Joy NazzariTell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I was born in Brazil to Argentinian parents and later moved to the US where I was educated and received a degree in economics. My first job was in equity research at a boutique tech investment bank before I started working in Silicon Valley. I began my career during the dotcom boom, helping to bring technology companies to the stock market.

I then moved to London and started working with architectural visualisation pioneers Hayes Davidson to help them launch a company making software for large-scale property developments. The firm’s founder, Alan Davidson, put me in charge of the software firm as well as his emerging branding agency.

Eventually I decided to strike out on my own with a colleague to found a branding and design consultancy, dn&co. We specialise in place and culture branding and have been behind the reinvention of some of the UK’s largest neighbourhoods and developments including Broadgate, St James’s and the Royal Docks.

Mid-pandemic I co-founded a new proptech business, called Showhere, on the back of years of digital transformation projects for real estate clients. It’s a presentation platform that enables property businesses to manage and deliver compelling presentations to help them sell and lease space. Our current clients include Knight Frank, British Land and Royal London.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No. Throughout my career I have spotted interesting business opportunities and let them take me in new directions. It’s been really fantastic that the pieces of the puzzle have come together to create something coherent. Along the way it didn’t feel like it ever would.

I do plan now. I’m very interested in how the businesses that I work in can grow and adapt into new markets, and how I can continue to grow within them. I’m also very involved in other people’s career development, so much of my role now is helping to develop other people.

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

Plenty, and they have all ultimately added to my overall career experience — I’m obsessive about nurturing challenges and mistakes into learnings, chewing them over sometimes for years before I think, “Oh! That’s what happened, and now I know that, I’m better”. Perhaps my biggest challenge was channelling passion – passion has an ugly alter ego, and it’s important to bring people along with you, not beat them over the head with what you think is best.

I remember in the early days I would ask clients questions and they would turn and direct their answers to my (male) colleague. This drove him more crazy than me, but eventually that stopped. Any other barriers were mostly my own perceived limitations — when I let go of those success was easier.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I’m most proud of having advised central and local government and some of the UK’s biggest landlords and developers – including British Land, Stanhope, The Crown Estate and Argent Related – on positioning narratives for places, firstly with dn&co and now with Showhere. It has meant I’ve been a part of some of London’s most significant regeneration projects.

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

I’d say it’s down to two things: optimism and creativity. Together these can get you out of most challenges and bring others along with you.

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

I’m a fan of Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, which talks directly about women in technology but really is relevant for people everywhere. One of my favourite ideas is about “sitting at the table”. Women have a tendency to sit on the fringe and be less likely to get involved in discussion or offer an opinion – we need to move away from that.

If you know what you want to become, I recommend finding people like that and surrounding yourself with them. Mentors are invaluable, and I have been lucky to have a handful through my career. Ultimately though, a mentor will not make you successful: they can advise you, but you have to put the work in to be successful. Discipline is important.

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

Some progress has been made encouraging women to study STEM subjects but the drop-out rate of women in tech jobs needs careful analysis. There is definitely more work that to be done to promote gender diversity and tackle pay gaps in the sector.

Racial diversity is even more alarming – looking at the past 20 years I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of people I’ve worked with on the client side who were not white. We need to question why this happens and educate ourselves against bias. It’s vital we change our built-in behaviours that lead to this.

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

I’m not convinced by quotas, but I do think managers should have bias training. It’s incredible how much we don’t realise we’re affected by unconscious bias. I also think it’s the moral duty of business leaders to address pay inequality. I was at an all-male industry dinner with senior leaders once when the table bemoaned how difficult it was to interact with female colleagues now for fear of criticism of their behaviour. Asked for my opinion on what they should do, I said they should all focus on equal pay. The table went completely silent.

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’d love to see a really solid study that shows us at what point we are failing to convert girls from school into tech jobs, and I would direct a ton of private and public funding at that exact moment in a career path.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Linkedin is an incredible resource, and an easy way to self-publish and build your profile — I wish I had taken it more seriously earlier in my career. I also like listening to Tim Ferriss’ podcast or his audiobook Tools of Titans which introduces you to the habits and routines of some amazing entrepreneurs.

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