Five reasons to become a coder in your 30s

Wild Code School_remote learning, woman learning to code

The opportunities and benefits within the tech industry have long been a draw to job seekers.

Indeed, the ONS reported in 2019 that the tech industry had amongst the highest number of job vacancies, increasing salaries and attractive flexible working benefits. And as a largely digitised industry it is no surprise that it has fared relatively well in lockdown with a high proportion of employees able to work from home.

But if you ever thought coding was a young person’s game and not for you, think again. Coding attracts recruits from far outside traditional STEM-based careers and education. In fact, students from Wild Code School, a web development and coding school, are upskilling and career changing from diverse backgrounds that range from dance and textile design to chemical engineering, gaming and communications.

And it’s not just school leavers or people early in their careers – in fact it’s people in their 30s who are leading the charge.

Anna Stepanoff, CEO and Founder of Wild Code School, explains the five reasons people in their 30s are turning to coding:

  • It’s not rocket science – there is an increasing awareness that you don’t have to be a Matrix-inspired hyper-brain to work in tech, and as 30-somethings have inevitably come into contact with the digital world in their existing careers – they’re wanting to get involved and understand how it works.
  • Coding is creative – while the initial draw might be the competitive salaries, we find what keeps people interested is the realisation that coding is a highly-creative industry that allows a person to problem solve and bring their own ideas to fruition.
  • Autonomy and Flexibility – people in their 30s who no longer want to work for someone else are realising that the tech industry provides options to go freelance, to choose their own clients and the flexibility to work from where they want.
  • Being a part of what happens next – from the way we consume music and media, eat out, work from home, communicate and stay fit, the tech industry is changing the way we live, and touches all aspects of our lives. Being a part of that is exciting.
  • In-demand skills – there is a widely-discussed skills gap in the tech industry, and we work with employers to understand what they are looking for and how to ensure training is commercially relevant. They are skills sought by a diverse range of companies and will become increasingly important.

“It’s a myth that if you didn’t get into coding at school, then it’s already too late,” Anna says. “If you’ve got the creativity and the drive, then we’ve got the school to help you realise your ambition.”

During the month of August 2020, anyone curious about tech, passionate about learning or considering a new professional career can register to Wild Code Summer School. Week after week, it is offering a month-long programme dedicated to discovering the tech world.


WeAreTechWomen covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in technology, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here.

Don’t forget, you can also follow us via our social media channels for the latest up-to-date gender news. Click to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.


black woman working on computer in the hallway, diversity, SysAdmin Day

SysAdmin Day 2020: Appreciate the invisible heroes of IT

black woman working on computer in the hallway, diversity, SysAdmin Day, SysAdmins

Keeping many businesses moving this year would have been near impossible if not for the technology that enables many employees to work from home.

But more than the technology itself, the system administrators – or SysAdmins – that support it are equally as important. SysAdmins have helped enable thousands of employees across the country to continue working despite the pandemic; without this, many of these businesses would likely have collapsed.

This System Administrator Appreciation Day, we should all take the time to acknowledge and thank these IT heroes for their hard work and dedication. WeAreTechWomen spoke to six IT industry experts to hear their thoughts on how and why we should do this.

How 2020 has ramped up the pressure

The impact that the pandemic has had on all IT employees is immense, including for the SysAdmins trying to keep everyone else online. Alan Conboy, Office of the CTO at Scale Computing, encourages businesses to recognise this.

Alan Conboy Scale Computing, SysAdmins“Consistent, reliable and responsive, SysAdmins have been the backbone of our industry during these challenging times. Without them, we would all be more susceptible to all the usual issues – server failures, downtime and problems with upgrades and capacity – but even in the midst of the crisis, SysAdmins have maintained their teams’ momentum to overcome IT challenges, with a plan of attack for the next time.

“They’ve played a vital role in maintaining business resilience, ensuring companies worldwide could quickly and effectively mobilise their workforce to work remotely by keeping platforms like virtual desktop infrastructure running, making it possible to extend the remote capabilities of the workforce in a predictable and easy to manage way, without compromising enterprise security.

“Today, we celebrate all SysAdmins with a special offer that acts as a good reminder for organisations to always provide their SysAdmins with the tools, resources and words of encouragement they deserve to continue supporting our IT infrastructures, particularly through times of crisis.”

Harrison Wigg Content Guru, SysAdminsHarrison Wigg, Production Engineer at Content Guru, agrees that, “this year there have been added pressures. With organisations and schools everywhere undergoing a monumental shift to homeworking, it has been the SysAdmins working behind the scenes to ensure this is done as efficiently and securely as possible. We have had to ensure that physical equipment, from servers to laptops, is suited to this new working environment, and have supported staff by migrating equipment – from monitors to chairs – home for them.

“From a business continuity perspective, I feel that a SysAdmin’s role has been vital in keeping companies afloat throughout these past few months. Although the whole process of migrating everyone home has been challenging, the importance of ensuring it was done as perfectly as possible is unquestionable. And we get to do it all again now that staff are slowly migrating back to the office!”

It’s not only private businesses that have struggled with the sudden need for change but public sector organisations too, as Sascha Giese, Head Geek at SolarWinds, explains:

Sascha Giese SolarWinds, SysAdmin“While doctors and nurses have been saving lives and the central government has determined how to keep the country running, the IT systems on which this sector relies have been mission-critical. From the systems behind the NHS 111 helpline to the data collection and analysis shared by Number 10, technology has underpinned it all. It has also helped ensure many non-frontline employees can work from home safely and securely. SysAdmins are the team members working behind the scenes to uphold IT quality and functionality in all organisations, and to keep systems from suffering downtime—and this can be the difference between life and death, particularly during a pandemic. As the country begins to recover, it’s crucial for IT leaders to recognise the hard work of their SysAdmins and their vital role over the last few months, and they should provide training and tools to help them do their jobs even better.”

With that in mind, how exactly can all organisations improve the role of SysAdmins?

Ways to help ease the load

Brett Cheloff ConnectWiseBrett Cheloff, VP of ConnectWise Automate, ConnectWise, details how finding the right software solutions can increase efficiency:

“With responsibilities such as proactive network monitoring, conducting routine maintenance, and managing ticket flow and security, SysAdmins need expert efficiency to get the job done. But as routine pitfalls produce extra work, even the most experienced technicians struggle to keep up with the demands of a modern IT infrastructure.

“These processes can be made much easier by using the right software. SysAdmins should seek out programs that provide insight into workflows and efficiency as well as facilitate system response monitoring. Doing so will improve overall response time and allow SysAdmins to reallocate their time to other important tasks. With the right product and processes, they can be more proactive-oriented and better prepared to handle reactive situations.”

JG Heithcock, Retrospect_StorCentric, SysAdmin“You can only have a successful remote team deployment with constant communication, which requires reliable, responsive and resourceful team members – three key attributes of SysAdmins,” comments JG Heithcock, GM at Retrospect, a StorCentric company. “As we continue to work remotely and consider hybrid working environments in the future, it’s important for organisations to optimise their businesses and provide SysAdmins with the resources needed to seamlessly transition to this new normal by implementing the latest AI technologies to backup engines where possible and consolidate backup management to a single pane of glass. By securing and maintaining backups, SysAdmins will have the tools necessary to streamline workflows with efficient and reliable data backup solutions to keep businesses running and protected across changing working environments.”

Agata NowakowskaAgata Nowakowska, AVP EMEA at Skillsoft, admires the job of SysAdmins not just during the pandemic but prior to this, as she highlights that, “the SysAdmin role was no easy feat pre-COVID. SysAdmins face rising pressures and are expected to have a detailed knowledge of various technical programming languages. They need to be available at a moment's notice, ready to support numerous new technologies as organisations power ahead with digital transformation.”

She continues by adding how training should be an increasing priority: “We should mark SysAdmin day this year by not only showing our appreciation for the role SysAdmins have played during the recent shift to remote working, but by increasing the ongoing support and training we offer people in this essential role. Organisations need to provide the opportunities for their SysAdmins to upskill and learn new certifications so they can continue to provide valuable support, even during periods of great change.”

Though SysAdmins are not always the most visible of employees, most organisations would falter quickly without them. As many workers slowly start to return to offices – or continue to embrace the new normal of working from home – it’s important to recognise the crucial role that SysAdmins play in keeping IT systems up and running, and we should celebrate them not just on July 31st, but every day!


WeAreTechWomen covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in technology, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here.

Don’t forget, you can also follow us via our social media channels for the latest up-to-date gender news. Click to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.


Women in Tech Awards - TechWomen100 Awards 2020

One week to go until nominations open | TechWomen100 Awards 2020

TechWomen100 Awards 2020

Just one week to go until nominations open for the TechWomen100 Awards 2020.

It is no secret that the technology industry lacks female representation at all levels. Women make up just 17 per cent of the industry. There are some fantastic awards for women working in tech, however, most of these focus on senior women.

Whilst we feel it is extremely necessary to highlight senior and influential women, we also believe the pipeline of female technologists need a platform to shine.

This is why the TechWomen100 Awards were created. 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.

New for this year, we are also excited to introduce a new “Global Award for Achievement” category to our awards to expand our search for global talent. This category is a female individual who works within the tech industry outside of the UK, whose current position is below director level.

Through the awards, we would also like to recognise a number of senior individuals who are championing up-and-coming women, as well as any organisations that have designed and implemented successful initiatives and programmes in order to attract, retain and develop the female tech talent.

Finally, we applaud the often-voluntary efforts of the women in tech networks that operate across the UK, and again would like to formerly recognise these within our awards.

The TechWomen100 awards are the first of their kind to focus solely on the female tech talent pipeline and recognise the impact of champions, companies and networks that are leading the way.

The 2020 awards are kindly powered by BAE Systems and sponsored by Accenture, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan and Oliver Wyman.

Nominations

Nominations open online on 03 August via WeAreTechWomen. Nominations will close after a six-week period on 11 September.

A shortlist of 200 women from a range of technology disciplines will be chosen in October by an esteemed panel of judges. There will also be a shortlist of three Champions, Global Award of Achievement, Companies and Networks.

The shortlist will then be published and we will also open the TechWomen100 individual category for public votes of support.

Winners will be announced in November and celebrated at a virtual award's ceremony on 08 December. There will be 100 winners of the TechWomen100, a Champion of the Year, a Global Award of Achievement, a Company of the Year and a Network of the Year.

Who should nominate?

  • Self-nominations are encouraged
  • Organisations looking to recognise their emerging talent pool
  • Organisation wishing to obtain recognition for their initiatives
  • Individuals who would like to recognise their efforts of their champions/role models
  • Individuals/colleagues/friends/clients/mentors/sponsors of the nominee

Award's timeline

  • Nominations open – 03 August 2020
  • Nominations close – 11 September 2020
  • Shortlist announced & public vote opens – 26 October 2020
  • Voting closes – 13 November 2020
  • Winners announced – 16 November 2020
  • Winner's celebration event – 08 December 2020

POWERED BY

SPONSORED BY

TechWomen100 Sponsor Bubble LATEST


Women in Tech Awards - TechWomen100 Awards 2020

Two weeks to go until nominations open | TechWomen100 Awards 2020

TechWomen100 Awards 2020

Just two weeks to go until nominations open for the TechWomen100 Awards 2020.

It is no secret that the technology industry lacks female representation at all levels. Women make up just 17 per cent of the industry. There are some fantastic awards for women working in tech, however, most of these focus on senior women.

Whilst we feel it is extremely necessary to highlight senior and influential women, we also believe the pipeline of female technologists need a platform to shine.

This is why the TechWomen100 Awards were created. 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.

New for this year, we are also excited to introduce a new “Global Award for Achievement” category to our awards to expand our search for global talent. This category is a female individual who works within the tech industry outside of the UK, whose current position is below director level.

Through the awards, we would also like to recognise a number of senior individuals who are championing up-and-coming women, as well as any organisations that have designed and implemented successful initiatives and programmes in order to attract, retain and develop the female tech talent.

Finally, we applaud the often-voluntary efforts of the women in tech networks that operate across the UK, and again would like to formerly recognise these within our awards.

The TechWomen100 awards are the first of their kind to focus solely on the female tech talent pipeline and recognise the impact of champions, companies and networks that are leading the way.

The 2020 awards are kindly powered by BAE Systems and sponsored by Accenture, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan and Oliver Wyman.

Nominations

Nominations open online on 03 August via WeAreTechWomen. Nominations will close after a six-week period on 11 September.

A shortlist of 200 women from a range of technology disciplines will be chosen in October by an esteemed panel of judges. There will also be a shortlist of three Champions, Global Award of Achievement, Companies and Networks.

The shortlist will then be published and we will also open the TechWomen100 individual category for public votes of support.

Winners will be announced in November and celebrated at a virtual award's ceremony on 08 December. There will be 100 winners of the TechWomen100, a Champion of the Year, a Global Award of Achievement, a Company of the Year and a Network of the Year.

Who should nominate?

  • Self-nominations are encouraged
  • Organisations looking to recognise their emerging talent pool
  • Organisation wishing to obtain recognition for their initiatives
  • Individuals who would like to recognise their efforts of their champions/role models
  • Individuals/colleagues/friends/clients/mentors/sponsors of the nominee

Award's timeline

  • Nominations open – 03 August 2020
  • Nominations close – 11 September 2020
  • Shortlist announced & public vote opens – 26 October 2020
  • Voting closes – 13 November 2020
  • Winners announced – 16 November 2020
  • Winner's celebration event – 08 December 2020

POWERED BY

SPONSORED BY

TechWomen100 Sponsor Bubble LATEST


Kulvinder Panesar

TechWomen100: What happened next for Kulvinder Panesar

Kulvinder Panesar

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

Now in their fourth 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 Kulvinder Panesar, who won a TechWomen100 Award in 2019.

Dr Kulvinder Panesar is a highly motivated, driven and strategically focused senior computing professional and an academic for over twenty years.

Her current role is a Senior Lecturer of Computer Science at the School of Art, Design and Computer Science at York St John University, and joined in January 2018. Her PhD title: ‘a linguistically centred text-based conversational software agent’, and was awarded in August 2017. It was multi-disciplinary spanning agent thinking, linguistics, computer science, computational linguistics, natural language processing (NLP), knowledge representation (KR), Semantic Web (SW), and artificial intelligence (AI). This research work was a response to explore the long-standing issue within natural language processing (NLP) conversational software agents (CSA), to investigate and refine the accuracy of the interpretation of meaning to provide a realistic dialogue to support the human-to-computer communication.

Kulvinder's teaching experience is underpinned by Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), assessors’ award and more recently fellowship of the Higher Education Academy, composing fifteen years of undergraduate and eight years of postgraduate teaching. Further, her final year project and postgraduate supervisory has been eight and three years respectively. Teaching, learning and assessment (TLA) topics include: software engineering design patterns and development; final year and master projects, systems analysis, computer science topics, management information systems and strategy; enterprise computing and e-ecommerce strategy solution, databases and networks. Additional TLA plans for 2019-2010 include mathematics for computer scientists, data science and artificial intelligence. Additional roles include: course directorship for BSc (Hons) in Software Engineering; module leadership, project supervisor, placement co-coordinator; ‘study abroad’ academic advisor and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) ambassadorship.

In the wider research and development space, NLP in AI, meaning and knowledge representation in conversational software agents continues to have exciting revelations due to advances in technology with AI benefits (and challenges), in particular in the Chatbot era, and hence Kulvinder is continuing post-PhD activities. These include internationally based outputs such as book chapters, journal articles and conference proceeding papers – development work supported by scholarly activities in AI, advanced machine learning and cloud solutions. She is very keen to engage in research programmes (groups) in this area, and thus to inform research-led teaching in the next few years. As a regular attendee xat meetup.com group, she enjoys local technical events, participating in discussions and pursue networking links.

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

I was absolutely delighted to be included in the TechWomen100 Winners List, with such amazing and talented women. I feel very proud and am thankful to everyone who took the time to vote for me."

These are my verbatim comment in a university -intranet news article.

"Coming from a predominately male-dominated field, I have been committed to encouraging more women into the computing/technology space for several years. There's an increasing skills gap in the digital sector and we need to empower women and spread the word that they too can be ambitious and have successful technology careers."

"It is an absolutely brilliant time to be celebrating Women in Technology. As an individual, I feel I have reached a level where I can say I am an expert in my field and demonstrate commitment. I am commended on my passion and enthusiasm to keep up to date in the computer science field, and continue with my niche research area – ‘natural language processing (NLP) in artificial intelligence (AI)’. From a STEM strategic perspective, the years of initiatives and programmes to encourage more women in technology, have started to materialize and reap marked increases of professional and technology driven women taking up various posts that only men had applied for about five years ago."

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

Yes, a new article, Computer Science academic is named among top women in tech.

I leveraged this award with further a role of a Speaker Manager alongside my current AITN ambassadorship at AiTechNorth.   My role was to enable a dialogue with potential speakers who were business leaders, senior executives, and technologists, and to discuss their talks to find an amicable for the AI Summit Theme.  I have further hosted an AI Tech North – innovation exchange fringe event – AI for Business with two renowned experts on Thursday 18th June.  I feel my personal brand is developing as an academic delivering AI courses, pursuing my conversational AI research and widening my knowledge of the AI space.  My AI tech North activities I feel have enriched my academic delivery.

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

I believe the awards process is empowering, and  an exciting journey, but you must be mindful it is just an award for you, and it is up to you to decide how you will leverage it.  Be realistic.

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

My tip to  enhance your career is to network with a small number of people who have a similar vision to yours – enabling you move forward smartly, and  stay close to you on the  your journey  – and at one point you will be able to give back to them  in some way or form. Subsequently a  rewarding and satisfying experience.  In a nutshell be sensible and acquire quality connections; not quantitative.


The 2020 TechWomen100 Awards are open for nominations on 03 August 2020. 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.

 

 

 

 


Anahita Mahmoudi

TechWomen100: What happened next for Anahita Mahmoudi

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

Now in their fourth 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 Anahita Mahmoudi, who won a TechWomen100 Award in 2019.

Born and raised in Iran, Anahita called England home in 2009. She came to London in her early 20s and embraced her diverse spirit. By her early 30s she was one of the top 100 women in the technology sector, a public speaker, a coach, a peace activist and a yoga instructor with a passion for dancing.

Anahita is an experienced business consultant, professional and life coach, where she dedicates her time to helping individuals and organisations to become educated, ethical, and aware of their full potential to embrace change in the workplace and life. Her focus now lies in leadership and transformational coaching. Her ethos considers connecting to true values of life as they lead us in the transition from the present time to a new future world.

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

It was a huge honour to receive an award in recognition of my work. Looking back, I feel this award was not for me, it was for all women; the activists, the doctors and nurses, the mothers and daughters, the teachers and students, who are not only excelling in their roles, but who are  recognising their power and giving something back to our industry and the wider community.

The more we learn about who we are and what we have to bring to our societies and communities, the more we achieve and change. In our present time, there is no job that women have not done and more women are becoming change makers. This for me is the beauty, the magic of our time!

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

Press coverage: I was interviewed by ‘Where Women Work” who aim to inspire and support women career in STEM. Read the full article here

Promotion: I was appointed as a leader of ‘emerging talents’ community in my company to engage, equip and lead classified junior employees to acquire and develop the skills they need to grow within the organisation

Community: I became a Personal Development coach at Code Your Future and currently working with them to empower their students to start their career in the industry

Supported the Future Global Leaders programme (sponsored by Queen Mary University) that aims to build the skills, mindset and cultural agility needed in a future global leader.

Delivered a lightening talk to the students of the school that where I studied, 23 years ago. I am currently working with the headmaster to introduce a series of inspiration talks for their pupils.

Lastly, I am working on introducing an award system for the Women Network Group within the Business Unit where I work.

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

Look outside of your day job and think about the values that you are bringing to your team and community.

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

  • All of us dedicating our lives to get money. Do not let that to strain your ambition in reaching what you truly want.
  • A lot of us lose a lot of time, a lot of resources, working on the old stories of our society.
  • Tap into your potentials, explore new opportunities, work on creating new stories.
  • Lastly, learn more and teach more.

The 2020 TechWomen100 Awards are open for nominations on 03 August 2020. 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.


Medical technology concept. Med tech. Electronic medical record.

Succeeding in MedTech | Stephanie Monty

Medical technology concept. Medtech. Electronic medical record.

The UK’s MedTech industry is booming, and female-led start-ups are leading the way.

Starting my own business had never been part of the plan, and medical devices were certainly not on my radar.

I was studying Industrial Design and Technology at Brunel University with the intention of specialising in furniture design, when family circumstances dictated a completely different path.

My two younger brothers suffer from Crohn’s Disease, an incurable inflammatory bowel disease. Watching them battle this chronic disease, I became all too familiar with the significant challenges they, and many other people like them, face. The ever-present reality of invasive bowel surgery with the prospect of a stoma[1] can be scary to say the least.

Keen to understand what having a stoma would mean, I began researching ostomy[2] devices.  Despite the wealth of appliances available, it was clear to me that there was opportunity for improvement. State-of-the-art devices seem to focus on output collection and their clinical aesthetic merely compounds users' psychological struggles making daily activities like socialising and intimacy, challenges fraught with anxiety.

Many ostomates report feelings of disgust and embarrassment, and there is undoubtedly a social stigma that exacerbates this. There is no doubt that stoma surgery saves lives, yet for even the most body confident ostomates[3], current products are stigmatising and the lack of choice is frustrating. This was a lightbulb moment for me. It was at that moment that furniture design was abandoned and Ostique was born.

The Ostique journey began with the development of an ostomy prototype at Brunel. After exhibiting at New Designers, Made in Brunel and London Design Week and following considerable media and public interest, Ostique won an Innovate UK grant and we were off!

Setting up your own business can be a lonely task and, as the founder - who is somewhat of a control freak - it can be tempting to feel as though you must do everything yourself. However, I knew that if Ostique was going to work, I needed a team of passionate and skilled individuals who could help me drive the business forward. Running a start-up is a rollercoaster of highs, lows, long hours and a lot of hard work. Having the right team who can build each other up when things are challenging and to cheer with you when things go well, is what will get you through.

The first person to join the Ostique team was Toni Schneider. She is a qualified solicitor with a completely different skillset to me. We have known each other for 20 years and in spite of  warnings about mixing business with friendship, we are a formidable team. Having Toni to share the responsibility with has made a huge difference to the success of the business. We complement each other and having someone that you trust and believe in by your side really cannot be underestimated.

Once those foundations were laid, I needed to consider the complexities of navigating the medtech world; clinical trials and regulatory approval are not areas that you can improvise! I was conscious of my lack of experience in this respect, and if you get this part wrong, many months (not to mention thousands of pounds!) can be wasted. Even the best idea can fall flat if one is not respectful of the specific industry one is in and does not understand its regulatory requirements, and the medtech industry is understandably particularly unforgiving.

We have therefore worked hard to build relationships with experts in this area and court their opinion to ensure we are on track for success. One thing that has really surprised me is how many talented and successful people are keen to provide support and guidance to start-ups; there is an incredible amount of positivity and goodwill out there. I really would advise any new business to spend some time researching and reaching out to individuals that inspire them.

With the support of these advisors Ostique has come a long way. We now have an innovative solution and patented technology that has the potential to disrupt the ostomy market. As we enter a period of clinical trials and regulatory submissions, we feel we have reached a significant milestone and are excited about the opportunities this next stage of the journey will bring.

In addition to surrounding yourself with talented people, I would also recommend any start-up to regularly remind themselves of why they started the business in the first place. This is something that we have kept at the heart of Ostique’s development. Yes, this is a business; yes, we want it to be a success; but, most of all, we want to change the lives of people living with a stoma. It sounds so simple, but it is so easy to get caught up in your own vision that you forget that you might not have all the answers. By keeping the patient front and centre of everything you do and regularly asking for their opinion, you’re far more likely to end up with the right solution. This is where start-ups can gain the edge over larger corporates.

To us stoma products are not just consumables. They are game changers. Considering our holistic and inclusive design approach, our products have the potential to give people back their dignity, their self-belief and their confidence. Ostique is about more than just innovation and design. It is also about our community and the incredible differences we can make to people’s lives. This is what inspired Ostique in the first place and this is what keeps us going every single day.

[1] A stoma is an opening on the surface of the abdomen which has been surgically created to divert the flow of faeces or urine. People who have had stoma surgery are sometimes known as ‘ostomates’ or ‘ostomists’.

[2]  Ostomy: an artificial opening in an organ of the body, created during an operation such as a colostomy, ileostomy, or gastrostomy; a stoma

[3] people with a stoma

Stephanie MontyAbout the author

Stephanie Monty is the founder and CEO of Ostique Ltd. Both of her brothers suffer from Crohn's disease, and witnessing first-hand the devastating consequences of bowel disease is what inspired her to create Ostique’s innovative ostomy products. Ostique’s key innovation is to combine customisable aesthetics and innovative material technology to improve users’ quality of life, optimise patient outcomes, and promote positive body image.

Stephanie graduated from The University of Manchester with a 2:1 (Hons) in History followed by a First in Industrial Design and Technology at Brunel University. She has won The Brunel James Dyson Award for Innovation, and was a National Finalist in the Santander Entrepreneurs Awards. She has been featured in several printed publications including Dezeen, Possibility magazine and Dirty Furniture magazine, featured on the BBC in 2018, and most recently won an Innovate UK grant for her work with Ostique.


WeAreTechWomen covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in technology, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here.

Don’t forget, you can also follow us via our social media channels for the latest up-to-date gender news. Click to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.


Carly Britton

TechWomen100: What happened next for Carly Britton

Carly Britton

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

Now in their fourth 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 Carly Britton, who won a TechWomen100 Award in 2019.

Carly is the Head of Client Services for VUALTO.

Before University she presented on hospital radio and then throughout University presented on University radio whilst studying Media Studies with Information Technology and Computing. With equal interests in both broadcast and technology she wanted to pursue a career in that field.

As a graduate, Carly worked with many different technologies which was great experience, but it wasn’t until she started her journey with VUALTO where she finally found the career she wanted to pursue.

VUALTO was a start-up with three employees when she started, she joined the company as a webcast engineer but as with all start-ups, she did a bit of everything. She soon found a passion for technical support and as the company grew and moved away from webcasting, she worked on technical support full time.

Over the past seven years with VUALTO growing from three to over 40 employees, Carly grew and managed the technical support team, created a Network Operations Centre and she now manages the entirety of the Clients Services function which encompasses four separate teams. She has found a company and a career that is challenging and rewarding.

Carly is extremely passionate about encouraging girls and women to consider careers in technology. She is a STEM Ambassador and regularly gets involved with local STEM events. She also visits schools and shares her journey into technology with career talks and workshops at STEM clubs. With the support of VUALTO she founded #GIRLCODE which is a free coding class for girls aged 8-14 who want to learn to code in a fun and friendly environment.

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

I was honoured to be announced as one of the winning TechWomen100. It is a great feeling of achievement to be recognised by ‘We Are Tech Women’ as a woman to watch in the industry. The ceremony was an inspiring experience of feeling part of something really positive and it was amazing to hear about other women’s experiences that were so similar to my own.

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

Winning this award has provided me with some really great exposure. After winning this I went on and won Women in IT Awards Advocate of the Year 2020. I have been featured as one of 5 Inspirational Women in IT in Interface Magazine. I have been asked to speak at events and be a part of panel discussions. It has been an amazing year so far with lots of exciting things in the pipeline.

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

There is so much more to this process than just winning this amazing award. I have made some great connections and have had lots of exciting opportunities off of the back of winning the award. The TechWomen100 community is an inclusive and exciting one to be a part of.

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

I have three top tips for enhancing your career:

1. Find yourself an awesome mentor.

2. Technology is a fast-paced industry – do not give yourself an end goal. Instead be flexible and be open to pivoting your career to move along with the pace of the industry.

3. Stand up for what you believe in and failure is a great lesson.

Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter: digitelle_blog


The 2020 TechWomen100 Awards are open for nominations on 03 August 2020. 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.


woman wearing a white lab coat working on an engineering project, International Women in Engineering Day

International Women in Engineering Day: Everyone has a part to play

woman wearing a white lab coat working on an engineering project, International Women in Engineering Day

There are now over 50,000 women in engineering professional roles in the UK – almost double the number a decade ago.

However, the number of women in tech roles has flatlined at 16 per cent since 2009. The industry has a clear role to play in managing this disconnect and encouraging women to consider a career in engineering.

This is why days such as International Women in Engineering Day are so important. Not only is it a day for women to recognise and reflect on their success, it also provides the industry with the opportunity to make sure it continues to engage women and put measures in place to support their entry into engineering and other STEM roles.

The root of the problem

Sara Boddy

Women still only account for just over 10 per cent of engineering professionals. According to Sara Boddy, Senior Director, F5 Labs: “There’s no denying that engineering and technology is a male dominated industry. In my experience growing up, computers simply weren’t something many girls were interested in, perhaps because they weren’t marketed that way. I still think we're in a situation where computers and gaming are still very sexist worlds. I mention gaming specifically because that's how a lot of kids get passionate about computers. They've got gaming consoles and iPads and they want to figure out how they work, or they build their own gaming server. These products are still not being designed or marketed with girls in mind, and I think that contributes to a lack of interest on the female side.”

So, what’s the answer to this problem? Sara believes the solution lies in finding ways to tell interesting stories about what this industry does. “We need to drive early involvement at state and local school level. More details about how cybersecurity makes an impact on the world would excite and inspire kids to get into the sector. It may be a while before we start seeing significant differences in terms of gender balance within the industry at all levels, but I’m positive that change is coming. With girls in primary school now learning coding, I’m hopeful we’ll have a more level playing field in years to come.”

Creating a welcoming environment

Aine McCaugheyA supportive and nurturing environment is also essential to retaining and encouraging new talent. For Aine McCaughey, Senior Software Engineer at Civica, this is achieved through training: “When I saw an advertisement on Twitter that Code First Girls was looking for volunteers to help teach its Introduction to HTML, CSS, and JavaScript course, it was something that I couldn’t pass up. Women come from all backgrounds and career paths to take part in these courses, and in some cases, we see participants seriously consider switching careers to give tech a chance. It is incredibly humbling and exciting to be part of something that nurtures women and allows them to explore all the options that a tech career can offer them.”

Aine is currently participating in the Civica Potential programme, a leadership course that will also provide her with a qualification. “Taking this course is allowing me to develop skills such as time management, conflict resolution, and managing a budget. These skills will be hugely beneficial in equipping me to take on leadership and mentoring roles in the future and ensuring I can continue to support young professionals entering the industry.”

Natasha KiroskaWomen should also feel empowered in the workplace, and Natasha Kiroska, Solutions Engineer at IPsoft believes this can be achieved through a number of ways. “Ladies entering the profession should follow their passion and their dreams, believe in themselves, and work hard at the same time. They should gravitate only towards people, professionals, and companies that will appreciate their work and contributions, and will give them the chance to grow and prove themselves. They shouldn’t feel intimidated by anyone else’s behaviour, as we all come from different cultures and backgrounds. Finally, they should always remain professional, take every opportunity that comes their way, and enjoy their amazing STEM journey.”

International Women in Engineering Day provides women in the industry with a day to celebrate their successes, but it should also be a reminder of how much more work there is to be done to increase the number of roles held by women across the sector. From ensuring young people are educated on a career in engineering in school, all the way through to creating a nurturing working environment, the responsibility is on everyone to make sure more women consider a career in engineering.


WeAreTechWomen covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in technology, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here.

Don’t forget, you can also follow us via our social media channels for the latest up-to-date gender news. Click to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

 

 

 


Sara Boddy

International Women in Engineering Day: Sara Boddy shares her experience in STEM

Sara BoddySara Boddy is a Senior Director overseeing F5 Labs and Communities.

She came to F5 from Demand Media where she was the Vice President of Information Security and Business Intelligence. Sara ran the security team at Demand Media for 6 years; prior to Demand Media, she held various roles in the information security community over 11 years at Network Computing Architects and Conjungi Networks.

On International Women in Engineering Day, we speak to Sara Boddy about her experiences getting into the cybersecurity industry and her advice to aspiring students who are looking at joining this field.

When did you become interested in technology/engineering? How did you first get into the industry?

I started out in the security world back in the late 90s, three weeks after graduating high school. At that time, the practice of security was known as network security, and there weren’t university programs for it.

In fact, there were very few universities that even offered computer science degrees. I got a job as a receptionist for Conjungi Networks, which was owned by two guys in Seattle that were some of the more forward-leaning thinkers in the security space at that time. They kicked off their business by implementing Microsoft's first firewalls around 1995 and became known as security experts from that point on. We were one of the only businesses in the Seattle area doing firewall implementations, vulnerability assessments, penetration testing, incident response, etc. during that time.

They saw potential in me, and I started managing the backup tapes (which I wasn’t any good at) and, after a few years, I was doing base configurations on SonicWALL firewalls, writing statements of work and proofreading vulnerability assessments for customers. We deployed firewalls and intrusion detection systems, conducted vulnerability and risk assessments, and consulted our customers through a lot of incident response.  Things got really interesting when the company participated in a sting operation with the FBI as part of a big hacking extortion case impacting one of our customers. I think I was maybe 21 at the time and it was exciting work to me. That is when I knew I was going to be in this field for life! Four companies and 20 years later, I still work with Ray Pompon, who was the lead on that case at Conjungi.

How did you get to the position you’re in now?

The beginning of my career was in consulting, which meant I worked directly with customers on different kinds of projects – not just basic security control and implementation. I learnt how to consult around compliance, test for effectiveness of controls and define security programmes. Every way that you could fail in security, I've seen it from a consulting role, which was really good experience in the early days of my career.

After 12 years, I got a job in internal security. I stayed for seven years, progressing from a security manager up to the VP of Information Security and Business Intelligence.  The company went public while I was there, so I got to build a SOX program from the ground up. We also went through a public company split, and dozens of acquisitions. Some of our business divisions had high appetites for risk, and some were just big targets, like our domain registry and registrar businesses.  This put me in a position of constant incident response, and I started to crave something different. I think this type of situation causes a lot of security operators burn out. I moved on when one of my prior managers, who was working for F5, created the opportunity to start the F5 Labs threat intelligence team. This was very intriguing to me. I wanted to move from constant defense into proactive threat analysis and help other defenders that were experiencing the same issues I was. We just weren’t talking about it.  I was the first employee of F5 Labs and now, 4 years later, we are a team of 8 researchers that have published over 300 reports, articles and thought leadership blogs.

What is normal work week like for you?

I spend a large amount time in meetings talking about the latest research from my team. I also do my own research and writing when I find time at night. I’m always looking at large aggregated datasets to spot patterns and trends. The key is to gain insights into what the bad guys are up to prior to the day they start attacking systems. These insights help me consult with customers on the need to be proactive about security. This is all crucial work and puts businesses in a good position to defend themselves from threats by using the intel from the F5 Labs team.

Why do you think there is a lack of women in engineering and tech roles?

There’s no denying that engineering and technology is a male dominated industry. In my experience growing up, computers simply weren’t something many girls were interested in, perhaps because they weren’t marketed that way. I still think we're in a situation where computers and gaming are still very sexist worlds. I mention gaming specifically because that's how a lot of kids get passionate about computers. They've got gaming consoles and iPads and they want to figure out how they work, or they build their own gaming server. These products are still not being designed or marketed with girls in mind, and I think that contributes to a lack of interest on the female side. Plus, I don’t think there is enough awareness about what this field really is about. It’s really cool! It is constantly changing, there is never a dull moment, and you can make an impact on a global scale. People forget we depend on the internet for modern life to function, and it’s a very fragile ecosystem that needs a lot of help. We desperately need more women in this field!

Did you face any obstacles when it came to progressing in your career?

I’ve been very fortunate in my career to work for men that have always championed my successes. I've never had to fight for a promotion and I’ve always had leaders who saw potential in me and pushed me, which helped me grow. I realise not a lot of women have had the same support.

However, like every woman in this field, I’ve run into people that don't want to listen and assume you are inexperienced. No matter how many years I've been in this industry, I still have a lot of people come up to me after a talk and say things like “That was really great. You really do know what you're talking about.” Well, thank you for assuming I didn't! Or, when I’m giving a keynote speech, the expectation is that I got the opportunity because of an interest in diversity versus merit. I think the need to prove your worth or expertise is something a lot of woman in this industry grapple with. My speech coach tells me, “you have something to say, nothing to prove.” I still tell myself that before every opening line, whether it’s a meeting with a customer or a keynote. Women in STEM have to be confident and have thick skin.

How do you think businesses can make it more inclusive to women?

Continued funding from the tech industry for STEM schools is very important!

I also think we can help to overcome the gender gap by finding ways to tell cool stories about what this industry does. We need to drive early involvement at a governmental and local school level. More details about how cybersecurity makes an impact on the world would excite and inspire kids to get into the sector. It may be a while before we start seeing significant differences in terms of gender balance within the industry at all levels, but I’m positive that change is coming. With girls in primary school now learning coding, I’m hopeful we’ll have a more level playing field in years to come.

And would you say that you had a role model there anywhere who was female? Whether it be someone in a different business or someone you just don't even know?

I’ve always had really supportive managers and mentors, so I haven’t really had a reason to look for an external role model. I do think women in STEM are really good at creating community groups to congregate, talk and learn. We are very supportive of each other. There are definitely a few female CISOs that are active on social media that I pay attention to, but I don't know them personally.

What advice would you give to individuals trying to start a start either start or advance advanced their career in engineering or tech?

Getting involved in your local community is important. Knowing other people in the industry will give you a better idea of the sector and help when new job openings arise.

I think businesses in general need to get more comfortable hiring entry level employees too. There’s a common perception that if you don't have 10 to 15 years of experience, you won’t be able to solve the problem quickly, or you’re not going to be able to consult clients and implement good security controls. That is not necessarily true.

At F5 especially, we’re always on the lookout for smart, curious, ambitious people, especially those who are early on in their careers. I've had a lot of success hiring people right out of college. They’ve always been really keen to learn and grown their careers quickly, take a very creative approach to security and aren’t biased by “the way we do things”.


WeAreTechWomen covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in technology, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here.

Don’t forget, you can also follow us via our social media channels for the latest up-to-date gender news. Click to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.