women in tech, soft skills featured

New year, new you? Try sharpening the tools you already have

women in tech, soft skills

The New Year often carries with it promises to make vast changes in our professional and personal lives, with January heralding calls of ‘this will be my year!’.

But, rather than trying to completely reinvent yourself, it’s often better to work with the skills you’ve already got within your midst.

Take Q2Q IT as an example. Managing director, Lorna Stellakis, is a strong advocate for optimising the infrastructure you already have at your disposal – be it tech or talent – and here, she explains how you can too.

Resolutions and rituals are often set with the best of intentions but can often be broken should the implementation not be ‘easy’. While making a change will always cause some disruption to the norm, in many cases a grand shift isn’t the answer.

Often, simply exploring the capabilities of something you already have – or pay for – can revolutionise your life. And, in terms of tech, this could be extracting every ounce of value from a product or service, by understanding all of its respective ‘bells and whistles’.

When purchasing, you might plump for an ‘add on’ service – a relatively small extra investment which could result in considerably more value to the system or equipment.

And, as a very people-focused business leader, I believe this also applies to colleagues.

With the exception of our admin staff, the team at Q2Q are all highly skilled techies, and the main purpose of their day-to-day role is creating solutions for clients, as well as solving any IT-related issues which crop up.

However, if we stuck to the stereotypical techie role profile, you could stop there and generalise their work as simply ‘doing technical stuff’. And I am sure the company owners reading this will identify with such a sentiment.

When I took over the reins of the Q2Q ship in 2018, I made it my mission to delve further into each one of my colleagues – their skillsets, motivations for coming to work, and what they see as ‘a job well done’.

By understanding what makes them tick – their preferred ways of working, and what they’re passionate about – I could quickly see they were each capable of adding additional value to the business, that wasn’t already being utilised.

In fact, we all have skills beyond those required in our basic job description.

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Talent within the team

Take our technical consultant Damien Gelder as an example. He is a whiz at coming up with analogies that perfectly explain a complex issue in an easy-to-understand way. He uses this talent in all sorts of situations too, and we see it called upon on a daily basis – particularly when trying to introduce a new product to a client that we believe will make their lives easier, or giving a non-technical demonstrations of a service to a prospect.

On the other hand, Ash Williams, our technical support engineer, has an obsessive attention to detail and is extremely methodical in the way he works. So, if we need a complex project scoping out, we call on his expertise to ensure all the steps are ticked off and there are no stages missed.

Phil Irwin, another of our technical support engineers, has strong people skills and is great at seeing a variety of perspectives in any given situation, which translates perfectly into relating to our clients. That’s why he’s our ‘customer excellence champion’ and, if we’re looking to alter any of our processes, he’s our ‘go to’ when it comes to sense-checking changes.

Then, regarding seeing themes in IT-related situations, technical support engineer Harrison Burke comes into his own during our team meetings! We rely on him to highlight where there is a recurring pattern and offer solutions to nip this in the bud, by rolling out new internal processes to all customers.

In fact, all the of the team now have a specialism that is predominantly non-technical!

Not only does this add something extra to the firm’s dynamic – by playing to everyone’s strengths – but it adds value to the service we offer and gives everyone a sense of purpose beyond just doing their job.

So, while I’m not sure that I could get away with describing the Q2Q crew as: “tools that previously needed sharpening,”, that’s essentially what we’ve done!

Making the most of what you have is not only a cost-effective and time-efficient way of making sure you’re getting the maximum out of existing investments, but also identifying where you may need to plug any gaps.

That’s why, it’s worth having an IT reassessment, or audit, every year – or six months if you’re growing rapidly – to make sure it’s continuing to do what you need it to.

If you’d like to chat to us about any of the additional services mentioned above – or you have any other questions about what’s possible from your IT setup – give us a call on 01524 581690, or drop us a direct message!

About the author

Lorna Stellakis, MD of Q2Q ITMy role is to provide the overall direction and “eye on the compass” as to where we, as a team are heading, setting the overall business strategy and financial budgeting. Whilst always having been involved with systems implementation throughout my career, I have an operational background and no specific IT experience. However, if anything, I believe this makes me more qualified to ensure the team deliver great service, drawing from my operations experience, and having been on the wrong side of poor IT support in the past. I can relate to how crippling this can be to a business, making it paramount that we ensure that IT issues are as invisible as possible, leaving the customers to get on with running their businesses smoothly.


woman holding a like a boss mug, kickstart your career

How to kickstart your fulfilling career in 2022

woman holding a like a boss mug, kickstart your career

Janice Burns, Chief Career Experience Officer at Degreed, discusses how you can get ahead in your purpose-driven career in 2022.

It has, undoubtedly, been a tough time in the workplace and ensuring your career’s survival might’ve been your top priority over the past few months. But as we enter 2022, you have an opportunity to take stock and reflect on how you’d like to move forward in your career. It’s worth thinking about what a fulfilling career means to you – what it looks like, how you can get there, and who can support you with your goals.

Becoming your own career architect

My career has been transformed over and over. In the early days, I wanted to become a psychologist. Then, I became a public school teacher, and eventually, I entered the corporate world as a marketer, HR leader and eventually, Chief Learning Officer at Mastercard. Now, I’m the Chief Career Experience Officer at Degreed, a role that I shaped myself and that involves working with leaders in Fortune 500 companies, to help them support their workers in a personal and authentic way.

What links this all is courage, the ability to adapt and learn, and an understanding of the art and science of career management. The first step in building a fulfilling career is to become your own career architect. To know how to design a career with a strong foundation and structure, and that challenges and excites you.

Get used to pivoting

Pivoting is something once associated with the start-up world. Now, it’s par for the course. The pandemic caused widespread pivoting, both company-wide and individually. We saw automotive manufacturers like Ford switch to ventilator production, perfume factories create hand sanitizer, and airlines redeploy cabin crew as healthcare assistants. You can use this momentum to pivot your own career.

Of course, many of these moves during the pandemic were done out of necessity. But in 2022, it will be much easier to switch careers, shift industries, and explore new horizons because of the way we adapted in 2020 and 2021. Whereas before, a hiring manager may have thought twice about a candidate from another sector, this is something more commonplace now. 6.1 per cent of those employed between January to March and April to June 2020 changed jobs during the first half of 2020, compared to 5.7 per cent the year before. Of those who switched jobs, 52.5 per cent moved into another industry. Simply put, massive job shifts will no longer raise eyebrows – and therein lies the opportunity to take a leap for your career.

Five steps to a fulfilling career

However you choose to shape your career, I always recommend following the same five fundamental steps:

Follow your passion

My early passion for understanding and helping humans is my north star. It carried me through training to be a clinical psychologist, to then becoming a teacher. In this role, I first encountered what true educational inequality is like – and its lifelong impact. And this led me onto a new path, to challenge this systemic problem.

Through teaching, marketing, and being the Chief Learning Officer at Mastercard, I’ve now become the Chief Career Experience Officer at Degreed – and I’ve had to make some tough decisions along the way. But my passion always provided a framework for my decision-making, even when the pull of recognition and remuneration was strong.

Understand your value – and develop your skills to increase this

My next career step after teaching took me into a one-year management training programme in a bank. I recognised the value of my analytical and psychology skills combined and wanted to use this to differentiate myself.

After the programme, I chose to enter the marketing department at the bank as it offered the closest fit between analysing and influencing human behaviour. I enjoyed this role for many years before joining Mastercard as a product manager. Over almost three decades, I shaped my contribution at Mastercard into something that drew on my unique skillset (as well as offer personal and professional satisfaction). This translated into leading Mastercard’s diversity effort – and Mastercard eventually made it onto Diversityinc’s top 50 employers list.

All of this started with my skills – with me taking a hard look at what skills I had and what I could bring to the table. I combined this with understanding where I wanted to go and what I wanted to achieve. And then I built the skills and experience that I was missing, through different work tasks, talking to people, and formal/informal learning.

Find your career tribe

One effective way to learn new skills and build your career is to turn to your network. Find people who can act as mentors, sponsors, advocates and supporters, then leverage their skills and knowledge to become better at your work.

Seek out the people who share the same vision and who are willing to work with you to achieve the same mission. In my career, this took various forms, from Mastercard’s CEO and Chief HR Officer, who encouraged my strategic thinking, to David Blake, co-founder of Degreed and Learn In and co-author of The Expertise Economy, who shared my vision for learning equality.

Understand that everyone you meet along your career journey has a lesson to teach you. They may provide inspiration for your next step, or valuable knowledge for your current role. They may challenge your perspectives and encourage you to continuously grow.

Go for opportunities, even if not quite ready

It’s unfortunately common for women to not take a career opportunity unless they are 100 per cent qualified for them (men, meanwhile, apply when 60 per cent qualified). This is selling yourself short as it doesn’t fully value your career and learning potential. Even if you cannot do all aspects of a job, you can learn.

Conversely, in the current climate, you may have to take on work that doesn’t serve your long-term career goals. You can still learn from this. Transferable and social skills will serve you in any role, help you make significant career shifts, and future proof your career.

Pay it forward

Remember the third step? Well, this is the other side. As you grow your career, who can you bring up with you? Everyone has a skill or lesson to teach. Discover what you can offer your colleagues and then actively seek ways to teach and mentor others.

Your passion is your compass

As you journey along your career path, you won’t know where you’ll end up. And that’s part of the joy of cultivating your career. Every decision, every opportunity, can lead you to new areas. Each new role will take you closer to career fulfilment. Especially if you use your passion as a guide.

Even if you take detours, always return to your original purpose. Consider the legacy that you want to leave the world. For me, that’s making sure that everyone, regardless of their education, degree (or lack of it) and background, has access to the economic market. What’s yours?

Janice BurnsAbout the author

As a human capital futurist and strategist, Janice Robinson Burns develops and implements talent management and development programs that drive business results. She recently joined Degreed as their first Chief Career Experience Officer. Prior to Degreed, Janice spent 27 years at Mastercard, with her most recent role as their Chief Learning Officer. As CLO, she led the design and implementation of employee learning experiences and development programs globally, as well as development of frameworks to advance managerial capabilities and effectiveness. Prior to the CLO role, Janice served as Group Head of Human Resources for the Global Products and Solutions organization and Chief Diversity Officer of Mastercard. She earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration from New York University and a Bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University.


Give people what they need to perform at their best in 2022

Happy New Year, wooden blocks, 2021, 2022

December is usually the time of year when HR departments across the country send the annual ‘employee satisfaction survey’. And, while this attempt to establish staff’s likes and dislikes from the past 12 months is bound to uncover much more than usual this time around – it always leaves business owners with something to think about.

But for Lorna Stellakis, managing director of managed IT support firm, Q2Q, she regularly asks her clients and their colleagues: “Does your company give you the tools and technologies you need to do your job well? Because try as you might, without those, performance will only ever be lacklustre.”

Although business owners might be fearful of the barrage – or complete lack of – feedback when employees are asked to evaluate the suitability of their tech stack, the question is so much more pertinent as we head into a new year – and one where many workspaces morph from a traditional office environment to either a home set-up, or a combination of the two.

As the owner of a technical business, I would use HR departments, company owners, and technical leads to expand that question even further to ask: “Does your team have the necessary equipment and environment that are conducive to providing both a suitable workspace and the tools they need, in order to work smarter and at maximum efficiency?”

From my experience, it can often be a culmination of lots of little things that cause the most frustrations – ultimately leading to disengagement and low morale.

Once such example would be access to the relevant IT systems. It shouldn’t seem like too much to ask, but from a technical perspective, something as simple as having an old laptop that is a little slow to load files and webpages can have a massive impact on productivity.

Team members who begin each day with the frustration of having to wait for a slow machine to fire up – pressing the ‘power’ button and having enough time to make tea and toast – can be compounded by missing deadlines because they didn’t plan the extra ‘loading’ time, or the added stress that a slow machine brings, when being pressed for information quickly.

Meanwhile, from a working environment perspective, consideration should extend far beyond whether a chair, monitor and desk are at optimal working height – but also consider other contributing factors such as space, light, noise, and temperature.

As a business leader, it’s important to put yourself in the shoes of your team and ask whether they’re likely to feel motivated if they are constantly frustrated with their equipment and/or environment?

Like many of our peers, a shift to hybrid working has meant we needed to conduct a complete inventory of all the technical infrastructure we have available in the office to establish a hot desking set-up. While this concept is nothing new, for our techies – who have a lot of hardware – they have previously kept all their work-related collateral in one place. So, lugging it between home and HQ was not an option.

But, by investing in additional items, such as desk phones and monitors, staff can ‘borrow’ whatever they need when working from the office, and leave it behind for their colleagues, the following day.

This small investment means that the team’s day to day isn’t littered with distractions from not being able to function as seamlessly as they would normally. And the return on investment when it comes to our staff satisfaction levels makes it totally worth the cost – I am sure this will pay dividends in the long-run.

While returning to a shared space following eight months of relative isolation can be unnerving, removing the disruption of not having the right kit can make a significant difference. Colleagues feel valued, listened to, and cared for, and this pays back in droves in terms of their dedication and work ethic, and of course, efficiency.

As we all transition to whatever the new version of the working day looks like, a new year is the ideal time to identify where there are any gaps, ask – and answer – the question: “is there something missing that you can easily resolve and would it make a major change to team morale?”

About the author

Lorna Stellakis, MD of Q2Q ITMy role is to provide the overall direction and “eye on the compass” as to where we, as a team are heading, setting the overall business strategy and financial budgeting. Whilst always having been involved with systems implementation throughout my career, I have an operational background and no specific IT experience. However, if anything, I believe this makes me more qualified to ensure the team deliver great service, drawing from my operations experience, and having been on the wrong side of poor IT support in the past. I can relate to how crippling this can be to a business, making it paramount that we ensure that IT issues are as invisible as possible, leaving the customers to get on with running their businesses smoothly.


WeAreTechWomen covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in technology, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here

Don’t forget, you can also follow us via our social media channels for the latest up-to-date gender news. Click to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube


How to start afresh in the new year and put yourself forward for opportunities

Happy New Year, wooden blocks, 2021, 2022

With 2022 on the horizon many people have already started thinking about what they want to accomplish in the forthcoming year, whether that’s personal or professional.

So when the clock strikes twelve on New Year’s Eve it marks a fresh start for all of us.

Recruitment companies claim that between 25% to 50% of us look for jobs in the New Year. What we can be certain of though is that because many businesses have adopted hybrid or remote working, location is less of a factor than it used to be. Today, there has never been such an array of accessible opportunities out there.

With that in mind, we sat down with Jo Shannon, Director of Technology and Design at Ordnance Survey, to discuss the New Year, starting afresh and putting yourself forward for opportunities.

New Year is definitely a reflective time of year for people, which no doubt leads them towards a ‘new year, new you’ job hunt, but Jo believes there is never a perfect time to pursue a career change: “I think that women can be guilty of analysis paralysis and think that everything needs to be perfect. But in reality there is never a perfect time to change industry or start a new job.

“I’m aware this is a bit of a cliché, but I think it’s particularly pertinent in this case: It’s very rare that you regret the things you do do, rather than the things you don’t do. So if you’re looking for a change just do it, no matter what time of year it is!” comments Jo.

With women making up only 17% of the tech workforce, Jo would love to see more of her compatriots move into the tech industry. “I strongly believe tech is an accessible industry that doesn’t have as many barriers as other professions, and there are so many opportunities for women.”

Jo continued, “If you have a curious mind and are willing to problem solve then you already possess the fundamentals.

“It’s also not age limited or qualification dependant, you don’t need a degree for example, you just have to know yourself.

“We’re always looking for talented individuals at OS and people have come to us from various backgrounds with no tech experience, like the Police or the military.

“One of our most talented engineers at OS had never written a line of code in her life before joining our training programme.”

When it comes to new opportunities, Jo believes you should take time to consider what ladder you want to climb, whether that’s a leadership route or a technical route.

Jo adds, “As a leader you don’t always need to be smartest person in the room, and you certainly don’t have to have all the answers. Be vulnerable and be human, because if you are, this will help build better connections with your team which will lead to better results. I think this is a strength that many women hold already.

“If you’re pursuing a technical route immerse yourself in it and let everyone know that that is the area you are focussed on.

“These are two completely different tracks, and you don’t have to be good at both to succeed in this industry.”

There is never a perfect time to look for a new role, tech is an accessible industry for women and you can’t climb any old ladder, but what sort of organisation should you aspire to join? “I would of course urge them to join OS! But in all seriousness, look to join a company that shares the same values as you.

“If you join one that values aptitude, gives you room to grow and develop as well as supporting you, then it will be hard to think of a more fruitful New Year’s resolution,” concluded Jo.


New-Year-2021

Evaluating 2020 and looking forward to 2021

New-Year-2021

Article provided by Sarah Earl, Product Director at RingGo

2020 was a year that no one could have predicted.

There is no denying that the pandemic has changed the way the world works, and the payments and technology industry is no exception.

In 2021 I expect to see increased demand for speed with access and payment. This means that businesses will have to embrace digital solutions, namely apps, to allow for consumers to pay for services in the swiftest and most efficient ways possible.

Next year will also see the enforcement of PSD2 – prompting significant change in the payments industry. It is a regulation that will cause friction for users, thus providing payments and technology providers with an opportunity to create solutions that are both compliant and friction free.

There is no denying that data has been a hot topic for many years now, but 2021 is not the year that the upward trend is set to change. During the coming months of economic unrest, businesses who capitalise on their data to improve their services and make life easier for customers will see probable growth, and those behind the curve will be at risk of sinking.

Finally, this year I hope to see more women in C-level positions within the tech and payments industry, and it is a trend that needs to continue for years to come.

Payments

Next year will see the need for speed with access and payment – this is where I believe we will notice large-scale adoption of app clips and app widgets. These features take away the need to download another app, instead allowing the consumer to take a picture of a sign, access the app clip and pay directly with Apple Pay. This process takes seconds, fulfilling the growing consumer need for speed, instead of tedious minutes signing into an app or having to enter lots of personal details.

From a parking perspective, it is going to be important for us to embrace guests using the app. Consumers are no longer willing to enter all of their details into multiple apps for services. By using app clips, we can allow guest users to pay for parking without the perceived pain point of logging in. Also, embracing the capabilities of Apple Pay and Google Pay are vital components of any e-commerce app. This is how people want to manage their transactions, and we need to work alongside that.

Open banking will also start to have more of an impact on app-based payments. It will bring organisations together for the betterment of the user by sharing innovative ideas through open APIs and also drive competition to meet constantly evolving consumer needs.

PSD2

Regulations and compliance have always felt like a corporate chore. They force us into creating features or solving problems that were never on the roadmap. However, as more and more regulations are likely to hit the payments industry, I challenge us to think of how we can use regulations as an opportunity.

In 2021, PSD2 will finally be enforced, and while this has been pushed back to September, I think it will be part of a year of change in the payments industry. As we try to work around a system that introduces friction for users, it is our opportunity to innovatively create solutions that are compliant and friction free.

The need for a smooth payment process will drive consumers towards SCA compliant payment methods such as Apple Pay and Google Pay in 2021. If your app or website does not feature these payment methods, customers are likely to disengage due to the authentication step up.

2021 is the year to get ahead of the regulation curve by listening to customers and driving innovation through the payments process.

Data

If you aren’t already using data to drive your decisions, then you are likely to be behind the curve. However, 2021 will start to separate those who are really optimising their data from those who are just scratching the surface.

In the same breath, we shouldn’t simply be keeping the data we collect for ourselves; we should be using it to make our customers lives easier.  In the app world, we should be tracking trends of how people use the app, where they drop off and what experience they have to drive our products forward. But we can also use the data we collect to make the process smoother.

When it comes to parking, we have lots of audiences that need the data we collect to make the whole ecosystem work better. From the app developers who provide the right tools, to the local authorities and parking operators that need to understand traffic flow and user needs, through to the motorists who benefit from predictive analytics that make repeat sessions easier. We have been talking about data being the new oil for years now, 2021 is the time to put our money where our data is and use it to its full potential.

Women in tech

Women have definitely started to rise up in the ranks within technology organisations, there is no doubt about that. When I have openings on my product team, I see as many capable female candidates as I do male and I am currently working with some very smart, driven women.

That being said, there still seems to be some limits to what type of work women are embracing in tech and how high they rise. They are few and far between at the C-level, and this is something I would like to see change in the coming years. It will only become more feasible as we pull along the ambitious women coming behind us and raise our voice collectively.

Unfortunately, there is still a disparity between female representation in product organisations versus engineering organisations, and a big part of this is to do with education. A focus in engineering still begins early and forces you down, what feels like, a very rigid path. Product organisations, on the other hand, bring together people from lots of different backgrounds, are more inclusive and collaborative, and cater to people who might not have necessarily started in tech when they were teenagers.

I do see this trend changing as the way we educate children changes. Today they are exposed to coding, and technology in general, at such a young age, it will become a more natural fit for many to pursue in education and as a career. The little girls of today, will become the tech leaders of tomorrow.

Embracing digital 

2020 forced everyone to focus, and as traditional business models were threatened by lockdown regulations, tech flourished. Companies have had to reinforce their core strategies, put research into new and emerging markets or products on hold, cut costs and re-evaluate what their customers really need.

To do this, everyone went digital. From small village stores, fish and chip vans to baby groups. If you haven’t embraced digital to give customers an online offering during lockdown, then you are most likely going to struggle to survive. Parking was no different.

Nobody wanted to touch street furniture when we emerged from months of lockdown, they no longer wanted to stand in queues with other people or carry coins. This meant that parking apps were a lifeline for people wanting to venture out, but also be cautious of a new range of threats from the virus.

2021 will continue – if not quicken – this trend of embracing digital solutions, and apps will be at the centre of it. Organisations need to focus on accessibility and the usability of apps, while considering a more security conscious consumer base.

Sarah EarlAbout the author

Sarah Earl is Product Director at RingGo, the UK’s leading cashless parking provider. Since joining the company straight after completing her Business IT degree in 2006, Sarah began her career as a member of the IT helpdesk, then diverted away from sales into account management.

When RingGo won the Westminster parking account, it provided her with the perfect opportunity to return to her tech roots. She was brought in as product manager, which required her to manage the testing and design process of the bespoke solution for the city. She has since worked her way up to Product Director and has led the charge on releasing a host of industry firsts to market over the last 10 years, including in car payments, space availability tracking and Emissions Based Parking. Her growth and expertise have made her an instrumental force in making RingGo the UK’s leading cashless parking provider.


WeAreTechWomen covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in technology, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here.

Don’t forget, you can also follow us via our social media channels for the latest up-to-date gender news. Click to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.


Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year

From all at WeAreTechWomen, we would like to wish all of our clients, sponsors, speakers, judges, partners, champions, advocates and above all, our community, a very happy New Year and a great 2021!

While 2020 was not quite the year we imagined, we adapted and innovated and earlier this week, we looked back at our top moments, as well as the top news stories, and inspirational profiles of 2020.

You can view these articles below:

Looking back at 2020: Our top tech news stories of the year

In the first in our series of looking back at the past year, we delve into some of our favourite and most important tech news stories of 2020.

While this year has been overshadowed by the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 has still seen Sheridan Ash, June Angelides & Carrie Anne Philbin recognised on Queen's Birthday Honours List; the loss of Katherine Johnson, NASA mathematician and inspiration for the Hollywood film, Hidden Figures; a celebration of a million women in STEM; and some great initiatives to help women in tech.

Looking back at 2020: A WeAreTechWomen round-up

2020 is nearly over and to celebrate the year gone by, WeAreTechWomen is taking a look back at our top moments.

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, this year we had to adapt and innovate to host some of events, conferences and awards virtually. We wouldn’t have been able to achieve this without our supporters. We would like to extend our sincere thanks to everyone who has supported us this year. A huge thank you to our clients, sponsors, speakers, judges, partners, champions, advocates and above all, our community. We look forward to supporting you and your progression in 2021.

Discover what happened in our 2020 here.

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

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

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

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


WeAreTechWomen covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in technology, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here.

Don’t forget, you can also follow us via our social media channels for the latest up-to-date gender news. Click to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.


2021, career advice, New Year

Give people what they need to perform at their best in 2021

2021, career advice, New Year

December is usually the time of year when HR departments across the country send the annual ‘employee satisfaction survey’. And, while this attempt to establish staff’s likes and dislikes from the past 12 months is bound to uncover much more than usual this time around – it always leaves business owners with something to think about.

But for Lorna Stellakis, managing director of managed IT support firm, Q2Q, she regularly asks her clients and their colleagues: “Does your company give you the tools and technologies you need to do your job well? Because try as you might, without those, performance will only ever be lacklustre.”

Although business owners might be fearful of the barrage – or complete lack of – feedback when employees are asked to evaluate the suitability of their tech stack, the question is so much more pertinent as we head into a new year – and one where many workspaces morph from a traditional office environment to either a home set-up, or a combination of the two.

As the owner of a technical business, I would use HR departments, company owners, and technical leads to expand that question even further to ask: “Does your team have the necessary equipment and environment that are conducive to providing both a suitable workspace and the tools they need, in order to work smarter and at maximum efficiency?”

From my experience, it can often be a culmination of lots of little things that cause the most frustrations – ultimately leading to disengagement and low morale.

Once such example would be access to the relevant IT systems. It shouldn’t seem like too much to ask, but from a technical perspective, something as simple as having an old laptop that is a little slow to load files and webpages can have a massive impact on productivity.

Team members who begin each day with the frustration of having to wait for a slow machine to fire up – pressing the ‘power’ button and having enough time to make tea and toast – can be compounded by missing deadlines because they didn’t plan the extra ‘loading’ time, or the added stress that a slow machine brings, when being pressed for information quickly.

Meanwhile, from a working environment perspective, consideration should extend far beyond whether a chair, monitor and desk are at optimal working height – but also consider other contributing factors such as space, light, noise, and temperature.

As a business leader, it’s important to put yourself in the shoes of your team and ask whether they’re likely to feel motivated if they are constantly frustrated with their equipment and/or environment?

Like many of our peers, a shift to hybrid working has meant we needed to conduct a complete inventory of all the technical infrastructure we have available in the office to establish a hot desking set-up. While this concept is nothing new, for our techies – who have a lot of hardware – they have previously kept all their work-related collateral in one place. So, lugging it between home and HQ was not an option.

But, by investing in additional items, such as desk phones and monitors, staff can ‘borrow’ whatever they need when working from the office, and leave it behind for their colleagues, the following day.

This small investment means that the team’s day to day isn’t littered with distractions from not being able to function as seamlessly as they would normally. And the return on investment when it comes to our staff satisfaction levels makes it totally worth the cost – I am sure this will pay dividends in the long-run.

While returning to a shared space following eight months of relative isolation can be unnerving, removing the disruption of not having the right kit can make a significant difference. Colleagues feel valued, listened to, and cared for, and this pays back in droves in terms of their dedication and work ethic, and of course, efficiency.

As we all transition to whatever the new version of the working day looks like, a new year is the ideal time to identify where there are any gaps, ask – and answer – the question: “is there something missing that you can easily resolve and would it make a major change to team morale?”

About the author

Lorna Stellakis, MD of Q2Q ITMy role is to provide the overall direction and “eye on the compass” as to where we, as a team are heading, setting the overall business strategy and financial budgeting. Whilst always having been involved with systems implementation throughout my career, I have an operational background and no specific IT experience. However, if anything, I believe this makes me more qualified to ensure the team deliver great service, drawing from my operations experience, and having been on the wrong side of poor IT support in the past. I can relate to how crippling this can be to a business, making it paramount that we ensure that IT issues are as invisible as possible, leaving the customers to get on with running their businesses smoothly.


WeAreTechWomen covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in technology, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here

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Looking back at 2020: A WeAreTechWomen round-up

WeAreTechWomen logo 12020 is nearly over and to celebrate the year gone by, WeAreTechWomen is taking a look back at our top moments.

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, this year we had to adapt and innovate to host some of events, conferences and awards virtually. We wouldn’t have been able to achieve this without our supporters. We would like to extend our sincere thanks to everyone who has supported us this year. A huge thank you to our clients, sponsors, speakers, judges, partners, champions, advocates and above all, our community. We look forward to supporting you and your progression in 2021.

Check out what happened during our 2020 below:

Images from the We Are Tech 100 Awards, QE II Centre London 23Jan2020

January

We started January off with a bang, by celebrating our 2019 TechWomen100 winners at our award’s ceremony at the iconic Queen Elizabeth II Centre, Westminster, London.

Winners, sponsors, judges and guests celebrated and enjoyed a three-course meal and champagne reception to toast the TechWomen100 finalists’ achievements. The evening was facilitated by Julia Streets, Founder, Streets Consulting and attendees were welcomed by Vanessa Vallely OBE, Managing Director, WeAreTheCity; headline sponsors, Karin Rossi, J.P. Morgan; and our education partners, Professor Sue Black OBE, Professor of Computer Science & Technology Evangelist, Speaker & Author and Professor Gordon Love, Durham University.

View the pictures from the night here.

March

The COVID-19 virus has, and will no doubt continue to have a significant impact in terms of how we all continue to work.

In the light of these challenges, we have had to adapt and innovate in order to find our new normal. This may have meant working from home, eliminating travel, managing work and family as well as learning how to continue to operate, albeit in a virtual world.

As a direct influence of the COVID-19 pandemic, WeAreTechWomen, together with our sister site, WeAreTheCity, launched WeAreVirtual in March, to offer our support to keep you engaged and inspired over the coming months.

WeAreVirtual offered free weekly skills webinars. This ‘pay it forward’ initiative has been kindly supported and shaped by over 45 amazing speakers and companies, who have all pledged to share their expertise.

Thanks to our speakers, we have and will cover a myriad of topics relating to both work and life. You can watch our previous webinars on playback or discover our upcoming ones here.

We also celebrated International Women’s Day on 08 March.

Each year International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8, with the first day being held in 1911. Thousands of events occur to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women. Organisations, governments, charities, educational institutions, women’s groups, corporations and the media celebrate the day.

This year’s theme was #EachForEqual – which looked to celebrate women’s achievements, to raise awareness against bias and to take action for equality.

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we asked over 70 women in tech, from across all backgrounds, ethnicity and ages, to tell us what exactly the day means to them. You can find out what they thought here.

WeAreVirtual, WeAreTechWomen, Dell Technologies webinars 1April

In April, in light of the pandemic, we announced that our annual WeAreTechWomen conference was going virtual!

For the past four years, WeAreTechWomen have hosted their flagship annual conference in London. This event has enabled over 2,500 women to network with their peers and learn about what is innovating and disrupting the tech industry.

Disrupt. Innovate. Lead wasn’t like any other virtual event you may have experienced in the past. We used a state-of-the-art platform to bring you four stages of inspiring content from live keynotes, webinars, recorded content, Q&A panels as well as the opportunity to meet some of our speakers and sponsors in our virtual exhibition hall.

WeAreTechWomen & WeAreVirtual, in partnership with Dell Technologies, also introduced a series of free tech webinars.

WeAreVirtual is WeAreTechWomen’s new initiative to pay it forward and support the ongoing development of our community. Together with our sponsors and supporters, we want to bolster your learning by providing more content through our websites and social channels, as well as opportunities to learn and engage online.

With the support of Dell Technologies, we brought you webinars focused on how technology can help you to navigate these uncertain times. Held every three weeks via Zoom, each session was 45 minutes long, full of educational tips and tricks and a Q&A.

You can watch the series on playback here.

WeAreTechWomen conference stats 800x600

June

In June, we held our first virtual WeAreTechWomen conference!

The conference, proudly sponsored and supported by Accenture, BAE Systems, Barclays, Credit Suisse, Dell Technologies, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, NatWest, Oliver Wyman, OpenFin; PwC; and RBC; saw over 1,000 delegates log on, from across the technology sector and a range of companies including Sky, Aviva, RAF, Finding Ada, Stemettes, Mastercard, Three, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Shell and Monzo.

The conference consisted of six stages, with over 60 speakers, 20 exhibitors and over 15 Q&A panels. Delegates could shape their own learning as well as revisiting sessions they may have missed, with a 30-day playback.

The morning began with a number of keynotes from inspirational role models in tech, including Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, President, techUK; Dame Stephanie Shirley CH, IT Entrepreneur & Philanthropist; and Edwina Dunn OBE, Chairman, Starcount and Founder, The Female Lead.

July

In July, we gave you another chance to join our WeAreTechWomen conference with a digital pass.

The digital pass enabled you to watch all 72 sessions over a 14-day period. With the ticket, you could access the platform to gain a deeper understanding of over 25 different areas of tech.

Thanks to the help of over 108 global speakers we covered everything from Technology Trends, AI, Cyber, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Robotics, Drones, Internet of Things, Wearables, Agile, DevOps, Fintech, Payments, Sustainability, Entrepreneurship, HealthTech and Diversity & Inclusion, Neurodiversity, Mental Health in Tech, Returnships and Flexible Working.

August

In August, we announced that we were once again looking for nominations for our 2020 TechWomen100 Awards.

Our awards focus solely on women working in tech below director level. We hope that by highlighting the accolades of up-and-coming inspirational female tech talent, we can help to create a new generation of female role models for the industry, and a pipeline of future leaders.

New for this year, we were also excited to introduce a new “Global Award for Achievement” category to our awards to expand our search for global talent. This category was for a female individual who works within the tech industry outside of the UK, whose current position is below director level.

Through the awards, we also recognise a number of senior individuals who are championing up-and-coming women, as well as any organisations that have designed and implemented successful initiatives and programmes in order to attract, retain and develop the female tech talent.

Finally, we applaud the often-voluntary efforts of the women in tech networks that operate across the UK, and again would like to formerly recognise these within our awards.

The 2020 awards were kindly powered by BAE Systems and sponsored by Accenture, Barclays, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Oliver Wyman and OpenFin

September

September saw WeAreTechWomen launch our She Talks Tech podcast.

She Talks Tech’ brings you stories, lessons and tips from some of the most inspirational women (and men!) in tech.

From robotics and drones, to fintech, neurodiversity and coronavirus apps; these incredible speakers are opening up to give us the latest information on tech in 2020.

Vanessa Valleley OBE, founder of WeAreTheCity and WeAreTechWomen brings you this latest resource to help you rise to the top of the tech industry. Women in tech make up just 17 per cent of the industry in the UK and we want to inspire that to change.

So subscribe, rate the podcast and give it a 5-star review – and keep listening every Wednesday morning for a new episode of ‘She Talks Tech’.

October

In October, we announced our TechWomen100 shortlist.

The shortlist showcased remarkable women within the technology and STEM sector, including Susan Jason, a Principal Systems Engineer and Head of Outreach at In-Space Missions, who led the final test phases of the Faraday-1 commercial rideshare nanosatellite; Charlene Hunter, who founded Coding Black Females, to inspire, provide opportunities and showcase the talents of black women in tech; and Heather Black, who founded Supermums, which helps upskill mums (and dads) back into flexible work in the Salesforce ecosystem.

November

November saw the announcement of our 2020 TechWomen100 winners!

The winners of these awards showcase remarkable women within the technology and STEM sector including 12-year-old Avye Couloute, who, aware of female under-representation in STEM education and careers, founded Girls Into Coding to encourage more female involvement in tech; Susan Jason, a Principal Systems Engineer and Head of Outreach at In-Space Missions, who led the final test phases of the Faraday-1 commercial rideshare nanosatellite; and Heather Black, who founded Supermums, which helps upskill mums (and dads) back into flexible work in the Salesforce ecosystem.

The winners include individuals from leading firms such as the BBC, NatWest, Jaguar Land Rover, IBM, Trainline, Visa, Deloitte, Microsoft, Bank of England and Monzo Bank, amongst many more.

The awards also recognise Champions, Networks and Companies, who are all actively supporting the progression of women in tech and STEM. New for this year, the TechWomen100 awards are also celebrating women in tech from outside the UK, in the Global Award for Achievement category.

WeAreTechWomen also announced their Editor’s Choice winner, June Angelides. Named the 6th Most Influential BAME tech leader by the FT in 2018 and 15th Most Influential Woman in Tech by Computer Weekly in 2018, Angelides is an early stage investor at Samos Investments. Prior to joining the world of venture capital, she founded a social enterprise, Mums in Technology, which was the first child-friendly coding school in the UK.

TechWomen100 Award's CeremonyDecember

We closed the year as we had started in 2020 – by celebrating our TechWomen100 Award winners.

Given the circumstances, the team at WeAreTechWomen had to do things a little differently with our awards, hosting the award’s ceremony virtually.

Over the course of the night, our attendees were congratulated by our sponsors and special guests and we heard from inspirational speakers and entertainers, who all endeavoured to create a truly magically experience.

The event was attended by winners, judges, sponsors and special guests and our winners had the opportunity to network with each other in our interactive breakout rooms. Each winner received a goodie box with their award, complete with champagne, chocolates, books and other treats.

The virtual award's ceremony was hosted by Julia Streets, CEO, Streets Consulting. Throughout the evening, we were joined by our special guests, IT entrepreneur and philanthropist Dame Stephanie Shirley CH; maker, coder, tech advocate and TechWomen100 winner, Avye Couloute; and live vocal duo, The Vocal Jewels, as our special guests for the 2020 TechWomen100 Award’s Ceremony.


woman holding a like a boss mug, kickstart your career

How to kickstart your fulfilling career in 2021

woman holding a like a boss mug, kickstart your career

Janice Burns, Chief Career Experience Officer at Degreed, discusses how you can get ahead in your purpose-driven career in 2021.

It has, undoubtedly, been a tough time in the workplace and ensuring your career’s survival might’ve been your top priority over the past few months. But as we enter 2021, you have an opportunity to take stock and reflect on how you’d like to move forward in your career. It’s worth thinking about what a fulfilling career means to you - what it looks like, how you can get there, and who can support you with your goals.

Becoming your own career architect

My career has been transformed over and over. In the early days, I wanted to become a psychologist. Then, I became a public school teacher, and eventually, I entered the corporate world as a marketer, HR leader and eventually, Chief Learning Officer at Mastercard. Now, I’m the Chief Career Experience Officer at Degreed, a role that I shaped myself and that involves working with leaders in Fortune 500 companies, to help them support their workers in a personal and authentic way.

What links this all is courage, the ability to adapt and learn, and an understanding of the art and science of career management. The first step in building a fulfilling career is to become your own career architect. To know how to design a career with a strong foundation and structure, and that challenges and excites you.

Get used to pivoting

Pivoting is something once associated with the start-up world. Now, it’s par for the course. The pandemic caused widespread pivoting, both company-wide and individually. We saw automotive manufacturers like Ford switch to ventilator production, perfume factories create hand sanitizer, and airlines redeploy cabin crew as healthcare assistants. You can use this momentum to pivot your own career.

Of course, many of these moves during the pandemic were done out of necessity. But in 2021, it will be much easier to switch careers, shift industries, and explore new horizons because of the way we adapted in 2020. Whereas before, a hiring manager may have thought twice about a candidate from another sector, this is something more commonplace now. 6.1 per cent of those employed between January to March and April to June 2020 changed jobs during the first half of 2020, compared to 5.7 per cent the year before. Of those who switched jobs, 52.5 per cent moved into another industry. Simply put, massive job shifts will no longer raise eyebrows - and therein lies the opportunity to take a leap for your career.

Five steps to a fulfilling career

However you choose to shape your career, I always recommend following the same five fundamental steps:

Follow your passion

My early passion for understanding and helping humans is my north star. It carried me through training to be a clinical psychologist, to then becoming a teacher. In this role, I first encountered what true educational inequality is like - and its lifelong impact. And this led me onto a new path, to challenge this systemic problem.

Through teaching, marketing, and being the Chief Learning Officer at Mastercard, I’ve now become the Chief Career Experience Officer at Degreed - and I’ve had to make some tough decisions along the way. But my passion always provided a framework for my decision-making, even when the pull of recognition and remuneration was strong.

Understand your value - and develop your skills to increase this

My next career step after teaching took me into a one-year management training programme in a bank. I recognised the value of my analytical and psychology skills combined and wanted to use this to differentiate myself.

After the programme, I chose to enter the marketing department at the bank as it offered the closest fit between analysing and influencing human behaviour. I enjoyed this role for many years before joining Mastercard as a product manager. Over almost three decades, I shaped my contribution at Mastercard into something that drew on my unique skillset (as well as offer personal and professional satisfaction). This translated into leading Mastercard’s diversity effort - and Mastercard eventually made it onto Diversityinc's top 50 employers list.

All of this started with my skills - with me taking a hard look at what skills I had and what I could bring to the table. I combined this with understanding where I wanted to go and what I wanted to achieve. And then I built the skills and experience that I was missing, through different work tasks, talking to people, and formal/informal learning.

Find your career tribe

One effective way to learn new skills and build your career is to turn to your network. Find people who can act as mentors, sponsors, advocates and supporters, then leverage their skills and knowledge to become better at your work.

Seek out the people who share the same vision and who are willing to work with you to achieve the same mission. In my career, this took various forms, from Mastercard’s CEO and Chief HR Officer, who encouraged my strategic thinking, to David Blake, co-founder of Degreed and Learn In and co-author of The Expertise Economy, who shared my vision for learning equality.

Understand that everyone you meet along your career journey has a lesson to teach you. They may provide inspiration for your next step, or valuable knowledge for your current role. They may challenge your perspectives and encourage you to continuously grow.

Go for opportunities, even if not quite ready

It’s unfortunately common for women to not take a career opportunity unless they are 100 per cent qualified for them (men, meanwhile, apply when 60 per cent qualified). This is selling yourself short as it doesn’t fully value your career and learning potential. Even if you cannot do all aspects of a job, you can learn.

Conversely, in the current climate, you may have to take on work that doesn’t serve your long-term career goals. You can still learn from this. Transferable and social skills will serve you in any role, help you make significant career shifts, and future proof your career.

Pay it forward

Remember the third step? Well, this is the other side. As you grow your career, who can you bring up with you? Everyone has a skill or lesson to teach. Discover what you can offer your colleagues and then actively seek ways to teach and mentor others.

Your passion is your compass

As you journey along your career path, you won’t know where you’ll end up. And that’s part of the joy of cultivating your career. Every decision, every opportunity, can lead you to new areas. Each new role will take you closer to career fulfilment. Especially if you use your passion as a guide.

Even if you take detours, always return to your original purpose. Consider the legacy that you want to leave the world. For me, that’s making sure that everyone, regardless of their education, degree (or lack of it) and background, has access to the economic market. What’s yours?

Janice BurnsAbout the author

As a human capital futurist and strategist, Janice Robinson Burns develops and implements talent management and development programs that drive business results. She recently joined Degreed as their first Chief Career Experience Officer. Prior to Degreed, Janice spent 27 years at Mastercard, with her most recent role as their Chief Learning Officer. As CLO, she led the design and implementation of employee learning experiences and development programs globally, as well as development of frameworks to advance managerial capabilities and effectiveness. Prior to the CLO role, Janice served as Group Head of Human Resources for the Global Products and Solutions organization and Chief Diversity Officer of Mastercard. She earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration from New York University and a Bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University.


If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here.


Happy New Year 2020

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year 2020

From all at WeAreTechWomen, we would like to wish all of our clients, members and visitors a very happy New Year and a great 2020!

WeAreTechWomen has had an incredible year, and earlier this week, we looked back at our top moments, as well as the top news stories, inspirational profiles, and careers advice of 2019.

You can view these articles below:

Looking back at 2019: Our top tech career advice articles

In our first installment of looking back at 2019, we delved into our favourite and inspiring career advice articles of the year.

WeAreTechWomen prides itself on having the answers you need to take the next step in your career. Our careers advice section offers the latest and most relevant tips on networking, legal advice, CV advice, interview advice and much more.

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

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

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

Looking back at 2019: Our top tech news stories of the year

Continuing on our series of looking back at the past year, we delve into some of the most important tech news stories of 2019.

This year has seen many organisations call for more women in tech and STEM; WeAreTechWomen became its own dedicated site in 2019; and we shined a spotlight on a further 100 amazing women in tech.