How tech can learn from the Lionesses

England Women's Football Team - Lionesses

Article by Amy O’Donnell

Watching the Lionesses win the Euros was a game changing piece of history. I cried at how momentous it felt.

The atmosphere and excitement felt not only significant for a sport where we traditionally only see men on the prime TV spots, but because feels like the winds of change for how women are perceived in the UK.

The ban on women’s football by the Football Association was only lifted in the UK in 1969. At primary school in the 90s, I remember the boys had our male teacher referee their football game as they played on the flat, professionally marked out pitch with the best quality ball. Us girls had bumpy scrubland with a half-flat netball and were left to our own devices. Speaking with young women in the youth group I run, the lengths they go to at school to get equality in sport makes it feel like not much has changed.

Unlevel playing fields

Women and girls face similar unlevel playing fields in other areas of society, including the tech industry. I can’t help but think what the industry I work in could learn from the Lionesses’ momentous journey.

With an all-time high of 870,000 UK tech vacancies in a world where females hold 17% tech jobs, there are huge repercussions – not just for filling this gap and equity of opportunity to attain a highly paid tech job.  It’s bigger than that – who designs technology impacts how our society is shaped and how decisions get made.

Role models

For me the first lesson we can learn from the Lionesses centres around role models . I watched Alex Scott’s documentary The Future of Women’s Football where Simone Magill (striker for Northern Ireland) said: “if you can’t see it, you can’t be it.”  Role models are powerful in showing what is possible and inspiring others “who look like me” recognising barriers are often confidence over capability.

In our Nominet Digital Youth Index, we found female respondents were less likely to want a career in tech than males and Tech She Can research found 3% of females cited technology as their first-choice career.

This comes down in part to a lack of role models and the way careers in tech are perceived as just coding when in fact, there are diverse inspirational applications digital roles in fashion, in the environment, in charity and beyond.

The documentary also spoke to lack of diversity in the women who make the team – the same goes in tech. Just 4% of technology professionals are women of colour. In both tech and football, we have to recognise women do not have homogenous needs and barriers, and there is a gap in well researched intentional strategies for inclusion.

Inspiration from a young age

The second lesson is starting young. I think the whole country has enjoyed getting to know schoolgirl Tess Dolan dancing to Sweet Caroline at the semi-final as a symbol of inspiring the next generation. Ian Wright asked her on BBC breakfast “After watching the match, does it make you think you can do that?” and Tess said: “Yes, definitely.”

Ian Wright spoke about this milestone moment for girls getting to play football in schools.  Likewise in tech, it’s about having the opportunities – it shouldn’t be just those at private schools swanky computer labs who get an early introduction to learning digital skills.

There are some starting points in tech we’ve made in tech around girls in STEM Micro:bit are getting minicomputers into primary schools, and Brownies are gaining coding badges with Google giving the opportunity to learn skills and shift attitudes about girls in tech. Stemettes run intersectional programmes, impactful events and inspirational platforms to support young women and non-binary people ages 5 to 25 into STEM and related careers.

Last night, Jonas Eidevall – the Arsenal women’s coach- said “We need better talent academies… the players you see here are not here because of the system, but despite the system.” Likewise, while this collection of universal initiatives offer a great start, there is a gap in the pathway of support for young people into digital careers at a systems level – to help them understand their options, entry points and support around mentoring and professional development.

Male Allies

There is also a role of male allies. Are men’s voices strong enough in advocating for women in tech, similar to the way Ian Wright speaks out in support of women in football? In 2015 Owen Barder invited people to sign a pledge to boycott men-only speaking panels (known as #manels). A great start – but what could the 2022 pledge look like to have men displace privilege? Standing up for better diversity in recruitment processes or team dynamics and supporting women’s leadership not just at public events but every day in the workplace.

Changing norms and narratives towards sustainability

Finally, and most crucially, mindsets matter for what is perceived in society as important. It leads to investment and commitment which is fundamental for sustainability. The London Olympics in 2012 transformed sports like cycling a decade on – how do we do that for women in tech?

The post-match discussion centred around investing and putting resources behind women’s football and how the early adopters will reap the rewards and tech is the same. The companies that go the extra mile to attract diverse talent and support early careers will come out on top. Diversity is more than a tick box, and solutions from teams with better gender balance are more likely to appeal to a diverse audience.

Two years on from the UK Equal Pay Act, women in STEM careers typically expecting to be paid £7,107 less than men. Lewes FC is the first club to guarantee equal pay and the same ticket prices for women and men. If men and women received equal pay in tech, it would be easier to attract women into the sector.

The Lionesses have inspired me in my life. They are doing so much for women in sport and beyond in other areas of society too. The journey over 15 plus years has shown what it takes to counter norms. It’s now important to make this legacy last, not just for women in football but for women in tech too so we can all have our lioness roar moment.

Amy O'DonnellAbout the author

Amy O’Donnell is Senior Programme Manager, Social Impact, at Nominet where a large part of her role is to support partners in navigating the way digital technology is impacting young people in the UK. She leads on strategic pillars exploring digital transformation in mental health and widening participation in digital skills and careers.

With over ten years’ experience supporting social impact initiatives, and helping to design inclusive approaches in the context of new digital realities, she has played an active role in the strategic direction of the Nominet Digital Youth Index, offering interactive, annual benchmarking data and insights about young peoples’ experiences both on and offline.Amy is passionate about privacy by design, ethical good practice, diversity and intersectionality.

With previous experience as Digital in Programme Lead at Oxfam and Project Director for FrontlineSMS:Radio, Amy joined Nominet in 2021 and has brought with her vast international experience as a champion for responsible data and countering inequality in a digital world.She is also dedicated GirlGuide Leader and co-District Commissioner in Headington, Oxford, which most recently has involved running activities connected to Safer Internet Day 2022.

female data scientist, woman leading team

Why women should consider analytics as a career path

female data scientist, woman leading team

Louise Lunn, Vice President, Global Analytics Delivery, FICO discusses why building a career in analytics will lead to purposeful engagement, meaning and motivation.

There has never been a better time for women to be part of the technology industry.

Powered by advancements in computing and AI, there are now huge opportunities to solve interesting problems at a global scale. This opportunity, combined with the momentum to build a diverse workforce, makes it a truly exciting time to be part of the analytics industry. In fact, the data scientist has been called “the sexiest job of the 21st century” by Harvard Business Review.

The coronavirus outbreak caused widespread concern and economic hardship for consumers, businesses, and communities across the globe. It also accelerated digital transformation, the use of open banking data and the adoption of AI in financial services.  The focus within the financial services industry switched to digital transformation programmes. The use of data and analytics by businesses was also expanded to improve understanding of customer circumstances through both good and bad times, with the aim of winning loyalty and achieving profitability.

Data science teams play a fundamental role, responding to the critical need for banking systems to make excellent decisions in an automated fashion. For example, banking scams have been climbing during the pandemic, due to the growth in real-time payments from debit accounts. FICO data analysts used AI and machine learning to develop analytic models that specifically focus on identifying abnormal payment transactions in real time, to help curb fraud.

Creating a positive experience and prioritising customer experience and personalisation is so important in the current climate and analytics teams are fundamental to this function to ensure relevant and non-conflicting offers, treatments and messages are sent. And the growth of data means the door is pushed even wider for those looking for a career path in this field.

The job functions that build an analytics team vary from data scientist, data architect, data analyst, to data engineer. Within these roles you’ll find a whole host of specialties, such as:

  • The Algorithm Guru – understands the variety of choices for the breadth of tasks
  • The Architect –ensures that the infrastructure can manage large-scale datasets and ensure things run fast!  Strong computer science and software knowledge.
  • The Data Modeler – building the models
  • The Deep Diver – analyse the data/models to extract key insights
  • The Storyteller  – is needed to articulate the insights (from the cutting-edge analysis)
  • The Cat Herder – keeps everyone together and on track with where they should be

For anyone thinking about data science as a career route, the opportunities are immense. These roles are an offshoot of several traditional technical roles, including business domain expertise, mathematicians, scientists, statisticians, and computer professionals.  All these different jobs fit into the disciplines of a data scientist.

With large-scale data within organisations and growth within analytics teams, there are so many elements that make working in analytics feel purposeful. I feel grateful to be in a position to attract and retain the stars of the future in analytics and software. I enjoy giving people the opportunity to grow and develop, and then watching them go on to achieve great things. My role allows me to cultivate engagement, meaning, and motivation with my team and clients as we solve problems through data and analytics.

Within FICO we have an excellent support network through groups such as [email protected] – a community available to women at all levels, designed to enable structured information/experience sharing, education, and professional networks.  Led by a steering committee of women leaders representing our various business units and geographies, it gives us many opportunities to get involved and further our network globally.

The key thing for women looking to take the first step into analytics or for those looking to develop their roles is to try working in different areas within the field and seize any opportunity to acquire a new skill or programming language.  Stay determined, work hard and never be afraid to voice your opinion. FICO creates an environment that fosters learning, improvement, and success, and I’ve always appreciated that!

Louise LunnAbout the author

Louise Lunn leads FICO’s created Global Analytics Delivery organization. Based in the UK, Louise oversees teams of data scientists worldwide who develop custom analytics solutions and exploratory analytics projects for the world’s top banks, as well as retailers, telecommunications firms, insurance companies and other businesses.   

Business Woman in tech. Stronger together, Happy women or girls standing together , girls, power, strong, strength, feminism Feminine, woman empowerment, vector illustration.

How to forge a vibrant career in tech, no matter your circumstance

Business Woman in tech. Stronger together, Happy women or girls standing together , girls, power, strong, strength, feminism Feminine, woman empowerment, vector illustration.Right from a young age, I knew tech was for me.

Any talk of the tech world, with its constant breaking of ground and fantastical advancements, sounded like the stuff of fiction – a band of wizards and fortune-tellers, whose future-gazing box of tricks favoured data sets and scientific theory over potions and tea leaves. My fascination with tech remained throughout my education, culminating in my master’s thesis, where I mapped out how I thought the internet would change the face of business, before the internet had even hit the mainstream.

I loved the possibilities technology presented, though as with all childhood aspirations, my resolve would inevitably be tested by the reality-checks that came with adulthood. As I write this today as a CEO and co-founder of a global tech business, I’ve observed along the way how unequally career paths can be littered with obstacles depending on a person’s life choices (for example, for those who choose to have children), although this certainly isn’t exclusive to tech, and I believe that it is – rightfully – dwindling as a theme.

That said, challenging the rigid, well-trodden rules of How To Succeed In Business is not just about making space for mums, and it’s reductive to always bring the conversation back to that. There are any number of valid reasons why a person can’t be – or won’t be – chained to a desk from 8-8, ready to fly round the world at the drop of a hat, on-call to work through the night three times a week. And yet, someone who finds themselves needing or wanting something different to that might be the most brilliant technological mind an organisation could let slip through their fingers. Surely, then, the decision to consider something more flexible – more dynamic, more innovative – should be an easy one. The priority should be to find the best minds and the best talent, rather than someone whose daily schedule matches that of the CEO, and that was a founding principle for me when launching Spinview. One example of how this has manifested in our culture is a company-wide understanding that something work related should never be the reason you miss your kid’s play, or their football match, or any other similarly important event in your personal life, and you’ll never be judged for putting that first.

While many tech companies have hitched their wagons to the flexible-working caravan, others remain reticent. Whether or not examples of the latter offer a model that is right for you is a very personal choice, but my lived experience tells me that it is possible to forge a successful career in technology alongside a life outside the office – you just might need to look a bit harder for it. It’s worth saying also that whilst the technology industry has a way to go before it can call itself entirely inclusive, companies with more accommodating working models are not needles in the haystack. One of the most exciting characteristics of our industry is that it is rife with innovation; you need only look at the likes of Salesforce, Spotify and indeed Spinview to see thriving examples of enterprises born out of innovation, which also don’t subscribe to the rigid 9-to-5 – and that’s before you entertain the notion of starting something yourself, should that be right for you.

In short, innovations of recent years have given rise to ways of working that would have seemed frankly daft to anyone in tech a certain number of years ago. And yet, here we are in 2022, proving that change isn’t always a recipe for disaster. Ultimately, you need to establish what you want and need from a place of work. What are your non-negotiables, and where can you be flexible? Interrogate your knee-jerk reactions, but know your boundaries, and resist those who tell you that they’re impossible standards if they’re what you need. If it’s a case of square peg, round hole, that might just be fair enough – but it certainly isn’t unreasonable of the peg to be square.

The brass tax is this: like all industries, the tech space is home to some who will double-down on their ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to working models, even when presented with evidence of a viable alternative. This mindset exists despite the irony of our industry being one rooted in the evolution of ideas.

The fact these organisations still exist, though, certainly does not mean that there’s no room in tech for someone who doesn’t fit the old school Working Person mould. The industry has come on leaps and bounds since I sat writing my thesis, and it will only continue to evolve. It stands to reason, then, that if you are so inclined, there’s space in the tech world for you. No amount of campaigning and reasoned evidence will change every naysayer’s mindset, but luckily that isn’t a burden you need to shoulder in order to forge a vibrant and rewarding career in tech.

About the author

Linda WadeLinda Wade‘s farsighted understanding of the power of vision is helping transform business efficiencies across all sectors. As co-founder of Spinview, Linda’s ‘big’ thinking and technical skills have helped many organizations to understand their spatial data through visual technology, making it understandable and accessible to all.

Through senior positions at world-leading technology companies such as Microsoft, Linda has gained a wealth of technical foresight and commercial experience. Spinview has afforded Linda a platform to bring together a team of experts to build a new era in technology, whilst championing flexible working and equality for female leadership roles in the tech industry.

A day in the life of a test engineer

Heather Carter

Communication and coordination are important aspects of being a test engineer, according to Heather Carter from global tech consultancy, Saggezza.

While studying Software Engineering at University, I came to realise my passions lay in software testing, unlike most of my fellow students who were planning on becoming developers. Often, people in the industry are unaware there is a career to be had in testing, but being a test engineer is incredibly rewarding.

What is software testing?

Software testing is the act of evaluating and understanding a software product to ensure it is working the way it’s supposed to. There are a number of different approaches to testing the behaviour of products and applications, but the most common methods we use at Saggezza are end-to-end testing, exploratory testing, integration testing, user acceptance testing and pair testing.

  • End to End (E2E) testing involves testing the functionality and performance of an application using a real user scenario from start to finish.
  • Integration testing is where all the individual components of the software are combined and tested together to check the integration between units.
  • Exploratory testing is a type of testing that involves minimum planning and maximum test execution, which allows users to think outside the box.
  • User Acceptance testing is when you test software to make sure it can do what it originally set out to in real-world situations.
  • Pair testing is when two people test the same scenario together, sharing best practice with one another.

What does a typical day look like for a test engineer?

Like a lot of job roles, I begin my day checking emails and messages which usually dictates how I will map out my day in terms of tasks.

At Saggezza, we have a stand up call each morning, which involves my team discussing the work that was completed the day before and what we will work on that day. It’s a great chance to catch up with people working on the same project to discuss any bugs that may have been found in a software product or application, and it also gives us the chance to ask any questions before we start the day.

Once we’re all caught up, my day mostly consists of testing applications the team are building. We’ll also have meetings throughout the week to discuss projects and plan work for the next sprint.

The great thing about being a test engineer is that every day is different.

What skills do you need to be a test engineer?

As a test engineer, two of the most important aspects are communication and coordination.

You need to be able to collaborate with developers in order to understand how each other works and show them how you test, allowing for you both to manage workloads efficiently and seamlessly. And don’t be afraid to ask questions, there’s no such thing as a silly question when you’re a test engineer.

You will also have to juggle multiple tasks at once, so you need to be able to coordinate your day effectively and communicate with your team, especially when working on larger tasks such as setting up an automation framework.

What can we do to inspire more women to explore careers in tech?  

For me, I want to try and get more women into tech by doing talks in colleges and universities. There needs to be more women in tech and in order to do that we need to get more people passionate about it by starting at primary school level, not just university level.

Technology is still very much a male dominated industry, however, the number of women choosing to study STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects is on the rise and many organisations like Saggezza are working to address this imbalance.

As the industry continues to develop with more female role models, I think young girls will be able to see themselves working in the industry and have a better understanding of what they can achieve. Testing is an amazing career and one that I hope more young women continue to consider. 

Business Woman in tech. Stronger together, Happy women or girls standing together , girls, power, strong, strength, feminism Feminine, woman empowerment, vector illustration.

Tips for a successful career in tech  

Business Woman in tech. Stronger together, Happy women or girls standing together , girls, power, strong, strength, feminism Feminine, woman empowerment, vector illustration.Article by Fatima Elleouet, Head of Global Vertical Markets, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise

Finding success in anything in life is about hard work and devotion, for women of my generation starting out in a very male dominated field it was tough. Hard work was part of it, but it was also making sure you are one of the best in everything that you do.

I enjoyed the technology world so much that I spent much of my time learning and improving so it really didn’t feel like hard work. Now, with over 22 years of experience in the industry, I’ve learned a few lessons that have helped me to develop a successful career.

Work hard, be engaged and avoid routine to remain motivated.

Through my career I have always had a hunger for knowledge, the continuous input of knowledge keeps me constantly engaged, motivated, and looking for more.

Keeping on top of the latest news and research in your field, as well as attending conferences and events to consume all the latest information, keeps your mind engaged and focused.  Knowledge is important for motivation, but it’s also important for strategy and planning. Gaining more knowledge should never feel like one of those jobs that you have to do. It’s fun and empowering, so if it’s not for you, time to move on and do something different.

Find something to do each week that you have never done before.

Routine is important as it creates time for you to complete necessary tasks, but there needs to be room in your diary for variety. Keeping focused means you have to keep things interesting even during those really tough weeks. Injecting variety into your week makes sure that life is always interesting.

Acquire additional skills to always stay relevant.

It’s essential to keep learning and upskilling to stay on top of your game. With the necessary skills you will ensure you continue to be an asset to your company. I undertook a Business and Marketing MBA while working to enhance my knowledge and contribution as an employee at ALE.

We’re working for most of our lives, and the world is constantly changing. To make sure you are not left behind, keep training to power your success.

Find the right balance between personal and professional life. 

Hard work doesn’t mean working 24 hours a day. Be smart with your time – use productivity tools and continually review processes to ensure optimised working days.

As a career-driven person, it’s easy to slip into the realms of overworking, and sometimes, you can’t avoid it. A big project comes up; it needs you, you love what you’re doing, so you devote your time out of hours. But  don’t let this become a habit. And if you’ve spent additional hours completing a project one week, allow yourself to not have a stretched week the following week, it’s all about balance and give and take.

Treasuring my personal life motivates me to work harder. For me, time spent with family, cooking, playing tennis, travelling and discovering new cultures are all so important. Finding a balance between work and personal life means I never lose sight of the things that make my life feel so special to me.

That balance may look different for you, but establishing it, will protect your career in the long run. Losing sight of personal life often leads to burnout, ultimately and ironically affecting how you perform at work.

There is a time for everything in nature.

In life, once we accomplish something, it’s so easy to move straight on to the next. We’ll often live the moment we dreamed of just a few years ago without even realising it. So, I’ve always found it helpful to take the time to reflect so I can appreciate how far I’ve come.

Don’t rush  ‘climbing the ladder’, your end goal may take years, perhaps even decades, so it’s important to enjoy the journey. Ensure you celebrate how far you’ve come in the present day and enjoy your current successes.

That being said, I’ve always kept an eye out for new opportunities. Reflection is different to complacency: always strive to do your best and don’t be afraid to push yourself.

Believe in yourself.

Belief is the most important tip I can share. Believe in yourself, your worth, what you can achieve today, and your potential in the future. You will always be your biggest cheerleader, so don’t wait for someone else to believe in you.

Self-belief will help build your credibility as a woman in tech and surpass the challenges you face along your career journey.

About the author

Fatima has 22 years of experience in communications, Cloud and network technologies and now leads the global vertical market strategy for the sales and marketing division of ALE.

Fatima’s interest in technology started back in secondary school in Morocco, when the first technology college opened in her region. Fatima went on to gain a baccalaureate in Electronics and a degree in Computer Engineering in France.

Fatima has moved through the ranks at ALE, starting as a computer science engineer, then professional services expert, bid manager, program manager, and product line manager, to a business development manager in several verticals.

woman coding on laptop, Code First Girls

A project manager’s advice for a career in tech 

woman coding on laptop, Code First Girls

Article by  Mel Rees, Project Manager, JLL Technologies EMEA

Like many other people in the career they eventually choose, I fell into my own.

I work for JLL Technologies (JLLT), a division of JLL that helps organizations transform the way they acquire, manage, operate, and experience space. But I’m not a computer scientist, a software developer, or a data analyst. I’m a project manager.

Twelve years ago, I had just returned from maternity leave to my role as a marketing and events manager for a major drinks company. It was the first real career gap that I experienced, and I found it difficult to reconcile my new situation with the demands of the role. So, I left my marketing job and worked at a DIY retailer until I figured out my next step.

A new opportunity

One day, a friend called me and said there was an opening for a role as a contract coordinator in the company they worked for – Integral UK, a nationwide building engineering services firm. I knew nothing about engineering, but I was used to planning, managing and co-ordinating multiple activities, tasks and people to achieve the end goal required. That said, I understood that I was entering a traditionally male-dominated environment. As a woman and a non-technical admin in this space, I set out to learn as much as I could within an industry that was entirely new to me.

In my role, I looked after the critical infrastructure of a major bank. It was my job to ensure that the customer’s portfolio and flagship buildings had 100% uptime, which meant coordinating teams of engineers and scheduling works a year in advance as well as ensuring compliance for all qualifications, change requests and processes. I learned about critical power supplies, generators, and the kind of maintenance tasks Integral’s teams performed. I’d visit sites to see the infrastructure and equipment first-hand. This allowed me to speak to engineers confidently and gain their respect, mitigate risks and justify our decisions to the customer.

A second career gap

By this time, like so many other businesses in all sorts of sectors, building engineering was going through somewhat of a digital transformation. Historically, engineers did everything on paper, marking jobs as complete on spreadsheets and writing down meter readings. Ten years ago, some branches still used timecards for engineers to clock on and clock off. So, Integral formed Project Phoenix, a digitisation programme to move these systems and processes to the cloud, making engineers more productive, delivering a better service to the customer, and creating more revenue for the business.

Then, halfway through Project Phoenix, I was back on maternity leave and experiencing my second career gap. On top of everything, JLL had acquired the business while I was away. On my return, I struggled with confidence. With a new team, a new company, and a new corporate environment, where exactly did I fit into the bigger picture?

Luckily, I had an excellent management team supporting me through it all. Project Phoenix had an opening for a PMO and, with my line manager’s encouragement, I studied for a Project Management Association Qualification (APMQ). Twelve months later, I was finally a qualified Project Manager in my own right with the accreditation to prove it and the lead PMO for Project Phoenix.

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Find mentors 

During the digitisation programme, I was lucky enough to work closely with JLLT and went on to collaborate on numerous projects, including the rollout of a new digital on-demand service across 260 contracts, and the installation of IoT sensors and analytics tools in 1,000 sites for a major bank.

Through this work, I also found a mentor who has coached me for the past 18 months. Melanie Mack is the head of IWMS Solutions at JLLT. Her confidence in me and my experience with tech projects gave me the confidence to believe in myself and that I could transition my skills to a technology company – so, in March 2021, I made the switch and began a new role as project manager at JLLT EMEA.

Thanks to Covid-19, Melanie and I have only met in person once, but we feel like a close-knit team. It’s important to build your network. One initiative that has really helped me during the pandemic is virtual coffees every quarter. Our names get put into a hat and we’re matched with JLL employees all over the world for an informal chat, creating a real sense of community. It has also resulted in my joining the JLL global PM COE Committee (Project Management Centre of Excellence), discussing PM best practices and how we can support and standardise across the business.

Pay it forward

It’s no secret that STEM can be a challenging environment for women, whether they’re entering the sector or trying to progress in their career. Women make up just 19% of the student cohorts in STEM degree-level courses. There’s also a gender disparity when it comes to promotions.

I believe young women need positive role models. So, in my spare time, I help run a local Brownie pack. Through the guiding programme, we try to teach girls the skills they may need for their future as well as broadening their views on what they could aspire to be. Recently, we’ve even sent them on a few STEM-focused expeditions where they could look at satellites and learn about space.

Never stop asking questions

My advice to any women who worry about climbing the career path is to never stop learning. Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you’re uncertain or seek support from your managers and colleagues – it’s likely that they’ve experienced the same things you’re going through.

Find mentors you admire and learn as much as you can from them. Even more importantly, don’t forget where you came from and the people who supported you on your journey – maybe you can bring them along on your journey and help inspire others, too.

Finally, it’s important to remember that technology is a growing sector that requires all kinds of skills, experiences, and diversity of thought. You don’t have to be a developer or a coder to thrive in this space. You can be a marketing professional, an administrator, a project co-ordinator, or even a project manager – like me!

woman coding on laptop, Code First Girls

How to transition into a career in tech

woman coding on laptop, Code First Girls

Have you ever read about the tech sector’s latest success and wondered how you can be part of it too?

This is a question that many smart professionals ask themselves today.

The tech sector is booming

The pandemic hit many sectors of the economy, but it has been fertile ground for tech. Revenues at the tech giants,  Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft, grew by 40% on average compared with the same period a year ago and profits soared by 90%. In every minute of the first three months of 2021, these companies made $88 bn profits before tax. This is more than $1bn of profit for every working day!

While local businesses shut down, tech companies went on a hiring spree. But, if you have never worked in a digital environment, it is easy to assume that they would never hire you.

In 2021, I taught MBA students and executives at London Business School and Oxford University’s Said School of Business. Most of my students, while very smart and capable, do not have backgrounds in computer science, and have not worked in tech.

In my courses students learn technology concepts for non-technical professionals. We cover what role design plays in technology, the difference between a back end and a front end, how to use APIs to scale audience, and so on.

This knowledge is the foundation for the students’ bigger goal: a transition into a career in tech.

Some of them want to start tech enabled businesses, others want to become tech investors, yet others aspire to corporate leadership roles.

Whether you want to transition into tech as a founder, an investor or an employee, I have found that there are core strategies that lead to success.

Capitalise on your experience as a user

My former student, Juliet Eysenck, had no intention of working in tech when she started her career as a journalist. Juliet was a news reporter at The Telegraph.

At the Telegraph, like at any other publication, journalists have their own portal to upload news stories. After using the journalist app to upload her news stories, Juliet began giving feedback about this product to the team in charge. She shared her insights as a user, to make life easier for herself and her journalist colleagues.

As she did this, Juliet realised that product management appealed to her more than breaking the news. In turn, the product team got to know her and found her user insights valuable. So, when a job opening for a product manager came up, the team asked Juliet to apply. She did and she got the job.

Juliet transitioned into a career in tech because she had a unique user perspective. She became a product manager for a product made for journalists.

Whatever you do today, you have a unique user perspective. Your insights as a user can be the thing that gets you into tech.

What apps and sites do you use to do your job? How would you make them better?

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Get involved while doing your day job

Oksana Stowe began her career in investment banking but wanted to swap death defying hours and corporate culture for life in venture capital. Sadly, many investment bankers have the same idea, and competition is fierce.

To transition into a career in tech investing, Oksana started making angel investments with her own money. This helped her learn about start-ups and technology, and to widen her network.

Since 80% of jobs do not get advertised according to some estimates, having a network and being known for your expertise is vital in a career transition into tech.

This strategy worked for Oksana and she is a successful venture capital investor, investing in retail tech and consumer technologies today.

However, most people do not have the funds to make angel investments to pivot their careers. But you can use the same principle, without spending your hard cash.

You can get involved as an organiser at an angel investment network. This will give you exposure to start-ups and investors, show you how tech investment decisions get made, and ensure that when there’s a job opening in a VC fund, you’re the first to know about it.

Where can you volunteer that gives you exposure to tech? I am positive that there are plenty of opportunities that you could get involved in right now.

Transition into tech via your clients

Ronan Walsh runs a marketing agency called Digital Trawler. While his core competency is marketing, he participates in the tech boom via his clients: his agency only works with software as a service businesses.

If you are a professional services expert, like a lawyer, an accountant, an advertiser or a PR, you could pivot into tech by working with clients in this lucrative sector.

To attract and retain tech clients, you do need to know the basics of what they do. If you’re pitching your services to a tech company and you don’t know the back end from the front end, you are probably not going to win the client.

You need to know the core concepts of technology, rather than retraining as a coder. If you know how to connect technology concepts to business outcomes and user needs, you are well equipped to be a strategic advisor to a tech business. This is not hard to learn and is exactly what I teach my students.

Transitioning into a career in tech for non-technical professionals is not only possible, but that there are many more ways to do it than you probably think. Juliet, Oksana and Ronan are just three examples, but there are many more.

Would you like to become one of them too?

Sophia MatveevaAbout the author

Sophia Matveeva MBA is the founder of Tech for Non-Techies, an education company and consultancy (with a very useful podcast).

woman holding a like a boss mug, kickstart your career

5 Tips for a successful career in tech

woman holding a like a boss mug, kickstart your careerArticle by Valerie Junger, Chief People Officer at Quantcast

The tech industry is always changing and evolving. That’s what makes it an exciting, challenging, and rewarding sector to work in.

While there is no one formula for success, here are a few tips I’ve found to make getting a head start easier.

  1. Be inquisitive

A curious mind is your number one asset. In tech, everything is constantly evolving; new technologies, products, and business models can sprout up overnight to reshape the landscape. To be a part of the change, you need to understand it, and that can only be achieved by staying curious and asking questions. Never think, “But it’s not part of my remit” – you never know how that knowledge will serve you later on.

  1. Embrace lifelong learning

Getting your college degree no longer signals the end of your education; today we are all students for life. Research suggests that 85% of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t been invented yet. With technology advancing at a faster speed, we will all need to upskill and train as we progress in our careers. Thankfully, online courses are making it easier and more accessible. It’s not just invaluable to your professional development – it can lead to personal growth as well.

  1. If at first you don’t succeed…

Tenacity is key to success, especially for women in tech. Today, only 19% of roles are filled by women, and this figure decreases to just 5% for Asian women and 3% for Black and Hispanic women. More progress is needed, but we are headed in the right direction. However, that doesn’t mean the road will be easy. Expect challenges, but hard work and determination do pay off.

  1. Nurture a support system

No one succeeds alone, and working mothers especially require a support system. Strong personal networks and communities enable women to better confront the challenges of juggling work and home life. It’s great to see companies step up by offering greater support and flexibility as well. All of these relationships are important and will help empower you on your path.

  1. Expect the unexpected

Your career path might not turn out as you expected – and that’s okay. If anything, it’s good to explore and experiment so that you can discover what truly excites you. It doesn’t matter if what you do doesn’t align with the life plan you had at 22: the important thing is to enjoy the work and find ways to continue growing everyday.

The key to a successful career in tech? Always remember that you don’t know what you don’t know. Keep learning, keep questioning, and keep pursuing your interests. It will pave your path to growth – both on a personal and professional level.


The common misconceptions of women in tech and how to overcome these


Advice for getting into tech

“Women lack the education for a career in tech.”

Girls receive the same level of education in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) as boys, at least until the age of 16, so I don’t agree that there is a lack of education, but more a lack of interest - something, I feel, that comes as a result of the fact that in the past, young girls have not always been encouraged to pursue careers in STEM. As a result, we now have a generation of women with little/no interest in these type of careers, however, times are changing and we are starting to see that the next generation of women are beginning to receive that support. Hopefully, this will mean that we will start seeing more women enter tech careers over the next couple of years.

“You have to code to work in tech.”

Often people are under the impression that to work in tech, you have to be a developer or engineer or something quite technical like that, but in reality this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Nowadays, “working in tech” can mean anything! For example, my role at CoinCorner is head of marketing - I don’t code or do anything even a little bit “techy” - so while coding roles are certainly a big part of technology, they are only one avenue. From marketing to customer support to compliance, tech is much more than just coding!

“Techies are nerds that work in cubicles and never see the light of day.”

Do cubicles still exist? Certainly not at CoinCorner, that’s for sure! Our office has an open-plan layout with panoramic windows; our teams (including management) sit at work benches together and are able to speak to each other at any time. We’ve found this to be extremely successful in promoting an open and transparent culture, helping to break down the walls (literally) that can often prevent effective communication between team members.

“Girls don’t like/care about technology.”

Wait, what? Who doesn't like technology? Technology has given us amazing opportunities to connect and make our lives easier - smartphones, social media and cryptocurrency, to name a few! I feel it’s important to note that technology isn’t the far-removed concept that it perhaps was in the past. Technology is all around us (and has been for many years!) and is something that most people interact with in some way on a daily basis. The assumption that girls in particular don’t like/care about technology is simply inaccurate as most of today’s young women have grown up with technology as much as their male peers. It’s also the same for older women too - over the past few years there has been a huge uptake in older women using social media and technological devices.

In addition, there are now a lot of resources available for women with an interest in not only using technology but learning about the background of it too. For example, there are many STEM organisations specifically for girls/women - Code First: Girls, STEMettes - which are proving popular. This proves that girls are interest and do care about technology!

“Gender stereotypes”

There’s a stereotype that “boys are better at science and maths than girls” and it’s introduced to children at a young age. This can easily discourage girls from studying STEM subjects, affecting their confidence to even have a go at any of these types of subjects.

Education sets the tone for many people’s career choices and it’s important to look at how schools are shaping curriculum. With more encouragement at school, I might have pursued STEM related subjects, however, I wasn’t given the right support at the time and felt I should pursue more humanities-based subjects instead. Although this hasn’t affected my ability to get into a career that I love (marketing), it did limit my choices somewhat at an important stage in my young life.

Furthermore, there is actually very little difference in the average ability of boys and girls when it comes to STEM subjects - meaning that there’s no reason girls shouldn’t be encouraged to pursue courses in these areas. In order to attract more girls to study STEM subjects at university and pursue STEM careers, we should tackle these stereotypes earlier at primary and high school levels.

About the author

Molly Spiers is head of marketing at CoinCorner - one of the UK's leading cryptocurrency exchanges. Considered (almost) a veteran in the crypto industry, Molly joined CoinCorner back in 2015 (before crypto was “cool”) and has helped grow the company from start-up to success. Molly was recently named as one of the "Women To Watch: Top UK Women in Blockchain 2019".

In her spare time, Molly enjoys going to the gym, playing netball and spending time with her husband, Mike, and son, Charlie.

Young people in tech, tech careers, mthree featured

Tech careers for all: dispelling the myths around a role in technology

Young people in tech, tech careers, mthreeArticle by Hayley Roberts, CEO at specialist cyber security distributor, Distology

Despite efforts to level the playing field and encourage more women to consider a career in tech over the past few years, the figures are still nowhere near where they need to be.

Stats from the ONS in February revealed that fewer than a third of UK tech jobs are held by women and while this is a steady increase on the past few years, when you look at leadership and technical roles, the figures are far lower.

It’s difficult for me to digest these stats when I know a) how interesting, fulfilling and dynamic a career in tech can be, and b) just how much value women add to tech businesses. The stats speak for themselves. Companies with higher levels of equal representation are more profitable and companies with at least one woman on the board of directors outperform those without any women by 26%, according to Gartner figures.

My journey into tech

My own journey into the sector almost started after I graduated in business – I had the option of working on a graduate scheme for IBM or working for a toiletries company helping to run the retail accounts for the likes of M&S and Next. Contrary to where I am now, I chose the latter. Mostly due to the fact I could conceptualise where it fit and the supply chain was more obvious. IBM and what the business did other than hardware eluded me – and the IT world seemed slightly greyer back then.

But they say everything always finds its way, and three industry moves later I landed at a security distributor, after working as a head-hunter for six years (ironically setting up the Dell team in the business’ first Moscow office). I had taken some time out to focus on family after the credit crunch in 2008 and decided a change of environment was just what I needed.

Given my skill set was mainly in sales, marketing and leadership, it was transferable – and this is the message I’m always keen to convey to those who might be working in other careers and considering a role in tech. This was 12 years ago, and I became the second in command at Codework, a small but successful security distributor which predominantly focussed on Symantec. The rest is history.

Dispelling myths about tech roles

Before delving into the myths around tech roles, it’s first worth considering the educational landscape we’re operating in. The drop off in interest around tech, and more widely STEM subjects, starts in late high-school – a 2017 Microsoft survey found that young women become interested in STEM subjects at around 11 and then lose interest when they’re 15. It’s no coincidence that this is around the time when people tend to start falling into more traditional gender roles of what a male or female ‘should’ be doing.

While women are more than capable of coding with the boys, the thing is, tech careers aren’t just about sitting behind a computer inputting code – which is where the misconceptions often start. A huge myth about working in tech is that you need a computer science degree to do it, which simply isn’t true.

A few examples will perhaps better illustrate my point. Anyone with a keen interest in fashion could take up a role at an online fashion brand at Boohoo or ASOS, looking at how people shop, for example, and how to optimise the website in line with this. Or those with a love of psychology and identifying human behaviour could relish in a role in UX or UI design. In the same vein, those with a keen interest in art could make a great web or graphic designer, or those that love building relationships could become a great tech project or account manager. For these reasons, tech is also a great career to ‘switch’ into, by applying and building on transferrable skills learned in other industries.

Another huge myth is that you need to be ‘technically minded’ to succeed in a career in tech. That couldn’t be further than the truth for many roles. What drives my recruitment strategy here at Distology is hiring based on core competencies rather than pure experience. An element of interest in the technology side of the sector is of course important but, ultimately, tech is a solution to a problem and these problems all have human factors.

The final myth I wanted to cover is that tech roles are analytical and don’t offer room for creativity. Again, this is a huge misconception and the tech world is full of creatives – from web designers and content creators, to marketers and product strategists. As I mentioned previously, tech is all about solving problems and coming up with better, more effective ways to do things; now if that doesn’t involve an element of creativity, I’m not sure what does!

A sector of opportunity

As one of the world’s fastest growing and ever-evolving industries, I’m on a mission to get more people – particularly women – interested in a career in tech. For those just starting out and know tech is the career they want to get into, and equally those that are in other careers and want to use transferrable skills to switch career without starting completely from scratch, the opportunities in tech are endless and exciting. And as many skill sets in tech cross over, there tends to be plenty of opportunities to try new things out and it can be relatively simple to move over to other departments within an organisation, so you’ll find it hard to grow bored!

About the author

Hayley RobertsFollowing a 20+ year career with blue chip enterprise businesses in retail, recruitment and technology, Hayley Roberts is the founder and driving force behind IT Security distributor, Distology. The company specialises in identifying, representing and distributing the latest disruptive technology in the cyber security arena.

Hayley has carefully nurtured a unique company culture that encourages vibrancy and ambition and as a result, Distology has won various accolades including CRN’s Distributor of the Year 2019, Cloud Distributor of the Year 2020 and the Gender Parity at the Women in Channel Awards. This year, Hayley has also been shortlisted for CRN’s Women in Channel Woman of the Year and Role Model of the Year, while the business has been shortlisted for Distributor of the Year (sub £250m turnover), Cloud Distributor of the Year and Technology Incubator of the Year.