Alicia Navarro

Alicia Navarro is a serial tech entrepreneur and founder of the highly successful content monetisation platform, Skimlinks and new ‘deep work-as-a-service’ platform Flown.

Throughout her career, Navarro has won numerous enterprise awards including the EveryWoman in Technology Entrepreneur of the Year Award and the WCIT’s Female Entrepreneur of the Year Award. She is also committed to mentoring young people pursuing careers in technology.

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

I’m a Spanish- and Cuban-blooded, Australian-born-and-bred, and UK-based serial entrepreneur. I was the founder of a content monetization startup called Skimlinks which I started in my living room in Sydney and turned into a global multi-national startup used by most large online publishers in the US and UK. Skimlinks was acquired earlier this year (during lockdown!) and now have started my next venture, Flown (join the waitlist at which is about offering the ideal mental and physical spaces for ‘deep work’.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Does anyone?! I mean, I’ve daydreamed a lot about what I aspired to do, but it changed every few years (sometimes every few weeks!). The thing with tech and entrepreneurship is you can’t really plan that far ahead, because there are so many variables, and the world is changing so fast. All you can really do is imagine a set of possible end destinations, and then be on the alert for opportunities that come your way that help you get there…. But also be open to opportunities that take you placed you haven’t even imagined yet.

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

I think the biggest challenge – particularly in retrospect – is how hard it is to escape your bubble. When I was in a corporate job, my world was all about getting that next promotion, which added the word ‘senior’ to my title, but very little else. I worked long hours and gave up on social events just to get on top of my email in a job that would only ever get me to be a little more senior in a corporate. But when you are in that world, it feels perfectly normal to aspire to slightly higher in a hierarchy of quite banal work.

It took escaping the corporate world and getting into startups that I realised how limiting that corporate world was for me. Startups are a place where you can experience enormous personal growth, and feel like your days are spent in the pursuit of something worthy.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Taking my startup idea 12 years ago and turning it into a significant and beloved company.

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

Knowing how to hire the right people with the right skills to complement my skills. And investing in relationships.

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

Well, it depends what areas of technology. Engineers… put effort into your Github profile and personal passion projects. Sales & Business Development – read voraciously all the startup and scaling sales content that is out there (particularly the content put out by some VC firms, like A16Z and Openview Partners). For becoming a founder, try out for one of the many incubator programs, like Entrepreneur First, Zinc and Wayra.

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

For women generally, definitely not, particularly in startups. The challenge comes for women that may want to also be present mothers, as although the work is increasingly flexible, it is still demanding and stressful. It is also this for fathers, of course. So it becomes a personal choice… but it is difficult for anyone to be an engaged and involved primary care giver *and* an early stage founder.

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

Adopting flexible work hours, so working parents can accommodate being present and active parents too.

For women who are not parents, the only other challenge I see sometimes is women aren’t as good at negotiating or talking themselves up… so encouraging mentorship programs for young women is probably the best way for women to learn how to speak up for themselves.

There is currently only 17 per cent 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?

I’ve not experienced this statistic personally. Certainly there tend to be more male developers, so perhaps there is something early on that socialises men to be more in this profession than women… I’d like to see more film and TV shows cast the female protagonist as an engineer, and have it be a totally normal and unironic profession for the female lead to have, that might make a difference.

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

Frankly, firstly, stop thinking of yourself as a woman working in tech. Then, read everything that anyone working in tech should read.

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