Inspirational Woman: Hayley Sudbury | Founder & CEO, WERKIN


 Hayley Sudbury

As an openly out LGBT+ female tech entrepreneur, Hayley supports professional LGBT+ communities through WERKIN’s CSR programmes, and sponsorship and support of Lesbians Who Tech.

The technology developed at WERKIN allows more LGBT+ professionals to be visible and supported in their careers. Externally, Hayley is committed to creating a fundamental shift for the female, LGBT+ and BAME talent pipeline and uses her technology to support mentoring programmes for a number of LGBT+ organisations, including Lesbian and Bisexual professional women, and OUTstanding. Her company is a UK partner of Lesbians Who Tech, providing support by hosting and sponsoring the London Summer Party. She is also an active mentor in the Stemettes programme, currently mentoring a female BAME undergrad computer science student.

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

I am Hayley Sudbury, founder and CEO of WERKIN, the company I built with my cofounder to bring tech-enabled sponsorship to global organisations. I founded WERKIN after a career in finance. Though I enjoyed the challenges and satisfaction of that career, I saw an opportunity to use technology to make industries like finance more inclusive, particularly in senior positions. Of course, if I had chosen a different path, I'd be a professional jazz musician, the track I started out on!

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No, I've just had major pivots and have been open to the universe and throwing myself into opportunities as they come. In high school, I wanted to become an architect or professional musician. I met with my careers counselor and took a test that said I should be a counselor. I grew up in a family business so it wasn't so radical that I would follow the path of an entrepreneur. I made a conscious decision to move into large corporates early on in my career to have some big corporate experience in my journey, starting in the energies sector and then finance.

Have you faced any particular challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?

I've had several roles that required me to be extremely resourceful to deal with trouble areas. It's about recognising what you can do in a particular situation and who you can influence about what's happening and make changes.

If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?

Unconscious bias. That's the key to change, dealing with people's biases and building understanding. I don't think I am in control of that.

How do you think companies and individuals could be more inclusive?

At the end of the day, it's about getting people signed up to create an environment where people feel truly comfortable about bringing their wholes selves to work. It's important to encourage everyone to embrace that. The way you work needs to be inclusive if you're going to create an environment for everyone. One easy way for companies to do this is by joining the INvolve network. They’ve worked with our teams to help harness LGBT+, ethnic minority and female talent and foster inclusive cultures. We’re working to drive a positive change in the workplace.

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

Mentoring is key to your professional and your life journey. How you work, how you live, the people who guide you along the way. It's not just about formal mentors, it's the sponsors who raise your visibility. We are looking to democratise mentoring and sponsorship. Not everyone has the time or know-how to be a mentor, we want to help more people to have that experience. I am an active mentor. I am still being actively mentored myself by technology veterans who have been there and done it.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

My current company. I am actually doing something that I love. I have my cofounder that I love working with. We are commited to this change and now product and market fit together to make it happen. The time has aligned with more attention being paid to help companies be better versions of themselves. Companies are open to change behaviour which makes a difference to individuals' careers.

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

Help global companies change the mix. We have focused in the UK, but now we are looking to the US and are hoping to scale our company globally. We are scaling up our London-based company. We also want to enjoy the ride and have fun doing it. The journey is the reward. That is absolutely how I feel about what we are doing.

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.

Nicky Hoyland

Inspirational Woman: Nicky Hoyland | CEO, My Clever Group (MCG)

Nicky HoylandNicky Hoyland is CEO at My Clever Group (MCG) which includes DBLX and Huler.

A Manchester girl, raised by her inspirational single mum, Nicky Hoyland was working as a trainer at EE, saw a problem and came up with a solution. In a male-dominated industry she’s built a 6-figure business from scratch with a client list to be envious of. Her company exists to arm people with the technology to make positive and lasting change in their business.

Nicky is dedicated to revolutionising how we learn and shaping the future of the learning industry using the latest tech. Leading an award-winning team of now 50 brilliant people, she invests her time generously in each and every project, I guess some would say “walking the walk, as well as talking the talk”.

As a gay woman, now working with some of the world biggest brands she wants to use her platform to inspire young women around the world.

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

Hey, Im Nicky Hoyland, CEO at My Clever Group (MCG) which includes DBLX and Huler. Im a Manchester girl, raised by my inspirational single mum. My story starts whilst working as a trainer at EE, put simply I saw a problem and came up with a solution; and so DBLX was born. We create bespoke software solution for some of the worlds most forward thinking brands. In a male-dominated industry I’m so proud to have built a 6-figure business from scratch with a global client list and thousands of users of our platforms around the world. My company exists to arm people with the technology to make positive and lasting change in their business, something I have always been so passionate about. Im dedicated to revolutionizing how we learn and shaping the future of the learning industry using the latest tech. Leading an award-winning team of now 50 brilliant people, I invest my time generously in each and every project. I could talk all day about the amazing things our #CleverCrowd are up to. Right now we are working on the launch of a world changing SaaS product that launches in Jan 2021. Im so humbled at the overwhelming response we have had, we are hand picking some lucky people for Beta testing and you can register your interest here: www.huler.io.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No. I am ‘a planner’ and I journal every morning, setting myself mini goals for the day. But with my career I can honestly say there was no plan. I guess I never really had time to stop and plan. From a young age I worked 2 jobs and 60 hour weeks. My mum got ill and I had to learn very quickly to be independent and work hard for everything I wanted and needed. I never really planned to become a director or CEO. I simply had audaciously big dreams, nothing to lose and a burning desire to make a difference. All of my career decisions have been around following my passions and where I can make an impact. If you love what your doing, it wont feel like work and your output is so much greater, I tell everyone to find something they love.

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

The one thing I found challenging in my previous roles, was that sometimes I had to go against my views of what I thought was right for a user or solution. Often I wasn’t alone in my thinking but there were certain projects that simply had to go ahead – what  sometimes felt like a tick box or political exercise.

That was a challenge because when you are newer in to an organisation or career, there is an element of hierarchy and when someone says it’s the right thing to do, you can ofcourse share and state your opinions but theres only so many times you can suggest an alternative if someone keeps saying no. Sometimes HR and L&D projects can be seen as a tick box to the wider organisation rather than the right approach.

How did I overcome these challenges? I think in any job that you do, if you love what you do and truly believe in what you do - work doesn’t feel like work.  I would say if your feeling like your continually working on something that goes against what you believe in, it comes down to having to have a chat with yourself and making a decision to find something that supports your passions and values.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I feel so humbled and grateful for the many incredible milestones I have achieved throughout my career to date. This year DBLX turnover is over a million pounds. I employ over 50 brilliant people and help pay their rents and support their families. Throughout Covid we have financially supported local foodbanks and children with home schooling tech kits. I have over 500K users globally of a product I have built. But despite all of that… without any doubt, I am most proud of the day I made the decision to believe in myself and have the courage to leave the safety of a corporate job and co-found Digital Balance (now DBLX). Because it all goes back to that belief that I am worthy enough to make a difference and have a voice and drive change in a male dominated industry. I didn’t know it would work. I had no financial backing. I was raised by a single mum and had to provide for myself from an early age. Iv had to work for everything I have and starting my business was a huge risk. But I knew inside I had so much to give, my head was bursting with ideas and I wanted to drive change in the industry which it so desperately needed. So the only thing I feared more than leaving my job was not leaving.

All seven billion of us have a unique set of skills, talents, and personality traits. We’re all different, and that’s the beauty. The world needs more women to listen to their gut. Imagine the change we would see in the world! I had a nagging feeling inside of me for years before I acted on it. My only regret now is that I didn’t start sooner. Im incredibly proud I found the courage to start because it has already made such a huge impact on the industry, my life and others.  I've also found myself applying my leadership and company values in my personal life; having integrity and humility and not being afraid to try new things.  I have even taken to rock climbing – which I have found great for my mind and ‘switching off’.

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

Damn hard work. And a vision of what you want to get to and what you want to achieve. There is nothing that can get in the way of you achieving that if you have got your belief and  eye on the prize. Break it down in to steps and stick at it. I love a recent quote  I saw from @StevenBartlett “you wouldn’t plant a seed and then dig it up every few minutes to see if it has grown. Have patience, stop overthinking and keep watering your seeds.

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

The first think I would say is “Your doing great!” Women need to lift each other up.  My second tip is learn from other industrys. Digest as much information as you can – whether that’s podcacts, social media, newsletters, network, apps, books. There is so much free information out there just waiting for you, try to look at things differently from your own unique perspective, you have so much to offer the world.

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

Its changing. But yes. To be in a business that is predominately male or a meeting that is predominately male  is something we need to push through and overcome. Even at education level there are certain courses that are very male led, this view that ‘its not for me’ starts very young. As with anything, with diversity and inclusion, I don’t think its solely about women – its about everyone having a voice around a table regardless of gender, religion, education, sexuality, race, its about diversity across everything.

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

Other women have got to pull up a seat for other women.  Its not just about the seat that you have got around the table. You have a voice for others. Its about actively supporting people not just saying it, showcase the way. Companies need to be diverse in their outward appearance as a company and sharing their success.. Leaders need to be walking the walk. I take time out regularly dedicated to a meeting with just the women in my company to support and guide them. We have Q and As, learnings and lots of important conversations about raising their voices within the business.

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?

Its is not a magic wand. The magic wand is accepting that it isn’t one thing. Its continual. Its got to be a push from Every. Single. Person. Every job. Every employee in your business. Every single person that looks at a job advert, is onboarding, leaves the business. The push for equality has got to span all the way through.

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

  • Networking channels on linked in and dedicated time to supporting the connections you make there and their projects.
  • Must read books: How Women Rise by Sally Helgesen and Work like A Woman by Mary Portas
  • My favourite Expos:
    • Learning Technologies – We are actually exhibiting there in Feb -  come and say hello!
    • Unleash – we are exhibiting at the one in Vegas but they have some great events around the world.
  • I love a good podcasts: HR Social Hour, Inspiring Women by Media Zoo, HBR Ideas, I shouldn’t say this but… by Social Chain and Punk Rock HR

Discover more about Nicky here:

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.

Lesbians Who Tech

Lesbians Who Tech

lesbians who techOur Goals:

To be more visible to each other

We all know that familiar feeling of meeting someone in a work setting, knowing she's a lesbian, and trying to work it into a conversation and make that connection. We're about making that happen: connecting lesbians and building a network of colleagues, associates and friends in the industry.

To Be More Visible To Others

Outside of Ellen, Rosie, Melissa, and now Tammy, what other mainstream lesbian role models can most people name? We need more examples of lesbian leaders and that means we need to come out as the amazing, successful people we are.

To Get More Women And Lesbians In Technology

Lesbians are women first, and right now women are some of the most gifted folks in technology, yet there are far fewer of us than there should be (women account for 1 in 15 people in STEM fields). Because there aren’t enough women, women are rarely quoted as experts by the mainstream media and blogs, on panels, etc. And add the element of being lesbian, it’s equally important for us to represent women, and out women, for our communities.

To Connect Lesbians Who Tech To LGBTQ And Women’s Organizations Who Are Doing Incredible Work For Community

There are so many groups who are fighting for our rights, and they need our support. Lesbians Who Tech provides a platform to raise awareness of their work and connect these organizations to queer women in the tech community.



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