mental health featured

Women lead wellbeing in tech

mental health

By Haley McPherson, Global Marketing Director, & Samantha Hackett HR Manager, ProLabs

Working for a company that supports the wellbeing of its employees has really enabled me to grow professionally and develop my career as a woman in the tech industry.

People in the industry, but also in general, do not talk about mental health and wellness enough. From socials to break-out time or through creating open discussion, it is very simple for a company to support and foster wellness in the workplace and so important too!

Working my way up to become a Global Marketing Director of a tech company has not been an easy ride for me. Working in any industry, there are factors which could affect a person’s mental health and their ability to perform at work.  Working in the tech industry, there are certain challenges women in particular face with it being such a male orientated industry. Women can feel pressured or unrecognised in this environment which can affect confidence, mental health and career prospects. Having been a long-term sufferer of severe anxiety and other mental health issues for many years I had a rocky patch in my early career which could have led to two outcomes in my professional life; throw it all away or pull through and give everything I have. Whilst easier said than done, pulling through was the best thing I could have done and it got me to where I am today, leading the marketing of a global tech company at the age of 32. I feel very lucky to have had the support networks around me to help me achieve my career in the tech industry. All in all, this enabled me to find the strength to work hard and continue my passions for marketing and communications. Without this, I would not have been recognised as Marketing Leader of the Year at the recent Tech Marketing and Innovation Awards.

Having felt so grateful for the support networks around me in my earlier career, I have been working with our HR Manager, Samantha Hackett to encourage our tech company ProLabs, to integrate new workplace activities and initiatives to improve wellbeing in the workplace. Working with Samantha, we decided to make this year Wellness 2019 – a year in which we focus on mental health and wellness in the workplace. In doing so, we have educated the business on simple ways to improve personal wellbeing. Both Samantha and I believed that working in an environment which supports the wellbeing of its employees is empowering and I would encourage any company to take small, but simple actions to support workplace wellbeing.

For example, everyone across our company is invited to participate in Fit Fridays which take place once a month, which are hosted by our Office Manager Maggie Abellan-Charlton During Fit Friday everyone is encouraged to take their lunch hour on that Friday to carry out an activity or exercise, whether that be a walk in the Cotswolds, playing basketball in the warehouse, roller blading, using the onsite gym or playing football. Everyone who participates is rewarded with a team healthy buffet after exercise and over the year we have had many fun and exciting activities that have not only helped with personal wellbeing but also encouraged team spirit within the company.

To raise awareness within the company of mental health, we support a mental health charity this year called Twigs Community Gardens which gives people the chance to regain confidence after experiencing mental health problems. We hosted a charity football match to raise funds for a mental health charity whilst simultaneously engaging the team with healthy exercise and team building. We also placed posters and branding in the office which gave tips on improving mental health and wellbeing in the office environment. Samantha developed a presentation on advice and help on wellbeing and she also introduced quarterly massages days to staff to help them relax and eliminate stress. In addition, we relaunched our employee assistance program and Samantha delivered satisfaction surveys to extend the openness and communication across the board from activities and socials to the office which was an effective way of creating wellbeing throughout work. For employees to be recognised for their achievements and successes we also shared Customer First awards to recognise individual performance to encourage morale and positive esteem in the office.

While these things are only small actions to recognise wellbeing, we feel the office environment has seen an improvement since we began our Wellness 2019 year. Employees began to engage in new activities and communication and office morale has improved as well as people’s fitness. So many people suffer in silence and are embarrassed or see mental health problems as a weakness. Whilst speaking about my mental health to colleagues was admittedly tough and not easy to do, everyone at my work was supportive and I am so pleased I did. I would encourage others to do so too and even if they are not experiencing mental health battles personally, I would encourage people to begin wellness initiatives in their workplace as it may bring some relief to someone suffering in silence. All it takes is a few dedicated people to run it and any business of any size can. It just requires some time and effort with very little funding necessary. It’s easy and there’s lots of online forums and tips to help. Doing just one wellness activity in the workplace creates an open working environment for everyone to perform at their best and reach their full potential.

Haley McPhersonAbout the author

Haley McPherson, Global Marketing Leader of ProLabs is an experienced brand expert, marketing strategist and is skilled in: internal communications, analysis, promoting education and communication in the industry and social media.

Aged just 31, Haley has created a new era for vendor ProLabs, implementing and leading a complete global rebrand just six months after assuming the role in 2017, and has significantly improved internal communications and brand confidence, shifting ProLabs’ position in the market from an “average compatibles vendor” to a “high quality connectivity expert vendor”. The new messaging and positioning introduced by Haley challenges industry norms by looking to disrupt the OEM market by creating a new tier of expertise, quality and value.

While she excels at marketing and communications, she’s a keen advocate of promoting ProLabs’ people and team’s expertise and has pushed Thought Leadership as a key PR tactic, along with creating the CHOICE concept. Broken up into two segments: ‘CHO’ refers to the simple fact that they should “Choose ProLabs”, while “ICE” represents ProLabs as the “Intelligent Connectivity Experts” that they are.

Haley has worked in the industry for almost ten years across intelligence, cyber security, media and TV, where she has gained key skills and has kept in touch with everyone who has ever worked with her. A keen advocate for internal communications and a “happy workplace”, she knows the importance of a happy work place to encourage motivation and continued learning for staff morale.


Tech role models featured

It’s mind over matter when it comes to working in a man’s world

By Jurgita Andrijauskaite, eProcurement consultant, Wax Digital

tech role modelsToday, we’re seeing increasing numbers of women thrive in traditionally male-dominated industries. This is inspiring to see, especially for young female students and graduates thinking about careers in the STEM sectors.

In spite of a host of positive female role models taking on high profile roles, frustratingly it’s still not uncommon to hear tales of women being overlooked for certain jobs or feel they have to prove themselves more than their male counterparts.

In my role, I help businesses resolve their procurement challenges using technology. I work for a software company which is 85% male, and with procurement leads, many of whom are men too. However, fortunately for me, I’ve never experienced any prejudice or unfair treatment as a woman working in a heavily male dominated sector and think women should believe in their own ability to perform a role just as well, if not better than a man.

Any issues I have faced in my career have little to do with these male dominated environments, in fact my biggest challenge has always been my own self-limiting beliefs. I always used to struggle with self-promotion, asserting myself and taking credit for my achievements. The fear of being judged on ‘Who does she think she is?’ seemed very real when I was starting out.

I think men can get ahead more quickly and easily than women in business because they tend to have the confidence to seize opportunities when they arise, take credit for their successes more readily and are not shy to ask for what they want. I think overcoming feelings of doubt is what sets successful women apart. This certainly changed the way I view myself and others.

When I was younger, I feared that I may not be taken seriously and that people in senior positions would not be interested in hearing what I have to say. As I became more experienced and confident in what I do, this fear has faded. I think it is important to realise that powerful men in expensive suits are human beings too and that equality means trusting and treating yourself equally to the way you treat others.

During my career I have been lucky to have been supported by both male and female mentors who have offered me their honest feedback, support and encouragement. They also helped me to understand what both genders have to offer and learned to appreciate the value of diverse teams. Looking at the bigger picture, taking more risks and not letting perfection get in the way of progress are a few of the valuable lessons that I can attribute to my male role models and I am thankful for them.

My advice to any woman who suddenly finds herself working in a male-dominated environment would be to go for it, and not to try and act like a man! If you ever feel that you’re being left out of the ‘boys club’, think where that feeling might be coming from. Trust that there are ways to build strong professional relationships with men without having to pretend that you like football or drinking beer. You can add a lot of value by tapping into your femininity - your strength lies not in being the same, but in being different. Ask yourself what you are truly passionate about and try to bring that to your work. For me it is the human factor – working with people first, technology second. I’m passionate about helping people, understanding human behaviour and nurturing relationships. It takes great people to build technology, make decisions, apply and manage it to get the desired results. Technology is shaped by human interaction, not the other way around. It is people driven.

To more encourage woman into male-dominated professions, I’d like to see more women support each other. The sisterhood can bring about a positive change in gender equality. Women should empower each other, and we should be proud of our unique skills such as flexibility, an empathetic approach, creativity, intuition to name just a few.

Jurgita AndrijauskaiteAbout the author

Jurgita (Gita) is an eProcurement consultant at Wax Digital, an integrated Source to Pay software provider. Prior to joining Wax, Gita worked in global procurement for CEVA Logistics.


Automation versus humans – why we should work side-by-side

Diana Rowatt, client services director at marketing automation platform Force24

artificial intelligenceThe evolution of martech means workforces are equipped with vast capabilities that can transform their company’s efficiency – and bottom line.

But, despite the popularity of such innovation, some sectors are still questioning exactly how smart machines can effectively fit it into their staffing – and what role they will take on. There has been the additional fear for some industries that advanced technology means replacing employees, but for these systems to work, humans must be involved.

Yes, automation provides enterprises with incredible qualities – from enhanced efficiency to saving humans time and commercial resources – and often proves to be a commercially-savvy investment, when utilised correctly.

However, people will always be at the heart of an organisation’s success, no matter the level of tech it can boast. After all, employees are the ones building the machines to make everyone’s lives easier – and it’s their creativity and innovation that enables this modernisation of their offering.

Understanding where automation and employees complement one another

It’s important to address how smart tools can fit into enterprises, and what role humans play in their success.

Ultimately, marketing automation can be a powerful force when it comes to gathering learnings. Revolutionary machines are able to glean critical information in seconds – that could take workers weeks to dissect – and present the information back at an equally rapid rate.

They’re capable of forecasting business landscapes, and understand ever-evolving online behaviours. They can also deliver crucial detail for marketing and sales departments, to help build relationships and convert leads.

But it’s the employee who applies this data and therefore determines how to harness the insight effectively. With intuitive information, savvy employees can learn how their customers prefer to be communicated with, and they can then tailor engaging online comms that fall in line with a prospect’s interests. Alongside all this comes brand loyalty and an all-important competitive edge.

Empowering employees to use insight and drive business growth

Martech is impressive because it delivers the commercial detail that can determine how a business reacts and performs, but there’s no question how important the human touch is. If an enterprise can utilise the data in a way which positively impacts a company’s bottom line, it can become vital for an enterprise’s long-term strategy.

With a great team, equipped with the training to understand how best to manage marketing automation, organisations put themselves in the best possible position to not only understand what their customers need, but how their interests evolve.

It’s crucial for companies to not only consider how machines can revolutionise their online comms and business strategy, but also to build the best team to deliver that killer content and understanding. This combination will deliver the goods and develop long-standing online relationships.

Diana RowattAbout the author

Diana Rowatt is a Client Services Director at Force24 – and provides advice and support to clients, marketing automation demos, and making sure targets are hit each month. She’s been part of Force24 since the very beginning and so has seen how it’s grown, and adapted – as well as provided – technological options to business to help them reach customers easier.


Crown Commercial Service featured

Vacancy Spotlight: Non-Executive Director | Crown Commercial Service

Crown Commercial Service

The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) plays a vital role in helping the public sector buy goods and services to deliver maximum value for the taxpayer.

Using their commercial expertise, CCS helps thousands of public and third sector buyers in the UK to purchase everything from locum doctors and laptops to police cars and electricity. It is the biggest public procurement organisation in the UK and the collective purchasing power of its customers, combined with its first-class procurement knowledge, means it can get the best commercial deals in the interests of taxpayers.

An opportunity exists to appoint a new Non-Executive Director to the Board of CCS. Led by the Non- Executive Chair, Tony Van Kralingen, the CCS Board is responsible for oversight of the organisation, with emphasis on its strategic direction, management control, and corporate governance. Non-Executive Directors make decisions covering the strategy and direction of the organisation, adding value by offering counsel, advice, and challenge.

CCS is seeking an exceptional individual to join their Board as a Non-Executive Director and Chair of the Technology and Digital Transformation Committee to support progression of the organisation’s transformation journey. Providing scrutiny, governance and strategic leadership grounded in board level experience, he/she will bring a successful track record of leadership in demanding, customer- focused environments. To complement their existing Board, CCS are particularly interested in hearing from individuals who bring recent experience in leading large-scale digital transformation in complex organisations.

CCS is committed to diversity throughout the organisation, and welcomes applications from all qualified candidates.

The closing date for applications is 23:59, Sunday 17 May 2020.

CCS has retained Russell Reynolds Associates to advise on this appointment.

For further information and to apply, click here.


finding the right career, applying for jobs featured

Why women shouldn’t let job descriptions hold them back

 Article by Rebecca Roycroft, client services director at tech talent specialist mthree

job application, right careerAccording to research by LinkedIn, women apply to 20% fewer jobs than men and are less likely to apply unless they meet 100% of the job description criteria.

This is paralleled against men who will apply for a job if they meet just 60% of the listed requirements.

This reluctance of women to apply for a job if they don’t meet every requirement is a particular issue for the technology industry. According to the latest figures, women make up just 17% of the tech workforce, while just 56% of tech start-ups have only one woman in an executive role.

So, what can be done to address this gender imbalance? With so many women seemingly not even applying for tech roles, even when they are just as qualified as their male counterparts, scrutinising and breaking down technology job descriptions will be a good place for women applicants to start.

Look for the essential requirements

Identifying the essential requirements of a job description could help more women to determine whether they have the necessary skills to apply for and succeed in a role. Within a job description some requirements are essential, and others are preferred but sometimes this can be unclear. Therefore, women interested in a particular role shouldn’t be afraid to contact a business to differentiate between the two.

In a tech job description, core skills listed are generally those that are essential to performing the job day-to-day. These tend to be technical skills such as coding expertise for software development positions or proficiency in specific programming languages, such as Java and Python, for certain programming jobs.

On the other hand, transferable skills are often non-essential and can be developed on the job. For example, learning how to develop project management skills or acquiring leadership qualities may be more of a desired, rather than essential, requirement.

By understanding which skills are essential, women should be more encouraged to apply for a tech job if they meet the core skills required. It is not essential to possess all of the requirements listed, and transferrable skills can often be achieved once the candidate is placed in a role. Evidencing how you have transferrable skills such as leadership, can be achieved in the interview process and when entering into the job.

Listed experience can be flexible too

Similarly, it is important that women applying for tech roles are not put off by the request for a precise amount of experience.

A specified amount of experience is often desirable rather than essential, and suitability for the role can be successfully communicated in a well-written cover letter and CV.

If a candidate possesses the core skills of content management expertise for the role of a senior internet technical producer, for example, but the job description asks for five years of experience and the applicant only has four, this could be a missed opportunity if the application is not pursued.

Fill in the gaps during the interview process

Once the first hurdle of applying for the job is overcome, many women will find that they are offered an interview. This is the perfect time to address any perceived shortcomings by outlining transferrable skills and experience that can help to address the missing criteria that may have put off women from applying in the first place.

For example, if the listing asks for specific software experience, such as certain CRMs and project management tools, and the applicant doesn’t have experience with these exact programmes, demonstrating how similar software has been used before, will be beneficial. Outlining an understanding of the specified tools in the interview and how current skills are transferrable to the listed requirements, can show flexibility and an ability to learn processes quickly.

If confidence is demonstrated in transferrable skills and experience, then the interviewer will share this confidence too.

With a growing digital skills shortage, tech talent is in high demand. Whilst women should be seizing the opportunity to step outside of their comfort zone and apply for dream jobs that may seem just beyond their reach, businesses are also responsible for how their job descriptions could serve to ‘put off’ potential female candidates. Clearly listing key requirements along with ones that can be developed, could help more women to enter into, and provide meaningful contribution, to an already thriving UK tech industry.

For women themselves, having confidence in their abilities, being aware of their transferable skills and learning to look beyond intimidating lists of requirements, can help to pave the way for the next generation of diverse and inspirational female technology leaders.

Rebecca RoycroftAbout the author

Rebecca is responsible for delivering a seamless end to end experience for mthree’s clients across EMEA. Her prior experience spans MSP, RPO, SOW and Emerging Talent solutions such as graduate and apprenticeship programmes. Rebecca is an innovative and passionate leader, who has driven transformation and change within multiple organisations. She has been instrumental in creating successful and high performing teams across sales, client engagement and business operations.


Working mum

Yes, you CAN do it all: making motherhood and a career work for you

Working mum I think the idea that women often have to choose between a career and being a good and present mother is definitely a myth.

There’s still an established perception that we’ve inherited from previous generations, a bias in fact, that being successful within your career will, and even sometimes should, be in direct conflict with motherhood. This is especially true within professions like management, and stems from the archaic belief that women shouldn’t pursue a career or work, as this will have a negative impact on their children or family.

There are strong social expectations and standards around ‘good mothering’, which we have built from an inherited story. Unfortunately, this story has still not been reconciled to reflect the lives of successful, working women who are mothers, too. I have heard startup investors boast about being “the one responsible for most divorces”, or claiming that you need to put everything at risk - including your family - to succeed. Although these are statements you will not hear every day, it shows that there is still a certain attitude or culture that exists that can be frightening to women who have or want families. I believe it has an adverse impact on women’s beliefs about whether or not they can have “both”. I also believe we need to put this culture to a stop, once and for all.

There’s no magic shoe that will fit all women in this situation, for a start. We need to acknowledge that every woman is different when it comes to her career needs and her family balance and that’s fine! What’s important is making sure that there’s no shame about motherhood or balancing it with a career. Personally, I am fortuitous enough to be married to a man who supports and encourages my career - it’s always good to have someone cheering you on! However, the key thing is about finding a balance that works for you personally and being clear and open about the boundaries you need to set in order to make sure that your role as a mother and your role as an employee are complementary to each other, rather than in conflict. Letting work govern and swamp your life is not the recipe for success!

Here are a few top tips to keep motherhood and work manageable:

  • Acquire the balance that works for you - Some women will want a focus on their career, whilst others will want to maintain a focus on family. Both of these are perfectly acceptable results, and it’s likely that women will swing between the two depending on their aims and family demands. Find a balance that works for you and don’t be scared to adjust it when your circumstances or desires change.
  • Educate yourself and others - Understand, retain and sometimes even re-educate your peers that this balance, including motherhood, is a central part of your success. That finding this balance you will thrive as a person, including in your career. Not everyone will have family demands or a knowledge of the toll they can take on you - make sure they are aware so that they can better understand and support your ways of working.
  • Recognise societal boundaries - Be aware that the story of motherhood is based on history and inherited perceptions, as well as an established bias - something we can refer to as the maternal wall. You need to recognise these boundaries, as they may be something you come up against in your career. Equally, remember that ‘motherhood’ is a story and that you are writing your own version of it - it is up to you how you live your role as a working parent, and no-one else.

About the author

Solfrid Sagstad, Executive Markets Manager at age-tech startup, Motitech (www.motitech.co.uk). Solfrid is also a mother to two children: Tobias, age nine and Lisa-Maria, age six. Before joining Motitech, Solfrid was working in research and education. She has a PhD in Biomedical research.


Science, coronavirus, virus

Are you part of the scientific modelling community? The Royal Society needs your help

Science, coronavirus, virus

Are you part of the scientific modelling community?

The Royal Society is calling for urgent action for those in the scientific modelling community, and is a scheme to allow those with modelling skills (including data science) to contribute to current UK efforts in modelling the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UK has a small but highly effective community of academic experts in pandemic modelling. These skilled researchers are currently at full stretch, not only doing their own research on the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, but also providing evidence to inform Government policy, through channels such as SPI-M, the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Modelling Group, which reports to SAGE, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies.

Many in the wider scientific community have valuable skills in computer modelling but no direct expertise in pandemic models. For example, some existing epidemic models, called IBMs (individual based models) are closely related to Agent Based Models used in research fields ranging from urban traffic planning, financial market modelling, dataflow optimization across communications networks, and individualized marketing on social media. In some of these fields there is valuable expertise in developing very large scale models and integrating them with data-science toolsets.

This is a nationwide call for rapid assistance in modelling the pandemic (RAMP), addressed to specialists in any or all of the above areas, and indeed to the scientific modelling community more widely. Possible assistance could include advice on importing modelling elements from other research domains; undertaking the software engineering needed to port vastly enlarged datasets into existing pandemic models; data analytics to create predictive empirical models from real-world data; offering new perspectives on existing modelling strategies; and adding to human and computing resources more generally. Another role could be to review and filter the numerous COVID-relating modelling efforts from scientists in other fields that are already starting to appear online, feeding through to SPI-M and/or other bodies, contributions that might have substantial impact on planning.

This call for assistance is addressed to the wider modelling community (including data analytics) in academia and industry. Our initial focus is on the UK community but this is an international emergency and we welcome contributions from non-UK based scientists, while realizing that they might wish to prioritize any similar initiative in their own countries.

A willingness to work on specified tasks, and to deadlines, is needed. However, no previous experience in epidemic modelling, as such, is required of RAMP participants.

For full details of the scheme and an online form to volunteer on behalf of your research group, click here.

The online survey form should be filled out as soon as practicable and, if at all possible, by 5pm on Thursday 2 April (BST). The survey form will cease to operate completely a day or two after that.


How to Get Into the Gaming Industry

Article provided by Veronica Minano, Talent Acquisition Manager at Kwalee.

Female GamersIt’s long been perceived by many that it's tough to get a job in the games industry.

We even found in a new study that video games rank in the top 10 of what are seen as being the most difficult industries to get a role in, with over a third (36%) of the general working population classing the games industry as ‘difficult’ or ‘very difficult’ to break in to.

As a woman looking into what has historically been a male dominated world, this barrier to entry can seem even higher. However thankfully, I’m here to say that with many studios, this isn’t actually the case! But being extremely close to the hiring process at Kwalee, there are some things you can do to boost your chances of getting a job in this exciting industry.

Seek Relevant education

This goes without saying, but this is an industry where further education can make a real difference. Find a course that will help you develop your skills in your area of interest within the industry (game development, game design, game art, marketing, data analytics, etc.).

The entire course doesn’t have to be specifically focused in gaming, but you need to make sure it gives you enough understanding of how the knowledge gained would apply to the world of gaming. Especially where programming based roles are concerned, building experience and knowledge through education can be a great starting point.

Be Passionate

An education is one thing, but in such a competitive industry where almost everyone working in it has an actual passion for gaming, you need to have that passion too. Whether it's a role in marketing or game development you’re looking for, you need to be passionate about the subject matter, and the best employees often are gamers, as this passion shows through in their work. It’s a major ingredient in creating great games!

Get Stuck into Personal Projects and Game Jams

Following on from the two above points, you can bet that the people you’ll be up against in the hiring process will have a portfolio of work whether they’ve just come out of university, or have some work experience.

You can do the same by improving your current skills by experimenting with personal projects and getting involved in as many game jams as possible. These are invaluable, as they will give you great experience on understanding how to create a game as a team with tight deadlines, and again, enable you to show just how passionate you are about gaming.

Network, Network, Network

This is a small industry, one where people tend to move about a lot, and one where good contacts can make a difference. So whether it's on the likes of LinkedIn or at events (preferably both), take the opportunity to go meet as many people as you can, get on their radar and to stay in touch.

Be Open to Learning New Things

The people that go the furthest in this industry are those that are constantly trying to take on new information and aren’t closed off under the belief that they ‘know all there is to know’. Be the same, and don’t be afraid to experiment, to try new tools, adapt and use what you already know to improve. Being able to show how you’ve developed skills off your own back will go a long way to helping too!

Be Open About the Opportunities Available

Similar to being open about learning new things - make sure you don’t set yourself up for failure by only considering AAA studios or specific types of role when looking to get your first job in the industry. Smaller or lesser known studios can bring great opportunities for personal development, and there could be other roles/areas that you’re not considering that you could end up enjoying more than what you’re focusing in on. Be as open as possible when looking to enter the industry, as you’ll truly find out what works for you once you join!

Try to Stand Out From the Crowd

There’s no escaping the fact that there’s a lot of competition to break into the industry as it's a desirable space to work in, which means you need to go the extra mile to stand out. Alongside tactics I’ve already mentioned such as building your portfolio and networking, think about what other value you could add. Spend time developing a more creative CV that will stand out from the standard word docs, start your own YouTube channel covering your game dev learnings, or enter competitions with your work. In the modern world, there’s so much at your disposal, be sure to use it to stand out.

Play Lots of Games!

If you’re a gamer, this one will come naturally, but it makes a big difference. Don’t only play them though, but try to understand them from a working point of view too. For example, how certain features might have been made, what the designers are trying to say with art styles and so on. The games you love to play will no doubt come up in the interview, so having this added lens on them will show you’re not just a player, but someone who understands the art of making games too.

Finally, don’t give up and don’t feel intimidated! Job hunting can be difficult and disheartening at times, but if you really want to break into the gaming industry it will happen, it's just a matter of when. Plus, while there isn’t an even split of men and women in many gaming companies, in my experience everyone is like-minded and there’s nothing to be concerned about. Once you’re in, you’ll never want to leave! Why not start by taking a look at the roles we have on offer at Kwalee?

Veronica Minano About the author

With more than a decade of HR and recruitment experience, first in the engineering industry and more recently in gaming, Veronica Minano has built Kwalee’s Talent Acquisition team from scratch and has overseen the company more than tripling in size in less than four years. She is passionate about how different personalities and skill-sets can be best combined to create a harmonious and creative working environment.


female data scientist, woman leading team

How I successfully run a global channel programme

Lara O’Brien, Senior Director of Worldwide Partnerships, Cumulus Networks

female data scientist, woman leading teamIt’s not easy being a woman in the channel industry – or the tech industry at large for that matter. Yet in my current role I lead worldwide partnerships for Cumulus and am responsible for driving our global partnership function.

It’s a big role, encompassing Hardware/OEM partnerships like Dell EMC and Mellanox Technologies, as well as the broader partner ecosystem with our tier one, distribution and tier two partnerships.

With over 20 years of global experience in Channels and Alliances leadership, GTM programmes and marketing, I’ve had a long and varied career. I spent the lion share of that time at Cisco (13 years), in roles that included building out the Strategic Alliance function in Asia Pacific and leading the global marketing efforts for Cisco's largest Alliance partner, IBM. I’ve also held positions advising clients like Cisco, Salesforce, VMware, Juniper, Autodesk and F5, amongst others, on how to effectively execute GTM partner programmes to drive sales, enablement, demand generation and channel expansion.

As you can imagine, with all this under my belt, I’ve faced many challenges during my career. But I firmly believe that working through them and learning from them is how you grow – not only in your career, but as a person.

Shattering the glass ceiling

Throughout my career in channel, there have always been the naysayers. Not only is it frustrating to deal with, it has proven to be challenging to drive innovation in programmes and investments needed to scale and grow a channel business, especially when you’re facing doubters.

Unfortunately, the fact is that despite lots of women like me achieving and getting far, there is still a perception that women have to work three times as hard as men to get recognition for their work. And while barriers for women exist in multiple industries, the technology sector arguably has one of the highest and most impenetrable glass ceilings around. Therefore, in an industry dominated by men, there are three things that women should aim to do to overcome them.

First, they need to continue to build on and leverage the networks that they have. We need to help other women that are coming up through the ranks, be it through one-to-one mentoring, or by enabling women in tech-type forums to talk openly about their experiences. We must seek to build each other up, boost our confidence and stand proud of all that we have accomplished.

Second, women need to think about who they admire – there is nothing more powerful than a good role model. What are their attributes that you find aspirational? Now keep these attributes at the forefront of everything you do; it will put you on the right footing in order to progress in your career.

Finally, I believe it is really important for women to be true to who they are. Authenticity has helped me get to where I am today and to become comfortable in my own confidence and achievements. Women apologise a lot, and we don’t need to. Be true to who you are, because pretending to be somebody you aren’t will only become your own stumbling block.

Key factors for success

Education and building channel advocates were key for me in overcoming the naysayers. I believe that there is an enormous need for internal education around the power of channel, and what it can do for an organisation, especially at the executive level. It only takes one to two executives at the top to become channel advocates and then you are on your way to helping your company become a channel-led organisation.

I’d also recommend spending as much time with your partners as possible. Strong relationships with your channel partners will offer numerous benefits to both parties. Be inquisitive and ask questions that allow you to understand their perspective and what their challenges are. Good partnerships are transparent about the vested interests of both parties, and what the expectations are for defining success. Without a firm understanding of your partner’s world, you are left building something from a limited perspective. Ultimately, effective collaboration will foster higher levels of engagement and productivity.

Finally, if I had to pinpoint one thing that’s been a key factor for me in achieving success during my career, it’d be perseverance. This has been a recurring factor in my life – be it in achieving success in my career or overcoming obstacles that life inevitably presents. The good news is that perseverance is not a natural ability, it can be learned. In fact, I believe this is why I am still in the tech industry today.

Lara O'BrienAbout the author

Lara is the Senior Director of Worldwide Partnerships at Cumulus Networks. She is responsible for driving the global partnership function which encompasses Hardware/OEM partnerships, like Dell EMC & Mellanox Technologies, as well as the broader partner ecosystem.


Female site manager encourages women to kickstart their construction career

Article by Jade Simmons, Female Site Manager at Persimmon Homes

Jade Simmons When it comes to construction sites, it’s still very much a man’s world.

But that is something leading housebuilder Persimmon Homes is keen to change – and the company’s only female site manager, Jade Simmons, is proof that gender is no barrier to success.

Jade is currently in charge of Persimmon’s Sycamore Gardens development in Caerphilly, South Wales.

The 34-year-old from Blaenllechau, in the Rhondda, joined Persimmon as trainee site manager in 2014 and has quickly worked through the ranks to assistant site manager and now site manager.

“Obviously I’m aware that I’m usually the only woman working on a site,” said Jade. “But it doesn’t bother me, and it hasn’t held me back.

“At the end of the day it’s about dealing with people properly and fairly, regardless of their gender, or indeed anything else.

“Construction is something I’ve always been passionate about and I’d certainly encourage more females to think about it. There is absolutely no reason why women can’t do the job – that is just a perception.”

Encouragingly, recent reports suggest that the gender balance in construction is improving with women accounting for around 20 per cent of the workforce.

Persimmon Homes, one of the country’s leading housebuilders, sees the untapped pool of female talent as one of the ways to tackle the skills shortage.

Richard Latham, Persimmon’s Group HR Director, said: “We are working hard to actively encourage more women to consider a career in homebuilding. We are seeing the benefit of this with women accounting for nearly 40 percent of our commercial teams and a third of our land teams across the business.

“We are also finding more women are considering site-based roles, which are traditionally very male-dominated. We have recently seen an increasing number of women embarking on site management careers and we have recently taken a number of female apprentices.

“Whilst numbers on site are still low compared to other occupational areas the increased interest is encouraging for the future.”

Persimmon Homes currently has four female assistant site managers and is also working with Women into Construction to support the more women into the industry.

Paul Curry, Persimmon Group Training Manager, said: “As a business we are actively engaging with a number of projects including the HBF’s partnership with Women in Construction, where we have offered placements and delivered training to women interested in entering the homebuilding industry.

“Through our Construction Ambassador network we will also be doing more outreach to schools and colleges highlighting the benefits of the industry through positive female role models. This is seeing benefits through the increase in interest we are getting from young women wanting to enter our industry.

“One of the perceived barriers to women getting into the industry is that the job will involve physical work on a building site, but through health and safety driven changes the work environment has changed dramatically.

“The biggest barrier to women entering construction roles is still one of perception both from those entering the industry and internally from the industry itself. We are working with the HBF and other partners to change those perceptions.

“This is particularly so in professional and technical careers that support our developments such as planning, sales, land acquisition, technical and commercial, which can offer varied and rewarding careers for people at all levels and for which we are seeing significant interest from female applicants.”

For more information or current vacancies, visit www.persimmonhomes.com