BioCatch - Gemma Staite

Meet one woman whose helping to fight cybercrime

Meet Gemma Staite, Lead Threat Analyst, BioCatch

Gemma is a Lead Threat Analyst at BioCatch where she works closely with customers to maximise the value they get from their technology investments.  Gemma has spent 17 years working in fraud and financial crime roles within the UK banking sector.  Prior to joining BioCatch, she led a Fraud Analytics team specialising in Data Analytics for online banking fraud prevention and managed a number of fraud tools, including BioCatch.

BioCatch - Gemma Staite

After a few dates, a man persuades a woman to deposit several hundred thousand dollars to his account.

The reason for this is that he would be hounded by his enemies, and his credit cards would be blocked. The woman gives the man the desired sum and ends up with a pile of debt on her hands.

Is this a case you’ve heard about before? But it’s not just about The Tinder Swindler who cheated numerous women out of millions of dollars through a complex scheme. It’s a familiar story, and it can happen to anyone. They all had one thing in common: they were duped by the “Love-Scam” ruse. 

Shame, guilt, anger, grief, and fear are among the consequences for the victims, in addition to the significant financial loss. 

BioCatch‘s team leaders have made it their mission to battle social engineering and emotional manipulation schemes, as well as to assist banks and financial institutions in detecting this form of fraud early on. This is accomplished through the application of behavioural biometrics-based technology. 

In this piece we talk to Gemma about her role at BioCatch and how she’s helping to fight cybercrime.

Tell us a bit more about your work with BioCatch? 

As the Threat Analytics Lead for EMEA, my role focuses on bringing behavioural insights to life for our customers using our data. At BioCatch, we have pioneered the use of behavioural biometrics and with this vast amount of data. I focus on providing insights that show how behaviour is key to solving today’s fraud and financial crime. I maximise our fraud detection by working closely with our data science team to investigate new trends and provide innovative solutions to mitigate them. As a key customer facing role, I ensure that I have strong relationships with those who use our technology day to day and build trust by demonstrating how the technology is helping them solve their business problems as well as, the value that we can bring to them by reducing their fraud losses.

Programmes such as The Tinder Swindler have recently brought “Love-Scams” to the forefront of people’s minds – how is BioCatch helping to fight these fraudsters? 

Romance Scams are one of the trickiest scam types to detect. Fraudsters target vulnerable individuals and trick them into believing they are in a relationship. After building trust with the victim, the criminal will then convince their victim that they urgently need money for medical bills or a similar emergency and coerce the victim into transferring their life savings. Victims believe that they are sending money to their loved one for a genuine reason and as such may not behave differently as to how they would making any other transaction.

At BioCatch, we are tackling this problem by focusing on the criminal.

Behavioural biometrics is an innovative solution to detecting money mules (a person who transfers money acquired illegally on behalf of others), by identifying accounts being operated in a suspicious manner prior to the inbound payment from the victim. One way to stop the transfer of the victim’s funds is to shut down the money mule accounts before they can be used. BioCatch technology can also utilize mobile data including SIM and applications data to identify users who are highly likely to be criminals involved in Love-Scams, also known as Romance Scams. Targeting the criminals operating the mule accounts, it is possible to stop the fraudsters in their tracks and prevent them from being able to launder the money they receive from their unsuspecting victim.

Are there any trends that people can look out for/ be aware of?

Social engineering continues to dominate the fraud landscape in the UK with it becoming increasingly prevalent in other regions. Impersonation and investment scams are nothing new, but fraudsters are continually adapting to a world that is now predominantly Mobile. Mobile Remote Access Tools (RAT) are used by fraudsters either to guide victims through the process of making payments themselves (authorised push payment) or to allow them to control the victim’s device and takeover the account. Mobile Malware is an increasing trend which we started to see in 2021 and is expected to increase through 2022 and into 2023. Phishing & Smishing attacks are still persistent, allowing fraudsters to harvest the information they need to either socially engineer a victim or to allow them to take over the account often vishing or intercepting OTP’s.

There is an infamous gender gap in the technology sector, but 42% of BioTech’s senior positions are held by women – why do you think this is? 

As BioCatch has grown, we have focused on putting the right people in leadership roles who have the skills and awareness to point the company in the right direction, as well as strong company values. The statistic that women make up 42% of our senior leadership team is a clear indication of this.

There is a strong feeling of equality at BioCatch where women play a key role in the day-to-day operation of the company and its innovation and growth.

In Israel, where our R&D teams are located, there is a strong technology industry and spirit of entrepreneurship, and this helps significantly in increasing the awareness of technology roles which ultimately increases the number of women applying for roles such as those at BioCatch. BioCatch is building technology that betters the world by fighting fraud and stopping the bad guys. This mission is something that we can all rally behind including women.

What support can tech companies give to encourage more women into senior roles? 

The leadership within tech companies need to accept that there isn’t an equal split between men and woman today and embrace the diversity that comes with a variety of people across the workforce. It is important to promote and encourage young women through education to seek out opportunities that may lead them to technology and create more awareness of the variety of jobs available within tech. As we support the progression of women in technology, companies need to embrace the diversity that they bring to the table, by doing so we will see more women stay in tech and rise into leadership roles.


WeAreTechWomen Survey (800 x 600 px)

WeAreTechWomen are proud to release our recommendations from our Barriers for Women in Tech research

WeAreTechWomen Survey

Last year, WeAreTechWomen partnered with Ipsos MORI and the Tech Talent Charter to look at the barriers women face in the tech industry. We are proud to release our recommendations from this research, publicly for the first time.

Women in tech infographic W800pxThe research canvassed the views of 369 women across a multitude of sectors. The findings included in the infographic show that 1 in 5 women in tech are thinking of leaving their jobs. With just 21% of women working in the tech industry*, if they chose to leave this would have a significant impact in terms of female representation in the sector. The findings also highlighted that 58% of respondents said that visible role models are one of the things that attract them to organisations but noted the lack of female representation at the top of their organisations. The other key finding was that only a third felt that processes and systems were in place to prepare them for promotion.

Mentorship was highly attributed to aid career progression; however, sponsorship opportunities appear to be lacking, with only 1 in 5 stating they have access to sponsorship programmes. Of those who did have access to sponsorship, 55% of them said it has greatly benefitted their career.  With regard to male allies, over 75% of survey respondents stated that at least some men are not allies, two thirds of whom finding that men talk over them or don’t listen in meetings. Only 19% of those surveyed see all or most men as allies, with 85% citing the best way to demonstrate allyship is by giving credit for achievements. It is no surprise that 29% of our respondents also stated they have experienced sexism or gender bias in some form. It is also interesting to see that salary has now become the main driver in terms of women joining a tech organisation (84%), followed by supportive managers (83%) and an inclusive culture (76%).

*Source: 2019 ONS data

“The research data shows mixed results. There is good news that those tech women surveyed are attracted to organisations by higher salaries and supportive managers. And while one in five are considering leaving their current roles, this is broadly in line with other current data across sectors around the “Great Resignation” – and 80% actually intend to remain in a tech role or in the tech sector. That’s positive for organisations which are being proactive about their gender balance efforts, but it still has the potential to cause significant damage to the overall sector representation which is starting from such a low base. The report highlights that the tech women surveyed are flagging issues about a lack of clarity and transparency around career paths in their organisations. While mentoring appears to be of some benefit, it’s not enough – and only 49% are aware of what sponsorship relationships are. Depressingly in this day and age, more than half of respondents (52%) still feel that their gender limits them in their careers.”

VANESSA VALLELY OBE, CEO, WEARETECHWOMEN

While it is deeply frustrating to see the numbers of women in tech at a plateau, there is much in this report to be optimistic about, IF you are an employer who is willing to act on it. We can see that women can be attracted to tech, can love tech, can be very successful and will want to stay in tech IF we as employers get it right. It is great to see that salary is being called out as a key factor, emphasising the positive impact and ongoing need for gender pay reporting. It is also positive to see other things that employers with smaller budgets can do to get it right in terms of transparent promotion structures, mentoring and sponsorship as well as good management and culture. The talent gap continues to grow and women are key to filling it. There are great actionable insights here, but it requires leadership, commitment and action. Every company willing to do this will reap the benefits.

DEBBIE FORSTER MBE, CEO, TECH TALENT CHARTER

Debbie Forster

“Few disagree that better gender balance is better for the technology industry and those working in the myriad of tech functions within every business. As with all companies addressing similar challenges, there is no silver bullet which will bring overnight change. However, this research highlights the potential cost of doing nothing (1 in 5 women working in tech are thinking of leaving their current role). This is not about fixing women. This is more about fixing the environment and culture in which they work. Transparency of promotion opportunities, increased awareness of bias (conscious and unconscious) and policies that acknowledge the distinctive needs of working women could all have material impact on women’s likelihood to remain within an organisation. Ipsos has been proud to partner with WeAreTheCity to give leaders in tech some clear actions that will improve the gender balance in their organisations.”

SUE PHILLIPS, PRESIDENT, IPSOS GENDER BALANCE NETWORK

Sue Phillips

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Level Up Summit 2022

06 DECEMBER 2022

We built the Level Up summit around the findings of this research, to highlight the issues women face and empower their careers.

Join us for keynotes, panels, Q&A’s and breakout sessions where we will be providing opportunities for our delegates to obtain an understanding of the key skills they will need to move in to more senior positions.

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Female Founders, Travel Tech in Scotland

Meet the women entrepreneurs transforming tourism with tech

Female Founders, Travel Tech in Scotland

2022 continues to be a challenging year for many businesses, with the pandemic still having an impact, costs rising across materials and services, and fresh uncertainty due to the conflict in Ukraine.

However, one area that has shown continued resilience and growth is “traveltech”, and in Scotland there are several women entrepreneurs blazing a trail in this sector.

Traveltech startups offer digital solutions to modernise tourism, transport and hospitality. Skyscanner is perhaps the best known of these, having grown from humble beginnings in Edinburgh to become a global search engine and travel agency available in over 30 languages and used by 100 million people per month.

The traveltech trend looks set to grow – according to a Tech Nation report published toward the end of last year, over £1bn was raised by traveltech companies in the last 3 years.

Let’s meet some of the women entrepreneurs transforming tourism with tech.

Meet Julie Grieve, Founder & CEO, Criton

Julie Grieve is the founder and CEO of Criton, a guest engagement and integrations platform for the hospitality sector. Criton simplifies digital transformation by creating a branded guest app which integrates all of the hotel’s guest facing technology.

Julie set up and was CEO of Lateral City, a luxury serviced apartment operator in Scotland which is where she had the idea for Criton. Her vision for Criton is to give independent operators access to big chain technology.

Julie is also a Director of Women in Tourism and an Ambassador for Women’s Enterprise Scotland.

Julie Grieve, Criton

“Demand for our product has grown significantly due to the pandemic”

Criton app used by BalbirnieJulie Grieve’s company Criton allows independent hotels to offer guests a fully digital journey, from check-in and mobile door keys to ordering food and drink, all through their phone. Julie launched it in 2016 after experiencing her own frustration.

“I was setting up a luxury serviced apartment business and I wanted to digitise the guest information, which was constantly changing and communicate with guests pre, during and post stay. However the cost for an app, similar to what the chains were offering was extortionate and out of the reach of an independent operator. I googled Wordpress for app builders and it didn’t exist.

“I thought this was something that other hoteliers might also find of use and so I started to do some research and eventually started Criton to help hoteliers offer a digital guest journey.”

Julie is confident she has tapped into an area of growing interest.

“Demand for our product has grown significantly due to the pandemic as it allows hotels to offer a fully contactless guest journey, so I expect we will continue going from strength to strength.

“Tourism is of huge importance to Scotland and over the past few years we have grown a wide range of traveltech businesses. The significant issues faced by tourism in terms of staffing is driving a need for technology to aid efficiencies. There are lots of opportunities for operators and technology vendors.”

Meet Nikki Gibson, Founder, Swurf

Edinburgh-based businesswoman and entrepreneur Nikki Gibson has a career spanning 25 years in hospitality. Most recently Nikki founded SWURF, an innovative work surfing app connecting the new remote workforce with welcoming work spaces in the hospitality sector. Nikki is also co-owner and Managing Director of Naked Events, a bespoke venue agency of 14 years.

Nikki Gibson, Swurf

“I realised I needed to stop worrying about what I couldn’t control and focus on what I could.”

Swurf image of women coworkingNikki Gibson’s company, Swurf, which helps home-workers browse, book and use interesting work spaces, was started during the pandemic when her events company lost business overnight after twelve years of success.

“I have worked in hospitality my entire career. All revenue streams stopped with lockdown. I realised I needed to stop worrying about what I couldn’t control and focus on what I could. I recognised an opportunity to reconnect the new and growing audience of remote workers.

“Many hospitality spaces in local neighbourhoods were devastated by lockdown and seeking new revenue streams. There was also a desperate need to reconnect people to one another, supporting mental health and encouraging positive wellbeing. Our mission and vision is to grow a community for global Swurfers – this is what we call our users.”

Nikki says the opportunity to bring together technology and Scotland’s tourism offering is hugely exciting.

“Tourism is the heart of Scotland, a country blessed with world class beauty, culture and experiences. Technology is an enabler to the global demand and desire to be part of that and lockdown has accelerated development and growth.”

Meet Janani Prabhakaran, Founder and CEO, Unbaggaged

Janani Prabhakaran is the founder and CEO of Unbaggaged which helps travellers with storing and transporting bags and currently operating in Edinburgh. Janani is a business graduate at the University of Strathclyde and graduated in 2019– the same year she founded Unbaggaged. She has won the Santander CEO funding and has recently won the Scottish Young Edge in 2021 for her travel tech startup, Unbaggaged.

Janani Prabhakaran, Unbaggaged by Edinburgh castle

I wanted to push my limits and see whether entrepreneurship is my cup of tea instead of being bound to a desk job.”

Janani from UnbaggagedJanani Prabhakaran describes her company, Unbaggaged, as “Uber for bags”. It enables travellers to easily book mobile luggage storage during their visit to Edinburgh, offering pick ups and returns at convenient times and locations. It’s an idea that first occurred to her four years ago, aged 19, while studying at the University of Strathclyde.

“As an avid traveller, Unbaggaged was dreamed up on a trip to London. The last day on the trip was hugely inconvenienced by having to drag bags around after being turned away at the British Museum, before reluctantly forking out £12.50 per bag to store them at a left luggage facility. I knew there was a real need being left unmet, and a sector ripe for disruption.

“Luggage is one of the sulkiest tasks that we deal with whilst travelling so why not take it away and make the most of every minute in the new destination! Personally, I wanted to push my limits and see whether entrepreneurship is my cup of tea instead of being bound to a desk job.”

Janani was right to push herself. “We launched Unbaggaged after surviving the pandemic in May 2021, and have welcomed so many customers, won the Scottish Young Edge and have partnered with 475 hospitality-related businesses in Edinburgh. We plan to scale to Glasgow and London in the next year and to Europe and the USA in the next five years. Our vision is to become the go-to solution for luggage difficulties the world over.”

She says Scotland has been bitten by the traveltech bug.

“Scotland’s traveltech community is able to think beyond what a traditional tourism industry looks like. Skyscanner is one of the key examples for getting unicorn status. Another reason is the number of female entrepreneurs. Julie Grieve from Criton and others have definitely made the industry more exciting, innovative and built investable companies that have put Scotland on the map.”


Back behind view photo of programmer lady look big monitor check id-address work overtime check debugging system wear specs casual shirt sit table late night office indoors, coding

What’s holding you back? Debunking misconceptions around women in tech

Back behind view photo of programmer lady look big monitor check id-address work overtime check debugging system wear specs casual shirt sit table late night office indoors, coding, women in tech

By Magda Domagala – Experience Strategist @ UNIT9: global brand innovation / Tech Co of the Year 2020 & 2021

Growing up, I was completely wrapped-up in the Internet and gaming culture.

My teenage years were defined by evenings spent alone in my room, just me, my laptop and the infinite opportunities waiting to be explored behind the screen. I was a passionate tech user. Yet it never occurred to me that a career in tech could be for me. Tech roles seemed too complex and unattainable, and the industry too male-dominated.

After an education in an advertising-related field, I landed my first job at a consultancy agency during my last year of university. While I felt satisfied with the cultural field, I missed the excitement of tech. It wasn’t until last year, when researching sexism in the tech industry for an article, that I got the opportunity to speak to some female tech leaders. They painted a picture of an industry filled with curiosity, creativity and passion, telling me there were some challenges they experienced as women, but how they overcame them to find joy and fulfilment.

This completely changed my perspective and helped me unpack the misconceptions that held me back from working in tech. These conversations changed my own career path: I’m now two-months into a new role as an Experience Strategist at award-winning tech company, UNIT9, and any past apprehensions have been allayed. If you’re considering a job in tech, but something is holding you back, I’ll let you in on some of the myth-busting that helped me:

Misconception 1: I need to be highly knowledgeable about tech before starting a career in this industry.

The clue is in the heading  – you are starting a new career, and no one expects you to be an expert.

The tech industry, with all its intimidating jargon, is sometimes seen as impenetrable without insider knowledge. But I’ve found you can learn the language very quickly. Colleagues are extremely welcoming, curious and forward-thinking people who are genuinely excited about creating great work and helping you along the way.

Technology is constantly evolving, so a tech career comes with continuous learning. Unless you’re considering a role closely tied to something very niche, like a specific programming language, there are plenty of opportunities open for exploration – providing you are curious and willing to learn. A keen interest is just as important as past knowledge or experience and justifies your place as much as anyone else’s.

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She Can STEM

Misconception 2: The tech world is almost exclusively a ‘boy’s club’.

Whilst the tech industry does have a reputation for being male-dominated, it’s certainly not exclusively so.

With only 22 per cent able to name a famous female working in technology, it’s important to remember that history paints a different picture. The first person to publish an algorithm designed to be executed by a computer back in 1843 was a woman: leading programming engineer, Ada Lovelace. In 1952, Grace Hopper laid the foundations for modern programming languages with the first compiler that translated mathematical code into a machine-readable version. And Hollywood star, Hedy Lamarr, is perhaps more notably the inventor of the technology that forms the basis for today’s WiFi, GPS and Bluetooth.

That said, more work definitely needs to be done to close the gender gap. A recent report from PWC found women make up only 15 per cent of STEM roles in the UK. The cause can be traced right back to school, where girls are far less likely to study STEM subjects than boys – a trend that continues into higher education. Impactful interactive initiatives such as the Ad Council’s She Can Stem Minecraft activation are helping to drive change and encourage young girls to seek STEM careers. This will hopefully help us paint a different picture in the coming years.

Misconception 3: The bar will be set too high for me to keep up.  

Even though it’s hard to swallow, there seems to be a common feeling amongst women that we are simply not good enough for certain roles.

Internalised social constructs are to blame. Take neurosexism – the misconception that there are indisputable differences between male and female brains – which leads to the perception that women are inferior and unsuitable for certain roles, including those in the tech industry.

Imposter Syndrome is also prevalent, and it’s ironically regularly recognised amongst high achievers. The term, coined by psychologists, essentially describes a feeling of inadequacy and shame about ‘fluking’ your way to success – acting the part rather than earning it. This tends to take its grip at key moments within a career – especially when starting a new job. A recent study by KPMG shows 6 in 10 women have experienced this phenomenon during transitions to new roles, and it seems to be a gendered issue.

Reframing these psychological traps can be challenging, but we deserve to go after what we want. Next time you’re doubting your abilities, ask yourself if you actually have a reason to, or if it’s just your inner critic fuelled by one of these misconceptions. Women are more than capable of forging their own success in the tech industry. We just have some extra obstacles to overcome along the way.


Jo Barnard, Morrama

Being a woman in the design/tech industry is a superpower

jo barnard morrama

By Jo Barnard, Founder and CEO, Morrama

I first set up industrial design and innovation consultancy Morrama aged 24.

I was straight out of university with nothing to lose and a lot to learn. Six and a half years later, I have a team of 10 working with startups all over the world to bring tech and consumer product ideas to market and help create million-dollar brands.

In the early stages of my journey as a female founder and designer in a male dominated industry, I always felt a sense of pride proving people wrong. When clients met me for the first time, I could tell they had made the assumption that I was Jo (male) not Jo (female) over email. For example, I once went to China to meet with a factory team I’d been communicating with for six months and I can tell they were expecting a man to turn up. I enjoyed making people feel uncomfortable because of their own bias, I felt that they deserved it.

A few years on, however, I grew tired of it. It felt like my gender was influencing people’s beliefs in my ability to do my job, something that would never come into play if I was male. Lately I’ve gone full circle.

At Morrama, we design products for startups. They need to stand out from the crowd. Being a female-run and 50/50 gender split team sets the agency apart because it’s so rare in the industry. We approach brand strategy and design processes differently to our competitors and I know this is a major factor in both our success as an agency and the success of our startup partners.

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It’s not news that increased diversity leads to an increase in business performance in both design and business.

Being female makes it easier for me to hire other women. Being female gives me an edge in business where having a unique perspective helps you stand out. Being female has helped me create an amazing company.

After spending nearly 10 years in a male-dominated industry, I’ve learnt a lot.

Below are my top tips for young women, who are just starting out in the industry:

  • Don’t be afraid to speak your mind and call people out if they are not being considerate or inclusive of others – you might get ignored, but it’s still worth saying.
  • Network as much as possible, and not just with other women – find an area that interests you and find a social group/networking event where you can meet others that share that interest. My network has been a huge support in my career so far.
  • Be brave – that might sound scary, but as women, we need to go after the opportunities we want, no one will give them to us on a silver platter.

Don’t ever let yourself be judged negatively for being different, that difference is your superpower.

About the author

After completing my Product Design degree I moved to London to work freelance, picking up jobs here and there in small design studios and startups.

In 2014 I founded Morrama with fellow industrial designer Rob Bye and took the reigns a year later when he left and founded Availo.

With a focus on helping small businesses and startups understand the value of design and, more importantly, user experience, I’ve since worked with clients worldwide to get their businesses off the ground.

My passion lies in helping companies build their brand through both story-telling and industrial design and how you can weave these two things together in a unique way to offer something fresh and exciting to your customers.

My expertise lies in understanding how to tackle the complex product development process and how you can collaborate with suppliers and stakeholders to strengthen your product offering rather than let it get diluted in logistics and compromise.

Aside from my work as founder of, and design at, Morrama, I offer my services as an advisor to startups at any stage of the product development process. More than anything I love hearing startups stories and working to make them a reality.


IKEA 3D printed meatball & job interview

Looking for a new career? IKEA invites tech talent for a job interview over 3D-printed meatballs

IKEA 3D printed meatball & job interview

IKEA is inviting people with imagination for a job interview over experimental 3D-printed meatballs as part of a new data and technology recruitment campaign.

During 2022, IKEA will open more than 150 technology and innovation roles across Europe. It’s reaching out for people who share its values and vision: to create a better everyday life for the many people.

The world-famous Swedish meatballs are an iconic part of the IKEA offer. Now IKEA is exploring new technologies to make them more sustainable. In line with their commitment to offer 50 per cent plant-based main meals in IKEA restaurants by 2025, IKEA menus already include plant balls as alternatives to traditional meatballs. The ambition is to make healthier and more sustainable eating easy, desirable and affordable.

IKEA is inviting candidates to bring their ideas and try some experimental plant-based meatballs prepared with a 3D printer. These never-before-served 3D-printed meatballs are being offered as part of its recruitment campaign “Taste the Future”, which launches on 1 February 2022. The campaign aims to entice a diverse and extraordinary range of tech talent through a unique, tasty and thought-provoking job interview for selected roles and people.

APPLY HERE

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The 3D-printed meatballs are just one experiment where IKEA is exploring new technologies to bring its vision to life.

All to reach more people and create a positive impact on the world.

Speaking about the campaign, Inter IKEA Group CIO Pascal Pauwels, “IKEA is at the start of a journey to embrace data and technology to become more affordable, accessible and sustainable in an omnichannel environment.”

“Naturally people with imagination will play a big role in that quest.”

“So here we’re looking for people who want to create a better everyday life with us.”

“This campaign is a great way to start the conversation.”

Karen Rivoire, IKEA Employer Brand Leader added, “We’re looking for down-to-earth data scientists, future architects, cyber guardians, unboxed engineers and common sense-makers.”

“People who want to co-create a better everyday life at home for the many with thin wallets.”

Explore more with the “Taste the Future” short film

IKEA logo

Climbing the ladder in tech

Woman climbing the ladder. Сareer growth, achievement of success in business or study.

Article by Fiona Hobbs, Chief Technology Officer, Opencast Software, the independent enterprise technology consultancy

With over 15 years in the tech industry, Fiona Hobbs discusses her experience so far, tips for anyone developing their career in tech and the lessons she has learnt on her journey to Chief Technology Officer.

Fiona is currently the CTO at Opencast, the independent enterprise technology consultancy headquartered in the North-East, where she works with clients across the financial services, government and health sectors.

Develop your passions

A lot of success in the tech stems from passion. Most people who work in the industry do so because they want to and because it’s a career they enjoy. Some technical roles don’t require you to have a degree, you just need to be able to demonstrate your knowledge and experience in different ways. For example, many developers have begun their careers because they were interested in gaming, and writing code for games allowed them to develop their knowledge to a point where they were qualified for jobs within the software delivery industry. Being passionate about what you do is vital in the tech industry.

For me, I enjoyed IT when I was at college and found I had a flair for coding, and that’s where my career stemmed from. I realised I liked having a job – and still do – where I can see a tangible difference has been made. For example, I get the opportunity to see millions of people using an app I have played a part in developing, or more recently, work that I did for a biotech company years ago – writing code for analysing genetic data – has been used to create the COVID vaccines. For me, that gives my career a real purpose and that pushes me to keep improving.

Secure your base knowledge

If you have the passion, the next step is to secure your base knowledge. In my case, it started by being the first female in my school to take IT at GCSE level, which allowed me to confirm I was good at it. Then, following a couple of unrelated jobs that I didn’t enjoy, I went back to college to do computing for A-Level, and then onto Durham University to complete a BSC in Software Engineering.

However, education is not everything – it gave me an understanding of which elements I enjoyed and didn’t enjoy, but the next most important thing is getting experience. Apply to the jobs you feel will add something to your repertoire, whether this be sector knowledge, or different types of coding and tech. I worked within biotech, pharma, financial services and education before narrowing down what I actually wanted to do. All experience counts if you’re learning along the way.

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Take the right leaps

As you move through different jobs, it becomes clear that sometimes you have to make leaps if you are going to end up where you want. The best thing about tech and IT is the amount of opportunities in the space. It has certainly made it easier in times of difficulty to feel confident that you will be able to secure another job using your skills.

I decided to take a leap when I realised I’d like to work as part of a larger team and practice all the lessons I had learnt around agile delivery. At this point in my career I moved to Sage, the enterprise software company, to work as a Senior Developer, delivering on projects. This eventually allowed me to move to Sage Spain, based in Barcelona, where I ran a global team developing Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for their platform.

This experience eventually led me to Opencast, where I have now been for seven years. I have seen the team grow hugely, and it has given me the chance to create the culture I would like to work in, alongside building the right products for our customers. I have worked on clients ranging from the NHS to DWP and Morgan Stanley, looking at their tech landscapes and guiding them down the right path. Working in a consultancy has also allowed me to take on two or three leading edge projects a year, which has given me double the amount of experience you would get as an inhouse CTO.

It’s key to think about what experience you have, what experience you want, and what kind of company you want to be based in. Make sure you’re aligning your values with your work, and you should be on the right path.

Key advice

My advice is: if you have a passion for tech or IT, go for it. Often, the syllabus at school can put people off, but in reality, IT is so much more than that. If you can’t build your knowledge alone, there are now key programmes such as Women Who Code that are encouraging women to get into this space if they have the desire to do so. If you enjoy writing code and being technical, then certainly don’t allow yourself to be pushed into a business focused or project management role. There is huge progression in tech, so stick with it.

Additionally, consider the best environments for learning and developing your skills. Nowadays everyone wants to have Government on their CV because they are working on leading projects and they are accessible. They are focused on making their culture diverse and collaborative, where other sectors may not be as forward thinking. It’s always important to look for the right work environment for you.

Finally, it’s been well acknowledged that women still have to struggle balancing a career and family life and not compromise on either. So it’s key for me to mention that technology is actually a great sector for being able to work remotely or work part time. It may only be a part of the puzzle, but it’s a crucial one for women trying to climb the ladder.


Got an idea that could shape the future? If you’re aged 16-25, enter Samsung UK's Solve for Tomorrow Competition for the chance to bring it to life

Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Competition

Got an idea that could shape the future? If you’re aged 16-25, enter Samsung UK’s Solve for Tomorrow Competition for the chance to bring it to life with expert mentorship and support delivered in partnership with Digital Catapult.

Driven by the global CSR vision, ‘Together for Tomorrow, Enabling People’, Samsung are on a mission to empower future generations to pioneer positive social change and build a better world for all.

The Solve for Tomorrow Competition is a chance to make your ideas a reality. You don’t need to be a coder or a tech expert, you just need passion. If you’re between 16 and 25 years old and you have an idea that could help build a better future, Samsung want to hear from you. You can enter either as an individual or a team up to five.

Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Competition 2

Shortlisted applicants will be matched with mentors from Samsung and the UK’s leading advanced technology innovation centre, Digital Catapult, to learn new skills and develop their idea at each stage of the competition through a range of workshops, coaching sessions, and one-to-ones support, before the final winner is chosen.

Samsung and Digital Catapult will help you get under the skin of your idea, share invaluable experiences and give you all the encouragement you’ll need to build it out, make it better and get it ready for the real world.

Come design the future with Samsung. No qualifications needed.

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Smiling man and woman standing on weighing dishes of balance scale. Concept of gender equality at work or in business, equal rights for both sexes. Colorful vector illustration in flat cartoon style.

‘Frat boy’ tech is out: how business leaders can crack the code on gender equality

Tech is not the only industry blighted by gender discrimination, but it is certainly a key culprit.

It was chilling to read of the allegations against Activision Blizzard last month, which claim women in the company have been subject to sexual harassment, unequal pay, and retaliation. It hit me particularly hard because it’s telling that these prejudices still remain in tech, and because the ‘frat boy’ culture label rings some bells from my own experience.

However, across tech, women are rising to the top, and the fact that this Activision Blizzard news is, well – news, is significant. Employees are starting to redefine what their businesses stand for. They’re fighting for their voices and they’re being heard. Business leaders need to sit up and pay attention to what’s happening and fast; the world is changing and today, every voice is one that could have power.

Frat clubs in tech are over – and those hanging on to them will see themselves framed in ferocious articles, which pore over their many deeds of misconduct.

So how did we get here, and what must businesses do now to help break tech out of its misogynistic tendencies?

Busting the male-coder myth

Popularised by pop culture in the ilk of Mr. Robot, The Matrix’s Neo, and – let’s be honest – Mark Zuckerberg , the image of tech has been of a geeky guy in a dark bedroom, coding all day and night.

Recently, this bedtime story has started to fall apart at the seams. This is for two good reasons. The first – girls can, and do, code. Just look at the 450,000 girls in Britain who have participated in programs with Girls Who Code.

The second – tech doesn’t just need coders. It doesn’t even just need computer experts. And it certainly doesn’t just need men. Every skill is needed in technology, and every possible skill set can be accommodated within this sector. As much as with any business, people hire people – so emotional intelligence is key. We need organisers, creatives, project managers, HR, recruitment, designers, ideas people, realists, finance skills, operational know-how, managers – and on and on and on.

It’s up to business leaders to make this clear to the wider market, and to focus on hiring the right talent, rather than the right ‘fit’.

Role models

When I started my career, almost all my seniors were men. I started off in hedge funds and venture capital, where there was little margin for error and a culture already steeped in work-hard-play-hard toxicity.

Now, at Access Intelligence, our board is majority women. This is a pattern I’m beginning to see across the industry – tech firms are finally seeing recruitment initiatives that began long ago pay off in their leadership teams.

But I strongly feel that time should no longer be a limiting factor. Businesses worrying about diversity now cannot afford to wait until their graduates are in the c-suite. Regardless of gender, age, or any other demographic we might fall into – bright and capable people should be facilitated to progress in their career rapidly. Businesses who are truly future-facing are dropping the hierarchy in favour of finding the right person for the role.

It is damning to see any company still engaging in tired, sexist behaviours. Pioneering businesses are diversifying employee skill sets and promoting those with talent over those they’re familiar with. I hope that stories like the allegations at Activision Blizzard become rarer; and I hope that women thinking of joining the tech industry realise that today, those practices are no longer the norm. For now, it’s up to businesses to prove it.

Joanna ArnoldAbout the author

Joanna Arnold joined Access Intelligence  as COO in 2011 and became CEO in 2014. Under Joanna’s leadership, AI has become a business known for its commitment to using technology to transform the way in which journalists, politicians and online influencers access trusted, expert insight.

Her vision is a world of open and effective communication that tackles head on issues from fake news to information overload.

Before Access Intelligence, Joanna’s career included a combination of investment roles and ten years of M&A experience in the software sector. Alongside her role at AI, she is a non-executive director at Trailight Ltd, a compliance SaaS platform, solving regulatory challenges for Financial Services companies. Joanna graduated from Edinburgh University in 2004.


Avye Couloute

Inspirational Girl in Tech: Avye Couloute | Maker, coder, Tech Advocate, Social Entrepreneur & Founder, Girls Into Coding

Avye CoulouteAvye Couloute is a maker, coder, Tech Advocate, workshop leader and Social Entrepreneur.

She began attending coding & physical computing workshops at 7. Nowadays she is very active in the tech & maker community, dedicating a lot of her spare time to exploring & learning about coding & technology.

Among other activities, Avye led a regular coding & physical computing workshops for Coder Dojo at Kingston University & the University of West London and have entered and won competitions with the robots which she designs and makes.

Avye is enthusiastic about sharing her skills & experiences with others and she is an Arm ambassador, part of the GenArm2Z program which enables young people to talk to tech leaders about how technology is being used & shaped for the future.

Aware of female under-representation in STEM education & careers, Avye was motivated to found Girls Into Coding to encourage more girl involvement in tech, to offer them the opportunity to develop their digital and making skills. She has received the Diana Award, the Diana Legacy Award and the FDM EveryWoman Tech Award in the “One To Watch” category for her work to create opportunities for girls to engage with tech and for fundraising to provide girls with microcontrollers, physical computing kits & STEM themed books.

You can follow Avye and Girls Into Coding on Twitter.

Tell us a little bit about your background?

My name is Avye and I’m 13. I started coding & attending physical computing workshops at 7. They were fun, so I began joining loads of similar events and continued to explore what I was learning at home. To share my skills & experiences I started co-running coding workshops alongside two adult mentors & soon took on the responsibility for preparing & leading my own for CoderDojo at Kingston University and at other community tech events.

I noticed that the majority of attendees at my workshops were boys and so, almost three years ago I founded ‘Girls into Coding’ to get more girls into tech. I also design & build robots, and have won a couple of competitions with them. One of my wheeled robots has gone through a tonne of iterations and I use different versions of it in my different robotics workshops.

What sparked your interest in Technology?

I’ve always loved making stuff with unwanted objects, stuff from the recycling or anything that was going. I remember making a Time Machine  (not a real one). I got the family involved & together we conjured up this contraption which had loads of dials, levers and the insides of old electronic devices glued all over it. Later I would start adding basic electronic components like bulbs, buzzers & switches to make my creations more interesting. This sparked it all off and when I later discovered the microbit and components like servos and motors I saw how tech could really bring my creations to life.

Tell us a little about your social enterprise, Girls Into Coding?

I founded Girls Into Coding in 2018 and since 2020 my mum Helene has been project managing and giving the mission the full time attention it deserves. Girls into Coding offers girls aged 10-14 free opportunities to explore Coding, physical computing, robotics & 3D printing. – developing confidence & a sense of belonging in tech settings, while enabling girls to see their potential. Our overarching objective is to contribute towards a situation where girls & women are engaged in STEM activities, education & careers, equally comfortable, with an equal sense of belonging and in equal numbers.

To promote inclusivity and keep our workshop events hands-on through the pandemic, we developed materials & resources, designed & manufactured a range of robotics kits suitable for remote workshops.  We post these out to the girls along with other hardware, so they all have everything they need at home to participate in our live online workshops led by myself & our team of dedicated mentors.

What has been a highlight for you since working on Girls into Coding?

I am really proud of what I’ve accomplished with Girls Into Coding, we’ve helped to inspire more girls to give tech activities a go. I’m delighted to see more girls engaging with STEM  and that these opportunities have been  accessed by hundreds of girls throughout the UK and internationally, including girls from India, Kenya, Canada, USA, France, Ireland, Spain, Nigeria, Singapore & South Africa.

How do you manage your time with your schoolwork?

At times it’s very challenging because I have a lot to prepare, but once it’s done, it feels good. When you’ve prepared, you focus more on the outcome, and if you decide to put lots of effort into it, the outcome is going to be a better experience for all.

You have won lots of awards for your work, how does that make you feel?

Winning awards is a great feeling, it’s always a massive boost and reminds me that what I’m doing  with GIC is important and has real value. The awards always allow me to reflect on all the support & opportunities that I’ve benefited from – from different groups & individuals in the wider tech & maker community. Winning the awards really helps to raise awareness of issues that we’re trying to change.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on an IoT project for my Girls Into coding workshops.

I am also working on a personal AI project linked to reducing our use of plastic food & drink packaging . It’s very challenging, quite a slow process but I am learning a lot.

I am also working on a voice recognition project.

If you could change one thing in the world to create a better society, what would it be?

I would like people to work together to ensure that everyone can benefit from new developments more or less at the same time, so no one gets left behind.


Girls into Coding crowdfunding campaign

Help Avye empower girls through tech!

Girls Into Coding aims to engage at least 1000 girls every year with hands-on workshop opportunities and inspiring talks. This is to contribute towards addressing the gender gap in tech and to sustain girls’ interest, initially so that they continue pursuing Tech activities and ultimately, so they are engaged to consider STEM education & careers.

Crowdfunding to help give at least 1000 girls FREE access to Tech Opportunities

For Girls Into Coding to continue to make these opportunities inclusive and accessible to girls from a diverse range of backgrounds we work tirelessly throughout the year building relationships, applying for grants securing sponsorship, and fundraising.

Our target is to reach at least 1000 girls per year and so far this year we’ve reached just under 500 girls.

Through this campaign, we want to raise £10,000 to help us achieve or exceed our goal of reaching at least 1000 girls a year.

The money raised will contribute towards:

  • Delivering FREE Girls Into Coding workshop events
  • Buying components, materials, and equipment to develop new hands-on activities & resources for the workshops
  • Posting  the kits out to the girls (including return postage) for the hands-on workshops
  • Providing coding kits for girls to continue their STEM journey at home and beyond.
  • Providing STEM-related books for the girls.
  • Covering Project Management & Logistics Cost

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