Heather Delaney

Inspirational Woman: Heather Delaney | Founder & Managing Director, Gallium Ventures

Heather DelaneyHeather Delaney is MD and Founder of Gallium Ventures, a strategic communications consultancy for startups, scaleups and large corporates.

Heather is the world's leading expert in Crowdfunding and has to date secured more than $60 Million across platforms. Over the years Heather has launched technology startups on a global scale and build them up to recognisable household names.

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

Coming from Silicon Valley I have always had a keen interest in technology and gaming, so it was natural I stayed within the industry helping develop products for consumers and advising companies on funding, product launches and exit strategy. I founded Gallium Ventures as I wanted an agency which actually made a difference for the companies we work with. This means understanding the end goal (sales, downloads, funding, etc.)  and creating a strategy to get to that point which could be a PR campaign or altering the product for a different territory. Over the years I have worked with well-known brands such as HTC, Yelp and Norton Motorcycles down the launching unknown technology startups to global success. At the end of the day I like building and fixing, and this allows me to do just that.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I never found myself sitting down and planning my career, but instead kept moving in the directions that made me the happiest. As many people will know first-hand, this usually took place during times of great frustration when you sit back and either realise you are not appreciated or could do better.

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

There have been many challenges throughout my career, from moving countries to launch companies to standing up and making sure my voice is heard. Like many women in the industry I have struggled with equal pay, with verbal abuse and harassment in the workplace, and in my youth I kept my head down as I told myself “at least I was doing something I enjoyed”. I would never let anyone treat my teams or mentees in such a manner and as I have aged I have made sure to stand up for myself when faced with such problems.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Oh this is a great question! Over my career I have launched products globally, had my companies meet Presidents and Princes, multiple successful exits, had a product featured in the Simpsons, and created award winning products. The one achievement that stands above all else (which now sounds silly as I read this list) is the companies and founders I have worked with over the years continue to recommend others bring me in. It’s this simple gesture which is the constant reminder I am doing great work and shouldn’t second-guess my achievements.

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

I have always taken on the approach of openness and honesty. Coming from Silicon Valley I often met people who would coo over products and startups which clearly were destined to fail, but nobody was willing to give their real opinion. I have always looked at startups and projects with a larger view of where it needs to be in 1, 3, or 5 years and then created a strategy to get to that point. Giving the honest truth will prevent teams from hitting the potholes of startup life.

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

Technology is an incredibly exciting and fast paced industry, which means you will need to keep on the pulse of the industry in order to move forward. The industry itself requires individuals who can take constructive criticism on the chin and use it to do better. Be that person.

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

In short, yes. There are many barriers women still find themselves facing from gender bias in hiring, equal pay and even the lack of VC funding for female run startups.

If you look at countries such as Ireland, the marriage bar restricted employment of married women up until 1973 which forced women to choose between family life and a career. This was not an uncommon law and stunted the growth of female careers, especially the level of women in the C-Suite today. As more women enter the tech industry we have shown gender doesn’t define who is the better coder, but there is still work to be done in making companies accountable to equal pay and showing investors and VCs that our ideas are worth finding.

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

To begin with, companies need to start interviewing more women in order to give them a fighting chance for a role. Once in a company the employers need to make sure these women are being brought into the same conversations as their male peers, and not left on the outskirts. This allows women to show they are contributing to projects and potentially the driving force behind important changes which benefit the company.

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

If I had a magic want to wave I would absolutely want to prevent other women experiencing some particular experiences I had throughout my career. As I am limited with a single wave, I would have HR and senior members hire women from non-traditional backgrounds. There is incredible talent in tech when you look at individuals who are self-taught or have the passion for the subject but not the resources at their fingertips. There are women I have met with amazing technical knowledge and a creative view on a problem, but as they haven’t worked in the well-known tech companies or possess a particular background they are left behind.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

There are a whole range of resources available online for women in tech, whether it’s events such Women In Tech which take place in different cities and countries, a selection of podcasts geared towards women balancing family life or about to launch a side hustle. The most valuable resource though is a personal network as it’s sometimes difficult to remind yourself you are not the only one experiencing problematic accounts, employers or sexism. Building a network of other individuals who are going through the same difficult situations not only helps you tackle a problem together but gives the emotional support often missing. I strongly recommend a Mentoring Board, as each person will have experiences and skills the others lack. This allows you to work through a problem with the right individual.