woman holding a like a boss mug, kickstart your career

How to kickstart your fulfilling career in 2022

woman holding a like a boss mug, kickstart your career

Janice Burns, Chief Career Experience Officer at Degreed, discusses how you can get ahead in your purpose-driven career in 2022.

It has, undoubtedly, been a tough time in the workplace and ensuring your career’s survival might’ve been your top priority over the past few months. But as we enter 2022, you have an opportunity to take stock and reflect on how you’d like to move forward in your career. It’s worth thinking about what a fulfilling career means to you – what it looks like, how you can get there, and who can support you with your goals.

Becoming your own career architect

My career has been transformed over and over. In the early days, I wanted to become a psychologist. Then, I became a public school teacher, and eventually, I entered the corporate world as a marketer, HR leader and eventually, Chief Learning Officer at Mastercard. Now, I’m the Chief Career Experience Officer at Degreed, a role that I shaped myself and that involves working with leaders in Fortune 500 companies, to help them support their workers in a personal and authentic way.

What links this all is courage, the ability to adapt and learn, and an understanding of the art and science of career management. The first step in building a fulfilling career is to become your own career architect. To know how to design a career with a strong foundation and structure, and that challenges and excites you.

Get used to pivoting

Pivoting is something once associated with the start-up world. Now, it’s par for the course. The pandemic caused widespread pivoting, both company-wide and individually. We saw automotive manufacturers like Ford switch to ventilator production, perfume factories create hand sanitizer, and airlines redeploy cabin crew as healthcare assistants. You can use this momentum to pivot your own career.

Of course, many of these moves during the pandemic were done out of necessity. But in 2022, it will be much easier to switch careers, shift industries, and explore new horizons because of the way we adapted in 2020 and 2021. Whereas before, a hiring manager may have thought twice about a candidate from another sector, this is something more commonplace now. 6.1 per cent of those employed between January to March and April to June 2020 changed jobs during the first half of 2020, compared to 5.7 per cent the year before. Of those who switched jobs, 52.5 per cent moved into another industry. Simply put, massive job shifts will no longer raise eyebrows – and therein lies the opportunity to take a leap for your career.

Five steps to a fulfilling career

However you choose to shape your career, I always recommend following the same five fundamental steps:

Follow your passion

My early passion for understanding and helping humans is my north star. It carried me through training to be a clinical psychologist, to then becoming a teacher. In this role, I first encountered what true educational inequality is like – and its lifelong impact. And this led me onto a new path, to challenge this systemic problem.

Through teaching, marketing, and being the Chief Learning Officer at Mastercard, I’ve now become the Chief Career Experience Officer at Degreed – and I’ve had to make some tough decisions along the way. But my passion always provided a framework for my decision-making, even when the pull of recognition and remuneration was strong.

Understand your value – and develop your skills to increase this

My next career step after teaching took me into a one-year management training programme in a bank. I recognised the value of my analytical and psychology skills combined and wanted to use this to differentiate myself.

After the programme, I chose to enter the marketing department at the bank as it offered the closest fit between analysing and influencing human behaviour. I enjoyed this role for many years before joining Mastercard as a product manager. Over almost three decades, I shaped my contribution at Mastercard into something that drew on my unique skillset (as well as offer personal and professional satisfaction). This translated into leading Mastercard’s diversity effort – and Mastercard eventually made it onto Diversityinc’s top 50 employers list.

All of this started with my skills – with me taking a hard look at what skills I had and what I could bring to the table. I combined this with understanding where I wanted to go and what I wanted to achieve. And then I built the skills and experience that I was missing, through different work tasks, talking to people, and formal/informal learning.

Find your career tribe

One effective way to learn new skills and build your career is to turn to your network. Find people who can act as mentors, sponsors, advocates and supporters, then leverage their skills and knowledge to become better at your work.

Seek out the people who share the same vision and who are willing to work with you to achieve the same mission. In my career, this took various forms, from Mastercard’s CEO and Chief HR Officer, who encouraged my strategic thinking, to David Blake, co-founder of Degreed and Learn In and co-author of The Expertise Economy, who shared my vision for learning equality.

Understand that everyone you meet along your career journey has a lesson to teach you. They may provide inspiration for your next step, or valuable knowledge for your current role. They may challenge your perspectives and encourage you to continuously grow.

Go for opportunities, even if not quite ready

It’s unfortunately common for women to not take a career opportunity unless they are 100 per cent qualified for them (men, meanwhile, apply when 60 per cent qualified). This is selling yourself short as it doesn’t fully value your career and learning potential. Even if you cannot do all aspects of a job, you can learn.

Conversely, in the current climate, you may have to take on work that doesn’t serve your long-term career goals. You can still learn from this. Transferable and social skills will serve you in any role, help you make significant career shifts, and future proof your career.

Pay it forward

Remember the third step? Well, this is the other side. As you grow your career, who can you bring up with you? Everyone has a skill or lesson to teach. Discover what you can offer your colleagues and then actively seek ways to teach and mentor others.

Your passion is your compass

As you journey along your career path, you won’t know where you’ll end up. And that’s part of the joy of cultivating your career. Every decision, every opportunity, can lead you to new areas. Each new role will take you closer to career fulfilment. Especially if you use your passion as a guide.

Even if you take detours, always return to your original purpose. Consider the legacy that you want to leave the world. For me, that’s making sure that everyone, regardless of their education, degree (or lack of it) and background, has access to the economic market. What’s yours?

Janice BurnsAbout the author

As a human capital futurist and strategist, Janice Robinson Burns develops and implements talent management and development programs that drive business results. She recently joined Degreed as their first Chief Career Experience Officer. Prior to Degreed, Janice spent 27 years at Mastercard, with her most recent role as their Chief Learning Officer. As CLO, she led the design and implementation of employee learning experiences and development programs globally, as well as development of frameworks to advance managerial capabilities and effectiveness. Prior to the CLO role, Janice served as Group Head of Human Resources for the Global Products and Solutions organization and Chief Diversity Officer of Mastercard. She earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration from New York University and a Bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University.


cybersecurity, black iphone with padlock showing

Interested in a Career in Cybersecurity? Here’s How to Make a Meaningful Impact

cybersecurity, black iphone with padlock showing

Article by Meera Rao, Senior Director of Product Management, Synopsys Software Integrity Group

I was a software developer and continuous integration practitioner for over 20 years before I accidentally was thrown into the security field.

When I initially joined this field, I had no clue about anything related to security, and was quite nervous when talking to my own colleagues let alone speaking to clients or at conferences, as I do now. Being able to speak intelligently about the field and sharing my knowledge at conferences helped me a lot in my career in the security field. Having a solid understanding of software development, end to end knowledge of the software development life cycle, and a deep understanding of software architectures was instrumental to my success in the security field.

From data breaches, to open source security issues, IoT devices vulnerable to cyber-attacks, and unsecured servers, we have seen it all and continue observing these security issues pop up almost every day. So, how can you be part of an industry which has a severe talent deficit, make a positive impact, grow your career, and be well compensated?

In all honesty, having advanced degrees in information security is not necessary to be a leader in this industry, and I am the prime example of this fact. Let me walk you through the job requirements for some of the latest AppSec focus areas, and offer some guidance around how to contribute and be part of the latest trends in the industry:

Cloud Security Practitioner: Cloud is the talk of the town these days. Every organization (big or small) wants to move to cloud. To work as a cloud security practitioner, you need to have experience in building, communicating, and managing cloud environments. You also need to have managed migration to the cloud, delivered a cloud native project, led and/or delivered cloud automation, and have a working knowledge of Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud platforms. Knowledge of RedHat / OpenStack would also be highly valuable.

DevSecOps Engineer: Who hasn’t heard of these industry buzz words: DevOps, DevSecOps, SecDevOps? If you are interested in being part of a great DevSecOps team as a DevSecOps engineer, then you should gain experience in containerization technology—preferably Docker and Kubernetes, have written enterprise Java applications using the JEE technology stack, have deep knowledge of build automation using tools like Jenkins, Bamboo, release automation (e.g., Jenkins, Puppet, etc.) and experience using scripting languages (e.g., Ruby, Python, etc.).

Security Champion: Security Champions are software developers. They allow for application security development and architecture to provide the first level of defense when it comes to providing application security guidance to development teams. If you are part of a development team, have good communication skills, and are curious to know more about security, you can be a security champion candidate.

The following roles require that you have a solid understanding of application architectures, frameworks, threat landscape, and some security background.

Threat Modeling SME: Threat modeling identifies the types of threat agents that cause harm and adopts the perspective of malicious hackers to see how much damage can be done to a system. Threat modeling subject matter expertise would require you to review the system’s major software components, security controls, assets, and trust boundaries, and then model those threats against existing countermeasures. You would then need to evaluate the potential outcomes.

Threat modeling requires an experienced security architect with knowledge in three fundamental areas: architecture and design patterns, enterprise application technologies, and security controls and best practices. Performing threat modeling is a difficult and an expensive undertaking for most organizations. Finding skilled resources is oftentimes a challenge.

Security Consultant: Do you like traveling (a requirement under traditional circumstances)? How about working within different industry verticals such as multinational media corporations, healthcare companies, financial institutions, pharmaceutical companies, and so on? Do you like the idea of parachuting in wherever software insecurity invades and work to stomp out bugs and flaws wherever they hide? Then you would enjoy life as a security consultant. In this role you will be able to perform source code analysis, software penetration testing, secure software design and architecture, and will become an indispensable advisor to customers.

I want to leave you with a final word. What I’ve shared with you today presents a teaser of all the exciting career options you can have in the AppSec industry. However, the key to being successful is constantly learning about new attacks, threats, and above all, helping customers exterminate bugs and untangle the flaws that make their systems insecure.


Women in tech: There's still time to tell us about your career & the challenges you face!

Calling all women in tech – there’s still time to tell us about your career and the challenges you face!

WeAreTechWomen have partnered with leading research firm, Ipsos MORI & Tech Talent Charter to conduct a survey to discover the barriers faced by women working in technology.

You have until 10 September 2021 to get your responses in and help us to understand how you feel as a woman in tech and the challenges you face around career progression.

A summary of the survey results will be published alongside a set of recommendations to organisations to help them to understand these challenges and to think about how they can put in to place initiatives to support the career progression of their female technologists.

The survey responses are anonymous and your data will not be shared publicly.

SURVEY IS NOW CLOSED

In Partnership With

Ipsos MORI & Tech Talent Charter partner logo
TechWomen100 2021 logo

TechWomen100

Nominations are now open

The TechWomen100 awards are the first of their kind to focus solely on the female tech talent pipeline and recognise the impact of champions, companies and networks that are leading the way. Nominations are now open until 10 September 2021.

CAST YOUR NOMINATIONS

Calling all women in tech! We want to hear about you and your career

Calling all women in tech – we want to hear about you and your career!

WeAreTechWomen have partnered with leading research firm, Ipsos MORI & Tech Talent Charter to conduct a survey to discover the barriers faced by women working in technology.

The results of this survey will enable us to understand how you feel as a woman in tech and the challenges you face around career progression.

A summary of the survey results will be published alongside a set of recommendations to organisations to help them to understand these challenges and to think about how they can put in to place initiatives to support the career progression of their female technologists.

The survey responses are anonymous and your data will not be shared publicly.


In Partnership With

Ipsos MORI & Tech Talent Charter partner logo

Celonis logo

Vacancy Spotlight: Senior Frontend Angular Engineer (m/f/x) | Celonis

Celonis logo

Are you ready for a new challenge? Celonis is looking for a Senior Frontend Angular Engineer in Munich, Germany!

Being a global hyper-growth leader in process mining technology, our goal at Celonis is to establish our Intelligent Business Cloud as a standard SaaS solution in any company. As Senior Frontend Engineer at Celonis, you are responsible for optimizing and implementing existing product features and winning our users through your brilliant applications. With your extensive knowledge in Angular 8, Typescript 3, HTML5 and SASS we are creating innovative data visualizations in the field of process analysis. You will further work on our in-house developed components library that is being used by multiple teams and applications. You are passionate about data visualization and developing web applications? Read on!

YOU...

  • have an above – average university degree in the area of computer science or a comparable education
  • have 5+ years of experience in Frontend Development
  • are passionate about developing user experience focused web applications
  • have experience with Angular, TypeScript/JavaScript, HTML5, CSS/CSS preprocessors
  • are a sharp-minded Web Developer with a clear way of expressing things
  • have a high level understanding of domain, product and architecture
  • can solve complex problems with limited supervision
  • are able to supervise and coach junior and mid-level colleagues
  • have very good English skills

WE...

  • see people as the fundamental pillar of our success. Therefore, we invest into the personal growth and skill development of each individual alongside with the strength finder test
  • offer attractive compensation models (best-in-class salary, stock option packages, employee referral bonus, family service, flexible working hours, etc.)
  • are visionary and one of the fastest growing Software-Unicorns in the world
  • are experts in the field of Process Mining - the new Celonis Execution Management System provides a set of instruments and applications: the EMS offerings help companies manage every facet of execution management from analytics, to strategy and planning, management, actions and automations
  • distinguish ourselves through a unique combination of innovative start-up atmosphere paired with great professionalism and self-responsible work

APPLY NOW

To find out more and apply, please contact: [email protected]


If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here.


woman holding a like a boss mug, kickstart your career

How to kickstart your fulfilling career in 2021

woman holding a like a boss mug, kickstart your career

Janice Burns, Chief Career Experience Officer at Degreed, discusses how you can get ahead in your purpose-driven career in 2021.

It has, undoubtedly, been a tough time in the workplace and ensuring your career’s survival might’ve been your top priority over the past few months. But as we enter 2021, you have an opportunity to take stock and reflect on how you’d like to move forward in your career. It’s worth thinking about what a fulfilling career means to you - what it looks like, how you can get there, and who can support you with your goals.

Becoming your own career architect

My career has been transformed over and over. In the early days, I wanted to become a psychologist. Then, I became a public school teacher, and eventually, I entered the corporate world as a marketer, HR leader and eventually, Chief Learning Officer at Mastercard. Now, I’m the Chief Career Experience Officer at Degreed, a role that I shaped myself and that involves working with leaders in Fortune 500 companies, to help them support their workers in a personal and authentic way.

What links this all is courage, the ability to adapt and learn, and an understanding of the art and science of career management. The first step in building a fulfilling career is to become your own career architect. To know how to design a career with a strong foundation and structure, and that challenges and excites you.

Get used to pivoting

Pivoting is something once associated with the start-up world. Now, it’s par for the course. The pandemic caused widespread pivoting, both company-wide and individually. We saw automotive manufacturers like Ford switch to ventilator production, perfume factories create hand sanitizer, and airlines redeploy cabin crew as healthcare assistants. You can use this momentum to pivot your own career.

Of course, many of these moves during the pandemic were done out of necessity. But in 2021, it will be much easier to switch careers, shift industries, and explore new horizons because of the way we adapted in 2020. Whereas before, a hiring manager may have thought twice about a candidate from another sector, this is something more commonplace now. 6.1 per cent of those employed between January to March and April to June 2020 changed jobs during the first half of 2020, compared to 5.7 per cent the year before. Of those who switched jobs, 52.5 per cent moved into another industry. Simply put, massive job shifts will no longer raise eyebrows - and therein lies the opportunity to take a leap for your career.

Five steps to a fulfilling career

However you choose to shape your career, I always recommend following the same five fundamental steps:

Follow your passion

My early passion for understanding and helping humans is my north star. It carried me through training to be a clinical psychologist, to then becoming a teacher. In this role, I first encountered what true educational inequality is like - and its lifelong impact. And this led me onto a new path, to challenge this systemic problem.

Through teaching, marketing, and being the Chief Learning Officer at Mastercard, I’ve now become the Chief Career Experience Officer at Degreed - and I’ve had to make some tough decisions along the way. But my passion always provided a framework for my decision-making, even when the pull of recognition and remuneration was strong.

Understand your value - and develop your skills to increase this

My next career step after teaching took me into a one-year management training programme in a bank. I recognised the value of my analytical and psychology skills combined and wanted to use this to differentiate myself.

After the programme, I chose to enter the marketing department at the bank as it offered the closest fit between analysing and influencing human behaviour. I enjoyed this role for many years before joining Mastercard as a product manager. Over almost three decades, I shaped my contribution at Mastercard into something that drew on my unique skillset (as well as offer personal and professional satisfaction). This translated into leading Mastercard’s diversity effort - and Mastercard eventually made it onto Diversityinc's top 50 employers list.

All of this started with my skills - with me taking a hard look at what skills I had and what I could bring to the table. I combined this with understanding where I wanted to go and what I wanted to achieve. And then I built the skills and experience that I was missing, through different work tasks, talking to people, and formal/informal learning.

Find your career tribe

One effective way to learn new skills and build your career is to turn to your network. Find people who can act as mentors, sponsors, advocates and supporters, then leverage their skills and knowledge to become better at your work.

Seek out the people who share the same vision and who are willing to work with you to achieve the same mission. In my career, this took various forms, from Mastercard’s CEO and Chief HR Officer, who encouraged my strategic thinking, to David Blake, co-founder of Degreed and Learn In and co-author of The Expertise Economy, who shared my vision for learning equality.

Understand that everyone you meet along your career journey has a lesson to teach you. They may provide inspiration for your next step, or valuable knowledge for your current role. They may challenge your perspectives and encourage you to continuously grow.

Go for opportunities, even if not quite ready

It’s unfortunately common for women to not take a career opportunity unless they are 100 per cent qualified for them (men, meanwhile, apply when 60 per cent qualified). This is selling yourself short as it doesn’t fully value your career and learning potential. Even if you cannot do all aspects of a job, you can learn.

Conversely, in the current climate, you may have to take on work that doesn’t serve your long-term career goals. You can still learn from this. Transferable and social skills will serve you in any role, help you make significant career shifts, and future proof your career.

Pay it forward

Remember the third step? Well, this is the other side. As you grow your career, who can you bring up with you? Everyone has a skill or lesson to teach. Discover what you can offer your colleagues and then actively seek ways to teach and mentor others.

Your passion is your compass

As you journey along your career path, you won’t know where you’ll end up. And that’s part of the joy of cultivating your career. Every decision, every opportunity, can lead you to new areas. Each new role will take you closer to career fulfilment. Especially if you use your passion as a guide.

Even if you take detours, always return to your original purpose. Consider the legacy that you want to leave the world. For me, that’s making sure that everyone, regardless of their education, degree (or lack of it) and background, has access to the economic market. What’s yours?

Janice BurnsAbout the author

As a human capital futurist and strategist, Janice Robinson Burns develops and implements talent management and development programs that drive business results. She recently joined Degreed as their first Chief Career Experience Officer. Prior to Degreed, Janice spent 27 years at Mastercard, with her most recent role as their Chief Learning Officer. As CLO, she led the design and implementation of employee learning experiences and development programs globally, as well as development of frameworks to advance managerial capabilities and effectiveness. Prior to the CLO role, Janice served as Group Head of Human Resources for the Global Products and Solutions organization and Chief Diversity Officer of Mastercard. She earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration from New York University and a Bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University.


If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here.


female data scientist, woman leading team

Making a difference in the world: navigating a career in data and analytics

By Sophie Hiscock, Graduate Consulting Analyst at TrueCue

female data scientist, woman leading teamWhile the technology industry is forward thinking in terms of its efforts to support the ‘new normal’ – becoming a force for good in many ways at this time – it still has a way to go in terms of actively encouraging women to explore a career in technology.

Recent research by PwC, carried out across A-Level and university students, found that only 27% of female students would consider a career in technology, compared to 61% of males, with the main reason being the lack of information, advice and role models for women.

To help bridge the gender diversity gap, it is critical – particularly at a time when students are considering their future – that misconceptions around women working in technology are resolved.

In light of this, I want to share my personal experience of working in technology, how I navigated a path in the data analytics industry as a Philosophy and Economics graduate and ultimately how analytics enable us to make a positive difference to the world.

Entering the technology industry

Studying Philosophy and Economics at university inspired me to pursue a career in data and analytics as both subjects demand rigorous thinking and the ability to apply theory to real-world problems, skills that are central to anyone who works with data in business contexts.

That being said, the technology industry is increasingly diverse in terms of the academic and professional backgrounds of employees. If you do not have academic experience that specifically relates to technology, do not worry. As long as you have an interest in analytics and an aptitude for numbers, you will quickly be able to grow in this sector. A formal background in Maths and Data Science is helpful, but these skills can easily be learnt independently.

Attending bootcamps and online courses can be a great way of understanding whether the technology industry is for you. When I was at university, I enrolled in a programme called ‘Code First Girls’ – a bootcamp taught by women with careers in technology, offering free coding lessons in Python among other languages. Many of the female teachers I came across did not come from STEM backgrounds and speaking to them helped me realise the range of work available to me.

In this way, having female role models is another critical factor in increasing the number of women looking to get into technology. I was lucky to have met some amazing women throughout my university courses and internships. If you are stuck for people to answer your questions at this socially distanced time, I would suggest reaching out to industry experts via platforms such as LinkedIn or LeanFurther which connects young women with professionals in different industries.

Looking beyond the stereotypes

There are vast misconceptions about what working in technology actually involves. When I first started at TrueCue I quickly learnt that working in data is not always about the technical side, being able to communicate well both with the client directly and through visualisations is central.

This balance is reflected in what I do on a daily basis. For example, a typical project for me will begin with requirements gathering, data scoping, data preparation and analysis and will culminate in a visual presentation of the data through a series of dashboards that clients can interact with. Having both the sensitivity and technological experience to fully understand and help the client are key components of working in data and analytics.

Since my time at TrueCue I have worked on many ‘tech for good’ projects, including one with a company operating in the pharmaceutical industry. On this project, I designed an app to help doctors and nurses working in different healthcare facilities to plan for the uptake of a particular drug. This app ensured doctors would be able to plan out resourcing, while taking into account the rate at which patients tend to miss appointments. Speaking directly with stakeholders working in hospitals helped me appreciate how – beyond improving business performance – the work I was doing could improve people’s lives.

Breaking down the barriers

The technology industry is constantly finding new ways to improve people’s lives and with companies becoming increasingly outspoken about the need for greater diversity, we should look forward to more improvements in the future.

To become “Women in Data”, girls and young women must be provided with more information about the amazing work available to them and already done by women in the tech industry. On top of this, a variety of resources are publicly available that everyone, regardless of their academic background, can take advantage of to improve their skillsets and open up more career opportunities.

Technology is open to everyone, no matter their gender, skin colour or background and we must do all we can to elevate this message. To play our part in this at TrueCue we are running a campaign to provide hands-on experience, advice and resources to women considering careers in the industry. Our first event will be a Hackathon on a COVID-19 dataset where participants will have the chance to grow their skills and meet others interested in analytics – please stay tuned to our social media channels for further information.


If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here


Career change, Building a career featured

Develop Your Career by Letting Your Curiosity Take the Lead

Article by Caroline Carruthers

Career ChangeMy bedside table currently has four books. They cover critical thinking, psychoanalysis, nutrition and vampires. What does this have to do with women in STEM? Read on…

First, a confession. I’m considered a data expert, but I don’t know everything there is to know about data. In fact, I probably don’t even understand 10% of subjects that I would like to. The truth is that anybody who tells you they know everything they want to know is lying to you. There’s still so much more that we can all learn, both inside and outside of our chosen fields.

Some people would describe the desire to want to constantly strive to know more as belonging to that of a lifelong learner, but I’m not a fan of that phrase. “Learning” makes you think of cold classrooms, being forced to read textbooks and write on chalk boards (for those of a certain age!). But that’s not what that thirst for knowledge feels like. When I seek out new information, I feel like I’m exploring. I read, listen, watch. Then I try, inevitably fail, and learn from my mistakes. The most important lesson I ever learned was to explore knowledge with anyone who is generous enough to share it with me.

That eclectic mix of books on my bedside table reflects the best piece of advice I could give to young women looking for a career in STEM: let your curiosity lead! Early on in my career, I tried to fit in and learn how people did things by simply following their lead and their orthodoxies. But then I found that the most effective way to really progress and perfect your skills is to understand things at your own pace and let a thirst for knowledge lead your development.

Career development shouldn’t be linear. How can you know what you’re good at if you don’t try new things? On my bookshelf I’ve got books on psychology and food, business practice and fiction. Just because you’ve found something you’re good at, it doesn’t mean you should forego all of your other interests. This is especially true for young women who want a career in STEM.  You shouldn’t allow yourself to settle for something. Rather, you should always be looking to expand your knowledge and branch out into new areas. This will help your career to progress, but it will also help you progress as a well-rounded person.

So, my advice to any young woman looking to break into a career in STEM is simple: don’t limit yourself. Never be afraid to wander a different path or let your curiosity lead you somewhere unexpected. Knowledge is knowledge, and even if it’s not obviously useful today, it could be a game changer further down the line.

About the author

Caroline CarruthersCaroline is an international data cheerleader and was one of the first Chief Data Officer's in the UK. Leading data for Network Rail among other companies, Caroline became a pioneer in the UK data industry. She has used her position to set up a data literacy and consultancy practice and dedicates time to going into schools to encourage and inspire girls to take up careers in STEM subjects.


finding the right career, applying for jobs featured

Finding the right career that fits you and your lifestyle

job application, right career

Emily Alpert is a UX/UI Designer at Vodafone and a proud mother. She had spent the majority of her adult life, until recently, in the non-profit campaign sphere. Whilst this is a rewarding sector, she had not been completely satisfied in the role for a long period. Sadly, the barriers in place for a woman’s career progression post-maternity leave are hard enough to overcome, even when simply returning to your previous job. Now, imagine being a new mother and knowing you want to pursue an entirely different role. This was the exact position Emily found herself in before changing her career and studying an intense, hands-on course in a brand-new subject.

Emily made a number of attempts to move away from her non-profit campaign role prior to becoming a mother.

But a mixture of not knowing exactly what it was she wanted to go into and the need to sustain a regular income left her unable to secure the career shift she so desperately wanted. She knew she needed to go into a role which enabled her to be creative and hands-on, but had been unable to find the necessary support to make the switch. “I wanted to explore and do something different, something more creative,” Emily says. “But the only thing I seemed qualified for was exactly what I had been doing.”

Before she was able to make this career change, Emily and her partner decided it was time to expand their family of two into a family of three. This meant putting her career ambitions temporarily on hold as she took time out to raise their new born baby. This didn’t mean that Emily was any less set on pursuing a future career change, it just delayed when it was going to happen.

The barriers to success for a new mother

After six months of maternity leave Emily was ready to make the move back into work. She took this opportunity to seriously look at what options were open to her before jumping into anything and make sure the move was right for her.

Emily looked for freelance projects in communications and marketing, thinking that there may be opportunities on offer which included creativity as well as the necessary flexibility a parent requires. Despite numerous interviews this didn’t come to fruition. Emily herself admits this was in part due to her lack of enthusiasm for the roles themselves. “I was trying to be something and do something that I didn’t have a passion for,” she says. “That had come through more than I had hoped.” However, being a new mother and having the financial pressure of needing to get back to earning an income doesn’t leave much space to figure out your true professional calling in life.  Eventually, Emily put her dreams on hold and went to work for a consultancy.

Emily’s eureka moment

Still frustrated by the stasis she felt her career progression had fallen prey to, she once again began brainstorming. But it wasn’t until one morning when discussing the current job role with her husband that she finally found her breakthrough. When she was describing the more creative tasks that she performs for the consultancy her husband, a full-stack web developer, responded “Oh, that’s what a UX Designer does!”. This immediately piqued her interest. “I started reading all the things UX entails and right away I knew it was perfect for me” Emily explains. “It’s creative and analytical at the same time.” She had finally found her calling.

Trying to find training opportunities

Now Emily was equipped with a clear goal; to gain the necessary training to become a UX Designer. You would have thought that this would go a significant way towards simplifying the process of her career change. She looked into a number of UX training programmes but was met with some fairly cynical responses surrounding her ability to juggle the challenges of parenthood and the workload that training would entail.

When Emily investigated the commitments of various different courses, many responded in a way she wasn’t expecting. She explains that mostly she was just met with the response of: “Well, we can’t tell you what the workload is going to be like. You’re just going to have to do 20 hours of work outside of class regardless.”

Making the bold step into a new career path is a daunting process at any point in one’s life and it is vital that the necessary support is provided; especially when having to also meet the responsibilities of being a parent. Emily began to worry she would never find the right fit. That was when she came across RED Academy London.

Just right

During her first meeting with RED Academy, Emily was immediately struck by their understanding nature. “They seemed like they would be supportive of me and my lifestyle at the time,” she says. “They said they would work with me and that we’d figure it out one day at a time.” Emily was finally able to feel like her aspirations were viable again. RED Academy understood that being a new mother should not be a barrier to realising your career ambitions.

More than offering the necessary support they also offered real opportunities to get stuck into gaining actual experience in the industry. “I felt that being able to work with real clients was invaluable,” she explained. “It felt like I would get the opportunities and skill sets that would be valuable in the marketplace.”

However, Emily still feared that despite her best efforts her dream wouldn’t come to fruition and that in actual fact she was jeopardising her family’s financial security. “I felt like it was a big risk,” she says. “I thought, ‘Omigosh what if I spend all this money and I’m no closer to finding a career?’” RED Academy’s supportive nature allayed those fears and allowed Emily to take a step towards her future.

Challenging but successful

The work was exhausting, especially on top of Emily’s responsibilities as a new parent, but it was not overwhelming. This was aided by the fact RED fulfilled their promise to be supportive, and luckily her classmates proved to be equally as caring. She was also relieved to discover that her classmates were of all ages as she had previously been concerned that she would be the oldest in the class.

Along with the invaluable training she received, RED Academy also helped her build her CV and portfolio. This meant that she was fully equipped with the necessary tools to make it in the world of UX Design. So, despite that fact it was difficult to juggle everything, she was provided with all the support she required to feel confident in her new venture.

Once graduated, it took Emily four months to secure a new job. When she finally secured a position, it was the perfect one. She is now the UX/UI Designer at Vodafone, and her new workplace provides Emily with both the creativity she wanted to have in her role as well as the collaboration and support she required.

Of course, working and being a parent is still challenging. “It’s definitely been an adjustment,” Emily admits. “It’s still tiring to work all day and then come home and do nursery pickups, dinner and bath time.” Which is completely understandable.

However, now Emily is in a role that makes her happy and allows her to progress her career the way she wanted to. “I wouldn’t want to do it again exactly, but it was worth it” she quips. And it certainly was. Emily proves that you should never give up on your dreams, despite the barriers you may find yourself confronted with. Just make sure you find yourself the right support and training to help you along the way. Most importantly, trust the process!


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Getting to the top in a male-dominated industry

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Article provided by Kate Newhouse, CEO, Blenheim Chalcot

Starting out in any career is daunting – and the tech industry is no different.

The change of pace is monumental: pitfalls are plentiful, and hurdles lie around every corner. It can be a minefield to navigate.

My career in tech began in the health space with Doctor Care Anywhere – an ambitious tech start-up and patient-focused app that set out to disrupt the way people engage with the health sector. I was part of the founding team and led the business through to its Series B fundraise, before moving to Blenheim Chalcot where I’m the CEO.

Throughout my journey, I’ve seen the important and valuable result of prioritising inclusion and diversity. There have been vast improvements in the tech sector – one in nine senior leaders in the tech sector, comes from black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds, compared to one in twelve in the FTSE 100.

But in terms of gender diversity, there is a huge amount of work still to be done. The tech sector lags behind other industries in its gender diversity, with women making up only 12.6% of board members, compared to 30% female representation achieved by FTSE 100 businesses.

As CEO I think it’s really important to be constantly innovating – and doing so requires a diverse workforce of bright minds. Diversity runs deeper than gender and true inclusion is multi-faceted, but it is reassuring to see more women breaking the glass ceiling in the tech sector.

I’m fortunate to work with a number of these bright minds, who bring a wealth of experience and backgrounds to their work. As Director of Operations, Venture Builder Services, Rachel Burnham is leading the charge and supporting transformation across the portfolio. Verity Buck at Salary Finance, Fay Miller at Fospha, and Amy Crawford at AVADO are all inspiring change across the Blenheim Chalcot portfolio.

Alexandra Darmon, the first Data Scientist hired at Blenheim Chalcot, worked with Researcher to develop AI-driven technology to help academics stay on top of the literature. Meanwhile, Dovile Hann, the CFO at Hive Learning, is transforming the way organisations train their staff and upskill their employees.

This is huge reason for optimism, and a sign the industry is moving in the right direction. But there are still many barriers, and the truth is that women are expected to overcome disproportionately steep hurdles to reach executive positions.

What steps should be taken?

It’s easier said than done, but we should never forget the value of celebrating role models whose achievements help generate waves of progress. The businesses placing diversity and inclusion at its heart, and creating products and services that solve real-world problems, acting for the betterment of society and using tech as a force for good.

But championing progress isn’t enough. We won’t get far unless we make longstanding commitments to improving inclusion that guide and shape business strategy, and that revolutionise workplace cultures to support all team members and ensure they are able to realise their potential. This goes beyond the demographics of the workforce and Board and will influence the ideas, products and legacy.If we are to effectively take on the challenges and make measurable progress then we have to start early – as business leaders, mentorship is critical in building tangible ties and beyond the education system, helping to light the path into the tech sector for all.

At Blenheim Chalcot, we are proud of the impact of our BC Build programme. An intensive six-month programme, BC Build, aims to identify the leaders of tomorrow, expand their areas of expertise and equip them for positions in leadership.

Our Director of Operations, Rachel, also set up a ‘coffee roulette’, in which every employee can be paired with a senior member of the team, in a completely random partnership. People make professional and personal ties that span not only level but also social groups and backgrounds. Clearly there are small steps that every business can begin to implement which support internal inclusion and ensure that the most talented individuals are able to realise their potential.

Tech is a rapidly evolving and expanding sector, one that is colliding with every other industry and underpinning Britain’s digital economy – from finance to healthcare. The sector needs more women, a goal to form part of a holistic view of diversity in tech. If we are to continue to produce globally significant innovation, then we need to realise the potential held within all of society.