In this ongoing series, we speak to our winners about life after winning a TechWomen100 Award.

Now in their fifth year, the TechWomen100 Awards recognise and celebrate the achievements of women in tech – the emerging tech talent and role models for the future.

We spoke with Kim Diep, who won a TechWomen100 Award in 2020.

Kim is a Software Engineer & Tech Coach at Tech Returners and creates and delivers programs to help underrepresented people refresh & upskill in the Software Engineering domain after a career break. Kim also delivers programs to upskill engineers at existing companies in all things DevOps!

As a Tech Content & Workshop Creator & Mentor, Kim helps people engage with technology in fun and practical ways, whether they’re just starting out or looking to improve their skills at any stage of their careers.

Kim is passionate about creating things for tech education and loves sharing her experiences with the community to encourage others to learn and grow in their technical skills and confidence.

How did you feel when it was announced that you’d won a TechWomen100 award?

It was an Autumn morning in October 2020, I was checking my emails and to my surprise, I’d received the email for the TechWomen100 award. It was sent around 8am and I was just waking up! I had to eat my breakfast and re-read the email again, as I thought it must have been a mistake. I couldn’t believe it, so I looked at the website to double-check; it wasn’t a mistake after all! I felt over the moon to be nominated alongside some talented women out there; being featured on the winners list was just the icing on the cake really.

Please tell us what has happened in your career since winning the TechWomen100 award?

Pivoting in my Career and Joining Tech Returners

Since receiving the TechWomen100 award, I wanted to focus on the things that gave me joy. I realised outside of the 9-to-5, I was simply being ‘me’ and the stuff I did were the things that gave me fulfilment. I asked the question, “Why can’t I do this full-time?”.

This got me to pivot between jobs and I’m extremely lucky to have joined as a Software Engineer & Tech Coach at Tech Returners. Beckie Taylor and James Heggs have built something really special here. Every single member of the Tech Returners family is here to genuinely help people in all sorts of things like technical concepts, personal development, confidence and mindset and careers.

At Tech Returners, I work alongside the team to create and deliver programs to help underrepresented people refresh & upskill in the Software Engineering domain after a career break. I also deliver programs alongside James Heggs to upskill engineers at existing companies in all things DevOps!

You can find out more about Tech Returners here.

Becoming an #IamRemarkable Workshop Facilitator

TechWomen100 really boosted my self-confidence. For many years, I would be overly modest about myself and water down my achievements; I realised working hard quietly didn’t mean I was working on the things that really mattered.

Since getting the TechWomen100 award, I kept learning and growing alongside the community. I attended an #IamRemarkable workshop and became an #IamRemarkable workshop facilitator and ambassador of the initiative. #IamRemarkable is an initiative by Google aimed at empowering women and underrepresented groups to speak about their accomplishments in the workplace and beyond.

You can find out more about #IamRemarkable here.

Public Engagements in STEM

One of the most memorable experiences after TechWomen100 was being a workshop creator & speaker for an interactive machine learning workshop ‘Can We Teach a Machine to Recognise a Toy Cat? 😼 ’. This was aimed at 13-16 year old students as part of The National Museum of Computing’s Young Women in STEM Conference. It was lovely to talk to high school students about computing concepts and get them interested in the field.

Back in March 2021, I attended the inaugural Codebar Festival, a 3-day free conference on tech, career and wellbeing. My friends and I created and delivered some free workshops for the international tech community.

Breaking Down my Fear of Podcasts

I was invited to record a podcast episode for a podcast by Pawlean and Pauline really helped to make me feel comfortable for my first ever appearance. I’m pleased to say I have now caught the podcast bug!

Moving Forward!

I’m currently building a space for high school, college, university students, apprentices and early careers to learn about computing and all things tech; but it’s still early days. I’m excited to be launching it soon. I also have a few more workshops, podcast appearances and collaborations, including The National Museum of Computing in the pipeline – watch this space!

What advice would you give to someone else going through the award’s process?

This may sound counter-intuitive, but don’t put getting the award as your primary goal. Instead, focus on the things that bring you joy and fulfilment. This may mean you have to refocus on your own journey and slow down in order to speed up again. Slowing down doesn’t mean no progress! The world’s notion of ‘success’ is flawed; you don’t have to be productive all the time to be successful. Like a company has a mission statement and core values, focus on your personal mission statement and values which are unique and special to you. Live and breathe these and the awards will simply be a byproduct.

What tips would you give to our other members to enhance their careers?

Enhancing your career doesn’t mean levelling up in a linear way. Sometimes you may have to step backwards to reflect. This can be hard to do, as it may seem that your peers are still moving and progressing. It’s not a race. By stopping to reflect, you can focus on what makes you tick, what kind of impact you want to make and what person you want to be. You don’t have to reflect and grow alone though, I really encourage you to join some community groups to build your confidence and attend some workshops too. Finally, act with integrity and respect and be mindful to listen and learn from different people from all walks of life. Become a servant leader.

“…when you choose the paradigm of service, looking at life through that paradigm, it turns everything you do from a job into a gift.”
—Oprah Winfrey

Discover what happened next for some of our other TechWomen100 winners:

Rania Svoronou featured 1“The TechWomen100 Award was one of my proudest moments, as all the women on the list were just incredible and I was thrilled to be part of the Top 100 Women in Tech UK. I am lucky to be surrounded by many wonder women such as Alison Clark, Debbie Vavangas, and Susanne Jones who support me and have changed my life. The global division I work for in IBM, which is IBM iX (Interactive Experience), have been very supportive on my win and I was featured on the internal IBM comms, got shout-outs from the most respected leaders within the company and I gave an interview to Fortune Greece Magazine who featured me on of their ‘successful profiles’. People Greece Magazine also featured me and even my high school did a profile on me to inspire the younger generation of Greek females who want to enter the world of design and technology.”

Rania Svoronou, TechWomen100 Winner 2018

Narmada Guruswamy featured“Since the award was announced, I have been featured prominently on the intranet, in the daily news, at gatherings and even at the annual seminar within EY. Winning this award gave me a confidence boost, so I stepped up to head the BAME workstream within the techUK Skills and Diversity council. My social media engagement has increased: I post often on Twitter and LinkedIn with a particular emphasis on positive female stories. About a month ago, I also started mentoring a female entrepreneur in Nigeria through the Cherie Blair Foundation.”

Narmada Guruswamy, TechWomen100 Winner 2018