women-in-STEM-featured

Striking the right frequency in STEM | June Ip

women-in-STEM-featured

Article provided by June Ip, VP of Marketing, Lenbrook

Maybe I’m just biased, but anecdotally, I have found that marketing is the vanguard for demographic shifts in the workplace, not only in tech, but in many other industries as well.

I think this is a result of a few things:

  1. The pipeline for women in STEM fields at the university level has only in this past generation begun to grow and so the pipeline for talent wasn’t previously there for the engineering department to draw from;
  2. Those who grew up not fitting the status quo often self-selected into creative pursuits because that was the only place where their viewpoints were accepted as not only “normal”, but also valuable;
  3. The marketing function is usually dismissed as “just a bunch of creatives” so it was accepted and even expected that those working in marketing would be “different”
  4. Marketing is probably the most in tune with shifting consumer attitudes and behaviours, which is heavily correlated with demographic changes more generally. I am certainly proof of this – I’ve met enough marketing leads in tech companies that fit my Asian female description that I fear it’s almost an archetype by now. I think the real challenge in the tech world is therefore not only rate of diversity, which is the typical measure, but also dispersion of diversity within organizations since creative problem solving is not isolated to one discipline or departmental area.

The legacy audio industry is a bit different than a Silicon Valley tech company in that diversity here goes beyond gender and race, and touches generational differences also. The heyday of hi-fi was in the 1970s and 1980s so it’s not uncommon for the leadership of many hi-fi companies to be aged in their 60s, and some even in their 70s. But even here, again, I’ve noted that the diversity began in the marketing department since the older leadership quickly realized that they didn’t understand social media marketing and online consumer behaviours and needed younger generations to come and help them to navigate that world. Much has been said about different work styles and expectations of the various generations, and so I feel like we have some added complexity in team building in the audio industry that isn’t as pronounced in other segments of the tech world.

I think Lenbrook has done a good job of balancing those complexities as an organization, although we don’t necessarily have an explicit policy goal like many tech companies where they want to reach X% gender inclusion by Y date. But our CEO is very sensitive to team dynamics, having built and coached successful junior hockey teams, so I think that team-player attitude is more innately ingrained in how we do things than perhaps in other workplaces.

In terms of what we’ve tried to do in the marketing department, our hiring policy is more about diversity of experience, which is often but not always correlated with physical diversity. We are looking for people with exposure to different cultures, brands, industries, belief systems, and ideas, since we think this produces the best creative results.

We are also sensitive to the fact that our marketing needs to reflect our audience – our brands are sold in over 80 countries – and being based in one of the most diverse cities in the world (Toronto) has made our job as global marketers easier, since we don’t have to look very far to find models that look like our customers. And it has worked in expanding awareness of brands to broader groups of people; we have seen the average age of website visitors go down on Bluesound.com over the years, and we have seen more women visiting as well. Overall, I think it’s important as marketers to remember that it’s not just young men to who love technology, and it’s not just old men who love audio – those tropes are being quickly disproven in the analytics that are coming back to us on our digital channels.

June IpAbout the author

I specialize in marketing and brand strategy that produce results. Over the years, I have worked in a variety of industries and am equally comfortable and familiar with B2B and B2C strategy, even teaching these principles at University of Toronto.

Some challenging (and rewarding) experiences I've been involved in:

  • Led the turnaround of the CSCC brand (now UL Responsible Sourcing), resulting in a CAGR of 15% over 3 years
  • Key member of post-M&A brand integration and change communications team at STR
  • Oversaw crisis communications for Barzel Industries during its restructuring and eventual bankruptcy
  • Led creative strategy redevelopment for a non-profit client that resulted in a YoY 60% increase in donor revenues
  • Led social media strategy development for a university, helping it to re-establish communications with its alumni network
  • Helped to create and implement strategies that revived a struggling but ground-breaking wine brand 

Women in STEM

Understanding the benefits of women in STEM

Women in STEM

By Imogen Moorhouse, CEO, Vicon

Throughout my Mechanical Engineering degree at Southampton University, there were only four women on the course in comparison to 95 men.

Despite this being just over 20 years’ ago, dynamics still haven’t changed.

In fact, according to research around women in STEM, only 15 per cent of engineering graduates are female. And more broadly the percentage of women in STEM for technology and mathematics is a similar picture. Only 19% of computer studies graduates and 38 per cent of maths graduates are women. With only 13 per cent of the overall UK STEM workforce being women, these stats aren’t exactly surprising.

But one of the reasons why women aren’t entering the industry is because there isn’t enough education around what STEM roles actually entail. There’s currently a misnomer about roles in engineering, for example – many see this as a job that involves oily rags and spanners, but it goes way beyond that. An engineering career can in fact help women in their journey to becoming a successful, inspirational leader.

Research from WISE has revealed that the UK is on target to employ one million women in STEM roles, which is extremely encouraging to see. However, in order to meet this target, we need to continue educating young females, especially those who are in the A-level decision making progress, on the career opportunities that are available, and inspire them to go on and study subjects like engineering.

Women in STEM isn’t all just a case of making the workforce fair – we actually need more women in STEM roles to make scientific innovations useful and, more importantly, safe. When it comes to new innovations, how relevant can these be if they’re not taking into consideration the needs of half the population?

In addition, encouraging women to succeed in STEM roles is extremely beneficial financially, according to research from McKinsey Global Institute. The survey discovered that gender parity in the workplace could add up to $28 trillion (or 26 per cent) to annual global GDP by 2525.

So while there are plans to employ more females in STEM roles in the next year, it’s important we continue to inform and inspire them at the earliest stages of their education to pursue these types of careers, and show how their work can significantly benefit the industry.

Imogen MoorhouseAbout the author

Gaining her mechanical engineering degree in 1993, Imogen has since worked in a variety of sales roles within the technology businesses before joining Vicon in 2001. Her road to becoming CEO in 2012 has taken her through Sales, Support, Manufacturing, and General Management. Over the last 18 years, Imogen has seen the company grow from strength to strength, and since she took over as CEO, the business has doubled in size.


female data scientist, woman leading team

The world needs more data scientists

female data scientist, woman leading team

Dr Anya Rumyantseva, Senior Data Scientist at Hitachi Vantara

Data science is often referred to as a ‘dark art’.

As a data scientist myself, I don’t think the field is that mystifying. But for those outside of the profession, there is some lack of awareness of what a data scientist actually does, and what pursuing a career in the field entails.

This can be a real problem – because today, data makes the world go around.

Most companies, regardless of industry, are seeking new ways to leverage the vast amounts of data at their fingertips as a tool to drive efficiencies and transform their business model. But like any tool, data is only useful if it’s in the hands of someone who knows how to use it. It’s easy to forget that digital transformation is as much about people as it is about technology.

The talent deficit 

The UK has been struggling with a skills shortage for some time now. As digital transformation influences every sector, businesses are turning to experts who can help them harness their data. Companies are on the hunt for data engineers, machine learning engineers and data scientists. One study found that in the UK, the demand for people with specialist data skills has more than tripled over the past five years, while another projected the data scientist role will account for 28 per cent of all digital jobs by next year.

It’s a case of supply and demand – but unfortunately, many companies are encountering a sparse talent pool to recruit from. Some estimates even suggest that Europe needs around 346,000 more people trained in data science by 2020. That’s a big gap to fill – and it’s only going to get wider unless the industry takes action.

The data landscape is getting increasingly complex – how much data we’re generating, the types of data and how we’re storing it is changing. To put this in perspective: I’m working on a project right now that uses a petabyte of data. I’m able to work with this huge amount of data because today we have the infrastructure to store it, process it and apply machine learning models. Rewind to the 80s and it would have cost around $600 billion just to store that much data.

Now that we have the tools to work with such large data sets, we’re able to leverage data in exciting new ways. However, this also means we need more people capable of doing so. Considering that IDC forecasts a massive 163 zettabytes of data will be generated by businesses every year by 2025, it’s no wonder UK businesses are worried about a deficit in data specialists.

So, how do we mitigate an impending skills shortage? Well, a good place to start is by changing perceptions of what a data scientist actually is and what they do.

Demystifying the ‘dark arts’

I’ve been a data scientist in Hitachi Vantara’s Solution Engineering team for over two years now. When people ask me what I do, the answer may not be what they expect. My role is to understand the business challenges of our customers, consider potential analytical approaches to solving these challenges and prototype solutions by using advanced analytics, machine learning and deep learning techniques.

In short, I leverage data and mathematical techniques to solve business problems. It’s an exciting field to work in – and can have a significant real-world impact.

As an example, consider the UK rail system. It’s one of the busiest in the world, ferrying thousands of people from point A to B every single day. When you’re a passenger, you probably don’t think about the intricate and nuanced system that keeps your train running. That is, until something goes wrong. Like when a train door gets jammed and is prevented from leaving the station on time. One seemingly minor fault can have a huge knock-on effect further down the line, causing delays and disruption for thousands of passengers.

That’s one real-world problem that I’m trying to help to solve right now. Leveraging data collected from thousands of sensors on the trains themselves and working directly with rail engineers, as a data scientist on the project I bridge the gap between engineering and mathematics, uncovering insights that can drive efficiencies and reduce delays.

Diversity matters

Hopefully now you’ll think of a data scientist as more than just someone who sits behind a computer screen doing equations all day! But the tech sector needs to work hard to build a more inclusive environment where young people – regardless of their background, gender or race – consider data science as an attractive career option.

At Hitachi Vantara, we run a data science internship programme in our London office for talented and intellectually curious young people from diverse backgrounds. Our interns roll up their sleeves and get stuck into analytical projects. They are an important part of the team and their opinions matter. We challenge them to think creatively, asking them to leverage publicly available data to uncover insights into real-world problems – like using data from the Department of Transport to think up new ways to reduce carbon emissions from private and commercial vehicles in the UK. It’s not just a fun thought-experiment – it’s an accurate glimpse into the life of a data scientist.

Data science is a diverse, interesting and constantly evolving field – so it needs people who can think differently, bring new ideas and offer fresh perspectives. If we’re going to tackle the skills shortage, the industry must hold the door open for people from all walks of life.

Anya Rumyantseva, Senior Data Scientist, Hitachi VantaraAbout the author

Anya Rumyantseva is a Senior Data Scientist at Hitachi Vantara. Anya received a Ph.D. degree from the University of Southampton and BS/MS degree in Physics from Lomonosov Moscow State University. Anya is also a fellow of the Nippon Foundation (Japan). Her PhD thesis was focused on using IoT data obtained from marine robotic systems for improving our understanding of phytoplankton blooms and their impact on the global climate. At Hitachi Vantara, Anya is working on projects that use advanced analysis and machine learning techniques to improve business operations in the railway, manufacturing and other industries traditional for Hitachi group. 


woman-on-computer

Why not knowing anything about IT, makes you good at IT...

woman-on-computer

When it comes to success in business, they say that knowledge is power – but knowledge of what, exactly? Often, that is never truly clarified. Can you really run a successful IT support company without knowing the intricacies of the cyber world and the threats orbiting it?

This notion is one that particularly rings true for the managing director of Lancashire-based IT support provider Q2Q, Lorna Stellakis, who is convinced that her minimal knowledge of the complex IT world is not only contributing to making her business highly successful, but is what sets it aside from the raging wave of competition. Here, Lorna explains why in greater depth…

At this point in the Digital Age, IT has been evolving at a rapid rate.

And with all modern-day businesses relying upon the power of the internet and computer-driven systems to efficiently carry out their day-to-day operations, it’s crucial that the expert teams behind the scenes are able to deliver solutions that keep everything in working order. But the truth is, there’s so much more to the successful IT equation than just the technical industry knowledge. Understanding people and business objectives plays a huge part in solving the puzzle, and this how the management team at Q2Q identified an opportunity to take IT support to the next level.

Looking at the headlines from the past twelve months, we can clearly see a pattern – the focus on IT and GDPR-related news has augmented, and the tempest of data breach stories shows no sign of relenting. With household brands such as British Airways, Google and Marriott International all falling victim to cyber-criminals’ attempts to access and compromise data, for smaller companies it can sometimes feel like they don’t stand a chance, when it comes to implementing effective and impenetrable digital defense measures. But how wrong this mentality is.

For many SME’s, dealing with IT can be daunting – it’s not their area of expertise, and they are often concerned that they could be persuaded to pay for solutions that aren’t needed. We find that a surprising amount of the time, employees who have no IT-related qualification – or indeed any prior dealings with this side of operations – are tasked with championing the internal strategy and expected to know how to fix issues when they arise. But the shocking element is not the fact that these people have no experience in this field, it is that they haven’t been asked the necessary questions from neither their internal IT staff members nor their outsourced support team – and that’s a recipe for digital disaster.

Q2Q was created in 2004 by a small team, armed with years of specialist experience, who had grown increasingly frustrated by the lack of plain-speaking, honest and affordable support services available to small and medium sized organisations. This then acted as a stimulus, as they set out to change the way IT assistance was offered to SMEs – omitting the baffling jargon and making it about what companies need. And that’s where my knowledge deficiency renders an advantage.

Two years ago when I first became involved with Q2Q, it was predominantly to look at some of the internal processes and the people-development side of the business. One could argue that because I didn’t possess the background knowledge of the sector, I wouldn’t be able to deliver on the outcomes, but having started my career working for a clothing retailer – where I was a small cog in the wheel that planned, designed, sourced, manufactured and delivered clothing – I knew this to be different. I was officially responsible for only a small portion of the process, but because I felt compelled to understand how everyone else’s role contributed to the lifecycle of the garments, I could make more informed decisions in my own area, that consequently benefitted the company. This broadening-your-view type of approach is therefore how you can skip the technical knowledge part and get under the skin of the system, or business, at hand.

Businesses tend to focus on weak-points and try to find a quick-win solution.

How we work is to look at the strengths and try to work out how they can be applied to an area of weakness, as this can often render the weakness irrelevant. Of course, our technical experts are there to deal with complex issues as well as constantly on the lookout for emerging technologies or solutions that will help organisations reduce costs, work smarter and grow, but what use is a team of cyber professionals that cannot effectively communicate with our customers? That’s why our recruitment is not centered around technical ability alone – attitude and experience are also key.

So, how is this relevant to IT support? Well, it’s all about getting to know a business – including broader challenges not within the systems and IT category. By understanding what companies’ challenges are, unearthing their preferred ways of working, and most notably what’s important to them, our tech team can then work on what solutions will help achieve their overall business goals.  Now, I may not have the IT knowledge, but that is certainly not to say that Q2Q is run by non-techies, on the contrary – we have a team of dedicated digital-savvy professionals.

The harmony of technology, economics and psychology is not only what makes our approach to IT very different to the norm, but it’s what makes my not-knowing-anything-about-IT statement justified.

In reality, the fact that I know nothing, or very little, about IT is actually an added strength for our business and our clients, by asking questions that a typical techie wouldn’t necessarily think of, we can deliver far better technical solutions and services.

Lorna Stellakis, MD of Q2Q ITAbout the author

Lorna Stellakis

OWNER / MANAGING DIRECTOR 

My role is to provide the overall direction and “eye on the compass” as to where we, as a team are heading, setting the overall business strategy and financial budgeting. Whilst always having been involved with systems implementation throughout my career, I have an operational background and no specific IT experience. However, if anything, I believe this makes me more qualified to ensure the team deliver great service, drawing from my operations experience, and having been on the wrong side of poor IT support in the past. I can relate to how crippling this can be to a business, making it paramount that we ensure that IT issues are as invisible as possible, leaving the customers to get on with running their businesses smoothly.


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How to find the right professional mentor

Mentoring-coaching

In the world of business, you often hear company figureheads talking of their mentors. A trusted partner can act as a sounding board for your most ambitious plans, as well as a sense-check to remain focused on targets. But, when it comes to a dependable advisor, how do you find ‘the one’?

Founder and MD of Scriba PR, Katie Mallinson, admits you don’t necessarily need to look for the person with the most glowing resume, the highly-decorated entrepreneur, or the one your friend swears by – the right-hand man (or woman) is in fact a completely subjective decision.

It took me a while to find the right mentor.

Over the years, I was introduced to lots of people – each with varying levels of experience and differing specialisms – and often felt as though they were right for me on paper, but not in practice.

For instance, there was a hugely successful man who had a list of credentials as long as your arm. I liked and respected him, but his view of what constitutes an outstanding business was so far removed from mine. He didn’t understand the importance of having a creative space for colleagues, or a welcoming environment for clients – we just didn’t gel.

So, what makes a good mentor?

I found my answer in Natasha McCreesh of PiP to Grow Strong. Her approach is one which places a lot of emphasis on the role people play in a business journey, and that you can work hard and have a good time while doing it.

For me, I always wanted Scriba to be a company with soul, which lives through its values. Natasha has a background in marketing – so understands our world – but she also cares about workplace wellbeing and team dynamics, which is very close to my own heart. She doesn’t profess to know the answers, but instead leads me along a path and gives me things to think about.

Also, a friend and I mentor each other from time to time. We’re both in similar, but not competing, businesses and will share work and ideas – as well as frustrations. It’s helpful to have someone to meet up with for a coffee and a chat because you often realise that you’re not alone in the challenges you face!

How did you find the right person for you?

You firstly have to identify what it is you want to achieve from your mentoring, as well as the qualities – and respect – in someone you might pay to give advice. It’s also important to bear in mind that one person might not encompass everything you’re looking for, so it’s okay to have more than one confidante.

The key thing though, is not to think this person is going to be a magician. There’s no ‘quick fix’, and you need to commit the time and energy to uphold your end of the bargain. That person is there to challenge and hold you to account, so prepare to be uncomfortable at times, and make space in your schedule to do the ‘homework’ you’ll be set following each session.

Are you a mentor for anyone else?

In the first instance, and as a business owner, I hope that my colleagues will see me as a mentor rather than ‘the boss’. We each bring different skills and experience to Scriba – no one has a formal PR qualification as we have different communication backgrounds – and I like to bring those together to help us grow as a collective.

We’re really open about our personal and professional development plans at work, including my own. We don’t just look at workplace smarts, but personal things such as confidence, insecurity, handling conflict, and message delivery.

Throughout school, college and university, I used to hold voluntary sessions for children with special educational needs, helping them to become more confident readers and providing them with a coping mechanism if they got stuck.

Now, I’m a governor at Greenhead College and support a young entrepreneurs’ initiative at the University of Huddersfield, so still spend time with young people across the region during this crucial developmental stage in their lives.

How important is it to have a professional mentor?

I think it completely depends on the individual. Personally, I enjoy learning and it’s important for me to feel prepared to handle any situation I might come across. As such, my mentor keeps me on my toes!

It’s also quite a fulfilling feeling to have done what has been asked of me – or challenged on why I might not have done something. Natasha can be frank and will speak the inner truth that you often know, but maybe don’t readily admit.

While this kind of approach might not be for everyone, I see a value in reflecting in order to be able to look ahead. I reflect regularly and new scenario plan as standard – I have done for years.

What should you look for in a trusted partner?

You can never know who to trust completely, but you need to be comfortable in what is disclosed. I know I can tell Natasha anything, but I didn’t when we first met. That comes with time.

I’m incredibly confident in Scriba, and the elements which give us our competitive advantage are things you can’t mimic, at least, not in the long-term. People may discuss someone else’s idea for an innovation – breaking a corporate confidence – but when it comes to the DNA of your business, that can’t be copied.

Do you think group mentoring sessions are important too?

In terms of growing as a team and empowering colleagues, internal group sessions play a vital role in making everyone feel invested in what you’re doing.

I’m also a supporter of a peer-to-peer event, the MMB Lunch Club – which I’ve helped to bring to Huddersfield – where business owners and managers come together over good food and a spot of wine! 12 of us sit around the table and have a genuinely honest discussion about a topical business theme, speaking openly, asking questions and giving advice. There’s no ‘one-upmanship’ at these gatherings, only people willing to share their experience with others and genuinely help.

Any final words of advice?

Some people think that scenario-planning is a waste of time, but it has taught me to plan for every possibility, because it will make you more resilient when you need to face the unexpected.

And, you don’t always need to give someone the official title of ‘mentor’, in order for them to play that role in your life. I have someone I click with and have a lot of respect and admiration for – and we’ve been through some similar professional challenges.

Katie Mallinson - Scriba PR - 09.19About the author

CIPR member Katie Mallinson is Scriba’s founder. An Outstanding Young Communicator winner with a gong from HRH Prince Andrew also under her belt, she steers the Scriba ship and maintains the lead on all new business enquiries.

Her passion for communicating and eye for growth opportunities means she still loves to be hands-on with several of our technical clients. She is also an advocate of workplace wellbeing, staff development and young entrepreneurialism, which sees her frequently deliver pro bono support to youngsters in education and starting out in business


women in tech, soft skills featured

Six reasons why modern-day tech workforces need soft skills to survive

women in tech, soft skills

Every tech leader strives towards having the full package when offering the very best service, meaning HR departments and hiring teams can spend a huge amount of time finding the right fits for their organisations.

An all-encompassing tech team builds out a business’s IT architecture and networks. It knows how to deploy a new software release with ease and can talk many different coding languages.

But as cloud services and technology become more user-focused and intuitive – and many traditionally repetitive tasks turn to automation via machine learning and AI – this has led to a shift towards the importance of being ‘human’.

Soft skills are playing more of a vital role within a digital team, and those who overlook the personalities and characters that can drive success, will set themselves up to fail, regardless of the amazing tech that the business possesses.

It’s therefore becoming inevitable that tech enterprises should be focusing on more specific traits and personalities that can add to a team’s dynamic – and here are six reasons why.

Improving communication

Unfortunately for the younger workforce, whilst being digital natives it’s also well-documented how many can often struggle to communicate face-to-face – 40 per cent are lacking soft skills according to recent reports – because they are more used to online interaction.

But communicating strongly has a wide-reaching effect and having that ability to use appropriate language for different stakeholders, negotiate with several departments, and ensure feedback is constructive – and egos are left at the door – can all help individuals express themselves, and positively motivate colleagues.

Having the confidence to provide clear and concise solutions, whilst showing respect to listen to other voices, showcases overall, strong communicative skills.

Encouraging collaboration

The clue here is in the word ‘team’ – an acronym of this being ‘Together Everyone Achieves More’ – as this is the essence of collaboration.

Yes, people are great individually, but the real power in business comes from assembling a group with varied strengths, in order to supercharge success.

Being able to collaborate effectively alongside diverse characters is a key soft skill. A team could have a wide and varied demographic, encompass on and off-site resource, or be made up of contractors and permanent workers, but if they can all work cohesively, they can deliver the best possible outcomes. 

Instilling empathy

With the need to be user-focused and provide the greatest experience and products for end users, employees should be able to show they care and understand how others feel. Those who are empathetic towards customers interacting with their product and services can build strong relationships too.

Colleagues all have personal lives, real emotions and problems – as humans, there is a duty of care to be supportive, counsel, and acknowledge that many situations will manifest during working hours. A little empathy makes the in-house environment a much better place.   

Proving to be adaptable

Digital disruption! The team should live and breathe change as new technologies, ways of working, software, hardware – and everything in-between – burst onto the scene. Those who fail to adapt or don’t see change as an opportunity, rather than a chore, will ultimately struggle.

Employees keen to upskill are vital when it comes to addressing the global tech talent shortage. By educating themselves to further understand emerging trends, a new platform or cloud migration, this can provide huge benefits – both individually and operationally.

On a mental health note too, taking up development opportunities or formal training paths can empower staff, and make them feel incredibly valuable to their firm.

Empowering future leaders

Many enterprises now exist with a flatter organisational structure and are moving towards a more agile approach – enabling the self-management of teams who are all focused on the operation's overall outcomes.

A person with a natural flair for leadership will be self-motivated, interested in business development and have an entrepreneurial spirit. Within a successful tech team, these leaders should be capable of painting a strong picture of where the firm is going and the utopia that exists.

Effective collaborators should also be confident when helping others to visualise how they can consistently tweak and update projects in-line with the ever-changing market requirements too, and lead teams towards success – before competitors do.

Reinvigorating creativity

Strategy, planning and future results – what drives a team positively? This final soft skill covers employees who possess vibrant, engaging ideas that are essential to help a business stand out.

Some creative suggestions might seem a little off the mark, and others will be nearly spot-on and just a little tweak required. However, the point is to build a culture allowing people to feel comfortable to voice and share their thoughts – organisations empowering staff can be hugely attractive to top talent, too.

A popular interview question for many years was, “tell me when you used your initiative in a situation?” It’s time for employees to forget that, and instead explain how one of their ideas can improve the world! 

Having a complete team boasting technical and soft skills is no mean feat, but personalities and certain character traits should not be overlooked when searching for the best talent. A group eager to disrupt the industry positively, work collaboratively and keep embracing change can be a huge advantage in the sustainability of a tech business.

Rachel McElroy, Solutionize GlobalAbout the author

Rachel McElroy is the chief marketing officer of managed and professional services cloud tech consultancy, Solutionize Global.


Emma Griffin

WeAreTechWomen Conference Speaker Spotlight: Emma Griffin, Sky

Emma Griffin

WeAreTechWomen speaks to Emma Griffin, Director, Group Deputy Chief Information Security Officer, Sky, about her career.

Emma is also one of our speakers at our upcoming WeAreTechWomen: The Future World of Work conference on 22 November. Emma is holding a session on her journey from ambulance dispatcher to security chief.

Emma is Group Deputy Chief Information Security Officer at Sky with responsibilities across all aspects of cyber security, including information security strategy, governance, risk and compliance.

With over 20 years of experience in security and technology infrastructure, Emma has worked across a variety of sectors including financial services, insurance and management consultancies. Prior to Sky, Emma has held numerous roles at Worldpay and Goldman Sachs leading and managing global cyber programmes.

Emma has a Master’s degree in Information Security from Royal Holloway.

WeAreTechWomen, the Technology arm of WeAreTheCity, is hosting its fourth full-day conference in London, aimed at over 400 women who are wanting to broaden their technology horizons, learn new skills and build their tech networks.

Our unique conference will include the opportunity for our delegates to learn about a variety of technical topics and get involved in Q&A’s, hands-on activities and interactive workshops. Our aim is to provide an environment where our delegates can upskill and grow their skills/networks for the future.

Can you tell us a little about your background? Where you’ve come from, where you’ve worked, how you got to where you are today?

I started my working life working for the London Ambulance Service. Covering North West London, including Heathrow airport and Wembley Stadium, I was responsible for managing normal 999 calls alongside hotels on fire, train accidents, emergencies with large crowds and aeroplanes landing with mechanical problems. It was both exciting and stressful and taught me the fundamentals of incident management that I still use today. I then embarked on a career in technology, spending most of my time in the financial sector and now work at Sky as their Deputy Group CISO responsible for everything cyber security.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

For many years I just bumbled along, working hard and hoping I would be rewarded and something good would come along. But I then realised I needed to own and drive my career and so literally sat down worked out what I wanted to do, formalised a plan and even wrote a script of how to have ‘the conversation’ with my manager.

What inspired you to get involved with in motivational speaking?

The important changes in my life and career have been helped by guidance and support from mentors and role models, I realise that not everybody has them, do think it is important to encourage and inspire the person next to you.

Do you have a favourite experience from your career?

The feeling of empowerment when I convinced my boss to help me change role when no role existed. I was terrified I would be out of a job, but so proud of my bravery and wish I had done it years before.

What do you think WeAreTechWomen guests will gain from your talk?

Hopefully they will feel inspired to take charge of their career, form a plan and act on it.

What are your top three tips for success?

  • Never stop learning / studying – life is changing around you all the time.
  • Take ownership of your career and drive it – don’t expect someone else to do it.
  • Build a great team – success is not a solo achievement, you need good company.

What has been your biggest challenge during your career?

I wanted to change role, but didn’t know what I wanted to do next, just that I wanted something different. Building up the courage to take a leap of faith, and just try something new, that may not be successful.

What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t be shy - Learn to promote your skills and successes, it’s not boasting.


encouraging girls in to tech, STEM featured

More than 75% of young women interested in a career in STEM are put off by gender barriers

encouraging girls in to tech, STEM featuredIn light of recent research conducted by RWB, QA and Stemettes have launched a series of free STEM Certification Academies to target gender barriers and give young women the skills and qualifications they need for a career in the tech sector.

The research revealed that 53% of young women wish to pursue a career in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM), however unfortunately 78% of them are put off by the gender barriers that currently exist in the sector.

Furthermore, 37% of women believe that they would not have access to the same opportunities as male colleagues, and nearly a third admitted that they do not feel comfortable in a male dominated environment.

To tackle these statistics, QA has joined forces with Stemettes, a social enterprise which exists to encourage girls aged 5-25 to pursue a STEM career. The 'Stemettes Certification Academy'  3-day training course will offer free facilities, technology skills training and certifications to ten young women (aged 16-20) who aspire to work in the technology industry. It will be led by QA's world-class qualified trainers and the successful course completes will gain a globally recognised ICAgile qualification. The initial pilot programme will take place at QA’s flagship training centre in St Katherine’s Dock, starting on 23rdOctober 2019.

Reflecting on the findings of the research, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE, CEO & Co-founder, Stemettes, said: “The research shows that there is an aspiration amongst young women to pursue technology and other STEM careers. However, there are still perceived to be real barriers that are limiting UK female potential – one of these is a lack of understanding – which must be addressed. This half-term ‘The Stemettes Certification Academy’ is a first important milestone in us achieving our organisational ambitions, which we’ll be widely publishing next year – to move the dial across the UK for young women and their communities, especially in Agile, Cyber and Coding skills.”

Paul Geddes, CEO, QA has also commented, saying:  “Given the skills gap across the STEM sector, and the dire shortfall of women in UK STEM roles, this is an important partnership with Stemettes, for us to jointly further bridge the technology skills gap. Working with our world-class trainers on ‘The Stemettes Certification Academy’, the women will be sufficiently upskilled in the latest Agile practices, with a view to supporting their technology career aspirations. Together with Stemettes, we are confident that this programme will be the first of many.”

The initial pilot course will comprise of ten aspiring STEM students, with QA and Stemettes in discussions on future technology skills initiatives across Cyber, Agile and Coding in 2020 and beyond.


Lopa Ghosha

WeAreTechWomen Conference Speaker Spotlight: Lopa Ghosh, EY

Lopa Ghosha

WeAreTechWomen speaks to Lopa Ghosh, Associate Partner, UKI Cyber Leader, People and Culture Lead, EY, about her career.

Lopa is also one of our speakers at our upcoming WeAreTechWomen: The Future World of Work conference on 22 November. Lopa will be discussing cyber security and how to make it a habit, not a hassle.

Lopa is a leader in UKI EYs Cybersecurity practice, with a particular passion for the human centric behaviours and culture around cybersecurity. Lopa regularly advices clients on how to enhance security through their corporate culture and talent base, by thinking differently in engaging their organisation. Lopa is a strong advocate for diversity of all types in cybersecurity and leads EY UKI Diversity in Cybersecurity network.

WeAreTechWomen, the Technology arm of WeAreTheCity, is hosting its fourth full-day conference in London, aimed at over 400 women who are wanting to broaden their technology horizons, learn new skills and build their tech networks.

Our unique conference will include the opportunity for our delegates to learn about a variety of technical topics and get involved in Q&A’s, hands-on activities and interactive workshops. Our aim is to provide an environment where our delegates can upskill and grow their skills/networks for the future.

Can you tell us a little about your background? Where you’ve come from, where you’ve worked, how you got to where you are today?

I started in the civil service as a performance analyst and data scientist for the Legal Aid Board and unbeknownst to me, kicked off an going career in technology and defence. Whether it was legal, border, military or cyber.  Despite having a varied career path, through public and private avenues, working in cyber seems a perfect fit.  I drifted into in  cyber in my time in the US when I brought in to work on a large scale regulatory Cyber transformation, it was clear that technology and process alone were not enough to deal with the Cyber threat, people and culture were as important too.  This has lead to my current work in leading cyber culture and transformation for EY.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

All the time.  I used to be focussed on promotion and the “next step” and that got quite stressful.  Through a lot of challenging experiences, both work and personal, I’ve shifted my focus to outcomes.  What is it I want to be doing etc, that always comes first, and I’ve found the rest follows quite naturally alongside.

What inspired you to get involved with in motivational speaking?

As a female and a BAME female, I naturally found myself in a position of mentor.  As I have progressed through my organisation, I am still in the minority and people of all types, colours and gender have sought me out for guidance.  As I have done in the past, looking for people who look and talk like me, to learn from (there weren’t that many when I was coming up!).  It’s important to be visible and authentic.

Do you have a favourite experience from your career?

I don’t think I have one single favourite experience, but I do have a favourite aspect.  I’m lucky to be in a career where meeting a lot of people is normal and expected.  That’s my favourite part of the job, I learn new things everyday and meet all types of people, which if I had different career, I would not be able to do.

What do you think WeAreTechWomen guests will gain from your talk?

That there is a different way into working in technology.  Whilst I have worked on large scale tech and, now most recently, Cyber transformations, you don’t have to have a STEM background to work in the field.  Capability, culture, social engineering all have places in the tech world.

What are your top three tips for success?

  1. Ask for help, you don’t know everything.
  2. Be yourself, trying to be someone else is exhausting!
  3. Find your tribe, find the people you want to have around as success comes, you need friends.

What has been your biggest challenge during your career?

Getting through the door.  Until now, I had underestimated how hard I worked to get through the door and the effort it has taken to stay there.  There are many doors!

Which female role models are you most inspired by?

Floella Benjamin – growing up in the 80’s she was one for the few BAME personalities that was not sterotyped on TV, she just had a job to entertain children and didn’t have to put on an act to do it.

Queen – she has remained exactly who she wants to be throughout everything, she also knows when to take advice in order and doesn’t claim to have all the answers.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?

Allies.  It’s wonderful that there are so many programmes to developing women, but when we segregate out the issues into gender, we don’t provide the opportunity to educate others.  It should be a shared responsibility.

What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?

You’re doing ok


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Work-life integration: the answer to workplace burnout?

Workplace burnout stressBy Nicole Bello, Vice President of SMB and Channel, EMEA at Kronos Incorporated

The modern working day is stressful. There might be a rush-hour commute, deadlines to meet, and conflicting schedules to manage, all while trying to balance life commitments.

Burnout is a common problem among modern workers, and achieving a much-coveted work-life balance seems to be more difficult than it used to.

In light of this issue, it might be time to start thinking about going beyond the traditional idea of work-life balance, and embracing a cultural shift to a philosophy of work-life integration instead.

Understanding work-life integration

If organisations are serious about maintaining employee morale and retaining their staff, it is important that they provide working conditions that allow for greater flexibility. This is where work-life integration has a role to play.

Traditionally, many employers and workers have advocated for a clear delineation between in-office and out-of-office hours — a concept also known as work-life balance. However, modern commitments and ways of living are leading to an evolution in the way work and life operate in tandem with one another. The concept of work-life integration is based around having the freedom to choose when and where you can work and complete personal tasks in your own time.

Think of a situation like this: An employee has to attend a personal commitment on a working day, say a school sports day in which her children are taking part. There are two realistic options in this scenario — she can either take annual leave and lose a whole day’s productivity for a few hours of a commitment –  or pick the work-life integration option that involves working from home in the morning, logging off during the sports event (after duly communicating to the office team) and then logging back on later in the evening to complete work tasks. The second option is an obvious win-win for both the employee and the company, with negligible loss of productive hours whilst also ensuring employee wellness.

Using technology to achieve workplace harmony

A powerful enabler, technology is the key reason why today’s employees can choose when and where they plan to work. It has also given managers the necessary tools and platforms through which they can administer tasks and responsibilities, so that work gets done efficiently and effectively.

Technology is helping workers become more fluid and achieve work goals at their own pace. As a working mother myself, I make it a point to be home before dinner, and then go online for an hour or so to clear the work backlog before bedtime. And while I do understand that everyone’s situation is different and there isn’t a one-size-fits all solution, but there is definitely no harm in employing a more malleable approach to a traditional 9-5:30 and use tech to help achieve this.

Eliminating burnout, increasing satisfaction

People are an organisation’s most valuable asset and need to be looked after. After all you cannot expect the same results from a burned-out employee that you would from a fully motivated one. By allowing staff to work in a more fluid manner, employers can help to build a more satisfied, productive and well-balanced workforce that is less anxious about when and how to get things done.  This is why I believe that work-life integration is the way forward.