mental health featured

Women lead wellbeing in tech

mental health

By Haley McPherson, Global Marketing Director, & Samantha Hackett HR Manager, ProLabs

Working for a company that supports the wellbeing of its employees has really enabled me to grow professionally and develop my career as a woman in the tech industry.

People in the industry, but also in general, do not talk about mental health and wellness enough. From socials to break-out time or through creating open discussion, it is very simple for a company to support and foster wellness in the workplace and so important too!

Working my way up to become a Global Marketing Director of a tech company has not been an easy ride for me. Working in any industry, there are factors which could affect a person’s mental health and their ability to perform at work.  Working in the tech industry, there are certain challenges women in particular face with it being such a male orientated industry. Women can feel pressured or unrecognised in this environment which can affect confidence, mental health and career prospects. Having been a long-term sufferer of severe anxiety and other mental health issues for many years I had a rocky patch in my early career which could have led to two outcomes in my professional life; throw it all away or pull through and give everything I have. Whilst easier said than done, pulling through was the best thing I could have done and it got me to where I am today, leading the marketing of a global tech company at the age of 32. I feel very lucky to have had the support networks around me to help me achieve my career in the tech industry. All in all, this enabled me to find the strength to work hard and continue my passions for marketing and communications. Without this, I would not have been recognised as Marketing Leader of the Year at the recent Tech Marketing and Innovation Awards.

Having felt so grateful for the support networks around me in my earlier career, I have been working with our HR Manager, Samantha Hackett to encourage our tech company ProLabs, to integrate new workplace activities and initiatives to improve wellbeing in the workplace. Working with Samantha, we decided to make this year Wellness 2019 – a year in which we focus on mental health and wellness in the workplace. In doing so, we have educated the business on simple ways to improve personal wellbeing. Both Samantha and I believed that working in an environment which supports the wellbeing of its employees is empowering and I would encourage any company to take small, but simple actions to support workplace wellbeing.

For example, everyone across our company is invited to participate in Fit Fridays which take place once a month, which are hosted by our Office Manager Maggie Abellan-Charlton During Fit Friday everyone is encouraged to take their lunch hour on that Friday to carry out an activity or exercise, whether that be a walk in the Cotswolds, playing basketball in the warehouse, roller blading, using the onsite gym or playing football. Everyone who participates is rewarded with a team healthy buffet after exercise and over the year we have had many fun and exciting activities that have not only helped with personal wellbeing but also encouraged team spirit within the company.

To raise awareness within the company of mental health, we support a mental health charity this year called Twigs Community Gardens which gives people the chance to regain confidence after experiencing mental health problems. We hosted a charity football match to raise funds for a mental health charity whilst simultaneously engaging the team with healthy exercise and team building. We also placed posters and branding in the office which gave tips on improving mental health and wellbeing in the office environment. Samantha developed a presentation on advice and help on wellbeing and she also introduced quarterly massages days to staff to help them relax and eliminate stress. In addition, we relaunched our employee assistance program and Samantha delivered satisfaction surveys to extend the openness and communication across the board from activities and socials to the office which was an effective way of creating wellbeing throughout work. For employees to be recognised for their achievements and successes we also shared Customer First awards to recognise individual performance to encourage morale and positive esteem in the office.

While these things are only small actions to recognise wellbeing, we feel the office environment has seen an improvement since we began our Wellness 2019 year. Employees began to engage in new activities and communication and office morale has improved as well as people’s fitness. So many people suffer in silence and are embarrassed or see mental health problems as a weakness. Whilst speaking about my mental health to colleagues was admittedly tough and not easy to do, everyone at my work was supportive and I am so pleased I did. I would encourage others to do so too and even if they are not experiencing mental health battles personally, I would encourage people to begin wellness initiatives in their workplace as it may bring some relief to someone suffering in silence. All it takes is a few dedicated people to run it and any business of any size can. It just requires some time and effort with very little funding necessary. It’s easy and there’s lots of online forums and tips to help. Doing just one wellness activity in the workplace creates an open working environment for everyone to perform at their best and reach their full potential.

Haley McPhersonAbout the author

Haley McPherson, Global Marketing Leader of ProLabs is an experienced brand expert, marketing strategist and is skilled in: internal communications, analysis, promoting education and communication in the industry and social media.

Aged just 31, Haley has created a new era for vendor ProLabs, implementing and leading a complete global rebrand just six months after assuming the role in 2017, and has significantly improved internal communications and brand confidence, shifting ProLabs’ position in the market from an “average compatibles vendor” to a “high quality connectivity expert vendor”. The new messaging and positioning introduced by Haley challenges industry norms by looking to disrupt the OEM market by creating a new tier of expertise, quality and value.

While she excels at marketing and communications, she’s a keen advocate of promoting ProLabs’ people and team’s expertise and has pushed Thought Leadership as a key PR tactic, along with creating the CHOICE concept. Broken up into two segments: ‘CHO’ refers to the simple fact that they should “Choose ProLabs”, while “ICE” represents ProLabs as the “Intelligent Connectivity Experts” that they are.

Haley has worked in the industry for almost ten years across intelligence, cyber security, media and TV, where she has gained key skills and has kept in touch with everyone who has ever worked with her. A keen advocate for internal communications and a “happy workplace”, she knows the importance of a happy work place to encourage motivation and continued learning for staff morale.


Haley McPherson featured

Inspirational Woman: Haley McPherson | Global Marketing Leader, ProLabs

Haley McPhersonHaley McPherson, Global Marketing Leader of ProLabs is an experienced brand expert, marketing strategist and is skilled in: internal communications, analysis, promoting education and communication in the industry and social media.

Aged just 32, Haley has created a new era for vendor ProLabs, implementing and leading a complete global rebrand just six months after assuming the role in 2017, and has significantly improved internal communications and brand confidence, shifting ProLabs’ position in the market from an “average compatibles vendor” to a “high quality connectivity expert vendor”. The new messaging and positioning introduced by Haley challenges industry norms by looking to disrupt the OEM market by creating a new tier of expertise, quality and value.

While she excels at marketing and communications, she’s a keen advocate of promoting ProLabs’ people and team’s expertise and has pushed Thought Leadership as a key PR tactic, along with creating the CHOICE concept. Broken up into two segments: ‘CHO’ refers to the simple fact that they should “Choose ProLabs”, while “ICE” represents ProLabs as the “Intelligent Connectivity Experts” that they are.

Haley has worked in the industry for almost ten years across intelligence, cyber security, media and TV, where she has gained key skills and has kept in touch with everyone who has ever worked with her. A keen advocate for internal communications and a “happy workplace”, she knows the importance of a happy work place to encourage motivation and continued learning for staff morale.

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

After graduating from university with a degree in Media Production and Communications, I had my heart set on a career in TV. I spent the summer volunteering at small TV stations and eventually ended up as a researcher on The Trisha Goddard Show! When the show ended, I knew it wasn’t for me and used my creative background to look for more communications/branding roles. I have now worked within marketing for nearly 10 years, from junior roles to where I am today as Global Marketing Director at the age of 32. I was headhunted for ProLabs back in April 2017, the CFO at the time was looking for someone who could build a team to execute a marketing structure and a global re-brand. I started as the Global Marketing Lead and with a large task ahead and a limited team, I found a great designer to help. Within 6 months, we had re-branded the business, built a new website and revitalised the internal culture to be proud of the business. I worked hard to reposition the business in the market, create a new style and differentiate the messaging, content style and thought leadership approach. I focused on building a new strategy that delivered results, ROI and a new era for the business – this new face of the business was an important factor of the merger that took place the following year. After a year leading ProLabs, I was promoted to Global Marketing Director and tasked with replicating the success of the ProLabs brand onto the AddOn brand which now sat under the newly formed Halo Technology Group – post merger.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Yes and no. I knew that whatever I did in life I wanted to make my parents proud of me, my dad’s work ethic has always been my driving force so whatever career path I took I knew I had to work as hard as he did when I was growing up. I have always been creative, not necessarily academic, and I hit a rocky patch in my early career when I could have thrown it all away. My mental health was suffering, and I was on self-destruct, I pulled through and got my head down and gave my everything to my career and received promotion to Head of Marketing in my previous business. I love my job, I don’t actually see it as work, so I am lucky for that, marketing and communications are my passions and I am fortunate that this has been recognised.

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

Being a young female in a male-orientated industry has had its challenges. I have had to introduce a fresh lease of life and new ideas to what could be seen as a dated industry. Being in a senior role in my early 30’s was tough – sometimes people would assume I didn’t know what I was talking about for someone so young or presumed inexperienced, but I have proven a lot of people wrong through my actions and deliverables.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

It was a huge honour to be recognised by CRN at the Women in Channel Awards, and recently being awarded Marketing Leader of the Year at the Tech Marketing and Innovation awards, both have most certainly been a highpoint and something I am extremely proud of. Aside from award recognition, seeing the impact of the global re-brand of ProLabs has been a particular highlight for me; the work that went into the project, the long months and late nights have paid off and the brand is now a market leader. On top of this, I have built an amazing team and watching young talent in my team thrive and grow in new roles makes me very proud.

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

My driving force along with my parents’ hard work ethic have been key in me being able to successfully complete the goals I wanted to achieve, not only for the global re-rebrand of ProLabs, but also in my life. I have been a long sufferer of mental health issues; I’ve had some very tough years and days due to this, but I am so fortunate to have a strong support network around me. My dad is my hero, a self-made man and my inspiration, he makes me want to be a better person and prove that you can do anything if you put your mind to it.

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

Don’t be afraid to be different, the industry is continually changing and growing and what may seem too bold now, could be the future. People told me that the branding we decided on for ProLabs was too modern, not like the rest of the industry and it wouldn’t go down well – this was not the case.  The visual identity of ProLabs is now industry recognised and the messaging and positioning has steered us towards being thought leaders.

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

I think it has improved significantly, it is still a male dominated industry, but I do see barriers breaking as strong women lead tech and are recognised for it. Your gender shouldn’t define any role that you can do and promoting success and empowering each other will always be key. If you have great people in your business, shout about it!

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

Internal up-skilling and training programmes. We had a great Coding Manager within the business who started as a customer service rep, she had an interest in engineering and tech and we nurtured that interest. Within a year she was working in the lab and after 2 years was our Coding Manager and then trained as an Engineer. Just because someone starts a business in one role, doesn’t mean it’s the right one for them. A good leader or business should encourage growth to nurture potential. Its easy to be scared off by technology roles and technical job specs, but if someone has the skills and drive to learn they should be encouraged.

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?

Continued awareness on training and skills development. There are grants available out there as well as awards, publications and lots of amazing initiatives to promote women in tech, but more awareness of these is needed. I have been in a marketing role in technology for over 5 years and only recently aware of these myself.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Never stop learning – I learn something everyday and do not be afraid to admit that. I am studying for my leadership qualification with CIM and even after 10 years in marketing I am learning more every day.

I watch Ted Talks, read industry blogs and articles, as well as keep up to date with market journals for trends and analysis. I read a lot on LinkedIn from peers, its good to keep up to date with other people’s successes on social channels.

Networking and any events you can attend will also help with confidence and meeting new people, the first networking event I attended when I was about 23 was terrifying. I stood in the corner, ate the canapes and didn’t know how to approach anyone - but they are all designed to be open and friendly places to meet people and learn. I now go to several networking events and love them.