Susan LinSusan is the Managing Director of This Place, a Digital Design and Strategy Agency that specialises in retail.

Susan leads This Place on a mission not only to deliver great digital experiences for the businesses that they partner with, but to do it in a way that makes a positive social impact on the world. Susan is passionate about building a business that is centered on inclusion and diversity, and is keen to share and learn from others with the same passion. Prior to joining This Place, Susan led the strategy practice at digital product consultancy Made by Many for a number of years. She also spent many years in financial services, building and launching digital products and services globally.

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

Hello! I’m Susan Lin, currently the Managing Director of This Place. We’re a digital retail agency founded in London, and we partner with clients all over the world to solve complex business challenges by providing digital design and strategy expertise. Prior to my current role, I ran the strategy team at digital product consultancy Made by Many for a number of years. I also spent a number of years in financial services, working in a range of product, innovation and transformation roles. I was born in Taiwan (English is my third language!), grew up in New Zealand, and have spent nearly a decade in London. In the before times, I was most often found in the mountains somewhere in the world!

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No! I have always followed my heart. I chose roles, organisations, and even countries to live in, based on how excited I was by the opportunity – whether it’s the chance to learn, to contribute, to work with great people, or to make a profound difference in areas of interest – ideally a combination of all the above!

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

So many to choose from! One that always stayed with me happened really early on in my career. I was a young graduate from university, placed in a leadership role to run a bank branch for a number of months. The team didn’t want me there (some hated me!) – they wanted their old manager back and not this fresh grad who didn’t know what she was doing.

I spent months building up the teams’ trust and confidence – by taking the =me to learn from their experiences, and by understanding their motivations and needs. After a few months, I managed to build solid relationships with them, and even helped to progress the professional goals of some of the team, and they threw a big lunch for me when I left!

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I’m most proud of what we’re doing at This Place at the moment. Growing (not just surviving!) through the pandemic, and supporting our clients to tackle difficult challenges and adapt through these unprecedented times. Most importantly, seeing how our teams come together, look out for each other and our culture over the past few months has made me feel very proud.

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

Optimism and resilience.

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

Find your tribe – follow what you’re most passionate about, surround yourself with people and organisations who are as excited as you are about your areas of passion.

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

There are still significant barriers for women in tech. The level of investment female founders receive versus their male counterparts, is one clear example of this. There are no simple answers here, however closing the female representation gap is a great place to start.

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

Provide greater access to everyone to make decisions that affect them – whether it’s about their roles, their progression, their work, or the company culture – invite conversations, and listen. Be very intentional about the changes you want to make.

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?

My magic wand would bring to life the alternative future that the world would have if more women were represented in all areas of society.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Random assortment of podcast/book/organisation recommendations: Tech for Good, Ada’s List, Women In Tech, Reply All, 99% Invisible, How I Built This, Tough Girl, The Curious Climber, Invisible Women.

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