Tech role models featured

Top tips for women working in STEM

Tech role models featuredWomen have not always been under-represented in technology. We were the largest segment of the computing industry during the Second World War and until the mid-1960s.

However, as computer programming grew, the culture changed and women became underrepresented in STEM. This lack of diversity affects not only the pipeline of senior women in tech but the number of senior female role models for schoolchildren who, in turn, inspire the future talent pipeline.

Fast-forward to today and the tide is beginning to turn. In recent years we’ve seen more emphasis from all sectors on getting more women into STEM roles. But more needs to be done.

At Amazon we partnered with WISE two years ago for a UK study, and found that the top two barriers for women working in STEM careers identified were a lack of confidence (84 per cent) and having to adapt to a male dominated environment (75 per cent).

I’m keen to do my part to help the next generation of women thrive in tech, and so this Women's History Month I’m sharing five tips to help land that dream job. These apply to women wanting a career in STEM or those who are already thriving in tech.

  1. APPLY, APPLY, APPLY: This might seem obvious, but simply applying to opportunities is the first step. Put yourself out there and apply for the role you want. Industry research shows (Hewlett Packard report) that men apply when they fit 60% of the job criteria, and women only apply when they meet 100%. This mindset has to change, I encourage you to have the confidence to put yourself out there and apply for roles that interest you.
  2. MAKE TIME TO LEARN: Continuous learning is important to foster confidence. It doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment. Make time to continue your education by putting on a podcast, reading a useful book, or watching an informative video. There are great online learning tools out there too. Another good step is embracing any training opportunities available to you and seeking to learn from colleagues with more experience in areas of interest.
  3. FIND A MENTOR AND BE A MENTOR: Whether formal or informal, a strong role model providing guidance is key. I still remember the advice and conversations I had with senior figures when I started, and I’ve sought to help juniors as much as I can. The right advice at the right time can make all the difference, and we should all strive to help each other succeed.
  4. PLAN WITH INTENTION: A great piece of advice I was given as I began at Amazon was to always plan for the job after your next job. Knowing where you want to get to helps you to look at your career development in the long-term, and see exactly what you need to work on to fulfil your dreams.
  5. DON’T DWELL ON MISTAKES: I encourage everyone to have a growth mindset. Rather than dwell on things that could have been done better focus on the lessons that you have learned. This is actually a crucial skill, and one that aided me a lot in my career. Learning to not beat myself up for mistakes, and embracing a learning mindset, helped me to concentrate on the lessons that would ensure I wouldn’t make those mistakes again. Own it and learn and celebrate the learning!

Lauren Kisser featuredAbout the author

Lauren Kisser is Director at Amazon’s Development Centre in Cambridge, the U.K and Director of Alexa International Q&A. In this role she leads a globally diverse team of knowledge engineers, product/program managers, business and data analysts to ensure Alexa can answer any question ever asked in any language. She is a prominent sponsor of projects promoting women into STEM and up the ladder, such as Amazon’s Future Engineer Program and Code Club.

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training, meeting, Business Intelligence featured

Top tips for building a Business Intelligence team from scratch

training, meeting, Business Intelligence

Article provided by Marcelli Brockmüller, Head of Business Intelligence at Savings United

Since only 17 per cent of the tech workforce are women, it’s no surprise that this decreases even further when looking at women working in leadership roles.

Prior to working with my current team at Savings United, I worked in tech roles for a number of years. I was almost always one of less than a handful of women in each organisation. After finishing studying Computer Science at university in my home country of Brazil, I went on to work for the biggest media house in São Paulo where I began working in technical areas such as management information systems. I later moved to Germany, and joined SU, where I am the Head of Business Intelligence.

Initially, I worked in a Content role in the LATAM region. Quite soon after joining the company, one of the co-founders noticed my skills with numbers, databases and reporting. At that time, a department for tracking key business data didn’t exist and I was asked to build the Business Intelligence department from scratch. Here is a selection of the key lessons I have learned throughout my career on the tools, business functions, and qualities necessary to lead and implement a BI team.

Develop trust and respect

When I began to gather the resources I needed, much of the information was held within the IT team. I had to work carefully and confidently in order to build their trust so that they shared their systems and processes with me. I did that first by getting to grips with what the business needed and working out how best I could help achieve our goals. By aligning myself with the business, I was able to make meaningful requests that my colleagues could see the value in. I was also careful to seek their views and opinions, in order to ensure that I was making use of their skills and knowledge. I developed trust with my co-workers by showing I wanted to learn what they had done before. In this way, I demonstrated that I respected their work and effort, which helped immensely.

Prioritise and distribute workload appropriately

When you work independently for a long period of time, prioritisation is both crucial and challenging. It’s extremely important to remain inline with company strategies and goals, which will help you know where to focus your energy and time. Requests can quickly build up and you can easily feel overwhelmed. You can alleviate this pressure through effective planning and regular catch ups with fellow members of the organisation’s leadership team.

When you work alone for so long, you get used to knowing 100 per cent of what’s on your plate. Although, sooner or later, you will have to take on team members in order to meet the growing needs of your organisation.

Initially, it can be a bit of a struggle to become comfortable with letting and delegating to your newly formed team. It’s paramount that you relinquish what were once your sole responsibilities not just so that you can concentrate on your own priorities but also in order to let your team members grow. However, one of the most important tips here is to have clearly identified roles and responsibilities. This will mean that tasks can be distributed appropriately and effectively, and it will be at weight off your mind.

Invest in time-saving technology

Investing in a powerful BI tool has many benefits. For example it can enable teams from across the business to access reports independently and it means your team can been freed up to work in areas where they can add even more value to the business. Introducing new tools is a big investment, so it’s important to undertake thorough research. Contact a number of companies that offer market leading tools, have in-depth talks with them and make the most of free trials and demos. You are likely to sign up with this company for a long-term. So, choose one that meets your needs most closely and is moving in a similar direction as your company.

Embrace difference

Teams are often made up of people from different backgrounds with a multitude of ways of thinking. My team is very multicultural and includes individuals who each have their own personality and ways of working. Some might be more practical, others more intuitive, and so on. Everybody has their own approach to work, it’s important not to take anything personally. Ultimately, we have the same common goal - to develop ourselves, and work hard in delivering information that helps the company advance. I like to lead my team interactively - we brainstorm and make decisions together. Their input is as important as mine.

Implementing a BI team, or any other team from scratch, is a project that requires dedication and cooperation from colleagues across the business. As a woman working in the male-dominated world of tech, this can seem a daunting task. However, as well as these tips, if you make the most of online and offline networking events, consider finding a mentor and take courses in order to stay up to date with developments in your field, you will almost certainly be a success wherever your path leads you. Remember to keep on reaching out in order to connect and share knowledge with other women in tech. We’re stronger when we work together.

Marcelli BrockmüllerAbout the author

Marcelli Brockmüller is the Head of Business Intelligence at Savings United. Leading voucher code partner of premium media companies, Savings United's partnerships connect advertisers with smart shoppers. Present in 13 countries, Savings United works alongside advertisers to engage a new audience of smart shoppers and achieve their business goals through brand-safe channels.

Tips on climbing the tech ladder in a foreign country featured

An American tech woman in London - tips on climbing the tech ladder in a foreign country

By Rosemarie Diegnan, Chief Strategy & Product Officer, Wazoku

Tips on climbing the tech ladder in a foreign countryIt can be hard enough establishing yourself in the tech sector in your own country.

But at least you know what the general mood is like, what the culture is and may have contacts or mentors that you could turn to, should the need arise.

But in a different country, you may well not have any of that. That was certainly the situation I found myself when I first came to London. I had worked in the US tech sector for a period, but I am always attracted to manageable risks and when the opportunity came up to work for idea management start-up Wazoku, I found it too good to resist.

Because I have Irish citizenship, I could move to Europe without too much red tape, and although working for an early-stage start-up in a new country could be perceived as risky, I felt it was a risk worth taking.

But living and working in a different culture was certainly an eye-opener, especially so working in technology. But as a woman in technology, I actually found it a little easier in the UK than I did in the US.

Although national stereotypes can be reductive, I do think that generally Americans are more direct than Brits. At times when working in the US, it can feel like a struggle to be heard. But in the UK, a US accent combined with that US directness meant that a little of the gender imbalance could be eliminated. I have found I can say exactly what I mean and people take notice of that far more over here.

I think also that not coming from the UK can be an advantage in other ways. I attend a number of ‘women in tech’ type conferences and events and I often notice there seems to be a disproportionate number of foreign women in positions of seniority.

A recent London event I attended had four women speakers and just one was actually from the UK. Another recent conference had five speakers out of 20 women coming from the US. I think it might be easier to be recognised and to stand out if you come from another country – I see it too much for it to be a coincidence.

But I love the UK and I love being an American woman working for a London technology start-up. Here are my main takeaways for any woman wanting to work in technology in a different country.

Be willing to take risks and be open to opportunity. If you have wanted to work in a different country and you get a sniff of an opportunity to do so, just go for it. I know I was lucky with regard to my passport situation, but I am so glad I went for it. You don’t know how often such opportunities will arise to work in a different culture, so it is well-worth making the commitment if something presents itself.

Don’t wait for the ‘perfect’ role. The perfect technology job may well be out there for you in another country, but it is unlikely to be the first one you find. Perhaps your first job abroad won’t tick all of your boxes, but it will get you over to the country where you can begin to grow your network. Once you are established you can then plot your next move in tech.

Don’t hang too much with ex-pats! Whether you are a Brit in NYC or an American in London, it can be tempting to spend your time with ex-pats. We are all drawn to the familiar and the comfortable, but by hanging out too much with ex-pats you will be denying yourself a lot of insight and opportunity. You will learn more about tech by building local contacts, so immerse yourself in the eco-system of your adopted country and you will reap the rewards.

Take advantage of the new culture. This builds on the previous point. Your new country will be culturally very different and you should absorb as much of that as possible. Even if you only spend a brief time in that country you will still have broadened your network, horizons, outlook and experience. It therefore stands to reason, that the more you put into your new country and its tech sector, the more you will get out of it.

Rosemarie DiegnanAbout the author

Rosemarie Diegnan is Chief Strategy & Product Officer at idea management start-up Wazoku. She began her tech career in the US, before moving to the UK in 2012 to work for Wazoku. She has held a number of roles in product development (as well as a five-year stint as a lawyer) and in her current position is responsible for leading Wazoku’s product strategy and the planning and development for Wazoku’s suite of idea management applications.

Top tips for a job interview in the tech industry

Tech Interview FeaturedTop tips for a job interview in the tech industry

Getting a job in tech industry can be challenging. Currently it’s one of the least diverse industries in the world, and although female representation is increasing it’s still lagging far behind other sectors. At Mojo we pride ourselves on creating an equal workforce, ensuring we have a gender balanced team, as well a leadership full of strong women who are are in historically male dominated positions.

Nevertheless, making sure you stand out in the interview is the first step required to breaking in to the traditionally male dominated sector. Below are my top tips to smashing the interview for your dream tech job.

1 - Research your prospective interviewees and their company

It goes without saying that interview prep is a given for any job - researching the company, what they do, their competitors etc…will provide you with a holistic insight into life working at the company you’ve applied for. Researching the role should also be of prime importance, ensuring you have a clear idea of the responsibilities expected, in addition to showing your potential employers how you can add value - but why not take it a step further?

If you’re given the details of your interviewees, having a brief snoop of them may provide you with some knowledge into similar points of interests that you previously wouldn’t have known. Sharing interests such as hobbies or work relevant topics can build a bond, arguably one of the most important pull factors in getting someone on your side. Using social media tools like Twitter, or Linkedin can help with this.

2 – The right questions, not just any!

Asking questions is a given in any job interview, however it’s essential you ask the right ones to your interviewer. Prior to the interview, I’ve heard suggestions of noting down 10-20 questions that you think are appropriate to ask - I think this is a good idea, however questions should naturally occur during the interview if you’re listening and fully invested in getting the job, so it’s important to be flexible and not ask questions for the sake of it.

Intrinsically linked with my previous point is the need to ask the right questions - enquiring about topics such as technological developments within the company, or asking your interviewers opinions on such topics will outline several key personality traits to your employer. It will show your eagerness to learn, in addition to acting as a catalyst for building natural rapport with your prospective employer - everyone likes feeling like they’re being listened to!

3 – Gaining a wide understanding of the relevant industries accompanied by a shrewd insight into future innovation

Tech is a broad all-encompassing topic, ranging from food & drink to the property sector, or mortgages in our case. Exhibiting a wide knowledge of both the wider tech industry and (the one you’re applying for/involved in) will highlight your interest in the business, in addition to developments in a plethora of industries.

As well it’s broad reach, tech is always changing and moving forward. As a result, it’s important to keep on top of the latest trends, and being able to see through the hype and identify what could be game changing for your business/industry, will put you at the forefront of the interviewers mind. There’s loads of cool tech out there but is it right for the business and their commercial goals? You need to demonstrate this understanding in an interview

I’d also suggest displaying a strong understanding of complex technological concepts and products, evidencing your intelligence and comfort when talking about things a small proportion of people can understand

4 - Personality is sometimes as/more valuable than experience

Within the tech industry, it’s a well-known fact that several companies employ people as much on experience as their do culturally. Don’t get me wrong, experience is incredibly valuable, and most employers will want applicants to have job experience in some capacity.

However, for specifically our start-up, we look for autonomous individuals who are happy to take on work and responsibilities outside of their remit. Relating to my previous point, we also look for people who are wanting to evolve, learn and develop their skills - showing evidence of motivation and a belief in your interviewees company, will go a long way.

5 - Be yourself!

Being true to your own personality is undoubtedly one of the most important tips I can give for someone looking for a job in tech. Despite the tech industry revolving around unsurprisingly, tech, we actually communicate and talk to each other regularly. As a result, if you pretend to be someone that you’re not in the interview it’s likely that, that will get found out relatively quickly.

Getting to the interview stage is great work, but it’s important to make sure you’re also a cultural fit for the company. I’m aware the traditional interview attire and attitude is professional; however, I’ve also heard of some tech firms being put off by people who seem like rigid out-dated applicants in suits.

Thus, check out the company’s website, social media channels and any press coverage they’ve received, to get a feeling of what kind of company they are. You can also look at job sites websites to see how past and present employees have ranked their companies, this should give you a good insight into whether current are enjoying their jobs.

Amy Lawson HeadshotAbout the author

Amy is a highly experienced marketer and operations specialist. She has held senior roles in both small and large businesses, including CO-OP Bank & Allianz Insurance. She has an outstanding track record of success in marketing, consistently demonstrating versatility, innovation and drive for continuous improvement. Operating in a dual role at Mojo as COO and CMO, she is responsible for the customer journey, operations, content marketing and CRM programs.