group of high school students

Why we choose STEM Education

group of high school students

At Park Lane Primary School and Nursery, a member of the Griffin Schools Trust, we are combining STEM and traditional education to offer the best lessons and to spark curiosity.

STEM education ensures pupils focus more on science, technology, engineering, and maths.

STEM brings more to the table as it requires a more hands-on approach to real-life applications and engages the pupils in a more interactive way than a standard class. As a result, children develop a genuine interest in the topic.

Given the fact that there is still a gender imbalance in the fields that STEM covers, we believe that starting from a young age will empower more women to follow a career in science and technology. This is the right moment in time to begin nurturing new interests, and our school is determined to do its part in rectifying gender imbalance within the industry.

STEM also brings out various skills the children will need, such as problem-solving, exploration, and critical thinking. Starting early will also create a habit of staying curious, which will help them navigate easier in higher education levels and life.

Through science, our pupils learn the fundamental concept about nature, humanity, and the universe in ways that are accessible, and mathematics develops the analytical thinking process. In addition, it helps us understand and memorise formulas from a young age.

When it comes to technology, STEM provides the best set-up for dealing with complex softwares because children are accustomed to elaborating systems. Also, this teaches them that there is no challenging problem, only more to learn to tackle the issue correctly.

Finally, the pupils develop out-of-the-box thinking through engineering, as this field often requires children to develop new ideas and encourages their technical thinking.

STEM subjects might be a lot to comprehend, but the curriculum caters to the children, ensuring the subject is easy to approach and explored at a child-friendly pace. As a result, our children are immersing themselves into a whole new universe, having fun, and growing up with a positive attitude of seeing challenges as just that, and not giving in at the first hurdle.

Given the fact that there is still a gender imbalance in the fields that STEM covers, we believe that starting from a young age will empower more women to follow a career in science and technology.

Our teachers play a significant role in teaching and guiding the pupils to either new topics or encouraging them to pursue more of one issue that seems to be the right fit. Teachers also ensure that all children experience a scientific experiment using our technology.

We always seek out role models to inspire our young learners, and we are delighted that this year, strong  A’level results in our Griffin secondary schools enabled 38% of students to secure places to study STEM courses, including medicine related degrees.

At Park Lane, we provide access to interactive projects through the Griffin University and Griffin Science Symposium, and extra-curricular clubs such as Lego, coding, model making, computing, and animation. Our children love that they get to choose from various lessons and have control and input into how and what they learn.

We will continue introducing STEM education from a young age, encouraging our pupils to try as many subjects as possible and showing that education can be entertaining. The Trust’s vision of Proud Traditions, Wide Horizons, and High Achievement is also a promise to our children that we will nurture them and offer them the best opportunities that STEM can offer.

About the author

Alexandra-LadburyAlexandra Ladbury is Head of School at Park Lane Primary School and Nursery. With a passion for nurturing children’s learning, and developing a positive and wholesome environment for them to learn in, Alexandra is laying strong foundations for Park Lane pupils’ futures.

Knowing she was destined for education, Alexandra went to Birmingham City University to study for an early years degree, before completing her PGCE at University College Birmingham. After completing her NQT year and spending a year as a teacher, Alexandra joined Park Lane as a class teacher for year one pupils.

At Park Lane, Alexandra quickly rose through the ranks. It is here that she took her Masters in SENDCO, taught Reception and Year three, before becoming Deputy Head in 2018; a significant achievement, after just five years from qualifying as a teacher.

Alexandra’s talent for leadership and driving change within the school was noticed by the Griffin Schools Trust, which Park Lane is a part of, and she was promoted to Head of School in 2020. The school now boasts initiatives such as free private music lessons and dance lessons with The Royal Ballet. Such initiatives provide opportunities for the children that they may otherwise have not been exposed to.

Alexandra absolutely epitomises the values of Park Lane Primary School and Nursery, and, as such, has risen to the top and created a school which truly brings out the best in all the children. Under her leadership, Park Lane is supporting today’s learners to become tomorrow’s leaders.

National Computer Security Day, Cybersecurity

Computer Security Day: Relevant since the 80s?

National Computer Security Day, Cybersecurity

International Computer Security Day has been running since 1988, serving as a reminder of the importance of strong cyber hygiene.

However, with users being subjected to continuous reminders to update software or make passwords stronger, it can be easy to dismiss annoying pop-up notifications and put off making security changes. So how can organisations and individuals keep their assets secure in an increasingly hostile digital environment? We spoke totech industry experts to get their thoughts on how to deal with external threats.

What’s the big deal?

Okey Obudulu - SkillsoftIf your IT department does routine security maintenance every day, it can be easy to dismiss the threat. However, as the complexity of cyber threats grow, that attitude is a big mistake.

According to Okey Obudulu, CISO at Skillsoft, “every second, approximately 18 people are victims of cybercrime. Nobody is safe. Today’s enterprise attack surface means there’s far more information available for threat actors to target than ever before”.

Robert Surgue”With the complexity of cyber-attacks and the risk of data breach now greater than ever, there is no room nor excuse for half-hearted attempts at computer security”, adds Robert Sugrue, Product Director of Cyber Security at Six Degrees. “Cybercriminals pick on those who are weak and unprepared. We must protect ourselves, be aware, and be prepared”.

Furthermore, Daniel Marashlian, CTO and Co-founder of Drata has noticed the increased appearance of phishing and voice cloning incidents. “Spear phishing is already becoming extremely targeted”, he says, “and attacks are moving into messaging Daniel Marashlianplatforms and even voice messaging. We are now seeing these attacks leveraging services like Slack, and employees are even receiving phone calls from attackers using voice-cloning to impersonate executives”.

So what can I do?

“With cyber-attacks now affecting 39% of UK businesses, and identity fraud on the rise, security needs to be top of Donnie maccollmind in everything we do”, notes Donnie MacColl, Senior Director of Technical Support at Fortra (formerly HelpSystems). He suggests that "this can be achieved by thinking of ourselves as customers of everything we use both in the workplace or at home, whether that's an app on our phone or computer, an online store or a physical shop. We need to check whether an app we use has a Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), and, if not, find another one that has. By thinking about security and asking ourselves ‘is what I am using secure’, we may prompt a chain of ownership”.

Gal HelemskiEqually, Gal Helemski, CTO and co-founder of PlainID, theorises that “when an internal breach occurs” in which “networks are compromised, identity remains the priority challenge. Organisations must adopt a ‘Zero Trust’ approach, which means trusting no one – not even known users or devices – until they have been verified and validated. Once a user is compromised, especially one with administrative credentials, they are already in your network and limiting movement is key to avoiding continental damage and risk”.

Similarly, Obudulu further suggests that in order to reduce computer security incidents, “a solid cybersecurity culture thrives when employees are educated and enabled. Positively, new research from Skillsoft has observed a 21% increase in the total number of hours spent consuming cybersecurity training across organisations in the last year alone, with a 24% increase in the number of hours spent by each learner on average”.

Businesses should take the lead

Cesar Cid de RiveraWhilst training is important, however, Cesar Cid de Rivera, international VP of Systems Engineering at Commvault suggests that new technological abilities can help to reduce the impact of breaches: “Cyber deception is an emerging cyber defence that puts organisations one step ahead of the attacker. They become the manipulator, rather than being blind-sided. The methodology revolves around deploying decoys to throw the attacker off course and lure them to fake assets. This reduces threat event frequency (TEF) as the cybercriminal is more likely to go down the wrong path and the real assets will remain protected. Once the attacker has entered the fake IT environment, the organisation will be alerted, so response time is reduced and organisations can take action to protect their real systems much quicker. It’s a win-win solution!”

Matt RiderFurthermore, businesses should be able to monitor their digital systems continuously, and as Matt Rider, VP of Security Engineering EMEA at Exabeam suggests, “in order to maintain cybersecurity vigilance, security teams need better visibility and insights into user activities so that they can detect anomalies, investigate and then mitigate the cyber threats lurking in their systems. To this end, organisations need to make sure they are investing in the right technologies, key amongst which is user and entity behaviour analytics (UEBA), that gives security teams the visibility they need across their staff, devices and networks. UEBA baselines what normal looks like for each” organisation, and thus, are able to monitor and detect any deviation - spotting malicious activity far, far earlier”.

Overall, Computer Security Day is a great reminder to update your digital security infrastructure and ensure that all internal stakeholders are adequately trained to recognise threats as and when they occur. However, this should not be the only time security practises are assessed and evolved - if organisations can take this opportunity to incorporate cyber security into their everyday operations, they’re more likely to remain secure all year round, as it’s only a matter of time unti cyber criminals come knocking on your door.

new mum, juggling work and baby, work life balance, unsplash

Top tech tips new mums can implement who are juggling a business and a baby

new mum, juggling work and baby, work life balance, unsplash

In April 2020, 2 weeks after the first lockdown in the UK, I gave birth to my son Oliver. It was a scary time and a strange time to become a mum for the first time. The streets were empty and daily briefings were the norm. 

Everyone told me ‘It takes a village to raise a baby’. But I didn’t have a village around me. In fact, it was just me, my husband and Oliver for months on end in a tiny house in East Yorkshire. 

I searched and found my village online. Without any human interaction, no baby groups, no midwife clinics,  I learned from online communities and used apps and tech to navigate this new world I found myself in. 

5 months later, I started to think about returning to work. Having quit a toxic workplace at 3 months pregnant, I didn’t have my role as Practice Manager in Wealth Management to return to, so wearing baby Oliver in a sling, I set up my own business from my kitchen table. 

It wasn’t easy at all. It tested me and I was constantly faced with the ups and downs of motherhood at the same time as getting my consultancy business off of the ground. Every time Oliver was put down for a nap, I opened up my laptop and worked. I had precious few hours to dedicate in the early days that I had to be super-efficient, structured and productive.

In 2021, off the back of the success of my growing business, we moved to France to fulfil mine and my husband’s long-held dream of bringing up a family in the French countryside. 

It’s been a challenging and busy 2 years, however there are apps and platforms that can help you make the most of your time. The baby/business juggle is REAL, but here’s how I did it:

Huckleberry Sleep App

This app combines paediatric sleep advice with AI to perfectly plan your baby’s nap times according to their age and sleep patterns. Getting your baby to nap at regular times of the day is key to smoother scheduling for the whole family. You can plan your work and your own rest if you know when your baby will be asleep. Spoiler alert: some days your baby will forget about the schedule and not play ball, remember not to pack your diary too full of work- you’ll need plenty of white space to be able to shuffle plans around without causing stress and be able to prioritise your little one.


When you're juggling a business and a baby, you have to hold a lot of information to remember, so free up some headspace and add tasks and deadlines to ClickUp. This platform is a lifesaver and has a phone app for on-the-go notes and to-do lists. You can view upcoming tasks as a calendar view, in a list or task cards on a board- whatever you prefer. I took it one step further and added my husband to ClickUp so we could manage family tasks such as Oliver’s vaccinations and remembering to order the supermarket delivery each week- all things easily forgotten when you're both busy. Each task has an assignee and date so no business or personal task can slip through the net and no one can say ‘I thought you were doing that!’


With a new baby on your hip you’ll rarely have both hands free to write long messages to clients or your team. Voxer is the walkie-talkie app for voice notes, photos and file sharing as well as normal text messages. A great way to keep your private and business lives separate but stay connected and productive whilst you're pushing the pram around the park. Top tip: Keep Whatsapp for your friends and family- Voxer is for work only then turn off your notifications in the evening.


The saviour of the online world- Zapier connects up and automates all of your apps and platforms to save you a tonne of time. For example, you receive a new lead via a contact form and Zapier adds the details to your ClickUp task board to review the next day. A client books a call with you and Zapier sends them your client welcome pack by email. A client signs a contract and Zapier sets up a new folder in your Google Drive with their name on it ready for you to get started. As a new mum growing a business, you need to remove any manual task which could be automated to free up your time- you’ll need every minute!

Kate KurdziejAbout the author

Kate Kurdziej (34) is on a mission to empower female start-ups and entrepreneurs to strike a better work/life balance by running their online businesses more efficiently. By advising on and building bespoke online systems, transforming processes and freeing up time, Kate hopes to eradicate the burnout and stress that can hold so many people back.

Via her own consultancy and as a working mother, Kate knows all too well how it feels to be battling against the clock to get work done, be productive and to juggle parenting alongside a career.

Digital skills, skills gap, laptop

Bridging the digital skills gap: How those with non-technical degrees and experience can get into coding

Digital skills, skills gap, laptop

By Mike Rhodes, CEO of ConsultMyApp

Earlier this year, the UK tech industry was valued at £1 trillion, a significant milestone that only the US and China have previously reached.

In fact, following record levels of venture capital investment, the UK tech industry is now home to thirteen decacorns – businesses valued at $10 billion or more – putting the value of the UK market at more than double that of Germany and nearly five times greater than France and Sweden.

Yet, despite this staggering boom, the UK’s problematic tech talent shortage is threatening to stifle this impressive growth. With a recent report from Tech Nation finding that there were more than two million job vacancies in the tech sector last year – more than any other labour industry - the fight to rapidly upskill and attract more diverse talent with the right digital skills has never been more critical.

The UK’s digital skills gap is an issue that has been recognised and widely discussed for several years - maybe even decades. Yet, despite efforts to date, from both the government and private sector, the rift between supply and demand for specialist skills in the economy continues to grow.

Businesses of all sizes are now desperately scrambling to secure talent, but there are simply not enough people at present with the relevant skills to fill the overwhelming number of tech vacancies. Clearly a creative solution is needed to urgently fill these roles and upskill talent, and naturally, this starts with the younger generation - encouraging young people with natural aptitudes and early exposure to technology into the sector.

So, how do you encourage young people with non-technical skills or graduates with a degree in say, History or English, to enter a career in coding?

That is the big question - but this is where low-code and no-code trends step in, offering an accessible entry point for those who are less mathematically or algorithmically advanced or experienced - a factor putting many off from specialising their skill set for lucrative software roles.

The idea of software development can be intimidating to many, particularly those with more creative and less technical skill sets. However, these low code and no code platforms lower the entry barriers, allowing users to build software using a simple and user friendly toolkit approach as opposed to creating software from scratch. With platforms like these, those straight out of school and graduates with minimal digital skills can learn to code with a platform that automates and streamlines the more technical development process.

Learning to code is not easy to master and there is no quick fix, however, the low-code no-code approach enables greater inclusion for all keen to get into a career in software development without a highly skilled background or training. Instead of spending years studying programming languages and constantly needing to keep up to date with the latest frameworks, the whole software development process can be reduced to a series of easy steps including drag-and-drop editors and code generators.

And companies are benefiting too. In fact, low-code and no-code trends have been on the rise in recent years, particularly during the pandemic, to fill the need for rapid digital transformation amidst limited developer availability. We’re now witnessing companies turning more and more often to low-code and no-code solutions to rectify the imbalance between the ever-growing demand for software development and the shortage of skilled developers currently in the market.

This is because no-code and low-code solutions speed up the development process and allow those with very little experience to take advantage of the technology and quickly build applications, without having to be a programming expert.

In short, low-code and no-code approaches are mutually beneficial to corporations and young aspiring talent alike. School and university graduates are able to step into the world of software development without any experience, filling the ever-growing digital skills gap we are currently faced with. And, corporations can take an idea and use minimal resources to launch it very quickly and at little additional cost for training.

Still, there are of course many questions being asked as to whether these trends will replace the need for highly skilled Software Engineers altogether. The answer is no - there will always be a need for Software Engineers, algorithmic mathematicians and people who truly understand code. It’s also important to remember that low-code and no-code approaches don’t suit every industry. For example, these approaches to development may fit nicely with apps that have simpler functionality – for instance shopping apps - but apps that demand high-performance or contain sophisticated features with high interaction, such as games or stock trading apps, are always going to require a build-from-the-bottom approach to be successful.

However, lowering the entry barrier where super technical backgrounds are not required, can only be a good thing as ultimately, it will provide faster and more efficient deployment of applications and help to plug the enormous tech talent shortage.

In summary, with research from Gartner predicting that there will be four times as many low-code no-code developers working in large enterprises than professional developers by 2023, these trends will inevitably only become more prevalent as businesses think creatively about filling the talent gap. Low-code and no-code solutions will definitely be instrumental in helping to bridge the gap, opening up the field to aspiring talent without the training or background in coding, and the key to bolstering the UK’s recent growth in the tech sector.

About the author

Mike RhodesMike Rhodes is an award-winning consultancy manager and the founding director of ConsultMyApp (CMA), one of the world’s leading global app marketing companies. His ethos for the company is simple – to make every App they work with the best it can be.

Now employing over 30 expert consultants, ConsultMyApp has rapidly grown to prominence under Mike’s leadership, despite not being supported by any external funding models or VCs. ConsultMyApp is currently driving the digital evolution of some of the world’s top brands – including, Pure Gym, O2 and Deliveroo – through end-to-end app marketing.


Shrinking the Gender Gap - Women in Tech report by YunoJuno

YunoJuno-gender-gap-imageHow can the tech world be a force for greater good in STEM roles?

Gender equality and the pay gap between sexes are two constantly recurring issues in today’s workplace. Whilst the environment might be dramatically different from half a century ago, the drive for equal representation and income parity remains at the forefront of the equality agenda.

YunoJuno, the UK’s most widely-used freelance management system, feels privileged to highlight, encourage and suggest pathways for a more egalitarian workforce. In fact they believe the freelance economy can provide incredible examples of equality and a non-biased value exchange to the labour market as a whole.

YunoJuno data reveals a 21% pay gap between developers in favour of men. Sadly, this divide is larger than any other discipline. Just 7% of women currently working as freelancers within the development sector in 2021, leaving a 93% gap.

YunoJuno spoke to several women in development and tech-focused roles about their own experiences and opinions on the matter. So, how can the tech world be a force for greater good in STEM roles?

STEM subjects at school

Of all the people YunoJuno had spoken to, only two had studied technology, maths or computer sciences at a younger age, with a further three choosing to learn their digital skills later on in their careers.

A Government report admits that the gap between younger women studying STEM topics at higher-level and employers hiring them comes from “an unmet demand in higher-education skills” from women in particular. Vanessa Ramos a Senior QA Analyst, feels the issue needs addressing earlier on for girls to really understand they have the same opportunities in the technology space as their male classmates: “If you’re trying to change the percentage of women in IT overall then that would need to start in primary schools by exposing young girls to STEM. From there, they’ll hopefully choose to do the IT degrees.”

Making your voice heard

All the interviewees had different opinions on this topic, some found no problems at all however others such as Sally Northmore Engineering Lead at iX, IBM said “sexism, inappropriate behaviour, and the low hum of tech bro culture persist”. Encouragingly, however, she also notes the major strides taking place within the industry: “there’s been a concerted effort to diversify conference panels. I remember when Software Engineer Nicole Sullivan was the only female developer panellist. Seeing her made me think— oh, I could do this as a career too, and be an expert.”

Mary Hughes, Freelance Front-end Developer shared some great advice:  “Don’t feel intimidated by a room full of men or even people who don’t look like you. Don’t ever worry about your gender, be strong and focus on doing what you love!  Stand your ground and believe in your own ability, do a good job and you will get the respect and the rewards you deserve. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask questions and remember making mistakes is a way we all learn.

How societal expectations play a part

Flexible working hours to accommodate school pick up/drop-offs for working mums, maternity leave, work from home, mentoring, connecting with other women in the company, equal pay to males, award recognition for women in IT, training, opportunities for on the job upskilling all need improvement.

In order to attract more women in all types of development roles, employers need to encourage flexible working environments. Vanessa Ramos, Senior QA Analyst

contests:  “flexible working hours to accommodate school pick up/drop-offs for working mums, maternity leave, work from home, mentoring, connecting with other women in the company, equal pay to males, award recognition for women in IT, training, opportunities for on the job upskilling”. These are just some of the ways employers can attract some of the best female talent.

Funding, grants and representation

It’s important that more people are aware of all options available, such as ‘coding boot camps’, that enable people to learn new skills alongside their current profession. Most women YunoJuno spoke to had re-trained or developed their technical skills later in life which again highlights the lack of encouragement from the education level but also, the incredible courage and determination that can be rewarded with new fulfilling career paths.

Kingsley Ijomah, Software Engineer and Founder of Codehance Bootcamp feels “employers can definitely make it more accessible to women by showing women on their posters and advertisements, and including women developers at the interview phase, so it becomes a norm for new developers to be interviewed by a female developer”.

As well as ensuring more companies hire women in development and tech roles, it’s also important for more voices to be heard from the existing community. Sharing the supportive communities within the tech industry is essential for promoting real opportunities that exist as well as educating those interested in the most apt pathways to success.

So, what’s next?

Currently, there are around 600,000 vacant tech roles in the UK. Larger tech companies can do more to open up more apprenticeship opportunities and internships for younger people. The UK’s government apprenticeship scheme is paid too which is something companies should be absolutely offering.

Initiatives such as elevating female voices within the industry, mentorship, access to training and upskilling are all part of a larger need to create more balance in the technology sector where females and other minorities are not only better represented but also given greater opportunities to excel.

Change begins with those in influential positions, irrespective of gender, using their standing to educate, inspire and act.Read the full report here: shrinking the gender gap

A sustainable IT strategy is now critical for the enterprise: Why green IT matters and how to do it

Green tech, Green IT, Sustainable technology

Article by Ayelet Elstein, Vice President, EMEA, Lakeside Software

Amid today’s rapidly changing digital culture, where competition is fiercer than ever, sustainability must be top-of-mind for business leaders.

While consumers are pushing businesses to consider their carbon footprint, market pressures and regulators are now making more efficient IT practices essential to business success.

The European Commission recently announced the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), which requires that companies be more transparent about their environmental and social impact. Its three-stage roll-out plan begins in 2024 and will require companies to report in greater detail on sustainability issues, such as their environmental efforts. This will be extremely important not just for businesses based in the EU, but for any company that operates in or has clients in the EU. The initiative means more transparency for customers, investors, and citizens, and is part of why Environmental and Social Governance (ESG) initiatives have shifted from being additive to being imperative for businesses.

Customers, stakeholders, and employees want to know that a business is contributing some good to the world. The investor community is also taking an interest. Last year was a record year for ESG investing in the UK, with “impact startups” raising nearly £2 billion.

Green IT and why it matters for businesses

“Green IT” is the practice of environmentally responsible computing. While you might think of sustainability, decreasing pollution, and reducing your carbon footprints as intrinsically linked to industries like food, manufacturing, and energy, it is equally important in IT environments.

According to a study by McKinsey, enterprise technology is responsible for about 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). This might not seem like a lot in the grand scheme, but the study emphasises that this amount is equal to “about half of the emissions from aviation or shipping and is the equivalent of the total carbon emitted by the United Kingdom.”

Businesses are also feeling the brunt of rising energy costs in the UK and should expect these costs to continue rising in 2023. Companies that want to see future success must begin exploring and investing in Green IT efforts today, and the most proactive companies will gain good press and reduced energy costs.

Investing in Green IT software can soften the blow of rising energy costs by improving companies’ operational efficiency since part of Green IT is determining where a company is experiencing waste or overconsuming. It can also include lifecycle planning, insights into consumption, and better-informed hardware purchases to help businesses make better IT decisions while ultimately benefitting the bottom line.

How enterprises can lessen their environmental footprint

Awareness and intentionality are the first steps in understanding the impact of IT estates. Enterprises can begin their Green IT efforts by auditing and tracking the technology equipment they use and thinking critically about how it is being deployed. Most tech-enabled businesses can reduce their carbon footprint through technology performance and planning. With clearer insight into your company’s tech stack, you can prioritise energy efficiency, increase digitisation to minimise paper waste, and, thus, cut waste across your organisation’s entire IT estate.

How Green IT can transform your environmental footprint

As business leaders and professionals, we are all responsible for considering how our businesses impact the environment. You can help your company become more sustainable through the following efforts:

  1. Create need-based solutions and right-sizing resources. Replace technology and tools exactly when you need to—and not before. When it is time to replace, make sure to recycle or, preferably, donate old equipment. Businesses often operate on a time-based technology refresh system, where old tech is swapped out with new tech based on the time it is used instead of its performance. This means that sometimes perfectly good hardware or software is replaced based on age.
  2. Optimise your existing assets. Determine whether you can extend the lifecycle of your hardware or consider repurposing your tech. Monitor endpoints to make sure you understand how devices perform over time.
  3. Monitor energy usage and waste. Better IT visibility lets you monitor your energy usage and consumption to make more informed decisions.
  4. Adopt a cloud-first approach. Cloud-based systems are more efficient and therefore use less energy. Accenture analyses estimate a 5.9% reduction in total IT emissions due to Cloud migration.
  5. Use root cause analysis to improve IT service delivery. Tech issues slow down your system, wasting energy and creating inefficiencies. Finding the root cause of your tech issues helps you resolve them quickly, preventing future issues and reducing energy waste.
  6. Create more productive digital workspaces. An optimised workspace promotes remote and hybrid workstyles, which drives sustainability through decreased commutes.

At Lakeside Software, we are helping  IT leaders to reduce energy consumption and IT waste while improving efficiency and digital employee experience (DEX). With high targets globally, every little bit helps. Technology vendors and users must look for ways to reduce their environmental impact.

About the author

Ayelet ElsteinAyelet has 20 years' experience as a C-Level Tech industry veteran in leading sales, innovation, strategic partnerships, GTM strategy, and running operations in enterprise software, large corporations, start-ups, and nonprofit organisations.

Based at the company's new regional headquarters in London, Ayelet is responsible for spearheading Lakeside's expansion through: product and service development in the professional and financial services, manufacturing, technology, telco, and healthcare industries while strengthening Lakeside's partner programme.

Happy thoughtful young businesswoman with digital tablet in hand smiling and looking away in front of colleague at background

How women in tech can embrace digital upheaval

Happy thoughtful young businesswoman with digital tablet in hand smiling and looking away in front of colleague at background

Article by Diaa Elyaacoubi, CEO, Monnier Paris

For too long, women have not been properly represented in the tech sector against their male counterparts. As it stands, only 26.7% of tech-related jobs are held by women.

While there are positive signs to come, with Deloitte predicting that to increase to nearly 33% by the end of the year, not enough is being done to help better bridge the gender gap.

When I began my career in technology some 23 years ago, I felt like an outcast. If you’re an average male IT professional, it’s unlikely that you will feel the same criticisms of your skills as your manager is also male. That breathes into the number of opportunities and responsibilities you get given from the first day. Like many of my peers, my course forward was blocked, trapped in the same role and tasks. I was seldom given the chance to prove myself.

I had never before envisioned moving away from tech, however, I felt I had to in order to further my career in a way the tech environment was not allowing me to. Since I made the decision to branch out, I’ve had stints in marketing, sales, entrepreneurial and business roles. All of these experiences, both the good and bad, helped make me who I am. They allowed me to step outside of my usual levels of comfort, sharpening my existing talents and allowing me to develop skills I never thought I would.

The challenges that women face in the tech industry have been well-documented and must be constantly addressed and remedied. However, when I look back on my career, the challenges I faced in the tech industry and others offered me a different perception of how to create real tangible changes from within.

More STEM options for girls

One of the main reasons women feel that the technology industry is not for them is due to the lack of conventional pathways offered from a young age. The current education system is failing at almost every level to properly advertise and teach about tech as a viable career path for women. For decades, men have been encouraged significantly more than women to embrace degrees in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). Sadly, as it stands, the onus falls on the tech industry, and usually the women within it, to generate proof that the technology industry can offer genuine careers for women. Schools, clubs and programmes must go back to basics and educate young women from the beginning about the exciting reality of working in technology and what they can offer them. Yet no matter how much time, money and effort is invested into education, the tech sector still faces a major problem; retaining female staff.

Retaining or retraining?

While there has been steady, albeit slow, growth of the female workforce, 2021 saw a 2.1% decrease in women in big tech. Women who enter STEM-related jobs are proven to be more likely to leave within their first year than carry on and develop a career. There are many reasons for their reluctance to stay, including the unaddressed pay gap, lack of work-life balance, poor or nonexistent maternity provisions and maternity-related prejudice, and a feeling of constant undervaluation as a woman.

In my time in tech, the atmosphere was hard to acclimatise to. It's incredibly difficult when you make up a small percentage of the workforce as it feels as though you are always being observed, always challenged and always judged for every decision. These sorts of workforce pressures affect women in many ways, and more often than not, force them to make the difficult decision to leave the sector in hope of finding a job that offers more flexibility, balance and diversity.

The unconventional ultimatum

Not everything is grim: The challenges women face in the tech industry can and should also be treated as opportunities, at least until the industry reaches a point of equality where challenges are not dependent on gender. With no set career path, the technology sector inspires and oftentimes rewards unconventional behaviours. It opens up the floor to arm yourself with skills not necessarily attributed to the world of tech and apply them from a different angle, such as marketing skills or wider-business knowledge. While guidance and repetition are two key pillars for success in one’s role, it’s also vital to gain soft skills and talents that talents can’t be taught such as self-confidence or promoting your personal brand.

These ideas and experiences made my career what it is, culminating in my current role as CEO of the luxury eCommerce platform Monnier. I took over as CEO in March 2020, the same time as the world became gripped by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is fair to say that we as a business had to navigate a massive sea of change while also adapting to the new practices we set out to help achieve our goals. Like being in the minority at the beginning of my career, I set off determined to embrace this great reset and be as disruptive as possible.

So what lessons would I share with younger women? We know the well-documented issues women face in the tech industry: lack of education, the ubiquitous glass ceiling, and senior support within the business. Addressing these would alter the very fabric of the sector for the better. However, in the meantime for women already in the industry, we must show strength in being comfortable with not being comfortable, and learn to make our voice heard in a room full of men. We have unique experiences that only we can leverage against the conventional. Harnessing these skills is imperative to making a bigger splash in the world of tech and carving out the path for generations to come.

Biometric payment card, fintech

Diversity and inclusivity: the key to unlocking further growth in biometrics, payments and beyond

Biometric payment card, fintech

As we move towards a cashless world, accessibility and inclusion have come to the fore. Biometric-enabled payment cards are among the innovations being recognised as key to ensuring security and transaction experience amid increasing contactless limits.

Earlier this year, challenger bank Rocker launched Sweden’s first biometric payment card – a huge commercial milestone and a step forward for the inclusive and diverse payment ecosystem. Supported by IDEMIA and powered by IDEX Biometrics’ cutting-edge fingerprint sensor technology, the card is easy to use, helping customers improve their financial lives without PINs or passwords.

Diversity and inclusivity have been instrumental in bringing the industry to this point as well as being a key focus for the future. Catharina Eklof, Chief Commercial Officer of IDEX Biometrics, a leading provider of fingerprint identification technologies, reflects on how to cultivate an inclusive ethos and drive future growth and innovation in payment technology.

How inclusive is the payment ecosystem?

Women are one of the most excluded demographics in payments. This is a worldwide issue, but particularly so in developing countries. One reason for this is that women are less likely to own a mobile phone or use mobile internet.

Despite this, women still make up the majority of today’s retail consumers – indicating a missed opportunity for growing economies. IDEX research shows that most women are comfortable embracing biometric technology to overcome the digital divide. In one example, 91% of women in Brazil are ready to switch from PIN to fingerprint authentication for in-store payments.

Payment diversity, however, doesn’t stop at women – it includes making payments accessible to all demographics, including the elderly, vulnerable and unbanked populations. Those suffering from dementia, literacy challenges or impaired vision can find current payment methods extremely challenging and introducing fingerprint biometrics into payment cards offers a simple and easy way to authenticate payments with the simple touch of a finger.

Is financial inclusion an issue that needs to be tackled globally?

Absolutely. Today, despite increasing numbers of people gaining access to banking services, over one billion adults remain unbanked around the globe. While the majority of the unbanked live in the developing world, around 42% of Europeans currently lack basic digital skills that prevent them from accessing online or mobile banking.

This needs to be tackled head-on to ensure people have access to paid services, especially in countries that are moving away from the use of cash. For example, in 2020, just 9% of all transactions in Sweden used cash.

Advances in biometric fingerprint authentication can be particularly effective to support these consumers as the person is linked directly to their card by fingerprint alone, without a smartphone or need to remember PINs. Remote enrolment capabilities also mean that users don’t need to visit a bank branch to start using this technology.

How can the biometrics industry itself become more diverse – and attract more diverse talent?

Currently women make up only 28% of the workforce in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) roles. In order to grow these industries, this urgently needs to change. Biometrics is just one field a diverse workforce is beneficial.

As a field underpinned by a wide span of technologies including system engineering, custom ASIC, sensor development and cryptology, the biometric industry requires the creativity and collaborative power of every possible diverse mind and personality. Everyone has a unique background experience, and a unique perspective. Problems are solved faster and more elegantly when everyone approaches a problem a different way. Attracting a diverse talent pool to the industry, therefore, will not only help strengthen it but also deliver future growth.

How are you encouraging women and those with diverse backgrounds to pursue careers in the sector?

I have always supported women in the industry, starting with my involvement in the women’s talent programme while at Mastercard, which included mentorship, training and networking on a global scale. At IDEX, I continue to mentor new talent and share my own experiences within tech. In addition to supporting women in my industry, together with the IDEX team I am formalising our engagement around diversity and inclusion. We are establishing our ESG agenda, ensuring that sustainability and diversity is integral to who we are as a business and how we operate.

As a woman in an executive role in a heavily male-dominated industry, I am in a privileged position to act as a bridge for women who are interested in biometrics but may feel that the industry is too specialised. Here, IDEX is focused on connecting a very powerful technology with use-cases that have real meaning and can make a real difference for millions of people – and that’s something that many people can become a part of.

IDEX is a firm believer in the importance of promoting inclusion. This means offering financial education and developing solutions that foster an inclusive environment for those of diverse backgrounds or for those who would otherwise be financially excluded. Biometric payment cards and offline wallets (a digital wallet that is stored on a platform not linked to the cloud or internet) are concrete solutions to supporting financial inclusion around the globe by providing simple and secure authentication to all.

How is IDEX Biometrics building an inclusive future with diversity at the heart?

IDEX Biometrics is leading the way in biometric technological development. We believe diversity and inclusion is part of our DNA, which brings with it immeasurable innovation and developmental potential. Our diverse team of engineers has pioneered the industry. Our 120 team members operate across 13 different locations around the world and speak over 12 languages. Whilst there is always more to be done, we are pleased by the growing number of women in leadership roles.

We are committed to building solutions that will drive payment inclusion around the world, actively working alongside card manufacturers and financial institutions to bring biometric payment cards to the mass market and tackle the challenges around financial inclusionInclusion and diversity are essential to the future of tech and payments, paving the way for a more equal payment ecosystem and untapped innovation and growth.

About the author

Catharina EklofCatharina Eklof is Chief Commercial Officer of IDEX Biometrics (NASDAQ: IDBA) where she brings seamless payment experiences to consumers around the world through world-leading biometric sensor solutions. She is also a non- executive board director of Avanza Bank (NASDAQ Stockholm: AZA) Sweden’s  largest digital bank.

Catharina has 20 years of global executive management across financial services, retail, travel, and security. She has led the commercialisation of new customer-centric solutions across Fortune 500 companies including more than 12 years spent in leadership roles at Mastercard in Brussels, London, and New York. Catharina established Mastercard’s global strategic merchant program, bringing digital payment solutions and new, data-driven business models to organizations around the world.

Catharina Eklof holds an MBA in International Business and a Master of Science in Economics from the University of Uppsala, Sweden. She is based in Brussels, Belgium.

Woman working at desk, work life balance, woman in tech, remote working

Maintaining a work-life balance as a woman in tech

Article by Kathryn Hutchinson, Head of Business Applications at Content+Cloud

Woman working at desk, work life balance, woman in tech, remote workingThe ability to make equal time for work and leisure within a daily schedule is sought after by many of us across the workforce.

But needing to maintain a healthy work-life balance for many women is not just a nice to have, it’s an integral part of feeling successful both in their careers and personal lives. With family responsibilities to juggle alongside work commitments, navigating the balance is no easy feat. But the balance is possible, and the women of today are very aware that a choice between work and family is not so binary, yet there are still challenges that persist. In 2021, 75.6% of UK mothers were in employment. Women are also much more likely to care for elderly relatives than men, with half of women becoming a carer by the age of 46—almost 20 years before they might expect to retire from their chosen profession. So, it’s clear that “home life” can mean a number of different things that require very different personal commitments.

In the technology industry, the working environment is intense, fast-paced and dynamic. With a constantly expanding to-do list, it can be hard to know when to turn off from work particularly as hybrid working models blur the line between working and “out-of-office” hours.

For much of the pandemic, dining rooms and kitchen tables were turned into offices, so it was easy to work after hours or to check emails late into the evening. Having the working day bleeding into family time has made it much harder to switch off. Even now, days in the office finish upon leaving the office, whereas at home the laptop can just sit there open as a ‘just in case’.

Creating a clear divide between work and home is therefore key to striking the right balance, but with so many home commitments to consider, women are at a greater risk of burnout. Taking time away from work and finding time to relax with family, away from responsibilities, is essential for unwinding and mitigating this risk. It’s therefore crucial that women are supported when it comes to identifying aspects of their lives where they are experiencing stress. Increasingly, technology solutions, such as employee experience platforms can help to identify negative working patterns and potential burnout in employees, so implementing these solutions is also an effective option for helping women in the workplace. If these tools are not currently available to you, raise the issue with management or IT to work out some options.

Putting your mental wellbeing first and ensuring you have the time to  unwind will in-turn help you in your role. It is also important to have a great support system around you that understands your role and the demands of it. This will enable you to lean on the support when work demands it and to ultimately enjoy your role in tech.

The Covid effect

Covid has been a double-edged sword when it comes to maintaining a work-life balance. On the one hand, the shift to remote working has meant women can spend more time at home so family commitments have less of an impact on work. For example, a child taking a day off school due to illness, or taking a relative to a healthcare appointment, does not mean missing work. As organisations have been encouraged to embrace more flexible working patterns, women can take some time out of work in the morning or the afternoon for the school run or appointments and make up the time.

For me, the commitments of my role in technology and constantly travelling around the country meeting clients was beginning to have an impact on my home life. As my daughter got older, I was considering a career change that required less travelling so I could spend more time with her. But remote working capabilities, accelerated by the pandemic,  have helped me to remain in the technology sector and have given me back the home life I needed.

Helping women remain in tech

Maintaining a work-life balance will never be easy, especially for those working in the technology industry. But there is a role for technology companies to play in helping women improve their situations, with care, consideration and practices that understand and mitigate the struggles women face today. Encouraging flexible working options and making hybrid working a permanent feature makes juggling personal and work commitments that bit easier and can help more women to remain in the sector.

Kathryn HutchinsonAbout the author

After earning my Accounting and Finance degree I took a role in Manchester as an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) support consultant. I now have over 20 years’ experience supporting and consulting on various ERP implementations. My current role is Head of Business Applications at Content+Cloud where I look after a team of people working with Microsoft Dynamics 365.

Looking to get into the world of tech? Applications now open for the free AWS re/Start Programme

AWS re:Start programme

AWS re/Start and Coding Black Females have teamed up to offer a free, online program in Bristol, Bath, Somerset, and Gloucester to help individuals get into the world of tech.

The AWS re/Start Programme enables candidates to enter the tech industry and, through scenario-based learning, hands-on labs, and coursework, learners gain the skills they need for an entry-level cloud role.

Apply Now: AWS re/Start application page

Only applications from people who are willing to relocate to the West of England (i.e. Bath, Bristol, Gloucester, Somerset) are being accepted.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Over 18
  • Black or mixed heritage
  • Woman or gender minority (we may have some spaces for men, so we encourage men to also apply)
  • Be willing to work in the West of England
  • No prior experience is required, but we'll be looking for evidence of an interest in technology, this is for absolute beginners

Course Details

  • Course Length: 16 weeks long (3 evenings a week and all day Saturday)
  • Course Start Date: 23rd January 2023
  • Applications Close: 16th December 2022
  • Free

Application Process

  • Go to the AWS re/Start page to find out more about the course and complete your application
  • Complete a learner assessment (no experience required)
  • Submit a screening video