WeAreTechWomen Conference Speaker Spotlight: Mivy James, BAE Systems

WeAreTechWomen speaks to Mivy James, Head of Consulting, BAE Systems, about her career.

Mivy is also one of our speakers at our upcoming WeAreTechWomen: The Future World of Work conference on 22 November. Mivy will be discussing transforming technology leadership and systems engineering.

Mivy James has been an IT professional for 25 years. Having started her career as an analyst / programmer she is now Head of Consulting at BAE Systems were she is responsible for around 200 technical consultants. Her current areas of interest include supporting government departments on their digital transformation journeys and adoption of agile ways of working. She is also a passionate advocate for STEM careers and is the founder of her organisation’s gender balance network.

WeAreTechWomen, the Technology arm of WeAreTheCity, is hosting its fourth full-day conference in London, aimed at over 400 women who are wanting to broaden their technology horizons, learn new skills and build their tech networks.

Our unique conference will include the opportunity for our delegates to learn about a variety of technical topics and get involved in Q&A’s, hands-on activities and interactive workshops. Our aim is to provide an environment where our delegates can upskill and grow their skills/networks for the future.

Can you tell us a little about your background? Where you’ve come from, where you’ve worked, how you got to where you are today?

I started my career as an analyst / programmer after graduating in Computer Science & Maths 25 years ago. I really enjoyed the system engineering and design aspects of building IT systems so have gradually got involved in larger and larger challenges whilst slowly reducing the focus on coding. I really got into system design and architecture whilst working on an air traffic control system and having to create lots of analytical models to check that everything behaved as expected.

I then became more aware of the necessity for technology solutions to align with business vision – prompted by having witnessed some major programmes run away with themselves and forget this. This led me into enterprise architecture which is what I do these days, along with being the Head of Consulting for part of BAE Systems.

I work with UK government departments to support them on their digital transformation journeys.

And I am also the founder and chair of our gender balance network.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Far from it, or certainly not a long term plan. I have always followed what is interesting, what is useful and stepped up to pick up responsibility where I think it’s needed. Roles often change in the tech industry anyway so the interesting jobs in five years’ time probably don’t exist today.

But that said, I regularly revisit my strengths and interests to check that I am making the most of those in whatever I am doing as it’s so easy to slip into being generally busy but without a focus.

What inspired you to get involved with in motivational speaking?

We can all learn from each other and everyone has it in them to be a role model. I can’t ask others to step up to do public speaking if I’m not prepared to do it myself.

The process of having to prepare something actually helps me cement a lot of my own thoughts.

Do you have a favourite experience from your career?

A few years ago I was involved in defining the strategy and technical aspects of a business case for a large government digital transformation programme. There were some press releases about it and I saw some of my own work on the front pages of every single national paper. I was quite far removed from the parliamentary team so didn’t know it would be published. Imagine my surprise when I saw all the newspaper headlines at the station newsagent during my early morning commute.

What do you think WeAreTechWomen guests will gain from your talk?

The topic that I’ve chosen is relevant to most organisations today, and not just for technology programmes. Digital transformation is a major shift in the way organisations manage themselves. We’ve heard a lot about some angles but I plan to share some food for thought on what it really means for leadership culture.

What are your top three tips for success?

  • Grasp the opportunities in front of you. Often unexpected opportunities arise – with hindsight I know that the roles I was least sure about are the ones which have provided the biggest leaps forward in my career development.
  • Build transferable skills. The skills that we need to develop ourselves aren’t just the obvious technical ones. I did a stint as a project manager and soon realised that it wasn’t for me. However, my time in that role was really elevated by people management and stakeholder engagement skills – both of which hare really key to my current role.
  • Never stop learning. Continuous learning doesn’t have to be daunting nor does it always require attendance of intense training courses. There are so many different ways to learn and online resources break things up into manageable bite-size chunks.

What has been your biggest challenge during your career?

To keep focussed on what really motivates me. It’s easy to slip into being terribly busy and to lose that focus on what’s most interesting, plays to your strengths and is your niche contribution to the business. As I said earlier, I have taken to regularly reviewing what I am doing and checking how it aligns to avoid falling into the trap of just being busy all the time.

And actually, stepping up to do this talk is actually an outcome of my most recent career review as developing and sharing expertise is one of the things I enjoy most at work.

Which female role models are you most inspired by?

Of course there are the many women of history who shaped Computer Science. Their names need to be as synonymous with the field of technology as the many male tech entrepreneurs who are so greatly admired. Special mentions need to go to:

  • Ada Lovelace – needs no introduction!
  • Joan Clarke – who worked alongside Turing but, unlike her male peers, none of her methods or algorithms are named after her
  • Hedy Lamarr
  • The ENIAC 6 : Meltzer, Holberton, Antoneli, Teitelbam, Batik, Spenc
  • And, of course, Grace Hopper

Today we still need to do more to elevate the visibility of women in tech. In the UK alone we have Dame Stephanie Shirley, Dr Jan Peters and Professor Dame Wendy Hall to celebrate.

In your opinion, what is the biggest obstacle for women at work and how can it be overcome?

The potential of women is greatly underestimated, particularly when it comes to leadership.

There’s a strange reluctance to put women in leadership roles despite men being just as capable of messing up as they are of succeeding! This leadership-readiness perception really needs to be challenged. If there was a single way of overcoming it that would already have been resolved. There is no silver-bullet to fixing chauvinism.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?

To stop asking the women to pay an additional gender tax by making us solely responsible for the problem. Women don’t need fixing – I abhor initiatives aimed at fixing the alleged confidence gap. Instead, look at the root causes as to why women may be less confident when it comes to speaking up or progressing their careers and fix that.

What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t let other people take credit for your ideas and hard work. Self-promote more.


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WeAreTechWomen Conference Speaker Spotlight: Deborah O'Neill, Oliver Wyman

Deborah O'Neill

WeAreTechWomen speaks to Deborah O'Neill, Head of UK Digital, Partner, Oliver Wyman, about her career.

Deborah is also one of our speakers at our upcoming WeAreTechWomen: The Future World of Work conference on 22 November. Deborah will be discussing how to prevent big data anarchy in the UK.

Deborah O’Neill is UK Head of Digital and a partner at Oliver Wyman, where she leads complex digital transformations at the world’s largest companies. She helps her clients build out their engineering and delivery capability, making them self-sufficient and able to make changes more rapidly.

An expert in untethering businesses from technology systems and approaches no longer fit for purpose, Deborah has recently worked on the build and launch of several Greenfield businesses.

She is widely published on issues relating to how financial services companies can free themselves from legacy IT infrastructure, use data to strengthen connections to customers and better use analytics to prepare for AI.

Deborah’s work as a female leader has been recognised with numerous accolades. She is a committed advocate for gender equality who seeks to create mentoring and sponsorship opportunities for future female technologists both within Oliver Wyman and the industries she operates.

WeAreTechWomen, the Technology arm of WeAreTheCity, is hosting its fourth full-day conference in London, aimed at over 400 women who are wanting to broaden their technology horizons, learn new skills and build their tech networks.

Our unique conference will include the opportunity for our delegates to learn about a variety of technical topics and get involved in Q&A’s, hands-on activities and interactive workshops. Our aim is to provide an environment where our delegates can upskill and grow their skills/networks for the future.

Can you tell us a little about your background? Where you’ve come from, where you’ve worked, how you got to where you are today?

At the beginning of 2019 I was appointed the first Head of Digital for the UK and Ireland at Oliver Wyman, a global management consultancy.

I lead complex digital transformations at some of the world’s largest companies. This means designing and assembling future-proof technology capabilities that make their business processes faster, smarter, and more agile at adapting to change.
Being a practical, no-nonsense northerner helps me tremendously in my role. I cut through jargon, translate complex technology processes into plain English, and bring together diverse teams to solve complicated problems.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

When I think about career progression, mine has been like a level of Chuckie Egg – there are long ladders, but also places to hop off and sidestep onto another route. In my case, this was moving from working exclusively with financial services companies for six years into helping businesses across all industries deliver technology transformations.

What inspired you to get involved with in motivational speaking?

I started late in technology, but this has not hampered my move into such an exciting and growing sector. I’m now keen to show others – women, non-binary, BAME, LGBTQ+, or any combination of minorities - how they can develop into technology leadership positions.

Do you have a favourite experience from your career?

In 2018 my team helped start a new digital bank from scratch for RBS. During that year I served as interim Chief Technology Officer responsible for overseeing the design and build of the new technology platform, as well as recruiting a new team of experts to run the platform after the Oliver Wyman team finished.

What I really enjoyed about this temporary role was the opportunity to fully immerse myself in a ground-breaking project and lead a large, diverse team towards a single goal.

What do you think WeAreTechWomen guests will gain from your talk?

My talk will remind people about the positive impact big data has made in both business and society, and I’ll help the audience appreciate why tackling unethical use of personal data is so difficult, both nationally and globally. As a practical take away, attendees will be shown an ethical baseline for how they process personal data, and I’ll discuss with them what else governments and companies could be doing. In addition, I’ll show how actions by governments and companies will not enough to prevent further unethical data use unless each of us takes a greater responsibility for what we share digitally, from credit cards to birthdays to advertising preferences.

What are your top three tips for success?

  1. When you come to manage others, stay focused on leadership and empathy, not developing your individual skills to an expert level in all areas. Think of your team as a car with many moving parts and you are the driver behind the wheel. In this analogy, you don’t have to be a mechanic to set the direction and speed. It’s useful if you can learn how to change a tyre, but you must trust the experts on your team to corner balance the suspension or change the transmission fluid.
  2. Do everything you can to keep talented people on your team. To keep women in our teams, I make it my business to find out if our policies on issues such as parental leave and flexible working meet the industry standards and there is no stigma attached to taking advantage of them.
  3. Set up mentoring relationships for others – and be available as a mentor yourself – and showcase role models who those in minority groups can identify with. Don’t underestimate the power you have as a leader to act as a sponsor. Use your connections to advance the careers of those on your team through their endorsement and guidance.

What has been your biggest challenge during your career?

Balancing the development of my technical and content skills with getting more exposure to experiences such as presentation and client management skills. I was always very fearful of being “found out” for not knowing everything so I would try to learn everything before putting myself out there but I have found over the years that actually the ability to connect dots and structure the problem were almost more important. My tip would be to try and find safe spaces to practice presenting your ideas – either within internal team meetings or even just to take one segment within a larger presentation.

Which female role models are you most inspired by?

I studied physics at university, a field that has many female innovators hidden from mainstream history. While many will know that Marie Curie was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1903, fewer can name the other two women who subsequently won it: Maria Goeppert Mayer in 1963 and Donna Strickland in 2018.

In your opinion, what is the biggest obstacle for women at work and how can it be overcome?

Oliver Wyman research shows that while women begin their careers with ambitions equal to those of men, between the ages of 30–50 they become less willing than men to make sacrifices in their personal lives, and between 40 and 50 the proportion of women with ambitions to reach senior management drops below that for men.

To overcome this, businesses need to set an Executive Committee talent pipeline strategy. They need to develop bolder structural solutions by providing more flexible working options at all levels and finding ways to remove the stigma associated with using them. All genders should be encouraged to take parental leave and companies should have robust return-to-work programmes to support them back into the business. Address the promotion and pay gap, understanding that this is likely to be driven by invisible cultural factors.

Cultural change is also required: offices should endeavour to build an inclusive culture that a) recognises and promotes the value of diversity along all dimensions and b) is free from unconscious bias and therefore supports gender balance. This means putting practice ahead of theory, supporting men to support women and seeking enlightened leadership.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?

We’ve all heard about the statistic showing how competent women are getting bypassed by overconfident men. Men apply for a job when they meet only 60 per cent of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100 per cent of them. Clearly, this means we need to empower women to apply for more roles. Part of this is establishing and communicating a new approach to recruitment. For example, hiring managers should make it clearer that a job specification is more of a ‘wish list’ than a ‘check list’ and that the individual they want to hire can have a mix of these qualifications plus other valued skills and experiences.

What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?

I would remind myself to say ‘no’ more. So much of the work we deliver for clients has a technology component, and I am frequently being asked to join project calls and steering groups. I now empower people to hold these meetings without me and ask for help when they need a fresh perspective or a second opinion on the way forwards.


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WeAreTechWomen Conference Speaker Spotlight: Caroline Criado Perez OBE

Caroline Criado Perez

WeAreTechWomen speaks to Caroline Criado Perez OBE, Writer, Broadcaster and award winning feminist campaigner, Author of Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men, about her career.

Caroline is also one of the keynote speakers at our upcoming WeAreTechWomen: The Future World of Work conference on 22 November. Caroline will be discussing how, in a world largely built for and by men, women are systematically ignored.

Caroline is a writer, broadcaster and award-winning feminist campaigner. She is published across the major national media, and appears in both print and broadcast as a commentator on a wide range of topics.

Her first book, Do it Like a Woman, was published by Portobello in 2015. It was described as “a must-read” by the Sunday Independent and “rousing and immensely readable” by Good Housekeeping who selected it as their “best non-fiction”.Eleanor Marx hailed it in the New Statesman as “an extended and immersive piece of investigative journalism.” Her second book, INVISIBLE WOMEN: exposing data bias in a world designed for men, is published in March 2019 by Chatto in the UK & Abrams in the US.

Caroline has a degree in English language and literature from the University of Oxford, and studied behavioural and feminist economics at the LSE. She was the 2013 recipient of the Liberty Human Rights Campaigner of the Year award, and was named OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2015.

At the conference, Caroline will expose data bias in a world designed for men. She will be discussing how, in a world largely built for and by men, women are systematically ignored.

WeAreTechWomen, the Technology arm of WeAreTheCity, is hosting its fourth full-day conference in London, aimed at over 400 women who are wanting to broaden their technology horizons, learn new skills and build their tech networks.

Our unique conference will include the opportunity for our delegates to learn about a variety of technical topics and get involved in Q&A’s, hands-on activities and interactive workshops. Our aim is to provide an environment where our delegates can upskill and grow their skills/networks for the future.

Can you tell us a little about your background? Where you’ve come from, where you’ve worked, how you got to where you are today?

I took my time figuring out who I was and what I wanted to do. I didn’t go to university till I was 25. It was there, in my second year, that I read a book called Feminism and Linguistic Theory – and everything changed. I had always dismissed feminism and feminists, preferring to see myself as “one of the guys.” But this book made me realise that one of the things I had always dismissed (that so-called generic male words like “he” to mean “he or she” or “man” to mean “humankind” were in fact not generic at all) was absolutely correct. Because it made me realise that I was in fact picturing a man whenever I heard those words. And that completely transformed my world view, in no small part because I was just so shocked that I had been picturing men for 26 years and had never noticed. It made me evangelical about making everyone else see this bias too. And that is what pretty much everything I’ve done since has been about.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Absolutely not! I meandered to where I am today.

What inspired you to get involved with in motivational speaking?

I’m not sure I particularly see myself as a motivational speaker! I am passionate about changing people’s minds about feminism and speaking is one of the ways I try to do that.

Do you have a favourite experience from your career?

When the Scottish government announced that they were setting up a working group on collecting sex and gender disaggregated data in large part because of my book. That was incredible.

What do you think WeAreTechWomen guests will gain from your talk?

They will understand why it’s so important to collect sex-disaggregated data!

What are your top three tips for success?

Do what you’re passionate about.

Don’t worry about people thinking you’re not “nice”: if you’re a woman trying to change things, a lot of people won’t like you.

Get a dog.

What has been your biggest challenge during your career?

All the hate that accompanies any woman with a public profile

Which female role models are you most inspired by?

All the women who fought for our right to vote. They were so gutsy and fierce, and more radical than we can ever imagine being. The sheer effrontery of demanding the vote in the 1800s! I don’t think we can understand how outrageous a demand that was. But they fought all their lives for it against seemingly insurmountable odds – and they won. That gives me hope when I feel hopeless.

In your opinion, what is the biggest obstacle for women at work and how can it be overcome?

Women do 75 per cent of the world’s unpaid carework and it has a massively negative impact on their health and their careers. It can be be overcome by governments collecting data on this work (without which everything would fall apart) and creating policy to support it, including policy that encourages men to do their fair share.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?

Free universal childcare.

What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?

If boys think you’re too loud they are the problem, not you.


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WeAreTechWomen FEATURED

WeAreTechWomen announces its 2019 Conference - The Future World of Work | 22 November

Tech Women Conference

WeAreTechWomen, the technology arm of WeAreTheCity is hosting its fourth full day conference for female technologists on 22 November 2019 in central London.

This conference is aimed at women working in the tech sector who are looking to broaden their technology horizons, learn new skills and build their technology networks. The theme for this year’s conference is The Future World of Work and how innovation and disruption is driving change within the tech industry.

Our aim is to inspire attendees by delivering bitesize learning sessions for our audience. With the help of our amazing speakers and panellists, we will provide the opportunity for our delegates to learn about a broad range of technology topics as well as interact through panels, hands-on activities and workshops.

The conference will be attended by over 600+ women working in tech and is a 'must-attend' if you wish to drive your career, learn, network with your peers and be inspired.

BOOK HERE TO AVOID DISAPPOINTMENT

Topics on our conference agenda include AI, cyber, data, ethics, innovation, digital, health tech, regulation, innovation, payments, cloud, transformation, tech mental health, learn to code in Python, robotics, plus more topics to be added.

Panels include innovation and AI, cyber, data and ethics, next generation disruptors as well as a panel with C-suite leaders who will be sharing their tips for career success.

There will be opportunities for delegates to network with other attendees and connect via Blendology’s state of the art tap and connect technology. Delegates will have the opportunity to shape their learning by choosing from 12 different electives sessions with leading experts and speakers. These electives cover all bases from technical, generalist, career and engineering.

The Future World of Work is kindly sponsored and supported by Amazon, BAE Systems, Barclays, EY, J.P. Morgan, Lloyds, PwC, Oliver Wyman, Santander Technology, and Worldpay.

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Speakers

Caroline Criado Perez
Image: Rachel Louise Brown

We are proud to be joined by Caroline Criado Perez OBE, Writer, Broadcaster and award winning feminist campaigner, Author of Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men.

Caroline Criado Perez is a writer, broadcaster and award-winning feminist campaigner. She is published across the major national media, and appears in both print and broadcast as a commentator on a wide range of topics.

Her first book, Do it Like a Woman, was published by Portobello in 2015. It was described as “a must-read” by the Sunday Independent and “rousing and immensely readable” by Good Housekeeping who selected it as their “best non-fiction”. Eleanor Marx hailed it in the New Statesman as “an extended and immersive piece of investigative journalism,” while Bridget Christie chose it as one of her books of the year in the Guardian, declaring that “young girls and women everywhere should have a copy.” Her second book, INVISIBLE WOMEN: exposing data bias in a world designed for men, is published in March 2019 by Chatto in the UK & Abrams in the US.

Caroline lives in London with her small excitable dog, Poppy, has a degree in English language and literature from the University of Oxford, and studied behavioural and feminist economics at the LSE. She was the 2013 recipient of the Liberty Human Rights Campaigner of the Year award, and was named OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2015.

Other inspirational speakers include:

  • Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, President, techUK, Chair, Digital Leaders board, Non-exec director at Rightmove, Costain and AO
  • Deborah O’Neill, Partner and UK Head of Digital, Oliver Wyman
  • Rob McCargow, Director of AI, PwC
  • Pippa Malmgrem, Founder, H Robotics, Chief Economist and former special assistant to US President, George.W.Bush
  • Dr Ian Levy, Technical Director, NCSC
  • Phillipa Winter, Chief Informatics Officer, Bolton NHS
  • Rachel Dunscombe, CEO, NHS Digital Academy /Visiting Professor Imperial College
  • Dr Jess Wade, Physicist, Imperial College, London
  • Megan Caywood, Global Head of Digital Strategy, Barclays
  • Sheridan Ash, Partner, TechSheCan lead, PwC
  • Meri Williams, CTO, Monzo Bank

Look out for more inspirational speakers being announced over the coming weeks.


We are also delighted to welcome back Kate Russell, Journalist, Tech Reporter and Author, BBC Click, as our conference host and facilitator.

WeAreTechWomen are proud to welcome a number of not for profit tech organisations and campaigners as conference partners. A full list of our supporting partners will be announced shortly.

Early bird tickets to The Future World of Work are £275.00 + VAT

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Discover what happened at last year's WeAreTechWomen Conference below:

WeAreTechWomen Conference 2018 - Highlights from WeAreTheCity on Vimeo.

For corporate/education/charity ticket discounts, exhibition space or sponsorship opportunities, please email [email protected].