working from home setup with computer and desk, productivity, working from home

World Productivity Day: overcoming challenges to productivity levels in the ‘new normal’

working from home setup with computer and desk, productivity, working from home

As we slowly begin to see the other side of COVID-19, many businesses will be considering making the move back to the office.

Clearly this has a whole host of implications – from maintaining social distancing measures to adjusting to the return to coworking – but what will this migration mean specifically to employee productivity?

WeAreTechWomen spoke to five technology experts to get their opinions on what issues they predict arising in the future ‘new normal’, and what solutions businesses might consider putting in place in order to combat them.

A new definition of ‘productivity’

Agata NowakowskaAgata Nowakowska, Area Vice President at Skillsoft, explains how World Productivity Day has taken on a new significance, as many of us are working out how we maintain productivity and manage our time effectively while managing the many challenges of working remotely:

“The key to time management as a remote worker is balancing the hours you are working with ‘no work’ hours. Without a physical office location or the mental separation of the commute, the boundaries can quickly blur. It can be easy to let work intrude on sleep, relaxation and family time. Of course, deadlines must be met – but so too must personal needs and obligations.

“You need to work with your team to set priorities and expectations and tools to help you structure your working day. This includes:

  • Establishing your own peak performance times – most people have periods of high and low activity during the day, which depend on things like personal energy levels and family commitments

  • Scheduling breaks – studies suggest breaks help regulate the levels of dopamine, which plays a role in energy and motivation

  • Ensuring your schedule is adaptable – flexibility is key to working remotely. There will always be unexpected events, deadlines and changing priorities

“Remote working can be challenging – taking the time to review best practice and learn new ways of working effectively will pay dividends in terms of performance, productivity and your own mental health.”

Getting ‘re-accustomed’ to the ‘new normal’

Richard Guy, Country Sales Manager UK & I at Ergotron, predicts that it may be more difficult than we think to get re-accustomed to the office environment:

“What it means to work productively has changed significantly in recent months. The forced en-masse shift to homeworking has affected organisations and their employees enormously. For many, growing accustomed to this ‘new normal’ has required a lengthy ‘breaking-in’ process – indeed, some workers may still not feel acclimatised. The uprooting from one working environment to another will undoubtedly have inflicted some kind of effect on productivity levels – with distractions varying from children to homeschool to laundry to tackle.

“But as the workforce begins to migrate back to traditional workspaces, there will be a whole host of other distractions. For people who have become used to working in their own space, perhaps in silence, returning to a busy office environment will surely be quite a shock to the system. It will be more important than ever, therefore, for facilities managers to channel their focus into utilising the space and equipment in the office to create a resimercial workplace. Ergonomic furniture, such as sit-stand desks that provide the flexibility of changing positions throughout the day, allow employees to maintain movement whilst working, giving the body and mind a form of active recovery. Working as comfortably as possible, even while tackling the added challenge of returning to the workplace of old, is the first, clearest step to reboosting productivity levels among employees and organisations as a whole.”

Using the right tech

Tom CottonTom Cotton, Agile Workspace Technical Director at Six Degrees, looks into how investing in unified communications technology can help bring teams together even while working apart:

“The move to a new hybrid working model that combines remote and office-based working will be driven by a number of factors, not least people becoming accustomed to the lack of commuting and seeing more of their family. Many will not want to transition back to their old ways of working any time soon.

“Microsoft Teams usage has increased massively over the past few months. However, although Microsoft Teams has all the communication and collaboration functionality an organisation could ever want, it’s not enough for IT teams to simply deploy the software and leave their people to it.

“In order to maximise your Teams investment and ensure optimal productivity throughout your organisation, you should work to embed the software as part of your working culture. A carefully planned integration and ongoing user training for your Teams deployment are essential to successfully embedding the software as a key pillar of your new hybrid working model.”

The evolution of the contact centre

Martin TaylorThere has always been a strong focus on employee productivity in the contact centre industry, which employs more than four per cent of the UK working population. Martin Taylor, Deputy CEO at Content Guru explains:

“Traditional contact centres, with their surveillance-like atmospheres and restrictive breaks, could be described as the ‘mills of the modern age’. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has changed the industry significantly. The necessity for strict social distancing measures and fewer people in the same space makes the traditional contact centre a risky place to be and it is unlikely the ‘sheds’ of old will see widespread use ever again.

“In the contact centre industry, we won’t see a return to the ‘new normal’ – instead, the industry as a whole will evolve. We are already seeing the vast majority of contact centres going through this right now, by implementing remote working frameworks. How this has affected the productivity levels of employees will, of course, vary from individual to individual and contact centre operators need to be mindful of how their agents are managing this transition. Many employees may be worried about trying to work hours when they need to be keeping an eye on children, others may be concerned about receiving the same level of support at home as they would in the office.

“Investing in a cloud-based Contact Centre as a Service (CCaaS) solution would provide continuous communication and monitoring between call agent and supervisor. Screen recording, for example, enables both supervisors to keep an eye on their agents in real-time, and agents to feel supported in their work. This kills two birds with one stone, as supervisors can be safe in the knowledge the same excellent standards of customer experience are being delivered, and call agents can be freed from any concerns that they don’t have the proper support to work as effectively at home as they would do in a contact centre environment. Ultimately, for an industry typically averse to change, it has never been clearer that increased employee productivity starts with effective communication.”

Focus on results over time

Brooke CandeloreSometimes it is more worthwhile to think about Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) over how much time has been spent on a task, as Brooke Candelore, Product Manager at BrightGauge Software, a ConnectWise solution, questions:

“How many of us start our working day with a clear list of tasks that need to get done, only to find ourselves getting bogged down in a fire fight before we’ve had our first cup of coffee? And who wouldn’t say ‘yes please’ to significant periods of time to do Deep Work, and really focus on a demanding task without the constant pinging of messages? I think we’d all answer yes to both of those questions.

“This is where KPIs and metrics come into their own. It’s proven that whatever you track will improve. Improvement will come because KPIs drive action and provide clarity. A common question I’m asked is, ‘What metrics should I be tracking on a regular basis?’ There is no simple answer as it depends on a number of factors including what is most important to your bottom line, and what type of data is going to move the needle for your business.

"Events like World Productivity Day serve as a good reminder of the value of KPIs and underline that everyone within an organisation should have a number that they are responsible for. An accountable metric drives action. It should also be regularly measured and if it’s possible to do that in the broader context of the business’ KPIs as a whole, all the better. Data dashboards are a great way to do this. Not only will this show improvement, it will also deliver the clarity that helps business owners sleep better at night. And who wouldn’t say yes to a good night’s sleep?”


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.

 

 

 


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.


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.


Dell Technologies

The value or working for Dell - Join the Dell Technologies Talent Network!

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At Dell Technologies, there are endless challenges and rewards. Opportunities across the globe. A team fueled by collaboration. A culture that fosters innovation and values a diverse and inclusive workplace.

Dell Technologies is made up of strong, smart people dedicated to doing their best work and driving success for their customers.

A Prestige Brand

  • A Top 25 company to work for in the world
  • The number 1 IT infrastructure company
  • 6 consecutive years on the World’s Most Ethical Companies list

Career growth & professional development programs:

  • RFP (Releasing Female Potential) developmental program designed to prepare and encourage females in EMEA Sales (and Sales supporting roles) to further their career in a confident, inspired and structured manner
  • STEM Aspire mentorship initiative for female University and College students aimed at bridging the gap between higher education and a professional career in tech.

Flexible work environment:

  • Top 20 company for flex work environment by FlexJobs
  • 50% of Dell’s UK workforce is remote thanks to our Connected Workplace Programme contributing to our ranking on LinkedIn’s 2018 “Top Companies” list.
  • Flexibility is one of the top 3 culture attributes

Our ERG’s (Employee Resource Groups):

Dell Employee Resource Groups are communities within the organization where team members with common interests or backgrounds bring their collective voices together to drive business impact. With 13 ERG’s and 34,000+ participating team members Dell strives to support team member success and diversity of thought.

Black Networking Alliance - Dell Technologies

Its goals are to help black professionals establish working relationships and business networks with peers and mentors within the Dell Technologies group.

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Conexus is Dell's ERG that champions a flexible work community by creating a collaborative work environment which enables team members to be their best and do their best work regardless of the where and when.

Family Balance - Dell Technologies

The mission of Family Balance is to support team members with the competing demands of their home and work lives, while assisting with career development in Dell Technologies.

GenNext - Dell Technologies

The Gen Next ERG provides an established network for new hires and young professionals which fosters Dell’s growth and innovation through engagement, professional development and community involvement. Gen Next creates an environment that empowers our newest talent.

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Our mission is to drive awareness, promote understanding, and foster camaraderie within our workplace and communities. We find strength in our differences, and we are better together.

Mosaic - Dell Technologies

An ERG to promote and highlight the importance of cultural diversity in the workplace.

Planet - Dell Technologies

With a focus on the environment, the Planet ERG undertakes numerous sustainability initiatives. Planet brings together more than 10,000 Dell team members in 62 chapters across various global Dell locations.

Pride - Dell Technologies

Pride envisions a world where lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people are ensured equality and embraced as full members of the family at home, work, and in every community.

True Ability - Dell Technologies

The mission of True Ability ERG is to educate, drive awareness and serve as a resource for our team members impacted by disabilities and/or special needs.

Women in Action - Dell Technologies

WIA is all about helping women achieve their full potential by providing access to professional development opportunities, networking opportunities and by supporting Dell to attract a diverse workforce.

Hear from Senior Enterprise Sales Manager, Corinna, on why she has chosen Dell Technologies and what working life looks like for her…

Connect with Dell Technologies:

We are dedicated to the safety of our team members, customers and candidates. Due to the current global situation, you may experience a slower response time or fluctuation in our job opportunities as we adjust to the dynamic circumstances. We appreciate your patience and encourage you to Join our Talent Network for the latest Dell Technologies career opportunities or connect with us on LinkedIn, below:

Chris HaywardChris Hayward – Consultant – Talent Acquisition

LI – https://www.linkedin.com/in/chhayward/
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Lucy KetleyLucy Ketley – Senior Advisor – Talent Acquisition

LI – https://www.linkedin.com/in/lucyketley/
Twitter – @KetleyLucy

To find out more, visit the Dell Technologies Careers Page


Sharmadean Reid

Inspirational Woman: Sharmadean Reid MBE | Founder, WAH Nails & Beautystack

Sharmadean Reid

Sharmadean Reid is the founder of globally renowned brand WAH Nails and breakthrough beauty booking startup Beautystack.

Entrepreneurial from the start, Reid first launched WAH (We Ain’t Hoes) as a fanzine about girls in hip-hop while she was still at university. Reid later worked as a stylist and opened the WAH Nails salon in London as a place for the WAH community to gather.

Over the next decade, Reid expanded WAH Nails into a product line, with nail polishes and nail art tools stocked in Topshop and Boots. They created pop up nail bars for brands such as Marc Jacobs and Nike and celebrity fans including tennis champion Serena Williams and film star Margot Robbie.

Keen to empower other women through knowledge, Reid also is an advisor to charity Art Against Knives (to train women from disadvantaged backgrounds to be professional nail artists) and published her own nail tutorial books (with some 70,000 copies sold). In 2016 the entrepreneur cofounded Future Girl Corp, an online platform with advice, events, and information for future female CEOs and published an online course.

Today, Reid is bringing beauty booking software into the social media age with Beautystack, an image-led network for beauty professionals. Founded in 2017, this has raised $6.1 million to date and closed its latest £4 million round from Index Ventures this spring.

A recipient of numerous awards, Reid was presented with an MBE in 2015.

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

I come from Wolverhampton but moved to London in 2003 when I was 19 to do a degree in Fashion Communication at Central Saint Martins.

The best way to learn is through real projects, so I started making a  fanzine to learn how to use software like Adobe InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator.

WAH helped me communicate what I was feeling at the time: that hip-hop music was becoming a big deal and that the women within it were being marginalised. I didn't really know what feminism was at the time, I just knew that it felt weird and I wanted to change that.

After I graduated, I was travelling around for styling and decided to open a nail salon because getting your nails done was very much part of hip hop culture and I thought it would be an amazing physical space for all the girls who read the magazine.

It was through this I realised the services in the beauty industry were so old school. I felt compelled to solve those problems with Beautystack. Before we raised earlier this year, we had a very basic MVP. Our goal this year is to finish our development.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I never had a grand master plan. Although, before Beautystack, I did a lot of thinking.

Putting the plan together requires you to step away from your day-to-day stuff, and I don't think I would have had that clarity if I hadn’t spent 18 months back in Wolverhampton.

As a founder, it’s critical to work through what you're passionate about—to ask yourself what do you know, what you can win in, and where you can build a business model.

I knew I loved beauty services, being in that environment where you're with (usually) another woman, for at least an hour, that’s a rare 1:1 customer interaction. I knew I loved building technology—I’d already built a VR app for nails and a chatbot for our booking systems. So I decided to do services and technology and a business model that allows women to be economically empowered.

Going back home gave me the freedom to go deep. I did a lot of writing about my thesis for the future of work and the future of beauty services. That cemented my thoughts and meant the business has a theoretical unpinning to it, it wasn't just an idea that sounded cool.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

Definitely the biggest challenge I’ve had has been finding and hiring the right team.

If I  don’t understand how to build a strong team, I can't build a business. It's really easy to be a CEO who doesn’t delegate, but the reality is you can’t build a long-lasting business alone.

Today I read a lot of books and ask people for their advice. I surround myself with people who've done it before and get their perspective. If I'm not good at something I try and find all the experts who are good at it and learn how they did it, and what will work for me.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

The thing that's made me proudest has been working with Art Against Knives to help bring women from disadvantaged backgrounds together to run a nail bar. The charity has trained over 500 young women with my books and my nail products.

People shouldn't think of charity as a tag-on to their business activities, they should think about how their business could do good for everybody. It’s good business sense.

What Art Against Knives are doing means everybody wins: the girls get training, they’re working towards economic empowerment, from a community point of view they're not in crime and I have a future pipeline of supply for the Beautystack app.

Where does Future Girl Corp fit in?

If I'm learning, I always feel compelled to share it. With Future Girl Corp, I was inspired by the Harvard i-lab and wanted to build something like that for me and my friends.

The whole point is to essentially help women 10x their businesses: if you have a passion for flowers, rather than just have one flower shop on the corner, could you run a flower marketplace?

There’s a need for places like us that are non-BS. I won't ever get someone on a panel and say, ‘Tell me your inspirational story’. You can Google that.

I will say, ‘You’re a food business and you had a partnership with Waitrose, how did you do that?’ It’s about providing step-by-step actionable advice on how people actually achieve things.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?  

I’ve learned that I am incredibly resilient. If something’s hard, I’ll wake up the next day, and think today is a new day. If there are bumps in the road , it doesn't stop me, I'm just like, 'Oh well, I’ll figure this out.'

I don't know where it comes from, I don't even know if you can train it. Sometimes on the rare occasion I feel things are never going to get better, I almost feel it's a chemical imbalance, like it’s not natural to me

I’ve just got this strong instinct to survive. No matter what, I'm always going to figure out how to survive.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology? 

People assume that to be in technology, you have to have a tech background when actually that’s the biggest problem. Technology is for everybody, we're all consuming it, so why shouldn't we all be building it?

More people who study humanities, who study philosophy, and art and design should be involved in tech because it has the same type of feedback loop and criticism process.

We need different voices, especially female voices.

So be curious. I went to every single workshop that was related to what I was interested in.
If you want to work in tech and you're interested in it, you should find faults in things that satisfy your interests.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

There are so many different barriers to success, not just for women.

If you're introverted, you're less likely to like climb to the top of the ladder than someone who's brash and wants to be powerful, but introverts are just as important to your business environment as anyone else.

We have to think about creating work environments that welcome people who don't fit the stereotype mould of an ambitious, young man.

At Beautystack we do lots of personality testing to make sure that no one personality type is dominant, otherwise you become an echo chamber. But unless you're going to start your own business, it’s up to leadership teams to make this change. All parties have to come together to acknowledge the old way hasn't been working and create a new future.

What do you think companies can do to support to progress the careers of women working in technology?

I would like to see companies having better transparency on how you can progress in your career.

At Beautystack we do continuous feedback loops, not just an annual performance review or a six-month performance review. We talk a lot, but we also listen. When we do our Org Chart, we also write under someone’s role their future scope.

You have to make sure you’re building a good working environment for all types of people and what they need, whether that’s better parental leave, flexible working or anything else.

There is currently on 15% of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry? 

Make government subsidised childcare available full-time from age one.

Right now, you get a couple of days a week from age three. That means that until children go to school age five, the caregiving of the child is always an issue that sadly often falls  on the woman to take care of.

How can women possibly go and work in a startup environment, which is typically long hours with a frantic pace, knowing that? Instead, they’re forced to have this five-year gap where they get out of the loop.

I’m a parent who’s coparented 50-50 since my son was one. But even then I never really stopped having anxiety about childcare until our son started full-time school. That means for five years, my head wasn't able to fully focus because I was always thinking about childcare.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech, eg Podcasts, networking events, books, conferences, websites etc? 

You should look at Future Girl Corp obviously. I would also recommend that anyone building a business in tech read The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. Even if you're not in tech, it will help you understand how to iterate, how to build things with speed and how to test.

I actually have a whole list of book recommendations on my website so you can see everything there!


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.


Advice-for-getting-into-tech-featured

The common misconceptions of women in tech and how to overcome these

 

Advice for getting into tech

“Women lack the education for a career in tech.”

Girls receive the same level of education in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) as boys, at least until the age of 16, so I don’t agree that there is a lack of education, but more a lack of interest - something, I feel, that comes as a result of the fact that in the past, young girls have not always been encouraged to pursue careers in STEM. As a result, we now have a generation of women with little/no interest in these type of careers, however, times are changing and we are starting to see that the next generation of women are beginning to receive that support. Hopefully, this will mean that we will start seeing more women enter tech careers over the next couple of years.

“You have to code to work in tech.”

Often people are under the impression that to work in tech, you have to be a developer or engineer or something quite technical like that, but in reality this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Nowadays, “working in tech” can mean anything! For example, my role at CoinCorner is head of marketing - I don’t code or do anything even a little bit “techy” - so while coding roles are certainly a big part of technology, they are only one avenue. From marketing to customer support to compliance, tech is much more than just coding!

“Techies are nerds that work in cubicles and never see the light of day.”

Do cubicles still exist? Certainly not at CoinCorner, that’s for sure! Our office has an open-plan layout with panoramic windows; our teams (including management) sit at work benches together and are able to speak to each other at any time. We’ve found this to be extremely successful in promoting an open and transparent culture, helping to break down the walls (literally) that can often prevent effective communication between team members.

“Girls don’t like/care about technology.”

Wait, what? Who doesn't like technology? Technology has given us amazing opportunities to connect and make our lives easier - smartphones, social media and cryptocurrency, to name a few! I feel it’s important to note that technology isn’t the far-removed concept that it perhaps was in the past. Technology is all around us (and has been for many years!) and is something that most people interact with in some way on a daily basis. The assumption that girls in particular don’t like/care about technology is simply inaccurate as most of today’s young women have grown up with technology as much as their male peers. It’s also the same for older women too - over the past few years there has been a huge uptake in older women using social media and technological devices.

In addition, there are now a lot of resources available for women with an interest in not only using technology but learning about the background of it too. For example, there are many STEM organisations specifically for girls/women - Code First: Girls, STEMettes - which are proving popular. This proves that girls are interest and do care about technology!

“Gender stereotypes”

There’s a stereotype that “boys are better at science and maths than girls” and it’s introduced to children at a young age. This can easily discourage girls from studying STEM subjects, affecting their confidence to even have a go at any of these types of subjects.

Education sets the tone for many people’s career choices and it’s important to look at how schools are shaping curriculum. With more encouragement at school, I might have pursued STEM related subjects, however, I wasn’t given the right support at the time and felt I should pursue more humanities-based subjects instead. Although this hasn’t affected my ability to get into a career that I love (marketing), it did limit my choices somewhat at an important stage in my young life.

Furthermore, there is actually very little difference in the average ability of boys and girls when it comes to STEM subjects - meaning that there’s no reason girls shouldn’t be encouraged to pursue courses in these areas. In order to attract more girls to study STEM subjects at university and pursue STEM careers, we should tackle these stereotypes earlier at primary and high school levels.

About the author

Molly Spiers is head of marketing at CoinCorner - one of the UK's leading cryptocurrency exchanges. Considered (almost) a veteran in the crypto industry, Molly joined CoinCorner back in 2015 (before crypto was “cool”) and has helped grow the company from start-up to success. Molly was recently named as one of the "Women To Watch: Top UK Women in Blockchain 2019".

In her spare time, Molly enjoys going to the gym, playing netball and spending time with her husband, Mike, and son, Charlie.


EdTech

EdTech and empowering the future of learning

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the author:

Sarah Davis FCIOB MCIoD, CEO, Skills4Stem Ltd sarah davis

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

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

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

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

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


FemTech Forum

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

FEMTECH FORUM

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

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

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

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

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

FemTech Forum - All speakers

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

This competition is now closed.

 

 

 

 


Charlotte Knill

Why study digital forensics?

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, if you like the idea of:

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

You really should consider digital forensics!

TIP:

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

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

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

About Charlotte Knill

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

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

Social Media Links:

LinkedIn

Twitter


Science

The truth about women in science and engineering

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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