Joey Tait

HeForShe: Joey Tait | Managing Director, develop

Joey Tait

develop is an award-winning software engineering recruitment business based in London, and working across the UK, German, and Miami markets.

develop partners with the world’s most innovative businesses, offering product-based solutions for both permanent and contract recruitment objectives. The business is a leading contributor to the software engineering community and focuses its effort across seven brands: develop .NET, develop Java, develop Python, develop PHP, develop JavaScript, develop Technology and develop Change.

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

I’ve been in technology recruitment for around 15 years, and with that experience I set up develop in August 2020. We are a leading contributor to the software engineering community and a disruptive recruiter that takes special care to train our staff and technically test our candidates. I am the Managing Director, overseeing operations, marketing, finance and internal growth.

Working with my business partner, Kevin (Kevin Hammond – CEO) who I met in school, we’ve built the team to 50, growing through the pandemic, and I am passionate about developing staff, and creating a high-performance culture that everyone enjoys being a part of.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?  

Honestly, no. I started out working to my strengths, and added to my skillset as needed, as time went on. Being open to the idea of continually learning throughout my career has set me up for success and allowed me to adapt to different outcomes. That’s still the case, even more so now that my career is so intertwined with develop’s progression. The business drives my learning and vice versa; the two go hand in hand.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Yes, too many to mention, but that’s the nature of business – success doesn’t come without failure.

However, I now see challenges as part of the journey. Accepting that you’re going to have them enables you to have more clarity on how to get through those tough situations.

Our industry moves quickly and dwelling on failures will set you back. Learning from failure quickly and decisively will put you in a strong position to move everything forward, despite any perceived setback.

What has been your biggest achievement to date? 

Every year since develop opened has been rewarding in its own way, but 2021 to 2022 was our best year yet. We achieved almost 500 placements throughout the year, grew the team to a strong 50 headcount, and opened an office in Miami.

We’ve got an incredible platform to build on and we’re continually striving to create something really special, for our team and the people we partner with.

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

I never stop learning. ​​Continuous education is important in any field, but especially in tech. It’s important to not get complacent. With so much changing all the time, you have to stay on top of your skills and knowledge.

That’s something we’ve ingrained into our business model at develop too. We pay for all our staff to learn how to code and give them the time to do it in work hours. Every new client and partnership that comes through our doors is an opportunity for the team to learn something new, and I think we’ve built an open and safe environment for them to do so.

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

I’m a huge supporter of mentoring at every level. At every stage of my career, I’ve either been mentored, or mentored others. At develop, I make sure I take the time to sit down and work with our team, whether it’s their first week or they’re a seasoned consultant. Everyone can benefit from some one-on-one time with a mentor.

Early on in my career, I had some amazing people who helped guide me through my journey, helping shape me into the person I am today, both personally and professionally. I’d like to do the same for our team.

What can businesses/government/allies do to help diversity and inclusion?  

There are a few priorities that I think are key to supporting diversity and inclusion within a business. Understanding unconscious bias and its impact is one of the first steps. Practising what you preach sounds simple, but it’s often not the case. Implementing pay equity, having diverse teams and representation at all levels, and facilitating open conversations are just some of the ways businesses can help to reduce and eliminate biases.

We need to change our approach towards getting diverse talent involved by providing opportunities at all levels, starting early. One initiative I’m working on at the moment, in line with this, is donating STEM toys to local schools. By providing the tools for schools to educate their students at a young age, we can help level the playing field and hopefully even out the unfair split in male-dominated industries like tech. Young people need to be given the opportunity to explore all industries and find out what they are interested in without barriers.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace? 

Whether we recognise it or not, we are part of the problem. It’s our responsibility to do our part, be allies and support and push for change.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be? 

Find what makes you tick and pursue it passionately.

Failure is just a stepping stone to success, don’t let it keep you down for long.

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

The growth that Kevin and I have planned for the business over the next few years is really exciting and will in turn push me to achieve more personally. We’ve recently opened our first offices in America as we look to help drive the success of the tech market in Miami and are planning to open an office in Germany in the near future. We’ve made a great start in Miami, and we’re hoping to change the perception of recruiters/headhunters in that market. This growth should also see our team reach a headcount of 150 by 2025.

I hope that we can also change the way the industry works. We hold a powerful position in the creation of more diverse, equitable teams, so I hope we are able to make a difference there. By making sure that opportunities are offered equally and without bias or barriers, we can hopefully impact the wider industry.


Sharon Hamilton

Inspirational Woman: Sharon Hamilton | Managing Director, Eurofins Digital Testing

Sharon HamiltonI am UK Managing Director at Eurofins Digital Testing (EDT) and have worked in the software testing sector for nearly 30 years.

Starting my career as a Test Analyst at Unisys, I held similar positions within a number of banking and financial services institutions, before moving into a Testing Services Director position with Sopra Group. There, I was responsible for heading up delivery of testing services to clients and managing test programs.

I joined Edge Testing Solutions, in 2011, as a Service Delivery Manager before being promoted to Operations Director of Scotland and was then appointed as Managing Director, following Edge Testing Solutions being acquired by Eurofins Digital Testing (EDT).

Aside from spearheading the company’s growth plans across every region in the UK, as UK MD for EDT, I head up and manage all of the testing services delivered by our three arms: Edge Testing Solutions, our software testing, Commissum Associates, the security arm, and our devices arm, Eurofins Digital Product Testing.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

As I studied Business at London Metropolitan University, I always had the aim of managing a successful business, but I also loved the intricacies of technology and software so software testing came quite naturally to me.

Early on I recognised software testing and quality assurance as exciting fields to be involved in, constantly evolving, so soon decided that they could offer me a job that keeps me challenged and engaged. What I love most about software testing, and my role with EDT, is the bright and enthusiastic colleagues and team here. We all work together to deliver world class services to provide solutions that meet our customers’ needs and answer any challenges. No day is the same and each day brings the ability to learn something new or have my views challenged., which is what I want – it’s such a rewarding career path.

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

A few years ago, one of the challenges involved in working in the software testing field would have been some companies’ perception of the value of testing. I’ve been in testing since I graduated and along the way you see different companies in different journeys with their testing beliefs. That is changing with us all being more internet focused. Not a day goes by without some IT failure in the news where it’s clear that robust testing was not conducted, and the end result is quite dramatic on individuals or their business.

While the perception of testing is changing, there is still a challenge of ensuring that companies give testing the right value and the right level of importance within their own organisation. However, with the advent of Agile and DevOps methodologies, projects have also evolved so that testers now work with and alongside the software architects, designers and developers. As a result, the boundaries between these disciplines is becoming increasingly blurred which offers testers a varied and exciting career choice.

When I discuss my job with my teenage children, I can say with experience that my role as a tester is very creative and you get to work in an environment where thinking/problem solving is necessary and there is never a boring day! Each week you can be using a new tool or way of working.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Managing the company through a global pandemic – I would like to think that we did this by communicating with colleagues and customers frequently, with integrity – putting the safety and wellbeing of our colleagues first. We were also able to provide job security, whilst minimising the impact to the financials as a result of the pandemic.

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

The support I have received at EDT and the space for me to perform my role and not be bound by time/hours/location. This has been demonstrated continually throughout my 10 years at the company and has meant that I have been able to raise my children whilst having a great job at the same time. While I have shown flexibility and adapted, this has very much been matched by the company.

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

There should be no difference between males or females taking up a career in IT, however sadly there are still fewer women in our industry.  Woman and girls need to be encouraged and educated that there are diverse roles in IT and we also need to ensure they have strong role models that they can identify with.  The whole industry needs to bear responsibility and present the job opportunities as gender neutral.

EDT already has a strong C-level suite of women, and we actively recruit females for all roles across the business, from graduates to those who are considering a career change.  I have the pleasure of working with some fantastic females in my role as MD. Boglarka Ronto who heads up our Cyber team was recently appointed as board exec to the Council of Registered Ethical Security Testers (CREST). Kirsten Logue is the Operations Director for Edge Testing and has over 20 years of experience in testing and Zoe Pluckrose-Norman as our Head of People UK, completes our EDT management team – with 45% female representation on the EDT Management board.

Across EDT we employ experienced female consultants and engineers in addition to supporting colleagues to grow within our business. Laura Walpole joined us five months ago as a Software Test Consultant after making the move from account management within the beauty/ cosmetics industry (typically a very female-dominated industry) to her current role here within the IT industry.

Wanting to move from the beauty industry to a role within the IT sector, Laura faced some challenges, but she set her sights on finding a company that placed value on personal qualities, passion and potential over experience, which she found with us here at EDT. We focus on career development and training, which stood out to her straight away. During her interview, Laura told us that she felt we had a genuine interest in her journey and long-term goals.

EDT has a 6-week training academy which consists of thorough training across all aspects of software testing to enable new employees to build their skills in various areas ranging from the fundamentals of testing to technical skills such as a programming using Java. We encourage employees like Laura to book online training courses to accelerate their skills and EDT employees must complete a minimum of 3 days training per year, which is incentivised via a bonus scheme, so our teams focus on their own development.

Jessica Crosby is another recent recruit. She came to EDT with a strong track record of sales and business development in the software testing industries from her roles at Qualitest and Capita IT, and is now working as EU Sales Manager. She is responsible for ensuring that our UK, European and wider global clients’ requirements are met, but EDT has also given her the chance to train and develop her skills to create new opportunities for further career progression.

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

My gender has never been an issue in what role I can do for the company I’m with now so I would recommend working with a diverse and fully inclusive company like EDT. The company has also allowed me to have access to great mentors /role models who I can learn from, as MDs should also continue to build their knowledge base and seek advice and help and insight from their peers to remain successful.

EDT is just one company realising the importance of supporting people, whatever gender they are, to succeed in every industry. For example, we have an active gender diversity group that provides support to our team in the UK and internationally which both Jessica and Laura are actively involved in.

Getting over any fear that it would not be possible to change career path due to your age or in choosing to take a leap of faith to chase your dream job is key – for everyone. There may be knock backs along the way, but I would encourage anyone who is considering changing their career to take the risk as it is never too late to make positive change for your future!

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

Our parent company Eurofins’ CEO, Gilles Martin, has always expressed the company’s commitment to support diversity, in particular gender diversity. We want to ensure locally within our teams that we are supporting gender inclusivity (ensuring equality of opportunity to everyone), in particular to understand better the experience of work and any potential blockers to career progression/fulfilment for females/those who identify as a female.

One of the aims of our diversity group is to listen to feedback but also take any action required, to help us continue to improve our already diverse and engaging approach to recruitment. We are looking to ensure inclusivity, by understanding any potential inequalities/ barriers, and how we address those.

There are currently only 21 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?

Earlier in my career, I can remember being the only female in the room. Sometimes that still happens, which is surprising but things are changing. That’s not the environment at EDT though, which is great.

Working with schools is the key approach, whereby we teach all children that they can achieve in any industry and are equally capable.

Bringing businesses into schools and showing them different IT careers is so important. This needs to be solved via multiple channels and activities. At Eurofins, we are engaging with schools, colleges and universities to encourage IT as a career for all genders.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Women with an eye on working in the tech field should take advantage of every resource available for them to access, from listening to podcasts and attending networking events to signing up for conferences, reviewing potential company websites and going to conferences, to meet like-minded individuals.

But when they have secured their new role, they should continue accessing those resources. At EDT, we offer all our employees, whether they are men or women, in admin or c-level positions, online training to keep them as up to date as possible. Software testing, like all other tech sectors, is constantly evolving so we all need to keep up with the pace of change to remain able to provide our clients and customers with the highest quality and level of service they expect from EDT.

I think women looking for a career in the software testing sector can be inspired by the likes of Klaudia Dziubek. Klaudia applied to our company’s Academy straight after leaving secondary education in Glasgow and now she is a Certified Software Tester. After passing her ISTQB Certification Foundation Level exam in November 2020, Klaudia started writing her own blog called Testing Traveler, where she shares all of the knowledge gained during that syllabus and, since then, what she has learned by testing the web and mobile applications. This blog now helps encourage others thinking of a career in software testing.

Other inspirational women in testing include Pavreen Khan, a Senior Quality Analyst Consultant at Thoughtworks, who is an international speaker sharing her stories and experiences in testing; Marie Drake, Quality Engineering Manager at Zoopla, and an online course instructor at the Ministry of Testing and Test Automation University; and Rafaela Azevedo, a Quality Assurance Automation Engineer, who has become a STEM Ambassador, a STEM Women Member and an instructor at Test Automation University.

Anyone interested in learning more about technology and the women that currently work in various sectors can also check out this link to find ones that suit their career path: https://bestcompaniesaz.com/women-in-tech-blogs/

There are numerous groups on LinkedIn which can offer support, guidance and inspiration including. Tech Savvy Women, The Female Lead, Bristol Women’s Tech Hub and Break the bias.

International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to showcase our achievements, but also focus on the work still to be done. We in Eurofins will be supporting the #BreakTheBias Campaign with our selfie pics to highlight how individually we each will play a role to #BreakTheBias.


Christel Wolthoorn

Inspirational Woman: Christel Wolthoorn | Managing Director, LovedBy

Christel WolthoornGrowing up in Denmark, with the great fortune of supportive parents and a teacher who really championed an attitude for curiosity and experimentation, it was a big shock arriving in the UK.

I really wasn’t used to the idea that the right university, the right internship or the right person in your contacts had the potential to shape your future in the way it can here.

So my career has often felt like navigating a terrain as the only one without a map! However, the benefit of this is that I am very experimental in my approach to the roles and companies I work for. As a result, my career is a varied patchwork of roles in marketing, PR, internal communication and consulting. But I would say the one common theme is that for every job I’ve ever done, the role has been seen as new or ‘disruptive’.

Today, I am the Managing Director of LovedBy Consulting – a role I took at the start of the pandemic, having previously worked in the software engineering industry. We partner with clients who are looking to transition their business, strategy and culture through product and service design, and it is my role to create an environment that facilitates our people in doing that.

Having worked in a consulting environment for most of my career, LovedBy has presented a fantastic opportunity to challenge the bad habits associated with this industry – working people to the ground, lack of diversity and curiosity, relentless focus on utilisation. We are very small compared to many of our competitors, but we choose to see that as our great advantage. Even in my role as MD, I’m getting stuck in on client projects on a day-to-day basis, because we’re all about being closer to our clients and their challenges.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Only once. When I finished my MSc I was really clear that I wanted to get into internal communication and engagement so I applied for a graduate programme who had this as part of their rotations. Ironically, though, I didn’t get placed on this track,  so I went to the head of the team and asked if I could be assigned to a project. – that’s how I landed at Deloitte.

Since then, I have followed the opportunities as they’ve come along. However, I have always been very conscious of working in areas that are posing a challenge to existing ways of working and thinking.

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

Not following a conventional career path has caused a lot of doubt. Mainly because at times it has felt really lonely joining as the person coming in and driving change. There has been a real lack of role models and advocates which has led me to either seek out people who have my back – or look for the next role.

And sadly, my story is also one where being a female in a male-dominated environment has been tough – from an isolated comment to situations which in hindsight should have been handled by HR. When you join a male-dominated environment, it’s important to get support from other women. And, in my experience that is sadly not always the case. I am really conscious to look out for this behaviour now so I can prevent other women from going through the same thing.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Growing an agency during a pandemic. There has been no rule book and the pressure of looking after the team, managing the business and protecting our clients was – and continues to be –  massive. I am really proud of how far we have come. And none of it would’ve been possible without the incredible people I work with, both my colleagues who make up LovedBy, and also our clients who really have been supportive as we all navigated this.

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

I am really curious and like a challenge. So, I don’t think about what I cannot do, but more about where I can add value. Also, I’m not really set on what I do as long as it’s something that gives me purpose – this means that great opportunities have come my way which I may not have seen otherwise.

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

My sense is these tips apply to most careers and not just those in tech.

Firstly, work with passion. It can be the role, the product, the people. It is hard to excel at anything without a true sense of “why”

Secondly, find good role models and mentors. Look for people who see your potential and are willing to back you. And, act in the same way to others.

Finally, always be curious and look to learn. This is an ever-changing space with so much to learn. You will get further when you accept that you will never know everything.

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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?

I think that tech is still defined by the stereotypes we are all used to seeing. And I definitely think that although there is more focus on diversity, in my experience it still feels like a closed ‘society’ with very male-dominated ways of doing business.

The irony is that working in tech should be synonymous with new ways of working, innovation and progressive thinking, so we have a huge responsibility in showing the way. But it’s hard to break the barrier when the majority of CVs are from men and the majority of people in a room will be male. The challenge, as with all change, is making it clear why this change is needed. We are not short of initiatives to promote more women – and more diversity in general – in business. So, for these barriers to come down, we need to look at incentives and regulation. Sadly, waiting for the systems to change naturally will take too long.

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

Consider leadership and structures. For instance, are the people we put in charge of leading tech companies, departments or teams actually equipped to drive positive and supportive cultures where people can thrive? Are women placed in leadership roles so they can act as role models? Are they given the support they need to succeed?

Another key thing is truly supporting your teams internally, providing them with mentorship and helping them to upskill where they need it. I’m currently working with an amazing delivery manager who started her career in a completely non-tech role. She was given the opportunity to learn and she is now leading a large group of developers with great success. I would love to see the continuous learning mindset embedded more in organisations.

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?

Encourage girls to get involved in tech at an early stage. Not only through coding but also through innovation, problem-solving and facilitation. My great colleague Heloise Ardley has launched School for Rebels, an after school club to teach children problem-solving. We need more of that. Raising two young girls I see how easy it is for them to fall into stereotypes, but also how much they love building in minecraft: it doesn’t have to be an either-or.

Also, invest in hiring for the future and take in women who may not have the exact skills yet but who can and will learn. The whole industry is moving at great speed and by looking ahead just a little we can start the skill transfer and really get women engaged around working in technology.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

The last two years have been all about growing the business but the highlight for me must be Web Summit in Lisbon. After months in lockdown I needed to be reminded that there is a world out there and that was the perfect conference to do it with. Katherine Ryan’s autobiography also springs to mind. It’s nothing to do with tech but a good reminder that you can be successful by being you. And, my good friend Eleanor Winton’s The Disruption Game Plan. She is an example of a woman who had my back and I am really thrilled that she’s sharing her insight with those curious enough to listen.


Melissa Hendry featured

Inspirational Woman: Melissa Hendry | Co-Founder & Managing Director, ddroidd

Melissa HendryMelissa Hendry is Co-founder and Managing Director of digital transformation specialists, ddroidd.

With more than 15 years’ experience in senior leadership roles within the IT, telecommunications and digital sectors, Melissa has played a significant role in driving key strategic growth, operational direction as well as the implementation and monitoring of core processes, policies and partner relationships with some of the UK’s biggest names.

Passionate about the quality, security and scalability of business operations and service delivery through the adoption of best practice frameworks, Melissa has held NPPV and Government SC clearances, and is a BSI certified ISO 27001 Internal Auditor, ITIL v3 Practitioner and appointed Chief Information Officer.

After graduating from Leeds Metropolitan University with a degree in Business & Event Management, Melissa joined aql, a UK telecommunications operator and enabler of smart cities, as Operations Manager, later Operations Director. During her 10 years at aql, Melissa built, managed and ran high-security IL5-rated data centres, wholesale SMS aggregator services, MVNE infrastructure for M2M services and Ofcom-regulated telecoms services. Live services were in operation for over 30,000 active customers and 300 channel partners, for clients including Virgin, Akamai, Fujitsu, BT, EMIS-Healthcare, Serco and government clients, including the Metropolitan Police and the Home Office. Melissa was a key member of the team who helped to grow aql from a headcount of two to 55 and increase turnover from £650k to £10.6m in seven years.

Melissa then spent several years working in start-up digital SaaS companies, helping them to create a solid operational structure on which to scale. In 2019, Melissa joined Delete Agency, as Head of Managed Services & Security and later as Operations Director.

ddroidd was formed in November 2020 following the acquisition of a two-year joint venture partnership with Delete agency. With Offices in Leeds, UK and Cluj-Napoca, Romania, ddroidd employs almost 80 staff, delivering projects for clients and agency partners.

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

I’m co-founder and managing director of ddroidd, a technical and digital transformation agency, specialising in the build, enhancement, and technical support of enterprise level web applications.

We were formed in November 2020 and now have 79 team members across our offices in Leeds, UK and Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

I started my career studying Events & Business Management at Leeds Metropolitan University and accidentally stumbled into the world of tech after being offered my first role in a telecommunications company called aql. I spent five years there as operations manager and a further five years as operations director where I oversaw the formation and growth of the internal teams, processes, security accreditations and compliance and operational structure, whilst expanding the service offerings and our physical network and infrastructure. I was exposed to, responsible for, and learned a great deal whilst in these roles.

I later spent three years in operations director roles in SaaS businesses, looking at the operational processes and technical platforms required to scale, before moving agency side as operations director for Delete Agency. It is here where I met and worked alongside Catalin, Nicu and Oana who I later went on to set-up ddroidd with.

In my current role at ddroidd, I work alongside the leadership team and ddroidd co-founders (Catalin, Nicu and Oana) to drive our sales and marketing initiatives, legal and regulatory compliance as well as supporting our strategic partnerships and relationships.

We’re currently working on our A+++ framework, which recently won the Prolific North Environmental Champion Award, and focuses on ensuring large scale web applications are more energy efficient by cutting needless reprocessing by up to 90%. As a company we are passionate about sustainability and have been able to save clients up to £12k a month on hosting bills with our A+++ efficiency approach. We’re hoping this framework will eventually become industry standard as businesses realise the cost and environment benefits of effective application management.  https://www.ddroidd.com/a-plus-plus-plus

We’re now approaching our first year-end and are on-track to exceed our £3m turnover target. We have ambitious targets for year two that will see us double in size and a £5m turnover target.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Never. I studied business and event management and happily fell into the world of tech. As I have a holistic understanding of how business divisions interlink and support each other, operations management was a natural starting point. I also love a good process – not to be rigid, but to provide a common understanding of what to follow and what to expect, where to pivot and what to report on.

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

Knowing when to move on, as spending 10 years in one role had its benefits and challenges. You become so familiar with one company, the team, and the processes you’ve implemented that it’s hard to know when the right time to leave is. I got to a stage where I knew I was ready for a new challenge. I wanted to apply my skills and experiences in new environments and to grow from new experiences and teams, and in turn it was time for others to implement new ways of working and bring fresh ideas. It was a difficult decision, but I’ve learned to be open to situations and to follow what you know is right for you.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Without a doubt co-founding and helping to build ddroidd with the team. It’s true what they say about the people you surround yourself with, and they inspire me in some way every day. We have a great shared vision and I feel extremely fortunate to call these guys my teammates and my friends.

Melissa Hendry

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

Asking questions. It sounds strange but asking ‘why’ or ‘how’ (at the right time) enables you to better your understanding and learn something new, but it can also create an opportunity to become involved in projects, conversations or meetings that you might not otherwise have been involved in. By showing an interest in the context and the application of something, you’ll at the very least learn something new that you can apply at a later date, and at best create an opportunity to be involved in something new and meet new people.

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

Build your personal network and attend events if you can. The tech sector is such an open and collaborative community, which is what I love about it. There are so many events where people share their experiences and knowledge that there’s always something new to learn and someone new to meet. And you never know where those connections or that knowledge will lead you.

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

Yes. I think it’s improving but barriers still exist. The awareness raised on this topic over the last 10 years has played a huge part in inspiring women to undertake STEM related courses and to start or move into roles within tech companies. There’s also an incredible number of tech start-ups, with increasing demand for talent and many that are advocates and champions of diversity in their teams, which is fantastic to see.

However, barriers and lack of representation still exists for women in senior leadership and board positions within the tech sector. Studies show that those companies with women in senior positions perform better financially and have higher levels of overall innovation; so the business case for wider representation is there.

We need to normalise it by celebrating and showcasing the successes and achievements of those women working within IT. Offer a platform and a voice, and insist that you have a mixed representation of speakers.

Encourage those within our networks, businesses, and circles to aim as high as they want. Start the business. Apply for the role, the funding, the training budget. Seek a mentor and where time permits, become a mentor, and share your experiences.

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

Don’t make diversity a check-box exercise – really understand the importance and the benefits that having a diverse team brings to the business and the people working within it. The saying ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ is very valid in this case. Having women in management and leadership positions, in all areas of business, is key to inspiring others to join and to elevate within their roles.

Invest in their growth and future in their role-based skills, soft skills, and their wellness. Offer women the opportunities to be internal and external speakers – hear their journeys, their challenges, their suggestions, and ideas. And pay them equally.

Flexible working is also a huge consideration for people with dependents or different productivity patterns. Businesses should utilise the multitude of tools and apps created to facilitate remote, hybrid and flexible working. The studies show the benefits in time, cost, productivity, and work/life balance that flexible working offers, and businesses will be left behind if they don’t start to embrace it.

And to women looking to advance – apply for the role! Don’t wait until you tick every box on the ‘requirements’ list – few do, so throw your hat in the ring. Companies – stop creating unnecessary lists of long role requirements. Hire for competency but also for passion, aptitude, diversity, drive and hunger – these are the people that will grow your business.

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?

Start earlier with education and expand people’s understanding of what the tech sector is and all it encompasses – both the businesses within it and the roles required to support it. If we look at schools and those students starting to think about their careers. How many young kids understand how to use mobile apps? Many. But how many understand how those apps are built – the roles required to build and support it and the careers they offer? Many perhaps wont. And if you don’t know what a project manager, software engineer, business analyst, automation engineer, or user experience designer does, let alone if those roles exist, how can you aspire to be one?

There is a definite skills shortage in the UK tech industry, so wider access to training and skills development and awareness of the associated career paths, is key to inspiring people to join. And It’s such a fantastic, collaborative, and inspiring community – there are so many amazing businesses pushing the boundaries of innovation and utilising the application of technology for the greater good. Who wouldn’t want to join!

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Websites / online networking

https://www.northernpowerwomen.com

https://www.forwardladies.com/

Books:

Dare to Lead – Brene Brown

The Chimp Paradox – Steve Peters

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F* – Mark Manson

Never Split the Difference – Chris Voss


Cloe Atkinson featured

Inspirational Woman: Cloe Atkinson | Managing Director, Mortgage Engine

Cloe AtkinsonCloe Atkinson is managing director of Mortgage Engine, a fintech harnessing the power of APIs to the simplify the mortgage process and improve customer journeys, founded in 2018.

Previously, she was former Head of Mortgage Transformation and Controls at Santander.

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

I am an accountant by trade and began my career in retail banking. I joined the mortgage team at Santander in 2007 where I took on an innovation role in change-management. To cut a long story short, this gave me the opportunity to co-launch Mortgage Engine.

I founded Mortgage Engine because we recognised that open finance technology, like APIs, has the potential to truly innovate and connect the mortgage market. Now as managing director, I’m proud of what we’ve created in a short space of time. The growing cross-industry interest in digital solutions, accelerated by the pandemic, means this is an exciting time for the team and we’re building our presence as a result.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

At my school career’s day, there were really only two jobs I considered: being an air hostess (because I love travelling) and being an accountant. My aunt is an accountant and she was a big influence in my career planning. She is someone I look up to and as a young woman I found her success empowering.

I became an accountant and I was fortunate enough to start out in a very supportive and encouraging environment. Santander’s “Accelerating You” programme is designed to promote diversity in the organisation and the scheme helped give me the confidence I needed to put myself forward for Mortgage Engine.

It’s easy to assume that if you work really hard at a job you will automatically progress get onto the next level. While this is true to a certain extent, I quickly learnt that that to be successful you really need to take your career in hand.

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

Having children can present a real challenge for women in the workplace because, in my experience, there’s unfortunately still people who will make outdated assumptions. When I first returned from maternity leave, I was working part time and my manager implied that ‘real’ work wasn’t for me.

This mentality in the workplace can be one of the greatest challenges that women face. The underlying attitude being that once you have children, you stop being an integral part of the team. I had to overcame this, as many other women have too, and it’s often not an easy thing to do.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

My biggest achievement has to be the successful launch of Mortgage Engine. Introducing the first active APIs into a market, which has traditionally been so slow to embrace new technology has been an incredibly exciting and rewarding experience. Our mission to connect lenders, brokers and consumers is going well, but it’s only just beginning. There’s plenty more work to be done!

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

I think having a strong network has been key to my success. One of the strengths of in-house diversity programmes is that they bring people together who wouldn’t usually cross paths and as a result, I’ve had access to a wealth of advice and support that I could rely upon. But maintaining a network is a two-way process. It’s always important to think about what kind of useful information you can give back, as well as helping to connect other people in your network.

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

First and foremost, believe in yourself – it may sound like just a slogan, but it’s not. Research shows that women are a lot less likely to apply for jobs if they don’t meet even one requirement on the job description, whereas men are more likely to apply. It’s important that women put themselves forward, especially in more traditionally male-dominated fields, like tech.

The second tip would be to trust your gut. Nine times out of ten, your gut instinct is right and making a decision based on it usually leads to the most effective results. Sitting on difficult decisions and procrastinating is not useful in a fast-moving industry.

Thirdly, allow yourself to fail. I love the saying ‘if toddlers gave up the first time they fell over, then none of us would be able to walk’. Unfortunately, when we fall as adults it’s too tempting to just give up instead. Tech is an industry defined by trying new things – not everything works all of the time, but when it does it takes us forward.

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

I believe that the current recruitment processes used by many companies in the tech industry can act as a barrier to women. In my experience, men are often better at advocating for themselves in interviews. We’ve identified this at Mortgage Engine and have changed our recruitment process to incorporate a task-based assessment, which we think this gives everyone a fairer shot, because the assessment is based on ability and competence rather than the candidate’s ability to sell themself.

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

Companies need to do more to empower women to succeed. Whether that involves promoting mixed gender teams, supporting women returning from maternity, or revamping their recruitment processes, every company can make a difference. Waiting for change to happen organically will lead us nowhere, so leaders need to take the initiative and push the diversity agenda forward.

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?

If I had a magic wand, I would use it to target unconscious bias. We need to change attitudes and challenge outdated assumptions on an individual level to encourage more women to join male-dominated industries, like tech. To truly shift attitudes, education has to start in the classroom.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech

WeAreTechWomen is the best place to start!


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


Dan Zinkin

HeForShe: Dan Zinkin | Managing Director & Head of Tech for Global Investment & Corporate Banking, J.P. Morgan

Dan ZinkinA 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.

Outside of JPMorgan, Dan was a co-founder of SimGuard, a (failed) mobile tech startup in the first dotcom phase ('98-'01). Dan received a B.A. in International History & Politics from the University of Leeds, England.

Why do you support the HeForShe campaign? For example – have you witnessed the benefits that diversity can bring to a workplace?

It’s crazy we have to ask that question! Who wouldn’t support efforts to drive a more inclusive environment? The evidence is clear that more diverse firms deliver better results and morally and socially it’s clearly the right thing to do. I have personally witnessed and benefited from a more diverse workplace, seeing the culture, perspectives and impact of my team improve as we have grown our female leadership. That said it didn’t and shouldn’t take witnessing it personally to believe and take action to address the inequalities and inequities of the past. Anyone who somehow still needs persuading should go read Caroline Criado Perez’s awesome book “Invisible Women” to get some perspective.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

Pretty much every injustice in the world that has been addressed (or at least made meaningful progress) has required those with power or privilege to support those without. It is incumbent on men to be key sponsors, mentors, enablers, barrier-removers and change agents.

More specifically in the workplace: do you want your company and your specific team to perform better? If so, the data is pretty clear that diversity will have a positive impact on your results.

How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?

Within JPMorgan we have multiple initiatives for different levels of experience and roles (e.g. Tech versus Finance etc). My experience has been fantastic working with multiple programs and have had the opportunity to listen and learn to better understand the challenges, as well as provide mentoring, support and lead initiatives to drive change.

Externally it takes a little more effort, which is fair, to demonstrate you are there to help and drive change, not just build profile or talk. Incidentally, I do think the proliferation of overlapping initiatives is partly due to people wanting to be the leader and get the credit and over time I think to really drive change there will need to be some scaling up of the most impactful organizations.

In any case, men are likely still more welcome in these conversations than women are in many business contexts, so let’s focus on fixing that.

Do you think groups/networks that include the words “women in…” or “females in…” make men feel like gender equality isn’t really their problem or something they need to help with?

It is a really interesting question. I co-founded and ran a program (Associate Women’s Program) for almost 6yrs at JPMorgan for mid-career women specifically targeting the next promotion and ever year 2 things happened: at least one female participant would tell me that they resented the fact we had created this program specifically for women as they did not “need special help” to progress; and some number of men would complain to me how unfair it was that they did not have the same help to get promoted. I would always answer simply by pointing them to the data showing clearly that historically men were more likely to get promoted (outperforming their proportion of any mid/senior level). The program made a measurable difference, but there remains a long way to go.
More broadly, I think the growth of programs such as JPMorgan’s “Men as Allies” does bring home the message that men need to play a role but needs to reach more people.

What can businesses do to encourage more men to feel welcome enough to get involved in the gender debate?

I think successful men and women in business get involved in many things where they don’t initially feel welcome. They dive in because they see a problem or opportunity to grow or protect their business. Diversity needs to be seen through that lens. It is an imperative, not soft, side issue.

Do you currently mentor any women or have you in the past?

I mentor multiple women, some formally and others informally. Mentoring done well is a two-way street and mentors learn as much as they share.
I also led JPMorgan to become the sponsor of Finding Ada’s Network – a mentoring platform – where 50 JPMorgan female employees mentor a diverse range of external women in STEM.

Have you noticed any difference in mentoring women – for example, are women less likely to put themselves forward for jobs that are out of their comfort zones or are women less likely to identify senior roles that they would be suited for?

I have personally seen real-life confirmation of many of the clichés we hear about women opting out of promotions, or not being willing to ask for what they deserve (roles, pay, opportunities etc). Interestingly I have also noticed a misplaced (in my view) belief that the “right thing” will happen without them having to speak up or make it happen. Maybe as teams become more diverse, with more women in leadership roles noticing things that today’s predominantly male leaders may miss, that will become true, but for now, the old rules generally apply and hope/belief is not a good strategy.


WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of HeForShe interviews, including Christian Edelmann, George Brasher, Stephen Mercer and many more. You can read about all the amazing men championing gender equality here


Susan Lin featured

Inspirational Woman: Susan Lin | Managing Director, This Place

Susan LinSusan is the Managing Director of This Place, a Digital Design and Strategy Agency that specialises in retail.

Susan leads This Place on a mission not only to deliver great digital experiences for the businesses that they partner with, but to do it in a way that makes a positive social impact on the world. Susan is passionate about building a business that is centered on inclusion and diversity, and is keen to share and learn from others with the same passion. Prior to joining This Place, Susan led the strategy practice at digital product consultancy Made by Many for a number of years. She also spent many years in financial services, building and launching digital products and services globally.

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

Hello! I’m Susan Lin, currently the Managing Director of This Place. We’re a digital retail agency founded in London, and we partner with clients all over the world to solve complex business challenges by providing digital design and strategy expertise. Prior to my current role, I ran the strategy team at digital product consultancy Made by Many for a number of years. I also spent a number of years in financial services, working in a range of product, innovation and transformation roles. I was born in Taiwan (English is my third language!), grew up in New Zealand, and have spent nearly a decade in London. In the before times, I was most often found in the mountains somewhere in the world!

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No! I have always followed my heart. I chose roles, organisations, and even countries to live in, based on how excited I was by the opportunity - whether it’s the chance to learn, to contribute, to work with great people, or to make a profound difference in areas of interest - ideally a combination of all the above!

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

So many to choose from! One that always stayed with me happened really early on in my career. I was a young graduate from university, placed in a leadership role to run a bank branch for a number of months. The team didn’t want me there (some hated me!) - they wanted their old manager back and not this fresh grad who didn’t know what she was doing.

I spent months building up the teams’ trust and confidence - by taking the =me to learn from their experiences, and by understanding their motivations and needs. After a few months, I managed to build solid relationships with them, and even helped to progress the professional goals of some of the team, and they threw a big lunch for me when I left!

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I’m most proud of what we’re doing at This Place at the moment. Growing (not just surviving!) through the pandemic, and supporting our clients to tackle difficult challenges and adapt through these unprecedented times. Most importantly, seeing how our teams come together, look out for each other and our culture over the past few months has made me feel very proud.

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

Optimism and resilience.

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

Find your tribe - follow what you’re most passionate about, surround yourself with people and organisations who are as excited as you are about your areas of passion.

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

There are still significant barriers for women in tech. The level of investment female founders receive versus their male counterparts, is one clear example of this. There are no simple answers here, however closing the female representation gap is a great place to start.

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

Provide greater access to everyone to make decisions that affect them - whether it’s about their roles, their progression, their work, or the company culture - invite conversations, and listen. Be very intentional about the changes you want to make.

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?

My magic wand would bring to life the alternative future that the world would have if more women were represented in all areas of society.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Random assortment of podcast/book/organisation recommendations: Tech for Good, Ada’s List, Women In Tech, Reply All, 99% Invisible, How I Built This, Tough Girl, The Curious Climber, Invisible Women.


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


Fariha Shah featured

Inspirational Woman: Fariha Shah | Co-Founder & Managing Director, Golden Bees

Fariha Shah Aged 35, Fariha Shah is co-founder and Managing Director of Golden Bees, the first smart candidate targeting solution using recruitment advertising.

In 2015, after 8 years in the e-commerce advertising sector, Fariha is leveraging her expertise in Golden Bees, which she co-founded, to help the online job market become more fluid thanks to technology.

Tell us a little about yourself and your role

I’m a non-tech girl in a tech world. I founded Golden Bees, an Adtech/HRtech company 6 years ago in France. My company is an innovative custom-crafted advertising solution for online recruitment, that uses technologies with state-of-the-art algorithms, supported by candidate data. Our technology allows recruiters to reach candidates of any kind, whether they are looking for a job or not thanks to our programmatic recruitment platform which is linked up to all relevant online media to display job ads all over the web. Today, Golden Bees has more than 300 clients in France and the UK and is one of the fastest growing companies in Europe according to the Financial Times.

My role is to identify new opportunities for Golden Bees and to create strong added value tech solutions to solve problems while generating profits by putting the right resources in the right places. Otherwise, I’m an entrepreneur.

As for my background, I’ve evolved in the AdTech ecosystem before launching my own company.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Not really. My career is everything but a plan, it’s more a logical evolution. I worked as an employee for eight years in three different companies before launching Golden Bees. In each company I created my own position: a new job with new challenges that were always strongly oriented on performance and results. I still didn’t know I would one day become a tech entrepreneur.

One day, the founder of a fast growing ad tech startup asked me to join him, to develop the company. I felt that was the perfect fit for me, so I said yes. I took my first steps in the entrepreneurial world. That was the trigger. 3 months later, I was launching my own company.

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

Yes I have. I remember that I tried to get jobs in big companies when I started my career. Most of the time, I was rejected. I remember that I badly wanted a job in a trendy company a few years ago. It was one of the biggest French media groups. They said no, for a reason that I still don’t know. This same group acquired my company a few years later.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

The biggest achievement for me wasn't the launch of my company: that was the easy part. The true achievement is definitely our performance. Golden Bees has achieved +3000% of growth in 4 years while being profitable. It’s mainly because of our client retention rate which is up to 80%. More than an achievement, it’s a pride to have our client enact as our ambassadors who trust and recommend us.

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

I think the fact that I spent less time on PowerPoint presentations and a sophisticated Business Plan, and more on product development and performances was definitely a game changer. It’s important to understand your product in detail, but also to know what’s the purpose and how it will be used so that you can then focus on its improvement.

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

Don’t put barriers in your mind. That’s the only reason why most of the people don’t cross the line. Evolving in the Tech field doesn’t mean you need to be a Data Scientist or MIT Engineer. There are a lot of jobs connected around tech. The only challenge you really need to take on is to learn how the technology works. And it never has been so accessible as today.

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

I don’t really believe that there are barriers for success for women working in tech. The only barriers we face is ourselves. If you have the skills needed for the job, it doesn't matter if you're a man or a woman, at the end of the day, the only thing that will make the difference is your performance.

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

The probability of hiring women in tech fields are low, because the number of female IT profiles are low. Companies have a major role to improve the numbers if they invest in professional transitions and training courses for instance.

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

I will add tech as a subject for study at every school in the world. Everything starts with education. Even the mindset changes.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

So many! But they will be the same resources as for men. If I had to choose one, I would recommend the biography of Elon Musk, this guy is impressive and inspiring. For both men AND women.


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


Inger Paus featured

Inspirational Woman: Inger Paus | Chairwoman, Vodafone Foundation & Managing Director, Vodafone Institute for Society and Communications

Inger Paus

Inger Paus is responsible for Vodafone Germany’s corporate responsibility strategy.

She is Chairwoman of the Management Board of the ​Vodafone Foundation Germany and Managing Director of the Vodafone Institute for Society and Communications. Inger is based in Berlin.

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

I have the pleasure of heading the Vodafone Foundation Germany and the Vodafone Institute for Society and Communications, the European Think Tank of the Vodafone Group for the past three years. For me, this is truly a dream job. It allows me and my colleagues to research how digitisation can benefit the common good and to set up prototype projects such as F-LANE, our accelerator program for female empowerment or education programs such as Coding For Tomorrow at the same time. Before I joined Vodafone, I worked 14 years for Microsoft in diverse roles in communications, CSR and Public Affairs. I always wanted to be in the media and tech industry as I knew early on: This is the place where you can have a global impact and change the world – hopefully for the better.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I didn’t plan my career strategically. I simply did what I was best in: Communicating and connecting people. I was lucky enough to accidently find the perfect degree program for myself at the University of the Arts in Berlin – Communication in Economic and Social Context. And I was lucky to meet inspirational people who supported me in finding the right jobs at the right time. Mostly these jobs felt like a stretch at first, but they helped me to grow my self-confidence.

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

For sure! How could one grow without challenges? At the beginning it was mostly a lack of self-confidence that I had to overcome. But the higher you climb on the “career ladder” the fiercer the competition – which I naively underestimated completely as that’s not the way I function. I am a collaborator and a big fan of swarm intelligence. I had to realize that many colleagues play by other rules and then you need to decide if you want to pick the fight or search for your next adventure.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

First and foremost, building great teams and supporting people, the majority of them women, to develop and grow – personally and professionally. Early on I had the chance to manage people, which I am grateful for. Furthermore, I am proud that I was able to build digital skills programs together with my teams at Microsoft and at Vodafone that had a great impact on youth, girls in particular. We need to make sure that women design, develop, utilize tech to create a better world and not stand on the side-lines watching how the guys are defining the rules.

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

Definitely optimism and the belief that everything that happens has a deeper sense and provides a learning opportunity. But you never walk alone: Clearly, mentors played a key role in my career as well great colleagues, who supported me all along the way. A key thing I learned is that the network and friendships you’ve built throughout career is your social capital. Make sure that you invest a good chunk of your time to foster these relationships.

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

Curiosity is key. I read a lot and talk a lot with experts in the tech sector, science, politics and civil society. I always want to understand the latest trend in tech and how they play out in the economy, society and politics. To realize the full potential of technology you need to understand the different dimensions and connect the dots.

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

If you want to convince more women to seek a career on the tech sector you need to start very early – actually in kindergarten and primary school. One of the learnings from the educational programs I have established is: If you don’t excite girls for technology before they enter puberty – it is often too late.

Furthermore: You need female role models. Imagine if Bill Gates and Steve Jobs would have been women! We would by no means have a debate on the lack of female talent in tech. That’s one reason why we started F-LANE. And surely a main reason why “Women in Tech” was set up.

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

Actually, I am tired of the lip service of politics and the private sector. Let’s walk the talk, let’s simply do it. Promote great women at scale and double down on getting at least 50% women on the boards. Vodafone does a lot in this space, e.g. by starting the campaign “Change the Face” in Tech, but as most companies in the sector, we still have a long way to go as well.

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

Set up a multi-billion-euro global fund to support female tech entrepreneurs. The VC market is actually a market failure when it comes to funding women-lead ventures. If we want to change that, we need big money. Period.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Media

Azeem Azhar – Exponential view newsletter and podcast

MIT Review and Wired (still)

NYT Tech section

Economist (not just the tech section!)

Books

Jaron Lanier - Who owns the future?

Maria Mazzucato - The value of everything

Events/Networking:

Websummit

DLD


WeAreTheCity has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Cherie Blair, Paula Radcliffe MBE, Caprice Bourret, Anna Williamson and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here

 


George Brasher

HeForShe: George Brasher | Managing Director, HP UK & Ireland

George BrasherAs Managing Director UK&I, George is responsible for all consumer and commercial printers and PCs, mobile devices, workstations, thin clients, services, solutions and go-to-market activities, for the UK and Ireland. 

Brasher has more than 25 years of experience working at HP in a variety of roles. Immediately prior to his relocation to the UK, he was Vice President & General Manager of the WW Laser Printer business and LES Marketing & Strategy based in California.  Prior to that, he held a variety of leadership roles within HP spanning multiple regions and functions including  Vice President and General Manager of the US Printing and Supplies Category, responsible for the product portfolios and go-to-market strategies for Inkjet and LaserJet Printers and Supplies across both commercial and consumer business segments in the US.

Brasher also served as Vice President of LaserJet Supplies in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, responsible for managing the portfolio profit and loss, category strategy, business development and channel management in the region.  Prior to that, he held leadership roles in the Americas region, including vice president of the LaserJet Supplies and Transactional LaserJet Printer Category and vice president of the Inkjet Supplies Category business.

Brasher began his career with HP in 1990 as a financial analyst and, in addition to Category roles, has also served as sales manager for the Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club Sales Team in the US Consumer Business.

Brasher holds a Bachelor’s degree in business from Baylor University and Master’s degree in business administration from Pennsylvania State University.

Why do you support the HeForShe campaign?

I’m a firm believer that the more points of view a business can draw on, the better its products and the company as a whole will be.

Currently, women comprise only 17 per cent of the UK tech workforce. Over one hundred years on from women gaining the vote in Britain, the shortfall of women in the UK tech workforce is unacceptable, and we have to work together as an industry, to attract and retain more women.

What’s more given the rapid growth in the sector, striving towards gender parity and bridging the country’s digital skills gaps can help fuel business and economic growth, and securing Britain’s place as global leader in digital innovation.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

I’m passionate about encouraging everyone to embrace gender equality in the workplace – and by extension, in all other areas of life. HP has the most diverse Board of Directors in Silicon Valley, and almost a third of our executives (director and above) are women.

However, we still struggle with a gender imbalance and addressing the under-representation of women is a priority for HP and me personally.

Here in the UK , we’ve recently made commitments to addressing this imbalance including: ensuring women account for at least 50 per cent of our intern intake; introducing a ‘Returners Programme’ to encourage women to re-enter the workforce after time away; and investing in unconscious bias training. We’re also a proud signatory of the Tech Talent Charter, and have recently redoubled our commitment by becoming a board member.

But there’s still a long way to go! And to get there, we need everyone on side.

How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?

Speaking from my own experience as a man involved in the gender equality conversation, I feel not only welcome but inspired to involve others too.

I recently hosted a roundtable discussion on the barriers women face to joining the UK tech industry, and how together we can attract more women into the industry at every level. It was held in partnership with The Fawcett Society and Tech Talent Charter and brought together policymakers, business figures and, most importantly, young women.

For me personally, it was a proud moment to be able to share HP’s platform. All leaders, regardless of gender, have a responsibility to champion this cause and amplify the voices of the under-represented, who may otherwise go unheard.

Do you think groups/networks that include the words “women in…” or “females in…” make men feel like gender equality isn’t really their problem or something they need to help with?

Groups and networks defined in gendered terms provide a safe space for women to be included. As women are an under-represented demographic – specifically in the UK tech workforce – I support this, even if it does deter some men.

Looking at the bigger picture, though, the language we use to talk about this issue has changed. Now, we talk about ‘gender equality’ rather than ‘women’s rights’ – this reflects the fact that it’s not an issue that’s isolated to one gender, as it impacts everyone.

What can businesses do to encourage more men to feel welcome enough to get involved in the gender debate?

Leadership must keep gender equality elevated on the boardroom agenda. HP and all tech businesses have to remain accountable, continually setting ourselves goals and measurable targets to address the dire gender imbalance within UK tech. What gets measured, gets done.

For businesses, there’s both a moral imperative and a fundamental commercial imperative to address this issue. By incorporating action on gender equality into the day-to-day operations of a business (e.g. in hiring and buying policies) men will be automatically be involved.

Do you currently mentor any women or have you in the past?

I firmly believe in the benefits of mentoring, through both formal and informal arrangements. We need to elevate rising stars, building and broadening their skills to support them in realising their potential to be leaders of tomorrow. This is particularly important among under-represented groups – including women. Personally, I have many mentees.

Have you noticed any difference in mentoring women – for example, are women less likely to put themselves forward for jobs that are out of their comfort zones or are women less likely to identify senior roles that they would be suited for?

Mentoring shouldn’t be isolated to the business context. Early intervention is essential for encouraging girls to study STEM, preparing them for the jobs of the future and hopefully, building their confidence to pursue careers in the field.

According to new research commissioned by HP, one in five women who didn’t choose to study STEM said it was because they ‘didn’t know anything about it’. What’s more, 32 per cent of women who aren’t in technical roles said it was because they felt underqualified, This suggests negative associations with, or an initial lack of interest in, STEM start early and persist into adulthood.

The advantage of tech is that it is everywhere in our day-to-day lives. We can all be mentors, by empowering girls to interact with tech – and importantly, making sure they feel supported to choose to study STEM subjects.

Our research showed that when it comes to women’s career influences, family came out on top (46 per cent). There’s also an important role for parents and guardians to play here in communicating to children – particularly girls –  that these career paths are open to them.