Jenny Briant is the Academy Operations Director and has been at the company since 2017. She is responsible for the end-to-end recruitment of Ten10’s award-winning Academy and providing well-being support.

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

I wouldn’t say I have a typical background and route into the tech industry. I graduated from university with a degree in psychology and started my career in talent acquisition. I initially worked for a boutique talent acquisition company and worked with a range of clients from different industries.

After working there for a few years, I joined Ten10 as Head of Academy Talent. Throughout my time in this role, I noticed very quickly that the industry was hugely male-dominated so, within the leadership team, I helped flesh out what we needed from the programme. I knew that if our objective was to close the digital skills gap, we needed to create accessible opportunities for everyone.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No, not particularly. As I said, my route into tech wasn’t your typical journey of studying for a STEM degree, graduating then moving into the sector. Starting off my career in talent acquisition gave me a great insight into various industries and clients and it was here that I decided that the tech sector was where I wanted to go. Sometimes it happens like that!

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

I’ve always been relatively confident in my ability to communicate with people, but a big thing for me is fully understanding what I’m talking about rather than pretending! Moving into the tech sector from a non-tech background posed its own unique challenges. There was a lot to learn and get to grips with, from different terminologies and roles to programming languages.

Thankfully we have a brilliant team of trainers and experts who have shared their knowledge and supported me to take on some training myself. I wouldn’t call myself a programming expert by any means, but I’ve found that asking questions and taking opportunities to learn has really allowed me to grow in terms of my skill set and industry knowledge. Ultimately, this has allowed me to support our teams to go into successful tech careers of their own.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Such a large part of my role is to help promote diversity in tech and open opportunities up for people who wouldn’t typically see themselves as working in the tech industry. Improving the percentage of female applicants to the Ten10 Academy was a massive achievement in my career. But I can’t take all the credit, I have an amazing team behind me who also play a crucial role in supporting women in the industry.

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

I think keeping an open mind when it comes to my career and taking opportunities to learn and try new things has allowed me to access different pathways and really diversify my skill set. It means I’m able to bring creative solutions and ideas to the team as well as draw on past experiences to relate to and collaborate with different clients, colleagues and teams. I think in turn, this has really contributed to my success in a leadership role.

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

The thing about the tech industry is that it is ever evolving but the basics will stay the same. There are some tech skills that will always be useful and others that will develop over time. Make sure you are always educating yourself and staying on top of training and developments. Putting yourself out there and taking on new tasks is what will help people excel in their careers.

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

Yes. It is going to take a long time before the technology industry loses the stereotypes around it being a ‘boy’s club’ totally. Women are more likely to suffer from imposter syndrome in the tech sector, something I’ve been very aware of during recruiting.

There are multiple barriers for women, that can appear at various stages in their tech careers. As Head of Talent, I recognised that it’s the initial inaccessibility that prevents women and makes them feel like they couldn’t have a career in tech. One of the first things I did was help rewrite job descriptions and change the training processes. Everyone learns in different ways, and it also can vary from man to woman, person to person. It was, therefore, important to teach through a mixture of lectures, seminars, group work games, practical tests and assessments, rather than just classroom slideshows.

Those initial steps are so important to make sure that we aren’t putting off women from entering the tech sector.

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

One of the biggest challenges that the tech sector faces is not just getting women into the sector but keeping them there. The tech sector is fortunate that it often has the capacity to operate in a flexible structure whether that’s remote work or a flexible work schedule.

This can make such a difference to women when progressing in their careers. Particularly when women get to the point when they might want to start a family, this can be a really difficult time to navigate a career. Giving the flexibility to allow women to come back to work either part-time or with a flexible or remote working schedule can make all the difference. Women shouldn’t have to pick between having a family and a career; they should be able to do both.

There are currently only 21 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 would love to get rid of the notion of imposter syndrome. I hate that so many women feel out of place in the tech sector and feel like they don’t have a role to play in the industry. If I could wave a magic wand, I would wish that everyone knew that there was a place for them in the tech industry, regardless of gender; no one should feel cut off or discouraged by pursuing their interests or passions.

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

As my career progresses, I’m seeing more and more resources available for women in tech, which has been brilliant to see. Ada’s List has some great resources. Modern Figures is a podcast I’d really recommend, and Women 2.0 is a brilliant read.

We’ve spoken with a lot of skills boot camps, social enterprises and charities over the years. They all do brilliant work and host plenty of events as well as share great content, so I would always endorse that as an additional area to look at.

Read more from our inspirational women in tech here.