Elisenda Cochin

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

My name is Elisenda Cochin. I’m a French-Israeli-American with a strong passion for health tech innovation and am currently Director of Product at Patchwork Health.

Patchwork is a health tech scale-up which is working with more than 50 NHS organisations across the UK to support more sustainable, end-to-end workforce planning and provide actionable data insights to drive workforce improvement and make flexible working a reality for all healthcare staff.

I’ve always loved applying my energy to finding the most innovative solutions to complex challenges – and this is nowhere more important than in healthcare, where tech has significant power to tangibly improve the lives of patients and staff. This is what drives me every day. I’m so excited to be working with such a motivated, collaborative and committed team at Patchwork to lead the development of truly transformative products that can deliver genuine long-term impact.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

My inspiration for entering the world of health tech innovation came from a completely unexpected place. In the movie “Say Anything”, John Cusack makes a really poignant speech which sparked a realisation for me: that I only ever wanted to work in an environment where I could be making a genuine and positive real-world impact. Since then, my career has seen me working within a number of different health tech organisations, all of which are helping deliver transformation and change.

I first came across Patchwork Health while I was working as part of the team at KHP Ventures – who are one of their prominent investors. Having witnessed the sheer passion and skill of the team, and their commitment to helping tackle one of the biggest healthcare challenges – the staffing crisis – I knew that I wanted to be part of their mission. I was so excited to join their team as Director of Product earlier this year.

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

The biggest challenge I’ve faced has been navigating how we can innovate in a way that is truly fresh, cutting edge and market responsive, while being conscious of the need to meet the NHS where it is currently at and adhere to all the necessarily rigorous funding and procurement processes. Driving forward new and daring innovation is absolutely key to building a genuine solution to the current challenges facing our healthcare service. But the NHS is under immense pressure and is, in many places, far behind in terms of digital transformation and development. Ultimately, it’s about striking the right balance: innovating in a way that really pushes boundaries to deliver the best solution for NHS staff and their patients, while remaining mindful of the practicalities around implementation – ensuring that our solution can be easily and effectively adopted by the teams we’re building it for.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Helping build a truly collaborative and engaged team. Having a team that’s really open and transparent, and that can confidently debate key challenges and push each other to think and work smarter, is a marker to me that we’re primed for success. This requires commitment and trust from everyone – from the designers and product managers on my immediate team to my fellow senior team leaders. I’m proud to have gained and helped nurture this trust at Patchwork and to be working in such a dynamic, supportive team environment.

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

I have been lucky enough to have received incredible advice and support from a number of product mentors during my career. Their dedication to teaching me and instilling the need for exceptional quality has helped shape the product leader that I am today. Of all the advice they’ve given me, one piece definitely stands out: a product or solution is only ever as good as the team behind it. Being able to form strong connections and engage my wider team in a way that motivates and brings us together to work at our best has a key part to play in achieving success. This has a knock on effect on communication, operational efficiency and creativity – which are all absolutely critical to the success or failure of innovation.

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

Technology is a brilliant and highly dynamic industry to be working in, providing exciting opportunities – no matter what your background or expertise. There’s a place for everyone and I think the most important piece of advice I could give is to know what unique qualities and skills you can bring and find ways to harness these whenever you can. You might have an incredible ability to understand and synthesise different perspectives, or love sitting with numbers and deducing what they can tell you about the challenges people are facing. Define your specific strengths and play to them by seeking out opportunities where you can really use and demonstrate these. You’ll pick up plenty of new skills along the way, too.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech?

Although I’m lucky enough to work for a company which values and provides equal opportunities to all team members, there are definitely still challenges facing many women working in tech.

Representation in senior leadership is a major problem. Only 52 women get promoted to manager for every 100 men, and research shows that those women who do get placed in top leadership roles often face a phenomenon called the “glass cliff”. This means that they’re given leadership roles within companies that are either already failing, in crisis or at significant risk. Women face considerable barriers to entry and when they do get in, are often set up to fail. More needs to be done to address this imbalance in senior roles; it’s the only way to ensure that leadership culture becomes more inclusive, supporting more female leaders to thrive and help shape and inspire the next generation of women in tech.

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

I think companies need to be aware and proactive in the removal of unconscious biases in hiring processes, and also ensure that they promote a supportive environment within their organisations which champions both the diversity of people and opinions. More widely, I think underrepresentation stems from cultural factors which have historically led to tech being painted as a male-dominated space and this creates a self fulfilling prophecy. Male-dominated spaces breed male-dominated work cultures, which can become exclusionary to women. To address this, we need to get more women through the door and into key roles. This starts in schools and universities. From programming to product marketing, educating and encouraging girls to pursue technology and not be deterred by any preconceptions will go a long way in improving how many choose to enter the industry and put themselves forward for tech roles in the first place.

Currently only 21 percent of those working in tech are women. 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 think increasing the amount of funding into education and tech programmes for young women could build better representation from the ground up. If I could wave a magic wand though, I would of course make sure that women were proportionally represented on leadership boards across the tech industry, and I think this could go a long way in combating hiring biases, gender pay gaps, and a lack of female applicants.

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

I recently attended a women in product event in London which showcased 10 inspiring women from across the industry. It was amazing to see how similar the problems we are all facing are and inspiring to witness the sheer amount of talent in the room. I enjoy listening to Extending the Ladder with Nancy Novak for real insights into the industry from prominent and experienced female figures. Product Thinking with Melissa Perri is another great podcast for any aspiring product managers and professionals

Read more from our inspirational women here.