Beckie Taylor

Inspirational Woman: Beckie Taylor | Co-founder of Women in Technology Northern Chapter

Beckie TaylorBeckie is an Ambassador for Tech and Women in Leadership, and the Co-founder of Women in Technology Northern Chapter.

In 2017, she launched Tech Returners to empower returners and enable their opportunities in tech, by providing development and creating accessible routes into businesses through continual training and technology, resulting in more diverse and inclusive workforces. 2018 also saw the launch of ’Tech Future Female Leaders, a programme designed for female technology leaders to develop themselves to succeed and inspire others.

Tech Returners was shortlisted in the Northern Power Women awards for Innovation 2018 and for e-skills Initiative of the year at the Women in IT award 2019 for its practical guidance, and personal development coaching.Additionally Beckie has been shortlisted in the Women in IT Awards 2017 Advocate of the year and voted one of the Top 30 Women in Technology for Greater Manchester 2018.

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

With 17 years experience in People /  Talent / HR, 11 of which has been in the tech sector, I have been actively involved in scaling tech businesses through the importance of the value of people.

I am an Ambassador for Tech and Women in Leadership and am Co Founder of Women In Technology Northern Chapter which has grown to 1500 members in just 3 years.

In 2017 I launched Tech Returners to empower returners and enable their opportunities in tech by providing development and creating accessible routes into business through continual training and technology, resulting in more diverse and inclusive workforces. Tech Returners was shortlisted in the Northern Power Women Awards for Innovation 2018, E-skills Initiative of the year at the Women in IT awards 2019  and I was shortlisted for Advocate of The Year 2017 at the Women in IT Awards 2017 alongside featuring in the Top 30 Women in Tech in Greater Manchester in early 2018.

Since its inception the ‘returner’ programme has enabled 23 careers in technology, 22 of those were women and we’ve worked with businesses including AutoTrader, the BBC, Manchester Airports Group, Lloyds Banking Group and ANS Group. 2018 saw the launch of ‘ Tech Future Female Leaders, a programme designed for female technology leaders to develop themselves to succeed and inspire other. Only 5% of tech leaders in the UK are female and we’re committed to working with businesses to change that, our pilot cohort saw 12 individuals complete the course, we’re on Cohort 2 currently bringing 8 individuals through the programme and we’re also working exclusively with the Co Op to deliver our programme in-house for 24 of their tech leaders.

2019 for Tech Returners has seen the roll out of more cohorts of our programmes, the growth of our team and a partnership with University of Manchester Business School to produce first of its kind research into women returners in the tech industry. It’s also seen an addition to my family, a daughter Emmie May (12 days old at the time of writing) and sister to Ethan (5).

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No, when I was younger I wanted to be in the mounted police but due to losing hearing in my left ear meant I wasn’t able to pursue this dream. I then fell into recruitment and progressed into HR and once I realised I had a passion for developing people I then focused on my own career and progressed into senior leadership positions.  I always ensure that whatever I do has a core purpose and aligns with my personal values and beliefs and contributes to making a real difference.

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

As a senior woman in tech I have sat on all male leadership teams and faced challenges of not being listened to and faced inappropriate comments all of which only served to make me more driven to change the landscape for future women in technology and to educate and support businesses to make these changes. I’m very fortunate to have a strong support network which has been there during these challenging times and I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for those people.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Having my children and also having a successful career – don’t get me wrong getting the balance right isn’t always easy however it is something that is important to me to have both, I am clear with my expectations and try and plan where I can but at the same time remembering to be kind to myself when things don’t always go to plan. Being shortlisted for a number of awards in the infancy of Tech Returners has also been such an honour along with hearing feedback from our returners that the opportunity has changed their life, it’s quite difficult to articulate how much that means to me in terms of achievement.

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

Having a strong support network, being surrounded by people I can talk to, trust and who can offer me constructive advice.

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

For all the programmes we run we use a tool called “your journey to success” which helps to map out current achievements and skills and then focuses on what success means to the individual, thinking about personal values and professional goals and then using these to focus on what the goals or stepping stones are to support that success, individuals can then identify where they need support or where they need to develop whilst keeping track of what’s important to them.

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

Yes, companies need to provide opportunities for women in tech whether development opportunities or opportunities to enter the sector and this begins with looking at their culture, do they have an environment and values which support this? And I mean actions and not just words, ensuring they practice what they preach is essential as there are women who want to progress in the sector, the desire is there but right now the support is not.

I am also on a campaign to re-frame the narrative around women in tech – it was pointed out to me no wonder we have a lack of women in tech as all the blogs, videos and content out there, focus on the negatives of being a women in tech and whilst it’s important to highlight challenges we also need to focus on the amazing achievements and role models we have in the sector which is why we’re going to be launching our own conference run by Tech Returners and Women In Tech North to highlight these role models and the positive reasons why more women should be in the industry.

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

The reason we set up Tech Future Female Leaders was two fold, the statistic of just 5% of tech leaders in the UK being female but more than that the shocking lack of resources and programmes to support their development, this needs to change with businesses taking a look at what they can offer internally through mentoring and coaching and if that’s not something the business can support then reaching out externally to networks like Women In Tech North who can offer the support, finances and resource to make this happen.

There is currently on 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?

I think we need to look at it from a different angle we need to work with schools/colleges and university to build the talent pipeline but also focus on retaining the female talent we have in the industry and then create opportunities for women returning or entering tech after a career break, a multi pronged attack in which we all support one another.

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

WIT North – our network group

Growth Mindset – Carol Dweck

Eat Sleep Work Repeat – podcast

Ted Talks Daily

Tech Tent

Invisible Women  - Book