Rachel-Taylor-featured

Inspirational Woman: Rachel Taylor | Technology Partner, Deloitte

 

Rachel Taylor - Brand Photo

I’m a beekeeping, vegan, teetotal, computer-game playing, scuba-diving, book-reading film-lover and I’m a self-confessed hippy at heart too.

I believe strongly in each of us taking personal responsibility in looking after our planet and those who live here. I’m a terrible singer but that doesn’t dampen my enthusiasm or my volume. I’ve got a weakness for crisps and I’m a huge fan of rainy days curled up with a great boxset.

I’m also a Technology Partner at Deloitte within the Tax service line; I work with clients all over the world, helping them make sense of the sometimes confusing world of technology and automation. I love to solve problems and share insights that I’ve gathered along the way.

I moved down to London after university without any real plan of what to do (other than knowing that I definitely did not want to be a barrister, which had been my intention at the end of my law degree). I took a series of admin temping jobs for a year, before accidentally falling into joining the Tax service line at Deloitte & Touche (as it was then); I met a recruitment consulting at a late-night party and, after talking with me, suggested that I think about a career in Tax – I shook off the feeling that this was the equivalent of a personality slap in the face and took up the suggestion.

Since then, I had in-house roles at HSBC, Channel 4 Television and Barclays, before rejoining Deloitte in 2006 as a Senior Manager, working 3 days a week. It was there that I truly found my groove in carving out a role to deliver all the tax aspects of Finance Transformation, with the current focus on Operational Transfer Pricing. Through that work, I progressed up through Partner in 2011 and have been enjoying myself doing that ever since.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No – most of the major events in my career were actually unforeseen, whether they were an unexpected opportunities or a crisis. There have been times where I have set a goal and targeted a particular career progression, but the real accelerators have come from spotting a gap or an opening and throwing myself into making something differential happen.

The two main things I would advocate for making sure as many of those opportunities arise as possible are 1) make yourself enjoyable to be around – people are more likely to give a hand up to those who they like; and 2) keep your mindset enthusiastic and positive – being open to the joy in life and the possibilities of events will help you spot the potential.

Looking back over my career so far, it has taught me never to worry too much about the future – focus on the here and now, do the best job that you possibly can with as much gusto as possible and chances will come to you along the way.  When they do, grab them and don’t let go.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Many – but that can be a good thing.  I firmly believe that challenges are what build our stamina and keep life interesting.  It is my experience that the greatest learning comes from the times that feel hardest in the moment and that nothing beats the feeling of overcoming a difficulty that once felt insurmountable.

There have been times however when those challenges have tipped over into negativity – I have faced situations at different times in my career where I have had to deal with such things as discrimination, being subjected to bullying and subsequently suffering from feelings of depression and hopelessness.  Going through each of those has taught me highly valuable lessons and given me the ability to genuinely empathise with others in similar situations; however, I now do everything within my ability to try and make sure that others do not have to be subjected to the same behaviours.

I was also out of work for over four years and had to re-enter the workplace with two young daughters who were aged two and four at the time. I’ve had to manage much of my later career whilst being a single parent. For one 6 month period, I was travelling from London to Manchester several times a week to help nurse my family nurse my father at home through his terminal illness – sleeping on the floor of his room overnight and then catching the 7am train down to London to carry on the day job. During that time, I remember telling someone that I couldn’t make a meeting before 9:30 and receiving a sarcastic comment back about that being “practically the afternoon”. That taught me that you really don’t know what someone’s personal life looks like, so never judge.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Without a doubt, my biggest achievement is raising two daughters who have embraced STEM subjects without any sense of that being a male domain.  Sasha, who is 17, is taking Maths, Physics and Film Studies at A-level and has accepted an offer to study Robotics at the University of the West of England, which has the largest robotics lab in the UK; Cassia, 15, is taking the full range of sciences, maths and Computer Science at GCSE and has selected Maths, Biology, Chemistry and Psychology for her A-levels next year.

Seeing their connection with their chosen subjects is hugely encouraging to me that there is no reason why we shouldn’t have more women embracing technology and the wider STEM subjects. It’s a personal passion of mine and I carry that through to the workplace, making sure that each of my own projects always creates opportunities for women and that I have a strong gender balance on my teams.

In my group at Deloitte, Tax Management Consulting, we are also running a Women in Technology agenda – making sure that the roles we advertise are female-positive, bringing a strong gender balance into the group and through the promotion stages, providing training opportunities to women and creating a positive environment for all forms of diversity across the group.

It’s critical to me that I’m the same person at work as I am at home and that means promoting the same equality in my teams as I do within my home.

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

I don’t have a doubt in my mind that the biggest factor in me achieving any successes that I have is the mindset that my father instilled in me that I could do anything if I wanted it enough.  He had two daughters and he never set limitations on he believed we could achieve or what we should get involved with – either in relation to our gender or due to other people’s expectations.

He led by example and taught us to disregard any negativity that we encountered in relation to our ambitions or goals; he taught us the joys of ‘treading the path lesser trod’ and his favourite mantra was “give a man [or daughter!] a fish and he eats today; teach a man how to fish and he eats every day”. I can’t count the number of times that a request for him to do something for me was countered with “no, but I’ll show you how you can do it” – infuriating at the time but hugely valuable in engendering independence and self-belief.

He was an enthusiastic, kind and unique man. It was only in my twenties that I started to realise the power of the gift of self-belief that he’d given me. My only hope is that I can successfully pass it on to my own two daughters and those around me.

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

I love mentoring when there is a good working connection between the mentor and the mentee. I’ve had one mentor where we just didn’t get each other and it was largely unproductive and we almost certainly just wasted each other’s time.

However, apart from that experience, I have both mentored and been a mentee on multiple occasions and actively look for opportunities to do more of both.

A willingness to share and learn on both sides can give a special relationship and really open up different mindsets and pathways; often not the initial ones that either side had in mind, but usually fruitful.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?

We need a mandate to actively promote a meaningful number of women into positions where they can effect lasting change with a more gender-balanced environment around them. Token placements of a woman here or there often fail, not because the woman is unable to run the role or the team, but because she simply doesn’t have the support network around her that men in the same position do.

Without women in numbers at more senior levels, we are requiring women to do what we are not expecting men to do – i.e. thrive in an environment where they are the exception, the only person of their gender at the table, with a pre-established male network around them.

All too often, tokenism replaces a real agenda for change – I would like to see a mandatory gender balance at senior levels throughout our working world. There is an argument that this is too aggressive a move and there aren’t the women ready to fill those roles. My view is that we react successfully to times of rapid change in a thousand other ways – whether those are economic, regulatory or technological - so the argument that change in this situation needs to be gradual is more about protecting the status quo by those who have created it.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Don’t waste time borrowing trouble from the future or the past.

I have spent far too much time (and still fall back into this pattern now too) spending hours playing through scenarios in my head, usually with a negative slant to them.  I used to think that it was productive and that I was preparing myself better for future events; however, now I realise that the vast majority of it never actually happened in practice and I was just increasing my own stress levels.

Bringing myself back to the present and doing the best possible job in the here and now is infinitely more productive.  Meditation is extremely helpful for this; a friend was kind enough to introduce me to an excellent meditation teacher. I have since also done a retreat to learn stronger techniques and am starting a year’s Veda course in April this year. There used to be a stigma in talking about spiritual or personal resilience matters; that has gone away to some extent, but sadly I know that it has not yet left us completely.

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

My next challenge is to make 2019 my year of giving back. That was my New Year’s Resolution for 2018 but I ended up having to focus on dealing instead with a period of depression and a low personal ebb.  Having come through that period, with the support of my partner, a therapist and my family and friends, I feel ready to take my resolution back up this year.

I’m making the promotion of opportunities for women one of my key focusses – as part of that, I’m throwing myself into Deloitte’s Women in Technology programme, bringing that to my group and also participating in wider events such as International Women’s Day sessions. I’m also planning on speaking at my daughter’s school (although she doesn’t know that yet – surprise, Cassia!). I also want to embed those philosophies into daily life too, so that it’s not all about the big events but taking the time to check in with those around me and making sure that they know there’s a listening ear ready if they need it.

I haven’t worked out yet what all the details look like, so any suggestions welcome!


Beyond the status quo | Sharon Baker

woman going through a career change
Image provided by Shutterstock

We recently heard that the FT1000 - Europe's fastest growing companies 2019 -  ranked us the UK's fastest growing social ad company, which, of course, had us all celebrating like mad!

When we came back down to earth we agreed it was time to define how we can continue this amazing growth streak. We actually asked ourselves the question, can we continue or have we now plateaued?

I felt it would be good to share how we came to the conclusion that our belief about growth can either help us thrive or hold us back.

If we believe continually growing is an ongoing struggle then we probably won’t make the FT1000 next year. If, on the other hand, we see growth as the status quo, then we are most likely to continue our upward trajectory.

Let me explain.

One of the most insidious mindsets any work environment can suffer from is ‘business as usual’. Yet it is generally accepted that after a period of intense innovation or change, an organisation should then settle back into BAU.

If, instead, we adopt the approach of continually defining and re-defining challenges, I believe we can more readily identify problems as well as potential opportunities before we need to address them. In other words we aim to continually stay several steps ahead, and this requires a consistently creative approach to everything we do.

However, to be of real value, creativity must always lead to innovation. Our goal is always to link a great idea to an actual client need, or better still to the needs of an entire market.

As it turns out, focusing on incremental enhancements is an energetic and exciting process. We want to push beyond being relevant to our clients and prospective clients, we want to re-frame how we approach each new project we work on.

Once we have agreed to switch our mindset to continual growth and expansion, we set about refining how we manage to keep working in innovation mode, without burning out!

Here are four key approaches we adopt:

Each new idea we have, such as our AI-driven audience builder, The Atom, is continually tweaked and improved on. We believe in making incremental changes which we test and then run with. Innovation does not always mean ‘the next big thing’. Iterative changes over a period of time can take you much further.

Ensuring that we have a pipeline of new ideas means regularly brainstorming, often away from the office, to keep our team’s creativity heightened. Innovation is part of our DNA and we actively encourage everyone to share new ideas no matter how far-fetched they might seem at first. Our motto is to listen to everyone without judgement to ensure our work environment is supportive and results in mutual growth.

Breaking down each new idea and stress testing it often gives rise to entirely new concepts. Knowing which ones are likely to be of value and which ones we need to cut loose needs to be a rapid and painless decision. Once again this takes away some of the pressure of having an innovative idea but being tentative about putting it forward lest it not be ‘worthy’. Our mindset is one of continual growth and we all recognise that we need to sift through numerous innovative suggestions before identifying the next game-changer.

Creativity is closely aligned with innovation and there is always a risk that creativity can dry up under pressure. As a consequence we aim to maintain a healthy balance between work and down-time to keep everyone’s energy high. The more flexible we are as a team the more likely we are to deliver outstanding solutions. It is a fine balancing act and we always aim to bring everyone in on the journey as we expand.

Ultimately growth has been framed as a complex and often obscure exercise. It is frequently seen as dependent on the economy which, as we all know, is rather shaky. Yet if we take our own expansion to heart and if we continually strive to improve what we offer, there may be the occasional rocky time, but by keeping a steady course on continually shifting forwards and offering increasingly relevant services and products, we aim to keep moving in the right direction.

Sharon BakerAbout the author

Sharon has over 20 years experience in digital and social media marketing. Starting her career in telecommunications, Sharon moved to DoubleClick and then the BBC where she oversaw change management projects to advance the uptake of new technologies.

In 2007 she co-founded agency:2, Europe's first social media agency, which rapidly grew to become an award-winning business with a wide range of leading global clients including Mattel, Microsoft, Sony, Turner and Hillarys.

She is also the co-founder and COO of Mighty Social, ranked by the FT as UK's fastest growing social ad company (FT1000 - Europe's fastest growing companies 2019). Mighty Social is a disruptor within the digital ad world, segmenting audiences in real time with dynamic creative to maximise response rates, using Mighty Social’s patent pending technology, the ATOM.


TechWomen50: What happened next for Shwetal Shah

 

Shwetal Shah

Shwetal was named a UN Empower Women “Champion for Change” and is on the  Forbes 30 Under 30 by Forbes Asia 2018 list, she works as an international technology partnerships planner at Mediacom’s Blink and makes award winning documentaries in her spare time.

How did you feel when it was announced that you’d won a TechWomen50 award?

It felt great to be recognised for the STEM outreach work I was specifically working on and be part of a platform that celebrates different role models

Please tell us what has happened in your career since winning the TechWomen50 award?

I have won a few awards after that, I was on the Financial Times Top BME people in Tech in the UK, I was also endorsed by Tech Nation for the Exceptional Talent Visa in the field of digital tech, it increased my network of women in tech which I would not have come across if it wasn’t for this award

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

I would advise them to focus on the impact they were able to make with the technical projects they were involved with and how they brought their diversity into the organization

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

Besides constantly upskilling, it is equally important to create a network around you that will open up doors for you, living in London we have access to some great minds, but I would make use of social media to also reach out to people whose work you admire or want to learn more from and learn what is going on in other industries and parts of the world to get creative ideas.


Have you nominated an amazing woman for our 2019 Rising Star Awards? Nominations close on 22 March 2019.

Now in their fifth year, the Rising Star Awards are the first to focus on the achievements of women below Senior Management or Director level – representing the female talent pipeline and the next generation of future leaders.

The awards also recognise the efforts of senior leaders who are championing gender equality, as well as putting the spotlight on a “company of the year” that is actively supporting its female talent pipeline above and beyond industry norms.


Nigel Frank

Calling all women in tech: Nigel Frank want to hear from you

 

Nigel Frank International - Azure Salary Survey

Nigel Frank, the global leaders in Microsoft Azure recruitment, would like to invite female tech professionals to participate in their first ever Microsoft Azure Salary Survey.

Nigel Frank are aiming to gather the opinions from as many respondents as possible about a number of factors including:

  • What should Microsoft Azure professionals expect to earn?
  • What's new in Azure for 2019?
  • How do you and your peers feel about the industry, certifications, diversity, and earning potential?

In order to get a true reflection of the Azure ecosystem, as well as the tech sector as a whole, Nigel Frank are calling for as many female tech professionals as possible to get involved.

The survey should take around 10 minutes to complete and once you’ve completed the survey you’ll be entered into a prize draw for a chance to WIN a $500 Visa Gift Card!*

You’ll also receive an exclusive copy of the Microsoft Azure Salary Survey report via email prior to its general release, if you've requested it.

CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE SURVEY

*Terms and Conditions apply – for more information visit NigelFrank.com.


23-Code-Street-featured

Why it's finally time to learn to code

 

23 Code Street

When thinking about what new skill to learn or a career change, have you ever thought about coding?

Every day we all visit websites and use different apps - these are all built by using code. Essentially, code is a set of rules and instructions that we give a computer which bridges the gap between human language and computer language.

Everyone can learn to code - you really don’t need to be a math genius or a ‘bro’ wearing a hoodie. These are just outdated stereotypes, in fact, women were actually the original pioneers of tech.

All you need is a motivation to learn and time to practice. You’ll be able to use skills you’ve developed in previous jobs and other experiences to help you- like problem-solving, basic math, an eye for detail, and the ability to Google!

For the past two and a half years, 23 Code Street has been teaching women how to code. For every paying student, they teach digital skills to a disadvantaged woman in India. They run part-time web development courses for beginners which include an internship so students can get hands-on work experience. Below they’ve rounded up their top reasons to start coding:

Learn an in-demand skill

Due to the digital skills gap, employers are constantly looking to hire people with a technical understanding. As our world becomes more and more digital, the number of technical jobs needing to be filled is increasing. This report found that there are over seven million jobs which require coding skills, and programming jobs, overall, are growing 12 per cent faster than the market average.

23 Code Street graduates have gone on to work as developers, been promoted as a result of their new tech skills and even become coding teachers. Natalja, a freelance graphic designer, completed their course last year and now works as a teaching assistant for the school.

Say goodbye to the 9-5

Coding can be part of a great flexible career and help you be in control of your own work/life balance. Many coding jobs can be done remotely at hours that suit you. You can work for a company, be a freelancer, or use coding as a way to up-skill in your current profession. Kelly is a mum of two boys and wanted to learn to code to be able to work alongside tech teams with confidence and work flexibly around her children- you can read her blog here.

Enjoy a rewarding career

At first, learning to code may seem daunting, a bit like learning a new language, but you’ll soon start to realise how it all pieces together and that is a hugely rewarding feeling.

You can’t help but feel proud after you’ve built your first proper web page- something you’ve written, now lives online! The tweet below was from Iqra who received a scholarship as part of 23 Code Street x Amaliah’s  to learn to code scholarship.

23 Code Street

Feel empowered and empower other women

Tech is seriously lacking women. Globally 88 per cent of developers are men; this is having a huge impact on innovation and the products and services being released- for example, Apple released a health app without a period tracker on.  By learning to code, you ’ll be helping create a more gender-balanced tech industry,  smashing gender stereotypes and inspiring next generation of girls to work in tech.

Interested in learning to code? Find out more about 23 Code’s Street next Web Development Foundation starting on the 14th March here.


Women in Tech

Raising the 15 per cent | Encouraging women into tech

women in tech
L-R: Estee Woods, Liz Cook, Lucie Hyve, Crendal Kear, Liz Matthews, Sophia Zheng

International Women’s Day is something that WeAreThe City fully supports.

This year’s theme is #BalanceforBetter, promoting the fact that a balanced world is a better world. However, not all industries are good advocates for gender balance in the workplace. The STEM industry is an example of this – it’s often seen as a being very male-dominated, which can actually discourage women from applying to jobs. In fact, women make up 50 per cent of the UK workforce, but less than 15 per cent in STEM jobs.

With this in mind, WeAreTheCity spoke with eight IT professionals – all of whom are women – to get their thoughts on why gender balance and diversity in the workplace is important, and their advice for other women as to how they can get into the tech industry too.

Breaking through gender barriers in the workplace

One of the biggest hurdles the STEM industry faces is the stereotype that already surrounds it when it comes to gender. As Estee Woods, Director of Public Sector & Public Safety Marketing at Cradlepoint points out, “as a sector devoted to innovation and connectivity, the technology industry is uniquely positioned to help close the gender gap in the workplace. Yet, as recently as 2016, 43 per cent of the 150 highest-earning public companies in Silicon Valley had no female executive officers at all.”

It’s a shame that this has become the norm for STEM, and as Lucie Sadler, Content Manager at Hyve Managed Hosting comments, these “age-old stereotypes about the industry do not reflect the fast-paced, progressive nature of technology, and this needs to change.”

“This year’s theme of #BalanceforBetter reinforces the need for diversity in our industry,” Sadler continues. “IT companies must strive to be fully inclusive, and this change must come from within. Diverse teams work better, bring different perspectives to the table and make employees challenge their own thinking. And that’s a really good thing.”

This notion of diversity is something that Liz Matthews, Head of Community and Education at Mango Solutions agrees with. “Companies are investing in data-driven digital transformation more than ever before and the diversity of roles available in advanced analytics and data science is certainly increasing,” Matthews says.

With this in mind, Liz Cook, People Director at Six Degrees’ advice for the industry, is to make sure that organisations have a “balanced, inclusive workplace that celebrates and enables everyone’s brilliance.” Cook also goes on to mention that it’s important for businesses to “challenge outdated stereotypes and engage people in promoting gender-balance and driving a better working world.”

Encouraging the next generation towards STEM careers 

“I think there are two main reasons women aren’t working in technology – a lack of role models, and the perceived culture in IT,” believes Kate Gawron, Senior Database Consultant at Node4. “Young kids learn their entire world from what they see, ‘girls like pink and unicorns, boys like blue and cars’,” Gawron continues. “By the time girls come to do their GCSEs and commit to a career path it’s too late, they’ve already been convinced that IT isn’t for them.”

Gawron has really hit the nail on the head when it comes to addressing the association of STEM with men. ”I’d never planned to become a Database Administrator,” she shares, “but it turns out I’m more than suited to the job. I believe it’s important to have the confidence in yourself to stick to what is important to you, and more often than not another amazing opportunity will open up.”

This is a subject that Jeannie Barry, Director of Technology Enablement at ConnectWise is also passionate about. “Young girls today need people surrounding them who can help to boost their confidence and inspire them to dream big and follow through on those dreams,” Barry says. “With social media all around us, girls are comparing themselves to other girls, causing a lot of self-doubt and lowering self-worth. We need to make sure we’re constantly providing opportunities to grow their confidence and ensure they are focused on their own journey and not trying to be like someone else.”

Encouraging the next generation into choosing STEM as a career path is something that almost everyone agrees as being the first step in solving this imbalance of gender in the industry. “Tech is very male dominated, which can be overwhelming for women considering careers in the sector,” points out Crendal Kear, VP Sales Operations at Exabeam. “People want to work with others that relate to their experiences and the challenges that they face.”

“At a young age, girls need to see that there are more and more women with successful careers, who balance careers and families,” she continues. “As a society, we must encourage and empower girls to say yes to an opportunity and embrace it.”

Finally, Sophia Zheng, Product Manager at Bitglass shares her experience from school, and the fact that she believes the root of the gender gap in the technology industry to have stemmed from there. “I remember being chosen for a gifted and talented ‘Maths Enrichment’ class, and at one point, I was the only girl,” she says. “At ten years old, I didn’t want to be the only girl in the class and, because of that, I didn’t really want to be there at all. I wasn’t the only girl because the school was trying to push out girls, it was simply about how well you performed in maths class and on standardised testing, and I guess not a lot of girls qualified.”

“I think that if the class had been open to everyone who was interested it would have fostered more growth for a wider range of students,” Zheng concludes. “I think that having the option is better than not having one at all. It could have a long-term impact on seeing more girls interested in STEM subjects from a younger age.”

There’s certainly a long way to go until the gender equality in the STEM industry is balanced, but the awareness that International Women’s Day brings can go a long way towards tackling it. It’s important that businesses are aware of the diversity, and that they do all they can to ensure a balanced working environment.


Female Engineer

Beating the bias: unpacking the new female industrialists

female engineer in ship yard, engineering
Image provided by Shutterstock

To celebrate women in business, leading packaging supplier Rajapack have looked at gender diversity in the workplace.

Speaking to female industry experts from sectors that have been traditionally male-dominated, such as construction, manufacturing, logistics, supply chain, packaging and engineering, it’s clear that parity benefits everyone, on both an individual and corporate level.

Gender diverse companies perform 15 per cent better, so Rajapack looked at how female representation in traditionally male-dominated sectors is progressing.

Wanting to get first-hand insight into what it’s like to work in these fields, they spoke to a range of women who are leaders in their industry:


Construction & Manufacturing

Perhaps traditionally seen as the industries most unsuited to women, construction and manufacturing conjure up images of noisy building sites and factories, with lots of heavy lifting and heavy machinery. There are stories of the only women on a construction site being given a pink hard hat to wear. 51 per cent of women working in the construction industry said they were treated worse because of their gender. But the construction industry is changing for the better, according to the women who work in it.

Emma Porter – Head of Operations, Story Contracting

As Emma’s father owned his own building company, she was exposed to the industry from a young age. Despite this, and having worked in the industry for over ten years at the likes of Arup and Story, she reveals that she has had to prove her competency with every new team, stating that you will be talked over, patronised, and ignored sometimes: “I have felt like I’ve had to prove myself more and occasionally need to push a little harder to be heard”. However, she often brings a different perspective to the team, which is a huge advantage: “It’s easier to stand out if you’re different from the norm; clients, prospective employers and other stakeholders are likely to remember you.”


Packaging, Logistics & Supply chain

Packaging, Logistics and Supply Chain are all industries that have been traditionally male-dominated. However, there are female trailblazers. Rajapack, a French privately-owned company operating throughout Europe, was founded in 1954 by two women, Rachel Marcovici and Janine Rocher. Today, the company is run by Rachel’s daughter, Danièle. There is also Women in Packaging, a group dedicated to recognising and supporting female employees within the packaging industry.

Clair Ball – Head of Customer Services, Rajapack

With over a decade’s worth of experience in packaging, Clair believes that the sector has been a male dominated field due to the industrial nature of the business. However, since starting at Rajapack 14 years ago, she has seen more positions filled by women. “I have noticed a change in the industry towards being more customer focused, whilst also offering flexible hours and equal pay to benefit working parents”


Engineering

Engineering covers a vast spectrum of occupations, yet the amount of young women studying in this field has remained virtually unchanged since 2012. 25 years ago only about 20 per cent of A-level physics students were female, and this number has not changed today.

Helen Wollaston – CEO, WISE

WISE is a campaign aimed at getting more women into the science, technology, and engineering workforce in the UK. Providing expert advice, WISE advises educational institutions and employers on how they can attract, retain and improve opportunities for girls and women in these subjects and industries. “Engineering has a male image, more so in the UK than other parts of the world. It has become something of a vicious circle – girls don’t see any female role models working in these industries, so they assume it is not for them.” Helen believes that we must challenge out-dated perceptions about the industry and so called “women’s jobs” and “men’s jobs”.

To view what other women have to say in order to obtain a more equal professional sectors head here.


Could you be a Sky Women in Tech Scholar?

 

Sky Women in Tech scholar

Sky is looking for five inspirational women to become their 2019 Sky Women in Technology Scholars.

Following the extraordinary success of the first Women in Tech Scholars programme, Sky is expanding the scheme for its second cycle. This year, five outstanding women with passion in Science, Technology and Engineering and a drive to make a difference will be selected as Sky Scholars.

In addition to winning a £25,000 bursary, the Women in Tech Scholars will be paired with an expert mentor in their chosen field. Over the course of the one-year scheme, their mentor will be on hand to provide technical support as well as access to a network of business contacts to develop and nurture the talented entrepreneurs.

The programme has already achieved remarkable success with the current scholars already recognised for their work across the globe. In the last twelve months our female entrepreneurs have gone onto work with companies like Rolls Royce and Airbnb, and one scholar, Kike Oniwinde, has even been recognised in the 2019 Forbes 30 under 30 for founding the Black Young Professionals Networking app.

Speaking about her experience of the programme, Kike said, "This scholarship from Sky has contributed to my development as an entrepreneur."

"Having that access to expert support has been beneficial and I'm incredibly grateful."

"I'm part of a community here, with people who are invested in helping me succeed."

Elaine Bucknor, Director for Group Technology Strategy, Sky, added, "Our hope is that the scholarships will make a real difference to the careers of these women - it will give them a chance to explore new avenues and build new skills and create successful buinesses with the support of Sky."

Applications are now open until the end of April 2019 to women of any age and across any field of technology, including software development, broadcast engineering, AI and machine learning, robotics and digital. You may be passionate about using technology to create greater diversity within business, or you may be driven to find solutions to environmental issues like reducing the plastic in our oceans. No matter what the idea, Sky wants to hear from more women in tech.

Sky’s Women in Tech Scholars programme is part of Sky’s Bigger Picture programme, investing in the next generation of talent across media, sports and technology.

If you, or anyone you know are interested in applying for the scholarship, full information can be found here.


Daniela-Paredes-Fuentes

Inspirational Woman: Daniela Paredes Fuentes | Co-Founder of Gravity Sketch

 

Daniela Paredes Fuentes

Daniela Paredes Fuentes, Gravity Sketch co-founder, is both an experienced innovation designer bridging science, engineering and design, and an entrepreneur pushing to build ideas into successful realities.

With a focus on finding new growth opportunities and strategic priorities, Daniela is shaping the future of the company. Prior to founding Gravity Sketch, Daniela graduated from The Royal College of Art and Imperial College London with a masters in Innovation Design Engineering, whilst simultaneously working as an Innovation Designer at Jaguar Land Rover where she was responsible for developing interiors technology that would combine smart materials and AI to create alternative experiences for autonomous vehicles. Daniela was recently awarded Innovate UK’s Women in Innovation Award.

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

My name is Daniela Paredes, I am 33 years old and I was born in Mexico. Four years ago I started a company called Gravity Sketch along with my co-founder, Oluwaseyi Sosanya, who I met at The Royal College of Art and Imperial College London.

Based in the UK but with global reach and customers, Gravity Sketch is one of the fastest growing 3D creation start-ups, providing designers of any level with a tool to quickly and easily create in 3D. The idea for Gravity Sketch originally started as a university project and was born out of a shared interest in how spatial intelligence has the ability to enable designers to quickly visualise and conceptualise their designs. In terms of my current role, I co-run the company with Seyi but am predominantly focused on working with educational institutions to integrate our design software into the classroom.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I wouldn’t say that I necessarily planned my career but from a very early age I was interested in design engineering. As I got older, I realised that I wanted to learn more about it and about how it can be used to solve different problems in different environments, so I decided to formally study Innovation Design Engineering whilst simultaneously working as an Innovation Designer at Jaguar Land Rover. This not only provided hands on experience but, as my role was focused on developing interiors technology that combined smart materials and AI to create alternative experiences for autonomous vehicles, I understood very quickly about the potential growth opportunities in this space.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Of course. There are multiple challenges that I have faced and that I continue to face but I welcome all of them as they force me to think differently and to stay focused on the end goal. A daily challenge we face for instance is the speed at which technology changes. We need to be constantly evolving our software while at the same time testing it to ensure it meets the needs of our users. From some people we received feedback that we are being too ambitious with what we are trying to achieve but, in contrast to this, our users have continuously supported and worked with us to deliver a market ready product which is now changing the game in the way that people design.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

My biggest achievement to date has probably been taking what started as an idea and growing it in to what is now a fast-growing company that is delivering much more immersive design experiences. Not only that but during this process we had to challenge the status quo and encourage people to think differently about how they approach design. This is not yet a done deal, as education takes time, but we are definitely moving in the right direction when it comes to getting people to try Gravity Sketch as an alternative. This perseverance is now paying off as we continue to grow our business pipeline and sign new partners.

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

I think it has probably been both self-belief and the belief and support of the people around me. Be that from my co-founder Seyi, my family, our users or our team, all have played a key role in us getting this far and will continue to play a key role in my continued growth both as a person and our continued growth as a business.

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

Finding mentors along the way has been crucial for my career. I feel it is important for younger or less experienced people to be able to talk to someone that has taken a similar path to you. When you are just starting out you think that there is so much knowledge you need to have, or that there are secret tricks for everything you’re trying achieve. The truth is that the real secret is finding your own way of doing things, learning a lot, asking many questions and considering the advice you received from other people along the way.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?

There are multiple strategies for accelerating the pace of change for Gender Parity but my belief is that a lot of it could be improved by insisting on greater accountability – making both people and organisations more accountable for their choices and their actions. So, setting clear targets for everyone in the workforce that they can be measured against and providing the same help, assistance and mentoring along the way to everyone – it needs to be fully inclusive. Companies should also be set the same targets. Whilst I fundamentally believe that a person has to be right for the job, regardless of gender, if everyone is given the same opportunities then gender should become less of an issue. Organisations should be transparent about progression metrics and should be held accountable when it is clear that people are not being treated the same.

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

This is obviously a hot topic as, like so many areas of education and business, females are grossly underrepresented in this field. Firstly, I would advise young girls not to be put off by gender stereotypes and the fact that just because there are more males in STEM it doesn’t mean that, as females, they are not equal or they are less capable of achieving the same goals and status. It is important to instil this belief at a young age as it will set them up with self-belief from the start. At the same time though it is important to teach them that failure is often the route to success and that, whilst there will be challenges along the way, the trick is to learn how to overcome those challenges. Secondly, I think it is important for females to have role models – people to whom they can relate. And this doesn’t just have to be women. Equally men can and do serve as positive ambassadors for getting more females into STEM. Finally, it is about creating opportunities for girls to be successful in this field. Both in the classroom and in the workplace, we need to be cognizant of creating environments where everyone has the same chance to learn, to grow and to ultimately succeed.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

To persevere and stop thinking that things might not go according to plan, because they don’t! If you work hard and put your heart into it, things will work out in their own way and you’ll be surprised and probably really happy that they turned out like that. Remember that ambitious goals are not easy to achieve and you’ll see all your friends move forward a bit faster than you at first. Just wait and keep going and things will start to come together eventually.

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

Business wise, our next challenge is to expand our product range and take on three additional enterprise verticals. We will also grow our team by adding new headcount in design, development and sales. Ultimately we want to create the most flexible product for delivering more creative workflows. Personally, I hope that I will continue to grow as a person and that, through the technologies that we create, I will make a significant contribution to augmenting the science, the art and the design scene. I also got married last year so I hope to spend some time enjoying married life!


Anne-Coghlan-featured

Inspirational Woman: Anne Coghlan | Senior Product Line Manager, EMEA, AppNexus

 

Anne CoghlanAs Senior Product Line Manager, EMEA at AppNexus, a Xandr Company, Anne is responsible for the strategy and vision for the AppNexus Programmable Platform (APP), the industry’s first programmable Demand Side Platform (DSP).  

Launching her technology career in 2013 as Technology Consultant for Accenture, Anne led a 17-member system integration test team through major transformation projects for this global media communications company. Since joining AppNexus in 2014, Anne has also served in a services role where she supported programmatic partners on both the sell and buy-sides of the real-time advertising marketplace.

Outside of her role, Anne is a member of the IAB UK Ad Tech Advisory Group and has led advanced programmatic workshops to educate and inform newer members of the industry.  She also mentors some of the next generation of digital talent through her association with WhiteHat apprentice.

Anne was recognised for her work this year when she was named one of The Drum’s 50 under 30 women of outstanding talent across the ad tech industry.

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

I am a Senior Product Line Manager at AppNexus, which is part of Xandr, AT&T’s advertising business. I am responsible for the strategy and vision of the AppNexus Programmable Platform (APP), which allows media buyers (those negotiating online ad spend for their clients) to purchase online ad space in real-time with an algorithm. It sounds technical, but I’m essentially part of a team that ensures consumers have an enjoyable and relevant advertising experience when browsing online.

I studied Maths with a Year Abroad (Italy) at undergraduate level and then I did a master’s in philosophy, before working for Accenture for two years and then joining AppNexus where I’ve been now for four years.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

At the start of my career I never planned beyond more than a year! When I left university, I was more focused on securing a job than what my career could look like. I evaluated each opportunity as it came, and not really in the context of anything broader. Last year I was considering moving roles internally and this was the first time I actually thought about what different career paths could look like for me. Given that my roles to-date have had a technical focus, I wanted to make sure I had an understanding of the full picture of how a product is made. So, I recently moved into a slightly different role to gain experience in product strategy which gives me insight into the full product lifecycle.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

It took me a while to understand the difference between working long hours and working hard, which ultimately comes down to figuring out what the priorities are.  When you understand this, it’s easier to decide how much time to invest in different tasks.

Finding my working pattern has definitely been a particular challenge for me, since a lot of my colleagues work across different time zones. I am also wary of conflict so have had to work on navigating disagreement. Particularly as a woman, in my career I’ve found that there’s a tendency for my decisions and opinions to be branded as ‘emotional’, whereas men sometimes seem able to give opinions as fact. My solution is to always make sure there’s a data-driven rationale behind my views, to limit the likelihood of pushback.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

It was very exciting and humbling to be named on The Drum’s 50 under 30 Women in UK Digital earlier this year. The Drum is an influential marketing trade title, and the list is compiled by industry experts, so it feels great to be recognised for my achievements so far.

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

Success is an interesting word – a friend and I were debating what this means recently. It feels like if you set a goal and define your success by its achievement, then as soon as you hit the goal, that feeling of being successful doesn’t last for long. For me, the question of success is more about continual growth and learning. The major factor for me has been to actively listen – to colleagues, leaders, clients – to make sure I’m on the right track.

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

I have a mentor and I am a mentor myself, through a company called WhiteHat, which supports young digital talent. I meet my mentee for an hour a month, and also put time into preparing for our sessions, so it’s not massively time consuming, but it’s so worthwhile.

Being a mentor is a great opportunity to reflect on how much you’ve actually learnt throughout your career and helps battle any insecurities you might have when you see how much knowledge you have to share. It’s also a great exercise in learning how to actively listen, which can be a difficult skill, as it’s important to guide your mentee to come up with solutions themselves, without pushing your advice and opinion too much. You can apply this to work situations as well – as you learn the importance of asking questions and properly listen to people’s responses.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?

Pay transparency. It is hard to advocate for yourself or others if you don’t have any data points.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

You should always ask the question that you worry is irrelevant.