Geeta Nargund featured

Inspirational Woman: Professor Geeta Nargund | Founder and Medical Director of CREATE Fertility

 

Professor Geeta Nargund is the Founder and Medical Director of CREATE Fertility, one of the UK’s largest providers of IVF treatments and the only group of clinics in the UK specialising in Natural & Mild IVF. She is also Senior Consultant Gynaecologist and Lead Consultant for Reproductive Medicine Services at St George’s Hospital London.
  1. Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I became a doctor because I wanted to help people. I felt there were huge opportunities to make a real difference, to both save lives and create lives.

The first test tube baby was front page news around the world. I was a medical student at the time [1978] and decided to specialise in fertility because it was the most exciting area of medical research, and because it can bring people so much happiness. Also it’s really a woman’s field (although it’s often dominated by men), where women can work with women to achieve something great.Dr Geeta Nargund

I heard about the death of a young woman as a result of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS), a serious complication of stimulating drugs in IVF when I was a junior doctor. That was the turning point of my career. Conventional IVF treatments use drugs to suppress woman’s menstrual cycle followed by higher doses of stimulating injections. They can have side effects like menopause-like symptoms including serious Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome, which can be potentially fatal. Conventional stimulated IVF cycles where high number of eggs are collected can lead to an increased risk of low birth weight and prematurity in babies conceived in such cycles with potential long-term health risks for mother and child. I already had concerns about the logic of this – and the financial cost – but when I heard of a young woman dying of complications I thought, we have to find another way.

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

I single-handedly founded a drug free and minimal drug fertility business in an industry dominated by drug companies (largely male-run) and at a time when most IVF units relied on high dose drugs and complex, expensive processes. For those whose businesses rely on high drug-dose IVF, my campaigning for accessible and cheaper IVF has been unwelcome and robustly challenged.

Through my focus on Natural & Mild IVF, I’ve also had to take on a sceptical medical profession. I published the first scientific paper on cumulative live birth rates with Natural Cycle IVF, which proved unequivocally that aggressive high drug dosage is not an essential factor in successful IVF. I co-founded the International Scientific Society ISMAAR to promote a more natural approach in IVF in order to protect the health and safety of women undergoing IVF treatment.

Finally, IVF is an expensive business and organic growth alone wasn’t going to allow CREATE to reach the scale needed to truly improve access for patients. In April 2013, we successfully secured private equity investment to expand Natural and Mild IVF services across the UK and internationally.

  1. What advice would you give someone who wishes to move in to a leadership position for the first time?

Be brave in pursuing your dreams and do not give up. Remember that there is no substitute for hard work when leading others. Always take a moral high ground in everything you do.

  1. When faced with two equally-qualified candidates, how would you decide who should have the role?

For me it would come down to the candidate who has passion and 100 per cent commitment to their chosen career. It’s also worth remembering that some life experience can go a long way – for example if you didn’t study medicine straight from school, then the door isn’t closed on a medical career. I’ve recently had a former City accountant as a trainee.

  1. How do you manage your own boss?

As I am my own boss, I would say that the best way to manage myself is for me to be conscious of how I use my time. Sometimes there aren’t enough hours in the day to take on everything I would like to and I need to be conscious that I have enough energy to take on each task and give 100 per cent to everything I do – particularly when it comes to dealing with patients going through the emotional journey of IVF.

  1. On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?

I’m an early riser and with long days ahead of me, a good breakfast is the most important start to see me through until lunchtime. A typical day will end with me getting home and either chatting to friends or switching off by watching something good on TV. My days can be full of highs and lows depending on patient outcomes so it’s important to fully relax before bed so that I’m fresh for the next day.

  1. What advice can you give to our members about raising their profiles within their own organisations?

First and foremost stick to your principles and align yourself with others who share your values. Don’t be afraid to speak up in meetings, don’t be apologetic when sharing your ideas and aim to make yourself more visible amongst your colleagues and management.

  1. How have you benefited from coaching or mentoring?

I’ve been lucky enough to work with and be mentored by some incredible IVF innovators during my time in the industry, including Sir Robert Edwards, the Nobel Prize winner who successfully pioneered IVF – resulting in the first test tube baby, Louise Brown.

On a day to day basis I work closely with Prof Stuart Campbell, a pioneer of ultrasound diagnosis in medicine and am also associated with Prof Rene Frydman, a pioneer of IVF, and Dr RC Chian who has pioneered ‘In Vitro Maturation (IVM) and vitrification’ - the fast freezing technique that has revolutionised egg freezing success rates.

Working closely with experts who are at the very forefront of industry developments that have the potential to bring joy to so many people is incredibly inspiring. It pushes me to continue to achieve the best outcomes for my patients by disrupting the industry status quo.

  1. Do you think networking is important and if so, what 3 tips would you give to a newbie networker

Networking at the right events and with the right people can be extremely valuable in opening up career opportunities or making connections with important people who may become your advisers, mentors and even your friends.

My tips are:

  1. Embrace the opportunity. There is a tendency for people to find networking awkward and to shy away from talking to others. Instead, treat every event as a chance to make potentially valuable new connections
  2. Be well-read and knowledgeable in your area. Having a good and broad knowledge of your subject, as well as current affairs, can be helpful when it comes to making small talk.
  3. Exude confidence. Whether that comes down to dressing in something that makes you feel confident or being bold in making the first move and approaching someone at an event, confidence can really make you stand out.
  1. What does the future hold for you?

As well as continuing to demonstrate the success and benefits of CREATE’s Natural and Mild approach to IVF, I’m working on broader campaigns around fertility and IVF access, including:

Rolling out fertility education in schools: I met recently with Education Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities, Nicky Morgan, MP to explain why fertility education deserves a place on the national curriculum to ensure that the next generation are informed about their fertility choices. Since then I’ve had a number of positive discussions with schools and will be starting to roll out a fertility education and infertility prevention module in South London this spring with a view to it being taught across UK schools in future. I am proud to deliver this project through our charity Create Health Foundation.

Improving access to fertility funding /ending postcode lottery: I am campaigning for the amount that IVF providers can charge the NHS in England for treatment to be capped by the Government to allow greater access to IVF within the UK. I am calling for a “National Tariff” for IVF cycle. This would help to end the postcode lottery faced by women and couples seeking treatment and I recently met with the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health, Jane Ellison, MP, to discuss this.

Continuing charity work: Through my role in The Walking Egg project, I have been part of the team that pioneered a newly developed IVF method called Simplified Culture System - ‘shoe-box IVF’ that removes the need for an expensive laboratory. It has the potential to halve the cost of IVF and presents a revolutionary step for childless couples globally, and particularly in third world countries where there is little or no access to a laboratory. We are currently working to move this project through to a service stage with abc ivf.

 


Anne de Kerchkove featured

Inspirational Woman: Anne de Kerckhove | CEO, Freespee

 

Anne de Kerchkove - High Res

A self-proclaimed ‘tech start-up addict’, Anne has personally invested in over twenty-five new tech companies, and has set up and invested in three early-stage tech funds throughout her career.

Anne set up and managed her first company at the age of just seventeen. From there, she pursued a career in business and finance, later progressing to a management consultant role within the tech industry and leading five tech start-ups to profitability.

Her current role as CEO of phone and messaging conversation platform, Freespee, focuses on the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to enhance the customer journey and increase the human element to customer service.

Being such a key figure in what has historically been a very much male-dominated industry, Anne’s passion and belief in diversity across all levels of an organisation has been a driving force throughout her career. She is personally invested in actively inspiring and coaching women to join boards, and in helping men and women from all backgrounds to develop the skills needed to succeed in fair and equal environments. Today Anne mentors over ten founders a year, continually re-investing into the next generation of talent and innovation.

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

I am the CEO of Freespee, a leading communication platform that creates and enables conversations between brands and their customers.

I mentor over ten founders a year, as a way of giving back to our start-up community, and am one of the few female executives in the UK to sit on two public company boards in the tech and gaming space

My career began at 17, when I set up my first company - a travelling theatre troupe - whilst studying at McGill university. I then went on to a career in finance before progressing to a management consultant role within the tech industry.

Over the last 15 years, I have helped lead five tech start-ups to profitability and IPO. I don’t have a pension plan or big savings: I reinvest all my money into the next generation of talent and innovation. I have personally invested in over 25 new tech companies and set up and invested in three tech early-stage funds.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Not at all! I studied business at university because I thought it made sense, but quite honestly it bored me to tears. Then I became a banker; it was a fantastic learning experience and I was surrounded by great mentors, but I knew deep down it was just not something I would ever be passionate about. One mentor in particular noticed that I was always asking too many questions; he realised I was not fascinated by finance, but by what we were financing. He transferred me to a new project and innovation financing division, which was amazing. I then quit banking with his blessing and support and went on to pursue a career in management consultancy within the tech industry.

Since then I have known that as long as my path stays aligned with innovation, it is heading in the right direction. It is important to follow your passions and to do what you’re good at - and what you know how to make an impact with.

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

Within the tech industry, we face challenges every day - from cashflow to growing so fast that you don’t recognise your own employees! No matter what the problem is that you are facing, it is important to take perspective on it, remain level-headed and stay calm.

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

One thing that I feel still needs addressing is the gender pay gap. Unfortunately, it seems to be the case that those who shout the loudest are those who are most rewarded - and unfortunately it tends to be men that do the shouting. Pay should be based on results, and businesses should embrace a culture that not only celebrates performance, but also builds confidence in women to go for those bigger, higher-paid jobs.

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

There is a lot of misconception around these industries. Growing up, I was under the impression that computers were for boys - a myth that must be broken very early on. It is vital that we have the right role models in school  to achieve this. Girls learn faster when they are younger, so it is important that gender neutrality is embedded as early as the age of eight to ten, rather than when they are making educational choices that will affect their careers at 13 to 15.

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

I’d say, do it! My own experience of mentoring others has been amazing. To be able to debate and talk through things with your mentee and help them to make impactful change to their own careers is extremely rewarding.

As I was growing up I was lucky enough to be surrounded by strong female role models. Although I didn’t realise it at the time, my mother, sister and grandmother all shaped my behaviour and attitudes.

There is a myth that mentoring will take up a lot of time, but I can say that even if you are catching up just once a month, you will see a change after a single session.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

It is difficult to pinpoint a single achievement; I like to think of my whole life as an achievement! Being happy at work, keeping my team motivated and being in the position to motivate and encourage other people are all important things to me.

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

Gender diversity has been a major driving force throughout my career to date and I hope to continue to actively encourage women to join boards, and help both men and women from all backgrounds to develop the skills needed to succeed in fair and equal environments.

As a leader in tech, I believe that to make things change, you must start from within and lead by example. Only then can you really make an impact.


Nancy Pfund featured

Inspirational Woman: Nancy Pfund | Founder & Managing Director, DBL Partners

Nancy PfundNancy Pfund is an 'impact investor’, investing in cleantech and companies making positive social, economic or environmental change.  

She is founder of DBL Partners, which was one of the early investors in Tesla Motors. It recently released a White Paper urging investors to put money into clean energy projects in Africa, and predicts this area is going to be worth trillions in the near future.

She was also named in Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business and was commissioned by Presidents George W Bush and Bill Clinton for several environmental projects.

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

I am the Founder and Managing Partner of DBL Partners, a venture capital firm whose goal is to combine top-tier financial returns with meaningful social, economic and environmental returns in the regions and sectors in which it invests. We were one of the first venture capitalists to promote social change and environmental improvement, and I’m very proud to have played a part in bringing that to the fore.

I sit on the board of several companies working to do exactly that, including Farmer's Business Network, The Muse, Advanced Microgrid Solutions, Off-Grid Electric, Primus Power, and, prior to their public offerings, Tesla Motors and Pandora. My involvement with Tesla saw me featured by Fortune in its 2014 list of the World's Top 25 Eco-Innovators.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Not really! The one consistent thread has been my passion for entrepreneurship and innovation and my passion for social change and environmental protection. My various jobs have touched on or both of those over the years. My move to help to create double bottom line investing was a conscious effort to bring both of those things together and create a new, conscious investing approach. So it happened organically.

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

Many challenges. Many people doubted that this was a good thing to do so it was hard to raise money. Also being a woman in a male-dominated field slowed things down – I encountered a lot of scepticism at first.

Once we launched, it was challenging to find deals that met our criteria and because we had created a new form of investing, we had to educate entrepreneurs on what this meant.

You’ve been commissioned by Presidents George W Bush and Bill Clinton for several environmental projects. How did this come about?

The Clinton commission was to widen internet access and the Bush one was the first environmental commission on technology. In both cases my work on policy that was embedded in my investment activities spurred mentors from both the public and private sectors, to recommend me for these commissions and coach me on how to be a successful candidate. It was a great privilege to serve two Presidents.

What more can the general public do to help the environment?

Invest in companies that are changing the climate equation. Engage in political activities to make your voice heard on climate change and hold elected officials accountable. Question the status quo when it comes to energy, transportation and infrastructure, and embrace new ways to promote consumer choice rather than relying on the same old same old utility, or car dealer, or agricultural seed supplier.

Vote with your wallet as well. Buy products with an environmental screen or mindset. Walk the walk. Find positive ways to convince your family and friends that, for example, it’s great to drive an EV compared to a regular car. Explain that there is no sacrifice at all in going green.

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

Quite simply, we need more women in senior positions.

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

I didn’t have formal mentors although there were many people who helped me along at various periods of my career in significant ways. I think mentoring can play a key role in building gender equality in the workplace. I have mentored a few women and hope that they are bigger and bolder as a result.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Creating the premier impact venture capital firm and helping to create a whole new kind of investing. I’m also incredibly proud to have helped finance and create some of the most iconic companies of the 21st Century so far that combine purpose and profit.

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

I want to continue helping to grow the field, continue making DBL successful, and continue building amazing new companies that change our world for the better, create the highest quality jobs, and deliver strong financial returns to investors.


Maria Kaskara, L&Q featured

Inspirational Woman: Maria Kaskara | Graduate Assistant Site Manager, L&Q

 

Maria Kaskara, L&Q

Maria, 26, is passionate about promoting female roles in the construction industry - in fact she wrote her Master’s dissertation on the differences in managerial competencies between male and female project managers, and when not on site she dedicates time to hosting workshops and talks at local London schools encouraging female students to consider working in the field.

In her role working on new housing developments for L&Q, Maria is responsible for managing the construction of new developments from start to finish and loves that she has the opportunity to play a key role in building a brand new home from the ground up.

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

I am currently working as a Graduate Assistant Site Manager on site at leading property developer L&Q’s new development The Rushgroves in Hendon, as part of L&Q’s graduate scheme.

After completing my Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering in Greece, I moved to London to complete my Master’s in Project and Enterprise Management at UCL, before joining the L&Q Academy for the construction graduate scheme last September.

I have a number of responsibilities across the site, including conducting health and safety checks, keeping site diaries up to date, attending meetings with sub-contractors and dealing with everyday issues and logistics. I like to get involved with “a bit of everything”, and also implement quality checks, to ensure that construction proceeds in accordance with design drawings and specifications.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I wouldn’t say I have ever sat down and planned my career but I have always wanted to work in construction and follow in my father’s footsteps and that’s why I decided to study engineering. My passion for engineering continued through my whole university life, so when I graduated I knew that I wanted to work on construction sites and see everything happening in real life.

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

Every day can be challenging on a construction site. When you’re working on a development like The Rushgroves with 387 homes, there is so much work taking place and everything changes so quickly. Striking the right balance between time, cost and quality is not an easy job but is key to success, so some days on site can become stressful. However, it is great to be challenged and get the job done. This is what I personally find very rewarding in construction.

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

I would like to see more women in senior roles in the construction industry. Construction is very male dominated and I think we still have a long way to go to reduce the gender pay gap and have strong female roles in the highest positions.

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

I have been lucky throughout my career so far to always have people that could give me formal and informal advice and support. I’ve gained so much by observing how my peers respond to certain situations in the workplace and on site and have learned a lot from them.

Since joining L&Q, I have been delivering talks at secondary schools around London, where I inform young people about how I started working in the construction industry, the different roles available to them in the industry and answer questions the students have. I really enjoy passing on my experience to young people and I hope that as a female I can influence more young women who attend my talks to consider construction as a career!

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

I am currently a member of the National Association of Women in Construction and encouraging more women to consider a career in construction is a huge passion of mine – in fact I wrote my Master’s dissertation on the differences in managerial competencies between male and female project managers! I would certainly encourage more women to consider a career in the industry – I think most people would think of the stereotypical male builder, however there is a huge selection of different design and management roles on offer in which women can excel, and there are construction roles across all sorts of developments – from housing to council planning.

I personally love my job at The Rushgroves because I’m able to spend a good part of my day outside and it’s a very satisfying role, as I’m able to witness the progress of a development of such a great scale from start to finish and play a key role in building brand new homes from the ground up. I also love involving the local community in our work. Recently at The Rushgroves we led a project with art students from Barnet and Southgate College, who created designs for the site hoardings encapsulating three key themes for the town of Hendon - community, environment and the future.

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

In the future I would like to continue to develop my career, skills and experience to become a future leader in the construction industry. I have already started to work towards my chartership to become a well-rounded project manager. Inspiring and guiding more girls and women into construction would also be one of my priorities.


anna nasalska featured

Inspirational Woman: Anna Nasalska-Olczyk | Design & Technical Manager, L&Q

 

Anna Nasalska-Olczyk

As national treasurer for the NAWIC, Anna, 37, based in London, has discovered a love of mentoring young women in the construction industry and has been mentored herself, in turn meeting a lot of women like her who are passionate about the work they do on site, further driving her to pursue her chosen career path.

Day to day, Anna works with architects and engineers at The Rushgroves, an L&Q development in north London, on the initial designs of a site and follows it through to execution. She facilitates workshops with designers and trades, considering each design element, including structural and mechanical elements and is responsible for ensuring that everyone involved in the process, understands and buys into the design of the buildings. She find it incredibly fulfilling to see families then move into and live in the homes she has worked on, knowing how her design decisions will be contributing to their quality of life.

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

I am a Design & Technical Manager for L&Q, a leading residential developer. I have been working at The Rushgroves, a new development in North London since the start of the design process after being approached by L&Q. My role involves working with architects and engineers to design the homes we’re building, and carrying out the designs on site. My day to day role can vary, however this might include attending workshops with designers, builders and product manufacturers considering each design element of structure, mechanical and electrical systems. I work closely with everyone who is involved in the process, to ensure everyone understands the concepts and buys into my designs. This exciting development will offer 387 new homes and is designed with community at its heart.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Growing up I always enjoyed observing how people live and how the built environment can impact people’s lives, as well as their health and development. This interest led me to undertake studies in Architecture and Town Planning. After graduating I worked as an Urban Designer and researcher at the Warsaw University of Technology. Early in my career I was determined to become an architect and design houses, however further on I have recognised the importance of being able to take a design and convert it into a building. The complexity of the subject, together with its design, sustainability and financial elements gave me an opportunity to develop myself professionally. I then went on to complete my engineering studies with a commercially-focused course.

I later took a career break to support my family and when my husband relocated to London we all followed. I took this opportunity to consider my options and decided to go back to university. This time I studied an MSc in Real Estate and Planning at UCL, which focused on the planning and investment required by property developers to create world class architecture in London. Once I graduated I applied for a position on a construction site, and secured a job as a document controller. Working on site I witnessed the process of completing buildings and people starting to use the new space. I worked as a document controller for a year before I stepped up to work in technical and design management.

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

Studying and adapting to my new role after university as a new mother was a challenge! During this period however I found the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) helpful for meeting a network of likeminded people who were able to help me with adapting to these changes.

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

I have always had a positive experience on site, I work with a great team! However I know not all are so lucky, and I would love to see more opportunities offered to women. Within the industry I would like to see focus on merit and ability, as is the case at L&Q and The Rushgroves.

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

As part of my involvement with the National Association of Women in Construction and RIBA Fluid Mentoring, I have had the opportunity to be a mentor as well as be mentored by others, and I find that it’s a fulfilling and positive resource for all. Being part of an organisation like NAWIC has allowed me to meet lots of interesting people in the industry and find out about all the different opportunities and type of roles on offer. This information is extremely useful when you’re starting out and don’t know what part of the industry is of most interest to you. NAWIC organises regular tours of different building sites which helps us all to learn about different trade skills and techniques. L&Q supports NAWIC initiatives and just recently we organised a visit for members at The Rushgroves.

Being part of NAWIC means I have met lots of other women who are passionate about construction, and this really encouraged me onto the career path I am on now.

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

Construction can be a very fulfilling career, as you can watch your efforts transform an empty site into a place where people can thrive for years to come and it’s definitely something many more young women should be considering. The results of your work are tangible and can have a positive impact on people’s lives.

More young women need to be told early on while they are at school about the benefits of careers in construction and the opportunities open to them. If more of us working in the industry can go into schools and colleges and talk about our work, it could make a tangible difference. Personally, I really enjoyed Maths and Science when I was younger but also have a creative side so would particularly recommend it as a career for young women who are looking for a job which allows them to utilise both of these skills. There are such a variety of management roles which women could be excelling in and I think it’s important that girls know that these options are available to them!

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

My current focus is to see the project at The Rushgroves through to the end and welcome the residents into their new homes. This role presents lots of design challenges – for example we are creating a neighbourhood space which incorporates some complex solutions to store rainwater and direct the flow back to the nearby Silk Stream – however I am really enjoying finding ways to create a development that puts the residents’ needs at its heart. This will be a great achievement when we reach it, and I’m looking forward to see the final product of our efforts and my designs.


Angelika Podlinska featured

Inspirational Woman: Angelika Podlinska | Software Engineer, Spicy Mango

 

Angelika Podlinska

Angelika Podlinska is a Software Engineer at Spicy Mango

Before she embarked on her software engineering apprenticeship, Angelika had been planning to join the armed forces. Having never had much technology training at school, Angelika had had no exposure to the world of tech and didn’t know what to expect. During her course, she was one of only two female members out of 12 and had to adjust to learning new skills and different ways of working. She’s now a respected software engineer at Spicy Mango, leading projects from start to finish and consulting on the evolving technologies in the broadcast arena.

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

I have always been a little bit of a geek and into challenging myself. I hadn’t considered or tried coding until I applied for an apprenticeship with British Airways as a Software Developer. It was a great start to my career as I got to experience the different roles and departments within the company, each with their own unique range of responsibilities. I completed my apprenticeship with a distinction and began to look for a new challenge to build my knowledge further. I started working at Spicy Mango and have loved every minute of it. It presents new challenges and problems to overcome on every project - every day is a school day as they say! I have worked in IT for over four years now.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

A career in technology wasn’t my original intention, we had little exposure to IT at school and I wasn’t aware of the possibilities or what it involved. When I was at school I wanted to be a Police dog handler, as I love working with dogs. However, it was difficult to get into and it doesn’t have the same possibilities or career opportunities. I like to plan for everything, so I can prepare for what’s coming as best I can, but the apprenticeship was a jump into the unknown. At the time I wasn’t 100% sure what to expect but I’m glad I decided to take the leap.

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

To begin with the main challenge for me was lack of knowledge. I had to understand how programming worked and how the different areas worked together. Then I had to learn about all the different types of software and possibilities out there. I spent a lot of time researching things I didn’t understand as well as using the knowledge of my mentors to help me progress in my career. It took time and hard work, but it has paid off - I even manage to answer the odd question on stack overflow now!

I believe my challenge is one that everyone faces in this sector; it is the nature of the business. The IT sector is constantly changing, evolving, and developing, new languages, software and new fields of expertise are required. In order to be successful, you not only have to stay on top of this but learn how and where to apply.

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

I’d like to place more of a focus on equality. We should all be competing fairly with those around us, being measured on how productive we are and the quality of work we produce, not our genders or backgrounds. At the moment there’s an emphasis on increasing the amount of women in tech and while this may prove a positive change in the short term, it’s important that it doesn’t result in discouraging any other people from entering the sector and causing a further divide.

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

I think it’s important that from an early age both boys and girls are encouraged into STEM careers. This should be taken into account from the very beginning of their educational development, often parents are still drawn to gender stereotypical toys e.g. cars and ‘tech toys’ for boys and dolls for girls. Children should be educated from an early age about the STEM opportunities available, and it’s great to see an increasing amount of toy manufacturers taking this into account with their products. More apprenticeships should be offered in these areas too to help develop their skills.

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

I’ve been a mentor and a mentee. Having a mentor is particularly important when you’re just starting out, it gives you a boost of confidence knowing that there is someone there to guide you if you start to go off track. The best mentors will challenge their mentees and thrive to get the best from those they are working with, helping them to find their unique attributes. I get a real thrill out of introducing those I mentor to new skills and helping them nurture the talents they have. Once you see students succeed in something you’ve mentored them through you get a great sense of pride and joy, and it’s not a one-way relationship, students will also invite you to look at things from different angles and make you question why you do things like you do.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

I think finding a supportive, innovative company to work with has been my biggest achievement so far. Spicy Mango has so many exciting projects and I feel lucky to work with all of our clients. Aside from the projects, the team is also really inclusive and we all strive to achieve our goals together.

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

We’ve got lots of interesting projects lined up, so I’m really looking forward to getting ‘hands on’ and I’m ready to face all of the challenges that may appear. I love what I do, and I’d like to continue expanding my skills in the tech world. I’m currently in the process of finishing my degree in Computer Science and I’m hoping to take this further in the future, possibly onto a PhD.


Zoe Cunningham featured

Inspirational Woman: Zoe Cunningham | Managing Director, Softwire

 

Zoe Cunningham is Managing Director of Softwire.

Zoe has been at Softwire since 2000, in which time she has made it her mission to hold every role in the company – developer, project manager, consultant, sales, operations manager and now MD. Under Zoe’s leadership Softwire has placed in the top 25 of 'The Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For’ list consistently over the last seven years. Zoe is also a film and theatre actor and was the 2010 World Ladies Backgammon Champion. She has been named as one of the 100 most influential people in Tech City, selected by the BBC as the Brightest Woman in Britain and in 2013 she accompanied former Prime Minister, David Cameron, on his trade delegation to China.

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

I studied a mathematics degree and then joined my current company Softwire as a graduate coder. I was the 9th team member to join and first female employee. As we were a small business I took the opportunity to work in lots of different roles, culminating in joining the business development team in 2009. This was way out of my comfort zone and consequently ended up being the biggest learning experience of my career. In 2012 I was appointed as Managing Director, reporting to the founders, and now I have broad responsibility across the whole company, which I love.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I did! In 2007 I had an epiphany and started working much harder to achieve my career goals. A few years later I realised that I was becoming very successful and perhaps wasn’t setting large enough goals. I took a full Saturday morning to set myself a five year plan. I predicted what the company would look like in five years’ time and what roles would be needed and decided that I would want to be MD – we’d never had an MD prior to that!

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

Once you get into management, it’s challenges all the way up! And they get harder as you go, since easier challenges are solved by the managers underneath you. My current challenge is learning how to enhance the sense of purpose in a company. There are lots of pieces written on this subject, but it is a complex area and actually (for me!) starts with a lot of self-discovery. What am I doing that enables or discourages this? How can I change my behaviour?

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

I would love to live in a world where everyone, including the women themselves, expects exactly the same drive and ability from both female and male employees.

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

I think that the most effective solution that we have seen is role-modelling. If you can’t see someone who looks like you doing the job, then you don’t think it’s for you. There are two things that we can do here – make more noise about the fantastic women already working in STEM (in some cases for 40+ years!) and get more women directly into the workforce by retraining: we can’t change what women chose to study aged 13 but we can give them a new opportunity to learn the skills now.

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

I’m often approached to mentor people and I’ve been lucky to have the support of a large number of great mentors. My biggest learning around mentorship is that all of the drive and determination needs to come from the mentee. If you go to a mentor or coach expecting them to wave a magic wand and fix your life for you, it’s not going to happen. On the other hand I am mentoring a fantastic woman right now and although she tells me that she gets a lot from our chats, I can see clearly that it is her hard work that is driving her change and all I am doing is giving her the confidence to keep going.

 What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Becoming Managing Director of Softwire was an incredible achievement for me. I forget this from time to time as I’ve got used to it, but it really changed my perspective on the world and my belief in what I can achieve.

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

Four years ago I started pursuing a second career (outside of my technology job) in acting. Completely different! It’s an interesting comparison since in technology demand is high and employees are scarce, whereas in acting it is the opposite! Over four years I’ve been lucky to play the lead role in a couple of great short films and I just played the lead role in my first independent feature film. My medium-long term goal is to either have a great part in a good film, or a good part in a great film, where the success of the film needs to be both in artistic quality and distribution – I want my friends and family to see me on the big screen!


Sharon Einstein featured

Inspirational Woman: Sharon Einstein | VP (EMEA) Robotic Automation & AI, NICE

 

Sharon EinsteinSharon Einstein is VP (EMEA) Robotic Automation and AI at NICE.

NICE is a billion-dollar technology company – headquartered in New York (office in Israel and London (Blackfriars)) that provides customer experience and employee engagement technology for the likes of BT, PayPal, Thomas Cook and Metro Bank.

Sharon joined NICE in 1997 as a system analyst and during her time at NICE has been on both sides of the fence: CIO – deciding on the technologies to grow and transform the business, and now VP EMEA Robotic Automation and AI – selling and implementing automation solutions to customers embarking on their digital transformation journeys.

Tell us about yourself, your background, your current role

I’m Sharon Einstein, VP EMEA Robotic Automation & AI at NICE. NICE provides customer experience and employee engagement technology for over 25,000 organisations in more than 150 countries, including over 85 of the Fortune 100 companies.

I joined NICE in 1997 in a temporary role as part of the MIS and IT team (Management Information System and Information Technology) and since then have worked in multiple roles. First, as a CIO, deciding on the technologies to grow and transform the business, and now leading our Robotic Automation and AI efforts in EMEA – selling and implementing automation solutions to customers embarking on their digital transformation journeys.

I’m from Israel, married and have two beautiful children – boy (9) and girl (7).

Do you ever sit down and plan your career?

When I was at university, I wanted to be a developer and planned a career in a R&D (research and development) industry. But just before I graduated, I got a temporary position at NICE in MIS & IT and haven’t looked back since.

When I started my career I set myself a clear goal – to become CIO – knowing the impact technology has in business. The path to getting to this point wasn’t mapped out for me – but I knew where I wanted to end up. It helped stoke the fire and drove me to be at the front end of technology development and implementation.

In came NICE. As a company known for its innovation, it led me to the role I have now. This leads me to my first bit of advice - to have a sense of where you want to go but to be flexible with your plans. A calculated risk and a willingness to seize a good opportunity, even if it’s unexpected, can pay large dividends.

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

Challenges make us all stronger. I know they certainly have for me. For me there are two buckets I place those challenges into. One is very much aligned with the business. The other is how I manage out-of-work hours. Fortunately, I have benefited from a strong support system in both of those areas. I have learned that risk is inherent in the DNA of an innovative organisation and to not take risks will inevitably lead to failure. It is also how I approach my personal life. You must be open to where the road leads and sometimes be willing get your hands dirty and chart your own path. My second bit of advice: be daring.

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

Women should be able to be their natural selves without apology. We all should be our authentic selves in the workplace and be ok with that.  This goes for men and woman. If you are aggressive by nature, so be it. If you are sensitive and emotional, so be it. We should be able to express ourselves just as we are, instead of being concerned that we’ll validate a stereotype.

I have seen it time and time again – women try to be less ‘emotional’ and more aggressive because that’s what we perceive others expect of us. Early in my career, I found myself questioning how emotion impacted my brand. I thought somehow, if I showed my feelings, I would be seen as weak by other colleagues. But in my opinion, showing a bit of emotion in the workplace is not a bad thing at all. It makes you more human and relatable. And my goal is to create an environment for my team where everyone can be their authentic self - regardless of gender.

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

First off, I will say loudly that a career in STEM is very rewarding. The fact that you’re a woman shouldn’t hold you back. If you like technology, mathematics and science, then I’d highly recommend a career in STEM. Some might see a glass ceiling but from my perspective I see a lab floor.

I was exposed to IT from a very young age and was able to spend time with many intelligent people who taught me how their systems worked and encouraged me to innovate. I went on to study computer science and then I got the temporary job at NICE that got me started on this journey. It’s been a great career for me and I’d love to see more women in the industry.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

I find technology an inspiration. Being a change agent for our MIS and IT teams,  transforming them from back-office/cost-centre functions where their real value recognition fell short, to strong business enablers is one of those moments.

A second achievement is the transformation of our EMEA Services division. As VP of Services and leader of an amazingly talented team of innovators, we delivered a three-year profitable customer loyalty programme. This effort was driven through a shared objective to deploy value at every customer interaction. We exceeded profitability and customer satisfaction targets, resulting in significant impacts to the overall business results in EMEA.

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

The question I always find myself asking is what’s next. It’s important to always be future thinking. I expect my team to constantly uncover opportunities to influence how technology impacts the way we live and work. I have an expectation that we are each there for each other. I could not be prouder of our team. It is equally important that we constantly seek new talent to disrupt our norms. In that is the next big idea.

As a female and as an executive in an organisation like NICE, I feel a sense of responsibility to find ways to give back. We must spend time in our community, support causes we believe in and pave the way for the next generation. For me, personally, I look forward to what’s next and to mentoring the next woman or man who can step into my shoes.


Sue McLure featured

Inspirational Woman: Sue MacLure | Head of Data at Psona Data, a Communisis sister agency

 

Sue McLure

Sue Maclure is Head of Data at Psona Data, a Communisis sister agency.

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

I have spent my entire career in data, sometimes pure-play data agencies, sometimes as part of a creative agency, sometimes on client side.

I have held senior positions in teams that have, on occasion, been very male dominated but just as often female dominated. If I had to determine which drove that split I would have to say that the larger and more corporate the business the more male dominated it tended to be. But I don’t judge an organisation by its gender divide at the top, the overall business culture is the main driver and I believe that women are just as capable of buying into a specific culture as men are – be that one you admire or not.

In my current role I have a team of 25 split across two sites – Leeds and London – not spending lots of time together can be challenging but we speak often and get together as a whole team quarterly. We’re going through some change at the minute with new starters and looking for new propositions to take to market – it’s exciting times and they’re a great bunch.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Not at the beginning. The only times I have written five year plans is when I’ve been unhappy in a position and knew I wanted or needed a change.  That has happened twice in my 25 year career, and the first time resulted in me moving cities and jobs within the first 12 months.  I’m four years into my current five year plan, this one resulted in me first going part time (although I’ve backed off from that more latterly) and moving back to supplier side. I refer to it occasionally to see if I’m heading in the right direction or getting side-tracked. I suspect the five years will come and go without me noticing if I’m content in what I’m doing.

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

Yes. I got promoted beyond my capability – something which I’m sure happens to us all at some point if we’re always pushing for change and ‘something new and interesting’. How did I deal with it? Not well at the beginning to be honest – none of us like to admit we’re out of our depth. But I did seek and receive external support and now, having made some changes (not all of my choosing at the time!) I realise just how much I learned from that experience.

Looking back I probably wasn’t quite as bad as I thought as now feel I could be great at that original job. Sometimes it’s just about timing and the surrounding factors – that was probably one of the most painful professional periods of my career, but without a doubt the one I apply the most learnings from now, at a senior level.  The most important one being that you need to make the tough decisions and act on them – no matter how unpleasant it might feel at the time, it will be work out best in the long run. I’m also a firm believer that however you feel about yourself at any point in time, as long as you stick to doing the thing you enjoy it’ll all come good in the end. Don’t chase the money – that’ll come if you chase doing the thing you love.

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

Remove the need to talk specifically about “women in the workplace” as if they are in some way a completely different species, especially as we don’t refer to “men in the workplace”.  Why can’t we all just say “people in the workplace” and apply the same rules to both? I am fortunate in the sense that I don’t have special professional needs because I’m a woman, so I expect to be treated and rewarded in exactly the same way as everyone else.

I know it can be difficult for some, but I don’t buy the “what about those with children” question, as men are just as capable of caring for children as women are (in fact it should be encouraged far more) – it’s a family choice and there should be equal rights for men in that space as women. For me it’s about equality, not dominance of one gender over another.

What I would change for women themselves is to take a leaf out of the male modus operandi. We hear stories about women who won’t apply for a role if they are only confident in 8 out of 10 specifications on a job description, whereas a male counterpart would look at the same 10 and if he can see 3 he’s confident of, he’ll decide that he can wing it on the rest. I think us women could learn a lesson or two from that self-assurance!

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

I have only formally mentored once and I found it incredibly valuable and enjoyable – both in terms of my own learning and building personal relationships.

Informally though I have several people that I think of as mentors and mentees, depending on where we’re at in the relative stages of our careers. Over time, some of them switch between the roles of mentor and mentee and that’s great.  I’m a big supporter of talking things through to find the right solutions for you.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

In my work life my biggest achievement is that I believe I’m seen as an equal in my male peer group as opposed to the girl they invited along to keep the numbers up. I’ve worked hard to be seen as a valued member of staff and my team, and I will continue to work on that throughout my career. I hope it will always be as rewarding as it is now!

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

My organisation is going through a period of change as everyone else in the sector is – how to use data, where to use it, what is good use, what is bad use, how do you keep up with the Joneses whilst not copying everyone else but innovating in your data use, and how do you sell that to clients whilst keeping your own team (that you’re asking for increasing amounts of effort from) happy. Defining our direction and attempting to take the team with me is fun!

My mantra my whole life has been ‘achieve something every day’ and every morning I ask myself what today’s achievement will be – I never want to lose that sense of purpose and being master of my own destiny. I should say, a day’s achievement task for me can be “You’re tired and stressed, so today you will relax and do something for yourself and your family so that you feel ready to take on the world tomorrow” – life is not all about career progress!


Sophie Deen featured

Inspirational Woman: Sophie Deen | Founder, Bright Little Labs

 

Sophie is a former lawyer, techie and school counsellor, she is the founder of Bright Little Labs - a media startup on a mission to create Sesame Street for a digital age.

Starting her career in law (Herbert Smith), Deen worked on internet strategy for regulators worldwide (SamKnows), learning about the transformative possibilities of technology and the growing digital divide. Deen also volunteered as a play therapist in a London primary school and this experience led her to pursue a career in edtech. She then joined Code Club, and worked with Google and the Department for Education, to devise a nationwide CPD training programme for primary school teachers in the new computing curriculum. She also worked on Code Club’s international strategy in over 80 countries.

Her first story, Detective Dot, is about a nine-year-old coder and agent for the CIA (Children’s Intelligence Agency). The idea is to help teach kids - especially girls and underrepresented groups - to code. Detective Dot provides a low-fi and accessible route into coding by using stories. Starting as a Kickstarter, it’s now in 30 countries, with Cabinet Office backing. She has a 3-book deal with Walker Books and Detective Dot has been named the Best Coding Toy in the UK by the Independent (against amazing competitors like Lego and Hasbro). Later in 2018 they are launching curriculum in 22,000 schools with the support of EDF Energy. Detective Dot. Sophie is now creating an interactive world to edutain - games, animations and on-demand content.

A regular speaker at conferences on technology and education, the empowerment of women, and social impact, Deen also consults on all things edutech, including how to communicate tough concepts to a tough audience (kids under 12!) and teaching children to code.

Deen encourages women into technology through outreach work and has been awarded Start-up Founder of the Year by FDM Everywoman, EDF's Pulse Award for inspiring children into STEM, and named as one of Computer Weekly's 'Most influential women in UK IT' 2016 & 2017.

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

My unlikely mix of experiences working as a lawyer, techie, and primary school counsellor inspired me to set up Bright Little Labs - a media startup on a mission to create Sesame Street for a digital age. Sesame Street was amazing - it was accessible to kids from all backgrounds (in its heyday, it reached 98% of US families). Kids who watched it achieved the same standards in numeracy and literacy as they would in pre-school, at a fraction of the price ($5 per child, compared to pre-school which was $7,000). I believe digital skills are as important in this digital age as reading and writing, and that we need to create ways to make it accessible to all kids.

In my most recent role, at Code club, alongside Google and the Department For Education, I helped to introduce the new coding curriculum in schools.. That’s when I first started thinking that a narrative led approach to digital skills would be really cool. I love cartoons and stories, and believe wholeheartedly in the power of creativity, toilet humour and stories to inspire the next generation.

With that in mind, I launched our first story on Kickstarter. It’s about Detective Dot, a nine-year-old coder and agent for the CIA (Children’s Intelligence Agency). The idea is to help teach kids - especially girls and underrepresented groups - to code, and it’s working! Starting as a book and a kids club, Dot has reached over 30 countries, has Cabinet Office backing, and is launching in 22,000 schools later this year with the support of EDF Energy.

Bright Little Labs is widely recognised for its story-led approach to 21st Century skills (recipient of EDF Stem Pulse Award 2017, named ‘Top Coding Toy for Kids’ by The Independent in 2017 and the Evening Standard in 2018). I’ve had a lot of support along the way too. I was named one of Computer Weekly's 'Most influential women in UK IT' 2017, Barclays/Everywoman ‘Startup Founder of the Year’ 2017, the British Interactive Media Association's ‘Innovator’ in 2017 and London Tech Week ‘Changemaker’ in 2018 for my work to inspire children into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). As well as making my mum happy, the recognition has really helped us to open doors and grow the company, and it’s also so encouraging to see so many people get behind our social mission.

We’re now building an interactive world for kids to enjoy - games, animations and on-demand content.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No! I never imagined myself running a children’s media start up when I graduated from University. I was always running into trouble at school and rarely attended lectures at University. I was going to be a lawyer - I’m a from a third-generation East London family, and my brother and I were the first to go to University so it was a big deal. Becoming a doctor, accountant or lawyer was the holy grail and I didn’t really question that until later on. I’d never even heard of engineering or considered a creative path - we didn’t know any engineers, artists or writers.

That said, I am very lucky to have supportive parents and they’ve backed my many career moves. After I left law, I retrained as a child psychologist, and started working for a technology start-up. We helped governments all over the world monitor their countries’ internet performance: I worked in America, Europe, Brazil, and Singapore That’s when I became really interested in technology. It made me think about what it means for these countries and the people living in them to have access to the internet - and what it means for those who don’t. The digital divide is exacerbating existing inequalities and I wanted to do something to address that.

My next move was to Code Club, to help introduce the computer science curriculum in primary schools in the UK. This married my passion for kids and education with my love of tech. One sleepless night while I was still at Code Club, I came up with Detective Dot, and the ball has been rolling and gaining in momentum ever since - and is usually way in front of me. So while I’m extremely happy to be in my position now, I never set out to run a media company, or work in a startup.

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

It might sounds obvious, but doing something for the first time is really challenging. I’ve worked in tech and with kids, but building a global media company is brand new to me, and so is being the CEO. I’m learning about the industry as I go along and often feel like the new kid on the block. Fortunately we are backed by Turner (which owns Cartoon Network - SWOON), have a very strong team, experienced advisors, and a lot of grit. What we don’t know, we learn, and we don’t mind failing because we just dust ourselves off. It works to our advantage too. Being a blank canvas means that we can approach problems without any preconceptions about what can or should be done, so we’re reshaping what a media company looks like in 2018. We apply the principles behind building good technology across the wider business. That means we’re iterative, agile, and user focused. It also means we make plenty of mistakes, but we value progress over perfection!

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

Harassment takes on many subtle shapes and forms. I think we need to work on how we deal with the less obvious forms of harassment. I’ve seen so many women struggle with insidious or snide comments and behaviours that are subtle and nuanced. That’s what culture is - it’s in the detail. The onus is so often put on women to recognise and report incidents that make them feel uncomfortable, unwelcome or compromised; and whether we like it or not a woman has to then weigh up the consequences on her own career or bringing something up. Often we are made to doubt ourselves - we’re made to believe we are over-sensitive or imagine things. I think if we educate everyone to spot the signs and to take action too it would help make the workplace more inclusive and welcoming for everyone.

However, if I could do one thing tomorrow, I’d change maternity law and force parental leave to be shared equally, like in Iceland and Norway. I think this is great for the child, and great for equal opportunities at work too.

I’m not sure if this is the silver bullet. There’s no one size fits all and any moves to improve equality for men and women are welcome!

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

Girls are intrinsically as curious about the world as boys - science, technology, engineering and maths are all disciplines which seek to understand and to build the world around us. But girls are conditioned over time to think that STEM is not for them. I think media portrayal is the biggest issue - the images and language we are exposed to in movies, on TV, in adverts, in the way kids toys are marketed (science kits for boys, toy kitchen for girls). This filters down into the classroom and in the home and serves to perpetuate negative stereotypes around gender. The underlying message is that STEM is for for boys - it’s not ‘feminine’ or ‘normal’ for girls to like science. Stereotypes are set early on: research has shown that by the time kids are 8, they think science is ‘more for boys’.

At Bright Little Labs we make stories so ALL children can imagine themselves in a STEM career. We use positive and diverse role models so children can see themselves in a range of careers.

The issue with STEM education is wider than gender. There’s too much emphasis on memorising facts, and insufficient focus on encouraging enquiry and inquisitiveness in the classroom. Science is all about discovery - creating and creativity is a skill. At the moment, STEM education can feel like an exam factory with the sole purpose of getting into University. We need more creative approaches to teaching STEM.

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

Mentoring has played a huge part in my life and helped me in all sorts of ways. Starting with my parents, who remain my biggest mentors, I’ve been privileged to have had mentoring at every step of the way in Bright Little Labs. My mentors have helped me navigate a new industry, new responsibilities, and emotional difficulties around starting a business too (it’s really hard and can be very lonely!).

I also mentor people, from children in a local school to other startup founders at the start of their journey.

It’s a real privilege to work with my mentors and mentees and I would encourage everyone to get involved. You don’t need to be working in a startup, everyone can benefit from a mentor. Find someone you admire either at your own company or in the wider world and reach out to them and explain what you want. Be clear about what you expect (e.g. a meeting every quarter with a clear agenda) and pay it forward - mentor other people too.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Signing a deal with Turner (who own Cartoon Network)! Our dream to positively challenge stereotypes and make 21st century skills mainstream through an accessible medium is within reach.

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

Our next challenge will be expanding our small but passionate team. Team is everything, so building the right and creating the right culture is our most important task and it takes time. We’re committed to finding people who care about our mission, and we value diversity and smart people over experience and qualifications. Currently we’re looking to hire developers, creatives and operational people. We offer a fun and inclusive environment and it’s a really exciting stage for the business.

Looking ahead we’re focused on developing our core IP and developing our interactive platform to bring our spy-world to life. We are building a world for kids that exists wherever they are, whether it’s on a tablet, TV, in their back garden, the supermarket, or at a live event. Going forward, the investment lays the foundation for further leverage across Turner’s wider animation, licensing and merchandising portfolio, and we’re looking forward to scaling operations globally.