MUM and business development manager, Jade Kirk, has become a driving force in the male-dominated tech industry – as her journey to success teaches women aspiring for leadership roles that nothing is impossible.

From humble beginnings, raised on a council estate in Bradford, the now mum of three-year-old Ronny worked tirelessly to get more out of life, and single-handedly generates an astounding half a million pounds worth of business each year.

Throughout her career, she has encountered setbacks, pivotal moments, and gender discrimination – but urges women everywhere to find their confidence in pursuing their dreams.

Starting work at the age of the tender age of 13, she had a drive to achieve a greater goal. Jade dropped out of university, to pursue her career in sales and started off in face-to-face sales at the age of 20 in the physical security sector, before moving to the world of Tech 

Giving birth to her first child three years ago was a pivotal moment, which brought determination to strive for more. She had just 7 months off after giving birth and shortly after returning Jade was appointed as Enterprise Business Development Manager at the UK’s largest anti-money laundering and digital compliance providers, SmartSearch, where she is responsible for bringing in £500,000 each year, while managing full sales cycles and collaborating with multiple stakeholders.

Overcoming the obstacles

But her journey to success has certainly been faced with obstacles that she has had to overcome. 

While Jade has let nothing hold her back, she says that when starting off in site security, she had to work a little harder to be heard: People couldn’t believe I was actually there to design and sell their security requirements. ‘How is an inexperienced young woman going to secure my site’ was often their thought. This is where learning is so important. We have to work extra hard to be credible, but it isn’t impossible, ensure you know your solutions and you are confident in your approach.”

Gender inequality still pervades many industries and while Jade is aware that she has been mostly surrounded by men her whole career.

As it stands just 26% of the tech workforce are women. A 2022 report by McKinsey also found that only 86 women are promoted to manager for every 100 men across every industry, but when isolated for tech, that number drops to 52 women for every 100 men. But companies like SmartSearch are challenging those figures, with a 50/50 female to male staff ratio.

Becoming a powerful role model

Jade’s unwavering dedication and commitment have been key to her success in overcoming challenges and she believes that the key to getting women into power roles is to give young women role models to aspire to: “I’m seeing more and more women in leadership roles, and I think it’s great. I have found that other women in much higher positions than me are often the ones lifting other women and paving the way for them, it’s special and we need to do more of it. It is something I will always do as I reach more senior positions in the coming years.

Her advice to women looking to get into leadership roles is to lead with integrity, be heard and dream big: “Be confident and bold and use your voice even when you are scared to do so. I have big dreams and I am only just scratching the surface of what I would like to achieve, I see no reason why I couldn’t be the CEO of a tech firm one day. I love the quote ‘If people aren’t laughing at your dreams, then they aren’t big enough’.

“I believe the effort I’ve put into working on myself and my weaknesses has helped and will continue to help shape my career. I’ve been on a personal development journey and attended many seminars and training courses with some of the greatest mindset coaches there is, like Tony Robbins and Bob Proctor.”

Jade’s journey serves as a guiding light for aspiring women leaders. She believes that using your voice, embracing confidence, and pursuing your dreams relentlessly is the key to success. 

Seeing the bigger picture

She now oversees new business development across Property, Legal, Investment and Wealth Management & Financial Services at Enterprise level with larger and more complex opportunities at SmartSearch, which requires extensive knowledge of solutions and regulations that impact her clients.

When faced with tough times she believes in pushing forward and maintaining a strong mindset. Rather than allowing setbacks to discourage her, Jade continues to develop and excel in her role. As she likes to say: “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. Failure is not a roadblock but a stepping stone towards success. Failures are what make us – they’re opportunities for growth and self-improvement. We either succeed or we learn and grow. There are lots of great books/podcasts/webinars on this topic but changing your perspective when you can’t change the situation is the best thing you can do.”