100 Moments that Rocked Computer Science’

Join Professor Sue Black OBE, President Obama’s tech tsar, Alan Turing’s nephew & a search engine pioneer in a new podcast series

100 Moments That Rocked Computer Science podcast

Join Professor Sue Black OBE, President Obama’s tech tsar, Alan Turing’s nephew & a search engine pioneer in a new podcast series from Durham University.

The series, ‘100 Moments that Rocked Computer Science’, examines some of the most important advances and developments that have shaped the world we live in.

Professors Sue Black OBE and Gordon Love, from Durham University’s Department of Computer Science, are joined by a host of special guests as they discuss everything from the birth of the internet search engine to the very first computer programme and the dawn of the information age.

Experts from the technology sector provide their views and expertise including Stemettes creator Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE sharing her passion for inclusivity in tech, mathematician, teacher and broadcaster Bobby Seagull, internet search engine pioneer Alan Emtage – and his battle with Netscape, and Professor Dame Wendy Hall, one of the world’s leading computer scientists – talking about her work with Tim Berners-Lee and the development of the world wide web.

Megan Smith, former Head of Google X and Chief Technology Officer to President Obama, and Sir Dermot Turing, nephew of Alan Turing - part of the British team that broke the Enigma code during the Second World War make up this incredible guest list for the first six part series.

LISTEN HERE


“Computer science is such an exciting field and one that affects everything around us today."

Professor Sue Black featueredSpeaking about the podcast, Professor Sue Black OBE said, “At Durham University we have innovated and adapted in so many ways to ensure we continue to meet the needs of our students, from virtual sessions with leading technology figures such as Dr Neil Hunt, former Chief Product Officer of Netflix and Durham graduate, to this new podcast series."

“Computer science is such an exciting field and one that affects everything around us today."

"We are delighted to share our knowledge and enthusiasm, and that of our prominent expert guests widely, and get all of our listeners celebrating the wonderful events and advances in computing that have helped transform our world today.”

The 100 Moments that Rocked Computer Science podcasts, featuring the voice of TV’s Ortis Deeley, will be released weekly and will be available through all major streaming services from 9 June. You can follow the podcast on Twitter (@100momentsCS) or by the hashtag #100moments.


Watch Professor Sue Black OBE in action at our 2019 WeAreTechWomen conference.

Our Hall of Fame Q&A panel was hosted by Ortis Deley, Host and Presenter of The Gadget Show and also features Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE, Founder, Stemettes; Dorothee Schobert-Sargent, Managing Director, Credit Suisse and Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, President, techUK.


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.


WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here.


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.


WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here.


Shakar Jafari featured

Inspirational Woman: Dr Shakardokht Jafari | Founder & CTO, Trueinvivo Limited

 

Shakar was born in Afghanistan, but she and her family were forced to move following the outbreak of war and loss of their home when she was just six years old.

After six months of travelling, they arrived in Iran as refugees. It was here that Shakar discovered her passion for nuclear physics, radiation and the science behind its medical applications.

This passion was truly put to the test when Shakar’s father was diagnosed with cancer. During the months before his death, Shakar promised him that she would try to make a difference to the lives of other people with his condition. Shakar is now the Founder and CTO of Trueinvivo Limited, which with support from Innovate UK has developed a radiation detection system for cancer care that aims to save lives, money and offer a better quality of life to patients.

In addition to securing her first - and quickly second - investors, in 2017 Shakar expanded her team with four new members. In January 2018 Shakar received a prestigious Womens award from the Afghanistan government and a recent meeting with a director could lead to a film biopic.

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

My name is Dr. Shakardokht Jafari, I’m originally from Afghanistan but I now live in Surrey with my husband and two daughters.  When I was just 6 years old we were forced to leave Afghanistan after war broke out, after fleeing we arrived in Iran as refugees and it’s here that I discovered my passion for nuclear physics. After studying in Iran I travelled to the UK and it’s here – at Surrey University - that I did my PhD. I now work as a clinical scientist in the Queen Alexandra Hospital and Associate Tutor and visiting researcher at the Surrey University, but I’ve also started to commercialise the outcome of my PhD research; TRUEinvivo Ltd. It’s through TRUEinvivo Ltd. that I’ve developed a radiation detection system for cancer care that aims to save lives, money and offer a better quality of life to patients.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Yes, I planned my career, but more interesting things and challenges have occurred along the way and I have changed my path many times!

For example, I’ve always been passionate about science, but I only really started thinking about applying my knowledge to cancer care after my father became ill. You never know what will motivate you to change your course; it could be success, or sadness, or wanting to make a difference to the lives of others.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Thinking about my answer to this question I have to pause, to consider which of the many, many challenges that I’ve encountered should be explained?! I think the most significant ones are those connected to the getting to, studying and settling in the UK, especially coming from Afghanistan. Of course, financial difficulties and the constant challenge of achieving a workable balance between family life and work, are high up the list.

How has Innovate UK helped your journey?

Innovate UK contributed vital funding support towards TRUEinvivo Ltd, the mentorship and marketing support they’ve provided have also helped us gain broader recognition and know how to take the next step. After Innovate UK’s support, quickly followed by a second investment in 2017, I was able to expand my team with four new members.

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

I would provide free child care in the workplace. Even in Afghanistan there is free kindergarten in the workplace, so women can return to their careers very quickly. They can visit their children and breastfeed during tea breaks and lunch times, which is so convenient.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start a business/ become an entrepreneur?

Just do it! And, get a good mentor. A good mentor will not only point you in the direction of the next step, but they can inspire you to take it, too.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Without doubt, staring to turn my PhD into a something that will have a real impact.

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

My next challenge is to make our business fully functioning and, ultimately, to take the technology I’ve developed to market. This could seriously improve quality of life and the treatment of cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy.


If you’re a female entrepreneur or innovator and want to find out more about Innovate UK’s Women In Innovation competitions then please visit  https://apply-for-innovation-funding.service.gov.uk/competition/204/overview for more information.


Khaleelah Jones

TechWomen100: What happened next for Khaleelah Jones

Khaleelah JonesIn this ongoing series, we speak to our winners about life after winning a TechWomen100 Award.

Now in their fifth year, the TechWomen100 Awards recognise and celebrate the achievements of women in tech – the emerging tech talent and role models for the future.

We spoke with Khaleelah Jones, who won a TechWomen100 Award in 2020.

Khaleelah Jones is the owner and founder of Careful Feet Digital Agency, the digital marketing agency that created Dime Digital, a SaaS tool that automates social media posting and brand creation for small businesses and solopreneurs.

The winner of the 2018 Next Women Pitch Competition, Khaleelah has a PhD in emerging media, an MBA and has worked in the marketing industry for over a decade. Before starting CFD and building Dime, she was the head of marketing at WellTok Inc, a social health management tech startup, where she was part of a team that doubled the user base in six months and closed $18m in Series B funding. Prior to that, she held senior marketing roles at tech startups including Living Social and Nimble Commerce. She now lives in London with her husband and loves yoga, reading and Russian history.

How did you feel when it was announced that you’d won a TechWomen100 award?

Really honored to be listed amongst such amazing tech innovators and very proud of myself!

Please tell us what has happened in your career since winning the TechWomen100 award?

I spoke at EU Parliament in December and was appointed co-CEO of Ada's List, Europe's largest community for women in tech.

What advice would you give to someone else going through the award’s process?

Put yourself out there!

What tips would you give to our other members to enhance their careers?

Throw everything to the wall to see what sticks.


The 2021 TechWomen100 Awards will open for nominations on 02 August 2021. Our awards focus solely on women working in tech below director level. We hope that by highlighting the accolades of up-and-coming inspirational female tech talent, we can help to create a new generation of female role models for the industry, and a pipeline of future leaders.

Discover what happened next for some of our other TechWomen100 winners:

Tina Valand"TechWomen 100 award was life changing. It wasn’t just about the recognition, it opened doors, created meaningful friendships, networks and opportunities to attend great events including the virtual We Are The City conference and gave me a platform and confidence to be brave and take risks. One of the first things was the opportunity to speak at schools inspiring children to study STEM subjects, sharing my journey and path to the accolade. I am very passionate about the importance of supporting the next generation of talent."

Tina Valand, TechWomen100 Winner 2019

Isabel Chapman"I was delighted and quite surprised to have been announced in the TechWomen100 award, to be honest. It was a huge accolade and a real sign of encouragement that I might not have had a conventional path into it, but that I do in fact work in Tech. The TechWomen100 Awards evening was one of the most amazing evenings, especially considering the next few months have been followed by the lockdown."

Isabel Chapman, TechWomen100 Winner 2019


woman with a megaphone shouting to get her voice heard, female leader

Getting your voice heard in the tech industry | Stories of women leaders

woman with a megaphone shouting to get her voice heard, female leader

Becoming a future female tech leader is something that more women and girls should consider as a serious career choice.

However, according to a recent survey by Kaspersky, 38 per cent of women working in the IT and tech sector were wary to enter the industry due to a lack of female representation, which is still very much prevalent in the present day.

The women in part two of this series discuss why they were compelled to join an industry, and discuss what future women of the tech industry can do to become a leader and be part of an ever evolving, and ever changing community.

Prutha ParikhPrutha Parikh, Sr. Manager, Security Research, SpiderLabs at Trustwave

“From personal experience, I had minimal resources at my disposal when I first got a job in cybersecurity 15 years back. The number and type of resources available to anyone wanting to get started in cybersecurity, women in particular, has evolved in recent years. A lot of organisations have started highlighting women achievers in order to motivate and inspire more girls. The number of opportunities for the women workforce in security has also recently grown. There are definitely more options today than there were, say ten years back, and there is more awareness to attract and build a more diverse workforce. In terms of where it is heading, I am hopeful that the industry strives to achieve gender parity not just for entry-level roles but also for executive and leadership positions.

My best advice I would give young women looking to enter cybersecurity is to have passion towards security, or willingness to explore security and technology. However, networking events have helped me quite a bit over the past few years. For the past six years, I have been attending Girl Geek X talks when time permits. Girl Geek X is mainly technology-oriented, but there are great talks from companies that focus on product security and application security. Once every few months, there will be a security-focused talk which I have personally found useful. Girl Geek X events are free to attend for everyone, at least during COVID times, and even before that, the cost was nominal.

Finding local networking chapters in your area like Girl Geek, that focus on helping women would be a good place to start. Women in Cybersecurity is another great resource, particularly for students and even for women looking to start or advance their careers in cybersecurity. And finally, I would recommend following influential women leaders on social media platforms to get insights, stories of struggles and advice that they have shared to get to where they are.”

Joani Green

Joani Green, Senior Incident Response Consultant, F-Secure

“I started my career out in Johannesburg in the travel & tourism industry but, after some introspection, I realised I needed to make a career change to a field that made me feel more alive. I applied to the vacant “operations administrator position” at an information security company, then known as MWR InfoSecurity (later acquired by F-Secure where I currently work).

In the interview I was honest that my long-term goal was to ‘do something technical’. I enrolled in a part time Bachelor of Science degree in Informatics. After two years, I had learnt a lot as part of my degree studies and had gained some great mentors who guided me along the way. I internally applied to the company’s Security Consultant internship while working in the operations role and in that placement, I worked very hard, spending every possible moment trying to figure things out, suffering from insane imposter syndrome and dizzying anxiety. But I pushed through and it paid off; after the internship they offered me a role as an associate consultant in the security consultancy. I’ve since worked my way into leading F-Secure’s UK Incident Response team in London where I specialise in corporate incident response and digital forensics.

I am very blessed in that I work for an organisation that has never made me feel any differently for being a woman. I’ve been given the same opportunities and I’ve been held to the same high standards, and I have always appreciated that. I do however, appreciate that this isn’t necessarily true across the broader industry and urge any women to remember that what is important, is your hunger for knowledge and your drive to succeed in figuring things out and solving new problems in novel ways. Don’t ever give in to the inner voices of doubt.”

Kay Baines Kay Baines, Operations Security Manager at A&O IT Group

“I have always been interested in technology and found Red Teams and Ethical Hacking to be interesting/challenging and very logical. It has always been an industry that I wanted to be a part of, but I was unaware that there are other roles apart from penetration testing and code development. As I had no qualifications in the field and didn’t know anyone, I thought that it was something I would never be involved in. I was previously working in a support role for the sales/commercial department when a position opened up and I was able to fully transition into Operations Support Manager. I was surprised by how easy the move was!

I know many women have faced prejudices throughout their career however I, very positively, cannot say that I have faced any. In fact, I’ve had quite the opposite experience as all the people I have worked with have gone out of their way to help me understand the industry, all of the terminologies etc., and have also given me advice on how I can better my career.

For women looking to start a career in tech or cyber, the best advice I can give is, be confident and don’t let the lack of women put you off.  It’s likely there are more women in Cyber Security than you might realise. And in terms of the industry in general, there are certainly more women coming into Cyber Security and they are being welcomed. It is still a male dominant industry but if you have the skills to succeed then now is the time to put those skills to the test.”

Celebrating future women leaders

Looking ahead, we can only hope that the tech industry continues to make great leaps in creating careers where people do not have to ‘prove’ themselves against stereotypes, and can succeed due to the value, experience and skills they bring to a company. With more tech organisations hiring women and championing female tech leaders, we should expect future female leadership stories to show how they felt compelled to join the industry because they felt like they could and should be there- and we should envisage future diversity reports to show more equal figures and, hopefully, a rise in female leadership roles.


If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here.


WeAreTheCity and 5050 Parliament event, Politics Makes a Great Second Career featured

21/06/2021: Politics Makes a Great Second Career! | WeAreTheCity & 50:50 Parliament

WeAreTheCity and 5050 Parliament event, Politics Makes a Great Second Career

We need women's wisdom in the corridors of power.

We Are the City and 50:50 want to inspire women who have a wealth of life experience and talent to consider taking the plunge into politics.

The panel will include inspirational women who have entered the political arena following on from another career.

This is your chance to ask questions. Hear directly from all these amazing women about their journey and why they think that it is important to have more women at Westminster and on all elected bodies, at a national and local level.

About us:

We Are The City has been helping organisations attract, retain and develop female talent since 2008. We have a membership of over 120,000 women and have curated over 95 events. With our inspirational network we support women in pursuing their career aspirations. See more here.

50:50 Parliament's mission is to build a better democracy, one in which women have equal seats and equal say.

50:50 work with all the political parties to encourage women to stand for elected office at local and national level. When women click #SignUpToStand via www.5050Parliament.co.uk/signuptostand they:

- send them an interactive Personal Political Profile
- allocate them a 50:50 Buddy
- invite them to weekly party specific Bite Size meetings
- and offer bespoke support to women from diverse groups.

In the corridors of power, men still outnumber women by 2:1. Campaign for change!

Join 50:50 today at: www.5050Parliament.co.uk/join

Or become a Friend at www.5050Parliament.co.uk/donate.

This is event is funded by Comic Relief as part of the Equal Power coalition. Our partners are the Fawcett Society, Parliament Project, Glitch UK, Muslim Women's Network UK, Citizens UK and Centenary Action Group.

REGISTER HERE


Looking for more events or networking opportunities? WeAreTechWomen has a dedicated events calendar with thousands of different events to help broaden your network and learn new skills. We have also launched WeAreVirtual - a series of free webinars to help expand your learning online. 

Don’t forget, you can also sign up to our bi-weekly newsletter to keep up-to-date with our upcoming events and webinars. 


Matabe Eyong

Inspirational Woman: Matabe Eyong | Research Chemist, BP

 

Matabe has an impressive academic career – she holds three university degrees, including a Bachelor of Science in Physics, a double major in Chemistry and Biological Science, and a Master’s degree in Physical Chemistry.

Matabe gained experience in various different industries – she worked for cosmetics, food and beverage  and oil and gas companies. Following the birth of her son, she decided to go into research and joined BP.

The main reason for her to pursue a career in science was triggered by the surroundings of her childhood. Growing up in Africa, where science was perceived as a man’s role, and being the only girl of a family with five brothers, she always tried to bridge the gender gap within her family and her surroundings.

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

My name is Matabe Eyong and I’m a Research Chemist at BP’s Naperville Research Centre. I’m super proud to say I have my dream job. I wake up every day and I am excited to go to work. I joined the company eight years ago and I’m now responsible for designing experiments, operating small pilot plants, training entry level engineers, scientists, and technologists, and ensuring that all our applications on vessels and valves are safe.

I love science. I like the exploratory nature of my job, developing hypotheses and doing experiments. Even if the end result shows you something else than expected, it is always a useful finding.

Outside of work, I love rock-climbing and sky-diving. I go sky-diving every fortnight, and since my son is tall enough, I have started taking him along as well. I also love to cook - I find that recipes are just like chemical formulations.

I’m originally from Cameroon, in West Africa. When I moved to the United States, I enrolled at the Northern Illinois University and graduated with high honours with a double major in Chemistry and Biological Science. I also recently finished a Master’s degree in Physical Chemistry, while I was working at BP.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

There has never been a career plan per se. I believe people should pursue a career in a field they are really interested in, stay true to themselves but always look for new opportunities to grow. My motivation to pursue a career in STEM was triggered by my surroundings. Where I grew up in Cameroon, it was a common belief that women are less likely to pursue a career in science or engineering. Growing up among five brothers, who all went into engineering and science, I knew that this was what I wanted to do as well. I just wanted to have the same opportunities in life as the men in my family.

After university, I worked across different industries until I found the sector I really enjoyed working in; I started off at a cosmetics company, then joined a food and beverage company until I decided to try out working in the energy industry. After the birth of my son, I decided to leave the refinery environment behind and joined the research team at BP.

So for me, it was more of ‘trial and error’ until I found my dream job, instead of having a perfectly manufactured career plan.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Moving from one position to another is never easy. I would say the biggest challenge was moving to a catalyst discovery lab doing process engineering and analytical chemistry, while managing the equipment. I had to understand the technicalities of engineering and operate small pilot plants. It was a challenging transition for me because I had to learn a lot of new things that engineers do. But every time I went through a challenging time, there was always a positive outcome.

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

I believe women need to help and uplift each other more. Women can be very critical of each other at times. I do not believe in competing for what I want, I believe in creating what I want. Abraham Lincoln once said: “the best way to predict the future is to create it”. In order for me to be successful I don’t have to take away from anyone. Of course, there are advantages in looking at your peers for inspiration, but being competitive can bring out fears and insecurities that can end up holding you back, so wish other women well and celebrate their successes with them.

How would you encourage more young women and girls into a career in STEM?

I am a STEM ambassador. I want to encourage girls to be curious, persistent, ask a lot of questions and never be afraid to fail. It’s okay to not know the answer right away. I believe there is still a real mystification around STEM jobs – it’s not all hard hats and overalls. We need to be more vocal about our roles and showcase how STEM is all about solving real world problems. I also think that we need to broaden our audience. If we want to attract more girls into science, we should not only focus on this particular audience, but also on educating other key influencers, such as parents and teachers who play a crucial role in a young person’s career choice.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

I would say that my biggest career highlight was my development over the past couple of years at BP. I moved from a research technologist to a research chemist. I have also had the opportunity to work on high profile projects where I helped to expand production in our refineries and looked at BP’s long-term interest. I have also had the opportunity to work with diverse teams in the UK and China, and got the chance to connect with academics to develop a large number of research and development projects. On a personal level: I’m very proud of having raised my nine year old son on my own.

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

On a professional level, I’m planning to continue developing new skills to become a technical project leader, broadening my scope in terms of research and development. I also want to continue inspiring and guiding more girls into STEM careers in the US, and am planning to go to Cameroon to educate and encourage young girls in both primary and secondary schools on careers in STEM.


Rising Stars Montage featured

WeAreTheCity are proud to announce the winners of our 2021 Rising Star Awards

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WeAreTheCity are proud to announce the winners of our 2021 Rising Star Awards.

Now in its seventh year, the Rising Star Awards were introduced to showcase the UK pipeline of female talent below management and to create 100 female role models across 20 different industries and professions.

The list of winners showcases remarkable women within the UK from across 20 categories representing different industries and professions. Those highlighted include Alice Hendy, who founded R;pple Suicide Prevention after the tragic loss of her brother, Josh, in 2020; Asha Mohammed, an award winning second year junior doctor and an activist who has made it her mission to tackle gender-based violence with a specific focus on female genital mutilation; Jennifer Ogunyemi, Founder of Sisters In Business, which focuses on changing the narrative of the Muslim business woman; and Samantha Gould, Head of PR, NOW: Pensions, who is passionate about creating a fairer UK pension system for herself and her young daughter and future generations.

The awards also include a Company of the Year prize, awarded to the Royal Air Force. The Royal Air Force was formed in the crucible of the First World War and for over a century has been constantly dedicated to serving the needs of the Nation both in times of peace and conflict.

The awards also recognise five Rising Star Champions, who are actively supporting the progression of women in the workplace. These include Maysoon Shafiq, Founder and Director of Al Mu’Minun (The Believers), a non-profit organisation dedicated to serving the youth through open spaces of spirituality, dialogue and empowerment; and Bernadette Thompson, Deputy Director for Inclusion, Wellbeing and Employee Engagement in the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG); a notable diversity advocate and public speaker, working with leaders across government and the public sector to drive a culture of inclusion and increase the pace on representation of Black and Minority Ethnic employees particularly at more senior grades.

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New for this year, we are also celebrating women around the world with our Global Award for Achievement.

This year’s winners include Anju Gurung, who is an Associate Civil Servant for the British Gurkas Nepal; Isabella Gomes, who is currently freelancing as a Coronavirus frontline reporter for the Baltimore Sun; and Brigadier General Ishrat Rafique Eshita, who is the Deputy Chief Intelligence Officer, IPC – Global Command of the International Police Commission. She is also the Country Chief Bangladesh of Counter Crime Intelligence Organization.

We are also celebrating Men for Gender Balance, which celebrates senior men who are championing women and gender balance either inside or outside their organisation. Amongst the winners for this year are Gary Ford, Director, Moonshot Consultancy, who is a Male Allies advisor for Women on the Wharf and provides keynote presentations or run workshops on creating male ally groups; and Peter Palmer, Trustee and Director (Voluntary) S.E.E.D (Support and Education for Eating Disorders Lancashire).

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Alongside the Rising Star categories, Rising Star Champion award, Men for Gender Balance award, and Company of the Year award, we are also pleased to announce the winners of the Editor’s Choice award.

Those receiving the Editor’s Choice award are individuals who have been specifically selected by the leadership team at WeAreTheCity and one independent judge. This award recognises their outstanding contribution and tireless efforts towards gender equality, both in the workplace and across wider society.

The awards were entered by over 1,000 individuals and were judged by a panel of 51 independent judges. Over 40,000 public votes of support were received for the 200 shortlisted nominees from 115 countries.

The 2021 awards are headline sponsored by Royal Bank of Canada. Category sponsors include an array of leading FTSE 100 companies and industry leaders: 3M, Accenture, Barclays, Bloomberg, British Army, Cancer Research UK, C&C Search, Citi, CMI, Elysian Search Consulting, Goldman Sachs, GSK, Highways Sector Council, HSBC, Lloyd's, National Grid, Northern Trust, Oliver Wyman, Oxford Said Business School, Reed Smith and Sage.

VIEW THE FINALISTS BY CATEGORY HERE


Rising Stars 2020 Celebrations

The award's ceremony for the 2021 Rising Star Awards will take place on 15 July 2021.

WeAreTheCity are taking a cautious approach to the COVID-19 pandemic and safety is paramount, so we will once again be hosting a virtual award's ceremony.

This is an opportunity for our winners, judges, sponsors, and supporters to get dressed up, join us on Zoom and virtually receive their awards from our sponsors. It will also enable our winners to invite a few others along to the ceremony so they can see them being recognised for their achievements!

Over the course of the award's ceremony, our winners will hear from inspirational speakers and entertainers who will all be endeavouring to create a truly magically experience.

Watch our 2020 award's ceremony below:


Dave Thomas , RBCSpeaking about the awards, Dave Thomas, CEO Europe, Capital Markets & Wealth Management, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) said, “Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) is delighted to be powering the Rising Stars Awards for the second year.

These awards are critical to celebrate and showcase incredible talent across multiple industries in the UK, something that is particularly important during these challenging times. Diversity and inclusion is more than just a value at RBC, it’s our strength, and it’s one of the ways we bring our purpose of helping clients thrive and communities prosper to life.”

Vanessa-Vallely

Vanessa Vallely, Managing Director, WeAreTheCity added, “I am so proud that for the seventh year running WeAreTheCity has been able to shine a light on the achievements of so many remarkable women across the UK. Our 2021 winners join a phenomenal alumni of 550 previous winners who continue to soar, both professionally and personally. I am ecstatic to welcome our 2021 winners to the WeAreTheCity family and to watch them progress in to the senior positions they so rightly deserve.”

Once again, we would like to congratulate all our winners and extend a sincere thanks to everyone who supported Rising Stars during 2021.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL LIST IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER


SPONSORED BY

Rising Star Sponsors 2021


Vanessa Quansah featured

Inspirational Woman: Vanessa Quansah | Senior Civil & Structural Engineer, Lendlease

 

Vanessa Quansah

At the age of 29, Vanessa Quansah is a Senior Civil & Structural Engineer at global developer and construction company Lendlease.

Studying Civil Engineering at Surrey University, Vanessa went on to work for Swanton Consulting, an in-house design temporary works specialist consultancy for a demolition company. In just four years, she was promoted from a graduate engineer to a Senior Engineer, and then joined Lendlease as Senior Civil & Structural Engineer.

Doing her bit to promote females working in a very male-dominated industry, she is a STEM ambassador, regularly visiting schools to promote engineering to young females and mentor students. In addition she is an Associate Member of the Institute of Demolition Engineers (one of approximately 10 females of 400+ members), a Chartered Member with the Intuition of Civil Engineers (ICE) and was also a finalist of the WICE Best Young Woman Engineer 2017.

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

My name is Vanessa Quansah, I’m 29 years old and was born and raised in inner city London. My engineering journey began at Surrey University where I studied Civil Engineering. I hadn’t always wanted to work in engineering – I initially wanted to be a hairdresser - but my friend, who I met during an opportunity to study in the Netherlands, introduced me to the industry and I’ve never looked back since. I graduated with an MEng in 2012 and went on to work for Swanton Consulting, a temporary works design consultancy for a demolition company. After almost four years, I went from Graduate Engineer to Senior Engineer before joining Lendlease in 2016 as Senior Civil and Structural Engineer. In my current role I focus on designing and approving temporary works. Temporary works is a specialist branch of civil engineering, which provides safe access, protection or support during construction or demolition. Most people recognise this as scaffolding and site fencing, but it’s much more than that! I’ve been involved in projects that have included everything from designing retaining walls for a 12m deep basement excavation on a site containing unexploded bombs; to having to hydraulically lift an entire 20-storey building to install bearings after the building was already in place.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Apart from working towards my industry qualifications, I did not have a particular plan. Early on, however, I knew that designing temporary works was something I wanted to continue. As a result, I set out to take on challenging projects so that I could propel my experience and learn quickly so that I can work towards being an influential person within the industry.

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

Being a female in a male dominated industry, I sometimes feel quite conspicuous and people question what I’m doing. This is particularly the case when I’m on a construction or demolition site. This isn’t a negative thing though, as it provides me with the opportunity to open a discussion, talk about what I do, and demonstrate that I have the necessary knowledge, skills and capabilities. This job involves a lot of thinking on your feet to develop a quick, but safe and cost-effective solution, which for me is what I find most exciting in the job. For instance, I worked on a project where an 18th century brick wall had to be retained during the demolition of the remaining the structure, but after working on the project for 6-months it suddenly partially collapsed overnight. I had to get to site at 6am to ensure the rest of it remained intact and managed to devise a solution that both the site team and the client were satisfied with. As my experience and confidence in such a technical role has grown over the years, I see that I am becoming the ‘go-to person’ for devising suitable solutions to some very challenging problems.

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

Diversity is increasingly high on many agendas. I think it’s important that while still ensuring more females get into senior roles, this is based on merit rather than appearance, who someone knows, and certainly not to just make up the numbers. It has to be based on ability.

I believe that Lendlease has the right balance with this and with numerous initiatives to address issues of gender equality it’s not surprising that it was named one of The Times’ Top 50 Employers for Women, so we’re taking big steps in the right direction.

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

As a STEM ambassador I regularly visit schools to promote engineering to young females and mentor students. I provide them with an insight into the industry, and for those who are not particularly interested in engineering, I provide support with exam revision and career advice. In addition, I’m their sounding board to discuss any other issue they may be having, which I believe they find beneficial from an older person who is neither their parent or teacher. Furthermore, as a Chartered Member with the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), I support my peers with their journey into chartership.

I have had mentors over the years who have not only provided me with technical support but also helped me build my confidence by volunteering me for various presentations and industry events. I believe that in technical roles such as this, particularly as a female, mentoring is so important. It’s comforting to know that there are people that support you and want you to do well and are there to talk to when dealing with difficult projects where a much more experienced person can provide guidance.

How would you encourage more women and girls into a career in STEM?

I think the biggest barrier isn’t that women and girls aren’t necessarily interested in STEM, but the fact that they aren’t aware of the career options it presents. As mentioned earlier, I hadn’t personally known about civil engineering let alone considered a career in the industry until my friend told me about it. It’s so important that we work to raise awareness of the industry, and what jobs and career options it offers, encouraging as many people as we can to consider further education options, apprenticeships and the many roles that are available.

Construction in London is a particularly exciting prospect. We’re part of adapting the London landscape, and with that comes a lot of constraints that have to be considered. For instance, I have designed supporting structures that had to sit on top on live tunnels with people walking just 2m below; worked on a method than involved simultaneously constructing upwards while excavating downwards; and once even donned a fireproof suit to inspect a high voltage switchgear space. I never anticipated the sheer variety of this role when I was studying.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

I have had the opportunity to work on several high-profile projects, including the refurb of the Imperial War Museum and Tate Modern, and the construction of Victoria Nova, Westminster’s Rathbone Place and the Elephant Park Development. It is really gratifying to say that I have contributed to the built environment around me and helped to develop these iconic buildings. In addition, one of my temporary works design solutions involved supporting a ‘floating façade’ where a single skin 20m high brick wall needed to be supported after the building interior was fully demolished and the ground beneath it was excavated 14m. This design was a finalist for the British Construction Industry Best Temporary Works Award. On more personal achievements, I was a finalist of the WICE Best Young Woman Engineer 2017, and am an Associate Member of the Institute of Demolition Engineers. I am particularly proud of the latter, as I am one of only ten females out of the 400+ members.

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

Eventually, I would like to be in a leadership position where I can be an influential person within the business and shape how engineering is delivered on our projects. I would also like to have the opportunity to work overseas and hopefully learn from the methods used in other major cities to see how we do things better here. I’m currently working on achieving one more industry qualification, as well as working towards becoming a member on an expert panel which maintains and shapes best practice within the construction industry.