Tori DonnellyTori was born and raised in Minnesota and holds two business degrees in Recreation and Tourism and an MBA.

She wears many hats at WorkClub, currently managing all the social media and content marketing for the business, as well as taking care of her baby daughter, born just weeks before lockdown.

Tori’s mission is to help find and facilitate more workspaces which have family-friendly facilities to support young families with flexibility.

She lives in Surrey with her husband and co-founder Nick, who she met when he was studying  in the US and their baby daughter, Scarlet.

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

I’m originally from a small town called Maple Plain, Minnesota and I have passion for coffee, running and traveling.

After meeting my then future husband in Minnesota back in 2012, I moved to London the following year to pursue an MBA. Fast forward a few years, I still call London home where I live with husband and business partner, Nick.

Since co-founding our business back in 2017, I have led the social media and community growth at WorkClub, which connects the UK’s remote workforce with local workspaces and meeting rooms across the UK. Nick and I have a 1 year old daughter, Scarlett, and today business calls and meetings often come with a plus-one. I can’t complain though! We’ve built a business that works around our intended lifestyle, not the other way around.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career? 

I remember towards the end of my MBA, a career coach came into class to talk to us about potential career paths and opportunities. However, the jobs that were open for interviews were very foreign to me, I never saw myself working full-time in an office from central London. It filled me with so much anxiety.

WorkClub came very naturally to me, and I trusted in the business completely to provide me with the opportunity I was seeking. I’m glad I didn’t take the corporate route.

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

Great question! I started the first lockdown in March 2020 with a 5-month old daughter. Not ideal for a new Mom that really wanted to get out there and meet other new parents in the local area – to socialise of course, but also to keep promoting WorkClub.

Instead, I had to get creative with how I managed family time and business life, in a flat that was smaller than my family home’s basement back in Minnesota. Nick and I have so far managed three lockdowns with a small baby, while still keeping our business moving forward. The biggest achievement though is that we haven’t torn each other apart, even though we live on top of each other, 24/7. I’d say that’s a success!

Technology has been the driver in allowing us all to work remotely during the pandemic and I’m really happy that WorkClub can be a part of a seismic change in how we look at work in the future by using technology to help our members and organisations looking to shift towards remote working.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Hands down, building WorkClub from an idea to where it is today. It was never ‘easy’ and we still face challenging times, however, there are people across the UK using our product daily basis, which is a great feeling. Everyday, my team and I achieve something new, it’s never ending and I love it.

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

The support of my husband and business partner, Nick. Not in my wildest dreams did I ever plan to be living in London and running my own business, but with Nick’s support, drive and ambition, it feels like anything is possible.

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

Overcome your fear of failure.

Oftentimes, you need to get things wrong to find out the best way to get things right. It’s important to learn to embrace failure and see it not as a setback but as a learning opportunity. Ensure you’re prepared to deal with setbacks and turn them into something positive.

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

Women that want to break into tech still face significant barriers, from a shortage of women role models, to gender-based pay gap, to persistent gender bias that nearly 90% of other women say they have experienced. Things are certainly changing though as more women are less afraid to be confident and persistent in the pursuit of their technology careers. The other thing is that employers need to understand that gender diversity in the workforce is valuable and important.

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

Great question. For any company, I think it’s hugely important to understand the level of gender diversity within your team and explore if there is any need to make changes. It’s important to create an open and honest atmosphere with your team where you can continuously discuss the working environment and what can or can’t be improved on. Develop a strategy that can encourage more female-led tech roles within the company.

There is currently only 17% 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? 

As with anything in life, these changes take time and effort. I truly believe that within the next few years, we will see this number drastically change as more leaders understand that gender diversity in the workforce is valuable and important.

Back in the US, California recently became the first US state to impose quotas for inclusion of women on boards of public companies based there. This is a really positive step to getting more women into senior roles. This also happens in some European countries like Norway, Iceland, Sweden and Finland, all of which have mandated quotas for women on boards, with Norway leading globally for the number of women represented on boards.

At the end of the day, we need more women role models and more women mentors. Young women need role models, they need mentors and they need to be able to look up and see real opportunities – both on boards and as entrepreneurs. They need encouragement to put themselves forward.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I think podcasts are a great option – especially for an on-the-go mom like myself! Recently, I’ve gotten into Women Tech Charge. It’s a series of entrepreneurs and inventors talking through their real-life success or failure series.

WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here