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.