Inspirational Woman: Alesia Braga | Chief Technology Officer, SmartRecruiters

Meet Alesia Braga, Chief Technology Officer, SmartRecruiters

Alesia Braga

Alesia Braga is CTO (Chief Technology Officer) at SmartRecruiters, leading Engineering and Product teams. Braga is an accomplished results-oriented technical leader with over 15 years of experience and a proven record of accomplishment for building and leading world-class software development, maximising profitability through the delivery of exceptional product quality and service, prudent management of people, technology, and processes.

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

Throughout my tech career, I’ve worked in a variety of roles in software, programme management, and engineering. My first job in IT was in sales with my roles and responsibilities lying largely in cold calling. After a couple of months, I realised this job wasn’t for me and once the team realised that I was an experienced coder, I was moved into software engineering. I’ve spent a lot of time in my career working in software engineering before then moving on to strategic technology roles leading me to the role that I now have at SmartRecruiters.

In terms of my career goals, I’d like to someday move into a CEO role. I am really keen to be responsible for leading and running an entire organisation. Being in such a position of influence and change, I would love to implement programmes and paths to help bring more women into the tech industry.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Like every child, I went through phases of what I wanted to do when I grew up. I went from wanting to be a doctor to a lawyer and then to an astronaut. However, through all of these changing aspirations, I’ve always been passionate about computers. I first started learning how to code when I was 6 so it has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

When I was 12, I decided I wanted to go to Belarusian State University to study math and computer science. So, I suppose you could say that at 12 years old I planned on having a career in IT.  However, I’m not the type of person to have a 5-year or 10-year plan as such. I’ve always set goals, completed them, and then moved on to the next one. I’ve always had the mindset of constantly improving, growing, and learning to become more well-rounded.

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

I would say that one of the challenges I have faced throughout my career has been suffering from imposter syndrome. Because of this, I often didn’t let myself take risks for fear of what others might think. I am one of those people that I often let other people’s advice get into my head and it makes me doubt my abilities. Imposter syndrome is one of those things that can be really hard to shake and is probably something I will feel occasionally in the future too.

Overcoming it meant pushing all those thoughts to one side. I have learnt to take more risks by not thinking about all the negative ‘what ifs’ and ignoring the people who tell me I can’t do something. I am constantly learning in my career, and I treat any ‘failures’ as a learning experience to help with my development. Focusing on what I want out of my career rather than the opinions of others has really helped me overcome these feelings.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Any career in retrospect is a set of achievements, and every one of them is big enough on the stage where you are. While I had multiple moments in my journey where I could say: “wow, I pulled that off”, long-lasting impact for me is always around building diverse successful teams, seeing your leaders grow and reach new stages in their own careers, and overcoming hurdles like the global pandemic for example. Leading through tough times is hard to quantify, and independently, no matter how many books you read on it, you are only ready when you’ve done it.

Reflecting a bit more, when joining SmartRecruiters, I took on a challenge to expand my role from Technology Leader to Technology and Product leader. Chief Product and Technology Officer as a role is quite novel on the market and I think it’s safe to say now “I’ve done it” and “know-how” to balance technology, product, business, and customer needs while being part of a successful market leading business.

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

I’ve received a lot of bad advice surrounding accelerating my career. Managers have told me I can only move on to the next stage of my career if I had perfected a certain skill or achieved a specific goal first. More often than not, the next step up required completely different skills than what my managers were telling me. Fortunately, I didn’t follow that advice and instead, I developed confidence in my own abilities which has got me to where I am today.

Level Up Summit 2022

Don’t miss our Level Up Summit on 06 December, where we’re tackling the barriers for women in tech head on. Join us for keynotes, panels, Q&A’s & breakout sessions on finance, people management, negotiation, influencing skills, confidence building, building internal networks, maximising the power of mentorship, and much more. 

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

My biggest tip would be to never think you know everything – the tech space is constantly evolving, and the pandemic has accelerated change even faster. To keep up with this innovative sector, you’ve got to have a creative mindset and a willingness to constantly learn new things. The technology industry is very focused on ‘what’s next’. Having the ability to understand how the new technologies fit in with existing technologies is key to a long-lasting career.

When you reach C-level, truly understanding the ‘why’ behind the solutions, how they relate to your business’ objectives and which team will help you achieve those goals all become your responsibility. Being able to manage your colleagues in a way that ensures you represent them all is also extremely important. Are they working in the best role for them? Are they driven and committed to the company’s vision? Are you managing them with respect and authenticity? A good leader is one that is constantly connecting themselves back to their people and empowering them.

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

The tech industry is very much male-dominated but that isn’t to say there aren’t many incredible women working in the sector. Whilst conversations surrounding D&I are becoming more prominent, we have still got a long way to go in terms of diversity and inclusion in the industry. Education is such a big part of helping overcome barriers to success. Businesses must be proactive in educating all their employees on fairness and equality and the importance of having a diverse workforce. Education is what changes attitudes; unmasking any misconceptions and prejudices is what will slowly but surely start to change attitudes to women working in tech.

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

I think one of the most important things organisations can do to support women is simply not underestimating their abilities. I’ve struggled a lot with imposter syndrome throughout my career, letting other people’s comments get into my head. This is a challenge women often struggle with more than men – KPMG discovered that 85% believe imposter syndrome is commonly experienced by women. Ensuring that female employees know what support networks are out there for them to access is key. Hosting conferences or networking events that will inspire women to take leaps in their careers by showcasing other successful women in tech will also support the progression of female employees.

There are currently only 21 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

I think I would love to change the mindset that people have towards women in tech. There are so many great people who are trying so hard to get more women into STEM subjects but, it’s important that women don’t ever feel like they are there purely because they are a woman. Both men and women should be in tech because they have genuine talent and can bring new and fresh ideas to their company.

Changing the mindset of those who work in tech starts early on in education. We need to make sure that boys and girls are educated equally in STEM subjects and that there are no unconscious biases towards men through the style of teaching or the topics that are covered. It would be great to see tech companies reaching out to their local education systems and showcasing the world of tech to really inspire young girls to pursue STEM subjects. I really hope that we will see an increase in women in tech with each coming generation.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

We are so fortunate that we live in a world where we have such a wide range of information and content for women to use in aiding their tech careers. Personally, being on the go so much and not always having that much downtime, podcasts are a great way to listen to other women in the field and their experiences.

I really enjoy listening to the Women in Tech Republic podcast. Listening to the guests about their journey in the tech sector from a variety of different areas is really interesting. Some experiences I relate to and others I don’t so for those working in tech, there will always be takeaways and lessons to be learnt listening to the interviews.

I also enjoy “TED Tech”. Inspiration and innovation are not gender specific. I find it a great way to stay inspired, connected to the industry and ideas-buzzing.

I also think any networking events that women working in tech have at their disposal should be taken advantage of. One example is “Women CTO Dinner”. It is a great community of female tech leaders, very inclusive and a safe space to learn from each other and get a confidence boost.  It’s one of the best ways to interact and make connections with other women in the tech field and find common ground in career experiences.


female data scientist, woman leading team

Not just a woman in tech: thriving in a male-dominated field

female data scientist, woman leading team

Heather Delaney is Founder and MD of Gallium Ventures, a London-based communications consultancy leading in the technology sector.

Born in Silicon Valley, Heather grew up in the world’s preeminent hub for technology. Now based in London, Heather has built up a wealth of expertise working across both sides of the Atlantic for global and local organisations, and has been integral to the growth of several well-recognised European and Silicon Valley businesses.

Here, she shares valuable insights on the journey of women successfully operating in a male-dominated field.

My beginnings in Silicon Valley meant I was immediately immersed in the world of technology. I grew up having access to the founders and leaders of tech companies that are now household names, and remember noticing how few women there were at a senior level. Those who did work in the space tended to be in the creative departments, while few were working in coding or programming, and there certainly weren’t any in the C-suite. However, we were at the cusp of change and, in the decade following, more women were taking up roles in the developer and the executive field. Those women are now at an age where they are at C-suite level, and because of the struggle they went through to make it more accessible for the later generations, we are now seeing even more women in the industry.

I say struggle because it wasn’t an easy ride. For a woman to be taken seriously in tech and given the same opportunities as her male counterparts she needed to work twice as hard—not because she lacked the skills, but because she couldn’t leave any room for criticism. There was an unspoken responsibility on the shoulders of each of these women to demonstrate their capability at the highest level, because there was an acute awareness that they could make a real difference for those to come.

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I was personally inspired by my mother and grandmother, who served respectively in the police force and in the Air Force as a pilot. They were both pioneers in their fields, working in sectors that were not particularly welcoming to women at the time, and they didn’t only face challenges in the work itself, but with male colleagues too. They faced these challenges head-on, persevered and stood as amazing examples, to me, of determination and of not letting yourself be defined or limited by societal expectations.

For years, especially early in my career, I realised that I was the only woman in the room. I’ve walked in meetings where people thought I was the secretary, when I was actually running teams and leading projects. However, the tech industry back then is very different from what it is now. Things have been changing slowly, over time—there is less of a stigma, women’s voices are heard more and more, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

If there is one thing I’ve learnt—and that remains with me—is that we each have a role to play and every effort in the right direction matters. It’s not so much a matter of forging a path for other women to follow, but rather opening up the space for others to join you. I am hoping in a future where the narrative will shift from women in tech (or any other field) to intelligent and passionate professionals—regardless of their gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation—in tech/medicine/STEM etc.

Technology itself has been beneficial for enabling women to get into any industry they dream of, pursuing their passions and refining their skills. The internet, for instance, has provided access to news, entertainment, job opportunities, flexible working, and much more. Women who are staying at home as mothers or carers now have more opportunities than ever to train and educate themselves. In fact, you can see more and more women picking up coding and programming through online classes and workshops, which is something that would never have been possible before.

Today, we find incredible women who are winning BAFTAs for video game development and creating all kinds of award-winning technology. An entire discipline of technology—femtech—is significantly powered by and tailored for women. We all matter when it comes to moving the industry forward and broadening the scope for diversity and inclusivity. For a field that depends so strongly on innovation, increased diversity can only be a good thing. There are significant challenges that we face as a people, such as climate change or the gender health gap, which I believe technology can be used to help solve serious problems. There is plenty of room at the table for everyone who wants to be a part of the solution.

Heather DelaneyAbout the author

Heather Delaney, Founder of award-winning communications consultancy Gallium Ventures, is a world-leading expert in growing brands and launching products or services, creatively. Heather specialises in building and fixing global organisations and startups alike — from their communications strategy, to product development and everything in between.

Follow Heather Delaney on LinkedIn and Twitter


Tracey Kirkpatrick

Inspirational Woman: Tracey Kirkpatrick | European Professional Services Director, Sovos

Meet Tracey Kirkpatrick, European Professional Services Director, Sovos

Tracey Kirkpatrick

As the European Professional Services Director at Sovos, Tracey Kirkpatrick oversees a team of software specialists and project managers ensuring that implementations on Sovos’ cutting-edge technology solutions are completed in a timely fashion while delivering an outstanding customer service experience. Tracey has a proven history of transforming customer facing departments across B2B enterprise software markets, her key strengths include business and process transformation, creating and developing high performance teams, embedding a culture of customer excellence.

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

My career in technology started as a software engineer in a small software company with big ambitions. The early days were hard work but with a great team mentality we all pulled together to deliver. As the company grew opportunities presented themselves and I moved into a role to create a Software Support team which then progressed to running a European team when the company was acquired. I stepped away from Support for a while and formed a Quality Assurance team, my development background coupled with in depth knowledge of how our customers used our products was invaluable. I was then asked to relocate to the USA to run a global Software Support team, there were many operational and business challenges, and it was incredibly rewarding to design and implement changes that improved the team morale and delivered significant customer improvements.

My next step was to establish an operational group focused on driving customer success, higher retention, and exceptional customer service. For personal reasons I decided to move back to the UK and soon found myself moving country again, joining Sovos as a Professional Services Director based in the Netherlands. In the almost 3 years I have been in the role it has changed and adapted due to business needs, working with our newly acquired companies in Turkey, Portugal and Germany to bring them into the Sovos family as well as taking on responsibilities for the Sales Engineering and Software Support teams. Although my roles have been varied, at my core I am a problem solver who loves to use technology wherever I can.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No, I fell into the Tech field completely by accident. After a short career break to start a family, I took a job in the legal department of a local authority responsible for the sale of properties under the Right to Buy scheme, using a bespoke software program to manage the process which simply didn’t work. It was time to teach myself how to code to ease my frustrations, thanks to that poorly developed system a career was born!

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

Most people have challenges along the way, and I think it comes down to how you deal with them. I have had some very demanding bosses who often threw me in at the deep end and whilst at the time it was super scary, I realise now how much I owe them, they clearly saw more in me than I did, and I am extremely grateful for all the investment they made in me.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Numerous achievements come to mind, but the ones that have been most rewarding are those where I have managed to develop my teams, improving their standing within the business, using data to highlight the challenges they often face that impacts their ability to deliver, resulting in changes in the business to address the root causes and ultimately delivering an improved service to customers.

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

I have always loved my roles. I thrive in a role where I can drive change and make a difference. I see technology as a powerful tool to support me in making improvements and streamlining processes wherever possible.

Level Up Summit 2022

Don’t miss our Level Up Summit on 06 December, where we’re tackling the barriers for women in tech head on. Join us for keynotes, panels, Q&A’s & breakout sessions on finance, people management, negotiation, influencing skills, confidence building, building internal networks, maximising the power of mentorship, and much more. 

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

Find something you enjoy, believe in yourself, try something different and be receptive to a challenge. If you have a great leader, seek their feedback, and listen, they often have a better insight of your skills!

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

When I started my career in tech, I was the only woman in the team. Nowadays, technology is a vast field and it’s reach expands constantly, as a result more people are exposed to technology and that breaks down barriers.

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

More flexible working arrangements allow people to explore opportunities in any field, that is true regardless of your gender. The technology field has a distinct advantage of often being able to accommodate flexible working locations and hours due to nature of the roles and companies should ensure they are leveraging this wherever possible to not limit any potential candidate.

There are currently only 21 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

There is no magic wand for any change, it takes time. Educating everyone that technology is far reaching will help people understand there are many options they can explore.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I am not keen on gender specific networking and would encourage women to explore networking opportunities that relate to the tech field. We need to collectively break down any barriers, so let’s do our part and not make gender our focus. Technology & Services Industry Association is a good institute with an annual conference in the US.


Donna Litt

Inspirational Woman: Donna Litt | Co-Founder & COO, Uvaro

Meet Donna Litt, Co-Founder & COO, Uvaro

Donna Litt

Donna is Co-Founder and COO at Uvaro. As a dynamic and analytical leader, she has owned a wide array of functions – from customer development and retention, to recruiting and compliance. Donna is an author and STEAM evangelist with today’s youth. She invests in helping women educated in non-technology related fields find success in Canada’s growing ICT sector.

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

I’m the Co-founder and COO of Uvaro, a skills development and coaching platform that helps people have more fulfilling careers. I’ve been working in the ICT sector for more than 10 years, though my education and early professional background is in archaeology and nonprofit fundraising. Over this past decade, I’ve transitioned my humanities skillset to the tech sector and in doing so have helped build and sell an HR software company, published a fiction novel, raised millions in venture capital, and am currently helping to support nearly 1000 of Uvaro’s professional members.

 Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No, I didn’t. I’ve always been more of a career dreamer than career planner– I dreamt of being a vet, or underwater archaeologist, or space explorer. In fact, the only time I’ve sat down to plan my career is now, at my current age. I’ve recently come to understand that I can plan for myself. I don’t need to be so flexible and opportunistic which is how I’ve operated to date.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

My sister and personal hero said something to me recently that’s stuck in my mind: If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing. She was describing her own personal philosophy but when I heard it, it rang as a fundamental truth. Growing up our parents would teach us lessons like, Stick to the plan till the plan changes, and, We make our own problems. I’ve faced many challenges along the way but I think that may be because I was taught to invite Challenge into my life.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Becoming financially solvent. Living month-to-month, incurring increased debt simply by living, was heavy pressure I couldn’t imagine being without. Making money has never motivated me and so I believed I would forever carry the weight (what was shame and embarrassment at the time) of barely being able to provide for myself; it was both freeing and terrifying. When I got a job with upward mobility and discovered an industry in which I could grow, I discovered security. My appreciation for financial literacy grew tenfold. The trajectory of my life was forever changed.

Level Up Summit 2022

Don’t miss our Level Up Summit on 06 December, where we’re tackling the barriers for women in tech head on. Join us for keynotes, panels, Q&A’s & breakout sessions on finance, people management, negotiation, influencing skills, confidence building, building internal networks, maximising the power of mentorship, and much more. 

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

People believed in me and took risks on me. I’ve always been opportunistic and willful, and those characteristics are great survival skills, but they’re not enough to ensure you thrive. I’ve been fortunate enough to have advocates and allies in all shapes and forms throughout my life. I would not be where I am today without people taking risks and trusting in me.

How do you feel about mentoring?

Mixed. The idea of mentorship has always felt sort of pretentious. It underscores power dynamics I’m not entirely comfortable with, but appreciate aspects of. I love listening to learn from other people’s experiences, and I’m always grateful when people are willing to engage with my questions. I’ve been told, coming from some conversations, that I provide mentorship. It’s never felt like that. It’s always felt a lot more like two people sharing stories and experiences. What I love about this dynamic is that it’s incredibly active. When people exchange experiences, they’re imparting lessons and knowledge to one another, which drives action and change for both parties.

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

My response to this has evolved recently. In the past I would have said, access to education for women, or increased representation in leadership roles. I think those are two very legitimate strategies, but they’re already happening and momentum is growing. Now, I think we’d be able to accelerate the pace of change if we remove friction. Specifically, if we could do more to address the systemic and cultural drivers that create and fuel toxic masculinity in our families, community spaces, and workplaces. If we could reduce or eliminate toxic masculinity, I believe we’d see a dramatic uptick in the pace of change for Gender Equality.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

My younger self wasn’t always great at taking advice, so I’d be hesitant to give it. I’ve lived long enough to know that if I’m told to go North, I’ll go South just because! Given that, if I had to say something, I’d probably tell myself to embrace physical discomfort and be fearless. I think I’d hear that and say Ok, and maybe listen.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

My next challenge is to plan my next achievements. I’ve never done that before. I’ve always just said Yes to opportunities, and then executed. For this next phase of my life, I’d like to exercise more agency and independence. It’s an exciting place to be.


Sarah Phillips

Career Stories: Meet Sarah Phillips, Director, Sales, FIXR

Meet Sarah Phillips, Director, Sales, FIXR

Sarah Phillips

Sarah leads the sales team at FIXR. She has spent the last five years growing FIXR from a start-up to a scale-up challenger brand. Sarah studied English Literature and Theatre Studies at the University of Leeds, where she ran a small business selling branding and design packages to start-ups.

What area of work did you see yourself doing when you were younger, and do you think this connects at all with what you’re doing now?

I always imagined that I’d end up doing something super creative within marketing, or film/production, but have also always had a bit of a business/commercial way of thinking so I am not surprised I joined a tech start-up early on. I love that I have a big impact on developing the business and that it keeps me on my toes.

I’ve always thought long-term rather than the right-now. When I was a recent graduate, the ‘right-now’ was “how do I make money – to pay rent or fund my social life?”, and in the meantime, figure out what I want to do long-term because in five year’s time, I want to have achieved a valuable set of skills in a progressive career that I actually enjoy. I was very much afraid of following the steps everyone else was taking and finding myself in a role that I didn’t enjoy and feeling that I’d eventually have to take a step back and “restart” in order to move forward.

How did you decide the tech sector was for you?

I love that technology provides endless possibilities. I get to work in an environment where we are always coming up with new ideas and developing solutions to problems. As part of my role, I get to identify issues that event organisers face on a daily basis, communicate this with our team and input into product development. Every new product or feature that is developed brings new life to FIXR and what we offer as a brand. I’m not selling the same thing, the FIXR product is constantly evolving. That keeps me on my toes!

What has your career progression looked like since you started working?

I am fortunate to have found FIXR early on and was one of the brand’s first employees. I started as a Business Development representative, travelling up and down the country meeting event organisers and doing my best to convince them to sell tickets to their events on FIXR (this was at a time when our technology was very limited, and no one had heard of us). Over time, I built a network that allowed us to grow the business and develop better technology to meet our client needs. I am now Director of Sales, working with some of the largest event organisations in the UK, selling tickets to many millions of customers per year.

I work closely with many of our clients, taking suggestions on board and communicating them to our product team, who are ever developing our technology to better our service, and ultimately giving my team and me a better, easier product to sell.

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Don’t miss our Level Up Summit on 06 December, where we’re tackling the barriers for women in tech head on. Join us for keynotes, panels, Q&A’s & breakout sessions on finance, people management, negotiation, influencing skills, confidence building, building internal networks, maximising the power of mentorship, and much more. 

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What motivates you day-to-day?

My colleagues and growth. Working with people who share the same vision and drive to succeed is really important in a start-up environment. You can’t do it alone. Surrounding yourself with people who have different skills and diversity of thought that you can learn from is key. Then growth, seeing your efforts rewarded is really an unbeatable feeling, it makes you feel more powerful and more capable.

Best part of your job?

I love meeting new, interesting people and hearing their stories. I also love learning and seeing the hard work pay off – I think this is easier to see in a smaller, growing company!

I love to feel like I am constantly moving forward. In a scaling business, making mistakes are inevitable, and they are almost as important as your successes because you learn from them and (hopefully) never make the same mistake again. I’ve made many mistakes at FIXR, but I am very grateful for them as I feel they have fuelled my progression. It’s funny how doing something wrong can immediately whip you into shape!

What has your experience been like in the tech sector as a woman?

My experience is that there aren’t enough women in the events industry. This is also true of the tech sector, but I haven’t felt that this has limited my potential to be successful. In a sense, being a minority – in my case being a female salesperson in the events industry – makes you stand out (in a good way). However, we have hired many wonderful, talented, hardworking women into the FIXR team, so I don’t really feel like part of a minority anymore!

What are your top tips for those, like yourself who haven’t followed the traditional career path but would like to get ahead in tech and/or sales?

 Test the waters, don’t be afraid to take risks, and be bold. Apply for work experience in different roles and even industries. Find what makes you tick, a subject that you are interested in and something you feel you are good at. Finding a long-term role is a very important decision, and a significant part of your life, so it’s important that you find something that is right for you. If you’re genuinely interested and passionate about what you do, and the values of a company match yours, then you will be motivated and fulfilled. Work won’t always feel like work, and you’ll be most likely to progress faster in this position.

Getting ahead in any career

  1. Be prepared to work from the bottom up: Hard work won’t go unnoticed, and you will really fuel your own progression if you’re seen to make the effort, and that you really care. If you want to make an impression, be the first in, last out.
  2. Ask questions: You’re not expected to know everything when you first start a new role. So, ask away, fuel your knowledge and build your armoury.
  3. Be you, be bold, and take risks: Employers want to be surrounded by unique people who aren’t replaceable, so don’t just copy what the next person does, find yourself and the unique value you can bring to the company, and don’t be afraid to show it off.
  4. Be a good salesperson: In any job, sales or otherwise, it’s important to believe in what you are selling and want to build genuine relationships with people. Very simply, selling is communicating something you are passionate about to others. Passion combined with an extensive understanding of your industry, the company you are pitching to, and perseverance will help you get ahead in a sales career. Find your rhythm and when it starts to work (i.e. you sign up some clients, big or small) use that momentum to your advantage and stay ahead of the curve


Helen Brown

Inspirational Woman: Helen Brown | Managing Partner, Seeblue

Meet Helen Brown, Managing Partner, Seeblue

Helen Brown

Helen Brown is Managing Partner of Seeblue, an award-winning Account Based Marketing agency for technology companies. Prior to entering the world of marketing and entrepreneurship, Helen earned a 1st class degree in Political Science from Bristol University and competed a dissertation on Female Genital Mutilation, an experience which fuelled a life-long passion for equality and women’s rights.

Helen was Chair of the Vodafone Group Women’s Network and Seeblue are the pro bono Marketing partner for the Digital Poverty Alliance, working to end digital poverty across the UK by 2030.

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

Having spent 12 years working for global technology companies in marketing, my career took a completely different turn when three and a half years ago I co-founded Seeblue, a specialist tech sector Account Based Marketing agency (www.see-blue.co.uk). We focus on how our clients products and services (across IoT, Telco, SaaS, Cyber Security, Insurance and Analytics) deliver transformational value to their customers.

We are now nine people strong and have achieved three times growth year on year – despite recessions and covid. We support primarily software companies who target enterprise clients. We have a deep understanding of the digital transformation landscape and what that means across different sectors.

I am married and have two children whom I adore more than life itself. Somewhere in the madness of having a family and starting a business, we built our own house and when I have a moment for a break I love adventure sports, camper-vanning, healthy food and learning about psychology and ways to improve my mind and my mental resilience.

Helen Brown

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I did, but it never included entrepreneurship! I am a person who loves learning and always looked ahead to what next, and which projects or roles would enable me to learn new skills. Being an entrepreneur, however, came from a process of deduction.

I realised that the big corporate career I had sought was actually someone else’s version of “success.” I just didn’t feel close enough to the output, to the customer, to the point of need and would end each day feeling unsatisfied.  So, I started freelancing, which, for a period of time when my children were small, was fantastic – it gave me the freedom I wanted. But I then started to want more, I wanted to create something, to be part of building something. So, I realised that the best way for me to do that, was to create a business. And that was how Seeblue began. A walk on a cold January day with an ex-colleague from Vodafone and NCT friend led to the creation of our now thriving marketing agency, Seeblue.

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

One of the hardest things for me was working out what I really wanted. I always found it easier to identify what I didn’t want than what I did! And I don’t think that’s uncommon. The thing which changed my thinking, was understanding my personal values. Family, freedom and fulfilment sit at the top for me. Freedom in many ways – the ability to choose how and when I focus on my family, the freedom to make decisions, the freedom on where and how I work. And fulfilment to me comes from being challenged, mentally absorbed, caring deeply, and having a sense of growing something.

I often think of Seeblue like a garden. First you plant the seed, then there are a few early shoots and then you need to watch, listen and respond to the environment, weather and other external and internal factors to ensure each part of it stays healthy and thrives.

The transition – from corporate employee to business owner has not come without personal challenges though. I have experienced the most severe, almost crippling imposter syndrome at times. When you go from being great at what you do (marketing) and become the rookie newbie trying to work out how to do things for the first time (HR, finance, legal, contracts) – you can really loose a sense of who you are.

Ultimately, I have lent on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to help me de-code the way I have felt when pushed way out of my comfort zone, to rationalise the situation and realise that it’s ok. Really ok. Anyone who is creating new ideas or doing something different is doing it for the first time. No progress would ever be made in the world if people weren’t prepared to be ok, with not knowing everything.

Level Up Summit 2022

Don’t miss our Level Up Summit on 06 December, where we’re tackling the barriers for women in tech head on. Join us for keynotes, panels, Q&A’s & breakout sessions on finance, people management, negotiation, influencing skills, confidence building, building internal networks, maximising the power of mentorship, and much more. 

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What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Without a moment’s hesitation creating Seeblue, with a young family, in the face of a recession and Covid. In the early days it felt so challenging that only downright determination saw us put one foot in front of the other and keep turning up every single day. And despite feeling unsure, we just carried on. We listened to each other (my co-founder and I), the market, our customers. Recognising that we are tech sector specialists, having worked in telecommunications, SaaS, Cyber Security and IoT we were clear from the outset that our value was in our knowledge, which we apply across sub-sectors under the tech umbrella.  We pivoted our offering. We stayed nimble and we eventually grew and thrived.

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

There are a few things.

  1. Understanding your values – you will not be happy if you fight against them. Don’t look outwardly to copy others but learn what success really means to you.
  2. Be clear on your why. This is the only thing that will see you through when things get tough.
  3. Talk to people, learn from everyone. Especially if you struggle with confidence or any kind of mental health challenge – just talk. It will help you see it for what it is and enable others to support you.

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

I believe that having a growth mindset is one of the most critical things to succeeding in anything. Always learn, not only about your sector, or your area of specialism but take an interest in the impact of technology on people. Connect the dots. Have an opinion. Share that opinion publicly/on social media. Don’t assume that if you do a good job someone will notice. To succeed in any professional endeavour, people need to hear you and you need to reach out to them. Don’t see barriers, see opportunities.

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

Culture can still play a major role in certain organisations. My advice to anyone looking at the kinds of companies that they work for would be not to focus on whether your manager, for example, is male or female but look at the Board. Look at the Senior Leadership Team. Is it diverse? How serious do you think they are about having a balance of views. What are the policies around parental leave and flexible working? These things will tell you a lot about whether that company truly values diversity.

I also know there to be a difference in the (general) confidence levels of male and female employees when it comes to asking for promotions. So do everything you can to get the right mentors and role models to support your goals. Be clear. Ask for feedback. Tell people what you want and invite their support to help you on that journey.

Helen Brown

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

A combination of policies, culture and content. When any imbalance exists policies are an important part of setting guidance for what needs to happen. Culture is everything – we have built Seeblue from the ground up with culture and values at its heart. Look at whether the culture recognises and values the respective strengths that male and female employees bring, as this will have a huge impact on your experience and your potential success.

By content, I mean everything from speakers and events to networks to written material. Are you working on your own self-development and awareness, are you existing outside of the bubble of your daily tasks, and looking outwardly to how you can make a difference? What does your company offer which you can take advantage of?

There are currently only 21 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

With a 6-year-old daughter, I would say it has to start in school. A transition is underway (coding for girls, science fayres and competitions) but education is still quite old fashioned. Much more needs to be done from nursery ages up to demonstrate that tech is for all.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

This is not tech specific, but to everyone interested in building mental resilience I would recommend reading Anthony Robbins book Awaken the Giant Within. In my opinion, this is the single most powerful thing you could read and implement to identify your values and improve your self-belief such that you have the tools you need to achieve whatever your goals and dreams may be.


Victoria Place

Inspirational Woman: Victoria Place | Global Consulting Lead, REPL Group, Part of Accenture

Meet Victoria Place, Global Consulting Lead at REPL Group, Part of Accenture

Victoria Place

Victoria Place is Global Consulting Lead for REPL Group, Part of Accenture. Victoria has over a decade of experience delivering change programmes and organisational transformation at Accenture and John Lewis and Partners. In this piece, we talk to Victoria about her career journey, the challenges she has faced and her biggest achievement to date.

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

My name is Victoria Place and I’m currently the Global Consulting Lead at REPL Group, part of Accenture. The past few years have shown just how important it is to be able to quickly adapt and deliver, and my passion lies in making this happen by driving organisational change programmes that embed a culture of continuous learning, empowerment, honest feedback and creativity.

I’ve always worked in technology delivery within the Retail sector; starting as a management consultant at Accenture, moving onto the John Lewis Partnership and coming full circle back to Accenture when my company, REPL, was acquired shortly after I joined. Having started out delivering large-scale technology programmes, I always felt most passionate about the people side of change. I moved into a people leadership role 5 years ago and have never looked back as driving community and morale, and setting people up for success is what keeps me loving my work.

I’m currently the Global Consulting Lead at REPL, leading a team of 600 consultants in four countries (UK, SA, US and Germany) through an unsettled time following acquisition, ensuring they’ve been able to thrive in their roles through considered and collaborative organisational change, celebrating our successes, continuous learning and enabling an inclusive and supportive workplace.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Honestly, no. The first time I was asked about my 5-10 year career plan was in a formal performance review, where I told my Line Manager I thought I’d have left work by then to have babies. I now cringe at the naivety of my 23-year-old self, but it is an interesting reflection on how different my career is to what I originally set out to do. I’ve never planned more than a year or two ahead and still don’t have a grand master plan, but my career has grown through always being offered bigger and better opportunities by the network of fantastic people I’ve met along the way. I’m not one to shy away from a challenge and an open mind has definitely helped.

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

One of the most challenging times of my career was returning from my first mat leave. Returning to work after a prolonged absence is difficult at the best of times as it takes a while for the brain to click back in, during which time it’s all too easy for your confidence to be knocked and for you to start believing that you’ll never get back to being the professional you once were. For me at this particular time, it was even harder as I was stepping up into a big new role that was completely different to anything I’d ever done before and I was suffering from Post-Natal Depression.

My usual approach of throwing everything into it didn’t work that well as I had more limited capacity whilst learning how to juggle work with looking after a baby. My resilience was down due to the PND and I didn’t have my usual support network on account of the new role and a few key people leaving whilst I was off. I remember during this time feeling incredibly isolated, like all my previous successes were a complete fluke and that I was seriously letting people down.

Although it took me a few months to even be able to say the words out loud, eventually it was being open and honest about what I was going through to a small, trusted group of supportive people that enabled me to overcome it. It was the small hinge that swung a big door, as they say. Outside of work, therapy helped me get my mental health to a more stable state, which made a huge difference to my interpreting what was going on around me in a healthier way. At work, by opening up to a few amazing people they helped me see that I’d set incredibly unrealistic expectations on myself, that others’ opinions of me were far more positive than my opinion of myself, and to believe that I had the potential to make a huge difference to a lot of people through leveraging my experience and strengths.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Although lots spring to mind, the one I’m personally most proud of is being promoted whilst on maternity leave. Although many told me this couldn’t (and shouldn’t) be done, I set myself the target of progressing to the next level to ensure I was recognised for my recent development and achievements. It wasn’t easy but I worked with my fantastic mentor to take on some particularly difficult challenges to showcase what I could do in the final months before going on mat leave.

I felt a huge sense of pride in proving that career progression is still possible alongside having a baby. However, the best part was the impact it had on younger women in the team who were uncertain if a successful career in tech and family were even possible. The promotion amplified my image as a strong female role model, and it was fantastic to be able to pay forward the support I’d got from my mentor when I returned to work.

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

My colleagues would (hopefully) tell you that I’m known for bringing a lot of positive energy, being adaptable and resilient, plus my ability to persuade and motivate others to action and caring about morale.

I genuinely believe that people need to care about what they are doing and have fun at work in order to achieve their full potential – and I’ve tried my best to create that environment. I believe the most successful people do their best to bring everyone along with them.

Level Up Summit 2022

Don’t miss our Level Up Summit on 06 December, where we’re tackling the barriers for women in tech head on. Join us for keynotes, panels, Q&A’s & breakout sessions on finance, people management, negotiation, influencing skills, confidence building, building internal networks, maximising the power of mentorship, and much more. 

BUY YOUR TICKETS

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

Believe you deserve a place! It’s unfortunately all too easy to look at the industry and not see a great deal of people who represent you – self-belief and reinforcement is key and goes a great deal to combating imposter syndrome.

It’s also so important to learn from every experience – good or bad! Have a growth mindset and try to see the positive in everything.

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

Yes, I do. Society tells girls from an early age that it’s our responsibility to have children and maintain a good home life for our families. So, it’s not surprising that when/if we find ourselves in the workplace alongside our male counterparts, who’ve been told from an early age it’s their responsibility to excel at work, we struggle to believe we belong.

Dare to be yourself. Building the confidence to believe you belong can be tricky and is rarely a linear process. However, it’s only through making your own decisions in a way that suits you that teaches you your thoughts matter and add loads of value to your team.

There is also a huge responsibility on modern leaders to create collaborative, empowered and inclusive workplaces where every voice can be heard.

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

Flexible working is definitely a big part of this. Flexibility goes both ways and by building a trust-based, empowered workforce we can enable employees to set boundaries that suit their professional and personal circumstances.

Active mentoring is another important part to give women the confidence and support they need to progress their careers in a male-dominated environment.

There are currently only 21 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

I’d create more gender-balanced senior leadership teams to support more diverse and inclusive thinking at the most influential level of organisations, create more female role models and bring about more experimenting on what actually works when juggling a successful career and full-on home life.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

It’s all about your network. Seek out positive roles models and mentors, allies and friends.


Kseniia Stolbovaya

Inspirational Woman: Kseniia Stolbovaya | Co-Founder & CEO, DAN.IT

Meet Kseniia Stolbovaya, Co-Founder & CEO, DAN.IT

Kseniia Stolbovaya

Kseniia Stolbovaya is the co-founder and CEO of DAN.IT EdTech, an organistion that helps young people break into tech. The online courses are available in the metaverse, and the programs are designed to prepare people for the future of tech.

Kseniia is also a trailblazer for other female entrepreneurs who want to use the metaverse for their business.

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

I’m the CEO of the international EdTech company, DAN.IT, and we provide tech training for people who want to switch to tech from other industries. I have a Master’s degree in psychology and a Bachelor’s degree in law. Initially, I planned to continue as a psychologist after graduation, but in my last course, I was invited to work for a large publishing house in the position of learning and development specialist and I took that challenge. In a year, I became the head of the subdivision, and in two years I started my long journey within the international car rental & leasing company – first as an HR, after HRD and for over 7 years as the COO. At that time, I realised that mentorship/ training and tech are fascinating fields for me. So I started to look for opportunities to combine those two great passions of mine – and this is how I got to DAN.IT. I still provide training for some groups, conduct educational webinars and career consultations. But most of all definitely, I am involved in our company growth and our Metaverse centre launch.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career? 

I feel like a more intuitive person and didn’t chase to get a career promotion. I was interested in the job itself, mastering new skills and always curious about the business I was working for. When I was the HR manager for a car rental & leasing company, I thought it was crucially important for me to understand the standards of service, operational flow, and understand the bottlenecks of the process. This is how I got appointed for the COO position.

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

Mastering a new role is a great challenge because you need to learn something new and perform new tasks you didn’t encounter before. I  suppose that my whole career path is about challenges, but I take them gladly and continue learning even now.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Switching to tech was my biggest career achievement. I believe it was the greatest challenge I have ever met, and it took me months to find the right company with values and corporate culture I share. Tech companies prefer to hire from inside the industry, and it takes time and effort to prove that you are worthy of the position, learn and get acquainted with the industry.

Level Up Summit 2022

Don’t miss our Level Up Summit on 06 December, where we’re tackling the barriers for women in tech head on. Join us for keynotes, panels, Q&A’s & breakout sessions on finance, people management, negotiation, influencing skills, confidence building, building internal networks, maximising the power of mentorship, and much more. 

BUY YOUR TICKETS

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

Actually there are two of them – passion and persistence.

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

  • Learn more about tech companies
  • Get acquainted with the industry
  • Discover tech jobs in demand on the market, find out what skills are required for a specific job
  • Define what is your personal skill gap for the role you want
  • Find a good mentor or course and get ready to fail a couple of first interviews

This is what I call a 5-steps guide for tech industry starters

  • Be ready for constant learning
  • Devote time for reskilling or upskilling
  • Keep the focus on your target
  • Be ready for failures
  • Keep motivation to go further

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

The key barrier I can see refers to personal persuasions or even superstitions which keep a woman from taking on new challenges or roles.

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

Show case studies of  women who are happy in their technical role.

Educate about tech. Most people still think that Tech is about programming only ) It is far from the truth. Very talented UI/UX designers, Product Owners, Digital Marketers are women. And great FullStack developers as well, for sure )

Encourage women to try themselves in Tech. This is about short courses or long programs which can help master tech skills or professions.

There are currently only 21 per cent of women working in tech. If you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry? 

Eliminate all superstitions in the heads of women ) But definitely, as I have no magic wand, I will continue using education. We need to trust ourselves and start believing we can achieve success in the field we choose as long as we are motivated and continue learning.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

 https://www.amazon.com/Future-Tech-Female-Achieve-Diversity/dp/1479875171

https://medium.com (perfect articles on Data Science)

https://www.amazon.com/Zero-One-Notes-Startups-Future/dp/0804139296


Diverse international and interracial group of standing women, women empowering women

What does DEI&B mean to me as a woman in tech

Diverse international and interracial group of standing women, women empowering women

Article by Nikki Dawson, Head of EMEA Marketing at Highspot

There’s definitely been a shift in the way companies take care of their employees. It’s not uncommon nowadays to see companies advertising their attractive initiatives that are there to encourage employees to look after their own well-being.

It’s been proven time and time again that in the long run, this results in a more functional, happy team.

At Highspot we are passionate about giving everyone a seat at the table, bringing your ‘full unique self’ to work and creating an environment whereby people can develop and grow.

Being a woman in the sales tech space

One of the main reasons I joined my current company was due to the fact the Leadership Team I sit on for the EMEA business is predominantly female. This is a rare find in tech, and as my industry is sales and tech, it’s even more of a rare find and important to have that diversity.

I think it’s important for women in tech to push the stereotypes that surround the industry and be an advocate for more women who want to come into the industry. I think we set a good example as my peers – both our Northern European Head of Sales (liz Hajjar) and our EMEA Director of Business Development (Charlotte Herbertz) are women which is quite unique to have both sales and marketing functions led by women.

That advocacy needs to come from not only women, but ensuring all employees understand the importance of a diverse workforce and giving equal opportunities to recruiting and promoting top talent regardless of gender.

DEI&B, what does this mean?

Diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging is something we not only reference a lot at Highspot but live by on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Our Guiding Principles is something we live by day to day that helps drive DEI&B in every interaction. These Guiding Principles offer up trust and openness to allow individuals and teams to be inclusive.

Some of my favourite principles are, ‘Most Respectful Interaction’, assuming colleagues have good intentions from the start, being ‘Open and Real’ when more challenging conversations need to happen, and ‘Learn it All, Not Know it All’ which provides an environment where no one needs to be afraid to ask questions and be curious.

Our ‘Stand for Change’ week is also another key initiative. We have a dedicated week every year focused on various DEI&B topics. We not only hear from external speakers but have several discussion forums on key topics that bring colleagues together from across the globe to share different perspectives.

Another key one for me is our monthly ‘Recharge Fridays’. Everyone across the company has one set Friday off a month. This was started during the pandemic to help with Zoom fatigue.  Our fantastic People team and Leadership saw the huge impact this was having and decided when we moved to hybrid working to keep the day.  As a working parent, I highly value this time to have a dedicated day to myself or to catch up with friends and family.

Final thoughts

DEI&B isn’t just a phrase, it’s something to live by. The shift within the workplace to a more inclusive environment has bettered the workforce and helped create a more meaningful brand, not just for Highspot, but for many others.

Being a woman in tech and sales is no longer a rarity, and we will continue to advocate for others and set an example within the male-dominated sectors.


Inspirational Woman: Veena Giridhar Gopal | CEO & Co-founder, salesBeat

Veena Giridhar GopalI grew up in India and qualified as an accountant in Botswana, where I spent several years consulting for companies including retail and consumer goods companies.

After business school at INSEAD in France, I moved to the UK to work with Pepsi and then stayed. I worked in the food & beverages sector across several roles, ranging from finance to market entry and sales. I am currently the CEO of salesBeat (also a co-founder) and look after anything that is not related to technology. So that includes sales, marketing, strategy, finance, investor relations, HR etc.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I used to in the early days, but c. 10 years ago, I stopped. I learned that life happens and the best thing you can do is to equip yourself with the skills to deal with anything and everything that life throws at you.

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

The biggest challenge I faced was when I moved from a corporate development and strategy focussed role into a sales leadership role, when I had no prior experience in Sales. I overcame this by asking for help from my mentors and also from my then line manager. I also asked old team members and colleagues if I could shadow them for a few days to learn from them.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Raising a pre-seed sound for salesBeat and getting buy-in from Industry professionals has been my biggest career achievement to date. Also, we have a 50% female tech team and salesBeat as a whole is 67% women.

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

Perseverance. I do not believe in giving up.

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

Always stay one step ahead of today. In this sector, if you are not a pioneer or a thought leader, you’ll always be chasing old tech.

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

Having come from India, where I was applying to (and encouraged by everyone around me to apply to) engineering universities, to the UK, where far fewer women think of the sciences as a viable career option, I believe it is the mindset that needs to change first. I first came across the mindset that men may be a better fit for STEM, here in the UK. Interestingly enough, there are several studies that show that there are more women in STEM in emerging markets than in ‘developed’ markets. So it is the mindset that needs changing first.

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

Flexible work is the most critical support companies can provide. This is already happening due to the pandemic. But flexibility should not just mean work from home. It is about providing the flexibility to work from home when needed and come into the office/site when needed. Flexible work is about timings as well. Unless the role is as an on-site engineer at a manufacturing facility, or needs the person to be around for specific times at specific locations because of the nature of the job (mines/power generation/rigs etc), companies need to be more accepting of flexible times as well. This not only encourages more women to consider these roles, but it increases productivity when people work when they are at their best, not according to when their contract dictates.

There are currently only 21 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

I would start at the beginning – Schools and homes. Where the message would be that girls are as good as boys when it comes to the sciences and mathematics.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Diva tech talk & Women who test are both great podcasts for women in tech. There is a whatsapp group for women in tech and has members from around Europe, that I’m a part of. We get together whenever possible at start-up events like Web Summit and other technology focussed events.