Melodie Hoke

Melodie Hoke | Publicis Sapient

Melodie Hoke

I'm a digital product design lead with expertise in design systems, interaction design and creative problem solving.

My passion lies in merging tech and creativity to craft experiences that help people, and hopefully bring a smile to their faces too.

My career began in branding and advertising design which, when coupled with my love for technology, has equipped me to bring a certain visual flair to the experiences that I create. Over the last decade, I’ve been lucky enough to partner with clients across categories including NatWest, Vodafone, Bacardi, Disney, New Balance and Mercedes-Benz. I’ve worked at digital agencies in my native Chicago and London, including Proximity, The BIO Agency and currently Publicis Sapient, where I lead the mobile app team for the NatWest Group account.

Inspirational Woman: Nancy Rowe | Inclusion & Diversity Lead, EMEA, Publicis Sapient

Nancy RoweNancy Rowe is Co-Chair of our Inclusion & Diversity Council and is a passionate and committed Inclusion and Diversity champion within a region of 4,000 employees with extensive strategy, leadership and change management experience.

Her experience spans a period of 20 years working in digitally-led organisatons in client facing, strategy, research and insight and people roles.

Her inclusion journey began through her involvement with the Publicis Groupe wide women’s network VivaWomen!, which she Co-Chaired for four years, before transitioning to lead Inclusion and Diversity across the Publicis Sapient International business full time. She has been a member of the BIMA Diversity Council since 2017 and has led a number of events and initiatives designed to shine a light on the benefits of diverse teams and creating inclusive workplace cultures. Working for a leader among Digital Business Transformation Accelerators (Forrester, 2019) Nancy’s interest lies at the heart of unlocking minority representation in technology enabled businesses.

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

I’ve worked in the UK digital industry for over twenty years. My interest in technology began when I won my local council’s Most Promising Pupil in Technology award when I was 12 or 13 years of age. I’ve always been fascinated by the possibilities of technology; to create an exciting future that is only limited by our imaginations. Despite not studying to become a developer, it’s through roles in interactive creative agencies in both sales and strategy that I have been able to explore how technology can impact our lives and be a force for good. My interest in Inclusion & Diversity began with my involvement in Publicis Groupe’s women’s network, which began on a volunteer basis. After five years of leading our women’s network across our UK business, an opportunity arose to combine my strategy skills with my growing interest in I&D and I took up my current role as the European lead of I&D at Publicis Sapient, the groupe’s Digital Business Transformation Consulting arm. Around the same time I became a member of BIMA’s Inclusion & Diversity Council, which is a cross industry initiative designed to create real and sustainable impact on the inclusivity and diversity of the digital industry in the UK. I’m also a member of the Women’s Forum Daring Circle for Women in AI. A global, cross-industry forum dedicated to ensuring women are not disproportionally affected by the development of AI and that women play a key role in the development of AI.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I’ve never had 3, 5 or 10 year plans but I’ve definitely known at every stage of my career exactly the area I wanted to be working in at that moment and within the next couple of years. In my 20s, life in a digital agency was fast-paced and the opportunity to work alongside talented individuals from both creative and technology fields was exciting and enjoyable. As I progressed in my career it become clear that I wanted to fulfil a greater purpose and combine my research and strategy skills in a role that could demonstrably change the experience of working in tech for marginalised groups.

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

I started a family when I hit my 30s and on my return to work I was struck by how difficult it was for working mothers to be seen to be committed to their careers as well as being good mothers. It was definitely either/or and there are many people in business who unfortunately still think this is the case. My response however, was to think just because it’s always been this way (for working mothers) it doesn’t have to always be this way, so I decided to bring women together to discuss what we were going to do about it! I’ve been on a 10 year mission to reinvent the world of work to be more responsive to the needs of working mothers (and fathers) and honestly do feel that in some areas we are making progress.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Probably lobbying to have a regional I&D role within my current organisation created to effectively manage the diversity of our talent and drive us towards a culture of inclusion.

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

Leveraging all the skills I had as a strategist and researcher, anticipating the seismic shifts that were coming in the digital age - an era of globalisation during which those organisations who are able to harness the sum of all their parts are truly the ones who gain competitive advantage.

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

Firstly, know that technology as an industry is a very broad space. Not everyone who works in tech is a developer – there are marketers, designers, finance teams etc. However, if you do wish to become a developer or a data scientist for example, know that the number of women moving into this space is increasing, many organisations are keen to support women in technology roles and you absolutely will have the right skills, knowledge and aptitude to succeed. The more we all normalise technology careers for women, the faster we’ll get to equal representation of women and men in tech.

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

Let’s be honest, yes there are still barriers. We’ve already spoken about educational norms being slightly stacked against women in STEM, but there are also societal ones around women in work in general, and especially working mothers. Then within organisations there are also systemic barriers, invisible performance evaluation biases and talent selection criteria which can also be a barrier.

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

Understand where you are now (in terms of your female representation) from a data perspective. How well does that stack up against women in the total population (generally 50%)? How happy are you with that? If you decide you want to be a force for good, set a target for your gender representation publicly and commit to achieving it by a given date. Hold your leadership team accountable for achieving it.

Use data to evaluate the number of women who apply for roles, get interviewed and successfully appointed.

Once you do employ women, pay them the same as men, regardless of their previous salary. Do not inherit and maintain inequity. Do the right thing.

There is currently on 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?

Legislate that all technology roles have to be filled 50% by women.

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

HBR’s Women at Work Podcast

Book: Invisible Women by Caroline Craido Perez,

Meet up: London Tech Ladies

tech pioneers featured

Advancing Your Career as a Woman in Tech

tech pioneers, women in tech

Wendy Johansson, GVP, Experience Transformation Lead, Publicis Sapient

Advancing your career as a woman in tech isn’t as simple as the merits of your work. Aside from your work, you’ll need 3 components to empower yourself to succeed: Confidence, Community, Continuity.

Confidence is a long and drawn subject, but one way to “fake it until you make it” with career confidence is being able to quantify and qualify the value of your work. You may have doubts about the impact you have or feel impostor syndrome on a daily basis, but the nice part of tech roles is that the data is often there for you to tell a story. What major projects did your work influence? What value do those projects have to the company? How would you demonstrate the improvement in quality or quantity of your work over time? Tell your story and you’ll find the natural confidence that comes with the data.

Community is an important advantage to stave off the isolation and self-doubt that minority demographics face in an often monotype tech environment. Joining a community of mentors, peers, and potential mentees allows you to learn from the women who have paved the path before you, the women who are walking alongside you, and the women looking up to you. A community isn’t available at your company? Grab coffee or go for a walking 1:1 with female colleagues and get to know them and their stories. Don’t gatekeep your community to other women in tech roles, but open your network up to all women around you in your tech career – from marketing to sales to operational roles. Create your own tribe.

Continuity is building the muscle memory – you wouldn’t go to the gym once and expect long-term benefits. Even after a particular instance of advancing your career, such as a promotion or a new job, you need to keep practicing Confidence and Community. Quantifying and qualifying the value of your work becomes natural if you set regular checkpoints with yourself. Monthly goals? Weekly task lists checked off? This muscle will help you ease into a stronger sense of confidence in your tech career. Continuity of community is just as important. If you leave a company, or even move to a new city, keep in touch with the tribe you’ve built. They’ve seen you grow and surpass challenges, so their advice and perspectives will always be most holistic and inclusive of your journey.

About the author

Wendy built her 25-year career on leading UX teams as an early employee at successful early-stage startups. She was the first designer at Loopt, Sam Altman’s YC-funded startup that later sold for $43 million. As the UX manager at Ooyala, she helped build the marketing, videography, and UX teams before the company were sold to Telstra for $400M. Wendy also led the global UX team at AppNexus, sold to AT&T for $1.6B, before joining Wizeline.

Inspirational Woman: Priya Bajoria | Senior Vice President, Financial Services & Digital Transformation Leader, Publicis Sapient

Priya Bajoria HeadshotPriya Bajoria was recently announced as Publicis Sapient’s Senior Vice President, Financial Services & Digital Transformation Leader.

With vast experience in industry transformation utilizing digital technologies and innovation, Priya has a unique background in both consulting and investment banking; she previously led Infosys’ North American capital markets business and was an Investment Banker with Merrill Lynch. She will bring the best of PS’s digital business transformation capabilities to Financial Services clients to help them become digitally enabled to better serve their end-customers. Priya has a strong PoV on the key technologies that would best drive digital transformation globally and as a champion of workplace diversity and sponsor/mentor of many women’s leadership networks, she can passionately talk about the important participation of women in the financial sector.

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

I recently joined Publicis Sapient (PS) as a Senior Vice President in Financial Services (FS), to partner with clients to transform their businesses utilizing digital technologies, and create a differentiated experience for their employees and customers. The FS industry has evolved into a multi-dimensional ecosystem and our clients need a partner with both best-in-class digital capabilities and also deep industry domain knowledge. We are that ‘connective tissue’ that can help firms reimagine their businesses of the future.

Prior to joining PS, I led Infosys’ capital markets practice in North America, where I worked for 19 years and was an investment banker with Merrill Lynch in Asia before that. I have an MBA degree in Finance and a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from leading universities in India and have also completed the Global Leadership Program and the Ignite Program on Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Stanford's Graduate School of Business. I volunteer my time to advance STEM education for middle/ high school students and am also a mentor/ sponsor of women’s leadership networks in financial services and technology industries.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career? 

When I was a student in India, STEM subjects were mandatory and were as integral to my early education as geography, history and languages. There was something structured and analytical yet creative about coding in particular that inspired me to earn a Bachelor’s in Computer Science. I followed that up with an MBA in Finance and got a job as an investment banker. A few years later, with the IT sector booming in India, I joined the technology industry as a consultant in financial services that helped leverage both my degrees and work experience.

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

One of the constants in the technology industry is change; as a result, the willingness to learn and adapt quickly to emerging innovations is essential for any professional in this industry. I have always enjoyed learning new skills, keeping my knowledge base current and finding assignments where I can apply the newly acquired capabilities. While there is no substitute for hard work towards becoming the best at what you do, finding great coaches/ mentors along the way also helped me alleviate the stress of navigating career challenges.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

It is extremely gratifying when you can truly collaborate with a client to find the right problem to solve and leverage the best of what your organization has to offer, to successfully implement a best-in-class technology solution within budget and on time. The trusted relationships that emerge as the result of successfully overcoming a challenge together is what makes it all the more memorable. One such instance was when my team and I were able to consolidate our firm’s position at a client as the preferred strategic partner by displacing competition and structuring innovative deals to deliver measurable business outcomes.

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

My sister and I have been lucky to be born to parents who have always encouraged us to work hard and make the most of what life has to offer. No field of study or career was out of bounds just because we were girls. They gave unconditional support as we made life choices and still continue to lead us by example.

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

The key to surviving as a technology professional is the willingness to learn and adapt quickly to emerging innovations. Developers have to keep the end-user in mind in everything they do. Technologists who can help their clients find business use-cases for next generation technologies and derive value-added insights from data, automate legacy systems and create a differentiated experience for consumers, will certainly excel.

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

There is a wave of change in the industry including higher awareness regarding diversity and inclusion. PS is committed to this cause and in the past few weeks alone, hired three women, including myself, in different leadership positions. We have to celebrate these successes, inspire ourselves and motivate those around us about the possible career choices available, so we can continue to break more glass ceilings, some of which may just be in our minds, while others may be real.

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

  • Create an active network of trusted mentors to guide women employees through different phases in their career
  • Encourage use of technology to make work-life integration easier and provide flexible ways of working
  • Build a path to bring women back to work if they had chosen to take a break in their careers along the way

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

Making education easily accessible for as many people, regardless of age, gender, race or religion. One effective way this could happen is if we had more teachers in the world. Those of us, who have had the privilege of a good education should volunteer to teach at least one topic that we know and are passionate about. “Each One Teach at least One”. Being an active mentor can significantly help in advancing careers of women in technology.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech? 

  • Become a member of the Business Resource Group supporting women in your organization. For example, within PS, we have the Women’s Leadership Network (WLN) and at the Publicis Groupe level, there is Viva Women, both of which are very active in employee engagement
  • Find a local Women in Technology group or any industry meet-up that can help you stay connected with the current and emerging trends / developments
  • Join an online or classroom course with a reputed agency to help learn a new technology or skill, the social networking opportunity in this class can be very helpful in your career as well
  • Attend an annual conference like Anita Borg Institute’s annual Grace Hopper Conference to meet like-minded women and get the periodic shot of inspiration

Bianca Jemsten

Bianca Jemsten | Publicis Sapient

Bianca Jemsten

I’ve worked and studied across a number of different geographies.

I started out my life in Germany but since my parents are originally from Sweden, we moved back there when I was ten years old. In high school I ran a small business with a couple of friends, which lead me to apply to a business focused university. I then ended up earning a dual degree in International Business and Finance from Georgetown University McDonough School of Business in Washington D.C.

After completing my studies in the states, I still didn't feel quite fulfilled by the prospect of moving into the finance industry. So, to give myself some time to think it through, I booked a one-way ticket to Argentina. Whilst I was there I met some software engineers working remotely. They encouraged me to start coding despite my non-existent technical background. This event triggered a love of coding and snowballed into spending endless hours teaching myself to code through online tutorials. Going from International Business and Finance to coding was quite a leap but definitely worth the experience and learning curve. I came across an intensive 3—month bootcamp in web development at General Assembly in London. I was thrilled at the prospect of learning a variety of frameworks so I immediately signed up and took part. When the course ended I began working at Publicis Sapient, a digital transformation agency. Since then I’ve had the opportunity to work on a number of exciting projects, up-skill in a variety of technologies and most importantly become involved in the tech community both internally and outside the office.

Anushree Subramani

Anushree Subramani | Publicis Sapient

Anushree Subramani

Anushree has dabbled in a lot of different areas like backend and devops before finding her love for frontend.

She is a big fan of open source and strongly believes in giving back to the community in whatever way possible.

She is an aspiring conference speaker who has been giving talks in several tech meet-ups in London. She is very active in the tech community (both online via Twitter and in person) and you will find her encouraging and lifting people up every chance she gets.