EdTech

EdTech and empowering the future of learning

 

As a CEO and owner scaling up my business, working in the technology sector is an exciting place to be.
Image via Shutterstock

My current focus is on transforming education and training using gamification and Virtual Reality. This has required a mix of problem-solving skills, creativity, the ability to demonstrate a clear vision and a value proposition.

Many entrepreneurs lose out because they do not articulate a compelling value proposition. Yet establishing a substantive proposition is critical if you want to start the journey from your “idea” to building a successful company.

Michael Skok, who writes for Forbes magazine on both entrepreneurship and innovation, describes how you can test a breakthrough idea through the 3Ds. Does it fit with one or more of the following:

Discontinuous innovation - offers transformative benefits over the status quo by looking at a problem differently;

Defensible technology - offers intellectual property that can be protected to create a barrier to entry and an unfair competitive advantage; and/or a

Disruptive business model - yields value and cost rewards that help catalyze the growth of a business.

It is a good sense check to use. It is important if you want to engage investors and the most sceptical of potential customers; something that I have learned from building two businesses. It has been critical recently as I look to reach out to angel investors for SEED funding for my new venture.

My new business, PurpleSmartie, was born from a deep dive into the simple fact that the future of work and the future of learning are strongly connected. A unique personalised training platform powered by ongoing skills data with a global perspective; it is an EdTech solutions business.

Put simply EdTech (education technology) is the study and practice of designing effective instruction using technology, media, and learning theory. While #edtech solutions open up a whole range of possibilities, to be fit for purpose they need both a software/platform delivery model, and content. The quality of the content determines the quality of the learning and development experience.

We have been successfully using Gamification Skills Analysis programmes with a range of clients, including those in the tech sector. We have developed a 30-minute, mobile ready leadership game. It uses typical gaming elements, such as point scoring, competition with others, rules of play, to engage and challenge users to solve problems.

It enables 100% skills gap analysis, business-wide; provides an unbiased skills analysis across departments and can assist with succession planning. With it you can obtain accurate skills data analysis, before and after training. We use it in this way so the client training we provide is focused on a high ROI. It is scalable, cross-generational and cultural, exciting and innovative.

Cloud and mobile computing, artificial intelligence, and increasing automation have created the potential to transform nearly every aspect of a business; learning and development included.

The industry analyst group Gartner produced a paper last year which cited nearly 40 per cent of Chief Information Officers report they are leaders of digital transformation in their enterprise.

What is more these CIOs are being given the opportunity to lead not only in managing delivery, but managing talent and executing effective leadership.

Interestingly, the importance of having both ‘soft’ skills and leadership capabilities as well as expert knowledge is something that I built my first business around. Skills4Stem Ltd is now a mature and successful corporate training business, working within the UK, UAE and further afield. Sister company, Skills4Stem Ireland Ltd, is building on the continued success of Skills4Stem in a growth territory that offers further opportunity and possibility for innovation.

Innovation and talent are closely linked. To encourage new talent into the tech sector we need to get better demonstrating at its practical benefits and multiple points of entry. I did not study Computer Science or Games Development, my first qualification was a BA (Hons) in lighting design.

My career has developed from there because I have an appetite to learn, evolve and am passionate about making a change. Government and educational initiatives are in place to help address the skills shortage in STEM sectors, but I wanted to bring some commercial perspectives to this issue.

Three key points of practical advice to pass on to others:

  • I had the benefit of a senior sponsor who helped me earlier in my career. Mentoring and sponsorship internally within an organisation is something I support as a beneficiary of this approach myself.
  • Networks and the ability to network are also important; and I value the input and feedback I get from these opportunities.
  • Career development and leading your own business requires some risk-taking and advocating for oneself; to paraphrase Sheryl Sandberg in Lean In, traits that girls are sometimes discouraged from exhibiting. But we can make a change – person by person.

About the author:

Sarah Davis FCIOB MCIoD, CEO, Skills4Stem Ltd sarah davis

With many years’ experience in the built environment sector, Sarah Davis founded Skills4Stem Ltd in 2014 with the objective of helping to address the current shortage of skills within science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) with a focus within the Built Environment.

As a graduate herself in the engineering field of Lighting Design, she is well placed to understand the issues that are currently being faced within industry.

Sarah is an FCIOB Chartered Construction Manager. Sarah was instrumental in setting up the CIBSE group: Women in Building Services Engineering (WiBSE). She was a member of the Royal Institute of Architecture (RIBA) Barriers to Women in Architecture Task Force in 2014 and is a current member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Built Environment Executive.

She was also a key member of the Government Task Force on Gender Diversity within the Built Environment with Meg Munn MP, which produced its Building the Future – Women in Construction report in March 2014. Today Sarah has an active role in the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Women in Enterprise.

Sarah was a finalist for the 2015 Women of Achievement in Construction Awards and she was on the judging panel for the European Women in Construction and Engineering Awards 2015. In February 2017 Sarah won Bedfordshire Business Woman of the Year 2017.


FemTech Forum

Win a ticket to FemTech Forum 2020 - the first global virtual conference about FemTech

FEMTECH FORUM

WeAreTechWomen have ten tickets to giveaway for the FemTech Forum 2020 on 25th June.

The FemTech Forum - the first global virtual conference about FemTech - is a celebration of innovation in women’s health, spotlighting tech-powered solutions and products that are disrupting the market and changing our everyday lives for the better.

Investors are starting to recognise the value of the FemTech space, which is estimated to be worth $50 billion by 2025, according to Frost & Sullivan. Women in the workforce spend 29 per cent more per capita on healthcare than their male peers and they’re 75 per cent more likely to use digital tools to track their health.

Organised by Women of Wearables (WoW), a global community for women in emerging technologies that has grown to become a network of more than 20,000 members, is hosting the virtual conference on FemTech on June 25th.

The one-day forum, which will be held on Zoom, will address topics like fertility, sexual wellness, the gender gap in medical research and more.

FemTech Forum - All speakers

The A-list panel of speakers includes: Eirini Rapti, Founder and CEO of Inne; Sophia Bendz, Partner at Atomico; Louise Samet, Partner at Blossom Capital; Gian Seehra, Investor at Octopus Ventures; Michelle Kennedy, Founder and CEO of Peanut; Valentina Milanova, Founder and CEO of Daye; Elina Berglund Scherwitzl, Co-Founder and CEO of Natural Cycles; Lea von Bidder, Co-Founder and CEO of Ava; Billie Quinlan, Founder and CEO of Ferly; Katherine Ryder, Founder and CEO of Maven Clinic; Afton Vechery, Co-Founder and CEO of Modern Fertility and Kat Mañalac, Partner at Y Combinator.

We’ve got ten places to giveaway and to be in with a chance of winning, simply email info@wearethecity.com and tell us why you want to attend. Winners will be drawn at random on 15th June and sent a discount code.

 

 

 

 


Charlotte Knill

Why study digital forensics?

 

Charlotte Knill, aged 23, is an Information Security Consultant and Forensic Analyst for Security Risk Management Ltd in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Here she shares why she decided to study digital forensics.

Firstly, it might be easier if I explained why I chose it.

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It wasn’t until around the age of 18/19 I decided I wanted to take myself down the digital forensics path. I came across this field because I started seeing it become more common in the news that criminals were being caught out by digital evidence. I found it really interesting that when the police were attending crime scenes, they weren’t only seizing physical evidence they could see (weapons or DNA), they were also seizing devices where they would be examined for evidence.

The difference between physical evidence and digital evidence is that you can see one but not the other. You can’t tell just by looking at a mobile phone what evidence is on it – I am a naturally nosey and curious person, so this field of study was definitely for me! I was more interested in the evidence “you can’t see” and wanted to be able to use my curiosity to find answers. I wanted to search through phones for texts, computers for documents, emails, internet history etc. Basically, just be nosey!

I was able to put my passion for being nosey and curious into practice during my placement year in a real digital forensic environment. Working on real criminal cases affecting real victims – there was no better feeling than my curiosity helping to solve crimes and remove criminals from the streets.

So, that was why I chose it……..But digital forensics doesn’t stop there.

You also have data breaches that affect companies worldwide every single day. Part of my job now is to find out how company websites were breached, identify malicious code that hackers have placed onto their websites and see if any card details have been stolen. That could happen to me, you, your friends and family at any point – being part of what prevents these breaches from occurring/helping companies become safer in the large cyber world we all live in is a rewarding feeling.

Identifying things like malicious code or retrieving deleted texts, images or documents etc. are done so through the use of specialist software. There are many different types of software out there but the ones you will hear about the most will be:

1. EnCase
2. Forensic Tool Kit (FTK)
3. Internet Evidence Finder (IEF)
4. Cellebrite (Mobile Phones)

Digital Forensics is a field where you learn new things every day. If you go into a Digital Forensics job, don’t feel like you have to know EVERYTHING because you don’t….you can’t – it’s impossible to know everything because of the new devices, software and technology being created all the time. The cyber security industry as a whole operates on the basis of people sharing thoughts and ideas – it couldn’t operate without this.

So, if you like the idea of:

• Someone telling you “it’s deleted and you won’t get it back” and proving them wrong by retrieving deleted things using special software
• Removing criminals from the streets
• Stopping a crime before it has happened and saving potential victims from harm
• Preventing companies becoming victims of serious data breaches that could affect you or everyone around you at any time
• Helping companies stay safe from breaches
• Learning new things every day
• Sharing thoughts and ideas to help those around you stay as many steps ahead of cyber criminals as possible

You really should consider digital forensics!

TIP:

Autopsy is a great tool to download and experiment with (free and legal!) – http://www.sleuthkit.org/autopsy/ – memory sticks are ideal for experimenting with. Try placing word documents on at first and then deleting some (but remember to note down what is on the memory stick and what has been deleted, this is also great practice for taking notes as digital forensic investigators need to take down lots of notes during an investigation).

Another tip: Don’t throw away any old laptops – you could practice taking out the hard drive and plugging that into Autopsy.

If you get stuck, I would recommend using YouTube because you can follow videos in your own time and actually see what is happening. I used YouTube a lot to help me learn how to remove hard drives from many different laptops.

About Charlotte Knill

At the beginning of July this year, I graduated from the University of Sunderland with a first class honours degree in Computer Forensics with Sandwich Year. My sandwich year/placement year was spent with Northumbria Police in their Hit-tech Crime Unit. Before I graduated, I was offered a job with Security Risk Management Ltd as an Information Security Support Consultant and Forensic Analyst where I help to identify how company websites have been hacked and personal details have been stolen. Initially, this was part-time while I finished off my University studies and then moved into a full-time role once my studies were completed.

I have recently set up a blog to help encourage women into cyber security by sharing my journey into the industry and my fun stories from within it.

Social Media Links:

LinkedIn

Twitter


Science

The truth about women in science and engineering

 

Elrica Degirmen, is a second year physics student at the University of Leeds. Here she provides her account of being a woman in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

scienceSomehow, I stumbled upon an article on the WeAreTheCity’s website where they reported that the IET has complained that only nine per cent of the engineering workforce are women.

It is not that difficult to browse through the internet to see the supposed reasons as to why the figure is seen to be so low. However, I think the issue runs deeper than women are put off from having a career in engineering or because there is a lack of female role models in the industry. In fact, I think it has nothing to do with that.

I am currently a physics undergraduate and I personally want to work in the fusion sector one day, be it in plasma physics, fusion materials or nuclear engineering. It is a multi-disciplinary field and I wanted to study physics for the solid foundation that I believed would help me enter into one of these three pathways into the future, irrespective of what I eventually decide in the end. As someone who has already had undergraduate research experience in national laboratories, I fail to accept the notion that the sector is not welcoming to women. This assumption that the scientific and engineering industries are off-putting to women is lacking in evidence and arguably counter-productive as it reinforces impressionable teenagers that STEM industries are sexist, when they are not.

I have a possible explanation as to the low rates of women in engineering. The normal way for one to obtain experience is to apply for engineering internships. It should be mentioned that an accredited engineering degree gives you the specific skills and knowledge that allows you to be chartered – providing you eventually fulfill all the academic requirements. Many summer internships stipulate that you must be studying an engineering subject, which automatically closes off potential applicants who may have the ambition and attitude to succeed in an engineering career, but just happened to have studied another STEM subject at eighteen. It is far harder to be chartered as an engineer if you studied a different subject at the age of eighteen.

I am aware that the Institute of Physics provides its own pathway to be chartered in engineering if you have studied physics, but even so, one has to get into the engineering industry in the first place. Thus, how does a science graduate compete with someone who already has studied engineering in the first place? The answer it seems, is pretty difficult. There are no obvious or even formalised schemes for those who are studying quantitative-heavy degrees to pursue an engineering career.

Engineering is worse compared to other sciences in terms of the proportion of women studying it. If women do not choose to study engineering, they are almost closing off their options later in life to be chartered as an engineer. Even if one decides to pursue postgraduate studies in engineering where their science qualifications are accepted, then there is the issue of finances. Engineering programmes are relatively more expensive to run, and the £10k loan recently introduced by the government can only go so far. Perhaps more funding should be directed for postgraduate engineering courses that allow science graduates to “convert”.

I feel that the profession closes off potential people, irrespective of gender, who may want to have a career in engineering, but just happened to have studied physics or computer science or even mathematics as their undergraduate degree.

I personally do not subscribe to identity politics, and I do not care about the proportions of women in whatever industry so long as the best people are working in the jobs. However, I feel it is a major distortion of the reality to suggest that women do not want to work in engineering. Even if people decide later on to pursue an engineering career, they find that it is too late because of the choices that they made whilst applying for university during school.

Perhaps it is the case that that there is a lack of awareness of what engineering is, or the value of studying engineering at university. Even so, I do not think that specific efforts to increase uptake from pupils to study engineering deals with the specific issue of many students whereby they later decide they want to do engineering.

I know that I will find it much harder to get into engineering (if I choose that as my desired career path). Not because I am female, but because I just happen to have studied physics as opposed to engineering at eighteen. Considering that only a relatively small percentage of women even take up engineering in the first place, I am shocked that the figure is as high as 9% personally as for a wide variety of factors not all those who study engineering will go on to pursue an engineering career.

In my opinion, if you are going to complain about the lack of women in the industry, you have to understand the real reasons why the statistics are as they are, rather than assuming it is owing to false claims of sexism or misogyny. Competition for a restricted number of engineering internships (which for many people is the first step to enter an engineering career) is already competitive by those who have studied engineering. The reality is that it is difficult for anyone, but if women do not make the right A-level choices at sixteen, then greatly hinder their chances of studying science and engineering at eighteen. I think it would help if there were a wider variety of routes for young people to enter engineering. I appreciate the need for vocational training schemes such as apprenticeships, and I fully support it but even then, you have to decide early on to pursue this. There seems to be only one academic route, in other words choosing to study engineering at university during sixth form.

I think that the IET, and other professional engineering institutions, should develop alternative routes for chartership for those who have not studied engineering but have studied a scientific subject. School outreach programmes are not enough, and talking about the perceived sexism in these industries is counter-productive.

 

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Suzie-Miller-Amazon-featured

Inspirational Woman: Suzie Miller | Solutions Architect, Amazon Web Services

 

Suzie Miller Amazon

Suzie Miller is a Solutions Architect for Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Chair of the company’s People With Disabilities employee affinity group in the UK.

People With Disabilities supports Amazon employees with disabilities, allies and carers – by raising awareness, supporting career development, participating in community outreach and improving accessibility both for Amazonians and their customers.

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

In my day-to-day role, I’m a Solutions Architect for Amazon Web Services (AWS) – a varied role that involves helping companies with their web service journey and cloud adoption. We help companies to design the right web architecture for their business, so they can focus on building incredible products.

I am also proud to be Chair of People With Disabilities (PWD) for Amazon in the UK, an employee-run affinity group that is focused on helping both employees and customers with awareness, accessibility and career aspirations.

Did you ever plan out your career in advance?

I’ll confess: the first time I used the internet was at a university open day in London, when I used AltaVista to search for Eddie Izzard! I could pretend that the heavens shone a light down in that moment to show a bright future ahead of me – but that isn’t completely true.

Due to a mix of different health problems, I couldn’t always study properly and that meant I failed my maths A Level and parts of my degree. I wanted to do Robotics at university, but I ended up studying Software Engineering because I had enjoyed programming in my GCSE and A Levels.

The dotcom bubble then conspired to burst just as I graduated, which made it much harder to find entry-level jobs, but I managed to get a job running Windows desktop support. At the time, I was hopeful that the tech industry would recover – and so it did!

So there was no planning, but a lot of determination and opportunism. Living with disabilities, I had to jump from contract to contract looking for flexibility that would accommodate my mobility and health. Throughout that early period of my career, I didn’t feel confident enough to request flexibility and I was living with conditions that weren’t even diagnosed, so it was near-impossible to justify a request for extra support.

What challenges have you faced along the way?

All things considered, it’s been a pretty bumpy journey. A mix of different health problems, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, meant I couldn’t study or attend lectures. This meant I graduated after the rest of my year – but I got there in the end.

There have also been problems with some managers in previous companies I worked at relating to inclusion: not only with my chronic fatigue and autism, among other things, but also as a member of the LGBT+ community.

I am also very conscious of the fact I may not be able to work in the future. I have a condition called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (hEDS) which impacts my joints and causes a lot of pain, dislocations and other symptoms, which can make working difficult in lots of ways.

At AWS specifically, I have found my feet thanks to the ‘Day 1’ culture, and the way anyone can submit a narrative to drive changes within the company. I’ve also found so many people dedicated to driving accessibility and inclusive design who have taught me so much, but that has also made me more confident that my peculiar strengths would be appreciated. That’s why I felt comfortable enough to self-declare to HR and my manager, and it led me to establish AmazonPWD in the UK in order to help others.

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

A few years back, when struggling physically with 80-hour working weeks mostly from home in a previous company, I worked with a brilliant coach who helped me to take a step back. With her support, I realised that I wasn’t struggling with the nature of the work, rather it was the culture and industry that wasn’t working for me. We put together a plan to stop doing roles with on-call and out-of-hours demands, which set me on a path to be a Solutions Architect working across a range of different industries.

Although I have never worked with a mentor formally, I had some brilliant managers who took the time to understand my peculiarities and who recognised my strengths – even when I was struggling to see my own strengths!

Outside of work, I volunteer as an Independent Visitor through a government programme that matches adult volunteers with young people in care. As volunteers, we’re there to build long-term friendships and we’re truly ‘independent’, operating outside of the care system and giving that young person much-needed continuity.

When it comes to diversity, what do you want to see happen within the next five years to move things forward?

It’s now well-established that diversity is not only important for companies, it’s also good for their bottom line because diversity of thought drives innovation and creativity.

Personally I would highlight the importance of ‘inclusion’ as a concept. When businesses invest significantly to recruit a technical specialist, it’s illogical to manage that talent as it if it were a resource on a spreadsheet without a unique personality and a unique set of needs. Giving people space to be themselves will always maximise their talent. ‘Inclusion’ means more than meeting diversity targets – it’s about getting the most out of your talent. And it doesn’t just apply to disabled people, women or members of LGBT+ and BAME communities, in fact it’s vital for those groups that we avoid accusations of ‘special treatment’ by working towards inclusion for all.

In reality, everybody will need support in their life: either through a disability or long-term sickness, or by acting as a parent or carer, or by going through a bereavement or divorce. You never know what’s around the corner, so having a safety net at work is vital.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Unfortunately, many NDAs over the years mean I can’t be too specific! But I will say that through various projects I have saved millions of pounds of wasted expenditure and helped to stop major outages that my colleagues had not spotted.

Living with dyslexia and autism, I often see things that other people miss, or I think of solutions that are a bit unconventional. It’s been a pleasure to apply that unconventional thinking within my profession.

I have also been privileged to work with some amazing people who have supported Amazon’s PWD group, which has led to so many great opportunities that we’re now putting into action.

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

I’m super excited to see how Amazon Web Services grows through the exciting and creative way that customers put our ‘building blocks’ into action.

In general, I’m excited to see how the tech industry builds on the huge developments of the last 20 years – particularly through the focus on collaborative working practices, which can only be a good thing for the industry.

I also want to be a disability advocate, both within Amazon and for our customers, by championing the importance of inclusive design and accessibility. And I want to go beyond accessibility of products and services to make working practices fully inclusive and considerate of disabled users.

What are the biggest challenges within improving disability rights at work and how can we tackle them?

According to Scope, 19 per cent of working-age adults are disabled and over 3.4 million disabled people are in employment. So if organisations are not creating an inclusive and accessible workplace, they are missing out on unique expertise and diverse perspectives that will enable them to better serve the millions of disabled customers out there.

Accessibility is not just about access ramps and dropped kerbs, it’s about aspiring to design products and processes in the most inclusive way possible.

Organisations also need easy and transparent mechanisms to request special accommodations and support, including flexi-time, desk adjustments and extra software. These need to be streamlined and available from the first point of contact.

Although as a society we’re making great strides forward, I also know that those living with disabilities do not always feel comfortable declaring their conditions – in fact they may not even be diagnosed, or they may not consider themselves disabled. The fear of unconscious bias and stigma is very real, so clearly signposting support in areas like mental health is vital.

Where can organisations find further support in this area?

Charities such as Scope or Mind’s ‘Time to Change’ programme can be invaluable in supporting disabled colleagues while raising awareness and providing recommendations. The government’s Access to Work scheme is also a good port of call and helps businesses to cover the costs around accommodations.

Across a large organisation, taking part in national events such as Worlds Aids Day on the December 1st or the UN’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3rd can be really beneficial. I also love PurpleSpace and their #PurpleLightUp campaign.

Exposing senior leadership and junior colleagues to conversations around the challenges faced by disabled people is another great way to reduce discrimination and unconscious bias.

Anyone can become disabled at any time, so businesses shouldn’t risk losing valued members of staff because of perceived negative stereotypes or a lack of inclusivity frameworks. This kind of support is not only the right thing to do, it also boosts productivity and spreads a positive message to the next generation of professionals that being in the minority should not put a limit on your career aspirations.


Deborah O'Neill featured

Inspirational Woman: Deborah O’Neill | Partner and Head of Digital, UK & Ireland, Oliver Wyman

 

deborah-oneil-featuredIn her time at global management consultancy Oliver Wyman, Deborah has supported some of the world’s biggest financial institutions and developed a passion around user centricity for business reporting. She is an alumnus of Imperial College, London, and recently co-authored an article for the Harvard Business Review entitled “Using Data to Strengthen Your Connections to Customers.” Deborah is actively engaged in mentoring the next generation of tech experts and is using her role as a senior team member in Oliver Wyman Digital to help support the female talent pipeline. You can follow her on Twitter: @DeborahLabsOW

You’re very open that you specialised in technology relatively recently. What advice do you give to other people and women in particular – considering a career change into digital and technology sectors?

The first thing is to just believe in yourself and that you can do it. Seriously. It’s that simple. It’s a common anecdote that from a list of ten criteria on a job description, men consider meeting five of them as a reason to apply, whereas similarly skilled women view “just” five out of ten as not being enough to support their application.

In my case, I’d found myself working more and more on data, systems, and tech issues, which I really enjoyed. I decided that would be where I would focus my career, incorporating my other strengths of managing projects and clients and being a fast learner and a team player. The business – Oliver Wyman – recognized my potential and supported my move to our technology arm – Oliver Wyman Digital – because of those skills. So, my advice is to go for the jobs you want and, when you get them (which you will), consider moving away from lists of requirements in the job descriptions you write.

My second recommendation is to ask for help and feedback and proactively seek out a mentor. Many people are great at giving constructive advice on how you can develop but wouldn't think to share their experience unless invited to. If your company doesn’t run a mentoring program, you can encourage them to join the 30% Club who provide mentoring for women in business.

Don’t forget that mentors come in all shapes and sizes. They don’t have to be in the same industry as you, or be female, or even be more senior than you. Sometimes the best advice I received was from peers or junior members of my team who have a different perspective on how I could be more effective in my role. Giving colleagues permission to share their constructive feedback and suggestions builds trust within a team and benefits the business overall.

According to Madeleine Albright, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” What should senior women be doing more of?

Possibly the best advice I was ever given was “lead from the centre, not the top.” Senior women shouldn’t be afraid of acknowledging the gaps in their experience or skill sets and using this insight to surround themselves with people who fill these gaps and elevate the whole team. This approach is far more effective than leading from the top as a means of control. I’ve seen both styles in practice – and I know which one I’m constantly striving for.

Where possible, I think senior women should offer themselves as mentors for other women and advocate for them. It’s also worth remembering that just because they made it to a leadership position, it may not be as easy for others – for a wide range of circumstances – and senior women could be using their privilege of seniority to champion a fairer playing field.

In recruitment situations, I would ask all interviewers to understand the motivations of each candidate. For example, are they looking for a particular development opportunity, and do you believe the role will provide the appropriate challenge? People who are appropriately challenged and motivated will flourish, which is what you need if you want to create a high-performing team.

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?

I’m incredibly lucky with the company I work for and the way they supported me moving from financial services consulting into Oliver Wyman Digital. They’ve taken a conscious decision to enable and encourage employees to work in ways that work best for them. Whether this is reducing hours to start a family or a business, they’ve recognized that the best talent may not want to work a five-day week with standard office hours and they’ve adapted accordingly. This has given me a lot of reassurance about my future and that I don’t have to trade off career success against other personal ambitions.

This means that in ten years’ time, I can see myself doing anything I want to do – whatever that may be.

If you had to tweet your top three career tips, what would they be?

In your #career, don’t hesitate to ask for feedback, & for help if needed. It's a strength not a weakness.

Remember: other people DO want you to succeed. #mentoring #career

Go for it! Bring your uniqueness to the challenges you face. #diversity


Hayley-Sudbury-featured

Inspirational Woman: Hayley Sudbury | Founder & CEO, WERKIN

 

 Hayley Sudbury

As an openly out LGBT+ female tech entrepreneur, Hayley supports professional LGBT+ communities through WERKIN’s CSR programmes, and sponsorship and support of Lesbians Who Tech.

The technology developed at WERKIN allows more LGBT+ professionals to be visible and supported in their careers. Externally, Hayley is committed to creating a fundamental shift for the female, LGBT+ and BAME talent pipeline and uses her technology to support mentoring programmes for a number of LGBT+ organisations, including Lesbian and Bisexual professional women, and OUTstanding. Her company is a UK partner of Lesbians Who Tech, providing support by hosting and sponsoring the London Summer Party. She is also an active mentor in the Stemettes programme, currently mentoring a female BAME undergrad computer science student.

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

I am Hayley Sudbury, founder and CEO of WERKIN, the company I built with my cofounder to bring tech-enabled sponsorship to global organisations. I founded WERKIN after a career in finance. Though I enjoyed the challenges and satisfaction of that career, I saw an opportunity to use technology to make industries like finance more inclusive, particularly in senior positions. Of course, if I had chosen a different path, I'd be a professional jazz musician, the track I started out on!

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No, I've just had major pivots and have been open to the universe and throwing myself into opportunities as they come. In high school, I wanted to become an architect or professional musician. I met with my careers counselor and took a test that said I should be a counselor. I grew up in a family business so it wasn't so radical that I would follow the path of an entrepreneur. I made a conscious decision to move into large corporates early on in my career to have some big corporate experience in my journey, starting in the energies sector and then finance.

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

I've had several roles that required me to be extremely resourceful to deal with trouble areas. It's about recognising what you can do in a particular situation and who you can influence about what's happening and make changes.

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

Unconscious bias. That's the key to change, dealing with people's biases and building understanding. I don't think I am in control of that.

How do you think companies and individuals could be more inclusive?

At the end of the day, it's about getting people signed up to create an environment where people feel truly comfortable about bringing their wholes selves to work. It's important to encourage everyone to embrace that. The way you work needs to be inclusive if you're going to create an environment for everyone. One easy way for companies to do this is by joining the INvolve network. They’ve worked with our teams to help harness LGBT+, ethnic minority and female talent and foster inclusive cultures. We’re working to drive a positive change in the workplace.

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

Mentoring is key to your professional and your life journey. How you work, how you live, the people who guide you along the way. It's not just about formal mentors, it's the sponsors who raise your visibility. We are looking to democratise mentoring and sponsorship. Not everyone has the time or know-how to be a mentor, we want to help more people to have that experience. I am an active mentor. I am still being actively mentored myself by technology veterans who have been there and done it.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

My current company. I am actually doing something that I love. I have my cofounder that I love working with. We are commited to this change and now product and market fit together to make it happen. The time has aligned with more attention being paid to help companies be better versions of themselves. Companies are open to change behaviour which makes a difference to individuals' careers.

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

Help global companies change the mix. We have focused in the UK, but now we are looking to the US and are hoping to scale our company globally. We are scaling up our London-based company. We also want to enjoy the ride and have fun doing it. The journey is the reward. That is absolutely how I feel about what we are doing.


sheryl sandberg

Inspirational quotes: Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook

sheryl sandberg
Sheryl Sandberg is the chief operating officer of Facebook and best-selling author of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.

Born in Washington, D.C. in 1969, Sandberg went to Harvard for her bachelor's degree in economics and worked at the World Bank after graduating summa cum laude. She attended Harvard Business School and went to work in the U.S. Department of the Treasury during the Clinton administration. When the Republicans swept the Democrats out of office in November 2000, Sandberg moved to Silicon Valley and worked for Google. After seven years she then moved to Facebook, where she has been COO since 2008. Sandberg is the author of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, which has sold more than a million copies.

Below you will find the best inspirational quotes from Sandberg's book.


“In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.”


“There is no perfect fit when you're looking for the next big thing to do. You have to take opportunities and make an opportunity fit for you, rather than the other way around. The ability to learn is the most important quality a leader can have.”


“Careers are a jungle gym, not a ladder.”


“Fortune does favour the bold and you'll never know what you're capable of if you don't try.”


“If you're offered a seat on a rocket ship, don't ask what seat! Just get on.”


“Women need to shift from thinking ‘I'm not ready to do that’ to thinking ‘I want to do that- and I'll learn by doing it.’


“But the upside of painful knowledge is so much greater than the downside of blissful ignorance.”


“Success and likeability are positively correlated for men and negatively for women. When a man is successful, he is liked by both men and women. When a woman is successful, people of both genders like her less.”


“I have never met a woman, or man, who stated emphatically, ‘Yes, I have it all.' Because no matter what any of us has - and how grateful we are for what we have - no one has it all.”


“When woman work outside the home and share breadwinning duties, couples are more likely to stay together. In fact, the risk of divorce reduces by about half when a wife earns half the income and a husband does half the housework.”


“I realised that searching for a mentor has become the professional equivalent of waiting for Prince Charming. We all grew up on the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty, which instructs young women that if they just wait for their prince to arrive, they will be kissed and whisked away on a white horse to live happily ever after. Now young women are told that if they can just find the right mentor, they will be pushed up the ladder and whisked away to the corner office to live happily ever after. Once again, we are teaching women to be too dependent on others.”


“Being confident and believing in your own self-worth is necessary to achieving your potential.”


“A truly equal world would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes.”


“We compromise our career goals to make room for partners and children who may not even exist yet”


“Real change will come when powerful women are less of an exception. It is easy to dislike senior women because there are so few.”


“The gender stereotypes introduced in childhood are reinforced throughout our lives and become self-fulfilling prophesies. Most leadership positions are held by men, so women don't expect to achieve them, and that becomes one of the reasons they don't.”


“The reason I don't have a plan is because if I have a plan I'm limited to today's options”


“The more women help one another, the more we help ourselves. Acting like a coalition truly does produce results. Any coalition of support must also include men, many of whom care about gender inequality as much as women do.”


“Our culture needs to find a robust image of female success that is first, not male, and second, not a white woman on the phone, holding a crying baby,”


“If a woman pushes to get the job done, if she's highly competent, if she focuses on results rather than on pleasing others, she's acting like a man. And if she acts like a man, people dislike her.”


“A feminist is someone who believes in social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.”


“But instead of blaming women for not negotiating more, we need to recognise that women often have good cause to be reluctant to advocate for their own interests because doing so can easily backfire.”


“Feeling confident - or pretending that you feel confident - is necessary to reach for opportunities. It's a cliché, but opportunities are rarely offered; they're seized.”


“Long-term success at work often depends on not trying to meet every demand placed on us. The best way to make room for both life and career is to make choices deliberately—to set limits and stick to them.”


“Hard work and results should be recognised by others, but when they aren't, advocating for oneself becomes necessary. As discussed earlier, this must be done with great care. But it must be done.”


“Anyone who brings up gender in the workplace is wading into deep and muddy waters. The subject itself presents a paradox, forcing us to acknowledge differences while trying to achieve the goal of being treated the same.”


“Another one of my favorite posters at Facebook declares in big red letters, “Done is better than perfect.” I have tried to embrace this motto and let go of unattainable standards. Aiming for perfection causes frustration at best and paralysis at worst.”


“For many men, the fundamental assumption is that they can have both a successful professional life and a fulfilling personal life. For many women, the assumption is that trying to do both is difficult at best and impossible at worst.”


“We hold ourselves back in ways both big and small, by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in.”


“In order to protest ourselves from being disliked, we question our abilities and downplay our achievements, especially in the presence of others. We put ourselves down before others can.”


“Fear is at the root of so many of the barriers that women face. Fear of not being liked. Fear of making the wrong choice. Fear of drawing negative attention. Fear of overreaching. Fear of being judged. Fear of failure. And the holy trinity of fear: the fear of being a bad mother/wife/daughter.”


“Looking back, it made no sense for my college friends and me to distance ourselves from the hard-won achievements of earlier feminists. We should have cheered their efforts. Instead, we lowered our voices, thinking the battle was over, and with this reticence we hurt ourselves.”

 


Career in STEM

Apprenticeships: Championing alternative routes into STEM careers

 

It is widely known that the tech industry is made up of only 17 per cent women and that less girls study subjects in Science, Engineering, Technology and Maths (STEM).

Image via Shutterstock
Image via Shutterstock

So with fewer females in the pipeline what are companies doing to attract students to join their firms and why would an A-Level student choose an apprenticeship in STEM rather than attend university?

We asked a selection of experts from technology and engineering to share their experiences of recruiting young people.

Jenny Taylor, ‎UK Graduate, Apprenticeship and Student Programme Manager at IBM, said: “We should of course not deter students from entering university, but we need to educate them about all the options available for their career path.”

Taylor said there is no denying that there is a lack of uptake across STEM subjects as well as a huge gender imbalance within industries requiring these skills.

“For many years now, only a small percentage of females have been attracted to working in the technology industry, and as leader of IBM’s graduate, student and apprenticeship programmes, I am passionate about addressing the situation. The business case for diversity in the workplace is very clear and at IBM we focus particularly on engaging and inspiring younger girls through our Girls' Schools' Outreach programme,” she said.

Taylor explained that one of IBM’s current employees - Sadie Hawkins - was inspired to join the IBM apprenticeship programme after attending one of the company’s school outreach events: “She then went on to achieve the National Apprentice of the Year Award 2013, which we are extremely proud of. Sadie is now an integral member of the team within our Global Business Services Division.

“Apprenticeships are a great way to encourage uptake in STEM disciplines and it is clear there needs to be more championing of alternative routes into successful roles with a clear career progression.”

Elaine Rowlands, Head of HR at PCMS, a retail technology developer, is just as passionate about apprenticeship programmes.

She said: “I am passionate about apprenticeships being a credible alternative to university for women looking to break into the tech world - particularly in a fast-paced industry like retail technology, where new products are shaping the consumer experience every day.

“Apprentices have an immediate edge by going straight into on-the-job training, gaining the real-life work experience essential to thrive in a competitive sector.”

Bradbury Group Ltd a UK manufacturer of steel doors, security grilles and cages and currently employees three female apprentices; two work in its technical department and another is a member of its marketing team.

Paul Sweeting, Technical Director at Bradbury Group Ltd, said: “Recruiting technical staff can be a struggle, so we want anyone — male or female — to feel that they’re welcome to join our team if they have the necessary skills or drive to learn.”

Sweeting said it can be difficult to find women for its technical roles, due to the lack of women coming through the pipeline: “It’s more difficult to find female candidates for our technical department, likely due to the fact that engineering has long been considered a male-oriented field.

“Therefore, we make an effort to encourage more women to consider a career in engineering. For example, we supported National Women in Engineering Day 2016 through our social media channels and website. Plus, we published two blog posts written by our female technical apprentices about their experiences with our company.”

Bradbury Group Ltd has been working on its strategy to recruit and retain young talent in general: “When we began recruiting apprentices, North Lindsey College helped us access and review potential students. We ran an open day and 20 students applied for positions. Six were successful and joined the Bradbury Engineering Academy, which our female apprentices are a part of.

“We recognise that these young people have become valuable assets to the company and we want to give them a career. Therefore, they’ll all be offered full-time jobs with us after completing their training.”

A new centre has opened in Oxfordshire aimed at tackling the skills shortages faced by technology and engineering companies in the area.

The centre will train 125 young people annually and is a joint venture between the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). Training provider JTL has been appointed to manage the centre.

The training aims to create ‘work ready’ trainees, apprentice engineers and lab technicians through training in the workplace. As a not-for-profit, all funds are set to be invested back into delivering training.

David Martin, UKAEA’s Chief Operating Officer and ex-apprentice himself, said: “With the support of high tech sector companies in the area, Oxford Advanced Skills will help resolve the critical skills shortages we are currently experiencing. This venture highlights how seriously we take the need for exceptional quality young people making it into the workforce in this area.

“JTL has huge experience in providing work-based learning across England and Wales, with over 6,000 apprentices currently working towards qualifications with them across the building services engineering sector.”

Jon Graham is JTL’s Chief Executive, said: “These are really exciting times for apprentices in the Oxford area. We have been working in Oxfordshire for many years but decided recently that in order to be able to provide the quality of training that young people deserved we needed to launch our own training facilities, which we have now achieved with our premises at Culham.

“Through the work we do there and what UKAEA have seen while on site, it became obvious that there was an opportunity to expand our remit and join with UKAEA to develop this new facility, targeting exceptional young people who are needed by high technology companies operating in Oxford and the Thames Valley.”

IT short courses instead of apprenticeships

David Baker, Director of Datrix Training, said in today’s market we are saturated with technology, and IT skills are more important than ever.

He noted that in the competitive job market skills such as word-processing, using databases, spreadsheets, using the Internet, social media & email and even designing rudimentary self-publication web pages are often asked of as standard.

“Currently the UK is facing an IT skills gap which is affecting businesses ability to grow, thankfully more of us are showing an interest in gaining further IT skills in order to bridge this gap,” Baker said.

“Gaining digital and IT skills is a great way to equip yourself with employability armour, currently two fifths of UK businesses are having trouble recruiting staff with suitable skills to drive their business. A technical IT course, from Microsoft Office to Java Fundamentals is right for any business as the need to succeed in the digital market becomes a key part of all company’s success. These skills will be learned through university or an apprenticeship but can also be accessed through short term flexible learning courses that suit millennial living.”

Baker said gaining technical skills through a short-term course is a great way to jumpstart your career and “give you that digital edge without the commitment to a three or four year course.

“These can often be more suitable than university courses as they don’t have as much ‘red tape’ and the syllabus can evolve quickly with the demands of the IT skills market, always ensuring the courses are up to date. The digital age isn’t slowing down and gaining IT skills that are highly relevant in today’s world is a great way to increase confidence, improve employability and drive career success in a market that’s crying out to hire skilled candidates.”

Lynne Downey, Head of Online Learning at University College of Estate Management, said increasing numbers of industries, such as engineering and chartered surveying, are now focusing on widening participation – both in gender, ethnicity and more.

“This current drive to accommodate employees outside the usual demographic empowers women to pick and choose the facets of both academic education and vocational training that best suit their needs – and find viable solutions for their career path. However, the decision between attending a university and taking an apprenticeship is not as clear-cut as it once was, with many alternative options now available.”

She added: “A traditional degree programme can be the right choice for someone interested in a field of study that focuses on sharing knowledge and carrying out research. Yet for those who want to ‘earn while they learn’, the option to study a degree programme online is becoming increasingly popular. While an apprenticeship may suit someone with an interest in a more vocational field, an apprenticeship programme that takes a blended learning approach – with the opportunity to gain a degree and become accredited in the field - may be the best option all round.”

“Both traditional universities and apprenticeships providers are widening their scopes each year, and opening up more and more varied options for following a career path. With this in mind, it’s essential that the individual chooses a route which best suits their skills and ambitions; whether it’s studying a traditional degree, joining an apprenticeship scheme – or a mix of both – the options are no longer just either attending an institution every day or combining classroom education with a job.”

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Kerrine Bryan featured

Inspirational Woman: Kerrine Bryan | Award-winning engineer & founder of Butterfly Books

 

Kerrine Bryan

Kerrine Bryan - an award winning black female engineer and founder of Butterfly Books.

Kerrine has gone on to smash many glass ceilings to become respected in her field.

She was shortlisted in Management Today’s 35 Women Under 35 for notable women in business and, in 2015, she won the Precious Award for outstanding woman in STEM. Kerrine is a volunteer mentor for the Institute of Engineering & Technology (IET) and is an avid STEM Ambassador. It was while she was undertaking talks at various schools across the country for children about engineering and what her job entails that she became inspired to set up her independent publishing house, Butterfly Books.

In response to this, Kerrine published a series of books (My Mummy Is A Scientist, My Mummy Is An Engineer and My Mummy Is A Plumber) as a means of communicating to children a positive message about all kinds of professions, especially STEM careers, that are suffering skill gaps and diversity issues. The fourth book in the series, My Mummy Is A Farmer, launched last month - August 2018.

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

I’m a chartered electrical engineer.  I’ve worked in the oil and gas industry for 12 years in London, after which I took a two year career break to have my daughter before returning to work 4 months ago into a new role, new company and new country. I’m now a lead electrical engineer for WSP, a global engineering and professional services consultancy. Based in New York, my role is a mixture of technical, project management and business development work. I’m currently working on some exciting power generation projects including cogeneration, energy saving studies and renewable power.

Alongside my brother, Jason Bryan, I’ve also set up Butterfly Books, a children’s book publishing company. Together, we have co-authored a series of picture books targeting children aged seven and younger, which communicates positive messages about all kinds of professions, especially STEM careers that are suffering a skills gap. I think it’s important to provide diverse and positive role models for children at an early age where misconceptions about jobs can develop early. With the books we’ve created, like My Mummy Is A Scientist, My Mummy Is An Engineer, My Mummy Is A Plumber and My Mummy Is A Farmer, we want to challenge gender stereotypes and instil in children a belief that they can be anything they want to be, irrespective of sex, race and social background, if they work hard enough to make these dreams come true.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I do sometimes set myself five-year career goals, but this can be restrictive. Personally, I like to take on opportunities as they arise and try out new things. Over the years, I’ve learnt that you might discover that there are areas of work you didn’t previously know much about, but – after gaining a bit of experience – you find out that you actually enjoy it, and this in turn can then change your goals. I think it’s always good to plan, but you have to be amenable to flexibility and change because life can be unpredicatable. So long as you are heading in the right direction of your career and personal goals, the path in which you take – which may be wrought with challenges and set backs – can equally develop you with the skills you need to become a better business person.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Working in a male dominated environment brings its challenges.  My first role as a lead electrical engineer a few years ago proved to be a steep learning curve; my team comprised entirely of men, all of whom were older than me. I definitely felt like I had to prove my competency and worth more than a ‘typical’ (read ‘male’ and ‘senior’) engineering team leader would, but the experience helped me to grow professionally as a manager, team leader and person within a short space of time. Ultimately though, I received a lot of support from my male peers who respected me for succeeding in a career in which there are very few female engineers. They understood that the career journey for women like me couldn’t have been easy, and to make it through the barriers was an achievement worth acknowledging. Given that there is still a lot of work to be done to stamp out bias and prejudice in the workplace, not just in male dominated careers but also in all kinds of workplaces, I’d say I’ve been quite lucky. Of course, it shouldn’t be about ‘luck’. In order for these challenges to dissipate, society needs to reframe notions about what work equates as ‘a man’s job’ and what work equates as ‘a woman’s job’.

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

I think that mentoring is essential for professional development. To receive guidance and support during your professional journey – not just from the outset – but even as you become successful and more seasoned in your field is hugely valuable. I think it’s easy to buy into the idea that we’re the finished article, as there’s always room for self-improvement. Even CEOs need mentoring to a certain degree.  I’ve been a mentor to many early career professionals for over 10 years, and have also been a mentee, so I understand both sides of the dynamic. It’s important to have someone who can challenge your thinking, encourage you to self-reflect and bring out the most in you so that you can fulfil your potential. With this new stage in my career, I will now look for a mentor to guide me in achieving my new career goals.

What do you want to see happen within the next five years when it comes to diversity?

I want to see an increase in the rate of change of diversity within careers and particularly within STEM careers where there is a huge skills shortage. I hope to eventually see diversity at all levels that is proportionate to the diversity of the society. Progress is being made, but the job will be an on-going one. It starts at the grassroots – encouraging children through education to believe that the world is their oyster and that they can work to be whatever they want to be – and it ends with responsible employers doing all they can to diversify their workforce, not necessarily just for moral gain (although that’s important) but because the figures show that it makes economic sense.

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

Providing flexible working arrangements for parents (and that means granting this to both the mothers and fathers) after they have had a child is so important in positively changing the opportunities for women at work. For too long, motherhood has often been a choice that professional women make to the detriment of their careers. This is reflected in the way many corporate organisations shape maternity and paternity leave arrangements; these inherently infer that it is the woman’s job to stay at home with the baby (at least for the first year anyway) while the man brings home the bacon. This ingrains further misconceptions and prejudices, which sees working mothers demonised for putting their careers ‘first’ and stay-at-home or flexibly working dads as non-committal and unambitious. Motherhood is one of the keys reasons why we don’t see as many women entering male dominated work, and that includes STEM careers. Until parental leave is seen as of equal importance and a job that requires the presence of both mother and father, and so long as employers continue to remain inflexible in supporting employees who are parents, we will never see progress in equality happening half as fast as it needs to in order to invoke meaningful social change.

For me, the ability to work flexibly was a huge factor in me deciding to go back to work after having my daughter. Creating flexible working arrangements also strengthens the respect between the employer and employee. Work is important, it can give us a sense of worth and purpose, but an individual should never be made to feel that they have to choose between success in career and paying the bills versus bringing up the family when both are so important.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

This year I became a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).  IET Fellowship recognises the high level of experience, knowledge and ability attained during an individual’s career. The appointment will now provide me with the opportunity to shape the future of the engineering profession through the IET’s expert panels, events and discussions.

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

I hope to be able to help shape the future of engineering in a positive way and also do all I can to encourage diversity in professions, with my children’s books being one of the resources to help make that change.