Ascent Group Profile Image (800 × 600 px)

Talking returning to work, career advice & getting more women into the tech space with a tech recruiter

Ascent Group Profile Image

Ascent Group is home to six diverse recruitment brands that all specialise in their own field, whilst providing top talent to the tech industry.

Starting with TechNET IT in 2001, Ascent Group teams have been expanding ever since, with the sharpest, most knowledgeable specialist recruiters in the tech industry.

Ascent Group take pride in looking after their staff, and offer incredible flexible working initiatives, family-friendly policies and extensive training and development to the team.

In this article, we get an insight from Ascent Group and get their views on getting women and girls into the tech space, returning to work after having a baby; and advice to their younger selves.

Let’s meet Emily, Head of Search & Senior Appointments at TechNET CxO.

Meet Emily, Head of Search & Senior Appointments, TechNET CxO

Emily is Head of Search & Senior Appointments at TechNET CxO – a home-grown Executive Search agency and sister brand within the Ascent Group. She built CxO from the ground up in 2019, after joining TechNET six years prior.

After starting out at TechNET, Emily decided that her passion lay with Senior Appointments, which is when she made the decision to head to London for a year to gain further experience in Executive Search.

Emily is now a Player Coach, managing a team of eight consultants, whilst still aiming to be top biller herself.

Emily, Ascent Group

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

When thinking about my career plan, I didn’t think I would ever end up in tech recruitment. I originally wanted to be a teacher, and I suppose you could say there are aspects of teaching in my current role, but I decided to head in a different direction and began manifesting my big financial goals. This led me into choosing a more business-focused route.

I started my career working for my mum’s business. I gained direct experience of business growth, franchising, and the inner workings of running a business which really sparked my love for business growth.

I was looking for a career path that I could use the skills that co-running a business gave me, and tech recruitment looked like a good option. I, to this day, absolutely love helping and interacting with others, and have always aspired to work my way up to a senior position, and tech recruitment made this vision a reality for me.

Any opportunities/challenges you’ve faced & overcome?

Having a baby was probably the most difficult, yet wonderful challenge I have faced so far.

Before I went on maternity leave, I was getting started on my management track, my team was building nicely, and revenue was very good. However, once I had taken a step back, I no longer had control of which direction my team was heading in.

This pushed me to return to work pretty quickly – after only three months in fact. In hindsight, my return was rushed, but I was keen to continue navigating my tech career and get back to my team. Whilst only working half days to fit around my little one, I immediately received a promotion and took on a larger team, which was a big transition process.

Balancing work and being a mum proved very tricky, and because I was working part time, I was giving my full self to my daughter or work – I have always been my toughest critic. When you become a mum, your priorities definitely change, and it is common that a woman’s career can become lost. It was crucial for me to have both – the family and the career.

Do you have any career tips?

My main career tip, specifically for women, is to quieten the voice in your head that tells you that you can’t do something, or that it won’t happen for you. So many women in business feel that they’re not good enough – but when that voice is quiet, the possibilities are endless. I would be a completely different person if I had listened to that voice.

How can we encourage more women and girls into the tech industry?

It is important to remember that a lot of steps have been taken already, and we are seeing more and more businesswomen in the tech space – especially here at Ascent Group. The entirety of our senior management team are women, and we have seen so much internal growth across all six of our brands.

However, I think that encouraging girls at school and university to study STEM subjects should continue to be a priority.

I think it is essential to continue providing young women and girls with influential role models too, to lead the way for the future generation of women in tech!

Any tips on those returning to work after a career break?

From my experience, it is really important to have a support system in place that you’re comfortable with, when returning to work. Those around you, whether they are family or friends, need to be on board and understand how important work is for you – which in my case, it was.

Accepting your new way of living is going to help you get used to the new dynamic, and you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself if it doesn’t feel right or doesn’t come together straight away. It can take time to develop a new routine or a new norm. Always remember that you’re allowed to have a career and be a mum – just because others may be doing things differently, doesn’t mean you should feel disheartened.

Finally, I advise that you set clear boundaries with your employers from the beginning. Your company need to understand that there may be times where you have to leave to fit around your child and working at Ascent Group has given me and many others in the business, childcare flexibility, and support to continue thriving.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

If I could go back, I would have taken my time when deciding on my career route out of school. I felt that I went to university for the wrong reasons and perhaps wouldn’t have rushed into it if there wasn’t so much pressure on young people to decide quickly. I feel like you should do what is right for you, not what society tells you to do.


Deazy's All Woman Product Team (800 × 600 px)

Talking careers, challenges & advice for women in STEM with Deazy's All-Woman Product Team

Deazy's All Woman Product Team

Developer marketplace Deazy connects enterprises, VC backed scale-ups and Europe’s biggest agencies with high-quality development teams, handpicked to provide broad technical expertise and greater capacity and flexibility.

In this article, we take a look into Deazy‘s all-woman product team and get their views on getting women and girls into STEM, how they support each other; and their advice to their younger selves.

Let’s meet some of Deazy’s all-woman product team!

Meet Hayley Ransom, Head of Client Services

Hayley is Head of Client Services at Deazy, and has extensive tech and client services experience in her career. She joined Deazy from award-winning digital consultancy and app developer Mubaloo, where she came across Deazy when looking to outsource some of Mubaloo’s development work.

Hayley Ransome

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I didn’t and it still amazes me that I have ended up where I am. I love tech, but I’m not glued to my phone or social media and I love to step back from tech at the weekends. But I do like seeing technology make people’s lives better, which is what drew me in, and it is hard to get bored when there is always so much to learn.

Any opportunities/challenges you’ve faced?

Under-representation of women in tech is a challenge for those already in it. It impacts us in many ways, from unconscious biases in culture, working models and benefits of businesses, to the confidence women feel in their roles. I personally found navigating the bias around ‘female’ characteristics challenging. Being assertive was labelled as aggressive, taking the lead seen as bossy. It took experience, and exposure to some great people, to build the confidence to not let these biases hold me back from expressing my ideas and taking the lead.

You’re part of an all-woman product team – how do you support each other?

I am really proud to work in a tech business with strong female representation – in my career it hasn’t been the case. I’m excited about the opportunity we have at Deazy to support women succeeding in tech and provide role models for women within this industry. Seeing is believing!

How can we encourage more women and girls into the STEM industry?

There needs to be more women in positions of leadership in STEM. With more women leading, not only would the pace of change to support women progressing in tech increase, but the number of women entering the industry would naturally rise, in line with the increase in visibility of women leading.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Be someone people can count on to always take ownership and get the job done. Don’t let confidence hold you back, say yes to new challenges before your brain kicks in and tells you it’s not possible, then be humble with what you don’t know and ask smart questions.

Meet Andrea Savidge, Senior Product Manager

Andrea is a Senior Product Manager at Deazy, ensuring ensure products provide as much user and business value as possible. She is a Certified Scrum Product Owner with 7 years’ experience in product roles across a wide range of consumer web and mobile apps.

Andrea Savidge, Deazy

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Yes, all the time! But the plan has changed so many times – I think it’s really important to be flexible and adaptable as the industry evolves so quickly. There are so many roles now that didn’t exist when I first got into product. Earlier on in my career I would jump at any opportunity to learn something new and broaden my skill set, which I think has been really valuable in working out where I actually want to focus and what I’m really good at. No knowledge is ever a waste!

Any opportunities/challenges you’ve faced?

I’ve seen a lot of women be much more critical of their own skills, myself included. Although this is by no means exclusive to the tech industry, there’s always the fear that starting a family will set you back years compared to male colleagues, who still take much less parental leave than women. I don’t think I’m often aware of barriers being gender specific and I’m very lucky that at Deazy I work with a lot of men who are my biggest cheerleaders, but I’m always super conscious of proving myself in any new group of people, especially when I’m the only woman in the room.

You’re part of an all-woman product team – how do you support each other?

I feel so lucky to be working in a team where everyone is so talented and passionate about what they do. Everyone is so encouraging. Our shared experiences and challenges definitely help us empathise and support each other.

How can we encourage more women and girls into the STEM industry?

The range of tech roles and the types of skills needed are not very well understood. I fell into this career path by chance and even though both my parents have Computer Science backgrounds, while I was in education, I had no idea that a product-type role even existed, never mind that it was so well suited to my personality and skillset. I think a lot more can be done to promote tech career paths to women – it’s a fascinating industry with so much scope to make an impact.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Never underestimate the importance of building relationships and never be afraid to ask for help.

Meet Sharon Parkes, Product Manager

Sharon is Product Manager at Deazy, having previously worked as a Product Owner at Barclays Partner Finance. She is a Certified Scrum Product Owner and is experienced in refining and prioritising the product backlog and working with the development team and stakeholders to shape the roadmap.

Sharon Parkes_Deazy

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Never. Before my first role in product I would usually move roles every six months whilst I struggled to find a career that engaged me. I returned from a career break travelling around South America and took the first job I could find within a call centre for a large bank thinking I would be there for six months as usual and ended up working my way up and staying there for nine years, the last three of which were in Product Management. If you asked me when I left University if this was what I would end up loving as my job, it wouldn’t have even been on my radar.

Any opportunities/challenges you’ve faced?

Within the industry and particularly in a previous role, I have often found myself being the only woman in the room. I had to prove myself and do it fast to ensure I was listened to and could keep my autonomy and decision-making influence within a project. Now I’m more experienced I can go into any room and feel comfortable leading and putting my views on the table from the start. However, it has taken me a long time and a lot of learning to get to a place where I feel like that.

You’re part of an all-woman product team – how do you support each other?

I’m extremely proud of the team I work in and what we’ve achieved since we’ve been together at Deazy. Whenever someone has a problem, we will come together and skill share. There are no egos or dramas, and everyone is ready to make sure that we all do a good job. I’m especially proud when I see products we’ve helped shape together out in the marketplace or the continually celebrated success of our ever-growing Deazy Platform and the knowledge that these have all been created by an all-female team.

How can we encourage more women and girls into the STEM industry?

I think we need to get away from this perception that working in tech is for people who are introverted and sit in dark rooms alone. There are a wide variety of careers and it’s the most collaborative industry that I’ve ever worked in. Ensuring job adverts have the right unbiased language within them and creating better shared parental leave policies would be a good start.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Think before you speak, but always be confident in your skills and decisions. Take the opportunities that come to you without hesitation.

Meet Ella-Jo Brewis Gange, Product Manager

Ella-Jo is Product Manager at Deazy, joining in October 2021 from Nuffield Health where she held the role of Digital Product Owner. She has worked extensively in the health and wellness industry, where she developed the change and stakeholder management skills that are so important to her role at Deazy.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Never! I had high hopes that I’d just ‘get famous’ and that I wouldn’t have to worry about any of the planning. I was in an operational role and found myself filling a gap in technical understanding for internal products. I was then asked if I would consider joining their new product team, I didn’t even know it was an option.

Any opportunities/challenges you’ve faced?

Tech is massive, ever-growing, ever improving and always impressive. You don’t really sit down and think about how websites and apps are built or the work that goes into them until it’s part of your job. I have to remind myself that it’s ok not to know everything, and that the best tech teams have multiple people all leading their part of the puzzle.

You’re part of an all-woman product team – how do you support each other?

Working with our team is brilliant, we have such a strong group of people who have all come from different roles and have different experiences. When there’s a problem it’s discussed together, and solutions are worked through. I trust my team to always be there to build me up as I would do for them. There are no egos to worry about, we all have the same goal and work towards that as one.

How can we encourage more women and girls into the STEM industry?

Make it clear that women and girls can be part of something really big. Just imagine saying you were part of the team that built your favourite app! That can happen and it’s actually pretty fun too… most of the time.

Don’t be afraid of any pre-conceptions that tech is for men – it’s most definitely not. The phrase ‘women in tech’ doesn’t need to exist, I am not a good female product manager, I am a good product manager.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Trust yourself. Quite often I’ve found myself thinking ‘what about this?’ or ‘how should that work?’ but not having the confidence to say it out loud in a room of colleagues. I would always be worried about being judged as being stupid or difficult to work with.

Ask the questions, as often other people are thinking them too.


Simone Larsson

Inspirational Woman: Simone Larsson | AI Strategy & Evangelism, Dataiku

Simone Larsson

Simone Larsson joined Dataiku in 2021 as AI Evangelist.

An MBA graduate of Cambridge and former AI Council Co-Chair for the British Interactive Media Association, Larsson brings 15 years of executive-level technology consulting experience to Dataiku.

She was most recently AI & ML Commercial Product Lead at Digital Catapult, the UK government and Innovate UK-backed innovation agency for championing the adoption of advanced digital technologies.

Additionally, Larsson spent five years at Accenture in Washington DC and London, where she led agile technology delivery and Phase Zero “art of the possible” AI projects. Prior to Accenture, she was a founding member of the UK and Ireland Business Transformation Strategy practice at Atos.

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

I was born and raised in the Caribbean, and I have spent my adult life living in the U.S. and U.K.

Following on from a first degree in Information Systems, most of my career has been in technology management consulting. After many years of being tech agnostic with my approach, I decided — around six years ago — to specialise in Artificial Intelligence.

My current role is as an AI Evangelist at AI platform Dataiku. In this role, I specialise in the challenges of implementing AI at scale across large businesses, AI Governance, Responsible AI, and strategic AI topics such as AI and sustainability. In addition to this, I work within the Governance and Responsible AI groups at Dataiku and I am part of the Women Leadership speaker series that will air in April within the Nordic region.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No, I would say that my career evolved organically.

When I finished university, I secured a position as a technology management consultant at Accenture. Over the years, I was very tech agnostic. This meant as long as I had a role with a technical element, I was passionate about it. In turn, I have gained experience in everything from ERP implementations to big data, to product, to technology strategy, all the way to technology service design.

Around 10 years ago, I became burnt out as a consultant and decided to obtain an MBA committed to forging a new path outside of technology. Halfway through my time at Cambridge Judge Business School, I was headhunted by Atos to join their newly forming Business Technology Strategy practice. In hindsight, I am glad that my time at Cambridge resulted in a return to technology consulting, otherwise I may not have pivoted to AI when I did.

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

My career challenges have primarily been around microaggressions. As you can imagine, having a seat at the table at companies such as Accenture, Booz Allen Hamilton, and Atos meant that I was often the only woman and the only person of colour in the room.

Microaggression in the workplace can have a knock-on effect on confidence and increased impostor syndrome. While it took me years to overcome the effect of microaggressions, what helped was highlighting the behaviour in private to the person when the opportunity presented itself. My measured approach to addressing the behaviours meant I was able to address the issue with a clear head.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I have two key achievements that I am most proud of. Firstly, I won a U.S. national award and was recognised as a Women of Colour in Technology Rising Star.

Secondly, whilst working at Atos, I led a project for the Federal Government in Nigeria on leveraging technology for Public Administration Reform. One of the outcomes of that project was being invited to present my recommendations to the Vice President of Nigeria and the Nigerian parliament.

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

Being strategic is one of my inherent superpowers. What I mean by this is that I’ve been able to quickly assess new roles to determine if they will add to the ‘bigger picture’ of my career aspirations. Being strategic about my career choices has been challenging in a consulting environment, so it was often a delicate balance between what I wanted and where the company wanted to place me on a project basis. Still, the battle was worth it, and I can’t imagine the alternative: being passive in my career and going with the flow.

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

Start by assessing where your current interests lie, find your niche, but also don’t get too attached.  A career in tech means that you will experience the birth and decline of many innovations. This means that the niche you may have found early in your career could be irrelevant in the next ten. My biggest tip is to stay hungry and don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself.

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

Bias is the primary barrier to success for women working in tech. A few years ago, I was the portfolio manager for an AI programme at a U.K. Central Government Department. My deputy was fifteen plus years older and a male. When engaging with stakeholders, they often assumed that my colleague was the Portfolio Director, and I was his assistant. Such preconceptions will no doubt still linger today.

Around the same time, I participated in a panellist discussion that explored the barriers to success for women working in tech. I spoke with women (aged 55+) who shared their stories about the beginning of their career in tech during the 1980s. They noted that within this decade, there were around four times as many women working in tech at that time. I couldn’t help but imagine if those women stayed in their career and ascended to senior leadership?

To overcome this bias, men should become allies to resolving this issue. If more men supported and advocated for women in the workplace, a paradigm shift would be more possible.

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

There are multiple things that companies can do to support women in tech, including initiatives such as Women in Leadership programmes that clearly define a path to leadership positions for high performers. Companies should also be highlighting stories of men choosing to stay at home with young children who then return to their careers, as opposed to assuming this is the mother’s role. It would also be great to see companies offering more workshops focused on bias in the workplace and the negative effects of ‘mansplaining’ — a phenomenon that gets compounded the more senior you are.

Finally, companies should be offering men and women in tech flexible working and incentivising working parents to partake in this benefit.

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 say bias but also recognising the inherent differences of men and women and why increasing that number will always lead to a positive impact on the bottom line. Women think and manage differently, and harnessing these differences is what we should strive for.

We can’t have a deep change without getting out of the issues of bias. Otherwise, we will continue with small initiatives and patched solutions, rather than dealing with the root of the problem.

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

I don’t listen to many podcasts. After a long day, I prefer to unwind with a good book. This could be non-fiction, sci-fi, or whatever my alma mata Cambridge University’s book club is reading.

Online publications I would recommend include: Harvard Business Review, The Verge, Wired, and MIT Technology Review.

Networking events are always great! I would recommend CogX, AI Summit London, London Tech Week, Big Data Week, and South by Southwest in the U.S.


diversity and inclusion, National Inclusion Week, inspirational profiles

Looking back at 2021: Our top Inspirational Women & HeForShe interviews

diversity and inclusion, National Inclusion Week, inspirational profiles

In the final installments of looking back at 2021, we delve into our favourite and fascinating Inspirational Women & HeForShe interviews of the year.

Our Inspirational Women series of interviews aims to highlight amazing women across the globe, showcase their achievements and raise their profiles. Over the years, we have interviewed so many amazing women such as Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more.

Our HeForShe interviews celebrate men who promote and support women in the workplace, whether it is through campaigning, mentoring or giving opportunities to women.

Dame Kate Bingham DBE | Former Chair of the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force

Dame Kate Bingham DBE is the former chair of the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force.

In her role as chair of the task force, she helped steer the procurement of vaccines and the strategy for their deployment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She was recently awarded a Damehood in the 2021 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, for her services to to the procurement, manufacture and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.

Read Kate's interview

Nathalie Marchino | Former Olympic Rugby Player & Head of Partnerships, Figma

Nathalie Marchino has represented the Colombian women’s rugby team at Rio 2016, the US in the 2010 and 2014 15s world cup and in the 2013 7s World Cup, where they earned a Bronze medal.

She also worked her way up in the tech sector with the likes of Google, Twitter and LinkedIn, before progressing to the role of Head of Partnerships at Figma – the web-based design platform behind Uber, Deliveroo and Spotify.

Now based in London, Nathalie is a huge advocate for helping athletes enter the workforce, helping women reach the top of their game both professionally and in sport, and for helping minority groups have their voices heard.

Read Nathalie's interview

Russ Shaw CBE | Founder, Tech London Advocates & Global Tech Advocates

Russ Shaw CBE is the founder of Tech London Advocates and Global Tech Advocates.

He originally founded Tech London Advocates in 2013 to ensure an independent voice of the technology community was heard, but with a focus on the private sector. Since then he has been championing London as a global tech hub and campaigning to address some of the biggest challenges facing tech companies in the UK. Global Tech Advocates, founded in 2015, is now present in 17 hubs around the globe, with over 12,000 members. In 2019 Russ launched the inaugural GTA Festival, taking place in China and bringing the international network together for the first time. Russ was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours List 2021 for services to technology and to business in London. He is a founding partner of London Tech Week, a London Tech Ambassador for the Mayor of London and Advisory Board member for Founders4Schools and the Government’s Digital Skills Partnership. In 2019, Russ was recognised as a ‘Tech Titan’ in the Evening Standard’s Progress 1000 list of London’s most influential people.

Read Russ' interview

Rayna Stamboliyska | VP Governance and Public Affairs, YesWeHack

Rayna Stamboliyska is the VP Governance and Public Affairs at YesWeHack, a global bug bounty and coordinated disclosure leader.

She focuses on EU cyber diplomacy and resilience including issues related to cybersecurity, strategic autonomy and data protection. Rayna also manages the EU-funded SPARTA research and innovation project, which is a pilot for the EU Cyber Competences Network. An award-winning author for her most recent book “La face cachée d’Internet” (“The dark side of the Internet”, Larousse 2017), Rayna is also an IoT hacker and a staunch proponent of open source, data and science. Prior to joining YesWeHack, Rayna has served in various Directorship and security-related foreign policy positions: she has consulted for international organisations, private companies, governments and non-profits, interfacing with public sector actors and guiding them through innovative policy-making processes. Energetic and passionate, Rayna has grown to become a recognised information security speaker committed to educating those outside of the industry on security threats and best practices. She writes up the cybersecurity expert column “50 shades of Internet” at ZDNet.fr and tweets under @MaliciaRogue.

Read Rayna's interview

Anat Deracine | Author & Technologist

Anat Deracine (her pen name) is the author of the novel Driving by Starlight (Macmillan, 2018), about a girl growing up in Saudi Arabia, and many short stories, including The Divine Comedy of the Tech Sisterhood about inequalities in the tech industry. Outside of writing she is a senior figure in the tech industry.

Born in India, and raised in Saudi Arabia, Anat is fascinated by cultural narratives around equality and the portrayal of women. Her parents allowed Anat to dress as a boy so that she could do sports and take part in other activities that girls were not permitted to.

She has two degrees which she studied concurrently – one in philosophy and one in computer science. This dual talent for creativity and technology has continued through her life: Anat joined one of Silicon Valley’s major tech companies after university and worked her way into a senior role. As such, she is active in driving diversity in the tech sector – both for those who work in it, and for the masses who use it. It is for this reason she chooses to write under a pen name.

Read Anat's interview

Yewande Akinola MBE | Chartered Engineer, Innovator & Speaker

Yewande is a chartered engineer, innovator and speaker. Her engineering experience includes the design and construction, innovation and manufacture of buildings and systems in the built environment.

She has worked on projects in the UK, Africa, the Middle East and East Asia and has been named the UK Young Woman Engineer of the Year by the Institution of Engineering & Technology. She has also been awarded the Exceptional Achiever Award from the Association for BAME Engineers and the Association of Consultancy and Engineering, U.K. (ACE). She is a Visiting Professor at the University of Westminster. She is passionate about STEM communication and has presented Engineering programmes for Television. In the 2020 New Year Honours list, Yewande was awarded an MBE for services to engineering innovation and diversity in STEM.

She has recently been appointed the UK’s Innovation agency (Innovate UK) Ambassador for Clean Growth and Infrastructure.

Read Yewande's interview

Sophia Matveeva | Founder, Tech For Non-Techies

Sophia Matveeva is the founder of Tech For Non-Techies, a learning community and media company. Sophia has contributed to the Financial Times, The Guardian and Forbes on entrepreneurship and technology, and hosts the top rated Tech for Non-Techies podcast.

She has also guest lectured at Chicago Booth and London Business School, and led the Blackstone x Techstars accelerator at the University of Texas at El Paso.

As a non-technical founder, she has co-created apps and algorithms that have been used by thousands, won App of the Day by Mashable, and were featured by Inc, the BBC and more.

Sophia loves helping entrepreneurs and has advised Chicago Booth’s New Venture Challenge and Microsoft x London College of Fashion incubator.

She holds an MBA from Chicago Booth, and a BSc (Hons) in Politics from Bristol. She speaks English, Russian and French.

Read Sophia's interview

Usha Raghavachari | Lab Director, D-Ford London, Ford Motor Company

Usha Raghavachari is Lab Director for D-Ford, the Global Innovation ‘start-up lab’ focused on developing human centred design inside Ford Motor Company. Usha has responsibility for Labs based in London (UK), Sao Paulo (Brazil) and Melbourne (Australia).

Previously, based in China, Usha led the Marketing and Product strategy for Ford APAC’s Battery Electric Vehicle portfolio for three years. Prior to that she held the role of Marketing Communications Director for Ford of Europe with responsibility for the Consumer Communications, Social Media, Events and Experiential, Media and Analytic teams.

Usha joined Ford Motor Company on the Marketing graduate programme and progressed her career with an impressive range of Marketing, Strategy, Product Launch and Communications roles in Europe and Dearborn, Michigan.

In her current D-Ford role, Usha is passionate about developing deep human insights to drive the creative process. She loves solving problems and creating new possibilities (new products, services, experiences and new ventures) that delight Ford customers and transform the future of Ford.

Read Usha's interview

Mary Kaye Fraser | Head of Studio, Clipwire Games

Mary Kaye Fraser is the Head of Studio at Clipwire Games and 20 + year games industry veteran. MK started off in games as a game designer, having designed the touch controls for Tetris on mobile.

From there, MK went on to produce many games for some fairly large IPs. Now as Head of studio at Clipwire, MK oversees the company’s  strategic growth including production processes, product design, hiring and team structure, training and mentoring as well as business development. Her biggest joy at Clipwire is seeing the team thrive and grow; they are doing some incredible things together. In the last 18 months, the team has taken Bingo Story, which was Clipwire’s flagship title, and built it into one of the top grossing social casino games on mobile. As a result, App Annie named Clipwire as the #2 Top Publisher Headquartered in Canada.

Read MK's interview

Felicia Williams | Director of Design & Research for Emerging Businesses, Twitter

Felicia recently joined Twitter as Director of Design & Research for Emerging Businesses, as well as the regional Design & Research leader for the UK.

The team and leadership at Twitter are incredible, smart and passionate about how they can grow their platform, and bring even better services and experiences to users. Her remit is to develop and scale products for small businesses and individuals looking to start their business.

Felicia is part of This is Engineering Day, a day created by the Royal Academy of Engineering to celebrate the world-shaping engineering that exists all around us but often go unnoticed, as well as the engineers who make this possible. As part of This is Engineering Day, the Royal Academy of Engineering has announced plans to create a new virtual museum named The Museum of Engineering Innovation, which can be accessed through QR Codes dotted around the country as well as by visiting Google Arts and Culture.

Read Felicia's interview

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

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.

Read Flavilla's interview

Managing Director & Head of Tech for Global Investment & Corporate Banking, J.P. Morgan

A 22 year veteran of JPMorgan, Dan has worked in a number of roles across the Corporate & Investment Bank, bridging Operations, Strategic Projects, Business Management and, since 2010, Technology.

Dan leads technology for JPMorgan Global Investment Banking & Corporate Banking including our Digital Investment Banking strategy and core M&A, Capital Markets and Wholesale Payments Sales businesses.

In addition, Dan is broadly focused on the EMEA innovation agenda and connectivity with FinTech in the region. He spends time with clients sharing JPMorgan’s insights and activities across the fast-changing tech landscape. Dan is a passionate champion of diversity and philanthropy, bringing innovation to both areas at JPMorgan.

Dan’s most recent prior role was the EMEA lead for the Global Technology Strategy, Innovations & Partnerships team focused on developing IT strategy, innovation and emerging technology relationships aligned to the Corporate & Investment Bank and CRM strategy firmwide.

Read Dan's interview

Ada Lovelace featured

Inspirational quotes: Ada Lovelace | The first computer programmer

Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace was a mathematician and writer, known for her work on Charles Babbage's proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine.

Lovelace was the first to recognise that the machine had applications beyond pure calculation and published the first algorithm intended to be carried out by such a machine.

As a result, Lovelace is regarded as one of the first computer programmers.

Today, marks Ada Lovelace Day - an annual event celebrated on the second Tuesday of October. The day began in 2009 with the aim of raising the profile of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths), and to create new role models for girls and women.

In honour of Ada Lovelace Day, WeAreTechWomen take a look at Lovelace's most inspiring quotes!


"That brain of mine is something more than merely mortal; as time will show."

"If you can't give me poetry, can't you give me poetical science?"

"I never am really satisfied that I understand anything; because, understand it well as I may, my comprehension can only be an infinitesimal fraction of all I want to understand about the many connections and relations which occur to me, how the matter in question was first thought of or arrived at..."

"Religion to me is science and science is religion."

"The more I study, the more insatiable do I feel my genius for it to be."

"Your best and wisest refuge from all troubles is in your science."

"The science of operations, as derived from mathematics more especially, is a science of itself, and has its own abstract truth and value."

"Imagination is the Discovering Faculty, pre-eminently. It is that which penetrates into the unseen worlds around us, the worlds of Science."

"Mathematical science shows what is. It is the language of unseen relations between things. But to use and apply that language, we must be able to fully to appreciate, to feel, to seize the unseen, the unconscious."

"As soon as I have got flying to perfection, I have got a scheme about a steam engine."


Inspirational Woman: Arusha Gupta | Head of HR - Europe, LTI

Arusha GuptaTell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

It may sound cliché, but I’m a people’s person. I grew up in India, and when I came to Europe on my professional journey, I fell in love with the diversity and work ethos here. After spending over two decades in the tech world, I take pride in adding the human element to the brilliance of technology. In the various roles that I play as a woman, my current role as a professional is to deliver an exceptional people experience for the LTI teams across Europe and Africa. I feel privileged to work with such diverse teams, and I am honoured to enable a sense of inclusion. I am a champion of inclusivity, and I believe that it is our inability to be inclusive that deters women from joining and thriving in the tech industry. I aim to make a difference to people’s lives. I am currently working towards inspiring our youth in the STEM realm, and I am also creating an early career program that is centred on nurturing female talent.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I think that we all have our early ideas, and I was always interested in observing human behaviour and understanding the human mind, the most sophisticated machine of them all. When choosing a career, I initially wanted to be a psychoanalyst, but my parents thought that it was a strange profession and asked me to reconsider! Therefore, I decided to study HR. Graduating in the year 2000, I was touched by the increasing impact of IT on society at large. As such, joining a technology services company was a natural choice for me and, in a blink of an eye, it has already been 20 years.

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

Changes and challenges are a constant, and I have certainly had my fair share of those, and I continue to do so. In the thick of it, it can be difficult, but later when you reflect upon it, you realise that those situations have defined you. I once had a difficult manager, and I really wanted to quit. However, I channelled that energy into another project, which led to my next role. When faced with a testing situation, I take ownership of it and work towards the solution. Being an emotional person, it is easy for me get stuck in the situation, and at that point, what helps is staying objective. Objective views of situations enable you to naturally disassociate from it. And whilst it is not easy, it has always worked well for me.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I believe that my biggest achievements are my relationships with the people that I have worked with. Everyone has taught me so much, and it is humbling to see how I have touched their lives. I am privileged to have worked with great leaders and led diverse teams.

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

Believe in yourself. My parents taught me that I can achieve whatever I set for myself and be my own benchmark. I believe in challenging myself and raising the bar. We all have heard this multiple times, but it is important to live it. It works miracles, and also saves energy that would otherwise be consumed in comparing!

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

Keep learning and stay human. Tech is an exciting space as it touches people so significantly. The only way to thrive is to keep on learning. Invest in yourself and do not leave it to others to decide what you should be doing. Ensure you have mentors who could guide and challenge you positively to thrive in what you do well. Many women spend time on things that they are not good at: I would recommend working on your strengths and build on that. It will take you where you deserve to be.

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

Societal barriers prevent women from excelling in their careers. I believe that as a society we need to differentiate personality traits from gender. For example, the idea that being aggressive is masculine. As parents, we must rewire ourselves to be more inclusive in our language and in our conduct. Most of the time, out of love, we attribute pink to girls or blue to boys, and then unconsciously we develop this distinction as we grow. These behaviours then get amplified, and in the workplace, we struggle to correct that behaviour. While companies are doing a lot to correct these biases, much more needs to be done at the grassroots to avoid falling into this trap.

The pandemic has helped erode some workplace barriers, like flexible working. It has helped address some of those misconceptions around productivity that are associated with working from home. These forced changes in work patterns will enable more female workers to excel on equitable ground. There could not be a better time to crush these barriers than now, with data and determination.

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

LTI is leading the female cause, which has helped women tremendously. As an organisation, in Europe, we are proud to say that 40% of senior roles are filled by women. When developing inclusion programmes, it is important that we understand that women may be in different stages of life, and therefore need to be helped accordingly.

For example, mentorship programmes, if run with the correct intentions, can produce wonderful results. 2020 helped emphasise the importance of holistic wellbeing and highlighted the flaws of a ‘one size fits all’ approach. So now, we are talking about a customised experience: at LTI we are strengthening our ‘pod’ service model where members have complementary skills that they deliver as a team.

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?

While this may sound strange, I believe that tech focuses too heavily on qualifications, and not enough on personal attributes, like work ethic. We must look beyond degrees and focus on soft skills and attitude. This would accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry. Necessity is the mother of invention. There could not be a better time than now when there is demand for tech talent. As of 2020, the global talent shortage already amounts to 40 million skilled workers worldwide. Our ability to upskill and reskill will enable women and address the gap between tech talent demand and supply.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

As I mentioned earlier, it is essential to keep on learning. Given that we all have different learning styles, choose the method that is aligned to your learning style, as that will help you retain knowledge. It could be reading, listening to a podcast, or watching tech videos. I also have spoken about the importance of mentors, so networking can help significantly, and it can also enable crowd-learning. I personally prefer a combination of all of these learning techniques. I strongly suggest that we invest in ourselves and ensure that we take time out to do so on a daily basis.


Inspirational Woman: Laetitia Avrot | Senior Database Consultant, EDB

Laetitia AvrotLaetitia Avrot is a Senior Database Consultant at EDB and a passionate advocate for women in technology.

Having co-founded the Postgres Women Group, Laetitia works with Postgres user conferences across Europe to increase the attendance of female engineers and developers at events. Her goal is to get more women speaking at conferences, contributing code, and mentoring one another to increase the diversity of the Postgres community.

Laetitia holds a degree in computer sciences engineering from INSA in Lyon, and worked at the National Nuclear Safety Authority and National Geographic Institute before arriving at EDB. She is one of only three women recognised on the official Postgres contributors list, but hopes many more will join her in years to come.

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

I’m Lætitia Avrot. I work as a senior database consultant at EDB, where I help my customers find solutions to their problems while taking into account their constraints. I’m also involved in the Postgres community: I’m an elected board member of PostgreSQL Europe, co-founder of Postgres Women and also a recognised contributor of the PostgreSQL project.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I started working in 2004, right after my IT engineering degree. At the time, the IT world was still recovering from the burst of the Internet bubble in France. So, I took the job I was offered, thinking I would gain experience and plan later. For several years, I kept feeling guilty that I didn’t know where I was going with my career, until I realised that it was precisely how I was leading my personal life: doing what I liked, with the people I liked, so that I can achieve my ultimate personal goal in life: be happy now, not later.

It worked very well for me, as I can say that most days of my professional and personal life are happy days. I love what I do and until it changes, I’ll keep going that way. Of course, I had some bad work experiences (like everyone), but I never hesitated to quit. It  was always reassuring to know that finding a new job in IT is rarely a problem.

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

Like most humans, my biggest challenge is to fight my own fears to keep moving forwards – like when I decided to write my first Postgres patch. It wasn’t so difficult technically, but I had many fears to overcome: the fear of failing, the fear of not being taken seriously, the fear of having totally misunderstood important and fundamental concepts, fear of showing my code and getting negative comments, fear of the unknown. But as I always tell my daughters, there’s no real courage without fear! So having tamed all those fears is a source of great pride for me.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I think being recognised as an official Postgres contributor was the most important thing in my career. It’s particularly meaningful because there are only three women in the official Postgres contributors list, and I helped to make that number a little higher. Of course, there’s plenty of room for more! I’d love more women to reach that list, which is why I co-founded Postgres Women, a group that exists to support others with mentoring, speaking at conferences and events, or even material assistance when needed.

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

When I was a child, I had no trouble learning at school – academic subjects were really easy, but physically, I was a little clumsy (I still am). My parents wanted me to learn the real value of working hard to achieve something, so they made me study classical piano for 10 years. As I said, I don’t have great coordination skills, so I had to practice hard to master my finger movements. I never reached a high level at playing the piano, but I became good enough to play classical pieces with an emotional touch. I truly believe that knowing I can count on hard work to help me improve my skills, at any level, has helped me a lot. And a certain stubbornness too…

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

Learn something new every day. The brain works like a muscle: the more you learn, the more you can learn. Thankfully with IT, there’s always new things to learn!

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

There are several things that will prevent women from working in tech, and the first one is the intimidating environment a minority of men are creating to push women out. It’s little things like glances, small chats asking you about your kids when they ask others about their work, discussing project-related topics in the football locker rooms… anything that will make you feel uneasy without you being able to point to one specific thing and say, “that’s the problem”.

These small tactics can add up to a major problem, which isn’t taken seriously enough. I haven’t found a better solution than to leave the companies that maintain such an atmosphere, but thankfully, with IT, finding another job is not difficult.

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

Companies simply need to promote them! I read a great article recently about a woman who found herself doing all the “glue” work in her team, like onboarding juniors, setting up brainstorming sessions to solve team issues, reviewing code, helping other team members and so on. When a new management position opened up, did she get promoted? No, because she was told she was not doing enough code contribution to the project to be taken seriously as a manager!

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?

I would change the ‘blue/pink’ or ‘boy/girl’ sections in stores into purple, or children’s departments! I’m certain this is one of the root causes of the problem. Two months ago my six year old discovered that she was allowed to love dinosaurs – even though she is a girl – by watching ‘The Mitchells vs. The Machines’. I’ve never guided her away from any interests or preferences, but she deduced what girls were supposed to like by looking at other children and toy departments. Even though we had told her several times there was no such thing as ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ toys, and she had plenty of books to illustrate that, children pick up on society’s norms and expectations from a very early age.

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

I think being able to speak with other women helps. I’m a member of the Duchess France association. It’s normally for Java developers, but it’s open to other women in IT. Being able to talk about something that bothers you and hear other members’ ideas about what to do is really great!

I’d also love to meet more women at meetups and conferences. Readers, don’t be afraid to attend, and managers, please do send women to those kinds of events too!


Karina Vazirova and Katia Lang featured

Inspirational Women: Karina Vazirova & Katia Lang | Co-founders, FemTech Lab

Karina Vazirova and Katia LangKarina Vazirova and Katia Lang are the co-founders of FemTech Lab Europe’s first independent accelerator that helps rising stars of FemTech take their products to market.

Katia is a serial entrepreneur; she’s founded four companies, and was named one of the Top 100 Women in Fintech in 2018 and 2019. On top of being a business strategist and an international expert in technology and business growth, she’s also a professional artist and graphic designer.

Karina is a product strategy expert and has led the development of over 30 digital products in the US, Australia, UK, and Europe. She is the founder of KV LABS, a UX design, AI and robotic automation agency. She is also an International Chess Master.

Together, we’ve launched FemTech Lab, the first independent femtech accelerator, headquartered in London. After speaking with both early-stage and accomplished founders, we saw that most companies in the femtech sector needed help with fundraising and market access, and that’s exactly what we want to do at FemTech Lab. This 12-week program is designed to provide tailored support to startups to help them reach their objectives in terms of funding, market entry, and product design. The program is supported by prominent advisors in healthcare, technology, law, business, and finance. It also includes a unique mental wellbeing module for founders.

Our program will run twice a year. Our program will run twice a year. We launched our first cohort in February and it’s been very exciting to see these projects bloom! We can’t wait for our next cohort to commence in the later half of this year.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

We’re big believers in career diversity and spontaneity, as long as the chosen career is in line with your values. The idea that we need to stick to one type of career is, in our opinion, outdated.

With the current pace of change in the world - especially in terms of technological development - it is totally possible, even essential, to try out a number of different things! Just because you were in the same position for the last five years doesn't mean you can't make a u-turn to become a UX designer, a teacher, an AI specialist etc. It is said that it takes an average of  5 years to feel like you've advanced enough doing one thing. It’s important not to get stuck.. Try new things if you feel like it, no matter what your age is or which stage of your life you’re at. This is especially valid in the tech sector, where so many new jobs and training opportunities are available.

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

The COVID crisis has definitely been a challenge, especially as it took everyone by surprise. We used this time where everything came to a standstill to take a step back and reflect. The global pandemic disrupted both our professional and personal lives, but it gave us the opportunity to reevaluate where we were at.

Katia had always wanted to build an accelerator and was interested in mental health and longevity, while Karina was fascinated by new emerging trends around female empowerment and female healthcare. We decided to use our time proactively to turn this never-faced-before challenge into something productive that aligned with our current interests.

Women have been getting more vocal about reclaiming their health and bodies, and many shortfalls in female healthcare have come to light in the past years. More pressure has been put on companies to produce, promote and deliver female-centered solutions. Meanwhile, the pandemic acted as a sort of accelerator, with healthcare innovation and investment becoming more needed than ever. Building FemTech Lab therefore seemed very well-timed and necessary. We believe that femtech is going to be the new normal for any innovation in health and consumer product design in the near future.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Coming together and building FemTech Lab has definitely been a career highlight and is one of our proudest achievements.

We’re very happy to have now united more than 40 advisors from varied sectors to support the program. They mentored our first cohort of startups during the 12 weeks of the program. We feel exceptionally proud of our startups’ achievements, how they’ve grown and developed while being part of the FemTech Lab. Hoping to hear more and more success stories from our alumni!

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

As you can see, there’s two of us here. we’re not doing it on our own!

We firmly believe that success is determined by who you surround yourself with. FemTech Lab has been built according to this conviction; it’s a joint initiative, and we’ve brought a large network of partners and advisors on board to help us make it the best experience possible for everyone involved. We also added to our team early on, bringing in Tatiana, our Program Manager, and Terri, our Head of Community.

We hope to lead by example and make the Lab a reference in the field of femtech and in the tech sector. If we do, it will be thanks to all of these amazing people that helped make it come to life.

Whatever you’re aiming at - do not aim for it alone!

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

As we said, it’s easier together - so the best advice we can give is to build your circle. Do not sail on your own. Find partners, find a co-founder if you have a brilliant business idea. Don’t be intimidated and use all existing support networks, especially in your community. If you’re curious and proactive, you will be surrounded by the right people!

If you’re trying to launch a tech product and are new to the field, there are also a few tips that we can share.

Start by addressing the market’s needs, just because your friends think that your idea is groundbreaking doesn’t automatically mean that your product will be largely bought. Plus, look for funding early on. Make sure that what you’re introducing really is  innovative and, once you are certain of your product and who’s going to buy it, focus on execution, calmly and rationally. Do not jump into frantically hiring straight away.

Lastly, always believe in yourself and in what you’re doing! This will always make all the difference. And remember - we are always here to help!

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

Barriers do exist for women in tech. Women are largely underrepresented in the tech sector and have to face many hurdles on their path to success. There are enduring barriers coming from society, such as the gender pay gap, sexism and gender bias, which lead to a  lack of women in tech and startup teams. There are also barriers we build for ourselves; as a result of these exterior obstacles, women tend to hold back when contemplating a career in tech.

However, inclusive networks and companies do exist. This is what we love about the femtech sector; it’s open, welcoming and diverse - a great place to start! We need to provide more of these support networks for women so that they don’t shy away from taking a step into the tech world. Tech companies also need to show women they’re welcome, and investors must take a step forward in supporting women-led initiatives. On a broader scale, we also need to make sure that more is done as early as primary school to engage girls in studying STEM subjects and pursuing careers in tech.  In short, these barriers can be overcome by education, investment, and open-mindedness.

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

There is an incredible amount of potential out there. Our main piece of advice would be to hire women. Not just to tick your diversity box, but because you acknowledge their skills and abilities. Not just on your advisory board, but at every level, and especially in your management team. This is particularly important in the femtech sector. We've seen a lot of male founders and all-male teams in the femtech space. Coming from traditional industries, many think it's enough to have female advisors on the board to be able to create a female-focused solution. But we say it's not. As an all-male team, you will lack the understanding and the end-user perspective, and you're less likely to succeed.

As for investors - you have the power to support womens’ careers by investing in companies led by women and supporting women. When it comes to femtech, don’t be scared to get involved! It’s a growing and very dynamic sector tackling largely overlooked issues - so don’t be discouraged by not being able to relate! Rest assured, it is very relevant to the other half of the world’s population.

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?

Most industries are now "tech" industries. You don't need to be a nerd or a math genius to work in tech anymore. The variety of jobs available in this sector is huge, whether they’re creative, analytical, or business-focused. We think that a change in mentality is needed; we need to stop seeing the tech industry as a scary, unattainable sector for women. We need to shift the narrative and promote its accessibility. Girls need to be aware of it as early as possible; they must be taught that they can do anything they want, especially in sectors that are traditionally male-dominated. A lot is being done about this currently, but there's still a lack of understanding of the tech industry and its accessibility. We need to educate people about it, adults as well as children from primary school upwards, and tear down the walls that were built on wobbly foundations in the first place.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

There’s a ton of inspirational content and people out there, which is why we’ve decided to launch a platform compiling it all: FemTech Live. On there, you’ll find the latest news, events, and innovations in femtech and healthtech, and more broadly in tech and science. You’ll also find out about the latest developments in the startup world when it comes to science and health.  It’s a great opportunity to educate yourself and find inspiration!

You can also check out our board of advisors and partners to get insights from a wide variety of crucial sectors, from medtech to marketing or finance.


WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here


Looking back at 2020: Our top Inspirational Women & HeForShe interviews

Diverse-group-of-stylish-people-standing-together.-Society-or-population-social-diversity, inspirational women

In the fourth and final installments of looking back at 2020, we delve into our favourite and fascinating Inspirational Women & HeForShe interviews of the year.

Our Inspirational Women series of interviews aims to highlight amazing women across the globe, showcase their achievements and raise their profiles. Over the years, we have interviewed so many amazing women such as Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more.

Our HeForShe interviews celebrate men who promote and support women in the workplace, whether it is through campaigning, mentoring or giving opportunities to women.

Zeinab TomTom featuredInspirational Woman: Dr Zeinab Bakhtiarinoodeh | Senior Data Scientist, TomTom

With a six year working background in Mathematics and Computer Science, Zeinab has been in a male dominated industry for the majority of her career.

Alongside qualifications in Neural Networks and Deep Learning, Regularization, Optimization and Structuring Machine Learning, Zeinab also speaks English, French, Persian and Turkish.

Today, at TomTom, Zeinab leverages Computer Science, Machine Learning and Mathematical modelling to turn data into a story, a fascinating feature for the users of TomTom products. She is passionate about science and technology, with the aim of using both to make the world a better place to live.

Read the full interview here


Caroline Serfass featuredInspirational Woman: Caroline Serfass | Senior Vice President & Chief Information Officer, Canon EMEA

Caroline Serfass joined Canon EMEA as Chief Information Officer in January 2013 to lead the company’s IT strategy and help transform business systems across the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, to provide a strong foundation for future growth.

Caroline’s experience spans across a variety of functions, including internal audit, manufacturing operations, supply chain and IT. Prior to joining Canon, she spent most of her career in the healthcare industry. Notably, Caroline was CIO Europe at global pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Company. Caroline then held the position of Vice President IT International at Medtronic, the world leader in medical devices. At both companies, she made technology one of the key pillars of their transformation and growth. She began her career as the first IT manager of a small mining company in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Caroline studied engineering at École Centrale in France and holds an MSc in Robotics from École Polytechnique, Montreal.

Read the full article here


Felicia Williams featuredInspirational Woman: Felicia Williams | Director of Design & Research for Emerging Businesses, Twitter

Felicia recently joined Twitter as Director of Design & Research for Emerging Businesses, as well as the regional Design & Research leader for the UK.

The team and leadership at Twitter are incredible, smart and passionate about how they can grow their platform, and bring even better services and experiences to users. Her remit is to develop and scale products for small businesses and individuals looking to start their business.

Felicia is part of This is Engineering Day, a day created by the Royal Academy of Engineering to celebrate the world-shaping engineering that exists all around us but often go unnoticed, as well as the engineers who make this possible. As part of This is Engineering Day, the Royal Academy of Engineering has announced plans to create a new virtual museum named The Museum of Engineering Innovation, which can be accessed through QR Codes dotted around the country as well as by visiting Google Arts and Culture. To view the first collection of exhibits, which include Jonnie Peacock’s running blade, visit https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/museum-of-engineering-innovation. #BeTheDifference.

Read the full interview here


Adam Philpott, McAfee featuredHeForShe: Adam Philpott | EMEA President, McAfee

As EMEA President of McAfee, Adam Philpott leads the EMEA region with a focus on building truly diverse teams to drive sales and success at every level of the business.

In this role, Adam is responsible for growing the business across EMEA as well as developing stronger partnerships with the channel and customers across McAfee’s consumer and enterprise security portfolio.

Before joining McAfee, Adam held the role of Senior Director, EMEAR, Cyber Security at Cisco. With more than 17 years of experience at the IT and networking conglomerate, Adam has a proven record of working in the security industry and boosting business growth

Read the full article here


Lauren Annison featuredInspirational Woman: Lauren Allison | CEO, #techmums

Lauren Allison is the CEO of #techmums – a not-for-profit founded by Prof Sue Black OBE to support mums in becoming more familiar, confident, and excited about the use of technology in their lives.

Lauren also works for Sulby Media as an international strategic communications and technology consultant. Her career blends together social responsibility, public policy, and technology. She trained as public diplomacy professional at the University of Southern California (USC) as a Fulbright Scholar. A graduate of the Washington Ireland Program (WIP), Lauren also studied at the University of St Andrews (MA Hons), L’Institut des Études Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po), and the Centre for Comparative Conflict Studies at Singidunum University, Belgrade

Read the interview here


Milly Henneyake featuredInspirational Woman: Milly Henneyake | Civil Engineer, Arup

Milly wanted to do a job that would help people and have an impact on the world, so decided to be an engineer.

Now she works as a civil engineer, making people safe from flooding. She has worked with charities in projects around the world. In South America, Milly improved the design for temporary housing so that houses could be built safely and quickly by small groups of people. In Kenya, she worked with Engineers Without Borders to install plumbing and drainage into communities that had none.

She is now a civil engineer for Arup, where she builds structures to make people safe from flooding. Milly draws designs and works with other experts to manage flood risks. She works with nature, from rivers and lakes, to trees protecting riverbanks. Milly works to make sure what she builds is sustainable, thinking about the environment and reducing the impact on ecology. Her work keeps people safe after large storms.

Milly is a part of This is Engineering Day, a day created by the Royal Academy of Engineering to celebrate the world-shaping engineering that exists all around us but often go unnoticed, as well as the engineers who make this possible. As part of This is Engineering Day, the Royal Academy of Engineering has announced plans to create a new virtual museum named The Museum of Engineering Innovation, which can be accessed through QR Codes dotted around the country as well as by visiting Google Arts and Culture. To view the first collection of exhibits, which include Jonnie Peacock’s running blade, visit https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/museum-of-engineering-innovation. #BeTheDifference

Read the full article here


Stuart NyemeczHeForShe: Stuart Nyemecz | Senior Director & Head of Enterprise, Dell Technologies

At Dell Technologies Stuart Nyemecz leads the Enterprise Business in the UK.

Ultimately, they help leading companies deal with the myriad of challenges around realising their Digital Transformation, and in the Enterprise division, they work with the largest and most complex organisations globally. Stuart is responsible for our largest customer relationships, for developing value propositions for the UKI market, setting business development strategy and driving talent development for the customer facing teams. He is a Board Member, a Diversity Champion and spokesperson for Dell Technologies, and he plays an active part in a number of EMEA and Global leadership committees.

Stuart Nyemecz is an advocate of balancing a strong work ethic with time for family and adventure, having taken a six-month sabbatical with his own young family to travel the world. He is privileged to be able to use his professional platform to help drive his personal passion in creating a fairer world for his daughters. Stuart holds a BSc in Computer Science from Durham University and an alumni of Cranfield Business School.

Read the full interview here


Vinita Marwaha Madill featuredInspirational Woman: Vinita Marwaha Madill | Project Manager, Mission Control Services

Vinita Marwaha Madill is a Project Manager at Mission Control Services. From developing spacewalk training, helping astronauts move around in space, to building a robotic arm for astronauts to use onboard the International Space Station, no day is the same.

One of Vinita’s most interesting projects involved designing a skin suit to mimic the effects of gravity to protect astronauts from muscle and bone loss whilst in space. The suit was the culmination of more than 10 years of development and has been worn by astronauts in space since 2015.

Vinita is a part of This is Engineering Day, a day created by the Royal Academy of Engineering to celebrate the world-shaping engineering that exists all around us but often go unnoticed, as well as the engineers who make this possible. As part of This is Engineering Day, the Royal Academy of Engineering has announced plans to create a new virtual museum named The Museum of Engineering Innovation, which can be accessed through QR Codes dotted around the country as well as by visiting Google Arts and Culture. To view the first collection of exhibits, which include Jonnie Peacock’s running blade, visit https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/museum-of-engineering-innovation. #BeTheDifference

Read the full article here


Inspirational Woman: Rashi Khurana | Vice President of Engineering, Shutterstock

Rashi Khurana is Vice President of Engineering at Shutterstock where she oversees the front end E-commerce, Platform and Mobile engineering teams.

Since joining Shutterstock in 2016, Rashi helped lead three teams through a technology transformation, all the while managing day-to-day operations of delivering a quality product to customers. Rashi is passionate about managing teams of engineers to deliver above expectations everyday and building resiliency into all initiatives.

Rashi earned a master’s degree in Information Technology and Management at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Upon graduation, she worked at Orbitz in Chicago for seven years—before moving to New York City.

Hailing from India, Rashi moved to the United States in 2007 to pursue a master’s degree in Information Technology and Management at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Upon graduation, she worked at Orbitz in Chicago for seven years—before moving to New York City.

Rashi has also spoken on “Business as Usual While Revamping a Decade of Code” and recently took part on a tech women’s leadership panel.  Her speaking engagements include 2018 Wonder Women Tech, 2018 SXSW, and 2017 DeveloperWeek.

Read the full article here


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group-of-diverse-women-looking-at-camera-featured

Looking back at 2019: Our top Inspirational Women in Tech interviews

We delve into our favourite and fascinating Inspirational Women & HeForShe interviews of the year.

Our Inspirational Women series of interviews aims to highlight amazing women across the globe, showcase their achievements and raise their profiles.

Discover our editor's pick of inspirational tech interviews for 2019 below:

Anisah Osman Britton featuredInspirational Woman: Anisah Osman Britton | Founder & CEO, 23 Code Street

Anisah Osman Britton runs 23 Code Street.

In 2012 Anisah won the Young Entrepreneur Festival in London, which brought together 150 of the best young minds in the country.

Since leaving school, Anisah has pursued internships around the world, learnt to code, worked as ops director for a corporate accelerator and started 23 Code Street.

Anisah believes there are multiple routes to success, and that students need to be shown all possibilities.

Read Anisah's full interview here.


Jacqueline de Rojas featuredInspirational Woman: Jacqueline de Rojas CBE | President, techUK

Jacqueline is the President of techUK and the President of the Digital Leaders board.

She sits as a Non-Executive Director on the board of UK technology business Rightmove plc; on the board of Costain plc, which is committed to solving the nation’s Infrastructure problems; and is also on the board of the online retailer AO World plc. An advisor to fast moving tech businesses and a business mentor at Merryck offering board and executive level coaching. She is the co-chair at the Institute of Coding, advises the board of Accelerate-Her and is especially delighted to lend her support to the Girlguiding Association for technology transformation. Passionate about diversity and inclusion which informs where she places her support.

In 2016 she entered the @Computerweekly Hall of Fame after being voted Computer Weekly’s Most Influential Woman in IT 2015; she was listed on Debretts 2016 500 People of Influence – Digital & Social and named in Europe’s Inspiring Fifty most inspiring female role models for 2017. She was presented with the 2017 Catherine Variety award for Science and Technology and the 2018 Women in Tech Award for Advocate of the Year acknowledging her contribution to diversity. 2018 brought a nugget of acknowledgements including @womenoffuture Fifty #KindLeaders; 2018 @Inclusiveboards 100 BAME Leaders; 2018 Faces of Vibrant Digital Economy; 2018 @Computerweekly Most Influential People in UK IT.

Jacqueline was awarded CBE for Services to International Trade in Technology in the Queen’s New Year Honours list 2018.

Happily married to Roger Andrews, they have three children and a new baby grandson.

Read Jacqueline's full interview here.


Inspirational Woman: Olivia Sweeney | Aroma Chemicals Creative, Lush

Olivia, from Reading, has always been interested in sustainability and wanted to work for a company passionate about the environment.

Working for Lush and sourcing and creating their chemicals in a sustainable way has given Olivia the power to make a difference. Olivia is now an Aroma Chemicals Creative Buyer, sourcing and creating the natural and synthetic chemicals for fragrances of Lush’s soaps, bath bombs, shampoo bars… and everything else! She still gets to travel abroad, across Europe, Brazil and the USA to find the best materials and ingredients.

One of Olivia’s projects is figuring out the best way to process waste banana skins, not only getting the perfect banana smell, but in a sustainable and responsible way. She has helped to created a banana facial cleanser that will now be on shelves worldwide! She looks for ways to save energy and water in the making process while also making sure that the ingredients she works with are ethically sourced and cruelty free. For Olivia, chemical engineering means you can end up creating anything based on your own curiosity. Engineers are part of the modern world and help make dreams become reality with their problem-solving skills.

Read Olivia's full interview here.


Didem Un AtesInspirational Woman: Didem Un Ates | Senior Director, AI Customer & Partner Engagement, Microsoft

Following her Electrical Engineering and Management studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Didem started her career with management consulting at CapGemini and Motorola.

After graduating from Columbia Business School (CBS) in 2005, Didem continued her career at Greenwich Consulting (now part of EY) and British Telecom in London, UK.

Her passion for technology led her to join Microsoft’s Information & Content Experiences Group where she and her team signed c. 1,500 partnerships across 60 markets. She held other business development and partner management roles as part of Microsoft Accelerators and the Business AI teams. In her current role, Didem is focusing on scaling Microsoft’s SaaS AI solutions such as Dynamics Customer Service Insights and Virtual Agent.

Didem has 20+ years of multinational leadership experience in business development, management consulting, and product management in executing international roll outs, implementing new market entries, and building new revenue streams from disruptive technologies in EMEA, APAC, and LatAm.

Read Didem's full interview here.


Professor Sue Black featueredInspirational Woman: Professor Sue Black OBE | Professor of Computer Science and Technology Evangelist, UK Government Strategic Advisor, Women's Equality Party candidate for London Mayor 2020, Professional Speaker & Author

Sue Black is a leading academic, campaigner, and advisor to the UK Government.

Black is a Professor of Computer Science and Technology Evangelist at Durham University with more than 40 publications behind her as well as a PhD in software engineering.

Her academic career has seen her hold leadership posts at London South Bank University, University of Westminster and University College London.

A champion for women in computing, Black founded BCSWomen, the UK’s first online network for women in tech, and #techmums, a social enterprise which empowers mums and their families through technology. The activist is also widely known for her successful campaign to save Bletchley Park, the wartime campus where more than 5,000 women served as codebreakers.

A figurehead on numerous boards, Black is a Comic Relief Trustee and a mentor at Google Campus for Mums. She has previously been a L’Oréal UNESCO prize judge, an expert evaluator for the European Commission and a Nesta Crucible fellow.

Black was awarded an OBE for “services to technology” in 2016.

She today sits as a Women’s Equality Party candidate for London Mayor 2020.

Black is a self-confessed social media-holic. She is a mum of four and a grandmother of four.

Read Sue's full interview here.


Lea von Bidder featuredInspirational Woman: Lea von Bidder | Co-Founder & CEO, Ava

Lea von Bidder is Co-Founder; VP Marketing and President of Ava Science Inc.

The idea for the Ava bracelet came from Pascal Koenig, Philipp Tholen, Peter Stein and I (Lea) around five years ago when we were confronted with our own reproductive choices in the modern world. We almost immediately started consulting with several gynaecologists from around the world, mainly in Europe and the US, asking what is important for women’s reproductive health needs. When Pascal, Philipp, Peter and I founded Ava in 2014, it was with the mission to advance women’s reproductive health by bringing together artificial intelligence and clinical research. And I’m proud to share that we’ve just achieved a major milestone: Our clinical research has just been made public in a scientific paper published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Medical Internet Research. The paper demonstrates that five physiological signals change throughout the menstrual cycle, and that by tracking these signals, we can identify the fertile window of a woman’s cycle in real time. Our flagship product, the Ava fertility tracker, is the only fertility-tracking method available that measures all five of these signs.

We have around 120 employees worldwide distributed among Zurich, San Francisco, Belgrade, Makati and Hong Kong. Around 80 of these sit in our Headquarters in Zurich and work in various departments such as Clinical Team, Data Science Team, Product Team, Marketing as well as Customer Success.

We are proud to count over 20,000 pregnancies worldwide and 50 new pregnancies a day among our users

The tracking of a woman’s cycle, fertility, and pregnancy is just the start of many exciting possibilities. Ava continues to conduct clinical studies to improve its accuracy and increase its capabilities. Ava and the University Hospital of Zurich are conducting a new large cohort study with several sub-studies that will address topics such as irregular cycles and pregnancy complications. We are also working with several thought leaders to conduct studies in assisted reproduction and gestational hypertensive populations.

Our vision of wanting to be a long-term companion for women, providing data-driven and scientifically proven insights along all stages of their reproductive lives, as well as our mission, wanting to advance women’s reproductive health by bringing together artificial intelligence and clinical research, are our biggest drivers.

Read Lea's full interview here.


Kerrine Bryan featuredInspirational Woman: Kerrine Bryan | Award-winning engineer & founder of Butterfly Books

Kerrine Bryan – an award winning black female engineer and founder of Butterfly Books.

Kerrine has gone on to smash many glass ceilings to become respected in her field.

She was shortlisted in Management Today’s 35 Women Under 35 for notable women in business and, in 2015, she won the Precious Award for outstanding woman in STEM. Kerrine is a volunteer mentor for the Institute of Engineering & Technology (IET) and is an avid STEM Ambassador. It was while she was undertaking talks at various schools across the country for children about engineering and what her job entails that she became inspired to set up her independent publishing house, Butterfly Books.

In response to this, Kerrine published a series of books (My Mummy Is A Scientist, My Mummy Is An Engineer and My Mummy Is A Plumber) as a means of communicating to children a positive message about all kinds of professions, especially STEM careers, that are suffering skill gaps and diversity issues. The fourth book in the series, My Mummy Is A Farmer, launched last month – August 2018.

Read Kerrine's full interview here.