Babel PR’s Managing Director, Jenny Mowat

Jenny Mowat has a rich and expansive experience in the communications industry, specialising in tech.  She has worked with an array of tech companies, from large listed organisations like Dell EMC and Darktrace, through to fast-paced scale-ups like Veeam, Volt and BlinkBox.

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

With almost 20 years’ experience in the communications industry, I’m a tech sector comms expert and occasional panellist/podcast presenter. I have worked with a plethora of tech companies, from large listed organisations like Dell EMC and Darktrace, through to fast-paced scale-ups like Veeam, Volt and BlinkBox, alongside corporate profiling for Premier Inn and the editor of the Financial Times.

Whether it’s running a thirty person tech comms agency (Babel PR) or developing client strategy, I approach it all with tons of energy, opinions and spirit. I’m incredibly focused on agency culture and team development, and am a huge advocate of championing women in the tech sector.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

The short answer is absolutely not. It was only when I was in my final year of a history degree that I started to think about where I most come alive and thrive, which was when I was coaching my rowing team, fundraising, running my baby sitting circle and planning anything that needed to make a big impact with a certain audience. I then started exploring branding, advertising, and digital marketing … and after a few knockbacks, coupled with persistence, I actually worked with my dad on a killer presentation to knock the socks off my first PR interview. I went to the pub, elated from the buzz of my first formal presentation and nervous about the feedback … 15 minutes later they called and offered me the job.

From there, corporate and tech PR has been the red thread in my journey to MD of a specialist London based technology agency, Babel PR.

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

I think an area that I found hard initially was knowing when to spot that something isn’t right, when to say no to things impacting your work life balance and also knowing when the right time for change is. I’m not saying that you should chop and change roles every year. It’s more about recognising when you need something more from your role, and if you have vocalised this and it’s not being met, make a change! It’s important to validate what you need from a personal development perspective and that you are confident in seeking/asking for this in your next role.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I have to say that it’s not just about me. My biggest career achievement has been working with my team to shape the next stage for Babel PR. This has included:

  • Being ahead of our five-year growth plan despite challenging markets
  • Expanding more into the enterprise and fintech technology space
  • Building a strong and connected team where our core values continue, even as we expand
  • Surprising our clients every day with awe-inspiring work that is changing the way people interact and view technology brands.

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

It’s so tough to choose one thing!

I’d have to say it’s finding work environments where I know I can be challenged and supported by the whole team. I truly feel inspired every day by the people I work with and it’s such an important factor in my own job satisfaction levels, and I hope they feel the same.

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

Absorb content and insights – whether it’s podcasts, reports, news, or YouTube. Attend industry and complementary events, and learn the art of networking both in person and via platforms like LinkedIn. Watch inspiring talks, and then share and discuss them with your network. And the biggest thing is to not be afraid to ask for advice, for people to be your mentors, and to find experiences that expand your knowledge across the sector.

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

As a working mum with three small kids, I still find it fascinating when people seem surprised that I work full time, occasionally travel for work, have a flexible and supportive work environment and that I’m still functioning and challenging myself in my tech career every day. Yes, it’s not easy, and yes I forget things or miss a message about a kid’s party/PE day/forget to buy milk. But, if you have a passion for an area, take equal parenting responsibilities and cram in the investment time in you, your development and what opportunities you shape for your career goals, it can work for you. The main barrier is that people think it can’t be done, or that ‘you can’t have it all’ … which I would respond with: “Correct, but I’ll have a damn good try at juggling the things I prioritise and enjoy it whilst I do.”

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

Companies need to take a really good look at how they are supporting the careers of women in technology – what is their gender balance, is there a pay gap, do they have a clear voice that is heard, have they reviewed the information available at Pregnant then Screwed (a charity dedicated to ending the motherhood penalty) and is there flexible working policies for everyone (not just women)? Companies also need to look outside of their own workplace, such as supporting initiatives that raise awareness of careers for women in tech, running programmes with clients/schools/wider industry … the biggest thing is don’t just talk, DO!

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

Find the magic wand that improves gender diversity across every aspect of life (not just tech) – how we are parented, how we engage with friends at school, the clothes we wear, the language about what ‘girls and boys can or can’t do’ …coupled with the challenge for tech specifically, I feel nothing will change if we don’t address the root of the cause.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Find industry-specific events/webinars that interest you and your tech focus such as the ‘Women in Cybersecurity at InfoSec’ event and tap into sector-agnostic webinars such as those we run at Babel. LinkedIn also hosts several interesting events and group discussions and there’s an abundance of podcasts for anyone considering/trying/hoping to have children whilst working in tech (or any sector). Finally, I recommend Mother Pukka and Pregnant Then Screwed for numerous helpful resources.