Flavilla Fongang featured

Inspirational Woman: Flavilla Fongang | Founder, 3 Colours Rule & TLA Black Women In Tech

Flavilla Fongang

Flavilla Fongang is a serial entrepreneur, author and the founder of 3 Colours Rule, an award-winning branding and neuromarketing agency.

Computer Weekly named her among the top 5 most influential women in tech in the UK. Through her agency, she has helped her clients scale their brand nationally and internationally. She was awarded the “She’s Mercedes” businesswoman award by Mercedes Benz. Flavilla Fongang is a respected brand strategist with neuromarketing expertise and the creator of the D.A.C. system and The “Beyond marketing” strategy. Flavilla is the brand advisor for the BBC and provides regularly actionable brand strategy advice on live radio and TV. She is also the founder of Tech London Advocates for Black Women in Tech.  She hosts Tech Brains Talk podcast providing insights and advice to tech entrepreneurs and companies. She is also the author of “99 strategies to get customers”.

She has been a keynote speaker for the most prestigious international events, such as AdWeek, HubSpot, DMWF, MozCon, AdWorld, Upgrade100, CTA, MarTech and many more.

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

I run an award-winning branding and neuromarketing agency called 3 Colours Rule. I was named by Computer Weekly named the top 5 most influential women in tech in the UK. Through my agency, I help clients scale their brand nationally and internationally. I was awarded the “She’s Mercedes” businesswoman award by Mercedes Benz. I’m a brand strategist with neuromarketing expertise and the creator of the D.A.C. system and The “Beyond marketing” strategy. I’m the brand advisor for the BBC and provided regularly actionable brand strategy advice on live radio and TV. I was also the founder of Tech London Advocates for Black Women in Tech.  I host Tech Brains Talk podcast providing insights and advice to tech entrepreneurs and companies. I’m also the author of “99 strategies to get customers”.

I have been a keynote speaker for the most prestigious international events, such as AdWeek, HubSpot, DMWF, MozCon, AdWorld, Upgrade100, CTA, MarTech and many more.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Not really, I must say, lol. The only thing I wanted from my career was creativity, excitement and impact. I’m really happy with this so far.

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

Oh yes many! Opportunities were often given to the same people, so I decided to create my own opportunities. When they didn’t give me a seat at the table, I made my own table and brought the right people around me. As the women in a men’s world, my imposter syndrome used to kick in, but I now remind myself that I’m a Queen, the most piece of a chess board. If there isn’t like me in the room, I’m essential,

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I’m so lucky to have achieved so many amazing things. I’m really proud of creating Tech London Advocates Black Women in Tech. TLA Black Women has become bigger than me with Black women and allies around the world who have been able to connect. I’m so happy to have created a network where Black women can recognise themselves, feel valued, be themselves and no longer feel alone. That is important to me.

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

I’m fearless which means if I want to do something. I do it. I embrace fear and move forward. I remind myself that fear is a liar that will prevent me to take risks in life. My biggest achievements have been achieved by not worrying about what others think of me, trust myself and doing it.

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

If you are requested to do a task, always go beyond, always exceed expectations. It’s okay if people underestimate you, surprise them.

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

Oh yes, many barriers and unfortunately there are invisible. We are now we seeing more and more allies understanding that we, as minorities, can’t fight these disparities alone. To overcome we need to carry on highlighting the work women have done so we can change the narrative and aspire young girls to believe in themselves.

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

We need more leaders within businesses supporting women to give them the experience and the know-how to progress within their career. We need to create working environments that don’t require women to choose between their children and their career.  We need more allies, especially more white men at the top, to champion change as they hold the power.

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?

Wake up anyone who isn’t aware of their privilege so they think about hiring or promoting women as a necessity.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I recommend listening to my podcast, Tech Brains Talk to hear wise advice and amazing strategies from great entrepreneurs. My favourite app is blinkist, to discover summary audio books. I invite everyone to discover TLA Black Women in Tech who welcome Black women and allies. I also recommend reading 15 minutes per day. I love this book: Never Spilt The Difference.


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Inspirational Woman: Melissa Snover | Founder & CEO, Nourished

Meet Melissa Snover | Founder & CEO, Nourish3d

Melissa Snover

Melissa Snover has been an entrepreneur since the age of 23 and has built a reputation for being one of the leading visionaries in the world of food technology and 3D printing.

She is currently the founder and CEO of Rem3dy Group, which pioneers 3D-printed personalised health solutions across nutrition and medicine under the brands Nourished and Scripted.

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

I’m the founder and CEO of Rem3dy Group, a start-up that is developing 3D-printed personalised health solutions in both medicine (Scripted) and preventative health (Nourished).

I began my career as an entrepreneur after studying Business Management and Political Science at the University of Colorado Boulder, and the renowned Lancaster University, in Great Britain. At 23 I co-founded the financial services company Burton Mortgage Services, which I managed to guide to treble-figure growth in its first three years. In 2009 I sold my interest in Burton Mortgage Services and then redirected my focus to the confectionery industry.

In 2010, I set up my first consumer goods brand, Goody Good Stuff, which created the world’s first vegan, natural and allergen free confectionary. When I initially launched GGS, vegan products were not mainstream, meaning that we soon became market leaders in our field and were stocked in twenty-seven countries worldwide.  However, I became frustrated by the limitations of mainstream manufacturing as I couldn’t create the bespoke flavours and textures my individual customers wanted in an impactful and scalable way. I sold Goody Good Stuff to Cloetta in 2013 and started to explore my vision for real customisation in the confectionary industry. During this time, I met with the team at Katjes and considered how we could use 3D printing technology to introduce real customisation into the confectionery industry.

After an intense period of R&D, I developed and patented a 3D printer that could create personalised gummy candy on the spot and Katjes Magic Candy Factory was born. We launched this concept into specialist retail and theme parks all over the world and delighted guests at events hosted by organisations such as Facebook, Nickelodeon and CitiBank.

Following the success of using 3D printers in the food industry, I decided to optimise our technology to cater to the health and wellness industry and founded my current business Rem3dy Health.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I never set out to become an entrepreneur, but instead have followed by passions and adapted my skills to compliment my career. Nutrition has always been a passion of mine, but the idea for Nourished came to me completely by accident. At the time I was popping multiple different vitamin pills each day. I travel a lot for work and one day, when I was travelling through Dusseldorf Airport, I accidentally spilt a whole bag of vitamins across the floor. As I was scrambling to pick them all up in my suit and heels, I realised there must be a more effective way to take all your supplements in one go.

After the success of Katjes Magic Candy Factory, I knew that personalised products were the future. In the 21st century, you can personalise everything from your clothes to your home wear, so why not your health and nutrition? I believe that products specifically created for the consumers’ needs are critical in the health industry and the use of our of patented 3D printing technology has enabled us to create bespoke solutions on a mass scale and in real time.

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

We launched Nourished two and a half months before the Covid-19 pandemic, so it wasn’t the best time to start a new business. The pandemic proved to be a challenging time for most businesses, so being in our infancy was a very fragile time for us. However, Nourished was able to thrive due to the rising demand for health and wellness products, our onsite manufacturing and our agile start-up mentality. The company grew from four to forty-four employees, with subscriber growth of 300% in just nine months.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

After setting up Nourished in 2019 the company has gone from strength to strength. Hearing all the amazing customer feedback is a big reward for me. It’s amazing to hear how much Nourished has helped people feel like the best version of themselves, whether this is by increasing their energy levels or helping to improve their skin. Customer feedback is vital to me, so listening to how much Nourished has had a positive impact on people’s lives is a hugely rewarding.

Another achievement I am very proud of was in 2019 when we raised the highest-ever female founder seed round in UK history for Rem3dy. I’m am a passionate advocate for women’s equal access to finance and wholeheartedly hope that accomplishments such as this help to inspire and motivate a new generation of female founders.

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

I think remaining resilient in the face of challenges has been a major factor in the success of my businesses. After the start of the pandemic, our team consistently preserved and pivoted to the ever-evolving landscape, enabling our business to grow and develop. We have also been extremely efficient in refining our supply chain, choosing local suppliers wherever possible and manufacturing our products onsite in Birmingham. This has enabled us to adapt extremely quickly to consumer demands and market trends and introduce new products to the Nourished line-up.

Level Up Summit 2022

Don’t miss our Level Up Summit on 06 December, where we’re tackling the barriers for women in tech head on. Join us for keynotes, panels, Q&A’s & breakout sessions on finance, people management, negotiation, influencing skills, confidence building, building internal networks, maximising the power of mentorship, and much more. 

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

Commit your time and efforts into establishing your brand and compile data so you know exactly what your customers want. It is important to create a business that delivers a clear benefit to the end consumer, rather than just developing a technology which you think is cool.

The technology industry is still very male-dominated, but you should never let this affect your decision or confidence as a female entrepreneur. It is by breaking down these stereotypes and traditions that will encourage other women in our industry to pursue their dreams and develop their skillsets.

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

You just need to look at the numbers to see that there are far fewer women in the technology sector than men. However, I do believe change is possible and while there is a significant way to go, women are starting to pave their way in STEM and pursue careers that that have previously been dominated by men.

Female role models are integral to the technology industry as they encourage even more women to be ambitious and strive for their goals. Once you see one person who has made it, you soon realise that you too could walk in their shoes. Seeing women breaking down those gender barriers, being confident in their own abilities and achieving significant funding for their projects will all encourage other women to do the same.

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

I think businesses need to work more to understand the level of gender diversity in their company, and if they find it is lacking, put in place a robust plan to attract and keep women in their workforce.

Working with universities and other higher education institutions is a great place to start and there are some incredible programmes that promote STEM to girls in schools which show them that they can join a career in tech and be very successful.

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?

We really need to educate women and girls that a successful job in technology is a realistic career option for them. We should provide them with mentors in the industry, provide internships and expose children in schools to technology at an earlier age so they understand exactly how vital it is in our day-to-day lives.

It’s also important that we teach people how diverse this space is, and that working in the technology sector doesn’t mean you are limited to coding. Those preconceptions can add barriers to people wanting to enter the industry, so we need to spread awareness of how exciting and vast the technology sector is.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I think networking is hugely important for advancing your career in technology. I find it incredibly interesting speaking to other people in my field at events across the country and abroad, to learn how they face challenges and grow their businesses.


Inspirational Woman: Deb Ashton | Founder & Senior Vice President, Strategic Customer Experience, FinancialForce

Meet Deb Ashton, Founder & Senior Vice President, Strategic Customer Experience, FinancialForce

Deb Ashton

Deb Ashton is Senior Vice President of Strategic Customer Experience and a Founder of FinancialForce. Deb has been instrumental in the growth and ongoing success of the FinancialForce business. In her current role, Deb’s mission is to work with our customers to understand their journey, ensure they maximise the value they derive from our solutions, and enhance the overall customer experience.

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

As a founder of FinancialForce, my role is to ensure FinancialForce’s customer experience is best in class. I am continuously innovating and working relentlessly to deliver moments that matter for FinancialForce’s customers, employees and investors. I engage with many customers directly to understand their journey with FinancialForce and acquire feedback and insight to ensure they are maximising the value they receive from our solutions. The position I hold is a global, cross functional role specifically designed to drive advocacy for FinancialForce solutions and ensure that FinancialForce customers are wildly successful.

In my position, I build trust with customers and employees alike, while through collaboration and communication skills, I am able to facilitate executive level meetings and can quickly switch context to help dig into the details of different customer conversations. My goal is to ensure FinancialForce delivers what we say we are going to deliver, as well as to ensure that FinancialForce customers are managed with integrity and care.

When I founded FinancialForce in 2009 alongside the original CEO and co-founder, I was running our Engineering, Success and Support teams. I created the Customer Success discipline ensuring a customer centric mindset was built into the company’s DNA. In the ensuing years, I have built and managed our Product Strategy, Product Management, Product Marketing and Software Engineering teams globally. Most recently, my responsibilities focus on Customer Experience and Operations.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Not exactly! I’ve always been very driven and determined to be successful at everything I do. My mantra is to work hard and be the best version of myself that I can be. Because I’m so high energy, I’ve always sought out new roles that push me further in new learnings or career paths. I set ambitious goals for myself, both personally and professionally, which take me outside of my comfort zone. With my career I always wanted to learn new disciplines and try new roles to help build high performing teams – that’s what drove me to the leadership level early on in my career.

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

There are always career challenges. Starting FinancialForce and being the founder of a small business means you are wearing lots of different hats. I started off at the company running product management and engineering, support, success and HR and Finance. Over the years, as the company grew and we became more mature, I had to hand over certain roles to experts.

One of the biggest moves I made was from Chief Product Officer running product strategy, management and engineering to starting the new customer experience discipline for FinancialForce. This was a huge challenge but I saw it as an opportunity, which is essentially how I overcome the challenge. It is very rare in your career that you get the chance to build a new discipline and team from scratch, which was what I’ve done here at FinancialForce.

Level Up Summit 2022

Don’t miss our Level Up Summit on 06 December, where we’re tackling the barriers for women in tech head on. Join us for keynotes, panels, Q&A’s & breakout sessions on finance, people management, negotiation, influencing skills, confidence building, building internal networks, maximising the power of mentorship, and much more. 

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What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Really, it’s starting FinancialForce and growing the business from 27 people when we started in 2009 to close to 1000 people today, with 1400+ customers globally.

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

Never giving up – I am competitive and want to be the best at everything I do. This makes me very determined to be successful personally as well as professionally due to the fact I operate well in teams and always want to drive success for the people and teams around me. I invest time in people whether that is team members or customers. I make sure I understand what motivates people, what challenges and difficulties they are facing, and how I can help them to be successful in whatever they are doing.

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

I would say always be curious, always be learning, whether that’s within your role or within the technology environment you are operating in. Make sure you understand how to work well in a team and what your strengths are, ensuring you’re playing to those strengths.

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

Yes, I think less women choose the technology direction at college / university, which means the pool of women available for recruiting into technology roles is smaller than that of men. To drive more women into tech we need to engage them at school when it comes to the decisions they are making about A level and university courses. We also need to mentor them and ensure they are included in important conversations and their voices are heard.

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

Companies need to have a diversity and inclusion policy in place that makes everyone, regardless of who they are, their background, gender or race, feel equally involved in and supported across the business. This can be initiated through education, in addition to the creation of a Diversity and Inclusion committee, like we have at FinancialForce, which ensures there is a recruitment and hiring process that supports diversity. At FinancialForce, we also celebrate the differences in the cultures, backgrounds, etc. which are a part of our organisation.

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?

Ultimately, we have to put more women on our Boards and into C-level positions, especially in enterprise technology companies. In the near term, we need to ensure an inclusive environment that attracts diverse talent, and a hiring process that includes a rich, diverse talent pipeline of talent.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Reading Forbes, Accenture, Deloitte and McKinsey articles regularly, and following technology leaders and entrepreneurs on LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as reading the articles they are posting is a good place to start.


Katherine Kostereva

Inspirational Woman: Katherine Kostereva | Founder & CEO, Creatio

Meet Katherine Kostereva, Founder & CEO, Creatio

Katherine Kostereva

Katherine Kostereva is the Founder and CEO of Creatio – a global vendor of one platform to automate workflows and CRM with no-code and maximum degree of freedom. For the past 20 years, Katherine has been helping organizations accelerate their customer-facing and operational processes through automation.

Recognised throughout the technology sector as an inspirational leader, Katherine has received several industry awards and in 2021 she was ranked first in the ‘Top 50 Women Leaders in SaaS’.

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

I started my career journey at the age of 14 when decided to provide tutoring services for younger kids. Throughout my early 20s, I tried different roles from engineering to sales and marketing in larger companies like IBM. When I was 25, I founded a software company with a small group of like-minded enthusiasts. We had a big vision and drive that helped us get our first clients within the first few weeks of establishing the venture.

Today, I’m fortunate to be the CEO of Creatio. Creatio is a global vendor of one platform to automate workflows and CRM with no-code and a maximum degree of freedom. Millions of workflows are launched on Creatio’s platform daily in 100 countries by thousands of clients. Our company employs 700 professionals in 7 global offices.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I wouldn’t say so. I rather followed my passion with an open-minded approach and without compromises.

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

Challenges in entrepreneurial life? Never heard of it. Isn’t it just smooth sailing all the time?:).

Based on my experience, when facing challenges, the only way forward is to embrace reality and deal with it. There is no silver bullet; you have to build resilience and use your grit.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

The no-code platform Creatio delivers, in particular, the level of freedom that our products bring to our customers and partners.

Level Up Summit 2022

Don’t miss our Level Up Summit on 06 December, where we’re tackling the barriers for women in tech head on. Join us for keynotes, panels, Q&A’s & breakout sessions on finance, people management, negotiation, influencing skills, confidence building, building internal networks, maximising the power of mentorship, and much more. 

BUY YOUR TICKETS

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

The team of Creatio leaders who share the same vision and passion for the future of the no-code industry.

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

Grow every day to create the best version of yourself.

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

I don’t believe so. I think that the current environment and the tech space, in general, offer a great opportunity to build career for those who wholeheartedly want it and execute on their vision.

There are currently only 21 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?

I would spend more time and energy on earlier education on career opportunities in tech. I think it’s very important to inspire a younger generation to learn more about the tech space and get practical skills. That’s the reason why we invest in Creatio No-Code University and create educational materials (the most recent one is a book on no-code methodology – “The No-Code Playbook”).

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I personally enjoy reading business books, the best one I’ve read in 2022 is “Amp It Up” by Frank Slootman.

To hear more from Katherine you can register to attend the launch of the ‘No-Code Playbook’ – a book she has co-authored which outlines a vendor agnostic framework for implementing no-code applications. The book will be launched on October 4, 2022, at an on-line event featuring a no-code case study from Virgin Media O2 Business and a futuristic discussion with Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak.


Erin (Mack) McKelvey

Inspirational Woman: Erin "Mack" McKelvey | Founder & CEO, SalientMG

Meet Erin "Mack" McKelvey, Founder & CEO, SalientMG

Erin (Mack) McKelvey

Throughout her 20+ year career, Erin (Mack) McKelvey has led transformative teams that accelerate revenue and market position for publicly traded and privately held technology companies.

In 2013, Mack founded SalientMG, a strategic marketing firm that specializes in go-to-market and executive visibility strategies and programs that create market and category differentiation for B2B technology companies. SalientMG’s clients have included Rovio, Etsy, Verizon, Starwood Hotels, ExecOnline, UberMedia, Caesars Entertainment and SquadLocker.

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

In my 20+ years of experience, I’ve led market differentiation and transformation for public and private tech companies including SIRIUS XM, VeriSign, CGI, British Telecom, and Lucent Technologies/AT&T. Most recently, I was the Senior Vice President of Marketing, Millennial Media; where I greatly contributed to the company’s growth from start-up stage through its successful 2012 IPO. In 2013, I founded SalientMG, a strategic marketing firm that specializes in go-to-market and executive visibility strategies and programs that create market and category differentiation for B2B technology companies and the executives who run them. SalientMG’s clients have included Rovio, Etsy, Verizon, Starwood Hotels, ExecOnline, UberMedia, Caesars Entertainment, Sparkfly and SquadLocker. As its CEO and Founder, I oversee our team’s high-impact marketing initiatives for growth-stage tech startups, including executive visibility efforts promoting underrepresented leaders.

I’m also a startup tech advisor and investor, speaker, and business/industry awards’ judge. I serve on the Advisory Boards of technology startups, including Real Atom, a female-founded commercial real estate fintech startup based in DC; I am also on the Board of Trustees for Creative Spirit, a non-profit which seeks to create jobs for the intellectually and developmentally disabled. I am an active mentor in ACP’s US Military Veteran Women’s Program and Women in Marketing (UK). In addition, I am an investor in several companies, including a martech company which enables digital transformation in the QSR and Retail sectors. As the wife of a former active-duty US Marine, I also support my husband’s military foundation and charitable work.

I am a public advocate for diversity, inclusion, and representation in business, technology, and advertising. I have been a contributor to Fast Company, Fortune, Entrepreneur, MediaPost, Luxury Daily, CMO.com, and other business and trade publications on leadership, diversity, visibility, management, and marketing innovation for the past 10+ years..

I worked with Business Insider to create the 2016, 2015 and 2014 lists of “The Most Powerful Women in Mobile Advertising”. In 2013 and 2012, I was named one of “The Most Powerful Women in Mobile Advertising” by Business Insider. In 2012, I received the American Advertising Federation (AAF) Silver Medal Award for outstanding industry contribution. In 2010, I was listed on the inaugural “Mobile Women to Watch” by Mobile Marketer and I was a contributing author of Mobile Marketing for Dummies.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Twenty five years ago my biggest goal was to land my first job in tech. But as my career progressed through a series of positions at prestigious high-growth companies, I became more intrigued by mentoring, investing, ownership, and inclusion. It’s best to have a plan for your career but not necessarily one set in stone—embrace change because it may be for the better.

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

One of my most infamous career challenges is one we can all relate to: the first six months post-graduation. In that tense and confusing waypoint between the educational and corporate worlds, I applied to countless companies, only to receive zero responses. After speaking with a friend who ran into a similar silence before changing her name on her resume from “Alexandra” to “Alex”; I changed my first name on my resume from “Erin” to “Mack”, a made-up nickname. The risk paid off and soon after I received a massive response rate to the same resume, with a name other than my given one. While grateful that my social experiment proved fruitful, it was, I believe, my first glimpse into the struggles women face in the tech industry. (And possibly the first spark that led me to eventually found a company that could help impact representation, SalientMG.)

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Founding SalientMG. Starting any company is a huge risk. It involves market differentiation, product-market-fit, an amazing team, money, a great deal of luck, and incredible clients. Even with all those factors, the success of a company is not guaranteed. In the early years of launching SMG, each day was similar to navigating a minefield. But, I’m proud to say we fought through some of our early growing pains and I see not only the company and staff grow, but myself as well.

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

I learned to use my fear as a catalyst, not a deterrent. There have been many times in my career when I was afraid to take risks such as changing my name, starting a company, or investing in start-ups. Many would have listened to that small voice in the back of their mind telling them to play it safe but I realized that fear is not always a bad thing. It’s a reminder that the best chances aren’t the easiest decisions to make.

Level Up Summit 2022

Don’t miss our Level Up Summit on 06 December, where we’re tackling the barriers for women in tech head on. Join us for keynotes, panels, Q&A’s & breakout sessions on finance, people management, negotiation, influencing skills, confidence building, building internal networks, maximising the power of mentorship, and much more. 

BUY YOUR TICKETS

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

Stay relevant. In the past few decades technology has expanded at an exponential rate so much so that some categories are beginning to bleed into one another. Keep your skill set sharp but don’t be afraid to venture into other fields in technology and gain outside insight. It’ll increase your networking opportunities, expand your skill set, and expose you to different approaches you may not have considered otherwise.

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

Of course. While I hate to say it, quite a few barriers I faced when first entering tech still exist today. However, the one thing that has changed is the power of technology. Platforms such as LinkedIn allow us to maintain or create connections with like-minded individuals and using that we are able to showcase our talents to larger audiences. The rise of social media allows us the opportunity for visibility and helps us to bypass the barrier of falling under the radar simply because of our position in the field.

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

Just listen. There are a multitude of women whose talents are underutilized because of their gender, experience, age, or title. Everyone’s ideas, no matter how small or large, have the potential to create or transform industries. The only thing preventing us from ushering in a new wave of tech is personal biases. We need to stop underestimating those without advanced degrees, new grads, those countlessly passed over for promotion, or those entering this field later than what’s deemed normal. Treat every co-worker with the respect you would treat your employer, take the time to have a conversation and share ideas, it may just change your perspective.

There are currently only 21 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?

According to the World Economic Forum, just 24% of experts quoted in the media are women. See the correlation? One of the fastest ways to impact the tech industry is to flood it with women’s voices, ideas and expertise. Women must take control of their visibility. Digital is the great equalizer. Creating and placing meaningful content and amplifying that content via social is the best way for women to start. Utilize social to create conversation; lead it. Normalize seeing women on stage at tech conferences talking about technology, not being a woman in tech. Normalize reading about women’s innovation, not how they strive for the ever elusive work/life balance. Normalize creating room for women to share ideas and create diverse teams to implement them. Raise your hand to be one of those expert sources for reporters and champion other women to do the same.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

All of the above. Make yourself known wherever you can whenever you can. Podcasts, networking events, books, conferences, and websites are all opportunities to be exposed to a unique audience. Never pass up an opportunity no matter how significant or insignificant it may appear. You never know what exposure it may bring and where it could lead your career.


Camellia Chan

Inspirational Woman: Camellia Chan | CEO & Founder, X-PHY

Meet Camellia Chan, CEO & Founder, X-PHY

Camellia Chan

Camellia Chan is CEO and founder of X-PHY, a Flexxon brand. In 2021, Camellia won top 10 Women in Cybersecurity award in Singapore for her work with AI.

In this piece, Camellia talks to us about her journey into tech entrepreneurship, what excites her about the cybersecurity industry and her biggest achievement to date.

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

I’m Camellia Chan, the Founder and CEO of next-generation cybersecurity solutions and hardware storage solutions provider, Flexxon.

From an early age, I was always interested in business and entrepreneurship, searching for opportunities to connect people with what they needed. Even as a young girl back home in Malaysia, I looked for ways to make a little extra pocket money! It was years later when I was at university where I combined this passion for entrepreneurship with technology.

Lots of people think that if you’re a deep tech company founder, like myself, you must have years of formal education under your belt and a formal degree. I can safely say that isn’t always the case – it certainly wasn’t for me. In university, I studied business management and picked up a specialisation in IT. In my second year, I assembled my very first PC, and as they say, the rest was history – I was hooked.

Armed with this love for building tech, I started working in an electronics manufacturing company and picked up logic circuits. My colleagues in the engineering department taught me the ins and outs. I then spent a lot of my time studying a variety of technical topics that I am interested in.

In 2007, I combined my love for business and technology and founded Flexxon, which is now a leading cybersecurity and industrial memory and storage solutions provider. In 2021, we unveiled the X-PHY cybersecure SSD (solid-state drive) – the world’s first AI embedded data security SSD designed to deliver real-time protection against cyber threats. To date, X-PHY has collaborated with Lenovo to integrate the cybersecurity SSDs in Lenovo’s world-class laptop solutions. These laptops are benefiting from X-PHY’s zero-trust security framework and 24/7 real-time protection to data stored within the drive.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Sure, I made plans, but I also learned to respond and adapt. There are so many circumstances in life and work that come about unexpectedly, from the good people that share your vision to challenges completely beyond your control.

What I’ve realised is that on a near-term basis (daily, weekly and even monthly), the majority of circumstances will necessitate adaptation and are likely to alter your plans. Instead, it’s more important to have a larger goal or vision that speaks to you, such as wanting to create something that can truly help all society, and using that to guide your career.

This is how we responded to industry needs and evolved over the years at Flexxon. We diversified in response to mounting cybersecurity vulnerabilities from our core focus on industrial, medical and automotive NAND storage devices, to incorporate cybersecurity solutions. I noticed a recurring trend when speaking to our customers – that both blue-chip companies and smaller enterprises were victims of a cyberattack or very concerned about becoming a victim – it made sense to evolve the business to include a cybersecurity solution that could address this pressing problem.

What excites you about the cybersecurity industry?

It all boils down to three key drivers:

  • Firstly, the race against cybercriminals. Hackers’ methods are becoming increasingly sophisticated and when the pandemic accelerated digitalisation, it opened up an even larger cyber landscape. Traditional cybersecurity tools, like antivirus, alone are not fit for purpose and rely on humans to maintain good cyber hygiene. My goal is to always keep at least one step ahead of cyber attackers.
  • Next, technology is evolving all the time. The possibilities with technology are limitless and the same can be said for cybersecurity. It’s an incredible and fast paced industry to be a part of.
  • Finally, this is tech for good. Conquering cyber threats then opens up even more possibilities for citizens of the digital age.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I am extremely proud of the commercial success we have achieved at Flexxon, but I’m even more inspired by the team that we have. Our people are our first customers and strongest advocates, and we need to create an environment that they can grow and excel in.

One of my biggest motivations for setting up the company was to create a workplace that would allow the team to thrive. I have always emphasised an environment with zero politics, high mobility and plentiful opportunities to learn.

We have made so much progress and delivered great impact over the last 15 years, and I can see how the team has grown to own our shared vision, put their hearts to making a difference through their work, and wearing a bright smile through it all.

Level Up Summit 2022

Don’t miss our Level Up Summit on 06 December, where we’re tackling the barriers for women in tech head on. Join us for keynotes, panels, Q&A’s & breakout sessions on finance, people management, negotiation, influencing skills, confidence building, building internal networks, maximising the power of mentorship, and much more. 

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

Being a business owner and a woman in tech are two areas that are known to be extremely tough. Put that together, and you can surely expect that I have faced many challenges along the way to get here.

I believe a major factor in achieving success for me is never ever giving up on my goals. I’ve faced challenging situations in dealing with difficult customers for instance, and each time I learnt to create better processes to protect ourselves against potentially tricky situations – all while holding on to my principles.

As a woman in tech, you may be faced with my doubters and detractors. I know that if these challenges are allowed to get to me, I would then lose the opportunity to fight for our right to contribute equally, or more, to the industry.

Just keep fighting, and you can overcome any challenge.

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

A combination of confidence and surrounding yourself with the right people will stand you in good stead. Here are my four top tips:

  • Go outside of your comfort zone – You might be changing career paths or perhaps applying for a job that isn’t backed by your degree, but if you pursue your passion with hard work and determination you can achieve what you set out to do. Put yourself in positions that scare you and you’ll learn a lot.
  • Build strong networks – A support system is vital in life, and in business. I am a strong believer in building genuine connections and friendships with the people around me. This is where you can lend a hand and rely on the support of your networks in both good and bad times.
  • Build dependable teams – When you’re at the point in your career when you become a leader, remember that no one is an island. Seek out and develop a well-rounded, efficient and effective team that plays to different people’s strengths. Not everyone should be good at the same thing, and you need diverse skills to continue innovating.
  • Learn to accept that things will go wrong – This idea is very much mirrored in the work that we do at X-PHY, as we try to keep ahead of the ingenuity of cybercriminals. If we are overly daunted by each setback, we would never achieve our goals. This applies to leaders and their teams.

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

Progress has definitely been made in the past few years as more women in the industry come forward to represent women in STEM and challenge the status quo. However, statistics still show that women are underrepresented. This will take many years to change as it is a gradual process, but small steps create big change.

To further support this positive trajectory, women can be more involved as mentors for others, sharing in their experience, and educational institutes can offer more inclusive opportunities for female students to get exposure to STEM industries.

Challenges of working in a ‘male-dominated industry’ can often be overcome by hard work and ambition – you just need to confidence to go after what you want. This is, of course, easier said than done but it’s important to remember we live in a wonderful time with tremendous opportunities for everyone, not just for half of us.

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

Hiring and recruitment practices are incredibly important and with visible, female role models in the industry, we encourage women to imagine a future in tech. Talented, driven women – as well as employees of different ages, nationalities and domains – create an impactful environment by challenging norms, building competencies and championing excellence. Fundamentally, it’s crucial businesses recognise this from the get-go and try to address unconscious bias early on when recruiting.

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?

One major myth in the tech and cybersecurity industry is thinking that you need a lot of technical knowledge and expertise to enter the industry. Education and learning don’t end once we leave school, in fact it is enriched when we enter the working world, get hands on experience and interact with experts in each field. If I had a magic wand, I’d make it so everyone can access and has the confidence to embrace lifelong learning and constant upskilling.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

YouTube is an incredible resource right under our noses – and I can’t recommend it enough! I follow topics and personalities on innovation and leadership. I love learning about their backstories, unique personalities, and trials and tribulations. Some of my favorite personalities include Alan Turing, Steve Jobs, George Soros and Warren Buffet.

Of course, within your own industry and community, find mentors and build networks that will support you as you co-create a better future for the next generation of female technopreneurs. Professor Annie Koh, Professor Emeritus of Finance (Practice) at Lee Kong Chian School of Business, Singapore Management University (SMU), is one of my amazing mentors and I’m very grateful for her guidance over the years!


HeForShe: Róbert Wessman | Chairman & CEO, Alvogen and Founder & Chairman, Alvotech

Robert Wessman

Róbert Wessman is Chairman & CEO at global pharmaceutical giant Alvogen, and founder and Chairman at biopharma specialist Alvotech.

Róbert grew up in a small town in Iceland. From an early age he had a strong interest in both medicine and business; it was the latter path he chose to follow when picking his studies and he attended business school. However, he has since set up and developed a series of highly successful healthcare businesses to realise his vision of improving people’s lives through greater access to affordable medication. Róbert’s achievements have made him the subject of three Harvard Business School case studies on business excellence.

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

I grew up in Iceland, in a small town on the outskirts of Reykjavik. From a young age I’ve been fascinated by the world of healthcare and struggled to choose between medicine school and business school when I was applying to the University of Iceland. Eventually, I chose business but have been fortunate to have the opportunity to combine my business experience and interest in medicine by taking on management positions in the healthcare industry. Today I am the CEO and Chairman of the global pharma company Alvogen and the Chairman of its sister company Alvotech. What unites my companies is our mission of improving people’s lives through better access to high-quality affordable medication.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I have never had a strict plan; it is so important to be open-minded about opportunities when they come up. What I have always had was a focus on purpose, on giving back to my native country Iceland and contributing in some way to making the world a better place. Therefore I took on the task of turning around the failing Icelandic drugmaker Delta some twenty years ago. That successful transformation led me on to new opportunities and, ultimately, to where I am today.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

I certainly have, and perhaps the hardest moment of all was in 2013 when the ultimate storm of personal and professional challenges hit. I was training for a competitive cycling race and one day I had a severe accident, crashing into a car that had stopped suddenly in the middle of the road. My spine was severed in two places and there was not an inch of my body that wasn’t cut and bruised. The doctors were not sure I would ever walk again.

This happened at the very same time that Alvogen was preparing to expand into 35 countries, a huge moment for the company and I simply could not abandon my team at that time. I could barely hold a phone or type because my hands were so badly injured but, still, I persevered, typing emails and speaking to the team from my hospital bed. And we did it – Alvogen is a well-established global company today.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

I really believe, particularly in the pharma industry, that we achieve as a Team – so many different talents are needed to develop a new drug and bring it to market. So, I would say my greatest achievement is building up an incredibly talented, diverse team across my companies, united by a common vision and mutual respect.

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

This may sound obvious but self-belief and a positive attitude. You will never motivate people to work with you to create something amazing from scratch if you are not enthusiastic yourself. It is hugely important to stay positive, even in the face of challenges.

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

I believe we all can learn from each other every day.   I am often asked if I have a role model and my answer is that I am not motivated by on single role model.   My role models are people I am seeing every day across different walks of life. The key is to listen to people, ask questions and seek advice.   In the same way I try to give input to others, to help them to reach their outmost potential. I have also been asked numerous times to lecture at Harvard Business School (HBS) going over our HBS cases, our goals, our mission, our failures and our successes hoping that students can benefit from our story.

What can businesses/government/allies do to help diversity and inclusion?

I come from Iceland, where we are incredibly fortunate to have a strong legal and policy framework to support diversity. Iceland has been named the world’s most gender-equal nation for 12 years running in World Economic Forum research now.

With the benefit of my Icelandic heritage, I think there are some useful learnings that could be applied around the world. In particular, Iceland has generous parental leave provisions, with five months for each parent and two months to share. This helps challenge assumptions about gender roles and make sure women’s careers do not suffer. Iceland’s system of equal pay certification for large employers is another thing to look at. We at Alvotech Iceland are incredibly proud to have our Equal Pay Certificate and have rolled out process and policy learnings built up from the certification journey across our global operations.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

Life is interesting, because we are all different as human beings.  We come from different cultures, nationality, upbringing and religions.   That’s why diversity gives all of us the opportunity to learn as long as we live.  We are all born equal, we share the same planet, sun, sky and oceans and that’s the only way to look at life, in my mind.   This applies of course to gender equality also.   Gender equality is the right thing to do on a human level – and it makes complete business sense!  As a father and a husband as well as a CEO, I obviously want to live in a world where everyone can realise their full potential, regardless of their gender or other factors.

Alvogen and Alvotech could never have got to where we are today without our many talented female colleagues. Numerous studies show that diverse, collaborative workplaces are associated with better business performance.

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

Don’t be afraid to prioritise your health sometimes! Drive is important but there were moments during my recovery from the cycling accident when I should not have tried to do everything and take every meeting as if nothing had happened.

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

Alvotech is due to list on the Nasdaq later this year and I am very excited about this new chapter. Alvotech is an expert in biosimilar medications.  Biologics are a very effective type of medication, but very expensive.   Around 40% of world sales of pharmaceuticals are biologics.  Due to their cost, there is still a high proportion of patients in need of those products, who cannot afford it.   Further access to capital will help us at Alvotech do more towards our vision of increasing access of affordable medicines for patients, while lowering costs for healthcare systems.


Inspirational Woman: Veena Giridhar Gopal | CEO & Co-founder, salesBeat

Veena Giridhar GopalI grew up in India and qualified as an accountant in Botswana, where I spent several years consulting for companies including retail and consumer goods companies.

After business school at INSEAD in France, I moved to the UK to work with Pepsi and then stayed. I worked in the food & beverages sector across several roles, ranging from finance to market entry and sales. I am currently the CEO of salesBeat (also a co-founder) and look after anything that is not related to technology. So that includes sales, marketing, strategy, finance, investor relations, HR etc.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I used to in the early days, but c. 10 years ago, I stopped. I learned that life happens and the best thing you can do is to equip yourself with the skills to deal with anything and everything that life throws at you.

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

The biggest challenge I faced was when I moved from a corporate development and strategy focussed role into a sales leadership role, when I had no prior experience in Sales. I overcame this by asking for help from my mentors and also from my then line manager. I also asked old team members and colleagues if I could shadow them for a few days to learn from them.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Raising a pre-seed sound for salesBeat and getting buy-in from Industry professionals has been my biggest career achievement to date. Also, we have a 50% female tech team and salesBeat as a whole is 67% women.

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

Perseverance. I do not believe in giving up.

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

Always stay one step ahead of today. In this sector, if you are not a pioneer or a thought leader, you’ll always be chasing old tech.

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

Having come from India, where I was applying to (and encouraged by everyone around me to apply to) engineering universities, to the UK, where far fewer women think of the sciences as a viable career option, I believe it is the mindset that needs to change first. I first came across the mindset that men may be a better fit for STEM, here in the UK. Interestingly enough, there are several studies that show that there are more women in STEM in emerging markets than in ‘developed’ markets. So it is the mindset that needs changing first.

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

Flexible work is the most critical support companies can provide. This is already happening due to the pandemic. But flexibility should not just mean work from home. It is about providing the flexibility to work from home when needed and come into the office/site when needed. Flexible work is about timings as well. Unless the role is as an on-site engineer at a manufacturing facility, or needs the person to be around for specific times at specific locations because of the nature of the job (mines/power generation/rigs etc), companies need to be more accepting of flexible times as well. This not only encourages more women to consider these roles, but it increases productivity when people work when they are at their best, not according to when their contract dictates.

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?

I would start at the beginning – Schools and homes. Where the message would be that girls are as good as boys when it comes to the sciences and mathematics.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Diva tech talk & Women who test are both great podcasts for women in tech. There is a whatsapp group for women in tech and has members from around Europe, that I’m a part of. We get together whenever possible at start-up events like Web Summit and other technology focussed events.


Inspirational Woman: Dayo Akinrade | Founder & CEO, Wisdom

Dayo AkiniradeI am the founder and CEO of Wisdom, Wisdom is a social audio app with the mission to democratise access to mentorship and create an open and diverse community centred on knowledge-sharing.

My journey in tech started as an IT Management Consultant at the ‘Big 4’. Then, driven by the lack of diversity in London’s tech ecosystem, I joined the founding team of OneTech, London’s largest diversity in startups programme, backed by the JP Morgan Chase Foundation. My first venture into startup was Africlick, a cultural dating app targeting 1 billion Africans globally.

Prior to this I studied for a B.Sc. in Computer Science from the University of Manchester and a M.Sc. in Technology from University College London.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

As a child my mother was pursuing a PhD and she spent vast amounts of time in her computer room. So from an early age, I had a sense that computers were important and knew I wanted to work with computers one day. I occasionally will sit down and plan my career, although I plan only a few years in advance as, in my experience, the tech industry advances quite rapidly and opportunities more than a few years away can be impossible to predict. I aim to create where I hope the industry will go and then focus intently on executing toward my goal.

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

Having worked in London’s largest diversity startup program, I’ve observed firsthand how lack of access to mentors contributes to systemic inequity and disadvantages founders from minority groups. I observed that would-be mentors on LinkedIn have a clear problem: they have no way of engaging the many inbound requests they receive so they ignore them all, unless they get a “warm introduction,” which is itself a crystallisation of systemic inequality. Hence, Wisdom was born from my mission to democratise access to mentorship using the power of social audio technology.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

In March 2022, Wisdom was featured App of the Day in Apple’s App Store with Apple saying ‘Logging into Wisdom is like showing up at a party powered by conversations between thought leaders and big thinkers’. Given that the App Store has approximately 2 million apps, I was overwhelmed with gratitude that Apple recognised our mission and decided to feature Wisdom.

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

Unfortunately, resilience, as a Black woman in tech I am often underestimated, with experienced individuals often expressing surprise and disbelief at my education and qualifications. I say ‘unfortunately’, as the tech industry must continue efforts to #breakthebias.

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

When job hunting, do not just select the company with the highest salary, candidates should consider the company culture and what archetype of person is successful there and if their personality is a natural fit.  Candidates often do not consider that job hunting is a two-way fit between the employee and employer.

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

I believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, although the barriers are often invisible and structural which presents an additional challenge to overcome. Companies that employ large workforces should seek to embed diversity and inclusion into every aspect of the organisation, including their products, brand, team, processes and policy. Once a company is authentically diverse, it will naturally attract women to work there.

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

My observation from consulting for high-growth tech companies, is a trend where organisations are experiencing ‘diversity fatigue’. Human Resources departments are managing multiple diversity initiatives and justifying return on investment is a challenge. I think companies can benefit from holistically examining the company culture and being honest about what archetype of individual is successful within their structure. Oftentimes that archetype embodies stereotypically male characteristics. When that is so, a deeper examination and ultimately transformation of company culture may be required.

There are currently only 21 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?

Studies have indicated that genderisation at the earliest stages of child development can impact their future career choices. I would raise awareness on genderisation of children as related to gender-specific toys and attitudes to girls in STEM subjects – which hopefully would go some way to increasing the pipeline of women opting to participate in tech. Encouraging curiosity and leadership and the embracing of hard-fought skills like mathematics and science in our girls must be intentional.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I recommend that women who work in the tech industry seek out a set of mentors that can serve as a sounding board and trusted community of advisors. Today, information is readily available on the internet, however, mentorship brings benefits beyond information. It provides an external challenge from a fresh perspective and enables an individual to benefit from the mentor’s lived experience. Women in tech can use the insight and advice from a mentor, to accelerate their desired career outcomes. Of course, Wisdom is a great platform to connect with mentors.


Inspirational Woman: Somi Arian | CEO & Founder, FemPeak

SOMI ARIAN

Somi Arian is a tech philosopher and the CEO and founder of FemPeak, a platform that aims to raise women’s socioeconomic status through tools, training, and mentorship – supporting women so they can navigate the new business landscape, reach their peak potential and achieve financial empowerment.

Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?

I was born and brought up in Iran in a very oppressive society. When I was 23 I came to the UK and studied at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, where I earned two master’s degrees in political science and the philosophy of science and technology. After school, I went into television, learned filmmaking, and became a producer. Then I started my own marketing agency, Smart Cookie Media, a modern-day marketing agency for thought leaders, and from there, I raised investment to build the FemPeak platform. FemPeak consists of a space where women can come to learn, network, find new business opportunities, and raise investment, so they can gain financial independence, reach their full potential and thrive. The platform consists of four hubs. At the moment we have built our knowledge hub, where women can attend webinars on different topics with our guiding Sherpanis, like the Sherpas that help you reach the peak of Mount Everest.

How did the idea come to you for the company?

When I looked at the 10 corporations that run the world (5 in the West and 5 in China), I realised that none of them were founded, or even run, by women. When I was writing my book, Career Fear (And how to beat it), I realised that most of my references, at least 90%-95% were written by men. I wanted to know why.

In 2020, I launched the think tank for women in business and technology, a series of conferences with leaders across all industries to find out what factors were holding women back from reaching the top tiers of business and technology. Through the think tank conferences, we discovered six major areas that were holding women back: women’s health, self-confidence, tech skills, leadership & entrepreneurship, family & relationships, and financial skills.

The FemPeak platform was born out of the desire to address these challenges.

How did you achieve awareness?

As I wrote my book on the future of work, I noticed that most of the jobs that were being disrupted due to technology were the ones done mainly by women. For example, repetitive tasks and middle management positions. Whereas, the role of the entrepreneur, the founder, the CEO or CFO, in short, leadership positions seemed to be safe. In our current society, these positions are usually held by men. On a more personal note, I went through a break up where I had to make a choice between my career and my relationship. I chose myself. But at the same time I realised that so many women go through this.

It was certainly a wake up call. I noticed that if nobody did something about it, women were going to be left behind in the new age of technology. That was the catalyst for me to realise, something needed to be done to get more women into these roles now.

How have you been able to gain funding and grow?

Because I have been building my profile in LinkedIn and online for a very long time, I have managed to garner a big following. So, when the idea for FemPeak came, I approached my network. Initially we were backed up by some of my LinkedIn contacts, FemPeak members and Sherpanis, and my personal connnections. This is how we got the initial seed funding, we still do not have VC funding, which is coming up in this next stage of the company.

What are the key successes?

At the moment more than 60,000 women have joined our mailing list, and so far, we have almost 18,000 subscribed to the platform who are actively participating in events. Thousands of people are signing up for webinars daily and over 840 have upgraded to premium membership.

What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?

The way things have played out for humans so far, women have always seemed to be less interested in tech and finance, and definitely invest less than men. This aversion to technology and finances has presented a huge challenge for me, but by educating and encouraging more women to explore these topics to their full extent we have been able to bridge this gap. Our webinars on Blockchain, Web3, and crypto, have certainly been very well received with plenty of women signing up for each session.

What are your plans now/for the future?

Keep growing the FemPeak platform, the next hub coming up is the career hub, which will act as a talent pool. Next, we’ll be building our FemTrade hub, a marketplace for female-led startups to sell their products and services, and after, we’ll be launching our investment network hub. Another area that’s been garnering a lot of attention is the Web3, crypto, blockchain, metaverse space, which I believe is critical to focus on as it seems to be where the future is heading.

What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?

The most important advice I could share is to “Know yourself”

You have to know yourself well enough, to know if the entrepreneurial path is really for you. It is definitely not for everybody, so you must question whether the typical way of life, imposed by our society, feels right for you. For example, the pressure to get married and start a family most women have to endure may sometimes come at the same time when your business is about to take off. You have to know yourself to see what is the right path for you.

Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?

For me, it’s about being so passionate about what you are doing, that no amount of failure will put you off the path to success.

That, and trying to get at least 7h of sleep everyday, and cutting out unnecessary distractions like social media consumption and entertainment like TV shows, films, etc. It has definitely been a game changer.

Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?

  • Cathie Wood, CEO and CIO of Ark Invest
  • Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophy
  • Ray Dalio, co-chief investment officer of the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, since 1985
  • Oprah Winfrey

What are your favourite inspirational/motivational quotes?

The desire for a sense of community is understandable, but to purchase it, at the expense of self-esteem, is to create a new kind of loneliness. – Nathaniel Branden

What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/somiarian

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/somiarian/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/somiarian

Website: https://www.somiarian.com/

Podcast: https://www.somiarian.com/podcast/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheSomiArianShow