Lexi Willetts and Marina Pengilly featured

Inspirational Woman: Marina Pengilly | CMO & Co-Founder, Little Black Door

Lexi Willetts and Marina PengillyMarina Pengilly is a South African entrepreneur based in London.

Former founder of lifestyle brand Who Loves You and retail consultant, Marina is the CMO and co-founder of Little Black Door. She has a passion for sustainability and nurturing and growing communities.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I did! I wrote a business plan when I was 16 and I drew it out on an A3 card. Sustainability and nurturing communities were at the core of it and it had several concepts that were under the overarching business which consisted of fish farms, renewable energy, affordable housing, and so on. This card is pinned inside my wardrobe, it is now a little worn around the edges but it has moved with me and is a constant reminder that one can do anything if you put your mind to it.

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

Countless. The most prominent one I would say was my first ever business, Who Loves You. Who Loves You was a healthy eatery based in Chelsea. I founded it when I was 24 without having any restaurant experience. For me, I saw it as an MBA in entrepreneurialism. I made so many mistakes and due to my naivety was taken advantage of. However, from this experience, I created a consultancy that helped to launch start-ups. Challenges should be embraced, each one I have endured has provided invaluable lessons and formed intellectual capital, which impacts every decision I make not only professionally but personally as well.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

1p of £1 of investment goes into female-founded businesses. Starting a business is no easy feat. We gave up paid jobs and sold all our designer goods to fund the business during the months we were conceptualizing LBD. For me, the biggest achievement was when we secured our pre-seed funding, for the real journey and development started there.

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

I put it down to the working partnership I have with Lexi. We push each other and set the bar high.

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

Tech is an awesome industry to work in, no day is ever the same and it is an industry that is constantly evolving. Depending on your skillset my advice would be, reach out to individuals who can help, I have done this via LinkedIn, Instagram, and Instagram. You would be surprised by the amount of time people are willing to give. Make sure if you use this approach, you have specialized questions. My other advice would be, up-skill where possible! There are amazing platforms where you can develop your skills or learn new ones. Just because you work in marketing, doesn't mean you can't learn Python. They are not mutually exclusive! I found youtube and Udemy to be extremely useful for this.

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

You don't need to be a coder to work in tech. Within Tech, there are many different areas where you can contribute, marketing, graphics, coding, etc. I feel that there is a misconception about the kinds of roles that exist in tech and the lack of known accessible female role models doesn't help either. However I feel that this is changing, from when I was growing up compared to students now, tech is an industry that is so in one's daily arena. Every day, we are engaging with and playing with platforms that I feel they would hope to work for one day.

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

Companies should view gender equality as a strategic priority and one that is integrated into the day to day operations.

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

Relying on the industry to change is not the answer. As a business working in tech, we all have a part to play. As a business initiative, providing awareness of the industry to women has been a passionate one for us. We created a digital work experience last year, and so far have helped over 100 students from several schools across the country. Through this work experience, they have had exposure to what it is like to work in tech. Many of which are now considering placements in tech.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Communities: Women In Tech, Girls in Tech Global, Women in Innovation,

Networking events: Tech Crunch, BeautyStack, Women in Data

Podcasts: How I Built This with Guy Raz, On Purpose with Jay Shetty,

Websites: the modems, TechCrunch, ProductHunt, Linkedin

Books: The Lean Startup: How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries, Girl Code: Unlocking the Secrets to Success, Sanity, and Happiness for the Female Entrepreneur by Cara Alwill Leyba, Pivot: The Only Move That Matters is Your Next One, Dare to Lead by Brene Brown.


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