Inspirational Woman: Candice Arnold | Chief Marketing Officer, IFS assyst

Candice ArnoldCandice joined IFS assyst as CMO from Eggplant. She was named as one of the top 50 most influential women in the UK Channel and was shortlisted as CRN’s marketeer of the year in 2018.

 As a senior marketing professional and a digital native, she firmly believes that marketing breathes life into brands and services.

With prior experience at IBM, Sun Microsystems, QuantiQ, and Oracle, Candice brings an extensive track record of expertise in cutting-edge technology and marketing innovation.

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

I joined IFS – a global enterprise software solution provider – as CMO of their newly acquired Enterprise Service Management (ESM) business unit. Technology and its ability to make our lives easier has always been a passion for me, so IFS assyst’s brand proposition of using smart solutions to improve employee and customer experiences excited me from the outset.

Over the course of my career, I have been fortunate enough to work with some of the world’s largest and most innovative technology companies, from IBM to Sun Microsystems and Oracle. I firmly believe in the power of marketing to breathe life into brands and services and have extensive experience leading large global teams to solve complex commercial issues.

At the same time, I’m a strong believer in the importance of being an advocate for women in technology and have aimed to set an example for women hoping to enter a similar field. I was proud to be named as one of the top ‘50 Most Influential Women in the UK Channel’ by CRN, as well as being shortlisted for its ‘Marketeer of the Year’ award in 2018.

Currently, at IFS assyst, I am working on bringing the evolution of the product to market. Our next product release, due for General Availability over the summer, consumes most of my time at the moment. This pivotal release provides customers with the ability to discover, manage and optimise their cloud and offline applications and infrastructure without additional cost – included in their ESM subscription. This capability is foundational and crucial for organisations looking to anticipate and fulfil employee demands.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Growing up in apartheid South Africa, it felt like I had two choices. On the one hand, I could do nothing and live as a product of the system, while on the other, I could forge my own path. Ever since I can remember, I have strived for the latter. From an early age I had the ambition to excel and stand out amongst the status quo. I was born into a culture animated by storytelling, so for me marketing felt like a natural choice, enabling me to marry my skills and drive.

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

There have been multiple challenges along the way, especially as a single mother working across multiple regions. In the morning, I’ll wake up early to connect with my team in APJ, followed by getting on with my day job. I’ll then pause for dinner, play and bathtime, before picking things up again to work with my west coast colleagues. To make all of this happen, time management is an essential skill I’ve had to master and finding the right balance in my daily routine has been key.

From connecting with many women from all walks of life, I’ve had the opportunity to hear from different people on their own experiences within the workplace. I’ve learned that there’s a number of common issues that have stacked-up against us, from negative self-talk and imposter syndrome to fighting against glass ceilings and the gender pay gap.

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

My career tipping point came when I started being unafraid to advocate for the customer amid bureaucracy. In fact, in a 360-degree report with a previous boss, the most glowing comment said: “she is impossible to manage, but customers simply love her work.”

One of my main principles is being customer obsessed. I believe this is the key to a thriving organisation and creating competitive differentiation, which is especially vital in the technology space, where companies are constantly being disrupted.

By focusing my marketing discipline on making things clear and easy for customers interacting with the business, I’ve seen great successes. The approach sets a virtuous cycle in motion: the company becomes sensitive to customer buying patterns, which in turn educates offerings and allows the entire organisation to sell the way people buy.

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

There are a few things I wish someone had told me before I started my career:

  1. Marketing can be thankless: sometimes the small things go unnoticed, but don’t let that dishearten you. Steve Jobs summed this up well – “details matter, it’s worth waiting to get these right.”
  2. Create for your audience, not the critics: remember it is easy to criticise, but it takes real courage to build something. Don’t let one person’s opinions get you down – there is every chance your audience thinks differently and appreciates what you’ve created.
  3. Practice kinder self-talk: imposter syndrome is real, and the higher you move up the ladder the more people are watching you. Learning about a new role or business can’t happen overnight and during this time your inner critic can take hold. It’s important not to be too harsh on yourself.
  4. “Colouring in” shouldn’t be negative: one of my previous CEOs used to fondly say we were the “colouring in” department. While I hate the idea that all we do is use colouring pens to solve a problem, I believe design is extremely important for bringing technology brands’ stories to life.
  5. Use the right tools: use the tools that make you feel in control even if that means you need to become your own IT support. I’m also a big fan of Piktochart, Keynote, Unsplash, and the Adobe Creative Cloud.

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

Progress has been made, but unfortunately barriers still exist for women working in the technology space. Data from Tech Talent Charter has shown that only 15% of women work in technology roles, which is a shocking statistic when you sit down and think about it.

We need to ensure technology career paths feel like an option for girls from a young age, which is reliant on rethinking the current curriculum. Organisations also need to make sure technology roles are advertised in an inclusive way – and marketing campaigns can play a key part in ensuring that businesses are promoting open positions effectively to attract diverse talent.

Representation matters. Women of all ages from pre-school and beyond need to see and hear from striking role models. By this, I don’t mean presenting stylised versions of ourselves. Instead, I mean authentic ‘sheroes’ in positions of power telling our story to the media and in boardrooms.

This has huge ramifications for workforce hiring protocols, spokesperson opportunities, our politics and the media we fuel our thoughts by.

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

From a marketing perspective, creating strong female role models within the business is extremely important. Ensuring that women working in technology roles are given a platform not only internally, but to reach wider external audiences should be a top priority for every marketing team.

Offering flexibility is also key for women balancing work and family life. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the world of work forever. Employees’ expectations have changed drastically – we now know we don’t have to be an office every day to carry out tasks successfully.

In hybrid working environments, the key is ensuring we are giving employees seamless employee experiences, no matter where they are working. Technology and practices like ESM can really help here, allowing businesses to deliver great employee experiences across every device and automate repetitive tasks.

What female role models throughout history have inspired you?

While not necessarily specific to technology, I am an avid reader and most inspired when I consume the stories of powerful women. I was enamoured with Maya Angelou after I read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. I also really connected with Michelle Obama’s story in Becoming – her childhood in a small, humble family filled with love really touched me.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

A good starting point is working with organisations like Founders4Schools. The platform publishes resources that support a STEM agenda and can help expose leaders with diverse worldviews to classrooms across the country.

I also recommend surrounding yourself with progressive thinkers. I love Audible as I have access to feminists like Matthew McConaughey, activists like Brene Brown and Roxanne Gay, as well as storytellers like Stephen Fry and Tina Fey.


Sandra Moran

Inspirational Woman: Sandra Moran | Chief Marketing Officer, WorkForce Software

Sandra Moran

Sandra Moran has more than 25 years of experience enabling global software and technology companies to strengthen their brand and accelerate revenue growth through a customer-centric approach.

Having held leadership roles in marketing, sales, new business, and product management, Sandra has built and led high-performing global cross-functional teams to support the identification and delivery of sustainable business growth. Before joining WorkForce Software, Sandra served as the CMO at LLamasoft and INTTRA and has held global leadership roles at OpenText and Hyperion. Sandra earned a bachelor’s degree in business analytics and research from Texas A&M University.

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

I’m Sandra, Chief Marketing Officer at WorkForce Software, the first global provider of integrated employee experience and workforce management solutions.

I’m proud to have 25 years experience in roles of increasing responsibility across marketing, sales, new business, and product management. Through this, I’ve built and led many high-performing, cross-functional teams that have enabled global software and technology companies to strengthen their brand and accelerate revenue growth.

As CMO, I focus on raising brand awareness for WorkForce Software’s enterprise workforce and employee communication solutions, which help some of the world’s most innovative organisations optimise their workforce, protect against compliance risks, and increase employee engagement to unlock their potential for resiliency and optimal performance.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Early on, I didn’t imagine my career would lead to marketing. With a degree in Business Analysis and Research and an early start as a systems analyst developing software and implementing it for businesses, marketing was not on my radar. Looking back, there were several pivotal moments where opportunities presented themselves and I leaned into them.

The first, moving from behind the keyboard to a pre-sales role presenting solutions to potential customers. An acquisition that offered a national marketing position, and a trusted mentor who saw my ambition and work ethic and continued to offer more opportunities in roles of increasing responsibility and authority that gave me the chance to grow into a global role. Today, marketing is more about the use of data to maximise marketing investments and my systems background has served me very well, as we are increasingly using technology to reach our buyers and support them through their entire life cycle.

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

Like everyone else, I have faced career challenges – not taking a promotion that would have required a relocation, for example. I think it’s important not to dwell on setbacks but to consider what lesson they had for you and what opportunity you can make out of it. In my case, not accepting that promotion created a chance for me to move into the sales organisation to drive adoption for the product line that I was previously responsible for building. It was a great experience that has enhanced my knowledge today.

The biggest challenge was reconciling my personal life with my work life, and it saw me leaving the traditional corporate world for several years so that I could be present and available to my family. There is no shortcut to getting in touch with things that matter most, and I was fortunate to have started my own business and then return to corporate life easily. It’s been one of my greatest blessings to have been able to feel successful in both my professional and personal life.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to work on the successful unicorn exit at LLamasoft for the $1.5 billion acquisition by Coupa Software. It is what many private equity-backed senior leadership teams work for. The acquisition followed building an amazing global team, successfully repositioning and re-branding the company and the development of an effective global demand generation capability and partnership with sales to achieve double-digit revenue growth.

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

I have always been a consistent executor, undeterred by not having done something before and committed to surrounding myself with exceptional team members. Being someone who consistently created company ‘firsts’, has helped me to develop a love of learning, the ability to build momentum for change, and a steady focus on seeing projects through successful execution – even when faced with resistance to change. It also taught me to be willing to take the first step to get projects moving and actively plan for learning and rapid adaptation that is often needed when you are doing something new. At today’s pace of business change, building “perfect plans” isn’t always possible. Building plans with key milestones and the ability to listen and rapidly adapt has been an important lesson and one that together with amazing teams has been important to my success.

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

Be curious. Make sure you fully understand the business problem and whether it’s worth solving. Some people call this the “5 Whys” – asking 5 layers of “And why is that important”. Practice it for anything you give your time and attention to.

Be willing to say no to things that will prevent you from doing the things that matter. Be true to yourself and know your strengths. You don’t have to be afraid not to know everything. You must be committed to finding the right answer and bringing the right people together to achieve success.

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

The pandemic further exposed the diversity challenges that continue to persist in the workforce, despite the investment in DEI initiatives and training programmes by many large employers. The reality is that women have been disproportionally impacted by the pandemic, with many opting to change their roles to navigate the personal and family challenges created by this unique situation.

In fact, among the women employed full-time prior to the pandemic, almost a third (29% have since reduced their hours, while almost one in ten (9%) left the labour market altogether. This mass exodus of women from the workforce has contributed to the labor shortage and left a void in more diverse thinking – particularly for fresh ideas around innovative new services and products, as well as problem solving and balanced leadership decisions that only the inclusion of more women can provide.

In my opinion, having the right company mindset to support new ways of working, enabled by workforce management systems and processes to support their implementation, will provide female workers with greater flexibility and ensure they feel valued and engaged in the wider business.

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

Businesses must be dedicated to not only hiring and retaining more women within their workforce, but also helping them to evolve in their roles. Organisations should be offering consistent opportunities for upskilling and job training. This will also require companies to consider new levels of schedule flexibility, work shift patterns, and other alternative coverage models that support the needs of women who often have additional responsibilities outside work.

I’d also love to see more tech companies adopt earned wage access (EWA) payroll solutions, to help single mothers to access their wages before payday as they are working up to higher earnings. The technology behind this is mainstream and involves capturing an employee’s daily worked hours and processing payments based on the rules that apply to that day. In an environment where inflation is at its highest in thirty years, I believe EWA should be in the plans for employers.

There are currently only 21 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

For me, I think the one thing that will truly accelerate change is more female mentors with hands-on experience in STEM subjects. We all need guidance, particularly those considering or just starting out in a tech career, so experienced female mentors are essential to help young women navigate through workplace challenges. While this is a lot of pressure on the 21% of women currently working in tech, I believe these trailblazers will be key to enticing and retaining future generations of female talent.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I am a big fan of McKinsey Research, and I am a subscriber and avid reader of their articles, research, and regularly listen to their podcasts. Having a deep understanding of business is critically important – before you start applying technology solutions. Find a quality source for operational best practices, for marketing that was Forrester Decisions (formerly Sirius Decisions), that you can leverage and adapt versus building everything from scratch and to establish targets as you are pioneering change. I also recommend webinars and presentations from vendors selling solutions and tools for your area of work. They are sometimes full of better practices and ideas for continuous improvement. Whether you learn one new idea or confirm that you are on the right track, looking for ways to continue to learn and grow should make it onto your priority list every week.


Liz Engelsen

Inspirational Woman: Liz Engelsen | Chief Marketing Officer, ZavFit

Liz EngelsenLiz Engelsen is Chief Marketing Officer at HealthTech start-up ZavFit. After working with some of the world’s most recognised brands like Starbucks, Wrigley, British Airways, Motorola, Diageo, IBM and MasterCard, Liz made a bold and perhaps radical decision to step down from a prestigious role as Executive Director of Strategy at Interbrand to start a family.

This gamble paid off and now she’s back carving out a different type of career. Enticed by ZavFit’s purpose led mission to tackle money stress and help people feel happier and healthier, Liz is part of the ZavFit leadership team looking to make a difference in people’s lives.

Thinking differently has been a common thread in Liz’s career, having created countless brand, innovation and marketing strategies. She prides herself on getting people excited about new ideas and always putting the customer first. Liz’s past career spanned assignments touching four continents, running workshops in 35 countries, and she lived/worked in New York City, London, Amsterdam and even a few months in Tokyo. She is now based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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

Hi everyone! My name is Liz, I’m an American based in Edinburgh. I’ve been here for nearly eight years following a few years in London. I’m currently the Chief Marketing and Engagement Officer at ZavFit, a HealthTech start-up. We have developed the first money related health app to improve stress.

Most of my career was in New York working at big consulting companies for some of the world’s most recognised brands like Starbucks, Wrigley, British Airways, Motorola, Diageo, IBM and MasterCard. I have developed brand, marketing and innovation strategies for these brands all focused on consumers and trends.  I made a bold and perhaps radical decision to step down from my last role as Executive Director of Strategy at Interbrand to start a family. Most of my friends and colleagues were shocked by this decision and now after a few years off, I’m carving out a different type of career. I was enticed by ZavFit’s purpose led mission to tackle a global issue of money stress and along with the team, I’m looking to make a difference in people’s lives.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

The simple answer is no. However, I always had ambitions of taking on larger roles and bigger assignments. One thing I did learn early on was to get as much as possible from my current role by delivering great results day after day, being proactive, and always taking on more responsibility than was asked of me. I was a sponge soaking up as much knowledge from my peers, my boss and people in other departments. I largely worked in consulting companies so it was a fabulous way to meet people in other types of agencies and also understand how my client’s businesses worked. My past jobs have taken me around the world conducting research, hosting meetings, running workshops & training sessions and presenting new strategies across four continents and 35 countries.

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

Regardless of the role or company, there are always challenges, set backs and for every high, there will be a low. While it felt absolutely crap at the time, looking back I can now say that each of these situations has helped me grow, become smarter and more versatile. From a big important meeting turning into a disaster, to being passed over for a promotion, to losing a multi-million pound pitch, to sexual harassment, to being made redundant. There will be lots of obstacles, it’s okay to feel down but then think about what you can learn or create from the situation.

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What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Now that’s a tough question. Some of my biggest achievements have proudly been as part of a team working together to bring something new to the world. I find that teams with the most diverse skills & backgrounds produce the most interesting and unexpected ideas. I’d say this has led to some of my career highs – being part of the team that developed & launched Starbucks VIA or working with Wrigley’s global leadership team in China, Germany and the US to develop a new vision & purpose to guide the company and inspire employees around the world. Perhaps my biggest achievement is some of the exceptional young talent I mentored that have gone on to run their own companies and are in senior roles in big global companies.

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

Always hiring people that were smarter than me and training them to one day push me out of a job. Having a talented team is everything. I’d also say being resourceful and looking for the positive in every situation.

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

Be curious. Always listen & learn from every situation/experience. Don’t sit and wait for training to be offered, think about how you can gain new skills/develop yourself, not just related to your job or other useful business skills. Approach your career as building and gathering skills and then think about where else those skills could be applied. Tap into networking events that are targeted to your interests be it start-ups, wellness, design, etc.

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

I’m new to the tech world and have used my expertise in other areas, building brands, customer experience, launching & embedding new ideas into organisations for my current role at ZavFit. I’m going to say something that I actually haven’t done yet, find a mentor to help you break through the barriers.

There are currently only 17 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

That’s a good question, why aren’t there more women in tech. If there were more female founders, then this could spark some change. ZavFit is a female founder business and we are quite proud that 50% of our team is female!

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Since ZavFit is a HealthTech company, I’m obsessed with all things Health & Wellbeing at the moment, so my list includes anything from the Global Wellness Institute and WellToDo. I’m also into trends, so reports from the Future Laboratory and Intelligence Briefs are really useful.  Lastly, I’ve been really impressed with the career, networking and start-up content at AllBright, a club/community for women.


Inspirational Woman: Christin Günther | Co-Founder & Chief Marketing Officer, BIOMES

Christin Günther

Christin Günther, 35, is the co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer at BIOMES.

In 2012, she successfully completed her studies in Media & Communication Sciences and Psychology at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany. She lived in London for more than six months and has worked in various major German cities for well-known companies during her professional career. This includes several years of agency and management experience at executive level, including as Head of Media with a budget responsibility of over 13,000,000€. In 2017, she co-founded BIOMES NGS GmbH, a biotechnology company which now has over 60 employees. BIOMES uses the Next Generation Sequencing method to analyse the DNA of microbes that live in and on the human body. The results are personal microbiota profiles, on the basis of which clients receive individual recommendations for improving their quality of life. Outside of work, Christin has a passion for travelling to foreign countries, as she has an affinity for languages and other cultures.

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

My background is pretty far away from what I am currently doing. I have gone from working in marketing to co-founding BIOMES, a DNA biotech start-up. This is actually a good thing, because I have a good understanding of consumers and markets from my background in communications, psychology and advertising and therefore was able to help our scientists to make a simple product out of very complex high-tech laboratory processes.

I am a co-founder of BIOMES and started off as CPO, Chief Product Officer. I was responsible for our product and communication of this product. One of the most important tasks in my field was to create a brand that feels good and is associated with health, but at the same time conveys 100% science. Or in other words - building a ‘sexy’ brand around a scientific stool test (the INTEST.pro uses revolutionary DNA sequencing to analyse your gut intestinal flora to provide personalised diet and lifestyle changes for improved quality of life, all from a pin-sized stool sample). Currently, the INTEST.pro is our only test, alongside our priobiotic range and product bundles. However, our DNA technology can do much more and our goal is ambitious. We want to become the go-to provider for genomics and are already setting the gold standard in DNA-based microbiome analysis.

I am currently switching roles from CPO to CMO – Chief Marketing Officer. With this, I am letting go of product, but I am integrating the sales team into my responsibility.

As a founder in tech, it is super important to not only focus on your own responsibilities, but to check what’s going on in the rest of the company. So, I make sure to do a lot more than product, marketing or customer satisfaction.  I “watch” that everything we do is in line with our values and that we maintain our amazing company culture that is authentic from when we were just 7 founders to now, a growing company that wants to become one of the very rare German ‘tech unicorns.’

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

To be honest – no. I was always very ambitious in what I did, but I did not have a specific plan. I wanted to do well at uni which I did, and I wanted my first job to be in a renowned advertising agency which it was. I got to the point where I did not want to do advertising anymore, but something with more “sense”, something that does good for people. Then I met our now-CEO Dr. Paul Hammer and took a chance co-founding BIOMES, which was the best decision ever because it’s way more than a career-step, it’s a nonstop roller coaster ride.

Coming from a social and behavioural sciences background and working in marketing for many years before founding our biotech start-up meant that I was from a completely different field and it was a wonderful experience for me to immerse myself in our technology, to understand what it can do and to turn it into a product that customers can easily use at home.

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

Before co-founding BIOMES, just like everyone, I experienced good and “bad” bosses, but even from the “bad” ones I learnt a lot. There is so much to learn in terms of how NOT to do something when you become boss.

The biggest challenge within BIOMES was and is the constant confrontation with German scepticism. In our experience, it is much more common in Germany to demonise new technologies and to immediately label new things as ‘useless’, for fear of having to deal with them. We experience this again and again in our discussions with doctors, experts or the media. In the US and UK, there is a culture of supporting new start-ups and technologies. The INTEST.pro has helped more than 20,000 customers feel better - yet there are still self-proclaimed experts whose knowledge is not ours who continue to call it useless.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

My biggest career achievement so far has been to take a leap and co-found a company whose valuation we have now increased more than tenfold, which has already made over 20,000 customers happy and employs over 60 people who really enjoy working for us. Our 60 employees are of eleven different nationalities, and we have a female quota of 45%, which is really great for a company with a focus on IT, laboratory and bioinformatics. I have always been committed to gender balance, but I am also very proud of my male co-founders who have never questioned it.

Furthermore, the possibilities for BIOMES are almost endless. With our core technology, we can theoretically analyse any DNA that exists on the planet. For example, our bacteria also influence soil fertility, the health of livestock and the purity of our waters. So, in the future, our analysis could help make soil more fertile and livestock healthier. I am proud to be part of something with so much potential.

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

From my first and best (female) boss I observed that she was asking more questions than anyone else – and her outcomes were way better than those of anyone else. From this, I learned to really OWN what I was doing and to ask even the silliest of questions to make sure I really understand everything.
Furthermore, I am a true optimist and can get enthused about not just my area of the company, but BIOMES as a whole. This is extremely important if you want to convince people to work for your start-up.

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

Don't be shy and don't be put off by the fear of not being able to do something because you think tech always equals rocket science. And: In salary negotiations, know your worth and put forward your thoughts with confidence.

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

Fortunately, I do not see any barriers for women in our company specifically; we do have women in operational positions, but the quota gets lower and lower the higher up the position. So, it seems in tech, just like in most other industries, women still have a harder time working in leadership positions. However, there are sufficient studies that show that women at the top make companies more successful in the long term.

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

I think a good start would be to treat women and men completely equally, to give them the same opportunities, to pay them the same salary and to give their opinions equal weight. I still find that women, especially at a certain age, are perceived more as soon-to-be-bearers of children rather than as employees to be taken seriously, or that women are given less responsibilities at work after parental leave. This makes me very angry, and I am passionate about working to change this.

There is currently only 17 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

I were to spend a day at the helm, I would collect the surplus profits of tech giants and donate them to projects dedicated to female empowerment. There is still a lot to do in this area, especially to get more women into positions of responsibility, as women still make up a lower proportion of start-ups, especially in tech. I was also the only woman in our founding team.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

My key advice would be to go to networking events and approach people with confidence and enthusiasm. Don’t be shy, and talk to interesting people to cultivate your contacts. In terms of podcasts, I love ‘Women Tech Charge’ hosted by Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon, CEO of ‘STEMettes’, an initiative aimed at encouraging the next generation of girls into STEM careers. In each episode, a female inventor, entrepreneur or senior leader have candid conversations with the hosts to reveal the funny and inspiring side of tech. I find it really engaging and aspirational to listen to.


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Sharon Harris featured

Inspirational Woman: Sharon Harris | Chief Marketing Officer, Jellyfish

Sharon HarrisSharon Harris is the Chief Marketing Officer at Jellyfish, a digital partner to some of the world’s leading brands including Uber, eBay, Disney, Spotify, Nestlé, Ford, Aviva and ASOS.

As Jellyfish continues to expand its global footprint, Sharon oversees international marketing strategy across 30 offices. In her role, a key focus area is positioning Jellyfish as a true global partner in digital transformation. Her extensive experience leading teams and pioneering advertising innovation will help to accelerate the company’s global expansion.

Sharon Harris has over 20 years of experience leading teams and making an impact within the digital tech space. Prior to joining Jellyfish, Sharon served as VP, Alliance Relationships at Deloitte where she managed both the Google Cloud Alliance and the Google Marketing Platform Alliance, which comprised over 4,000 practitioners across 40 countries. Prior to Deloitte, Sharon exceeded global mobile advertising business revenue targets, launching advertising on Microsoft Windows 8 including Ads-in-Apps. Sharon has also managed substantial projects for companies including T-Mobile, Reuters, Sirius Satellite Radio, IAC and Discovery Networks.

A passionate champion for diversity, equity and inclusion, Sharon is involved in several professional mentorship organisations and is a frequent speaker on the topics of representation in tech, inclusion and allyship. She served as chair of the advisory board for the Marcus Graham Project where she continues to promote diversity in the industry. She is the board chair for Seattle’s Be Bold Now annual International Women’s Day celebration, and is also the Vice Chair of IGNITE National, a nonpartisan organisation that encourages young women to actively engage in the political process.

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

I’m Sharon Harris, I’m the new – and the first - global CMO for Jellyfish. I’ve spent a little over 20 years in the martech and adtech space, helping to build brands, drive sales, and supporting companies on their journeys in digital transformation.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I wouldn’t say I ever sat down to plan it, but I have always had goals that I wanted to achieve. I knew I wanted to have impact in the marketplace, I wanted to do something that had purpose and meaning, and I always knew it was important to work with great people. But I never sat and thought, I want this job or that job. I believe every experience I’ve had in my 20+ year career has been valuable. I’ve learned great lessons and it’s brought me to this point in my journey.

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

Yes, I’ve faced career challenges, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. Being a black woman working in technology, you’re one of the few, if ever any. So, the idea that you’re always this unicorn in the room has been challenging. Not for me to be who I am, but for me to be in those spaces and be heard, be seen and be respected. Everyone is on their own journey around diversity, inclusion and equity, and representation matters so much. It’s had its moments - sometimes teachable, sometimes painful, but always about how we keep pushing forward.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

My biggest achievement is that I can say I helped launch a product that touches over a billion consumers around the world. I was the global product marketer at Microsoft for Windows 8 and Windows 10. Microsoft is a household name, and I couldn’t think of a better achievement than something a billion people use - that’s pretty remarkable.

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

I always tell people I live by three fundamental rules: be curious, always say thank you, and follow up.

No matter what you do in life, those three things will serve you well. They will earn you respect and offer you new opportunities. Most importantly, they will help you do your best work.

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

Yes, there are still barriers for women working in tech. How we overcome that is by starting earlier. When we look at the education of little girls, starting in primary school, girls are not encouraged to go into the STEM fields. Until we shift our societal norms and perceptions about what girls and women can do, it will be harder for women to be in tech. In order to have the representation and the numbers, we need to build a better bench going in. It’s a difficult culture. Until women can be in a tech driven environment and feel comfortable and be embraced and welcomed, it’s always going to be a struggle. People will opt out. So, we need to shift that culture earlier on, so girls are interested in science, and so that this carries through to secondary school and university – then it will be natural to see those women in meetings, conferences and tech spaces. We’ve got to start earlier.

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

One, be intentional. You have to have a plan and dedicated resources and support. This isn’t something you do as a hobby. Second, you have to develop programmes that allow for mentorship, sponsorship and allyship. Those are three different things. Women coming into these spaces need support, they need someone - a line manager - who can champion for them in rooms that they’re not in.

Sponsorship is someone who will go to bat for you when you’re not around and put you in a position to take on new challenging projects. When people think, ‘oh this person doesn’t have the right skills’, you need someone who can counter that – ‘no, we’re going to give this person a try’. Companies need to have the people who have the audacity to nominate women for those challenges and stick by them.

There is currently only 17% of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

I would upend the profile of who we hire. We have made tech so utterly complicated and difficult, and we’ve set the bar so high that even if someone has seven of the 10 qualifications, we won’t hire them because they don’t fit the profile. And we’ve forgotten that tech is constantly evolving and changing, and we need people who are willing to embrace change, learn skills, and who are adaptable.  Women often bring amazing skills to jobs that are often overlooked or undervalued but can lead to new innovative ideas that appeal to broader audiences.  That’s a shift in mindset about what success looks like and what an ideal candidate is.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

One of the events I love and look forward to is Grace Hopper – it’s an annual convention that brings together women in STEM from all over the world. It is such a supportive environment of women just starting out in STEM right up to women who’ve achieved the pinnacle of success in their space. Conferences have all carved out spaces for women in tech, but Grace Hopper is my number one because of its inspiring and empowering focus and support.


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


Inspirational Woman: Roberta Lucca | Co-Founder & Chief Marketing Officer, Bossa Studios

Roberta Lucca

I believe we can all live multiple lives in our lifetime. I first learned it from my mom, who has been my first leader and high achiever by example.

Throughout my life journey in Brazil and the UK, I developed my eagerness for experimentation. That led me to become a computer scientist, then turned marketer, turned entrepreneur, turned angel investor, turned content creator, turned public speaker. I never lost any of these skills but added them to my toolbox of life.

I spent most of my last ten years building one of the most successful video game companies in Europe. Bossa Studios won multiple awards, including a BAFTA, on its way to becoming a multimillion-dollar business.

Currently, I’m hyper excited to be launching a podcast called Hyper Curious, where I talk with leaders in different industries about their A-ha moments in life and how they embrace changes by following their curiosity. It will be soon available on Apple and Spotify.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Not at the start. I realised the importance of planning my next steps rather late in my career.

I remember vividly my A-ha moment about it. I was working so hard on a project that I thought would lead me to a big promotion. It turned out that despite being highly praised about what I achieved, the job I wanted to take was given to a colleague of mine. I didn’t see it coming so that was a big cold shower for me. As I was reflecting on what I did wrong and getting advice on how to do better next, I realised how much he had planned that jump and engaged with the right people in the organisation to open the doors for him. He did not only know what he wanted. He told people about it. Meanwhile, I was just heads down doing my job thinking my boss would notice my deepest wishes.

Since then, I plan my career moves, I sit down to set my intentions and goals (personal and professional) on a yearly basis, and revise them every six months. This year I took a step further: I took the time over the holidays to define my Beta Lucca 2025 Vision/Dream.

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

I'm so interested in how embracing challenges in our lives, rather than fearing them, can keep us curious and evolving - which is one of the reasons I wanted to interview inspirational people (including Mo Gawdat, Sharmadean Reid MBE and Amy Landino) about this on my podcast.

For me, I’ve lost count on how many career challenges I faced. I failed in most of the things I’ve done. It’s painful on the micro-level, when you’re fighting to overcome a challenge - like the one above. But on the macro-level, it’s incredible the reward that comes from taking action and putting yourself out there, starting new things, experimenting with something you’ve never done before, and proving the doubters wrong.

That’s how you achieve great things in life. The cover of the magazine with the most successful person of the year is lie or at least a simplification of what it takes to succeed. Whatever you define as success for you, there’s no overnight success. Overcoming challenges every day is what makes you who you are. It’s a journey.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I won a BAFTA Award! This is the Oscars of the Video Games industry. Worth noting, it’s not about the Award itself, but the representation of it. I was one year into building Bossa Studios with my co-founders and an incredibly passionate team. That was my very first startup, right after “dropping out” of the corporate job I had. To be recognised by the legends of the Video Games industry for something I was an active agent of creating was just out of this world.

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

I never thought I wouldn’t. In fact, I never had a goal of achieving success. I have been always focused on finding what it is that I love doing, doing more of that, less of what I don’t like and looking after my finances on the way, of course. I think that my supporting system has played a huge part on that too. My mom, my sister, my husband, and my best friends always believed in me, even at times I doubted myself.

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

It depends on what they want to do and which stage in their career. If they are starting out now and love video games, make a game. You have all the free tools out there to learn and practice. There is no excuse not to make it nowadays. If you want to be a graphic designer of technology products or a marketer for a technology company, create and connect. Create a mock-up of how you think an app could be so much better or create a marketing plan to help a company market their products better to an audience you know inside out. Then, don’t hold that yourself. Find the C-level people or founders in these organisations on LinkedIn or Twitter, connect with them and share your work. If they are the right employers for you, they will love it.

To excel in their career once you’re into it for a few years, do a lot of soul searching so you can find the real value you bring to the world. Follow your curiosity, practice new skills that may seem unrelated to tech - like improv theatre. Improv can help you so much to be a better communicator and connector.

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

There are tons of barriers, starting by the lack of role models. You can only be what you can see. Plus, women typically revisit their goals and ambitions in life when they have children. That’s a natural thing, a moment of big change in our lifestyles, priorities and how we see the world. On top of it, being out of the market for a year put women in a certain disadvantage, compared with their male colleagues who have not stopped.

How can we overcome those barriers? By actively being a role model to the new generations, showing them it’s possible, and by finding the right partners in life who will be supportive of you becoming a successful women in tech, and sharing the burden that a life with a child brings.

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

Encourage their great talented women to go onto great challenges inside the organisation and in life. Train leaders to identify nuances of communication. For instance, according to research related to attribution theory, most of the time when women succeed, they attribute the success to external factors, while men attribute the success to their efforts. When things go badly, women typically take the blame of the situation while men attributes the failure to things out of their control. Knowing these nuances could make a whole difference next time a manager is talking to their women or men reports about the performance of a project they were involved with.

There is currently only 17% of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

Make everything that involves tech look as cool and creative as fashion & design!

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

  • - Book: I Could Do Anything If Only I Knew What It Was. It helped me see it’s ok not to have a one path in life but to embrace my multipotentialite life.
  • - DailyOm website: I’m loving the inspirations there as an antidote to the overwhelming bad news everywhere
  • - Podcasts: The Knowledge Project - great interviews with people who mastered their craft. Hyper Curious - my show about following your curiosity soon to be out!

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


Inspirational Woman: Katie Jansen | Chief Marketing Officer, AppLovin

Katie Jansen

Katie Jansen is Chief Marketing Officer at AppLovin. AppLovin gives mobile game developers of all sizes the ability to publish, market, and grow their businesses.

Katie joined AppLovin in 2012 and has since been named by Business Insider as one of the most powerful women in mobile advertising. She was previously Vice President of Marketing at PlayFirst, a mobile gaming publisher acquired by Glu in May of 2014. Katie is an advocate for women in tech and workplace equality. She serves as a marketing advisor to organizations including Women 2.0 and Women in Wireless, and mentors women in technology.

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

I’m Katie Jansen, Chief Marketing Officer at AppLovin, a mobile games company that fuels many of the world’s most popular mobile games and game studios. I have been at AppLovin for more than seven years, and I oversee the marketing and creative services team. Since I’ve been here for so long (AppLovin is only 8 years old!), I have seen and helped drive a lot of positive growth within the company. In addition to the teams I run, I’ve also been fortunate enough to help establish AppLovin Cares — a group of employees across all our offices committed to giving back to the community through volunteer hours and donations.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Nope. While I did take time to consider my next moves, I never had a master plan. I found that by working on what I was passionate about, finding great companies and people to work with, and taking time to network and consider my next leap, good opportunities usually popped up. Early on, I started in biotech because it interested me, and then I made a move to online games. Obviously, that’s not a typical transition, but this was 2009 and social games like Farmville had just taken off. I found the convergence of players to this new platform and all that marketing could do with it fascinating. Very quickly that led to mobile games taking off, and now I can geek out on how mobile is driving an economy that didn’t even exist when I first started out 15 years ago. As a marketer, mobile is perfect for me because it moves and evolves to provide so many opportunities to connect with consumers, and my team and I can constantly be thinking about the next best way to engage.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way? And if so, how did you overcome them?

Every job has its challenges. I’ve grown over time not to consider challenges as obstacles, but rather as learning opportunities. One easy example is AppLovin’s accelerated growth — this  always made for interesting changes along the way. I was the first in marketing and now I run marketing and creative services, a team of over fifty people. Determining the best way to grow these teams in a way that contributes to our hyper growth was not always easy or obvious, but it’s allowed us to build a very efficient, skilled and outstanding team who have delivered outstanding results.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

My greatest achievement has definitely been growing the team at AppLovin into the successful marketing and creative services engines that are humming along today. Many of my team members I have today have been with me since the very beginning and it’s a real blessing to not only work with them, but see their growth along the way. I count success here as having the confidence to let these teams get on with the day-to-day and let them take a first stab at solving challenges and overcoming obstacles.

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

My success is directly correlated to the overall success of my team, the managers I’ve had during my career and my peers. My ability to surround myself with a nimble team that is efficient and effective at their jobs has helped me grow the team and the business at AppLovin. At AppLovin every executive is a “working” executive. We are involved in larger business decisions and dive deep on product, design and marketing campaigns. I work to not only lead the team but really be a part of it.

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

Tech is a constantly shifting space, and companies are always pivoting and looking to make a big splash in their respective industries. Be ready to bring new ideas to the table, and be okay dropping a project to pick up something else as a backup. A sense of urgency that isn’t overwhelming is key. And, with a lot of smart people in a room comes a lot of options. Don’t be afraid to take and give constructive feedback. A mentality I always look for when hiring is that hunger to grow and learn. I want to make sure that my team is always looking to iterate and improve on what they last completed.

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

The technology industry has come a long way — even during my relatively short career in this space. This is evident from top to bottom — we have more female leaders now than ever before, and young grads entering into the tech world have less barriers. However, we still have a long way to go. Continuing to give women opportunities to grow their careers and learn from leading are guidelines I like to infuse into the AppLovin culture. This is why I helped found an internal group for women at AppLovin. This group specifically focuses on introducing our employees (mostly female join, but anyone is welcome) to businesses founded or run by women. We’ve had the founder of popular clothing brands, the CEO of a franchised spin studio, and various female technology CEOs come share their story and answer questions about their journey.

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

Offering women and men equal pay is an essential place to start. As is continuing to remove bias in the hiring and promotion process. While representation of women at board level is improving, there is still a lot of work to be done. Ultimately, women need to support other women. Women need to find more ways to engage, help and mentor other women in our industry, and help pave the way for growth. Companies should also try and offer networking opportunities geared toward women gathering and sharing advice and increased education and workshops — whether in the organization or via outside resources.

Currently, 17% of women are working in tech. If you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

I’d like to see more companies increase adding more women on their boards. Transparency can only help shine the spotlight on how companies can really improve. In 15+ years I am still seeing few changes made toward leveling the gender disparities represented at the board level. Equilar looked at the 3,000 largest U.S. publicly traded companies, and only about one in five board members are women. One in ten had no female representation at all. As an individual, I think there are small actions that business leaders can take that will net a big impact. Whether it’s offering to be a mentor, thinking beyond the traditional means of hiring at entry level, or going into schools to educate the future workforce on your industry and the potential career opportunities.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I read a lot — my favorite books for women working in tech would include The Moment of Lift (Melinda Gates), Dare to Lead (Brene Brown), and Because Internet (Gretchen McCulloch). When I’m in the car, I listen to a range of podcasts but for industry-related content like This Week in Startups or Mission Marketing Trends. When it comes to inspiring others, I recommend the Girl Geek X events, because of its global reach and accessibility.


Inspirational Woman: Celia Fleischaker | Chief Marketing Officer, PROS

Celia FleischakerCelia Fleischaker joined PROS in 2017 and serves as its Chief Marketing Officer.

She leads all aspects of marketing, including marketing operations, product marketing, branding, corporate communications, global events, digital strategy and demand generation. Fleischaker is responsible for developing and executing strategies that build on PROS success as a leading provider of commerce solutions and driving growth in the industries it serves.

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

I’ve spent 20 years or so in the B2B tech space, so I’m well-versed in the industry at this stage. My first real introduction to technology came much before that, though – with my dad insisting that I code games before I played them as a child.

I started my career in product marketing and then subsequently had the opportunity to work in field marketing and also on the corporate side of things. I was able to combine that experience in my role as CMO at Epicor. Since then, I’ve been CMO at PROS and have helped to spread the message on smarter selling in the digital economy, and I’m loving it.’

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I can say hand on heart that I absolutely did, yes. But that’s not to say that everyone does or should. I’ve had a fascination with tech from a young age and I’ve carried that all the way from primary education to higher education. College is a time where people tend to sit down and have a serious think about what interests them and how this relates to their future career - and I was no different

I attended the University of Virginia for my undergrad degree. My main focus was always that I wanted to work in software development. I think it’s the logic behind software that I found so appealing. And playing a role in marketing those technological advances is always exciting to me.’

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

Of course, there have been some challenges along the way but I’m lucky to have great support from my family and a good work-life balance. Earlier in my career, there was an assumption that when I came back from maternity leave, I’d want to take a reduced role. But that couldn’t have been further from the truth – that thought had never crossed my mind. Misconceptions like that need addressing and I think society is gradually getting to grips with that fact. I’d like to think this sort of assumption would not be something that today’s generation has to endure.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I have had the opportunity to manage and mentor many amazing women over the years. Knowing that I was able to help them grow in their careers is what I’d consider my biggest accomplishment. I love seeing people that have worked for me grow and advance their careers – either as part of my team or in another organisation. Knowing that I may have influenced that person’s ability to grow into a VP of marketing or CMO makes me incredibly proud.

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

There are a number of factors, but I think having a strong partnership with the leadership team has been vital. At PROS, I feel as though the c-suite genuinely buys into the value of marketing and takes an interest in our work. That’s not the case at all technology companies. From the CEO, to the CFO – everyone is supportive of building budget to drive important initiatives and that’s exciting to be a part of.

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

Whenever I have this conversation with people who are aspiring for careers in tech, I emphasise the importance of finding a mentor. Having someone in the industry that you admire and can offer career advice is incredibly beneficial. Further to that, finding a sponsor is even better – someone who knows people in the industry and how to navigate the various back channels. A mentor will provide advice and guide you. A sponsor goes a step further and really champions you.

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

There are still barriers but I believe the corporate tech world is rapidly improving on that front – I think my time at PROS is a good example of that. The company has made a real effort to bring women into the business and works hard to ensure they have a pathway to succeed. The company’s diversity & inclusion programme has led to growth in number of women hired as well as women in management positions at the company.

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

I would recommend that every business starts an employee resource group (ERG). I’ve spent the past two years as executive advisor of ‘Blaze’ at PROS – a group dedicated to the professional development of women. The group is a great vehicle for women to network, make connections and to discuss issues important to them. The group partners with leadership in the organisation as well, so it’s very much a company-supported programme. I can’t recommend ERGs enough!

There is currently only 15% of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

There’s got to be education for staff who are involved in the hiring process. You’d like to think that any bias in the hiring process is unconscious, but regardless, it’s important to train people on what this means and how it can impact decisions.

Once hired, women in their early to mid-careers need to be given support to help them develop so we can see that next generation of women in leadership positions.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I’d have to say networking. Building that network both inside and outside of your company is something that will serve you well throughout your career. Women are shown to change companies less often than men, so getting that outsider opinion can be really beneficial. Taking the opportunity to connect with other professionals is always time well spent.


Christine Bailey featured

Inspirational Woman: Dr Christine Bailey | CMO, Valitor

Christine Bailey

Dr Christine Bailey joined Valitor, an international technology and payments company, as Chief Marketing Officer in August 2017.

She has 25+ years’ experience of business to business marketing in the technology sector, including leading European marketing functions for large companies (Hewlett-Packard and Cisco Systems), as well as smaller companies such as Extraprise, Cambridge Technology Partners and Insight Marketing.

Christine is a respected thought leader and speaker, most notable for her TEDx Talk ‘Unconventional Career Advice’ and regular blogs for Forbes Woman. In Oct 2017 she was included in Axxon Media's Top 140 Super Awesome Content Marketing Accounts Every Marketer Should Follow. In 2016 she was ranked #7 most influential marketer at the London Festival of Marketing, as well as being included in B2B Marketing’s Top 10 Most Influential Women in Martech. In addition to being a judge and keynote speaker at the UK’s Women in Business Awards, she was also the Global & EMEAR co-lead for Connected Women at Cisco.

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

I’ve spent my whole career (25+ years) in marketing in the technology industry - running European marketing functions for industry giants such as Hewlett-Packard and Cisco Systems, as well as for much smaller companies. My first degree was in German & Business Studies, which led me to work in Germany for 5 years. I also have a doctorate in customer insight. I’m currently working in London as the Chief Marketing Officer of Valitor, an international payments solution company headquartered in Iceland.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I’m a big advocate of having a ‘direction’ rather than ‘a plan’, because plans can be too rigid and have a habit of not working out! Instead, having a clear direction allows a lot more flexibility with many paths to success. I always knew I wanted to work in international marketing, so my first adventure was running European PR/analyst relations for Hewlett-Packard in Germany. After that, I aspired to be a marketing director and I achieved that at Extraprise, a CRM consulting firm in 2000. A great mentor then encouraged me to “dream bigger” and I started aspiring to be a ‘marketing guru’. I’m not there yet, but getting my doctorate and landing my first CMO role at Valitor have been great steps in the right direction!

Have you faced any particular challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?

I’ve been made redundant three times in my career. Each time it felt like a huge challenge, but then it shaped my career in a positive way with the added bonus that it’s helped me to get comfortable outside my comfort zone. I’ve found that the path to success isn’t always linear - sometimes you have to go sideways to go upwards. But as long as you have a clear direction and you’re moving forwards, I believe that everything happens for a reason.

If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?

If I could wave a magic wand, I’d make flexible working the norm. I’m a firm believer that work is something you do, not a place you go and women in particular appreciate the flexibility to be in control of how, when and where they get the job done. It’s the reason why so many women work for themselves or start up businesses. I’m not talking about radical changes, just the ability to work from home sometimes (school holidays are every parent’s nightmare!) and some flex in working hours.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I’m a massive fan of mentoring. I’ve always had mentors, both formally and informally and I’ve mentored many people too. The important thing is to know what you want a mentor for - career advice, skills development, personal growth, expanding your network etc. Pick wisely and make sure you set the right expectations on both sides. I find it’s best to time-box it too - usually the most value comes from a period of 6 - 12 months then a fresh perspective is more beneficial.

How would you encourage more young women and girls into a career in STEM?

I think we have a responsibility to be role models and teach our daughters that there is no such thing as ‘normal’ and they can be whatever they want to be. One of my favourite quotes from my ten year old daughter was when she was at nursery - they asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up and she replied “in charge”!

The earlier we can start, the better. I’m hugely in favour of programs in schools that encourage girls to learn how to code and consider careers in STEM. When I was running Connected Women at Cisco, one of our flagship programmes was ‘Girls in ICT’. We also support this in Valitor - bringing 13/14 year old girls into our head office for the day and introducing them to life in a technology company.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

My biggest physical achievement was getting to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in 2002. That taught me important lessons in stamina and how small steps can achieve big things if taken in the right direction. As my guide said “there are no prizes for coming first, you just have to get to the top. Keep putting one foot in front of the other and you’ll get there”.

My greatest mental achievement was getting my doctorate. That was definitely a marathon not a sprint! Six months into my 4 year journey I was made redundant, losing both my job and my sponsorship. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as I did consulting work to pay the bills and finished in 3 1/2 years instead of four. I was 9 months pregnant when I handed in my thesis and was offered a fabulous job at Cisco - definitely not ideal but sometimes you just have to grab opportunities when they arise!

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

I’m still working towards being a “marketing guru”! I was recently featured as a “Rockstar CMO” which was pretty cool. Right now I’m enjoying the best job of my life as CMO of Valitor and I’m involved in various women’s networks. My dream for the future is to spend a little less time working!