Fiona Thomas KPMG UK

Inspirational Woman: Fiona Thomas | Chief Medical Officer, KPMG UK

Fiona Thomas KPMG UKFiona Thomas has recently joined KPMG as its new Chief Medical Officer (CMO) within its Life Sciences practice.

Fiona acts as KPMG UK’s senior medical adviser to clients across the healthcare space globally.

Fiona joins from international biopharmaceutical company Swedish Orphan Biovitrum where she was UK Medical Director and has also previously held senior roles with Sanofi Pasteur MSD and Biogen.

Prior to her 14-year career in the pharmaceutical industry, Fiona practiced as a physician in critical care and anaesthesia. She brings with her significant experience in clinical practice, medical affairs, and commercial strategy.

Originally from Glasgow, Fiona studied Medicine at the University of Glasgow and is registered with a licence to practice with the UK General Medical Council. She has been instrumental throughout her career in helping bring several drugs to market, including involvement in the successful deployment of HPV vaccine for cervical cancer.

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

I’m Fiona Thomas, KPMG UK’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO). I act as senior medical adviser to our clients across the life sciences and healthcare space globally.

Previously I worked for international biopharmaceutical company Swedish Orphan Biovitrum where I was UK Medical Director and I’ve also held senior roles with Sanofi Pasteur MSD and Biogen. Prior to my 14-year career in the pharmaceutical industry, I practiced as a physician in critical care and anaesthesia.

I’m originally from Glasgow, which is where I studied Medicine at the University of Glasgow. I now live in Berkshire with my husband and three children.

Throughout my career I’ve always been passionate about finding solutions that will ultimately bring advancement in medical practice and more positive outcomes for patients.  As CMO it’s my aim to ensure our clients receive the best possible advice so they can successfully operate within the life sciences and healthcare sectors for the benefit of patients.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No, not really. I just kept moving forward and used the momentum I gained to keep going – although my parents will say I always wanted to be a doctor! I did well academically at a primary school in the east end of Glasgow and fortunately, that led me on to sit and pass an entrance exam to secure an assisted place at a Convent Girls school in Rutherglen. There was then an expectation to pursue a profession and medical school was a gateway to a good career.

During the early part of my career in pharma I was focussed on progression and achieving a role as a company medical director with a mid-sized firm. After that I’ve always just taken the option to listen when I’ve been approached with new opportunities and ideas and then pursued what I thought would be interesting. I don’t think I could have anticipated my career path when I started Med School over 20 years ago.

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

Absolutely. My primary challenges have always been around work life balance. I was struggling in a clinical role with 2 pre-school children and had to actively seek out a solution because it was becoming unsustainable. That’s when I started to speak to people and proactively ask them about their jobs. I realised I could transfer my skills – and this is how I got my first pharma role.

The switch from pharma to KPMG also came about for similar reasons, I was keen to continue in a leadership role but was restricted geographically by family commitments and just not wanting to re-locate to Switzerland or the US for a pharma role. So, I went out to my network, talked, listened and this role came into focus and was a perfect fit.

I think there’s a huge amount to be done to allow women to flourish in senior positions. There’s a lot of naivety that gender, age, and dependants don’t have a role in determining the success of someone’s career, and that needs to change. A big reason for me joining KPMG was the firm’s inclusive, supportive, and welcoming culture.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I spent some time working on an HPV vaccination and was a very small part of the team that secured reimbursement and inclusion on the UK national immunisation schedule for all young girls to be vaccinated against high-risk HPV types that cause cervical cancers but also against the 2 HPV types that cause genital warts.

This programme has also been extended to young boys in the UK now. It was important to me because we had the opportunity to not just prevent potential future deaths from cervical and other HPV related cancers, but also to significantly reduce the incidence of genital warts and the associated stigma and negative impact on quality of life.

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

Over the years I’ve focussed in on listening more and trying to understand the root cause of issues. I’ve also spent a lot of time observing peers and leaders that I admire and seeking their advice when I’m faced with challenges.

Perhaps most important is always looking forward with optimism and being open to new experiences. I always try to say yes even if I’m not sure if I can do it, simply because I will never know if I don’t try.

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

Listen before you speak or offer a solution – really try to get to the root of the issue and have all the relevant information to hand before drawing conclusions.

Know your limits. It’s ok not to have the knowledge but knowing where to find it is essential so look after your network and try not to be too busy to help others because you never know when you may need their support in return.

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

Absolutely – often they are very low level – almost invisible at times and most times unconsciously applied. I think we are naïve to think that gender, age and dependents don’t influence decision-making when it comes to promotions, hiring and pay. There is a lot of great work ongoing to highlight where the problems exist e.g. gender pay gap data, but implementing solutions is challenging.

There should be no limit to where your talent, achievement and hard work can take you, whoever you are, and whatever your background – and that is a value which KPMG is very actively striving to achieve. For instance, last year the firm was the first organisation to publish its socio-economic background pay gaps and set a working-class background representation target.

What do you think companies can do to support the careers of women working in your field?

Within healthcare there is still much to be done around flexible training and working opportunities. There are good lessons to be taken from  Scandinavian countries who provide extended parental leave programmes, as well as looking at synching childcare/school provision with workforce needs in terms of shift patterns etc.

Due to burnout over the pandemic we’re seeing a lot of women vote with their feet and leave the healthcare system because there are better paid jobs with better benefits elsewhere. That’s an issue that needs to be addressed at all levels. Crucially, there needs to be greater flexibility in the healthcare system for women to take on more senior roles and have the option of working more flexibly.

But it’s not just about pay and benefits, it’s a culture thing. In all sectors, training, empathy, and support go a long way in keeping women in the building to grow a career. Some women become invisible for promotion and training opportunities while on maternity leave. Whilst that can be challenging for businesses to manage, it opens them up to the risk of losing talented women.

If you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in STEM industries?

If we could reprogramme people’s thinking around gender norms that would go some way to addressing a lot of the barriers. Even the most liberal people I know often default to gender norms, and their unconscious biases can kick in when it comes to assuming the roles men and women have and can have in the workplace.

Now, we’ve come a long way in changing attitudes, but there’s still clearly a way to go. In an ideal world, we would see each other as equals, and not be encumbered by an engendered way of thinking which is still extremely prevalent in our society today.

What resources do you recommend for women working in your field, eg Podcasts, networking events, books, conferences, websites etc?

Because of the pandemic, it’s been challenging for younger people to get out and network and build relationships. My advice would be to throw yourself into it – everyone is in the same boat and you don’t get something for nothing.

Use platforms such as LinkedIn to speak to people outside your network. Don’t be afraid to reach out and engage with someone you look up to. Be curious, ask them about their work, how they got to where they are, what’s important to them.

Personally, I like to read a lot. That started when I worked in Switzerland and had to commute there from London every week – it gave me a lot of time! Mostly leadership development and self-help and I tend to dip in and out rather than read cover to cover but I love to think about different perspectives, approaches and examples and how I could apply them in my day-to-day work.


Jordan Brampton featured

Inspirational Woman: Jordan Brompton | Co-Founder & CMO, myenergi

Jordan Brampton, myenergiAward-winning business leader, author, eco warrior, radio presenter and mumpreneur, Jordan Brompton is the co-founder of myenergi – pioneer of the world’s first EV charger that uses 100% renewable energy as opposed to mains electricity.

Passionate about sustainability, Jordan’s mission is to create a kinder, more sustainable future for our planet.

Since its inception, Jordan’s leadership has seen myenergi grow from a small team of six, to a 140-strong business shipping tens of thousands of units worldwide every month, driving a measurable reduction in mains energy reliance and supporting the global transition to electrification. During the pandemic, the business has seen a 2,250% increase in profitability.

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

I co-founded myenergi in 2016, alongside my business partner Lee Sutton. Day-to-day, I’m the CMO – a role that includes directing the sales and marketing departments, leading business development and driving corporate partnerships. In short, I’m responsible for myenergi becoming a globally-acclaimed brand, renowned for a range of first-to-market products that challenge convention and pave the way to a more sustainable future.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

To be honest, my career has been a whirlwind. To say I sat down and meticulously planned where I wanted to be in three, five or ten years would be stretching the truth. However, I did know from the outset that I wanted to work in the renewable energy industry – making a difference, doing my bit to preserve the planet and ensuring that my children have a bright future. Running a business has given me the opportunity and autonomy to make this dream a reality.

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

Building the myenergi brand from the ground up has taught me so much about myself. I’ve learnt to have confidence in my own ability, to take risks (fear is a good thing!) and not let being scared of the unknown prevent me from making decisions. The common misconception is that all business leaders must be ruthless. That simply isn’t me. I’m empathetic, compassionate, collaborative and inclusive. I don’t stand on people to get to where I want to be, I employ the very best people and help them climb the ladder alongside me.

On a more practical level, running your own business throws up new challenges every day. From parts shortages and navigating the pandemic, to being a full-time working mum, hurdles are to be expected. I’ve managed to overcome these by having the grit, determination and passion to take every day as it comes and fight for success.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

At myenergi, our inspiration has always been to create a positive impact, push the boundaries of possibility and change the world through pioneering green technologies. We love what we do and we’re truly passionate about what we can achieve. With most jobs, it’s difficult to see the impact you’re making. At myenergi, every minute you spend at the office helps to make the world a better place.

My biggest career achievement to date has been launching zappi – our first-to-market eco-smart EV charger, which makes it possible to power your electric vehicle with 100% renewable energy. Alongside being our flagship product, putting myenergi on the global map, it’s a fantastic product that helps people make a real difference. As a passionate environmentalist, I’m hugely proud of what we’ve achieved.

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

The obvious answer here is having the drive, determination, passion and enthusiasm to never give up and push the boundaries. But while all of this is true, it doesn’t tell the whole story. I think that having a strong and supportive team around me has not only been pivotal in my career success, but also the success of myenergi.

My business partner Lee is obviously an inspiration – I’ve worked with him for a number of years and watched his incredible journey first-hand. But the wider team at myenergi, which we effectively handpicked, has proven pivotal to the products we’ve created, the impact we’re having and the mountains we’re moving.

Jordan Brampton, myenergiWhat top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

My advice for anyone looking to progress in the tech industry is to work in a company that motivates you. You need to arrive in the office every day and love what you’re doing. You need to be proud of who you work for, proud of your role and proud of what you’re able to achieve.

If you’re motivated, enthusiastic and committed, you’ll be able to deliver your best work and really thrive. Don’t be ashamed to show your passion, work on your personal profile or celebrate your successes. Be the person that others look up to – I promise it’s the best thing you can do for your career.

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

When people mention technology, many automatically think of complicated, boring and challenging work. It’s an unappealing word and, unfortunately, that dissuades a huge percentage of women from working in the sector. For those who do persevere, tech firms are still dominated by a predominantly male workforce.

While I don’t tend to like quotas in industry, preferring to promote people based on their skills and attitude, there may be an exception where women in tech are concerned. It’s obvious that the UK suffers from an issue of culture where women in tech are concerned. Short-term quotas could be used to kick start a new approach.

Technology is a thriving industry; it’s a hugely rewarding career and one that is driving the future. Women not only deserve to be a part of that, but it will also be their contributions, their passion and intelligence, which will help to us get there.

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

Companies can do so much to help drive the careers of their female employees. A key reason why only a small percentage of tech roles are filled by women is that many businesses fail to effectively support the balance of their team members juggling a high flying career and having a family.

Flexibility, agility and understanding is key. From my own experiences, businesses that mould themselves around their staff are hugely successful. We need to harness talent and support the growth of our female staff force, rather than chastising them for having a life, children and other responsibilities away from the office.

If you show your employees that trust and commitment, it will be given back to you two-fold.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

There are so many podcasts, events, books, websites and conferences that have helped me as a woman working in tech – whether leadership, management, mindset or sector-specific. So many, in fact, that I could spend days picking the best.

One channel that I think we all overlook sometimes is social media. For any professional looking to invest in themselves, there’s a wealth of knowledge, insight, guidance and best practice buzzing around digital channels.

Take the time to read, learn, listen and digest. But also, get involved in the conversations – follow hashtags, build your network, put forward your viewpoints, ask questions and offer your own advice. It’s the only symmetric resource you can freely tap into, so use it as much as you can!


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


Lexi Willetts and Marina Pengilly featured

Inspirational Woman: Marina Pengilly | CMO & Co-Founder, Little Black Door

Lexi Willetts and Marina PengillyMarina Pengilly is a South African entrepreneur based in London.

Former founder of lifestyle brand Who Loves You and retail consultant, Marina is the CMO and co-founder of Little Black Door. She has a passion for sustainability and nurturing and growing communities.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I did! I wrote a business plan when I was 16 and I drew it out on an A3 card. Sustainability and nurturing communities were at the core of it and it had several concepts that were under the overarching business which consisted of fish farms, renewable energy, affordable housing, and so on. This card is pinned inside my wardrobe, it is now a little worn around the edges but it has moved with me and is a constant reminder that one can do anything if you put your mind to it.

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

Countless. The most prominent one I would say was my first ever business, Who Loves You. Who Loves You was a healthy eatery based in Chelsea. I founded it when I was 24 without having any restaurant experience. For me, I saw it as an MBA in entrepreneurialism. I made so many mistakes and due to my naivety was taken advantage of. However, from this experience, I created a consultancy that helped to launch start-ups. Challenges should be embraced, each one I have endured has provided invaluable lessons and formed intellectual capital, which impacts every decision I make not only professionally but personally as well.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

1p of £1 of investment goes into female-founded businesses. Starting a business is no easy feat. We gave up paid jobs and sold all our designer goods to fund the business during the months we were conceptualizing LBD. For me, the biggest achievement was when we secured our pre-seed funding, for the real journey and development started there.

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

I put it down to the working partnership I have with Lexi. We push each other and set the bar high.

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

Tech is an awesome industry to work in, no day is ever the same and it is an industry that is constantly evolving. Depending on your skillset my advice would be, reach out to individuals who can help, I have done this via LinkedIn, Instagram, and Instagram. You would be surprised by the amount of time people are willing to give. Make sure if you use this approach, you have specialized questions. My other advice would be, up-skill where possible! There are amazing platforms where you can develop your skills or learn new ones. Just because you work in marketing, doesn't mean you can't learn Python. They are not mutually exclusive! I found youtube and Udemy to be extremely useful for this.

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

You don't need to be a coder to work in tech. Within Tech, there are many different areas where you can contribute, marketing, graphics, coding, etc. I feel that there is a misconception about the kinds of roles that exist in tech and the lack of known accessible female role models doesn't help either. However I feel that this is changing, from when I was growing up compared to students now, tech is an industry that is so in one's daily arena. Every day, we are engaging with and playing with platforms that I feel they would hope to work for one day.

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

Companies should view gender equality as a strategic priority and one that is integrated into the day to day operations.

There is currently only 17 percent 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?

Relying on the industry to change is not the answer. As a business working in tech, we all have a part to play. As a business initiative, providing awareness of the industry to women has been a passionate one for us. We created a digital work experience last year, and so far have helped over 100 students from several schools across the country. Through this work experience, they have had exposure to what it is like to work in tech. Many of which are now considering placements in tech.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Communities: Women In Tech, Girls in Tech Global, Women in Innovation,

Networking events: Tech Crunch, BeautyStack, Women in Data

Podcasts: How I Built This with Guy Raz, On Purpose with Jay Shetty,

Websites: the modems, TechCrunch, ProductHunt, Linkedin

Books: The Lean Startup: How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries, Girl Code: Unlocking the Secrets to Success, Sanity, and Happiness for the Female Entrepreneur by Cara Alwill Leyba, Pivot: The Only Move That Matters is Your Next One, Dare to Lead by Brene Brown.


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


Lisa Krapinger featured

Inspirational Woman: Lisa Krapinger | CMO, breathe ilo

Lisa KrapingerI was born and raised in Vienna, and have been ambitious my whole life. In fact I was a professional diver at the age of 8! 

I started working in marketing at Red Bull, leading the sampling and promotion team, in order to combine my passion for sports with my career. Then I moved to Heineken, where I was responsible for promoting the cider brands in Austria through  sponsorships and events.

What I realised from these two roles was that I loved working to build new brands and products up from scratch - hence why Carbomed Medical Solutions GmbH was the perfect next step in my career path.

Tell us more about your current role

I took on the role as CMO so I could share the news about breathe ilo and its benefits with women all around the globe. breathe ilo is the world’s first fertility tracker that uses breath analysis to identify ovulation patterns -  whether you want to track your cycle or increase your chance at conceiving.

At breathe ilo, my key responsibility is to lead the entire sales and marketing team while helping spread the word and raise awareness of the product by using various channels such as social media, influencers, PR, trade fairs and events.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Believe it or not, I actually do have a five years career plan and a more detailed one year career plan with small steps and goals. I believe you can only achieve success when you always have it in front of your eyes.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

I face challenges on almost a weekly basis but I continue to stay positive, focused and never lose my passion. The main challenge at breathe ilo is that we are talking about a “taboo” topic. Word of mouth is not as easy as women who get pregnant easily with breathe ilo don’t want to admit that they initially needed help. Therefore we feel it’s important to go back to the root and speak about the overall topic of fertility and pregnancy in order to break the taboos and make such conversation normal.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

My biggest achievement has been receiving the testimonials from women since the inception of breathe ilo; this continues to be a huge achievement for the entire team. We are continuously receiving emails from women sharing stories of how they got pregnant now with breathe ilo, after months or years of trying. Reading messages like these gives me all the energy and motivation to try to do my best everyday. As we have just launched into the UK market, I believe that the more people know about the technology, the more people we can help.

What excites you the most about your industry?

The world has been focused on men’s health, and it’s sad to see that  the depth in which the health industry has been explored the  female body is around 300 years behind. However, I love the femtech industry as we can see that several startups are emerging to change that.

Most of them have one goal: understanding the female body better and empowering women. This is something I also want to stand for and it excites me everyday, as with every new user we get, we are one step closer to filling the void in the gender data gap.

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

The support of my friends and family has been a major factor in achieving success. Above all my sister and fiance always believe in me and help me to stay one step ahead. I am very thankful to have them both on my side, discussing ways I can progress in the future, helping me to set goals and working out how I can achieve them.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

I would give myself a lot of advice if I could. Most importantly, however, is to learn to take a more relaxed view of difficulties. You can’t change an issue unless you take one step back and see the bigger picture. Also, another piece of advice I would give myself is that each challenge will ultimately teach you something.

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

My primary challenge now is making breathe ilo a global brand. We want to provide our technology to the whole world, help every woman in need and make fertility tracking as easy as breathing!


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


Women in STEM

Bridging the gender gap: Tackling the shortage of women in STEM

women-in-STEM-featured

Article provided by Jennifer Deutsch, CMO, Park Place Technologies

As it stands, just 24 per cent of roles within Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers are held by women. According to a report by Engineering UK, the UK has the lowest number of female engineers of any country in Europe.

This lack of representation of women in STEM is a longstanding issue. The number of women in technology make up just 17 per cent of all those in the UK tech industry and according to the National Centre for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), women hold only 25 per cent of computing roles within UK companies.

What can businesses do to support women in STEM?

Enabling women to flourish in the UK workforce is worth a lot financially. According to research undertaken by the McKinsey Global Institute, gender parity in the workplace could add up to $28 trillion (26 per cent) to the annual GDP BY 2025.

There has been a huge increase in initiatives to tackle the gap and positively affect the number of women choosing a career in STEM, especially within the last five years. Whilst these initiatives are undeniably having a positive effect, especially in awareness, they haven’t yet had the required impact to readdress the diversity balance.

Education is key

Encouraging girls into STEM at an early age, at home and at school, is key to addressing the gender stereotypes that still exist. Currently, only seven per cent of students in the UK taking computer science at A-Level are female, and just half of all those studying IT and Technology subjects at school will go into a job of the same field, according to Women in Technology.

Positive female role models are vital, so companies and organisations should ask their successful female employees to visit local schools to meet with students and share their experiences. By sharing their personal experiences and successes, these female employees can inspire and encourage the students to follow their lead

Businesses can also offer work experience placements or internship programmes, specifically targeted at young girls who are interested in STEM, but who are perhaps unsure about exactly what a career in this field entails.  Park Place Technologies recently sponsored an initiative in Ireland aimed at female college students studying STEM related subjects, who wanted to gain experience in the industry. The two selected candidates have been given the opportunity to fly to our US headquarters for a 10-day internship programme, where they will receive hands-on industry experience as well as the opportunity to network with the senior executive team and go through a leadership training program  Internship programmes are invaluable both for an organisation and students.  For the students it gives them first-hand experience of the type of work involved with that industry, and for the organisation, it can be used as a recruitment process to identify future talent who could one day join the business once they have completed their studies.

Prior to this a Park Place STEM committee was established in Q4 2018, consisting of a diverse group of women at Park Place, many of whom had no formal training in STEM.

More women on the Board

Organisations need to honestly ask themselves how many women hold leadership positions within the company or will have the opportunity to do so in the future? If the answer to this is very few, then you risk losing the already limited number of talented women in your organisation to a more inclusive competitor.  Here at Park Place, there are several high-ranking women who contribute to the leadership of the company.

Benefits to suit women

Employers also need to showcase that they operate a female-friendly environment, and provide reassurance that they adhere to a strong equal opportunities policy that clearly lays out how they are supporting work-life balance and equal pay

  • Flexible hours - Maintaining a work-life balance can be tricky. Women often juggle family responsibilities whilst looking to progress within their career. Many women in male-dominated industries find themselves taking a voluntary pay cut, to have time to spend at home. A working environment that is flexible to the needs of working parents will appeal to more women and encourage them to stay and progress in their career rather than to choose between work or family.
  • Higher salaries - In the same way women feel they must reduce their hours to spend time at home, they also take considerable pay cuts in to maintain a balanced life. Women in Technology found that an alarming 25 per cent of women in STEM want to negotiate a higher salary for their role, but feel they are stereotyped as willing to settle for less money than a man in their same position. Ensuring women can work flexible hours without being forced to take a pay cut is the key to businesses gaining and retaining a key part of the workforce.
  • Opportunities for promotion - Empowering women by offering promotion when it is warranted helps businesses to stand out as drivers toward STEM equality. Many women in the industry feel as though they need to change employers to progress in their careers, whilst research found that 40 per cent of women in the industry have experienced being rejected for promotions that have been given to a less-qualified male.

There is undoubtedly an appetite and acute awareness within the industry about the need to encourage more women into STEM.  The media attention and various initiatives to support STEM diversity are helping to improve the situation, but this won’t happen without widespread industry engagement.  There is clearly more work to do in changing outdated perceptions and unconscious bias and this is where employers can make a real difference -- by showcasing the opportunities available to women in STEM and ensuring access to the same opportunities for all. Employers have an obligation to immerse themselves in these initiatives, and where appropriate drive them to ensure that we are creating a STEM industry that is innovative, creative, progressive and diverse for future generations.

Jennifer DeutschAbout the author

As Chief Marketing Officer, Jennifer leads Park Place’s marketing and communication teams with a focus on growing the Park Place Technologies brand as the global leader in data center third-party maintenance and support.

Jennifer brings over three decades of marketing and brand development experience. She has spent time on both the client and agency side. Prior to Park Place Jennifer was the Founder, COO of Antidote 360 and EVP, General Manager at Doner Advertising. Her client side experience includes past positions at Marriott International where she served as SVP, Global Brand Management where she repositioned and optimized the Marriott brand portfolio. Jennifer began her career at Nestle USA as a Management Trainee and held several positions during her tenure at Nestle including Brand Manager, Lean Cuisine and Director of New Ventures for the Nestle Ice Cream Division.

In her spare time, Jennifer is an avid cyclist and gardener. She is an active community member and on several boards including The Cleveland Film Commission, The Case Comprehensive Cancer Center and The Cognitive Health Institute. Most recently Jennifer co-founded and serves as Chairman of the Board of FutureVision, a not for profit organization founded in memory of her father, promoting medical innovation and the visual arts.

Jennifer is a graduate of Columbia University in New York City and the proud mother of two sons.


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.


Inspirational Woman: Carolyn Crandall | Chief Deception Office & CMO, Attivo Networks

Carolyn CrandallCarolyn Crandall currently holds the dual roles of Chief Deception Officer and CMO at Attivo Networks. 

She is a high-impact technology executive with over 30 years of experience building new markets and successful enterprise infrastructure companies such as Cisco, Juniper Networks, Nimble Storage, Riverbed, and Seagate. Her current focus is on breach risk mitigation by teaching organizations how to shift from a prevention-based cybersecurity infrastructure to one of an active security defense based on cyber deception.

Carolyn is an active evangelist, blogger, byline contributor, author, speaker on industry trends and security innovation, and mentor for women.  She has spoken at industry events around the world, been a guest on Fox News, been profiled by the San Jose Mercury News, and received many industry recognitions including Top 25 Women in Cybersecurity 2019 by Cyber Defense Magazine, Reboot Leadership Honoree (CIO/C-Suite) 2018 by SC Media, Marketing Hall of Femme Honoree 2018 by DMN, Business Woman of the Year 2018 by CEO Today Magazine, Cyber Security Marketer of the Year 2020 by CyberDojo (RSA), and for 9 years a Power Woman by Everything Channel (CRN). Additionally, Carolyn serves as an Advisory Board Member for the Santa Clara University Executive MBA program and in 2019 co-authored the book, Deception-based Threat Detection, Shifting Power to the Defenders.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Honestly, I can’t say that I have formally planned my career. What I do, however, is actively track hot companies and technology that I find interesting, as well as follow trend-setting CEOs and venture firms associated with companies I might want to work for next. I also stay in regular communication with executive search firms so that when I am ready to make a move, I have a relationship so if something really hot comes up, I’m on their radar. I also use these discussions to help others by making introductions when I know a company is seeking and someone is looking. Although, most people cite word of mouth or relationships as a reason for securing their job positions, I think I am tracking about 70% of my placements based on working with an executive search firm.

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

I have had my share of career challenges and setbacks.  This often occurs when leadership changes are made at a company and a new CEO or department leader wants to bring in their own team. It was particularly difficult when this occurred during the 2009 recession when new roles were not being created and people were not actively shifting out of their current ones.  What I did during these times to get not only what was available but what I wanted was to be patient and to network like crazy — not in the form of calling people to ask for a job, but more to check in and see how they were doing, what projects their companies were working on, and if they needed any contract help. This often opened a dialogue when they or colleagues had an opening that matched my skills. I expect during these COVID-19 times, many people will be feeling dejected and want to give up.  I encourage you not to. Be smart and don’t fixate on filling out mass applications. Seek out the positions you want, be as patient as your needs will allow, and come prepared to stand out with your resume and your interview. Also, I must admit, unless it was very early in my career, I have never had any traction submitting a resume online and would not count on this as a way to get noticed.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

My biggest career advancement so far has been making it to the C-level. My biggest personal career achievements are better recognized in two ways. First, I have been able to take new companies into market leadership positions and second, I have had the opportunity to create new jobs for college hires and watch them flourish as they grow and gain new skills. It is extremely fulfilling to see members of my team hit their stride and do things in remarkable ways.

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

The biggest factor is in not holding back and not restricting myself to only doing things that I have done before. I constantly try to learn, and I’m willing to try new things and risk small setbacks along the way. I have also forced myself to keep a stiff upper lip when it comes to the criticism of those who don’t feel I am credible or deserving of what I have achieved or am trying to do. Living in world where I present myself in both a technical and marketing role has definitely had its challenges as all too many people dismiss you immediately for having a marketing title, even if you carry the technical chops required.

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

Never stop learning. On-the job experience, self-learning, and certifications can all be incredibly useful in advancing your career.

Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know. If you don’t know something, find a way to learn it. Surround yourself with people that do know — whether colleagues, mentors, or outside advisors.

Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know and to ask others for their opinions and support. Leadership is not based on telling people what to do. It is based on setting a vision and then utilizing your team and resources to best accomplish that vision.

Be visible and build your reputation. Celebrate your successes and don’t be ashamed to communicate your achievements. Don’t forget to share your knowledge with others.

Measure your success not only on what you achieve but also on what you help others achieve.

Remember, when looking to advance, it is always tempting to ask for a title, but the request will often get brushed off if you’re just asking for it for the sake of a title. It is much better to ask what traits a person with a certain title needs to possess, where your skills are compared to those required, and what actions you could take to close any gaps. It is then fair to ask, if I possessed these skills, would I be able to advance to the next level. In some cases, for whatever reason, a company won’t be able to accommodate your growth even if you achieve these things. It’s best to fully understand the reality of the situation and to know when it is time to move on.

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. These barriers will be overcome with time and grit. Women need to not give up and not get disheartened by being a part of a team or sitting in meetings where no one around them looks like them. Over time it will get better and as women have more time in cyber, they will also rise in roles, which will make way for the power to hire more women and drive momentum in diversity. Throughout this growth, women also need to take the time to help each other. Sometimes we fight so hard that we don’t realize the impact of our actions. Women in leadership roles can often be viewed as “aggressive” – I’ll refrain from using the b word. I have found that women often have to work harder than men to be heard and taken seriously. Men appear to more automatically gain respect with their given title, whereas women with the same title often have to fight for or be pushed to prove themselves to garner that same respect.

As we seek to fit in and advance our careers, please be mindful to have a positive effect on other others and to not intentionally or accidentally create “road kill” of other women along the way. As the saying goes, be careful of who you burn on the way up as you might see them again on your way down.

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

Companies can help support women in cybersecurity by making sure to offer support programs so that they don’t end up feeling isolated, ignored, or alone. This can include creating strong support networks and a culture that welcomes women and the different views they bring to the table. This can be as simple as helping create social situations so that leadership and colleagues can get to know these new team members, offering mentoring, or creating online groups of like-minded people to learn how they cope with similar circumstances.

The tech industry has a lot to offer women, and women have a lot to offer the tech industry.  By being welcoming and supportive, we can attract incredible talent and be a better workforce for it.

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?

If I had a magic wand, I would create a subsidy program that would cover the payroll of new graduates and women looking to change careers for their first year, offering shadowing and career advancement opportunities. This would create new opportunities that would not be there otherwise, and after one year, these women would have gained valuable experience and proven their value, which will help them in establishing required skills and experiences needed for advancement.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Podcasts and webinars are fantastic ways to continue to learn and access to them is often free. I would try to listen to one podcast a week while exercising or driving or watch a webinar over lunch.  Vendors provide access to free training, and these can be great sources of education and information. I also think every individual should attend at least one conference a year for learning and networking. I would negotiate being financially supported by the company to do this into any final offer. Also, when you are at the event, as tired as you may get, make sure to attend as many sessions and meetings as you can.  The last thing I would do is to blog at least once a month. It will drive you to learn and make sure that you really understand the concepts. Writing it down and adding your perspectives will make you think through how well you really learned the material.


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.


Charly Lester featured

Inspirational Woman: Charly Lester | Co-Founder & CMO, Lumen

Charly LesterCharly Lester is co-founder and CMO of Lumen.

Lumen is the first app-only dating platform for over 50s.

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

I'm co-founder and CMO at Lumen - the dating app for over 50s. We launched last September, and already have over 1.5 million users worldwide. Six years ago, I fell into working in the dating industry when my dating blog '30 Dates' went viral. I ended up working at The Guardian as their dating editor, then at Time Out as their Global Head of Dating. My first business - The Dating Awards - launched in 2014, an industry awards for the online dating industry. The Awards started in the UK, then spread to Europe and the US, making me one of the leading voices in the sector. After 4 years running it, I had tried and assessed most dating apps and websites out there, so when my co-founder suggested we launch a dating app for over 50s, I jumped at the chance to create a product which directly tackled the issues I knew consumers faced on other apps.

I run all of Lumen's marketing, and a huge part of that is tackling the way society views over 50s. It’s a demographic people haven't designed apps for before and they are extremely undervalued and misrepresented. I spend a lot of time trying to make our brand and our advertising as 'pro-age' as possible.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Haha, never! I did Law at university, a Masters in Broadcast Journalism and then I went into banking (after a few gap years travelling!).  What I love about my career is that it has shaped itself, and I have ended up designing a role for myself which suits me down to the ground. As I look back at what has got me to the position I'm currently in, there are so many skills I picked up from other jobs which are so useful to my role at Lumen. We've launched the app in five countries so far, and every time we launch, I have to do interviews on live TV. Who knew my TV journalism experience would come in so handy?

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

When I launched my first business I didn't have any female friends who ran companies. I didn't know anyone else who had taken on that risk, and I can genuinely remember really doubting my abilities.  There were lots of ups and downs involved with running a business for the first time, but I wouldn't change any of it because I learned so much along the way and realised what I'm capable of. Probably the biggest challenge was other peoples' preconceptions and fears. My own parents died when I was a teenager, but my friends' parents have often worried about my decision to step away from a 'traditional career path' and take risks. There have been many times when they haven't really understood what I was doing, and have told me as much. I had to learn to understand when to listen to other peoples' concerns, and when to take them with a pinch of salt.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Appearing as a judge on the final of The Apprentice when one of the candidates designed a dating app was a pretty big career high. I also spoke at the Oxford Union in a debate about the existence of true love (my debate partner was the creator of Love Island!) - probably the most daunting evening of my life! And thanks to Lumen at least three couples have already married, hundreds live together, and hundreds of thousands of people have met - that's a pretty amazing feeling to know you have quite literally changed someone's life.

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

I always break things down into small steps. In my spare time I run ultramarathons and Ironman triathlons, and a huge part of that is breaking something huge and unmanageable into small steps. I know how to pace myself, and I never let the final goal daunt me. That's the same attitude I apply to business. No matter how slowly I'm moving at times, I'm always moving forward.

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

Find mentors you admire and trust. When I first started working in the technology team at Time Out, Ellie Ford was Head of Innovation. She is one of the most inspiring women I know, and about 10 years older than me - Ellie is so intelligent and I learned so much from her. Knowing who to go to to ask vital questions - including what to do with my career when my role was made redundant - was a huge part of my career progression, and five years later I can still hear her words of advice.

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

When I look at the teams at Magic Lab (Lumen's parent group) there are still departments which are heavily male, despite us trying to hire as equally as possible. Women and equality are really high on the agenda, however tech companies still need to have women in the hiring pool in order to employ them. Part of the issue is educating women that certain roles are for them just as much as they are for men. The barriers start right at ground level - treating little boys and little girls exactly the same. Making them understand no hobby is gender-specific, and neither is a specific career. And then helping women to ask for progression and the salaries they deserve when the time comes for that.

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

I was at a talk recently by Caroline Criado Perez and she was saying that it's not just a case of getting women to ask for the pay rises or promotion they deserve - if that's not the way most women behave, why not adapt the way pay structures and promotions work to better accommodate female ways, instead of accepting the 'male way' as the norm.

There needs to be total transparency in all companies about peoples' salaries - this is where our 'Britishness' has let us down - because the women still bear the brunt of our desire to be discreet and not talk openly about money.

I also think we need to be more flexible with work arrangements, not just to accommodate working parents returning to work - but also to get the best out of people. I for one know I get far more done working on my sofa at midnight, than I do sitting in an office at 8am.

There is currently on 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?

Teach coding to all children from age 11 - mandatory. My dad was a computer programmer and I am so gutted I didn't learn to code from him when I was a kid. It is such an incredibly valuable skill and would certainly change a lot of women's job options after school or university.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech, eg Podcasts, networking events, books, conferences, websites etc?

I've just finished reading 'Invisible Women' by Caroline Criado Perez. That, and 'Lean In' by Sheryl Sandberg, is impossible to read without stirring up your inner feminist! I used to try to attend a lot of Women in Tech events, but now I also try to encourage as many women to attend events for everyone.  There is nothing more depressing than turning up at a tech conference, and seeing a panel of all white men on a stage.


Lisa Agona featured

Inspirational Woman: Lisa Agona | CMO, Ensono

Lisa AgonaLisa Agona is CMO of the global IT service provider, Ensono.

Under her leadership, Ensono has become the number one company in customer satisfaction for IT outsourcing, and has doubled its revenue to an impressive £420 million in under three years.

Lisa has been in the marketing industry for thirty years, with previous roles in Accenture and LexisNexis. During her previous position as CMO for LexisNexis, Lisa helped grow a nascent US-based $500 million identity risk management business to $1.5 billion, spanning multiple industries and countries.

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

I’ve been the global CMO of Ensono, the private equity backed hybrid IT services company, for over three years. What I particularly enjoy about my job is having the opportunity to work with my colleagues around the world to build Ensono, a new brand,  into a recognized global transformation company.

I studied at West Virginia University right after high school, earning an Economics degree, which initially sparked my love of learning. I later returned to university, attending Columbia Business School and achieving an MBA in Management. This drive to learn has really helped me embrace new opportunities, most notably taking on my first global CMO role at LexisNexis where we drove 7 consecutive years of above-retail growth to $1.5 billion.

I’ve spent the majority of my personal and working life in New York City, and have moved to Atlanta and now Chicago for new roles. Armed with two suits, little cash and the dream of launching my career in marketing, I bought a one-way ticket to New York City and haven’t looked back since!

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I never plotted out my desired career bath – who does nowadays? But I knew which direction I wanted to be moving in. Typically, I’m a keen planner but there have been situations and opportunities in my career that I could never have foreseen, let alone plan for.

I’m driven by a desire to make a difference to my own life and to the lives of others, to be financially independent, and to experience new places and discover new cultures. I knew I didn’t want to stay in my hometown but, at first, I wasn’t sure exactly where these motivations and beliefs would take me.

I’ve worked for a lot of large global companies, and a few years ago I felt it was time to take my career in a different direction and diversify. When Ensono reached out to me about a CMO position, I was drawn to the prospect of helping reinvent a company and have enjoyed the challenge of building up the brand, our market, and creating a new team.

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

As with any career, I’ve faced challenges along the way. I come from a working-class family in a former steel town, so leaving home to go to college was a massive step for me. After that, I faced the typical financial challenges all students face, and while I knew that I wanted to advance my career and make a difference, I didn’t know what that looked like straight away.

I think one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced as a woman in business and as someone entering the tech field for the first time is having the confidence to make myself heard. Knowledge is power, and key to confidence, so I went back into education after my economics degree to pursue business school. There, I met people from across the world, built up my base business knowledge and really worked on my confidence.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

One of my biggest career achievements to date has been securing my first CMO position at LexisNexis. I had been working with the legal research and risk analytics firm for a couple of years before the promotion, and proved myself during a large scale acquisition of a big public company. While this position initially felt daunting, I surprised myself with what I was able to achieve and learned a great deal from the experience.

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

I think that having a serious internal drive and persevering, even when things get tough, has helped me get where I am now. A big driver for me is the belief that it is important for everyone, especially women, to establish their own financial independence, and I’ve always taken pride in my career and my ability to provide for myself. Everyone should find what it is that drives them, and harness that.

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

A common misconception that people have about careers in the technology sector is that high-level tech skills are valued above all else. I’ve found that many people, myself included, really value the softer skills involved with a career in technology. The industry has its own language and expertise, and being able to communicate these effectively across all audiences – not just to the tech aficionados – is a real talent. I would urge anyone looking to launch or accelerate a career in this sector to invest in their communication skills. While technical skills are important, it’s emotional intelligence and the ability to build trust that’s going to get people noticed.

For women entering the sector, I think it’s especially important for them to get involved with community organisations – both inside and outside of work. These could be anything from women in tech communities, to profession-led communities, to hobby-related communities. It’s crucial for women, who are vastly underrepresented in the tech sector, to identify their supporters and advocates, and build these up over time. Communities are a great way to network with likeminded people and for women to support other women in their careers.

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

There are still barriers for women working in tech to overcome. One of the hardest to combat is unconscious gender bias. This gender bias stems from our continued buy-in of traditional gender roles, which typically allocate computing skills and interest in technology as masculine traits.

While nobody is deliberately circulating this bias, its effects can be felt from the C-Suite all the way to the graduate level. In order to combat these biases, building awareness of them is key. At Ensono, we have just started a company-wide ‘Women’s Initiative’ scheme, which has already seen our senior executive teams trained on unconscious bias and its insidious effects. I’m also a big fan of women in tech conferences that give women the space to share stories and help change the narrative around gender in tech.

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

Until unconscious bias is completely eradicated, companies will continue to need to implement formal programs that support women’s progression in the tech industry. While large leaps towards equality have been made, a lot more needs to be done to truly diversify the face of tech. Ensuring that at least one qualified woman is on the down select slate for each open position is a start.

One of our female spokespeople, Lin Classon, attended a tech conference last year only to find herself in a shocking minority. After raising this with us, we launched an independent research project into the diversity of tech events, discovering that 70% of women were the only female speaker present. Not only did this motivate us to continue our internal women’s initiative schemes, but we also raised awareness of the problem in the wider press.

It’s vital that organisations don’t just wait for change, but make a stand and evoke change internally, whether that’s investing in career programs for women, encouraging women to take part in community organisations or raising awareness of the ongoing gender bias issue.

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?

If I could wave a magic wand, I would banish gender roles and unconscious bias completely. Women are often given negative attributes – bossy, hysterical, overbearing – while men in the same position are described as confident, firm, assertive. In order to level the playing field, we need to stop making assumptions based on gender and stop allocating characteristics to women that are viewed as inferior.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I am particularly inspired by the researcher Brené Brown, whose Ted Talks and books teach us all – men and women – to explore our ability to be vulnerable, and to overcome our fears. Other resources that I have found empowering include Thrive Global for lifestyle and professional enlightenment, and Internationalwomensday.com for professional resources that can be used to advance your own workplace and communities.


Nicola Anderson

Inspirational Woman: Nicola Anderson | CMO, MyTutor

Nicola AndersonNicola Anderson is the CMO at MyTutor, a UK edtech startup that aims to make tutoring affordable and easy to access for all students.

Nicola studied at Bristol university many moons ago and after deciding a PhD in tadpoles wasn’t for her moved to London, landed a marketing role in a tech startup right in the middle of the dotcom boom - and has never left.

She’s worked across a whole range of sectors from sports and gambling to photography and finance and is finally in the sector she is most passionate about. Outside of work Nicola is completing a diploma in coaching and mentoring and loves skiing, yoga and travel.

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

My current position is Chief Marketing Officer at online tutoring platform MyTutor. It’s a company that matches school pupils with inspiring university students for one-to-one lessons online.

Tech lowers the cost of and widens access to this kind of personalised education, helping us towards our mission to offer lifechanging tuition for all. We've seen it boost confidence and deliver excellent results for our students (improving by a whole grade over 12 weeks!)

My original plan was to become a vet – but I’ve now been working in the tech sector for almost 20 years! My first tech role was in the online sport and gambling space, a job that happened almost by accident after being brought in as temporary cover, and since then I’ve had positions in a wide range of online companies and digital startups.

Outside of work I’ve just finished my diploma in coaching and mentoring and am also a governor of a local school, which helps to stay up to date with the latest education policies and in tune with what really matters to schools.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Honestly, never! From the word go my career has been a series of opportunities presenting themselves and me deciding to go for them.  After switching from Veterinary Science to Zoology at university and deciding a pHD in tadpoles wasn’t for me, I headed to London which absolutely no idea of what might happen next.  A career in tech was a surprise to me.

More recently though I’ve taken very active decisions on the businesses I’ve chosen to work with ensuring its for a product or service that I really believe in.The EdTech sector broadly – and definitely MyTutor specifically as a company – really fit that criteria for me.

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

Interestingly, for me, the biggest challenge I’ve had to overcome in my career hasn’t necessarily been as a result of external factors, but more my own fear of not being ‘good enough’. This ‘imposter syndrome’ has even led me drop out of interview processes as I just wasn’t sure I could do the job.  Fortunately for me I’ve been lucky enough to have had the support to overcome this and take the opportunity - however terrifying I found it.

I have found this feeling to be so common among women in this industry.  It’s partly why I decided to do a diploma in coaching  and mentoring so I can support other women facing the same internal demons which can hold them back from getting the opportunities they really deserve.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I think looking back over my career I’d say my biggest achievement has been developing strong teams at every place I’ve worked, and being able to watch them grow in their roles both with me and in their next roles.  I’m incredibly proud of all of them and love seeing how they progress and where they are now.  I’m delighted to see that most of them are now far more successful than me.

I’m also really proud of achieving my coaching diploma and mentoring really talented women coming up in tech roles, especially since it was so critical to me in my own development.

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

I don’t think that I would have been able to achieve as much as I have without the support of my peers and the networks that exist within the industry. There have been points in my career when I’ve felt overwhelmed in situations, and I’ve always been able to find others who have experienced similar challenges and are happy to share their experiences and wisdom with me.

Another thing that I’ve learned is that success comes easier when you’re passionate about what you do. As I’ve progressed in my career I’ve been lucky enough to work with companies and on projects that I have truly loved, and that’s made a real difference in my ability to progress and grow.

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

The best thing to do if you want to grow in this industry is to build out your network.  I’m constantly amazed at how open, honest and supportive people in this sector are - and this isn’t just limited to  women. I’ve got some fantastic male mentors too.

In fast growing tech companies we’re frequently working on projects and intiatives that we’ve got little to no experience in.  It’s a huge challenge but an exciting one particularly when you’ve got a group of peers there to support you.  And its important to remember that whilst you may not always succeed, you’ll certainly always learn.

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

This is something that I get asked a lot, and I always give the same, perhaps controversial, answer. As far as I’m concerned, the biggest barrier to our success as women in tech is ourselves.

I’m not saying that there aren’t institutional and cultural roadblocks that prevent women from reaching the highest levels of the industry, but I think that so often women limit themselves by not thinking they are good enough to make it to the top.

Too often I hear the women I mentor saying that they don’t think they have the right skills or they haven’t got enough experience to take on a role, when I know men at their level wouldn’t consider this for a moment.

My aim for every woman I mentor is for them to see how valuable they are, and how much they would be worth to the companies they want to work for.

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

From my perspective there is a lot more that tech companies can do to improve their diversity and inclusion processes, as well as their general workplace culture for women. Often I’ve found that companies that are otherwise progressive don’t offer simple things like flexible working to allow parents to be available for school pick ups, or part-time roles for women looking to come back into the workforce.

Committing to simple policies like these demonstrates to women that a company understands what they need, and is willing to support them in their career growth. It also significantly widens the pool of candidates available to fill upcoming roles!

Currently only 15 per cent of tech employees are women, 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?

In short, create more part-time and shared roles. There are hundreds of experienced, focused and capable women who aren’t able to take on full time work, but who are just as valuable in a part time role. We need to ensure that tech companies understand this (and  where to find them - a question I get asked a lot).

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech, eg Podcasts, networking events, books, conferences, websites etc?

So many but so I don’t get carried away 3 of my favourites are:

  • Brene Brown’s TED talks on vulnerability and shame
  • Time to Think by Nancy Klein
  • How to  Fail Elizabeth Day.

Amanda Gutterman

Inspirational Woman: Amanda Gutterman | CMO, ConsenSys & co-creator, Ethereal

 

Amanda GuttermanAmanda Gutterman is Chief Marketing Officer at ConsenSys, the largest and fastest growing blockchain company focused on building the Ethereum ecosystem.

Amanda is also a creator of Ethereal, a technology event series including a Summit that has been dubbed the "SXSW of blockchain". In 2016, Forbes Magazine listed Amanda on its 30 Under 30 in Media list, and Inc. Magazine as one of 30 Under 30 Movers and Shakers in the Content Industry.

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

My role is CMO at ConsenSys and Co-Creator of Ethereal. ConsenSys has emerged over the past few years as a leader in blockchain technology. We build tools and applications that are built on the blockchain, which means they're highly secure, decentralized, peer-to-peer, and work automatically using smart contracts. Our software is built on the Ethereum blockchain, which is the most advanced blockchain platform in terms of its capabilities, as well as the largest developer community. Ethereum has become the blockchain of choice for governments and enterprises, which we work with closely.

Ethereal has become one of the best known blockchain events. It features a flagship Ethereal Summit kicking off New York Blockchain Week in May each year, as well as events throughout the world, from Ethereal San Francisco to Ethereal Middle East in Riyadh and Ethereal London. Whether I'm working on ConsenSys or an Ethereal event, my goal is always to catalyze adoption of blockchain technology and help users reach products. Adopting blockchain comes with adopting a new way of thinking about the global financial system and the Web. I think we can do better than what we have today, and with blockchain available, we finally have the tools to make change possible. But change will only happen if users insist on it.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career? 

Absolutely not! I navigated myself into situations where I'd be exposed to a lot of opportunities, then I seized the ones that looked interesting. I see my work as an adventure and ideally, as play. When I graduated from college or high school, I couldn't have predicted any of this. Actually, it would've been impossible to plan my career from a certain point, because both components of what I do - digital marketing and blockchain - didn't exist yet.

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

In this role and in every role, we all face lots of stressors. Long hours, new skills we need to learn, looming deadlines, increasing expectations from colleagues or the market. It's challenging because if you love what you do, your identity gets caught up in your work. This is true for me, and I think it's a positive thing. But at the same time, I've had to figure out how to take good care of myself in the face of stress. To that end, I truly get 8 hours of sleep a night, exercise regularly, eat healthy food, and block off personal time when I won't be on calls. This drastically improves the quality of my work.

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

Probably the most important thing is equal pay. Women should get equal pay for equal work. Also, I encourage the men I know who are investors to bring women investors into deals. The more financially empowered women are, the more say they have in how everything works, from workplaces to governments.

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

I mentor several women at ConsenSys and one from a previous company. Whether it's formal or informal, I make sure people in the company know I'm available to help them navigate tricky situations. This is particularly true for women. Quite a few members of ConsenSys are fresh out of college, so it's very helpful to have someone guiding them through their first professional environment, especially considering how non-traditional our company is.

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

 Strong role models make girls and women feel like STEM is "for them". If they don't know any other girls or women in STEM, they can think it's not for them. That's why we make sure to highlight our amazing women technologists at ConsenSys and across the blockchain space. Our last Ethereal Summit had 60% women speakers, a majority of whom were technical. We did this without calling it a women's conference or making a big fuss. I really think efforts like this go far.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

When I joined ConsenSys, not that many people had heard of blockchain, even fewer had heard of Ethereum, and practically no one outside our space had heard of ConsenSys. In my interview, I told our founder that I wanted to make ConsenSys and Ethereum "like Starbucks and the MLB" in terms of how recognizable I wanted them to be. While we're not 100% there yet, I think my team and I have been able to make a real difference in terms of how many people know about blockchain and how many people are using blockchain-based software products of various kinds.

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

A 100-person company is different from a 1,000-person company. That's where I started, and this is where we are now. I'm going to have to learn and scale our marketing and messaging and teams to fit where we are in the market today, which is really different from a couple years ago.