Alisa Pritchard

Alisa Pritchard has worked in everything from tech startups to multinational companies. She is currently leading the marketing function to commercialise new technologies such as AI computer vision, augmented reality and nutrigenomics most recently, in recycling…

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

A thread that ties my experience together is my passion and curiosity for innovative tech that transforms industries and addresses environmental and social challenges.

My background is in tech start-ups and multinational companies. I have spent the past 15 years of my professional life leading marketing efforts in commercialising cutting-edge technologies such as AI computer vision, augmented reality, and nutrigenomics. I previously led the marketing function across Asia Pacific for Alltech, a US biotech company based in Bangkok. My current role is Head of Marketing at Greyparrot which is revolutionising recycling through AI automation.

I am originally from Thailand and grew up in a mixed-culture household with an Irish mother and a Thai father. This led to some interesting cultural clashes, but also some unique insights into both cultures! I studied in Malaysia for high school and Australia for university before completing an MBA at Imperial College Business School here in London, where I was also President of the Marketing and Digital Society.

In my spare time I volunteer with HERA (Her Economic Rights and Autonomy), where I support female founders in trafficking-prone areas to create successful local businesses. I’m also part of a team of four that runs the Imperial Marketing Network which welcomes alumni from Imperial College and Imperial College Business School to share best practice around marketing, and networking with others in the industry.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career? 

Joining the MBA program at Imperial College Business School was the first time I’d sought to plan my future career. With the support of the School I wrote about my hopes and dreams of working in sustainability tech, and they helped to open doors for me to be where I am today, working in AI for a climate tech start-up.

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

A few challenges come to mind; moving locations, industry, and job functions when I relocated to London was quite a challenge! Another hurdle was returning to work after maternity leave. These are all transitional phases, however.

A persistent challenge I find is from the nature of this line of work. As a tech marketer, I often feel like I’m playing catch-up. The tech industry moves at lightning speed, and it can be hard to try to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and advancements. This is especially true when you’re also learning a new industry.

To overcome this, I’d say having a growth mindset is the only way to forward. I genuinely believe that even if I don’t know how to do something at the moment, I can learn it. Usually, I can also find someone to lend me a hand or give sound advice, and I’ve realised that not being shy about reaching out to my network pays off!

Finally, building up the confidence to speak up for what’s right, what brings value, and makes a real impact in my work is crucial – instead of worrying what others might think. I’ve found this approach helpful for taking on new opportunities and pushing myself beyond my comfort zone.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I am proud to have helped build a start-up from scratch with six colleagues. We started with just an idea, but we worked hard and were able to grow the company to 40 people and raise $16 million in funding. It was an incredible journey, and I am grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of it.

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

I was lucky to have a great leader and CEO to work alongside. Reflecting on the journey, she mentioned two things that were helpful. First, my ability to gather insights and implement them. Second, my belief that things would work out, even when things were tough. Finally, I am so fortunate to have the opportunities that I have. I know that a lot of this is also due to luck.

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

I would reframe that question to ask; what do you want to spend your days doing? What are your values? What work, technology, and company aligns with your values? What does excelling mean to you? Is it pay? Is it purpose? I would define this carefully and set goals that align with your vision. Goals that speak to who you are and what you want are much easier to achieve! There’s no one right way to be successful. What matters most is that you define what success means to you and then work towards achieving it.

What barriers for women working in tech, are still to be overcome?

I am lucky in that I work in a progressive female-led company. This is quite a loaded question and there are many barriers, but the one I can comment on is with regards to female founders of tech companies fundraising. UK female-founded tech firms raised only 15% of total VC funding in 2022. The investment climate in Europe and the UK is very conservative and there is a lack of female role models in the venture capital industry. This makes it difficult for female founders to get their foot in the door and raise the capital they need to grow their businesses.

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

Imposter syndrome is the result of structural inequality not individual inadequacy. Creating an environment that welcomes female talent and helps women thrive is important. I am not an HR or organizational culture specialist, but I know what helps me feel welcomed and supported in a company.

For me, life at Greyparrot demonstrates this well. I work in a company that not only promotes diversity and inclusion, but also embodies them in its everyday practices. You can see the diversity in our team and our leadership team. I also work in an environment where people are aware of unconscious bias and call each other out in the name of education, even in a joking, light-hearted way to make a heavy point. The company also offers flexible work arrangements and celebrates parenthood and milestones in Zoom calls. As a new mum, this has been truly invaluable to me.

In an ideal world, how would you improve gender diversity in tech?

Children learn about gender roles from a young age. They are influenced by the media they consume and the people around them. It’s important to expose children to different role models and job opportunities. People have told my 2-year-old she’ll be a great secretary or nurse. I respect those roles, but it’s important to expose her to different roles, such as engineer or surgeon so she knows she has a choice.

Saying that, I’m so pleased to be in this era where I can actually find great children’s books that feature strong STEM women, and there are also many great TV shows and movies that feature inspiring STEM female characters.

Finally, it is important to create systems and a culture that does not discriminate against gender, race, or ethnicity. This means ensuring equality and equity for all in tech education, employment, and career progression. By equity, I mean that those in power provide resources and support to students and employees from underrepresented groups. This is how we ensure the tech industry is truly representative of the world we live in.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech, e.g. podcasts, networking events, books, conferences, websites etc?

Tech is a broad field, so I recommend finding your topic and researching where the best content is for that. It also depends on how you best consume content. If you like podcasts on the go, search for your topic of interest on Spotify, Apple Music, or other platforms. I did this search for tech marketing in B2B SaaS, and found Marketing Against the Grain by David Skok that features interviews with leading SaaS marketing experts.

I love attending events and London Tech Week is a great one for anyone who is passionate about tech. It’s a chance to learn from the best, network with like-minded people, and be inspired by the latest innovations (I promise I don’t get commission!)

I mentioned earlier that I’m part of a team of four that runs the Imperial Marketing Network. I find peer-to-peer conversations to be the best way to learn. If you can find a tech group to join, I highly recommend it. If you can’t find one, why not start your own?