Ady Sevy featured

Inspirational Woman: Ady Sevy | Product Manager, Aquila Insight


ady sevyAdy Sevy is a product manager at Edinburgh-based data analytics company, Aquila Insight. With a background as a helicopter simulator instructor in the Israeli Air Force, Ady studied cognitive and computer science and also gained a Master’s degree in applied data science. She previously had product management roles in data analytics companies in Tel Aviv and New York.

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

I’m currently a product manager at Aquila Insight, an Edinburgh-based data analyst company. In the past, I’ve also worked as a helicopter simulator instructor in the Israeli Air Force and studied cognitive and computer science, going on to achieve a Master’s degree in applied data science. Before starting at Aquila insight, I worked in product management roles in data analytics companies in Tel Aviv and New York.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No, not really. It was more a case of looking one or two steps ahead and ensuring I had the qualifications to get to that point. I was aware that the industry was changing fast and hoped I would be able to gain the skills to fit myself into a relevant position.

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?

As Sheryl Sandberg pointed out in her book Lean In, women are assessed according to their performances. That doesn’t sound so bad; except that men, in contrast, are being assessed by their potential. In the past, I’ve often had difficulties relating to this. For example, in one job I was promoted, but had a difficult time negotiating a salary increase to compliment this promotion and I first needed to “prove myself” in the new role. When it comes to job interviews, I sometimes find the salary negotiation extremely challenging for the above reason.

On a typical workday, how does you start your day and how does it end?

I start by defining realistic goals to myself for the day – looking at my calendar, my to-do list, and my upcoming deadlines. Later on in the day, I look at what I’ve accomplished so far and how my next day is looking. When it gets to the end of the week, I’ll try and plan a week or more in advance.

Tell us a little bit about your role and how did that come about?

I wanted to develop my career as product manager, so I aimed for positions on this level. Aquila Insight seemed like a great fit for me and stood out against other data analytical companies as they put data and analytics at the core of their company. I also knew that the role would require analysis expertise, which, as I had a previous experience as an analyst and an advance degree in Data Science, I was sure I could bring.

Have you ever had a mentor or a sponsor or anyone who has helped your career?

No, but it would be great to find someone willing to sponsor me in the future.

If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?

I’d like to see quotas in place during the hiring process so that women are favoured intentionally.

How would you encourage more women into STEM/ the digital industry?

It’s clear there’s a lack of female role models in the tech world. Perhaps if there had been more women in tech to look up to while I was at school, more girls would have gone into technology. We need to encourage females to choose science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) professions from as early an age as possible. For girls in primary school, it’s more important to keep activities hands-on, creative and fun – anything that will strike an interest with them. For older girls, offering scholarships or setting up coding workshops and events is likely to keep them engaged. I’m also a big supporter of coding workshops targeted for women, especially Rails Girls and Women who Code.

If you were to look back in five years, what would you see in terms of your achievements?

I would be able to reflect positively on the fact that I’ve only ever worked for companies where I’ve truly believed in their vision, mission or product. I’d be pleased to see that I’ve progressed through various roles and taken on various new responsibilities, achieved tangible change and been valuable to clients. Also, importantly, I’ve always promoted an ethical equal work place, ensuring that women are happy and comfortable at work.

Tell us about your plans for the future?

Eventually, I’d love to set up my own data analytical company or venture of that type - that would be a dream.



Female board members more likely to have tech experience than male counterparts

group of people meeting in a boardroom featured

Female board members are more likely to have professional technology experience than their male counterparts, according to new research.

The research, conducted by Accenture, suggests that 16 per cent of women on boards had professional tech experience, while only 9 per cent of male board members held experience in tech.

The report, entitled ‘Tech Experience: Women’s Stepping Stone to the Corporate Boardroom?’ examined female representation on the boards of 518 companies on the Forbes Global 2000 list across 39 countries.

Accenture’s research also suggests that this isn’t an isolated case. Of the ten most represented countries in their study – the US, Japan, Germany, China, France, UK, Spain, Canada, the Netherlands and Australia – seven showed similar results. Only China, Canada and Spain showed a higher level of male board members with tech experience than women.

The outcome is not just reflected across different countries but also within different industries. Capital markets & diversified financials and insurance were the only two industries to have more male board members than female. Within the tech industry, 51 per cent of board members were women with professional tech experience, compared to just 37 per cent of men.

Roxanne Taylor, Accenture’s chief marketing and communications officer said, “As technology disrupts virtually every industry, companies need to think more broadly about the type of skills and experience needed for their boards, including getting more technology acumen into the boardroom.”

“At the same time, they need to stay focused on gender diversity, since organisations with diversity at the board level perform better.”

“Women directors with technology experience bring diversity and valuable insight – a clear recipe for strategic advantage.”

Download the full research here.

Women Talk IT: Women in Security | Bank of America Merrill Lynch and WeAreTheCity Event | In Pictures


Bank of America Merrill Lynch recently held an event called Women Talk IT: Women in Security, which brought together information security professionals for networking and roundtable discussions.

Taking place at Bank of America Merrill Lynch's central London offices the event connected female professionals in the information security industry and offered an opportunity to learn from experienced senior leaders on how to successfully navigate the information security landscape.

The agenda consisted of a panel discussion followed by a round table and networking session over drinks and canapés. The panel provided an overview of challenges and opportunities for women in information security, ways to attract and retain women in this industry, and share lessons learned from their own careers. This event was also open to aspiring information security professionals.

The evening's panel discussion included:

  • Simon Riggs, Regional Information Security Officer, Global Information Security, EMEA
  • Ursula Mapley, Managing Director, Global Banking and Markets, EMEA
  • Andrew Butcher, head of Technology & Operations, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, EMEA
  • Moderator: Polly Cameron, COO, Global Information Security, EMEA

Children lose interest in tech in late teens, finds survey

children learning to use computer with parent
Children lose interest in careers in technology as they reach their late teenage years, according to a survey from Nominet and Parent Zone.

The study found that 77% of children aged 11 to 12 are more likely to be inspired by a career in IT, as opposed to 63% of 17 to 18 year olds.

Children aged 11 to 18 were found to be most interested in development careers, with almost a quarter stating they wanted to be a games developer. 13% said they wanted a career in apps development and 12.6% said they aspired to be a web developer.

Only a quarter of girls claimed they wanted to work in an IT department, compared to 43% of boys. However, 12.3% of girls said they would like a career in games development and 11.5% said they wanted to be an entrepreneur.

Vicki Shotbolt, CEO of Parent Zone, said children, particularly young women, can be put off of careers in technology if their parents advise them otherwise: “It’s easy for parents to slip into the trap of being negative about technology, but it’s important they try to see it through their children’s eyes and remember that technology is likely to feature in their careers when they leave school.

"There are lots of resources available to parents when it comes to cultivating their children’s interests in IT, so they should know that help is available if they need it.”

The majority of girls aged between 11 and 18 said they wanted a career in fashion design (13%). The top career for boys in this age group was games development (36.5%).

Shotbolt added: “Young women are strongly influenced by their school years, what they learn and the role models they look up to. These influences can clearly make a difference to the choices they make later in life, so it’s paramount we do all we can now to ensure the success of our future IT workforce.”

Russell Haworth, CEO of Nominet, said a collaborated effort between the IT industry and the education sector could help to ensure more young people are equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to pursue a technology career.

Haworth said: “We’re putting the future of our digital economy at risk if we recruit from only half of the talent pool and fail to encourage more girls into IT. It appears that sustained collaboration between schools and the IT industry is what’s required to ignite girls’ interest and to develop their skills.”

Sarah Thomas of Accenture takes the "wild card" job in tech and it pays off

Sarah Accenture Image featuredSarah Thomas always knew she wanted to work in medicine and science but after taking a “wild card” job application at Accenture she found herself in a position to take advantage of the transferable skills STEM (science, technology. engineering and maths) had to offer.

Now Managing Director, Marketing and Communications, Accenture Operations, at IT giant Accenture her career has taken her from technology to medicine and back.

She said it was the science side of medicine that first interested her at a young age: “My career wasn’t planned from an early age, but I knew I wanted to go into medicine and science and decided on pathology. I knew I didn’t want to be a doctor, so I decided to go down the science route as I had a fascination with viral diseases specifically HIV.

“It was a wild card job application at the time when I went into consulting at Accenture. That’s where I learnt about coding and programming, at Anderson Consulting, which later became Accenture.”

After a few years at Accenture ,Thomas said science was still calling her: “I went back to science and to Vienna to do my doctorate, and I worked on HIV and gene therapies at Novartis. I have always been fascinated by the way viruses evolve and the devastating impact they have on the human body.”

She later came back to London to take her Postdoctural Research Fellow specialising in cancer research at Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and then worked at the Medical Research Council.

“Then I was looking for something with a bit more of a dynamic environment and I had experience of the business world, so I ended up back at Accenture,” she added. “Networking was a big point there, as I had stayed in touch with past colleagues who let me know about available opportunities.”

Thomas said the bonus of working in STEM is that “you’re not judged in science for your gender. All that matters is that you’re an expert in your field. I haven’t found it a challenge being a woman in technology or sicence, as I’ve had some strong advocates and mentors in my career along the way.”

Accenture’s women’s network is called Accent on Gender which offers support for its female community. Accenture’s diversity agenda also features a Women’s Mentoring and Maternity Programme, a Connecting Women in Technology (CWIT) programme and International Women’s Day events.

Accenture has been working hard on increasing the amount of females in senior positions at the company, with a record 723 new managing directors and senior managing directors as of December 2015. Women now account for more than 28% of new managing directors and senior managing directors, a figure that is up from 21% in 2014.

There are now more than 130,000 women at Accenture, with the firm having pledged to grow the percentage of its new women hires by 40% worldwide by 2017.

Last year 39% of Accenture’s 100,00 new hires worldwide were women.

Thomas said it is not just the women at Accenture that are in support of diversity: “There are a lot of male champions at Accenture. Having male and female mentors is great, if you can secure them, as males will always tell me how it is whether I want to hear it or not. For example, if you’re over thinking something or you are not ready for a promotion.

“You need someone who has your back and who has your best interest at heart, but will tell it to you straight too. You need both strong women and men as support as both have different tactics.”

She has also on the board of not-for-profit Dress for Success and believes that you do not have to “box yourself in” when it comes to defining your role or career.

“You have to go out and grab what’s available to you. If opportunities are there and you think you have strengths that would be suited on a particular project then you should get involved, whether it’s on your own team or across the company,” said Thomas.

She advised making a plan: “I take time to map a ‘relationships map’, which is where I make a line graph to detail people you want to meet or get to know better. I don’t immediately call them all up, but I try to make a point to sit next to them at a dinner or event or I get involved in a project that I know that person will be working on. If you make a map then it’s more front of mind.”

Companies need to widen the net on STEM talent to attract more females

shield-1020318_640Companies need to widen the net on Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) talent if there are a lack of female Computer Science graduates coming through the pipeline, according to Christine Flounders, London R&D Manager at Bloomberg Technology Labs.

Speaking to WeAreTheCity during the WISE Conference 2015 at The Mermaid in Blackfriars last week, Flounders said: “Businesses need to figure out how to widen the net on talent in Stem. In the US you can change your mind about your studies and be hybrid. I didn’t know what I wanted to do at first and it’s not until university where you find out what you want to do and what your course actually means.”

Flounders said Bloomberg launched an enhanced bootcamp course for new employees that are not from a computer science background: “We have set up a bootcamp for new recruits to get up to date on Bloomberg and we have created an enhanced bootcamp for those who are not from a computer science background. When we go to universities, to recruit, we bring women with us.”

She studied Computer Science in New York and started at Bloomberg after graduation: “I came to London to build the London team. We’ve grown to 550 employees in 13 years with 70 different products.

“Two years ago we were at about 330 staff and I was expecting us to have employed more women by that point. I was in a position where I could do something about it and it was clear what the aspect of diversity could do for us. We had a good mix of people, but most of them were men.”

Flounders noted that a lack of women in front-end developer roles can put a company at a disadvantage when designing products: “The business case for diversity was not quite realised until about a year ago – it’s about making better products and being more competitive.

“The amount of decisions developers make are humongous, so ownership and decision making are key skills. We also have a lot of R&D initiated products so if there aren’t enough women in those roles that creates issues too.”