STEM heroines of #BlackWomenDidThat

Recently Twitter has been using the hashtags #BlackWomenDidThat and #Blackgirlmagic to show appreciation for achievements by black women throughout history.

We’ve selected our favourite women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEMs) tweets.




The impossible art of being a female leader


New research launched by Mortimer Spinks revealed that the number of women tech bosses is doubling year-on-year.

And while this certainly doesn’t spell the end of the glass ceiling, it certainly shows that great cracks are appearing.

Female Leader
Via Shutterstock

This is brilliant news for the technology industry. Having a greater number of women in the workforce, and in positions of seniority, has clear benefits for business. Beyond more diverse and fresh ideas, it has also been shown to lead to better profitability. Indeed, research from the University of Leeds Business School found that having at least one female director on the board helped cut a company’s chances of going bust by 20 per cent, with that risk decreasing further with a higher female representation on the board.

But despite the benefits, “being the boss” remains a challenge for many women. Indeed, many of us must still tackle the impossible art of either being ‘too soft or too bossy’ and ‘having it all’ (otherwise – and more appropriately – known as a work life balance).

Dawn of the alphazilla

A great contributor to the boss vs. bossy issue is the continuation of the traditional, male-orientated work culture. Women sometimes feel inclined to emulate male culture to reflect expectations of how a woman ‘should’ act in the workplace. This is not surprising because ‘fitting in’ is one of the most important aspects of cultural acceptance, especially as woman climb the ladder. There is a lesson for us all in learning from the successful conduct of our own leaders – whilst also maintaining our authenticity and focusing on being ourselves rather than playing the part of the ‘alphazilla’.

Frequently we can find ourselves in a paradoxical situation where we want to emulate the management style of those bosses we respected, but then face accusations of being “bossy”. Go too far the other way, women are sometimes labelled ‘soft’ and then struggle to command the respect of their colleagues. It is a fine balance, but I find that being authentic often helps to strike that it.

Not having it all

Women who have chosen to have both a successful career and a family - or other massive commitment to something outside of work - are challenged with the question of ‘can I have it all?’

Personally, I am not sure there really is such thing as “having it all”. There was, for me, just a perfectly imperfect world of a crew of people who helped me at work, at home and at play. I chose not to hide the fact that we had kids or commitments to other things and I suppose there is a confidence in that, which might have been more easily tolerated in the tech industry. I found that a combination of being transparent about what I needed and leveraging technology which enabled me to work remotely on some occasions helped me did get things done. But, I also have to admit that I did tend to work all the hours that God sent to get those things done. In a way, it was my ‘fear of failure’ gene kicking in. Even now I do still, by the way, kill myself to make deadlines.

I do understand though why women often feel like they can’t open up about the struggles of juggling work and home life, for fear of being judged. It is a legitimate fear but there are women’s networks and mentoring that can help here.

It is also, perhaps, also unsurprising given many people’s experiences: for example, 14 per cent of British women report been asked about their plans for marriage and/or children at a job interview. This sets a clear tone for that company’s attitude towards the juggling act they may face in the future. My advice? Choose the culture of your prospective employer wisely - culture trumps strategy every time and the best laid plans can be scuppered by an overwhelming culture.

Holding a more senior role, with the new risk and responsibility that it holds, certainly doesn’t make getting a healthy work life balance any easier. Indeed, for many who feel like more eyes are on them, the challenge is even greater. As a leader though, I also believe that getting involved in women’s networks or creating one inside your own business can help to shift the dynamics. WATC is a great example of that!

A greater climate for success

Despite all of these issues, women are succeeding and creating change in the technology industry. But women, or supporters of diversity in general, should not sit on their laurels and come to expect such a battle against these age old issues. There have been many pieces of legislation to support women in work, which have played an important role in improving conditions. In my mind, though, with these challenges, change will not come from laws and regulations. It has to come from people, cultural shifts, new generational thinking and new ways of working

Now that we do have more women in senior roles, I find that it’s vital to play the ‘generosity game’ and send the elevator back down. I try and play this game once a day – one thing that can make a difference! When were you last late for work because you let one extra car out at that busy junction? When did it kill you to make that introduction to someone, which could have changed the course of that person’s entire career? When did you spontaneously take ten minutes and write someone a fabulous reference?

We already have a great culture of this: many and most women that I know in tech have worked with other women in the industry to support them. It’s really important to “do our bit” to help the next generation of digital entrepreneurs to not only achieve, but to surpass our expectations.

Another important task is to support a move away from traditional working patterns. Flexible working provides a great opportunity for both men and women to better manage a balance between their work and home life. For me, the notion that I can #workhardanywhere has helped me achieve a balance and build trust with colleagues and superiors based on the performance outcomes, rather than how many hours I’ve 'clocked up’.

But for all women to feel the benefits, organisations must do more than just offer a programme, andsupport a cultural shift, with the wider company embracing the end of the nine-to-five mentality. Men and women at the top, to help achieve this, must stand up against practices like “showing face” to ensure that those who work flexibly are as championed as their office-based counterparts. It is ok for any parent to walk out of the office at 2pm to pick up the kids…it really is! I strongly believe that productivity is a better measure than activity in the workplace.

Evening out the bumps in the road

Women are making waves throughout the technology industry – from the top to the bottom of nearly every business. The growing number of women taking on more senior roles testifies to this. But while the road is certainly more travelled, the route to success is frequently met with the same bumps and challenges.

To help support this generation of female leaders and the next, we must ensure that we support each other to build a culture where we are able to be ourselves and unashamedly strive to achieve our priorities – in and out of work. The continued struggles associated with being a female leader are just a waste of everyone’s time but also, perhaps, an opportunity to create a digital nation of significance if we choose to harness all of this fabulous talent…

J De Rojas imageThis article was written by Jacqueline De Rojas who has more than 25 years operational experience in the software industry and is the President of techUK. She recently landed a role at Sage to lead the UK and Ireland business. She will leave her current role at Citrix in September to take charge of a 2000 strong team at Sage UK&I, which is headquartered in Newcastle. At Citrix she led the Northern European business as general manager and area VP. She has held several executive roles at global enterprise software companies. In 2015 she was named Most Influential Woman in UK IT by Computer Weekly and this year made Debrett’s list of 500 people of influence on social media and digital. She also holds several board and advisory positions and is a non-executive director on the board of Home Retail Group PLC.

Manage stress and recovery to avoid burn out: My Firstbeat Life Assessment and Insight to Thrive trial

I was recently invited to trial Firstbeat’s Life Assessment, which is a heart monitor designed to improve well-being and performance by making changes to how we exercise, recover and manage our stress.Firstbeat image

I was slightly skeptical at first, but I was contacted by Hilda Barrett, from Insight to Thrive, who is an expert in positive psychology consulting and coaching and she explained the aims of the assessment. She has worked with many high-performing technology industry teams to support individuals in making positive lifestyle changes. As a positive psychology consultant Hilda believes that there is a correlation between positivity and success.

Hence why she works with Firstbeat – a monitor that goes beyond tracking your heartbeat and unlocks a wealth of information revealing physiological states to identify ways an individual and stay in balance.

What is Firstbeat?

Firstbeat was founded in 2002 based on research in physiology, mathematical modeling and behavioral research. The idea stemmed from Professor Rusko’s physiology research on autonomic nervous system and athlete overtraining in the 1990s, which he conducted at the Finnish Research Institute for Olympic Sports.

Research has since continued into ways of quantifying athlete’s performance and recovery through heart rate variability (HRV). This has also expanded into assessment of wellbeing and health factors for people who are not athletes. Firstbeat uses different factors of HRV to quantify underlying physiological processes.

How to use Firstbeat

The Firstbeat monitor arrived at my office along with instructions on how to use it. It’s a simple device to use by just the two pads and sticking it on your chest and just below your ribs.


I wore the monitor for three days and most of the time I forgot that it was there. It has a small green flashing light, on the front, which lets you know that it is still working and collecting your data.

As part of the Life Assessment programme you need to wear the monitor over two working days and one non-working day to compare the ways that you manage stress in and out of your working environment.

In the pack it also said important things to remember and further instructions:

  • It does not like water – remove when showering or swimming.
  • Keep a detailed diary (people always wish they had kept more detail) so that you can related the results to what you were doing at that time.
  • You will receive your details to login to the server from FirstBeat
  • Go ahead and complete the background data that it requires
  • There is an online diary on the server which will then include the activities you note in your report. Please fill in your personal information and mark your sleep and work times in the journal, as well as other daily events that are of interest to you.

The results

After day three you pop the monitor in the post and the data is analysed for your own individual report.

In addition to an individual analysis from the Firstbeat monitor I was also encouraged by Hilda to take a VIA Pro report, which is intended to be a deep dive into the character strengths of an individual. The report enables Hilda to connect with her clients to create an awareness of what is best about themselves and others. A combination of the VIA Pro report and the Firstbeat analysis enables Hilda to create an Insight to Thrive report, giving deeper insight and helping individuals to achieve their life goals.

The Firstbeat report breaks your day down into percentages of Recovery, Stress Reactions, Daily Physical Activity, Physical Activity and it also tells you your heart rate. It lays your diary entries over your data to create a clear picture of spikes and dips throughout the day and their causes. Hilda noted that the term Stress Reactions does not necessarily mean something negative, but possibly a time of the day that you were in “drive” mode.

So I’ll go over my results for you to compare a Sunday to a Monday. From the chart below you can see that I started my day with a brisk walk....okay it was a run to the station because I was late. On Sunday mornings I leave for the gym and whilst there I work out for about one hour. The report shows me how many calories I burnt in my run to the station and what my heart rate spiked, in addition to showing me how many calories I burnt at the gym. It then tells me how long it took for my heart rate to come down.

 Firstbeat Report Sunday.jpg

The chart turns red later when I am at my parents’ house for lunch – not because I am stressed, but because I am talking with my parents and I am in “drive” mode.

My body starts going into Recovery from about 7pm when I listen to a Joyce Meyer sermon and then sit down to have a cup of tea and watch TV. At 11pm I am still in Recovery mode when I go to sleep and I remain in Recovery for most of the night.

Firstbeat SUnday recovery.jpg

The chart below gives a break down of my day, which gives some more detail on my sleep cycle. According to the report I got 92% return on investment for my 8hr 30 mins sleep, meaning my body remains in Recovery until the morning. Hilda explained that many people slip in and out of Recovery during the night and that for my age group the average percentage is 56%. However, I do not drink alcohol and I try to stay clear of caffeine because it makes me nervous.

So, I seem quite “balanced” on a Sunday….what about Monday? From the chart below you can see that for me Monday wasn’t that much different apart from less physical activity and therefore I burnt less calories. On the Monday I made a note of when I had caffeine as it tends to have an effect on my heart rate…..and it did. For me the most interesting thing about my working day was that my body seems to go into Recovery when I write news articles. This was relieving to read as it means I have something about my job that helps my body to reset throughout the day and as journalist I am lucky that article writing happens to be a big part of my day.

Firstbeat Monday.jpg

Hilda explained that some professionals have no green/recovery throughout their day, which can increase stress levels and therefore the chances of burnout. She also explained that some people decide to de-stress by drinking alcohol before bed, without realising that is it effecting their Recovery time during their sleep cycle.

FIrstbeat Monday recovery.jpg

The aim of the assessment is to identify how much of your day you spend in Stress mode and how much you spend in Recovery to ensure that you do not burn out.

Firstbeat for me was an eye opener and I was pleasantly surprised with the results. It enabled me to identify the activities throughout my day, which help my body to recover, and the activities that cause me to feel stressed or could potentially affect my sleep.

Every professional woman should try Firstbeat, through Insight to Thrive, to paint a clearer picture of their day and to identify which lifestyle changes can improve their balance.

After the Firstbeat trial I later spoke to Hilda about ways to reach my professional goals. With the help of the Firstbeat report and the VIA Pro report I now have several goals that I can work towards, with the knowledge that I can control my nerves and that my body is not physically reacting to anxiety as much as I think it is in my mind.

Hilda also introduced me to HeartMath which helps to train your stress levels to come down via a phone app. The chart below explains how the mind can learn to remap its route - or to be able to move from the emotions in the red over to the green in a few minutes. Hilda describes the mind as a muscle. The more you use training techniques the stronger the mind becomes and the easier it is to move out of the red and reduce stress.


Firstbeat has an instructional video to help you understand how it works and how to use it correctly, which you can find here.


How a Woman Over 40 Broke Coding Stereotypes


Patricia Ehrhardt wanted to become a full time web developer so she enrolled at Bloc in the Web Developer Track.

Patricia spoke with Bloc about her experience of re-training to become a developer. Bloc shared the story with WeAreTheCity, which you will find below.

coding featurePatricia wanted to become a full time web developer, but being a woman in tech can be difficult. Women face stereotyping and imposter-syndrome and the best way to close the gender gap is to give female coders support systems that can help them thrive. That’s why in 2014, Women Who Code and Bloc partnered to create a Women Who Code scholarship program that offers two women each month a $1000 scholarship toward their Bloc tuition. To-date this scholarship program has funded over $48,000 in Bloc tuition.

Patricia had two mentors while completing the program. For backend web development she worked with John Sawyers, a 20 year software developer veteran who has previously worked as a software architect and CTO. And for frontend development, she was mentored by Alissa Likavec, formerly a City Director for Women Who Code who works as a software engineer at Bedrock Media Ventures in Seattle.

We sat down with Patricia to hear about her journey to becoming a developer. Patricia stated, “When I was accepted into Bloc’s Bootcamp it felt like I was making an Olympic team. I knew I would finally be getting the training I needed that eludes so many of us that don't want to go back to the traditional school environment. It felt fantastic, and like I was closer to reaching my goal. Bloc was the easiest choice because of the 1:1 mentorship commitment, and because it was 100% online.”

Patricia stated that her biggest challenge in her journey was the ever present imposter syndrome. She would constantly berate herself for not knowing general CS concepts, or not grasping the logic of an algorithm, and basically feeling like she didn't know what she was doing. Having a mentor there to help her through these doubts was key to her success.

Patricia experienced stereotyping, being a female developer. She loves attending hackathons, but every time she went to one, there would be teams of men that were not open to having a woman on their team. When asked about the hackathon she said, “The general vibe I get is that, we [women] are too slow, or want to learn things (GOD FORBID) or that we are only good for html and css. The way I get over it, is to correct people’s perceptions by actually saying my title “Hi, I’m Patricia I’m a RoR Engineer”, and let them know I am a polyglot (Ruby, Python and Javascript) then ask them to give me a task. They rarely say no to that.”

When asked what advice she would you give to women who are thinking about enrolling in a coding bootcamp she stated, “Invest in yourself. Don’t make excuses like you can’t afford it. If this is truly something you are passionate about, invest the money, invest the time, invest your heart and soul and it will all work out.”

Patricia says that Bloc changed her life by providing the one on one mentorship she so desperately needed to get over the hump of learning online and solo. It also provided a platform to work on real live projects and feature her skills to add to her GitHub and ultimately her resume.

Patricia is excited to continue learning and becoming an even better engineer at her new job at Epublishing. Eventually she hopes to create a piece of software that will be useful for organisations like the Innocence Project, Missing and Exploited Children, or the poverty abatement and battered women’s advocates.

Finally, you can read Patricia’s blog about her experience learning to code as someone over 40.

Patricia was born in Dover, DE but grew up in Southern California. Her interest in technology came from her father who was a nuclear physicist. He would always create techy experiments in the house while watching Star Trek. When everyone else in the neighbourhood had Atari, Patricia had Intellivision. Gaming was her first real introduction to tech, and she was hooked.

Patricia studied Traditional Chinese Medicine at Emperor's College in Santa Monica, and then studied Cell and Molecular Bio/Pre-Med at Humbolt State University. She entered the workforce as a touring band member, playing the bass. Later she became a bartender, and lastly worked in Administration. She loved helping her co-workers in an administrative role but after 8 years she was bored and felt she wasn’t being challenged.

She decided she wanted to learn to code when she remembered she had been interested in coding, tech and gaming since she was 13 years old. She knew it was time to do what she had always wanted to do.


The Trust Revolution: Using technology to create a healthy, agile workplace

A tale of two revolutions of technology in the workplace

Jackie Kinsey is Chief Leadership Officer at ThoughtWorks (F) - Using technology in the workplaceJust over a century ago, the Industrial Revolution in the UK brought about huge changes to workplaces, bringing more people together into cramped, uncomfortable environments, working longer hours, and placing often inhumane pressure on workers. This wasn’t a particularly great development for most people, but it’s fair to say it was especially grim for women and young people.

The current century’s ‘technological revolution’ offers the opportunity to also revolutionise working practises through allowing people to work more flexibly in terms of hours and location, and with better, faster communication but these changes aren’t being widely adopted.

As we shift from a workplace defined by one revolution to a new one, there are some old-world mind-sets struggling to adapt to the change. Many business leaders are still stuck in an 20th century mind-set, and reluctant to a new way of working that isn’t familiar with their experiences and they don’t understand. By embracing technology and all the new possibilities, this can result in greater productivity, happier staff, and a more future-proof business for the new working reality and the next revolution of working practises.

What is work in the Technology revolution?

Garner, Sheldon and Forbes (2016) believe we are at a “tipping point in mobile working.” Their report, “Working Anywhere: A winning formula for good work,” highlights trends which show remote working is slowly and infrequently being adopted. It is estimated that 1/3 of the entire labour force works remotely at sometime and they predict that this will be 70% in 2020. With technology, work now doesn’t need to be in an office. So what does this mean for traditional command and control leadership practises? How open are we to acknowledge that the traditional presenteeism reinforces this command and control approach, a distinguishing trade mark of the supervisors in the Industrial Revolution. One of the worst legacies of a system that encouraged working in the office in the boss’ sight-line was the rise of presenteeism: showing up early and staying late to prove commitment and ‘loyalty’, regardless of whether much was actually achieved. In agile offices, technology can be used to put the emphasis more firmly on outcomes and real results. Allowing workers to focus on completing tasks in a way that suits them, in support of a larger goal, makes for a more productive, engaged workforce at a time that works well for them and their lives.

The traditional societal practises of going to work in the future may mean just opening your laptop.
In order for these practises to be embraced, business leaders will need to acknowledge and adjust their perceptions of what work is. If technology is seen separately to business strategy then the leaders within these businesses will be less likely to implement the changes it can offer. Gartner et all note, “Technology is not universally embedded in all business strategies, nor is it viewed by all as universally good.” The report found that there were two camps with respect to technology: those who were concerned so try to break it, and those who were excited by technology and can’t wait to try it. When any revolution happens this response to change is very human, but leaders need to understand how they can support this change.

How should we communicate in the new world?

A lack of presence in the office doesn’t have to mean a lack of communication. With the line between social and work increasingly blurring, the use of WhatsApp, Slack, emails, and Gmail is a great way to keep the lines of contact open.

Over the past few years many businesses have adopted multi-channel systems to enable their customers to reach them in whatever way they prefer. The banking industry moving from the high street to a comprehensive online and mobile service is a prime example. If it’s a good idea for customers, it follows that it’s good for employees!

Sticking solely to email and conference calls can make remote or flexible workers seem distant and disengaged. At ThoughtWorks, we make time to schedule ‘virtual coffee catch ups’ after meetings where people can natter under less pressure. These work really well as once people have established an initial relationship, they can build on it remotely. This is using technology to replicate those valuable ‘water cooler conversations’ of old, and still strengthen colleague relationships whilst embracing the new system of working.

Having multiple communications channels can seem challenging and hard to manage, but it’s definitely the wave of the future. In addition to being digital-natives, millennial workers are multi-lingual, using email, texting, messaging groups, image-services and microblogs seamlessly, swapping between them whenever one is more fit for purpose. Traditional businesses have an instinct to monitor and control conversations, which is easier with fewer ‘official’ channels. In order to capitalise on bright new thinking, it’s important to use all opportunities that communication channels can offer.

The ‘Trust’ Revolution

Ultimately, for all its technological advantages, the new workplace revolution will be defined by people and attitudes. Making real, positive change requires focus on the most important, underlying human factor to all organisational change: trust.

The perception of needing to control and manage people on the shop-floor through overseeing them is a hangover from the Industrial Age. In order to evolve, leaders need to embrace the technologies now available to help them learn to trust workers to get the job done. This might be a massively different way of working and thinking, but courageous leaders, using technology to observe the progress and results provided by their flexible teams, will soon recognise that an agile workforce built on trust is more productive, healthy and future-fit.

It’s never easy being swept along in a revolution; it’s hard to distinguish the real, enduring changes from the passing fads. However, judging by our experiences at ThoughtWorks and our courageous, technology-embracing clients, I have seen how using technology to facilitate more adaptable, autonomous workforces is the way of the future. Stronger levels of trust between managers and more self-sufficient workers is the best way to ensure the Technology Revolution creates a workplace free from the limitations of the outdated, exploitative and narrow-minded structures of the past.

Article written by Jackie Kinsey is Chief Leadership Officer at ThoughtWorks.

WeAreTheCity features in MediaPlanet’s women in STEM campaign

WeAreTheCity has contributed to Media Planet’s Women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) campaign for a second year.

WeAreTheCity wrote an article detailing why the technology industry needs to work together to solve the IT skills gap and the dangers of working fragmentally.STEMcampaign

Within the article it notes that research from McKinsey companies that are top for gender diversity are 15 per cent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians and that companies that have at least one female on the board reduce the chance of bankruptcy by 20 per cent. However, the piece questions that if we understand the strengths of diversity and the benefits that come from a mixture of ideas and experiences, why are we not collaborating and joining forces more as an industry?

In addition the campaign includes a column from Susie Wolff who talks about how she became a successful racing car driver in a male-dominated industry.

Also featured is Ben Howlett MP, Member of the Women & Equalities Select Committee, who highlights why encouraging more women into STEM careers is a no-brainer. Howelett said that in 2016 we shouldn’t need to be having these discussions.

Dr Terri Simpkin utilises the STEM campaign to draw attention to the subject of imposter syndrome. She is researching the Impostor Phenomenon in STEM occupations — where capable women experience feelings of inadequacy, despite obvious suitability for their role.

Media Planet’s Women in STEM campaign will feature in the Sunday Times this weekend.


Inspirational Female Entrepreneur: Kirstie Kelly | Co-Founder of LaunchPad Recruits

What inspired you to join a tech startup?

In my early career I joined a group of university pals who were building a tech consulting practice in the Home Counties. I watched them build a brilliant team, amazing product suite and a dynamic culture (although often a little left-field!) I was truly happy in the role and felt like a part of something exciting. I wanted that feeling again.

What is the greatest challenge and the greatest reward in being your own boss/ the most senior female employee?

Kirstie Kelly - Co-founder of LaunchPadWill Hamilton (the founder) and I set out with a very clear view of the impact we wanted to achieve – helping organisations to hire great people who fit their culture. But second to that aspiration, we wanted to build a successful business that we'd be proud of. We're both hard on ourselves, and take our commitment to our investors very seriously – we're here to deliver them a return, first and foremost. So whilst my greatest reward is seeing the business grow, the biggest challenge is taking time to stop, look back and pat yourself on the back. There's no time!

What motivational tips can you give to our members about goal setting and managing both successes and failures?

Our Senior Team has all worked in corporate business, so know how it is to work in a structured, process and results oriented environment. However, we also knew that we wanted to avoid falling into the trap of developing policies for policies sake and wanted to eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy to be sure we remained truly agile, fast moving and reactive to the market.

We decided to take the principles of Gino Wickman's Traction to help us set structured goals, measure everything, and use facts to help tell the story of what to change. Using data to evidence success and failure helps to reduce some of the emotion associated.

How have you benefited from mentoring or coaching?

I'd love to tap into a network for coaching. Will is a part of the EO, Entrepreneur Organisation for Founders, and I'd love to find the equivalent for co-founders! I’m not necessarily looking for a Women in Leadership programme – more for a diversity of thought and ideas.

Informally, my network from the original tech start-up group have become my mentors. Now senior leaders in PwC, Deloitte and others, they've experienced both sides (corporate and start-up), and have seen me develop along the way too.

What advice can you give about the benefits of networking?

I can't stress enough the power of your network, but it can be a challenging and intimidating thing to master. In fact, it's often dominated by very senior players.

Networking for me is all about open-minded connection and ‘give and get’ should be your commitment to every conversation. Give your attention, get some knowledge and offer a connection. Tell your story (even if it's the 50th time you've done that!) and don't try and sell. Smart people will already be considering how they might help you – just be your interesting self! And don't be afraid to keep in touch.

What are your tips for scaling a business and how do you plan for and manage growth?

Agility is the name of the game, in my opinion. Quickly find your niche or differentiation and get out there and sell. Often we see businesses with amazing concepts and products that don't understand how to build a sales function.

It’s worth remembering that your approach needs to be repeatable, so it’s helpful to use technology to manage your sales operation from the outset. A CRM system is essential.

You should also measure everything. The moment you can identify a pattern of customer behaviour then you can start to properly forecast growth and determine the level of investment you need to make to accelerate.

What does the future hold for you?

For LaunchPad Recruits, we're clear about the potential of the business, the IP we're developing and the customer appetite for a globally-minded partner. We're respectful about global growth and have seen some businesses get it wrong by not understanding the new geographies and sectors they are stepping into. Trying to conquer the whole of the United States at once should be left to Beyoncé!

For me personally, I have a huge sense of pride for the organisation we've built, although I wonder if we'll ever feel satisfied that the job is well done – probably when I deliver the return we've promised! At that point, I wonder whether Will and I will have a view of the next problem we want to solve.

We feel strongly about our quest to bring fair people decision making into businesses, so will no doubt try to think of other ways we could make a positive impact on the world. The options are exciting and endless!

Read other Inspirational Female Entrepreneur profiles by clicking here.

Winners of TeenTech Awards 2016 announced with more female finalists than male

Winners of the TeenTech Awards 2016 were crowned during a ceremony at the Royal Society London this week.

TeenTech Awards (F)More than 120 teenagers were chosen as finalists out of 1,400 contenders across the UK. During the day the finalists presented their ideas to a judging panel of celebrity science presenters, journalists and academics.

Teams compete for a cash prize and the opportunity to pitch their ideas to industry experts who can make their product ideas a reality. Winning teams are also invited by TeenTech Patron HRH Duke of York KG to a reception at Buckingham Palace in the Autumn.

The 2016 awards challenged entrants aged 11-18 to develop scientific and technological solutions designed to make live “better, simpler or easier”. The TeenTech Awards encourages teenagers to use technology to solve real-world problems.

Each category for the event is sponsored by an industry partner, which in 2016 included: Maplin, National Grid, Airbus, JVCKenwood, Symantec, Atkins, Cranfield University, AQA, CILIP IL Group and Dell.
Co-founder of TeenTech and former BBC Tomorrow’s World presenter Maggie Philbin was joined by the likes of Professor Brian Cox, theoretical physicist and broadcaster Professor Jim Al-Khalili, Gemma Morris from SKY, Fran Scott, CBBC Science Presenter, Channel 4’s Dr Christian Jessen, BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones, Tech reporter for BBC Click LJ Rich, Channel 4 News’ Geoff White, science and tech reporter Dallas Campbell, and Jo Johnson MP.

This year there were more female finalist teams than male. Philbin said: “It’s gratifying to see 75 girls and 69 boys in the finalist teams. Students from all backgrounds come to our TeenTech events and begin to understand that working in tech is about finding real solutions for real needs.

“They work really hard on their own ideas with support from some brilliant mentors and surprise themselves as well as our judges when they see what they can achieve.”

TV’s Professor Brian Cox, said: “I always look forward seeing what the students at TeenTech come up with and I’m never disappointed. We are seeing the next generation of scientists and engineers, and it fills me with optimism. TeenTech’s great contribution is to re-enforce their enthusiasm and to provide them with both the inspiration and information they will need to build successful careers. Every finalist was a worthy finalist and as for the winners, I congratulate you. But the real prize is your future in science and engineering.”

Iona and Alice from James Allen’s Girls’ School in London, winners of the 2015 Consumer Innovation Award, brought a working prototype of their product ‘Indicate’ which was a winning project in 2015. Since their win they have been working with Maplin making their designs and concept a reality, with the end goal is selling it at Maplin stores. ‘Indicate’ is a high visibility jacket that allows cyclists to indicate using LED lights worn on their back.

Iona and Alice said: “For us TeenTech has been a really life changing experience that’s helped us see the world in a different way. It’s made us realise that if you have ideas you don’t have to wait to be 18 or wait until you graduate from university to make something of them. You can start whenever you want – coming up with ideas and designing products that can actually make a difference and people want to use”

Recently Philbin was presented with the Digital Leader of the Year for her work with TeenTech.

The Digital Leaders 100 Awards presented her with the award. The CEO of Lloyds Bank described her as having very special qualities as a leader.

On her award Philbin said: “It’s incredibly humbling to win something like this. There were some brilliant people nominated, and that’s the whole thing about the digital space. There are so many people doing such incredibly significant work.”

“By default digital has created this whole community because we know about each other and support each other. The award has come as the most wonderful surprise and is an absolute credit to the brilliant team of people across the UK and Ireland who make TeenTech the very special organisation it has grown to be.”

Winners of the TeenTech Awards 2016 were as follows:

Healthcare Category
Loughborough Grammar School – David, Sankha and Hari for Medivest
Wearable technology designed to combat cases of severe epilepsy, allowing patients to monitor and send their vital signs to their doctors.

Energy Category sponsored by National Grid
Westcliffe High School for Boys – Adwaith for “The Palat Engine”
Adwaith set about investigating different forms of fuels and alternate engine configurations. The result is the Palat Engine, the emission from which is almost pure water.

Transport Category sponsored by Airbus
Caterham School – Casper, David and Oliver for “Sensosafe”
A bike light that senses when a car is approaching and notifies the cyclist.

Education Category
Woldingham School – Milan, Imogen and Maria for “MyST App”
My School Trip is an app designed for teachers to find new and exciting school trips. Trips can be arranged for all age groups/Key stages with over 20 subjects included and 100+ excursions to choose from.

Wearable Technology Category sponsored by Maplin
Alton Convent School – Alexandria for “Bras with Benefits”
Bras with Benefits is a cancer detecting bra, designed to identify early stage breast cancer before outward signs are visible.

Music, Media & Entertainment Category sponsored by JVCKenwood
Gillingham School – Thomas and Sol for “Sabretooth Music”
An audio system that enables multi-room speaker from any device and any digital music collection.

Environment Category
James Allen’s Girls’ School – Isabelle and Kyoka for “GreenNet”
A biodegradable fishing net that will break down in water after only two weeks.

Safety & Security Category sponsored by Symantec
Welland Park Academy – Ted, James and Joshua for “Blue-Key”
BLUE-KEY can be connected to a central hub using the app provided on your smart phone to open or close selected doors remotely, helping a wide range of people including the elderly, disabled, and emergency services.

Retail & Finance Category
Notre Dame School – Eve, Zara, Tia and Niamh for ‘Trolley Knowledge”
A built-in tablet for your shopping trolley which helps make your weekly shop a whole lot easier.

Design & Construction category sponsored by ATKINS
Westminster Academy – Siana for “Emergency Necklace Bridge”
An emergency bridge that can be easily transported to and assembled at the site experiencing critical conditions such as damaged infrastructure.

Future of Food Category
Alton Convent School – Iona, Isabel and Lucy for “Natural Nutrients”
Natural Nutrients capitalises on the resources of a living rainforest, providing local people with the tools and skills to produce nutritious food supplements from edible bugs.

Digital Skills Category sponsored by DELL
The King Edward VI School – Alistair, William and Matthew for “NavBand”

Manufacturing Award sponsored by Cranfield University
Loughborough High School – Chloe, Lini and Ashley for “Steerclear”
An adaption of the modern steering wheel to make driving a more enjoyable, safer and interesting experience.

Research and Literacy Award sponsored by CILIP Information Literacy Group
Oakham School – Matthew, Oliver and Archie for “K-Charge”
A shoe integrated with a battery, which charges by converting the kinetic energy generated by walking into electrical energy.

Teacher of the Year Category
Natalie Radmore: Passmores Academy

Best Innovation – Concept category
Sandbach High School & 6th Form College – Amy for “Bluetooth Speakers”
A bluetooth speaker that is made from obsolete books and vinyl records.

Best Innovation – Model, Prototype or Product category
Oakham School – Harry for “Gust”
An ergonomically redesigned hairdryer that is cordless, heats using semi-conductors to minimise damage to the hair and is modular.

Best Research Project
Loughborough Grammar School – Sai for “Biosense”
Research into the detection of glucose in the urine of undiagnosed type 1 diabetes through a toilet block that causes a colour change in the toilet bowl signifying a positive result for a disease test.

Consumer Innovation Award sponsored by Maplin
Oakham School – Harry for “Gust”
An ergonomically redesigned hairdryer that is cordless, heats using semi-conductors to minimise damage to the hair and is modular.

People’s Choice Award
Impington Village College – Peter, Jim and Eddie for “Let’s Get Biking”
An app aimed at young children who like biking. Includes parental control to monitor bike travel to allow parents to select safe routes and traffic information.

Inspirational quotes: Notable women in technology

Despite the technology industry only being made up of 18% females, there are many notable women who have contributed advancing the tech sector.

Below you will find a selection of inspirational quotes from notable women in technology.

“A ship in port is safe, but that is not what ships are for. Sail out to sea and do new things.”Women in tech awards feature

— Rear Admiral Grace Hopper the US Navy’s oldest active-duty officer at the time of her retirement. She developed the first compiler for a computer programming language and was a developer of UNIVAC I and COBOL. She also coined the terms “computer bug” and “debugging” after she opened her computer to fix it and a moth flew out of it.

“Any girl can be glamorous. All she has to do is stand still and look stupid.”

— Hedy Lamarr, actress, and co-developer of a frequency-hopping/spread spectrum technology based on a player piano. Described as “the most beautiful woman in Europe,” Lamarr never earned a penny from her patent, however after her patent expired, the tech was picked up by the US Navy during the Cuban Missile Crisis in guided torpedoes.

"I think it's very important to get more women into computing. My slogan is: Computing is too important to be left to men."

— Karen Spärck Jones, Professor of Computers and Information at Cambridge Computer Laboratory. Jones introduced the concept of inverse document frequency (IDF) used by most search engines.

 “Be First And Be Lonely.” 

Ginni Rometty, Chairwoman and CEO of IBM is an American business executive. She is noted as the first woman to head IBM. Prior to becoming president and CEO in January 2012 she held the positions of Senior Vice President and Group Executive for Sales, Marketing, and Strategy at IBM.

“I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.”

 Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo! Mayer is an American business executive and computer scientist, currently serving as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Yahoo!, a position she has held since July 2012.

“That brain of mine is something more than merely mortal; as time will show.”

— Ada Lovelace was a Mathematician and Computer Scientist. Countess of Lovelace was an English mathematician and writer, chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage's early mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. She is widely reported as being the first female coder.

The gender and skills gap: Opportunity knocks

The gender and skills gap are currently very hot topics in the world of cyber/information security.  (I use the word cyber – unashamedly because (arguably) it sounds cool)! The Women’s Security Society, together with the government department of Business Innovation and Skills, tackled the gender and skills gap issue through a roundtable event. 30 professionals came together in 2013 to discuss the gender and skills gap in cyber, from which a white paper was produced, with recorded outcomes and recommended actions.Woman in business wear with technology background

Three years on and the topic of the gender and skills gap is still very prevalent.  Has anything changed? The white paper provides two very pertinent points that stand out over and above other findings, and these are:

  • The lack of standardisation of, or formalisation in career paths and qualifications
  • The need for women working in cyber to share their stories - to be put ‘out there’

So, here is my reflection on the first point: Three years on, I don’t believe we have a single framework, approved and advocated by various professional bodies; a commonly used reference point. On the qualifications piece, whilst I’m an absolute advocate of professional training companies, they do, on occasion publish lists of ‘ISSSSPs, ISMmms, - often unpronounceable certifications’ and align these against a range of cyber roles. This can be helpful but, conversely can sometimes confuse and coerce individuals into paying for professional qualifications that may not be relevant.  I’m inclined to wonder if the dominance of certifications could be causing a bit of laziness in terms of the approach to recruitment. Combined with the absence of a standard career framework, we appear to remain a little stagnant here.  I’d love to see more organisations investing in apprenticeship style, on the job training which actively looks for differenceBAE systems are doing just this and I applaud them.  They are running an apprenticeship scheme for cyber, targeting individuals who have transferrable skills and wish to enter without the traditional qualifications or expertise.

There is an increasing demand for cyber professionals to be more business facing, to translate ‘Cyblah’ into business relatable issues easily understood by the board.  Would the traditional graduate computer science route provide the type of candidate who can meet increased business facing expectations?  Does the traditional graduate route potentially exclude those bright individuals, often from diverse backgrounds who could not afford University and further education?  I have a positive outlook and firmly believe we can look at the current skills (and gender) gap as an opportunity to introduce a more diverse and dynamic angle to the profession – a healthy mix of difference surely means we can enhance and expand cyber roles and capabilities.  An article written by the Financial Times in late 2015 ‘Cyber Security Sector Struggles to Fill the Skills Gap’ nicely summarises the situation, referring to it as “the largest human capital situation in the world”.  The article states that cyber jobs take 14% longer to recruit for than the average for all jobs, making cyber more difficult to recruit for than data science, advanced manufacturing and petroleum engineering.  So, is it time now for the profession to really embrace difference?  I believe so.

On the second point: Representation of women in cyber and women getting themselves ‘out there’. There is some great momentum building, including a book that is being written about women in cyber security by Jane Frankland, which will be published later this year.  There are numerous forums and networking groups emerging and, more importantly collaborating.  We have some fantastic cyber role models visible and available via social media– Dr Neira Jones, Sarah Clarke, Karolina Oseckyte, Eliza May Austin, Marilise de Villiers, Jane Frankland being ones that immediately spring to mind.  There are also a number of male counterparts who actively support and speak on the gender issue.  But we do need more ladies in cyber to become visible and to actively support and advocate those who are starting their careers, those who are looking to move into the profession or who are developing a social media presence. So a few ideas from me, as to how people can provide low effort, but high return support – support can be one of the strongest enablers out there for change!

  • Be available – comment, like, share and support ladies (indeed all individuals) in cyber.  A bit of muddling about with your mobile device on twitter or LinkedIn on the train or whilst cooking dinner isn’t a huge outlay.  The return can be a demonstration of active support for others.  To me, supporting others is incredibly rewarding and will consolidate strength of movement and facilitate change.
  • As I’ve mentioned within a past LinkedIn blog.  Search and locate talent!  Connect with talent (in all its forms) at events, via social media, within your organisations.  Often informal support is far more impactful than formal programs.  Informal support and approaches personalise, it shows you care as a person, as a leader.
  • Arguably one thing I do quite well is catch up with other professionals for a cup of coffee (or wine)! Build bonds and establish your own informal network.  This is a great opportunity to share details of roles, discuss and introduce talent – to knowledge share, to collaborate on a 1:1 level.

I recently reached out and actively supported an individual who, on LinkedIn commented and wrote a great post about his challenges finding a cyber role.  His message to me, after we connected speaks volumes; “I would like to think that in months/years to come I will also be able to offer advice and a helping hand to someone who is going through a situation similar to mine, just as you have”.

Doing and supporting extends a ladder to others and those individuals will recognise the value and apply the same behaviours.  That’s change.

Charlie Timblin is the Associate Director Technology Risk of International Financial Data Services.