Wendy Carter

I’m Wendy Carter, founder and CEO of group collecting platform, Collection Pot, which is a fun, easy way to collect for all types of occasions.

I first had the idea for Collection Pot in 2018 when I overheard someone being told to arrange a collection for a colleague. We’ve probably all been asked to contribute to an office collection at some point in our working lives, putting £5 or £10 into the communal envelope, but I realised that it was an office task stuck firmly in the dark ages.

With Collection Pot, someone sets up a Pot digitally writing a paragraph about what it’s for then shares the link. People can contribute and leave a personal message. When the Pot closes, the recipient gets the link to redeem the Pot with national retailer gift cards, local Town and City Gift Cards, or to their Visa debit card. One of the things that bothered me about the old ‘envelope’ style of collecting was that people often felt obliged to put in a certain amount. With Collection Pot, there was the conscious decision not to list donation amounts at all. If someone wants to donate £1 or £100, that’s up to them.

Over time, we’ve had more charities start to use Collection Pot to fundraise, but it remains primarily a platform to collect for workplace occasions like people leaving, birthdays, babies, weddings and retirements.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No! The first part of my career was all about getting a job and earning money, I didn’t really have a plan or know what I wanted to do. I have always had a good work ethic though, juggling two part time jobs whilst I was at school. By accident I found myself in the newspaper industry and luckily I loved it, spending 15 years of my career progressing up the corporate ladder. The newspaper industry at that time offered great management training and development, along with the discipline of constant deadlines, so I attribute a lot of my business management and timekeeping skills to that.

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

I think during anyone’s career they will have a crisis of confidence, whether they actually show it or not is another matter. I have certainly felt intimidated at certain times early in my career, which actually motivated me to change and improve my situation. Sometimes, a jolt of reality can be the catalyst you need to make necessary change.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

There have been a lot of high points, such as setting up the Incentive Awards, and co-founding the Women’s Network WiiN Global (Women In Incentives), holding senior positions with the Incentive Marketing Association Europe Board, but ones that perhaps I am most proud of include the work I’ve undertaken to support other female entrepreneurs and founders in the incentive space. WiiN launched a mentorship programme in March 2021, with the aim of connecting women in the loyalty and incentives industry to create mentoring opportunities. It’s a 12 month programme with regular meet ups and coaching sessions, and we welcome strategic partners for the initiative. The programme is open to any woman in the loyalty and incentives industry. Another is getting Collection Pot to the point it’s at today- the only group collecting app in the Microsoft Teams store, launched in Ireland, and with expansion into North America planned for 2021. My career achievements have been a moment in time, celebrated at that particular point. In the main, these moments have then led on to the next opportunity. I believe it’s just a case of having an open mind and spotting the opportunities.

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

There have been two main factors. The first has been creativity, and the willingness to consider new ways to solve problems. When I was setting up Collection Pot, I did so with a vision for what I wanted to achieve. I didn’t look at the problem from a technical perspective, but from the end user’s perspective. What did the person who was usually left to arrange the collection want from Collection Pot, what did the recipient want from Collection Pot? Trying to answer these questions creatively, and develop something exciting, fun and engaging was my priority. The second has always been determination. From a young age, I was determined to get out into the world and earn my living. If something doesn’t exist, who’s to say that you can’t be the one to create it? Collection Pot is constantly evolving, improving and adapting, and I think you have to possess that determination to push through to the next innovation so your product and service can develop.

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

Technology is such a broad term, and covers so many differing career paths. I don’t have a technology background at all and would never have imagined that I would become the CEO of a fintech. What I have done, is taken a problem, an idea and a solution and developed it alongside experts to create a platform that is beneficial for many people. My advice to anyone pivoting or starting out, is to find people who inspire you- whether from the technology sector or not. Understand what motivates them, how they have succeeded, don’t be afraid to ask for advice and seek mentorship.  From this advice, you can add your own beliefs, values and personality. Remember, there is always someone who will be able to help, you just need to ask, and who knows where that conversation may lead.

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

Having spent the first part of my career in a male dominated industry I guess that I became accustomed to the daily challenge of forging my way forward. In regard to the tech sector I think that diversity has improved tremendously over the past few years. However, it is still very much viewed as a masculine sector. There are a number of large blue-chip companies that offer great programmes and career development, we need to see that ethos and inclusive approach coming through businesses of all sizes.

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

I don’t believe that the technology sector is unique in this challenge, there are a number of sectors that face the same challenges; engineering and construction for example. In recent years they have made great strides in addressing this issue, we can learn a lot from their experiences and success stories.

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?

Many women join the industry because they have an interest in a specific area of technology. I would like to see more women given the opportunity to build on their experiences and broaden their business skills, for example with financial management, marketing and people development training. The sector will then become more attractive to women, and encourage more female entrepreneurs and founders, offering careers in technology not just a job.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

There is a great book called Dear Female Founder, which features 66 trailblazing female entrepreneurs from around the world. Some of them you will know from the media, while others you might have never have heard of. It’s a motivating and inspiring read.

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