the impact on society of the projects that I’ve worked on, I’m extremely proud.  I’ve worked for National Grid and I was part of a number of major projects on their electrical transmission upgrades that impacted many people’s lives.

It can also be quite challenging working in such a male-dominated environment. I hope that I am paving the future path for more women to enter the field. I think it’s really important to start challenging the ancient stereotypes that surround the engineering profession and shed light on what it is really like to work in the industry. I’ve often been mistaken for a PA or a secretary in client meetings, so it’s always quite amusing once the meeting starts and people realise that I’m the lead consultant.

 How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I currently mentor a number of females in the engineering industry. I believe that investing in business mentoring is a useful and cost-effective way to develop top emerging talents. It also helps to keep your most knowledgeable and experienced performers engaged and energised.

As well as the transferral of critical business knowledge and skills, mentoring helps to develop a pipeline of future leaders who understand the skills and attitudes required to succeed within an organisation.

What do you want to see happen within the next five years when it comes to diversity?

Unfortunately, the engineering industry remains one of the least diverse sectors. A recent consumer poll* from The Open University revealed that women are less aware of the career paths on offer within engineering, with 15 per cent stating they are unsure what careers are available, compared to just 1 in 10 (11%) men. When asked, more than one in three women (34 per cent) agreed barriers need to be broken down in the workplace, and that occupations such as engineering should include more women.

I worry that women, in particular, are being discouraged from seeking and pursuing careers in engineering, starving the profession of fresh perspectives that represent one of the most potent drivers of innovation. Much of the diversity deficit can be traced back to early years of schooling, as children grow up with outdated notions of roles they are expected to fulfil in adulthood, and it’s not only women. Overall diversity remains a huge problem when you consider the participation figures amongst minority ethnic groups and disabled people too.

I hope that the government, the education system and industry leaders will encourage more women and minority groups to join the sector. At Costain, over 50% of our graduate intake this year was female – which is great to see – but there is still more to be done!

If you could change one thing for women in the engineering, what would it be?

I would love to inspire more women to consider the engineering industry as a rewarding and lucrative career opportunity. I really enjoy working in a male-dominated environment and get the respect for the qualifications and experiences I have achieved over my 22 plus years in the industry. There is also a misconception that engineering is a dirty job, but this view is so far away from the truth. I did get my hands dirty when I was an apprentice, but I spend most of my time nowadays getting involved in strategic work and would love to help to dispel this myth, too.

 How would you encourage more women and girls into a career in STEM?

Firstly, I think more needs to be done from a government perspective to debunk the myths surrounding the engineering perception in schools, in order to demonstrate the varied roles within it and to encourage more women to consider it as a potential profession in the future.

Secondly, the OU has changed my life for the better and I’m looking forward to sharing my story with others. I hope to show people from all walks of life that it’s never too late to pursue their career aspirations and encourage more women to study STEM subjects in the future!

 What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Outside of work and my studies I’ve won 15 national engineering awards, which I never ever thought I would do. I was the top engineering student in 2004, won the UK Young Engineer Award, and the Higher Education National Education Gold Award because of the grades I secured - I even got to go to the Houses of Parliament for the ceremony! Things have even progressed since then. I won the Yorkshire Women of Achievement Business Award in 2010 and I've since gone on to be recognised in the First Women Awards for Women in Science and Engineering. It definitely hasn't been easy, but what the OU has taught me has been absolutely paramount to the development and growth of my career. If I’d never got the qualifications, I would’ve never had the opportunities that I have enjoyed, and I wouldn’t have been able to even go to an interview and that’s a fact.

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

My next goal is to achieve my PhD in Business Administration. Learning has become a way of life for me and I think life-long learning is the key to success in the current climate, and particularly in engineering, given all of the rapid technological advancements within the sector.

I really want to become an ambassador for women in engineering and highlight to people that it doesn’t matter what your background is, as long as you want to learn you can achieve anything with the OU.

*Polling of 2,006 UK adults conducted by Opinion Matters between 22nd -23rd October 2018


Sally Napper

Inspirational Woman: Sally Napper | Head of Security Assistance, International SOS & Control Risks

 

Sally Napper

As Head of Security Assistance for International SOS and Control Risks, Sally Napper is responsible for driving and continually enhancing the delivery of market-leading security advice and assistance in support of our customers’ business travel and operations.

Sally also plays a key role in managing security crises globally.

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

As the global Head of Security Assistance at International SOS and Control Risks I oversee a team of security experts who work 24/7 with our 26 Assistance Centres and network of providers all over the world to provide security advice and assistance in support of our clients’ mobile workforce and overseas operations. On any given day you will find us supporting our clients in many different ways from advising travellers on specific risks they may face in a new environment to helping managers respond to security-related crises.

Before joining International SOS, I worked for the Australian government for more than 10 years.  I spent most of that time working in a civilian operational support role for the Australian military, including on deployment to Iraq and during military exercises in the Pacific. My background is in international relations, a degree choice that stemmed from my desire to travel for work. I think I can confidently say that I got what I wanted, and perhaps a little more.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

To be honest, no, I have never actively planned my career. Instead I took every opportunity as it came along and then worked really hard to try and succeed in every single one. Fortunately for me this approach has led to an incredibly interesting and diverse career so far. I’m lucky to have had some incredible opportunities to grow my career, including my deployment to Iraq; the honour of representing my country at the Australian embassy in Washington DC; and the chance to join the incredible team at International SOS and Control Risks.

Being open to these chances – each varied and equally exciting – has led me to where I am today. I always recommend leaping at any opportunity that comes your way and then working really hard to make the most of every chance to grow. Even if it doesn’t work out, there will always be something you can learn about a job or about yourself. Plenty of new opportunities will lie around the corner if you work hard.

You were deployed to Baghdad for 6 months – how did this come about? What did you learn from this experience?

Quite early in my career my boss at the time walked past my desk one day and asked if I wanted to go to Baghdad. Looking back I probably wasn’t the exact fit for the role. They wanted someone with more experience and a military background but I had proven willing to work hard. I was invested in supporting the military so they took a risk. Fortunately it worked out and became one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my career. It certainly set me up for my role today, which involves helping our clients tackle similarly challenging work environments.

Working in a male dominated sector, like security, I’ve had to learn how make myself heard. Something that can be especially challenging when you’re one of the only women in the room. Those who work with me will know that I’m generally not the first to speak. I often find my skill lies in taking the time to listen and choosing the best moment to share my opinion in a clear and considered way. I’m unsure how much of this approach is because I’m a woman and how much is because I’m an introvert, but, in a world where people can be highly opinionated and loud, the quiet voices can be very powerful. Sometimes as a woman it takes a little longer to be taken seriously but if you’re good at what you do, it won’t take long to have a voice.

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

I am currently working on completing my MBA. Combined with my unusual, and at times crazy, work schedule (I take an average of 1-2 long haul flights a month), this can prove a bit challenging. I remember once being in Papua New Guinea, standing on top of a Jeep to try and get enough signal to send an assignment back to my university in Australia! I love a challenge and certainly got one when I decided to work towards my MBA.

What would you say is your coping mechanism?

A good work life balance is a challenge for anyone, me included! Fortunately I love my job, which makes it much easier to sustain the high tempo. I have great empathy for working parents. I don’t have children myself and can’t imagine juggling deadlines and family commitments. I try to be supportive of my colleagues in more challenging situations than me. I am fortunate to have an amazing husband, and I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without his support. I really appreciate the fact that he’s often willing to accompany me on a business trip at a moment’s notice. While this might sound glamorous, and I never thought I would say this, but travel can get tiring at times.

I am also a certified yoga instructor, and try to do at least 10-15 minutes of yoga or other form of exercise per day no matter where I am. It helps me to clear my head and let my creativity flow. I don’t know many people in the security industry or in International SOS who don’t exercise on a really regular basis – it’s such a good stress relief.

What advice do you have for women who would like to follow a similar path to you?

My advice to women is to be yourself. There can be a lot of pressure on women to behave like men, particularly in business, or to behave like other women who have gone before them (to wear certain clothes, take certain roles etc). While I appreciate the amazing efforts of women who have paved the way for female careers in security, I never listened when anyone said there was only one path. I’ve been myself and I’ve worked really hard at every opportunity I‘ve been given. From my experience I can guarantee that if you work hard you will ultimately be recognised, and if you do it with integrity, the success will be even sweeter.


Amanda Gutterman

Inspirational Woman: Amanda Gutterman | CMO, ConsenSys & co-creator, Ethereal

 

Amanda GuttermanAmanda Gutterman is Chief Marketing Officer at ConsenSys, the largest and fastest growing blockchain company focused on building the Ethereum ecosystem.

Amanda is also a creator of Ethereal, a technology event series including a Summit that has been dubbed the "SXSW of blockchain". In 2016, Forbes Magazine listed Amanda on its 30 Under 30 in Media list, and Inc. Magazine as one of 30 Under 30 Movers and Shakers in the Content Industry.

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

My role is CMO at ConsenSys and Co-Creator of Ethereal. ConsenSys has emerged over the past few years as a leader in blockchain technology. We build tools and applications that are built on the blockchain, which means they're highly secure, decentralized, peer-to-peer, and work automatically using smart contracts. Our software is built on the Ethereum blockchain, which is the most advanced blockchain platform in terms of its capabilities, as well as the largest developer community. Ethereum has become the blockchain of choice for governments and enterprises, which we work with closely.

Ethereal has become one of the best known blockchain events. It features a flagship Ethereal Summit kicking off New York Blockchain Week in May each year, as well as events throughout the world, from Ethereal San Francisco to Ethereal Middle East in Riyadh and Ethereal London. Whether I'm working on ConsenSys or an Ethereal event, my goal is always to catalyze adoption of blockchain technology and help users reach products. Adopting blockchain comes with adopting a new way of thinking about the global financial system and the Web. I think we can do better than what we have today, and with blockchain available, we finally have the tools to make change possible. But change will only happen if users insist on it.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career? 

Absolutely not! I navigated myself into situations where I'd be exposed to a lot of opportunities, then I seized the ones that looked interesting. I see my work as an adventure and ideally, as play. When I graduated from college or high school, I couldn't have predicted any of this. Actually, it would've been impossible to plan my career from a certain point, because both components of what I do - digital marketing and blockchain - didn't exist yet.

Have you faced any particular challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?

In this role and in every role, we all face lots of stressors. Long hours, new skills we need to learn, looming deadlines, increasing expectations from colleagues or the market. It's challenging because if you love what you do, your identity gets caught up in your work. This is true for me, and I think it's a positive thing. But at the same time, I've had to figure out how to take good care of myself in the face of stress. To that end, I truly get 8 hours of sleep a night, exercise regularly, eat healthy food, and block off personal time when I won't be on calls. This drastically improves the quality of my work.

If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?

Probably the most important thing is equal pay. Women should get equal pay for equal work. Also, I encourage the men I know who are investors to bring women investors into deals. The more financially empowered women are, the more say they have in how everything works, from workplaces to governments.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I mentor several women at ConsenSys and one from a previous company. Whether it's formal or informal, I make sure people in the company know I'm available to help them navigate tricky situations. This is particularly true for women. Quite a few members of ConsenSys are fresh out of college, so it's very helpful to have someone guiding them through their first professional environment, especially considering how non-traditional our company is.

How would you encourage more women and girls into a career in STEM?

 Strong role models make girls and women feel like STEM is "for them". If they don't know any other girls or women in STEM, they can think it's not for them. That's why we make sure to highlight our amazing women technologists at ConsenSys and across the blockchain space. Our last Ethereal Summit had 60% women speakers, a majority of whom were technical. We did this without calling it a women's conference or making a big fuss. I really think efforts like this go far.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

When I joined ConsenSys, not that many people had heard of blockchain, even fewer had heard of Ethereum, and practically no one outside our space had heard of ConsenSys. In my interview, I told our founder that I wanted to make ConsenSys and Ethereum "like Starbucks and the MLB" in terms of how recognizable I wanted them to be. While we're not 100% there yet, I think my team and I have been able to make a real difference in terms of how many people know about blockchain and how many people are using blockchain-based software products of various kinds.

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

A 100-person company is different from a 1,000-person company. That's where I started, and this is where we are now. I'm going to have to learn and scale our marketing and messaging and teams to fit where we are in the market today, which is really different from a couple years ago.


Megan Neale

Inspirational Woman: Megan Neale | Co-Founder, Limitless

 

megan nealeMegan Neale is widely regarded as a thought leader in digital innovation for customer care.

Her passion for “customer & client first” combined with her constant drive for innovation led her to co-found Limitless Technology in 2016. Megan’s vision is to help every company deliver outstanding personalised service, at a lower cost and - by taking a crowd service approach - return millions of rewards to their own customers. During her 20 year career in customer management and the contact centre industry, Megan has helped build successful customer engagement solutions and deliver worldwide, transformational solutions and operational excellence for many global brands.

Megan was an equity director leading a high growth European contact centre outsourcing business which was acquired by the global conglomerate Hinduja Group and is founding shareholder of Semafone, the leader in PCI compliant security solutions for contact centres.

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

I moved to London having grown up in a small and very picturesque Welsh village to study Maths and Computer science at City University. Growing up in a tiny Welsh speaking village and not being able to speak the language taught me that even if you struggle to communicate it, you will always be able to find a way forward. This is something I’ve always lived by.

I always enjoyed being responsible and helping people – so when most of my classmates moved off into accountancy and banking I took the unlikely route into retail. Running a store seemed like it would satisfy all those things and that’s where I fell in love with customer service.  It was then an easy step into an outsourced customer service start up where I was responsible for operations, client services and IT. I became an equity holder and helped build the company to 2000 employees.

There is something so rewarding about providing great service, I just love it – it’s what makes me get up in the morning, whether it’s seeing my clients happy or seeing one happy consumer.

In 2016 I co-founded my latest business, Limitless Technology, a gig platform and marketplace that enables brands to pay their own advocates for providing high quality sales and customer service on a per task basis. I now spend my days working with and building an incredible team to support our client base; we are only 18 months in and have the privilege of working with brands including Microsoft, Vodafone, Unilever, National Express and many others.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I think I always knew I wanted to get to the next level in whatever I was doing. When you’re studying, progression is very much laid out for you and I enjoyed that process. I just expected it to continue in my work life. As such, I was always clear with my managers what my goals were and have been fortunate to have been able to achieve them. My primary objective in my work has been to work with people who I enjoy spending time with and who can do things I can’t, so I can develop my skills. Whenever I have found myself in a team where that was not the case, I made a conscious effort to change that.

When I had my daughter I was keen to find some form of balance and blend my career aspirations with family life. I worked four days a week for eight years and I was able to successfully progress my career at the same time.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Many, but I am an optimist by nature so can honestly say that none of the challenges were real challenges. When I first moved to Europe into an Area Manager role, I needed to prove I could speak German. I couldn’t, so I took some evening classes, moved there and deliberately recruited people who didn’t speak English so I had to learn. Within three months, I was able to get by just fine.

Also, managing a workforce of 2000 people who are largely paid minimum wage while maintaining a great culture is tough and relentless. I’ve therefore learnt that culture is something we must have every day, not just once a month or quarter and no matter how well you think you are on top of it, you can always do more.

How would you encourage more young women and girls into STEM?

Do what you enjoy and remember that STEM doesn’t mean only software coding or hard core engineering, it can be all manner of things. I think we need to help young people get a broader understanding of the types of roles available that are perfect for their skills. If you enjoy a quantitative subject then explore companies that interest you and look at the wider roles in those organisations. If you make sure you are in a sector that interests you, then your analytical nature will simply come through as you develop and the opportunities will be there for you.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

So far my biggest career achievement would be successfully founding and launching Limitless Technology with my co-founder Roger Beadle who I have worked with for 15 years. As a start-up, every day is hugely rewarding and celebrating the little moments of success along the journey are what makes this fun. In terms of a wow moment - receiving investment from Unilever and Downing Ventures did make us think “ok, this is real now”.

It’s not really an achievement, but I am constantly blown away by the talented people who I have the utmost respect for that are choosing to come and work with us in our quest to “be known for making customer service great for everyone everywhere”.

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

Limitless is growing really quickly, we have launched in 7 countries US, Canada, UK, Netherlands, Germany and Poland already and will be in 21 countries soon. I am looking forward to being truly global and the opportunities, and learning, this will bring for the whole Limitless team.


Tamara Lohan featured

Inspirational Woman: Tamara Lohan MBE | Founder & Chief Technology Officer, Mr & Mrs Smith

 

Tamara Lohan

Tamara Lohan is an entrepreneur and technology strategist with a background in marketing.

In 2003 she co-founded Mr & Mrs Smith with her husband James. She has been instrumental in transforming Smith from a traditional offline publishing brand into the dynamic digital business it is today and sits on the boards of several high-profile eCommerce businesses, including Not On The High Street.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and role?

I grew up in Ibiza but my family moved to the UK just before my teens and I ended up studying languages at Oxford University. I started my career in marketing, working for large organisations and then agency side for a WPP company, but I realised throughout that part of my life that a) my heart was in travel and b) I really loved the technical and CRM side of marketing rather than the above the line part. Oh, and c) I didn’t really want to work for other people!

My husband and I started Mr & Mrs Smith in 2003 – born out of frustration trying to find great boutique hotels to go to. We launched as a guidebook but quickly pivoted the company to build a bookable website. As the business evolved digitally I took on the role of CTO (Chief Technical Officer) which I still do today – overseeing the website, our in-house-built rates-and-availability systems and booking engine, the app, the blog – essentially the technical infrastructure that powers the business.

Today Smith has over 1,100 hotels and villas around the world, offices in London, LA, New York and Singapore we hope to do close to £80m in TTV (total transaction value) this year and we’re profitable. Plus, we bought an experiences company, SideStory, this year which means we can offer a curated collection of cultural encounters in some of our most-popular cities, as well as hotel stays.

But what really gets me out of bed every morning is that I still love finding amazing hotels and inspiring our members to discover extraordinary places with the people they love. I know that might sound corny but it’s true – Mr & Mrs Smith was always about finding the very best boutique hotels on the planet. And now we’re planning to do the same with private villas and experiences, too.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Never. When I came out of university, the ‘done’ thing was to go into the city – something I just knew I wasn’t cut out for. In the late Nineties the word ‘entrepreneur’ or ‘start-up’ just wasn’t in our vocabulary. I knew I wanted to travel but the travel companies out there – large, impersonal, mass market – just didn’t inspire me. So all I knew was that I had to keep learning, get working and anything that involved travel would be a bonus!

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

I don’t know an entrepreneur that doesn’t face challenges. For me, some are daily small challenges and some are much much bigger business issues. At the very beginning of the business our biggest challenge was getting the book into the shops. The publishers had turned us down so we ended up self-publishing, but the distribution houses were all owned by those publishers so we were stuck. We eventually found the last remaining independent distribution house in the UK and begged – even they turned us down to start with.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to start their own business?

You can only get by so far on ambition, drive and self-determination. I would urge anyone starting their own business to get guidance; learn, listen to people you trust; talk to people who’ve succeeded and find out how; talk to people who’ve failed and find out why. No one gets anywhere on their own and I wish I’d known that earlier.

A great support network will support and help you through the tough times, and you should continue to build, nurture and give back to that network as you grow.

And the quicker you can understand – and get comfortable with – the fact that nothing is ever easy, the better things will be. Sure, there’ll be compromises you have to make along the way but if you stick to what makes you happy, stay motivated and make time to enjoy the journey, you’ll be well placed to succeed.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

I think it’s the curse of the entrepreneur to always feel like there is still so much more achieve. As a company grows, the next challenge always seems bigger than the last so I try and see each one as my next biggest achievement. It’s fair to say right now that juggling motherhood – getting my son off to secondary school, my daughter back to school, making sure our new puppy is fed – with work while we’re launching our crowdfunding raise on Crowdcube is tough. I’ve never felt busier! But as we hope to raise more than £1m from our customers, who then go on to become real advocates of our brand, and accelerate our growth in the US, it will definitely feel like the biggest achievement to date.

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

It seems crazy to say it given how quickly it’s gone, but we’re about to reach our 15th anniversary as a business. We’re celebrating the occasion by going back to our roots and publishing a brand new book in November: a proper coffee-table tome called The World’s Sexiest Bedrooms shot by the brilliant art photographer, Polly Brown. It’s had its stresses along the way – and we’ve got a heavy promotional schedule ahead of us – but it will be such a thrill to see us back in the bookshops again. Then it will be on to implementing all the growth plans our crowdfunding will hopefully afford us. After that, well, watch this space…


Giustina Mizzoni featured

Inspirational Woman: Giustina Mizzoni | Executive Director, CoderDojo; & Director, Raspberry Pi Foundation

 

Giustina MizzoniGiustina has led the CoderDojo Foundation for more than two years.

She joined CoderDojo in January 2013 as its first employee, having previously managed the Irish operations of Dogpatch Labs, a co-working space for startup technology companies.

In her role as Executive Director of the CoderDojo Foundation, she is responsible for overseeing its programmes, operations, and global growth. She led CoderDojo’s merger with the Raspberry Pi Foundation in May 2017, creating one of the largest sustained global efforts to help young people learn computing and digital making. Giustina holds an MSc in Management (Innovation in Social Enterprise) from Dublin City University, and an MA in International Politics and Human Rights from City University London.

Giustina Mizzoni is also a Director at the Raspberry Pi Foundation,a UK-based charity, leading CoderDojo. CoderDojo is part of the Raspberry Pi family and is a worldwide network of free, volunteer-led coding clubs for children and teenagers. The mission of the Raspberry Pi Foundation is to put the power of digital making into the hands of people all over the world. In 2019, the Raspberry Pi Foundation aims to raise £4.25 million to pursue its educational initiatives including online coding projects, free coding clubs, and volunteer support. They are only able to do this important work thanks to the generous support of our partners.

Please contact [email protected] to get involved.

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

My name is Giustina Mizzoni, I’m the Executive Director of the CoderDojo Foundation, and we are part of the wider Raspberry Pi Foundation. We are an Irish-founded, global movement of free, informal computer clubs for young people aged 7 to 17. Across the globe, we have 1,914 clubs.

I’ve worked with CoderDojo for the past five years. I initially joined as the organisation’s first employee in 2013. I became Executive Director two years ago, and last year I oversaw our merger with the Raspberry Pi Foundation. I sit on the wider partnership team and play a key role in raising funds to support our work and that of the wider Raspberry Pi Foundation.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Not particularly, my career has been shaped by opportunities that have arisen. I’ve always been ambitious, so I’ve assessed opportunities as they’ve come up to determine what impact or learning I felt I could gain. From a young age I’ve always known that I wanted to be in a leadership position, so that has always been a guiding principle.

Initially I completed an MA in International Politics and Human Rights, but after voluntary work with an international non-profit, I found the bureaucracy frustrating. I moved home and took a (very!) brief job in financial services. From there, an opportunity came up to become the first Operations/Office Manager of a new American VC–backed co-working space. That role exposed me to the technology sector, and I was surrounded by fast-growing innovative start-ups. The environment appealed to me, and I haven’t really left the technology sector since.

Have you faced any particular challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?

I have faced various challenges in my career so far. In my role as Operations Manager, I was the only woman in the co-working space with more than 30 men — it was an interesting dynamic, and I think it set me up very well. The majority of the challenges I’ve faced have been internal. I reached a leadership position at a relatively young age, so I often felt like an imposter in board meetings or similar situation. Experience has helped me overcome this, although I still have brief moments where I doubt myself.

If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?

Normalisation of flexible working arrangements.

How would you encourage more young women and girls into a career in STEM?

I strongly believe that there are societal perceptions of what STEM is or means. Many people think it’s for men, or that you need to be a nerd or genius, or even that it’s isolating, that you are coding for hours on end on your laptop etc. Frankly, none of these preconceptions are true. To overcome this, we need to help every young girl, their parents, and their teachers understand the importance and relevance of technology. I recently heard a story of how a CoderDojo volunteer phoned an all-girls school to ask whether they could let their students know about the coding club the volunteer had set up nearby. The principal said she didn’t think it was something that would be of interest to her students, as they all wanted to be nurses and teachers... Here is a principal of a school with over 300 girls aged 12 to 18, who is blatantly reinforcing gendered roles and choosing not to share a free learning opportunity with their students.

Last year, we launched the CoderDojo Girls Initiative. Our goal is to achieve gender parity in the CoderDojo movement. We’ve identified best practices for increasing the number of girls in clubs, and we are working on a trial to measure the effectiveness of different interventions, such as the presence of female volunteers and the language used to describe club activities. I firmly believe that everyone has a role to play to achieve parity of men and women in STEM.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

Mentoring is incredibly important, but so is sponsorship where you have people in organisations who actively advocate for you. My mum has been a constant mentor in my life. She's an Executive Coach, so it's helpful that she is incredibly talented at it. She's helped me navigate difficult situations and I’ve learnt so much from her. And I’ve mentored and supported friends and colleagues throughout specific challenges or changes over the years.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Last year we merged with Raspberry Pi. It was a huge change for the CoderDojo team, and we went from being 10 people to growing to 17 and now being part of a 100-person organisation. We learnt so much from the process, and I enjoyed it immensely!

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

I’m expecting my first child in the new year. I’ve no doubt that continuing my career, which requires me to travel frequently, while being a new mother will be challenging.


Christine Bailey featured

Inspirational Woman: Dr Christine Bailey | CMO, Valitor

Christine Bailey

Dr Christine Bailey joined Valitor, an international technology and payments company, as Chief Marketing Officer in August 2017.

She has 25+ years’ experience of business to business marketing in the technology sector, including leading European marketing functions for large companies (Hewlett-Packard and Cisco Systems), as well as smaller companies such as Extraprise, Cambridge Technology Partners and Insight Marketing.

Christine is a respected thought leader and speaker, most notable for her TEDx Talk ‘Unconventional Career Advice’ and regular blogs for Forbes Woman. In Oct 2017 she was included in Axxon Media's Top 140 Super Awesome Content Marketing Accounts Every Marketer Should Follow. In 2016 she was ranked #7 most influential marketer at the London Festival of Marketing, as well as being included in B2B Marketing’s Top 10 Most Influential Women in Martech. In addition to being a judge and keynote speaker at the UK’s Women in Business Awards, she was also the Global & EMEAR co-lead for Connected Women at Cisco.

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

I’ve spent my whole career (25+ years) in marketing in the technology industry - running European marketing functions for industry giants such as Hewlett-Packard and Cisco Systems, as well as for much smaller companies. My first degree was in German & Business Studies, which led me to work in Germany for 5 years. I also have a doctorate in customer insight. I’m currently working in London as the Chief Marketing Officer of Valitor, an international payments solution company headquartered in Iceland.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I’m a big advocate of having a ‘direction’ rather than ‘a plan’, because plans can be too rigid and have a habit of not working out! Instead, having a clear direction allows a lot more flexibility with many paths to success. I always knew I wanted to work in international marketing, so my first adventure was running European PR/analyst relations for Hewlett-Packard in Germany. After that, I aspired to be a marketing director and I achieved that at Extraprise, a CRM consulting firm in 2000. A great mentor then encouraged me to “dream bigger” and I started aspiring to be a ‘marketing guru’. I’m not there yet, but getting my doctorate and landing my first CMO role at Valitor have been great steps in the right direction!

Have you faced any particular challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?

I’ve been made redundant three times in my career. Each time it felt like a huge challenge, but then it shaped my career in a positive way with the added bonus that it’s helped me to get comfortable outside my comfort zone. I’ve found that the path to success isn’t always linear - sometimes you have to go sideways to go upwards. But as long as you have a clear direction and you’re moving forwards, I believe that everything happens for a reason.

If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?

If I could wave a magic wand, I’d make flexible working the norm. I’m a firm believer that work is something you do, not a place you go and women in particular appreciate the flexibility to be in control of how, when and where they get the job done. It’s the reason why so many women work for themselves or start up businesses. I’m not talking about radical changes, just the ability to work from home sometimes (school holidays are every parent’s nightmare!) and some flex in working hours.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I’m a massive fan of mentoring. I’ve always had mentors, both formally and informally and I’ve mentored many people too. The important thing is to know what you want a mentor for - career advice, skills development, personal growth, expanding your network etc. Pick wisely and make sure you set the right expectations on both sides. I find it’s best to time-box it too - usually the most value comes from a period of 6 - 12 months then a fresh perspective is more beneficial.

How would you encourage more young women and girls into a career in STEM?

I think we have a responsibility to be role models and teach our daughters that there is no such thing as ‘normal’ and they can be whatever they want to be. One of my favourite quotes from my ten year old daughter was when she was at nursery - they asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up and she replied “in charge”!

The earlier we can start, the better. I’m hugely in favour of programs in schools that encourage girls to learn how to code and consider careers in STEM. When I was running Connected Women at Cisco, one of our flagship programmes was ‘Girls in ICT’. We also support this in Valitor - bringing 13/14 year old girls into our head office for the day and introducing them to life in a technology company.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

My biggest physical achievement was getting to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in 2002. That taught me important lessons in stamina and how small steps can achieve big things if taken in the right direction. As my guide said “there are no prizes for coming first, you just have to get to the top. Keep putting one foot in front of the other and you’ll get there”.

My greatest mental achievement was getting my doctorate. That was definitely a marathon not a sprint! Six months into my 4 year journey I was made redundant, losing both my job and my sponsorship. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as I did consulting work to pay the bills and finished in 3 1/2 years instead of four. I was 9 months pregnant when I handed in my thesis and was offered a fabulous job at Cisco - definitely not ideal but sometimes you just have to grab opportunities when they arise!

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

I’m still working towards being a “marketing guru”! I was recently featured as a “Rockstar CMO” which was pretty cool. Right now I’m enjoying the best job of my life as CMO of Valitor and I’m involved in various women’s networks. My dream for the future is to spend a little less time working!


Diviya Devani featured

Inspirational Woman: Diviya Devani | Systems Engineer, Teledyne e2v

 

Diviya DevaniDiviya Devani is a systems engineer who works in the Quantum Technology department at Teledyne e2v.

She has previous experience as a Product Engineer on European Space Agency projects including the ESA Sentinel 5 project which monitors air quality, climate and solar radiation.

Diviya is currently overseeing a two year, world-first project, managing a six strong consortium from both industry and academia to deliver a small satellite system that will demonstrate a Quantum experiment in space.

She has been eager to work in the space sector from a young age and is passionate about encouraging more women to pursue careers in STEM industries. She feels that our education does not detail the wide range of careers STEM offers and would like to help raise awareness of the opportunities that there are out there for women.

Her role model is Sunita Williams the first person to complete a marathon in Space and she is currently the treasurer of the Institute of Engineering and Technology, Essex network and one of her key objectives is to increase engagement with young professionals and female engineers within the engineering field.

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

I completed my Masters in Physics in 2014 at the University of Nottingham, after which I joined the Space Imaging Engineering Graduate Scheme at Teledyne e2v in 2015. During the two year scheme I worked in different functions across the business including; bid management, development engineering, product engineering and a continuous improvement project. I worked as a Product Engineer on a European Space Agency (ESA) project – Teledyne e2v supply Imaging Sensors for the Fluorescence Explorer (FLEX) mission which will map vegetation fluorescence to quantify photosynthetic activity. Since completing the scheme I am a systems engineer developing a shoe box sized satellite with a quantum experiment on-board.

My current role requires me to maintain the integrity of the design, bringing together five different subsystems of the satellite which are being delivered by external industrial partners. I ensure that when the components of the satellite come together they interface correctly, mechanically and electrically.  I also have to keep on top of the original aims and requirements specification of the system, ensuring the end product is not completely different from the initial requirement. A key part of the role is ensuring the satellite meets the European Space Agency’s standards which include environmental testing, functional testing and adhering to the allowed materials standards. The satellite needs to survive launch conditions and be able to operate in a radiation environment for at least six months.

I like to keep busy outside work as work life balance is important to me. I have a grade eight in classical singing and enjoy keeping fit by running.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I have always had a target goal which has been to be in the heart of a Space mission on a large programme. So the focus has always been on Space. I haven’t defined in detail what the path in between the beginning and the end is, but I’d say I’m right on track and in my dream job right now and on my way to the end goal.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Challenges always appear, but I see them as opportunities to become stronger and better at what I do. I have been in roles where I have been responsible for championing a change that isn’t supported by all parties. In this instance the challenge is understanding what motivates the person/people and showing them how the change could potentially benefit them.

If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?

The Job application process, and job adverts in particular. I don’t believe job adverts/specifications are tailored to appeal to a wide audience. It has been shown that women will apply for a job once they meat 90 percent of the criteria and men will apply after fulfilling 60 percent. Simple changes such as reducing the number of non-negotiable requirements could lead to more female applicants. Changes in language could also have a big impact, as words such as ‘negotiation’ can put females off in particular, but also men. In addition I think there is a big lack of females in senior leadership roles. The middle management roles seem to have plenty of women, but the further up you go the less women you see. Reassessing job adverts and making them more friendly and appealing to both genders could make a big difference. Having realistic requirements that are flexible would attract more females and also mean the right candidate gets the job.

How would you encourage more young women and girls into a career in STEM?

I think it is important that there are opportunities for young women and girls to have first-hand experience of STEM careers, inspiring role models and once in the field continued support throughout their careers potentially via mentoring schemes. Having work experience opportunities in STEM companies is invaluable, but it is important that there are inspiring role models on hand to support and guide them. I recently organised a visit for a group of girls from a school, where they spoke to a range of STEM professionals on site, had a tour and also carried out hands-on activities such as wearing a cleanroom suit which looks like a space suit, but keeps our manufacturing areas clean from particles as once our sensors are in space there is no one there to clean them.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

My biggest achievement to date has been getting a job as a systems engineer working on a small satellite, despite not having previous experience as a systems engineer. I have since then been able to present the project at a European Space Agency conference in Italy in front of nearly 300 people.

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

My next challenge is to take this project from the lab and get the satellite into space. As for the future, I still have a secret ambition to be an astronaut so I’ll be working on this.