Inspirational Woman: Lisa Edwards | President & COO, Diligent Corporation

Meet Lisa Edwards, President & COO at Diligent Corporation.


Lisa Edwards is President and COO of Diligent Corporation, the leading governance, risk and compliance SaaS provider with more than $500 million in revenue and a $7 billion company valuation.

Lisa is responsible for commercial growth and performance. Prior to joining Diligent, she served as EVP of Strategic Business Operations at Salesforce, after serving as Chief Procurement Officer and running the company’s Global Corporate Services.

Lisa also held leadership positions at Visa, Inc. and KnowledgeX, and co-founded Valubond, prior to the company’s acquisition by Knight Capital.

Lisa received a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. She serves on the Board of Directors of Colgate-Palmolive Company, and is deeply involved in two non-profits where she previously served on the board: Playworks and the Presidio YMCA.

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

I grew up in Silicon Valley as a bit of a technology baby, as my dad was with IBM for 40 years. I went to school locally at Stanford, then spent three years in Mexico City working for a consulting firm. Following Mexico City, I headed to Harvard Business School. And, after a small stint in strategy consulting at Bain and Company, I had an entrepreneurial phase where I was CEO of a small software company that I sold to IBM. I was also co-founder of a fintech company that built an exchange for fixed income securities that was sold to Knight Capital. Following that, I moved back to California and continued in Fintech by working for Visa for eight years. I then left to work at Salesforce not for the role – which was sort of lateral to almost a slight backward step – but because I really liked the CFO and thought I could learn a lot from him. I ended up at Salesforce for eight and half years. I most recently moved to Diligent because I believe that Diligent can be the foundation of the next new category of enterprise software: governance, risk and compliance (GRC). Every company needs to digitise the entire back office, and allowing the components of governance, audit, Risk, SOX, third party, cyber and ESG to work together seamlessly and collaborate brings incredible strength to the function. It’s game changing.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I never sat down to plan my career and, honestly, I think it would have been almost impossible to look forward and predict this rambling road I travelled to be an actual plan. But looking backward I can connect some of the dots. I’ve developed a passion for operations, but with a strategy lens, which turns out to be a real differentiator. I’ve toggled between operations strategy and top line functions in a way that brings extra value to my role. I’ve chosen to work for people who I think I can learn from and not always been concerned about the details.  I’ve worked for companies that I admire and that I think will do well. I like that old saying, “take a seat on the rocket ship, and don’t worry too much about what seat.”

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

I think everyone faces career challenges along the way, what matters is how you choose to address them. Do you use them to get smarter? Learn more to grow as a person and as a worker? I even tell people in many ways, having a bad boss once or twice in your career can be a really helpful (albeit painful!) learnings and a growth opportunity. Because you learn what not to do. And you also learn how to function with lots of different people.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I don’t know that there’s been a single biggest career achievement. I feel like my career has been a slow but steady build to increased scope and responsibility as I get older and wiser and have more life experiences under my belt. It turns out its super helpful to have seen the movie before and know how it ends. That said, one thing I’m incredibly proud of is the number of people, particularly in Silicon Valley, who I have worked with or have worked for me and who have gone on to bigger and better things. I love to see people who have worked for me go out and take leadership roles that are bigger. Like that old saying, “If you love them, set them free.” Except I don’t want them to come back to me! I want them to grow and thrive and continue to nurture the next generation so that they can have that same experience and satisfaction.

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

I would be naive if I didn’t say having a father in the technology industry gave me a leg up, particularly as a woman. My dad probably always wanted me to be a son and pretty much treated me that way. So I was knee deep in looking at green screen and code in the early 80s well before PCs were mainstream. I think that exposure took away the fear factor of the unknown that I think technology can represent. And there was never an assumption that because I was a girl, I wasn’t going to be interested in it. It was always assumed that I would want to check out the latest and greatest technology. That’s why I’m so passionate about giving women exposure. If you don’t ever see it then it’s just that much harder to be it. That’s why, as a female leader, I think it’s really important to be visible. To talk about the good, the bad and the ugly, to lead by example

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

Stay smart on the latest trends. Network, even if that is not comfortable.

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

I do, simply because women are still a small percent of the tech workforce and are not graduating from computer science programs fast enough to address that issue. Interestingly, the proportion of women graduating from college is around 60%, at least in the United States. In theory we should see a workforce that skews towards women and a leadership team that skews towards women. But we don’t in the tech industry. This could be because we don’t see women graduating at the same rate in the actual disciplines that rise to some of those leadership levels in technology. In response to this, I would like to see early intervention. To make sure girls are excited about math and science. And to nurture that interest at a young age.

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

I think companies can continue to shine light on the issue. By that I mean, each organization needs to look at their percentage of women – every quarter. Not just the absolute number, but the hiring statistics, the attrition statistics, the promotion statistics. Are you moving women along the funnel? At least the rate of how they are represented in the population. If you aren’t, maybe there’s a problem.

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?

Unfortunately, I don’t think there is a magic wand. But I think companies can be more mindful of attracting and retaining women. Things like having balanced interview panels where women aren’t interviewing with just men. Or making sure that if a woman chooses to have children it is not career limiting for her. We need to figure out ways to accommodate working moms in order to keep them in the workforce.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

There’s so much good stuff out there as far as resources go. I don’t know that I would recommend anything specific, but there are a few resources that come to mind. For example, for a quick “cyber 101” lesson almost nothing beats Countdown to Zero Day. For podcasts, David Sachs’s is pretty good, albeit a bit niche sometimes. Are you in middleware, are in B2C, are you in fintech? Cyber? That’s where you should go, and that’s what you should get super smart on – build the domain expertise.

Inspirational Woman: Cory Munchbach | President & COO, BlueConic

Meet Cory Munchbach, President & Chief Operating Officer at BlueConic

Cory Munchbach

Cory is President & COO at BlueConic. In this piece, we talk about her career, her biggest achievement and the challenges she has faced as a woman working in the technology industry.

Cory has spent her career on the cutting edge of marketing technology and brings years working with Fortune 500 clients from various industries to BlueConic.

Before joining the BlueCrew, she was an analyst at Forrester Research where she covered business and consumer technology trends and the fast-moving marketing tech landscape. A life-long Bostonian, Cory has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Boston College and spends a considerable amount of her non-work hours on various volunteer and philanthropic initiatives in the greater Boston community.

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

I am the President and COO at customer data platform BlueConic, where I oversee the company’s business operations and establish policies that promote the company’s culture and vision. I also work directly with BlueConic’s customers on their own technology strategies and how to become more fluent in data, digital, and customer-first in their operations, which is a passion of mine. Analyst firms have been calling it ‘the age of the customer’ for almost a decade now, but the reality is that very few companies have figured out how to execute ‘customer centricity’ at scale. I have this amazing job where I get to support customers like HEINEKEN USA and VF Corporation with their digital transformation strategies so they can better meet customer expectations while improving operational efficiency at the same time. And I get to build a company that consists of the most ridiculously awesome humans on the planet. Every day I am the luckiest

Before joining BlueConic, I was an analyst at Forrester Research on the CMO and marketing leadership team. At the time, I had no formal business background, but I had the opportunity to interact with some of the senior most marketers at some of the most notable brands. I got so much concentrated exposure to the marketing strategy side of things, but it was the technology enablement piece that I kept coming back to, which is how I ended up covering marketing tech and ultimately writing the first-ever Forrester Wave on the marketing cloud category in 2013. That was really the most formative step for me in terms of how I ended up in marketing technology specifically.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Totally – and then nothing went remotely according to that plan! On the contrary: to be honest, I would never have imagined my career path looking like this. I was a political science major in college and had grand ambitions of returning to graduate school to get a PhD in public policy and perhaps teaching. What’s interesting is that, even though I clearly have not taken that path, the common thread of most of my career has been adjacent to teaching — I spend the majority of my time, whether externally with customers or internally with my colleagues, finding different ways to introduce new ideas and get them to stick. I love getting other people energized about something and working toward making it happen.

After learning so much as an analyst at Forrester, I knew I wanted to get my hands dirty building a company instead of just writing about and consulting for them. Getting this fledgling technology off the ground was a huge opportunity, which compelled me to seek employment with then early-stage start-up BlueConic. When I accepted a role with the company in 2015, I received a text message from CEO Bart Heilbron that said, “Hurry up and get here, we’ve got a dream to build.” And I’ve never looked back.

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

I’d love to meet anyone who can answer “no” to this question! So many – from blatant sexism to general misalignment with a leader or team – I’ve confronted any number of challenges big and small throughout. While each was a bit different, I could overcome them because I feel incredibly supported by some core people who make up my squad and give me the tools I need to work through things: the clarity, confidence, perspective, and esteem to make the right choice for me.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

For a few reasons, it’s solidifying our partnership with Vista Equity Partners earlier this year. Securing the investment not only validates the grit and persistence from the whole team so far, but also ensures that BlueConic is able to continue to affect real change in the world of marketing, media, and advertising by helping companies unlock the power of consented first-party data. It’s also a recognition of the way the company has been built – the approach, the team, the commitment – which is incredibly gratifying after so many years of collective effort.

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

LUCK. And I reject anyone who says that I shouldn’t attribute my success to it because I would rather be lucky than good. Luck includes a lot of things, but mostly people and the opportunities to meet and learn from people who are different from me, whether due to diverse life experiences or who know more about a particular subject than I do. I’m an extremely curious person; I love to learn and I’ve been lucky to be exposed to new ideas and concepts through new people throughout my career – and then be able to use that knowledge to propel my own growth.

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

I think the most important thing is to trust your gut and use your voice – especially to ask questions. You’re going to be right so much more than you’re wrong and your willingness to be “wrong” actually creates space for other people to learn as well, which is invaluable for a whole group. And as you rise through the ranks, don’t pull the ladder up behind you. Your success and achievements will be so much more rewarding because you brought a lot of people along than they would be celebrated solo. The opinions of people who work for you matter so much more — generally and over the long-term — than those above.

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

There are oh so many. See next answer about overcoming them because the reality is that women have done all the “right” things to earn overcoming these barriers – going to college, starting companies, making it to the C Suite – but the barriers are deeply embedded at so many levels of society that to overcome them is much more than a tech industry challenge and more broadly a cultural challenge.

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

Vocally support women’s reproductive rights. Provide excellent benefits for all parents. Ensure that you have representation at all levels of the organization. To be clear: women know how to advance our careers; what we can’t always do is overcome the barriers in our way.

There are currently only 21 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?

Is “eradicate structural misogyny” an answer? Because tech’s issues for women are a byproduct of a much larger set of systemic issues and until we address a range of underlying problems, “tech” won’t be able to outrun them.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I end almost every conversation I have with book recommendations – it’s a bad habit so I’ll try to keep it relatively short! Unleashed by Frances Frei and Anne Morriss is a core guide of mine; I also am a fan of Just Work by Kim Scott. Everyone in startups should subscribe to First Round Review’s newsletter and podcast. Harvard Business Review’s Women at Work is a fantastic podcast; more generally, “The Best One Yet” (formerly Robinhood Snacks) and Pivot podcasts for business and tech news; also, Reid Hoffman’s Masters of Scale. My actual advice, though, is to read/listen/consume broadly and apply what you learn to your day-to-day. I subscribe to so many newsletters and podcasts outside any of my focus areas and I think that helps me draw new ideas and thinking to my work.

Tara McGeehan

Inspirational Woman: Tara McGeehan | President, CGI UK Operations

Tara McGeehanTara McGeehan was appointed President of CGI’s UK operations in January 2018.

In May 2019, to capitalise on market synergies, the Australia Business Unit was added to the UK Operations, forming the UK and Australia Strategic Business Unit. As President, Tara leads a team that brings all of CGI’s end-to-end capabilities and industry and technology expertise to clients across these regions.

Tell us a bit about yourself

As President of CGI UK and Australia operations, I lead a team of over 5,500 professionals and consultants across two continents. Aware that I lead a multi-national and cultural workforce, I am passionate about diversity and encouraging young people and women to enter the technology industry. I enjoy contributing to our business as a thought leader and being part of a team which delivers on the most complex programmes.  I endeavour to model CGI values both internally and externally.

What are the biggest challenges facing young professionals in their careers today?

As we, optimistically might I say, near the end of the pandemic, it is clear that the digital economy will drive a lot of recovery. This is tech’s chance to lean in as a growth sector to drive young people and women into the industry and help businesses through to the other side. We have the opportunity to channel young people into the world of tech, particularly those who are struggling to find a fit for their degrees or qualifications and get their first job. The long-term career progression of our young professionals depends on it as we strive to make up for lost time, especially as for many, they may have only had a limited time in the office or none at all. I remember how important socialisation was during the early years of my career, and it was critical in fostering my approach to business and colleagues. Being in the office was an introduction to working in a generationally diverse environment and is where I learned to work and build relationships with people of different ages and backgrounds. Whilst we all hope that working fully remote is a temporary situation, it is pertinent to reflect on the affect this may have had on the mental health of young people in the long term. I believe it’s the duty of senior professionals to help young people make up for lost time in the workplace by diversifying and teaching all that we can.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

My biggest career achievements to date include challenging the norm and pushing back against convention in regard to how women work in the technology sector. I’m also proud to have worked with the teams at CGI to initiate our own ethnicity pay gap report, which came about after talking to employees from minority backgrounds about how we could better support them and initiate change. Other initiatives I have overseen with the team have also helped to prevent bias and aim to increase inclusivity, such as encouraging people to include phonetics in their email signatures. To build on this, we are also looking into the development of a shadow board, which will be a diverse group of people discussing the same topics alongside the CGI board to see if they reach the same conclusions. This will give us a well-rounded perspective from people of all backgrounds to foster trust at all levels at CGI.

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

I believe that consistency and fairness have always been the cornerstone of success. I have been able to build successful working relationships by being reliable and assuming others will be reliable too. My belief is that you need to be consistent regardless of age, gender or schooling and you need to know that you will get the same answer regardless of who you are. To me, fairness needs to underpin everything; these are principles which I carry throughout both my personal and professional life.

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

The digital economy, as I’ve mentioned, will act as a force to drive a lot of the nation’s recovery. An element of this will be the drive to funnel more talented women into the industry. You can see that in some ways, the pandemic has aided in the levelling out of the sector, giving flexibility to those who wanted to balance work and home life and reduce the role of presenteeism. With this at front of mind, the tech industry should be working to actively encourage and foster an environment where older women who want to get back to work after having a family want to join. After all, we know that flexible working is conducive to productivity – having a family isn’t a hindrance and should never be seen as one.

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

I believe companies can support progress and the careers of women by having complete transparency and objectivity. This is ultimately down to taking the time to listen to your employees. Prior to the pandemic, many women were put off by the idea of a career in tech, thinking it would involve longer days, or more travelling - all of which meant an encroachment on family life. Now there is no need to choose between being home for the family or doing a two-hour commute. I feel strongly that this accessibility to the workplace will reflect in the number of women putting themselves forward for promotion or entering the tech sector.

Currently, women make up just 17 per cent of the workforce 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?

Accountability will be vital to accelerate the pace of women in tech. As a sector we need to be having serious discussions around subjects like the gender pay gap, and encouraging businesses to be accountable is the only way we are going to progress. It’s unacceptable that the government said businesses don’t need to publish their 2020 results and this will not aid in diversifying our industry, especially post-pandemic.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Staying current is so important, so I always make sure I’m reading a book relevant to my field, listening to a podcast, or following websites. Although these are valuable, the most significant resource is networking. Women are notoriously poor at networking, so getting better at that would benefit us all. After all, knowing people means you’re more likely to get better opportunities. When I was first starting my career, I made sure to join local women’s networks. There are some great ones out there, either near you or relevant to your role that are worth joining.

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

Inspirational Woman: Laura Baldwin | President, O'Reilly

Laura BaldwinLaura Baldwin began working with O’Reilly in October 2001 as Chief Financial Officer and added Chief Operating Officer to her responsibilities in October 2004.

She became O’Reilly’s first President in March 2011 and is currently responsible for O’Reilly’s businesses worldwide.

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

I started out in banking, which is where I learned how to marry my math skills with process and business. From there I transitioned into roles in cash management and finance. It didn’t take long for me to understand that finance is really telling the story of the operational decisions made every day in service of the business—and I’ve immersed myself in the business operations of every company I’ve worked for. That personal curiosity around business decision-making and strategy development led me to my current role at O’Reilly. I first joined the company as CFO, where I intentionally led the team through an operational decision-making lens. That resulted in promotions to COO and then president.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I didn’t plan my career, per say, but I always knew I wanted to be in a leadership position. When I was 29 years old, I remember thinking, “I want to be a CFO by the time I’m 35.” And it happened when I earned the title with Chronicle Publishing. But the rest of my career path has really been a combination of my love of numbers and my natural curiosity.

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

I’ve faced my fair share of challenges throughout my career. But one significant one that comes to mind was taking the reins of O’Reilly from the company’s iconic owner and CEO, Tim O’Reilly, in 2011. Tim built the company from the ground up, and for 33 years it served a community of technology and business visionaries with its educational books. At the time, print publishing—an industry that has slumped at pace with the internet’s rapid growth—made up about 75% of O’Reilly’s revenue. I knew that to succeed we’d need to build a new paradigm for bringing our editorial instincts to market. It was imperative to transition to an audience-first approach and build out new capabilities such as video, newsletters, and training courses. We developed a path to become a true media company, which secured our current evolution into a digital learning organisation. As time would prove out, it was ultimately the right decision. But it wasn’t a popular one at the time, and it faced much pushback by employees all the way up to my peers on the executive team. But my career journey has taught me that the numbers tell the story, and we did what was right for the business. Even when it wasn’t easy.

This would prepare me for another tough business challenge that came last year at the onset of the pandemic. In March 2020, we made the difficult decision to shutter our live conference business, which drove almost $40 million in annual revenue. As was the case with our transition from publisher to media company to online learning platform a decade prior, we had to weigh what was working presently—and decide what would put O’Reilly in the best position to serve our learners now and in the future. While this was an extremely difficult decision, both personally and professionally, it enabled us to create an innovative solution through a new virtual conference series. Despite the uncertainty of 2020, we achieved 24% year-over-year sales growth in new business across our enterprise learning solution. Again, we did what was right for the business even when it wasn’t easy.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I’ve long been an advocate for promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and I’ve worked my entire career to elevate and promote talent when I saw it—and in tech that includes women. That’s why 49% of the O’Reilly senior team (director level and above) is made up of women; a number far above the North America average of 29% per

But given the horrific events over the last several years—and the trenchant demands being made to meet them, including from the Me Too, Black Lives Matter, and Stop Asian Hate movements—it’s clear we still have a very long way to go. From both a social and humanitarian standpoint but also from a professional one.

In 2015, O’Reilly created a diversity and inclusion scholarship program to help people from underrepresented communities more easily attend our events. We made a concerted effort to improve the diversity of our lineup of experts at our conferences, and within two years 30% of our keynote speakers were women. Within five years 100% of speakers at our virtual open source event were women.

When our in-person events were shuttered we still wanted to ensure the O'Reilly community remained welcoming to everyone. So just this month we announced a new scholarship program to provide access to the O’Reilly learning platform to help people from underrepresented groups stay on top of technology trends and set them up for career success. What started as a move to abate the “brogrammer” culture that was proliferating in Silicon Valley at the time has evolved into a more critical call to action to change the face of technology for good. These initiatives are ones I’m proud of, and they’re some of the best ideas I’ve brought to the company.

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

I’ve been very fortunate to have great mentors throughout my career, but the one who affected me the most was Kathy Franzen, CFO of Giorgio Beverly Hills in the mid-eighties. I watched her navigate the company’s all-male executive team with grace and dignity, and she never deferred to the male leadership in the room as I had previously seen women do in the workforce. Instead, she challenged them—which made them and everyone else around her better. She gave me opportunities because she saw potential in my hard work; she elevated those who earned it. I learned how to lead and grow talent simply by watching her, and she was shaping my career without even knowing it. She taught me early on to have a voice and not be afraid to use it.

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

To excel in the fast-paced tech industry (or really any field), you need to be a student. You simply can’t cultivate progress or innovation without the desire to learn. Find out what tools and resources your company offers to help you build skills. If there aren’t any existing solutions in place, propose some options to your managers or the HR department to help your organisation promote a culture of innovation. There are so many ways your company can invest in its talent, from learning platforms and virtual event passes to online certification programs and even local college courses. Encourage them to do so. Because when companies provide ways for employees to learn, they strengthen their own business position and gain a competitive edge. And when you take initiative to advocate for yourself and your coworkers, it demonstrates how much value your ideas can add to the organisation. Imagine what your businesses could accomplish by arming its entire workforce with the ability to learn on the job? It’s invaluable.

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

There are absolutely still barriers for success for women in tech, and in order to fix it we need to start at the root cause. The problem people have with women in tech doesn’t start at tech companies—it starts in third grade when little girls are told that math and science is hard. It starts when assertive little girls are told they’re being bossy but assertive boys are told they’re being leaders.

We have to stop this rhetoric and start encouraging all kids to pursue STEM careers—and it’s so important for them to learn these disciplines at an early age. But our education system is falling behind. If we want to create tomorrow’s tech leaders, it needs to get up to speed immediately. Fortunately, there are resources that are addressing this challenge. The Goldilocks Coding project, to give one example, is a unique method that uses the story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” to engage students in different stages of the technological problem-solving process. Students can design structures for Goldilocks to build to replace items that she broke, and work through a coding project that guides her path to reach the bears’ home. Resources like this need to be available to all kids very early on in their schooling to have the greatest impact.

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

Put simply? So much more than what’s being done currently. Companies need to give women a voice and support it. Really listen when they speak up or ask for something, and encourage them to go after what they want aggressively. If you’re a woman working for a company that doesn’t offer that kind of support, find one that does. You’re not different from men in tech—you’re just as smart and capable, and there are companies that want your perspective in their conversations. On the flip side, companies need to take a deep look at their organisations. How many technical workers or leadership roles are filled by women, and what can they do to increase those numbers? At O’Reilly, we’re constantly looking for ways to foster the next generation of talent. I’d advise all businesses to dedicate the time and resources to do the same. It’s not easy, but it’s necessary and it’s the right thing to do.

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?  

Waving a magic wand to fix the face of technology would be nice, but it’s going to take dedication and hard work to change an industry bias that has persisted for years. To accelerate changes that need to be made, I’d encourage all organisations to first acknowledge the problem, then address it head-on—starting with supporting elementary school education and continuing all the way up to leading global technology companies. Offer more resources, access to learning, and mentorship to help women climb the ladder and break through glass ceilings. Arm them with the skills they need to succeed, and celebrate lifelong learning and curiosity. Make a firm commitment—backed by numbers—of how you plan to increase the representation of women and people from other underrepresented groups in your company. We all have so much to gain from a more diverse technology industry. Now we just have to work together to make it happen.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Of course I’d have to say O’Reilly offers a great selection of videos, books, tutorials, live online training courses, virtual events, interactive learning scenarios, and certification programs to help tech professionals build new skills and reskill. This goes beyond providing the tools and learning materials on a subject; we’re actually helping businesses and individuals understand why certain trends or technologies are important and how they’ll shape our work and personal lives. We’ve dubbed this the “O’Reilly Radar,” and it’s built into the DNA of our entire organisation. We provide a learning environment that helps people put this technology-driven world into context and sheds some light on what’s possible to give them a more focused outlook for the future. Most importantly, we’ve made a commitment to increase the diversity of our course leaders and speakers to 40% this year, so learners from marginalized groups—like women—can see themselves represented in positions of leadership in the tech industry and elsewhere.

Regardless of where you go for your learning resources, I encourage women to be voracious learners, not just of tech but of our world.

I’d encourage women interested in O’Reilly to explore our new diversity and inclusion scholarship, which will award 500 recipients with a free membership to our learning platform for one year. Applications are being accepted now through May 15. You can learn more here:

WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here

Inspirational Woman: Wendy Thomas | President, Secureworks

Wendy ThomasI’ve held a number of strategic, operational and financial leadership roles in the last 25 years, including Chief Strategy Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and Chief Product Officer.

Currently, as President of Secureworks, I support multiple functions, including product and engineering, operations, customer experience, and Secureworks’ threat intelligence-focused Counter Threat UnitTM (CTU).

Right now, my number one focus is leading Secureworks’ transformation of our vision, strategy and business model. We’ve been securing customers for nearly 20 years now, but the way we’re doing that has been evolving, as the industry and our customers’ security needs to beat the adversary are changing.

Siloed detection was noisy and insufficient, and customers weren’t spending their time wisely on the events that posed the greatest risk to their organisations. Increasingly, customers and channel partners have told us that they would value our guidance in building the skills, capabilities, and resources needed to run their own SecOps (Security Operations). This enables them to leverage the same software that our experts use on behalf of our customers, with continued access to the benefit of the broad threat intelligence we gather each day across a global ecosystem.

To solve for these opportunities, we invested in a world-class team of engineers and product developers to take everything we’ve learned, with an eye toward customer pain points, to build Secureworks® TaegisTM, our cloud-native security analytics platform, taking prediction, detection, and investigation and response to the next level. We’re also investing heavily in the customer experience, embedding the Voice of the Customer in everything we do, and expanding how we go to market with channel partners to protect more customers globally.

This is a multi-faceted transformation with a single, clear purpose to outpace and outmanoeuvre the adversary at scale. I’m really proud of everything teammates across the company are doing to keep us moving forward and to protect our customers.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Yes, I did. However, I’m afraid my forecasting success rate is pretty low! Most of the technologies that underpinned the industries I’ve worked in didn’t exist when I graduated from college.  And I’ve held roles in functions that, not only were outside my major, but were functions that I probably could not have described with great fidelity.

My career plans were always around the attributes of the career I wanted, versus titles or specialties. I sought organisations with a global footprint, in industries that would always force me to keep learning, and companies whose products and services were beneficial to the world. I wanted roles early on where my performance could be more objectively measured, ensuring my contributions and performance could be mine to own and control.

I also was very comfortable that my titles and even my compensation did not have to be linearly up and to the right. There were times, I stepped back in ‘title’, or shifted to a lower base with more compensation at risk, in different roles over the years because I saw that it added another, proverbial arrow to my quiver that was important to me in terms of my own development.  While some may not recommend a ‘non-traditional’ career approach, I think that mindset is what made me more open to taking on roles that weren’t pre-prescribed for me. That meant there were more opportunities open to me.

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

Everyone faces challenges – professional, personal, and unfortunately sometimes both at the same time!  The question is how you respond. Early on, I spent too much of my time thinking through a problem by myself – all the angles and permutations – and then simply taking a deep breath to keep fear of failure at bay, putting one foot in front of the other, and powering through.  Later, I learned to seek advice and a sounding board from someone I trusted.  Too often, I tried to figure things out on my own, thinking that’s what I was supposed to be able to do. But even when I was successful, net/net it simply took more time and energy than it needed to, versus if I had asked for counsel sooner.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I’m most proud of the number of people on my teams who have since gone on to even greater “greatness” – as they defined greatness.  For some, they’ve moved up the traditional career ladder to executive leadership, C-suite or Board roles.  But I’m equally proud of those who’ve sought counsel and support for major career path changes (both functional or industry), or how to embark on a new working model (e.g., job sharing, starting their own business), and forged their path accordingly.

From a more traditional career perspective, I’m most proud that I’ve landed in an industry that helps to make the world a better, safer place.  At Secureworks, we say our purpose is to “secure human progress,” and that truly reflects what we do each day. Whether keeping hospitals and vaccine makers safe from ransomware or making sure your financial information stays secure within your bank.

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

Looking back, it was my willingness and drive to take on stretch roles where I might not be wildly, perfectly successful.  I’ll admit to feeling a concern, especially later in my career, that if I put myself in a position to fail, and did, that I’d make it harder for other women (or another ‘non-traditional’ candidate) to get a shot at a similar senior opportunity.  That was an unfair burden to accept, and I often talk about that now with mentees who have similar concerns with respect to their race, veteran status, sexual orientation, etc.  It’s a very real, but not obvious, impediment to highly qualified people from accepting stretch roles that could accelerate their career path and personal development.

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

Three things to keep in mind in when looking to excel your career: feedback, mentors and sponsorship.

Seek feedback proactively, with an open demeanour. While not all feedback and advice will be useful, or even right for you, making people who care about you comfortable enough to share their observations and feedback will help you be more aware of how you’re perceived and enable you to grow beyond measure.

Seek mentors proactively and ensure that you have the foundational elements to make the relationship mutually beneficial.  Because a great mentor is also seeking knowledge, be equally thoughtful about what you bring to the relationship and what you specifically hope to gain.

Understand who your sponsors are (or are not) at your organisation.  Mentors are important, but careers rarely progress without strong sponsorship inside your organisation.

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

There are some interdependent phenomena that create a bit of kinetic friction to women (and others) in technology career paths, but I sincerely believe we can make a significant dent in that friction with the consistent application of a handful of practices over time.

  1. Pay consistency for qualified candidates regardless of race or gender. Lower pay for women means that, on average, family trade-off decisions more often result in career gaps for women, simply based on the math of income. I’m not talking about paying more regardless of the candidate’s qualifications. I’m talking about paying similarly valuable candidates (and similarly high performing employees) consistently, rather than opportunistically. That means ending the practice of offering compensation based on ‘what do you make now?’  The cycle starts early in a career and gets perpetuated over and over again across underrepresented groups.
  2. Recruiting practices. We’ve been scrubbing our job description postings around pre-qualifying requirements that are nice-to-have vs. must-have, to ensure we consider non-traditional great talent. Some of our greatest talent doesn’t have a traditional education. In fact, their proactive approach to being self-taught and obtaining certifications is a sign of drive.  And with coding challenges, internships, and other forums to do more objective assessments, the path to quality hiring is navigable.  We’ve also worked to be more conscious of how we recruit via ‘networking’ and employee referrals, particularly in situations where our employee base doesn’t reflect the diversity we see in the market.
  3. Flexibility. Particularly in technology roles, the quality, throughput, and impact of work very rarely must be done completely during traditional business hours and, as COVID has taught us, don’t always have to be done in an office building either. Presence may provide managers a false sense of control, but hours in the office do not equate to impact. They do, however, create barriers to recruiting great talent that needs any amount of flexibility. A flexible approach can benefit everyone, but women tend to be sensitive to signs of flexibility when considering a career choice, so don’t implicitly encourage them to self-select out.

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

I’d ask if you’ve not only identified which of your high performers are also high potential, but have you also proactively had a meaningful dialogue with that talent around what will help them progress and be successful in your organisation?  Underrepresented groups, who don’t see someone like them in a leadership role, tend to be more hesitant to ask for mentorship, feedback, or support.

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, Hollywood would make movies with flattering portrayals of technologists who are diverse AND the heroes. If COVID taught us anything this year, it’s that science can save the world.  What could attract more, desperately needed, talent to technology than showing the powerful benefit a career in STEM can have?  Helping young people visualise the variety and impact of STEM careers is so important to building a pipeline of talent that self-selects in.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

The resources I’d recommend for tech professionals is similar for both men, women and trans professionals. However, in terms of gender-specific events, I do enjoy opportunities to network with women in the cybersecurity space as a session at broader industry events like RSA.

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

Nabila Salem - Revolent featured

Inspirational Woman: Nabila Salem | President, Revolent Group

Nabila Salem - Revolent Nabila joined the board of Tenth Revolution Group in 2020 as the President of Revolent.

She is responsible for leading on the creation of cloud talent and has over 15 years of experience in professional services, tech recruitment, and marketing in the UK and USA. Nabila plays an active role in encouraging, supporting, and promoting diversity in the workplace and in 2019 featured in Management Today’s 35 Women Under 35 list.

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

At the beginning of this year, I joined the board of Tenth Revolution Group. I am also the President of our cloud talent creation division, Revolent Group. We cross-train talent that can thrive in cloud technology markets like Salesforce, AWS, and ServiceNow before placing them on client sites. I’ve got ambitious plans for Revolent Group, and this year we will see 300 people go through our programmes in the UK, US, and Australia, fuelling the market with much-needed cloud professionals.

Prior to this, I worked at FDM Group for 12 years alongside the founders in the UK and the USA. I saw the business grow from 300 to 4,000 people and what once was a family-run business became a FTSE 250 company. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with two founders so far in my career and have learned a great deal from them.

I also worked at IBM—so as you can see, my career has always been in the tech industry. I am passionate about diversity and inclusion, so I get involved in various initiatives and mentoring programmes throughout the year to inspire the next generation.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career? 

Yes, several times. Truth be told, it didn’t go as planned—I ended up doing different things than I originally planned and achieved far more than I set out to do.

I believe that plans are merely guidelines and should define goals that give us aspirations. However, the best plans are fluid and not set in stone—they develop, evolve, and change all the time. When opportunities arise, we need to be ready to jump at them and see where the journey takes us. If our plans are too rigid, we may miss out on those golden opportunities.

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

The industries I’ve worked in have always been male-dominated, and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t faced challenges along the way. But then again, who hasn’t? These are precisely the lessons that make us stronger and wiser. You overcome challenges by facing them head-on. The worst thing you can do is ignore a challenging situation because it begins to grow and will resurface will vengeance.

The biggest challenges and barriers exist in our minds. If we can overcome these, then there shouldn’t be anything else stopping us. The best advice I can give anyone reading this is to believe in yourself because if you don’t believe in yourself then no one else will.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date? 

I’ve been fortunate enough to achieve several great accomplishments in my career, including my most recent appointment as President of Revolent Group, and being recognised in Management Today’s 35 Women Under 35. But for me, my most significant career achievement was being the first and youngest woman to be promoted to VP at a FTSE 250 firm because it paved the way for other women and ethnic minorities to follow.

I was responsible for overseeing a team spanning five time zones. During that time, I was able to make great strides in diversifying the workplace and introducing numerous impactful initiatives around the world.

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

Perseverance. The barriers I’ve faced in my career represented opportunities for me to accomplish something. If you have a goal you want to achieve, keep trying until you get there—multiple roads lead to the same place. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can and can’t do.

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

Technology is continuously evolving, so grab every opportunity you can to upskill. If you have the drive to work hard, the determination to persevere, and the courage to put your ideas forward, you will excel. Finally, remember that success is a journey; it’s not all destination—so celebrate every little win you achieve along the way.

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

Yes, I do think there are still barriers for women in tech—especially when it comes down to workplace inclusion and visible representation of women in senior roles. However, barriers also represent an opportunity. You need to believe in yourself and know your worth. It helps to have sponsors at work who are willing to put their reputation on the line for you, as well as mentors who can guide you along the way.

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

A lot of the challenges women face in the industry coincide with having a family—the ‘motherhood penalty.’ It’s at this point when employers should prevent making their female talent feel guilty for wanting to have both a career and a family. Instead, they should be giving them additional support and encouragement to help them balance their responsibilities and progress as the tech leaders of tomorrow.

When I worked at IBM many years ago, the former Chairman in EMEA recognised this challenge and introduced an initiative to combat the issue. He made everyone’s job flexible, including his own, and gave mothers a pay rise when they returned to work after maternity—a great example for other companies to follow.

There is currently 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?

The digital skills gap continues to widen, and with the demand for tech professionals still outweighing the supply, candidates have more power than ever to gain the job of their dreams. If I could wave a magic wand, I would let every woman see what their future could look like if they chose a career in tech—the opportunities are infinite.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?  

There is so much out there to choose from in terms of resources nowadays. Networking events and conferences such as WeAreTechWomen and the Women in IT Summit are well worth attending. They’re both great platforms to meet new people, expand your tech network, and learn from others.

If you feel held back in your career, I would highly recommend reading ‘Playing Big’ by Tara Mohr. It was given to me when I was at a crossroads in my career, and it gave me the encouragement I needed to progress and take on new projects that led me to where I am today. Finally, if you don’t have a mentor—get one. I’m very fortunate to have a network of mentors that have helped me in many different ways throughout my career, from general advice and guidance to introducing me to valuable new contacts.

Jacqueline de Rojas featured

Inspirational Woman: Jacqueline de Rojas CBE | President, techUK

Jacqueline de Rojas
Image Credit: Gareth Cattermole, Getty Images

Jacqueline is the President of techUK and the President of the Digital Leaders board.

She sits as a Non-Executive Director on the board of UK technology business Rightmove plc; on the board of Costain plc, which is committed to solving the nation’s Infrastructure problems; and is also on the board of the online retailer AO World plc. An advisor to fast moving tech businesses and a business mentor at Merryck offering board and executive level coaching. She is the co-chair at the Institute of Coding, advises the board of Accelerate-Her and is especially delighted to lend her support to the Girlguiding Association for technology transformation. Passionate about diversity and inclusion which informs where she places her support.

In 2016 she entered the @Computerweekly Hall of Fame after being voted Computer Weekly's Most Influential Woman in IT 2015; she was listed on Debretts 2016 500 People of Influence – Digital & Social and named in Europe’s Inspiring Fifty most inspiring female role models for 2017. She was presented with the 2017 Catherine Variety award for Science and Technology and the 2018 Women in Tech Award for Advocate of the Year acknowledging her contribution to diversity. 2018 brought a nugget of acknowledgements including @womenoffuture Fifty #KindLeaders; 2018 @Inclusiveboards 100 BAME Leaders; 2018 Faces of Vibrant Digital Economy; 2018 @Computerweekly Most Influential People in UK IT.

Jacqueline was awarded CBE for Services to International Trade in Technology in the Queen's New Year Honours list 2018.

Happily married to Roger Andrews, they have three children and a new baby grandson.

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

My background is as a trouble shooter to blue chip enterprise software companies.  I have had a thirty-year career as an executive in the software industry but these days I have a portfolio career wearing many different hats. Current plc roles include non-executive director positions at Rightmove, Costain and

I am also fortunate enough to be able to donate my time to industry bodies such as techUK as its president, Digital Leaders also as its president and to the Institute of Coding as co-chair alongside Professor Bernie Morley.

I believe in mentoring as a way to unlock potential and am a mentor at the Merryck Group, which focuses on mentoring the leadership teams of global organisations.

To my mind, there is no doubt that diversity can help to safeguard the future of our technology industry by creating a world that works for everyone, I also believe that diversity and inclusion creates more profitable outcomes and am passionate about the importance of boardroom equality and empowering young women to enter, remain and lead from the front in the digital sector.

On a personal note I was born in Folkestone in 1962 to a Chinese father and British mother. Their relationship was not one of equals and we moved away to Swindon where my mother raised my brother and I alone until she remarried some years later. We didn’t have much of anything, family life was not picture perfect by any means but if it taught me anything, it taught me resilience, to become self-sufficient and extremely resourceful. I personally found great solace in the structure and rewards of school life; To this day education and opportunity remain important to me as I have raised and guided our own children.

My husband is incredibly talented and creative. He came from the tech industry but retrained as a yoga teacher and encourages me to be consistent with my practice of yoga and meditation - that is where I get my balance and strength. We have three kids, a grandson, two dogs and a very happy balance of family life and love.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

My career aspiration was originally to be a newscaster for the BBC. However, as I returned from a degree in European Business from Germany in 1986, I needed to earn money reasonably quickly, so when I was offered a job by my brother-in-law to join his company as a recruitment consultant in a very young but burgeoning technology sector, I grasped it with both hands and very much enjoyed it. I stayed there for a couple of years and was invited to join my largest client, a technology company called Synon (AS/400 application development). They had an international operation that needed a German-speaking leader, so having graduated with a degree in European Business and lived in Germany for some time, the combination of my language and business skills made me invaluable to manage their partner channel internationally! Did I choose technology? I rather feel it chose me…

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

I do recall a tricky moment when being introduced to one of my clients as the new managing director by one of my team. He had his back to me, and as he turned around with great excitement and anticipation only to be entirely disappointed when he saw me. He couldn’t stop himself exclaiming: “Oh my God, you’re a woman!” to which I replied with a smile on my face: “Oh my goodness, I didn’t realise I needed a penis to make a decision! But let’s discuss that over lunch…” I have always found that humour has helped me to diffuse awkward scenarios and often use it to counter what could escalate into unnecessarily difficult outcomes.

I would say that the biggest challenge has been promoting the case for women to be viewed as equals in the workplace and being promoted based on performance. There is a toxic combination of unequal opportunity and unequal pay, which creates a downward spiral. Add to that the lack of affordable child care and inflexible working hours and the playing field is definitely stacked against women

Female representation on FTSE 100 boards has increased from 12.5% in 2011 to 23.5% in 2015 and is growing as a result of the data and recommendations emanating from the Hampton-Alexander Report. At the time of writing there are still companies in the FTSE 100 which do not yet have any women on their boards. So, whilst things are changing, you could argue that sexism is still holding back over 50% of the population from reaching the very top and that is not to mention all other minority groups that are severely under-represented in tech.

Given the slow increase in the diversity of the talent pool and the increasing use of algorithms that dictate whether you get that university place, that mortgage or even that job interview, we must strive to have minority voices in the design, testing and implementation teams when building our digital world. I believe we must ALWAYS take the opportunity to ask, “Where are the others?”

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

There have been so many things to celebrate throughout my career. I have so many people in my life that I am grateful for and so much support to be thankful for. I rather think that being nominated for a Queen’s honour in 2018 was my major highlight.

I recall an official letter arriving on the doormat and as I sat with my husband going through the post (Yes, we still receive post!), he showed me a very serious-looking envelope, which I waved away and told him to open. I honestly wasn’t paying much attention as he opened the letter because I was busy focusing on the rest of the mail. And then as he paused and gasped, he said that I should read the letter….

At this point I went to my default position of ‘something terrible must have happened’. Roger had tears in his eyes, and I couldn’t bring myself to read it, so he did it for me. It was such a mind-blowing and unexpected moment as well as an enormous honour to be recognised for my work in the technology industry in promoting international trade. To be honest it only became real when we went to Buckingham Palace to receive my CBE in March 2018.

We had great fun getting ready for the occasion; new outfits, practising my curtsey and wondering who would bestow the honour that day. All the children were there – it was incredibly formal but also beautifully executed by the team at the palace and needless to say Prince William was charming, as you would expect a prince to be…

Jacqueline de Rojas

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

One of my life lessons came when crossing the chasm from manager to leader – I wish I had known earlier in my career that I didn’t need to be an alphazilla to make it. There are probably people out there who wished they hadn’t worked for me back then and I take this opportunity to apologise to anyone who found my leadership style aggressive! I guess I was trying to ‘fit in’ with the very male dominated culture that existed then and convinced myself that I had to behave like a man to make it.

Only when I realised that authentic leadership comes from knowing my values, sharing my vulnerabilities and creating space for others to be realise their potential could I transition into a leadership position where I felt the team could scale with infinite possibilities and where a culture existed of inclusion and tolerance.

That really set me free and I realise today that My job is simply to give them permission to be the best that they can be. And they rarely disappoint. Give people space to be amazing – they rarely disappoint.

It is something I often use when coaching others in leadership roles today. Values really matter and not all the great ideas come from the top!

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

My top tip would be to go through a period of self-reflection. Early in my career, I was so swamped with trying to keep up with everybody else. I won’t deny that I suffered from imposter syndrome and self-doubt, all compounded by being a mother to a small child, being half-Chinese and a woman in a management position in the very male-dominated software industry. I needed to find the shortest route to success, and I realised that it was not going to be found by doing it the same way as everybody else. So, I asked myself a simple question: ‘What am I good at?’ And when I stripped it down to the basics, I realised that my core skill is that I am good at solving problems and more than that I have the ability to ‘spot friction’ in the system. So, with that in mind, I branded myself as a trouble-shooter to large enterprise software companies.  Once I had done that I never looked back. In fact, once LinkedIn became ‘a thing’ (Because, of course, the internet and the mobile phone did not exist for businesses until late in my career), I never looked for a job again. They came looking for me….

Top tip then would be: Know what your core skill is and brand yourself that way.

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

Isn’t it bizarre that, as Chairman Mao once said, ‘women hold up half the sky’ in so many ways; economically, domestically and emotionally? We are often seen as a source of strength and backbone under pressure and yet barriers still exist when it comes to opportunities in tech and especially in leadership.

Jacqueline de Rojas

The question is ‘what can we do about it?’ and I am afraid to say that there is probably no silver bullet here; the cavalry is simply not coming. So, it falls to each and every one of us to play our part.

There are so many initiatives which champion not only the cause of women but all forms of diversity and inclusion for underrepresented minorities in tech.

The Tech Talent Charter run by Debbie Forster who advocates precisely how companies can make diversity a priority, ColorInTech which promotes BAME inclusion in tech via research and learning, Founders4Schools founded by Sherry Coutu CBE and which supplies schools across the country with business mentors and role models (Please sign up as a mentor!), the WISE Campaign headed by Helen Wollaston which runs the PeopleLikeMe programme supported by the diversity and skills council at techUK chaired by Sarah Atkinson.

We are so blessed to have incredible momentum created by individuals who just wake up every morning wanting to equal the playing field and I honour the work done by Vanessa Vallelly OBE here at WATC alongside others like the Stemmettes run by Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE, Code First Girls run by Amali de Alwis MBE,  techmums by Sue Black OBE, the returners programme sponsored by Sheila Flavell COO at FDM, TechPixies by Joy Foster and to Jack Parsons who leads the way to improve the odds for young people every day. This is a small snapshot of the incredible work of what we refer to as the #Sisterhood and our amazing #Manbassadors in UK Tech.

I was privileged to meet the Dalai Lama once and he reminded me that ‘if you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito’.

With that in mind, the question to ask is ‘are you a bystander or are you a participant?’

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

Join hundreds of other companies in the UK and sign the Tech Talent Charter! Supported by government and advocating simple steps for companies to make a difference to a diverse workforce. Find out more here

Jacqueline de Rojas, Tech Talent Charter launch

There is currently only 15 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?

I would ask us all to consider one simple question every time we are in a position of influence or challenge: ‘WHERE ARE THE OTHERS?’ If we ask this question at every meeting and every opportunity where it is clear that diversity and inclusion is missing, I am sure we can create momentum for change

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

Probably the single thing that separates the UK tech sector from any other tech community on the world is the fact that we have an extremely strong and nurturing network that is actively looking to inspire, recruit and retain diverse talent into the industry.

There is no doubt that we stand on the shoulders of each other and I am grateful for all of the effort and resources within this network to help and support others become successful in their journeys. We are all role models whether we choose to be or not and I believe we lead by example in our sector to create opportunity for all.

The great thing about tech is that there are no barriers to entry so check out your local network via WATC for example, as an individual join Digital Leaders for access to networking and online learning and sharing, join techUK if you are an SME or a large tech business to ensure that your voice is heard when forming government policy, check out TechNations amazing online learning resources for entrepreneurs and start ups and check out the Institute of Coding for courses that can increase your learning in new areas of technology.

As the author of Sapiens, Homo Deus and 21 Lessons for the 21st century, Yuval Noah Harari says: ‘It is not the robots you should worry about, it is how you are going to reskill yourself every ten years or less…’

Lifelong learning is a personal responsibility it seems. I make a personal commitment to learn something new every year!

Also I love a good podcast!