WOMEN ROCK

WOMEN ROCK.

Thanks for being here and welcome to Women Rock – a voice for diversity in tech! Here you will find some of the most inspirational stories about ED&I in the tech industry. Women Rock was created by SR2 co-founder and all-round positive vibe advocate Alicia and exists to help transform the industry and create a positive movement!

 ”Treat others as you would like others to treat you.” – An interview with Susan Barne PhD – Group Commercial Director at IQE
WOMEN ROCK2021-04-20

”Treat others as you would like others to treat you.” – An interview with Susan Barne PhD – Group Commercial Director at IQE

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 Diversity and Inclusion – what does it mean to you?
WOMEN ROCK2021-04-13

Diversity and Inclusion – what does it mean to you?

Establishing equality is a top challenge that the entire human society is facing at the moment. Businesses, managers and individuals – actually anyone can play a significant role in this regard by working on D&I strategies in life and in the workplace.In the workplace, equality is making sure people are given equal opportunities, equal pay and are well accepted for their differences. It is about fostering a safe, secure and inclusive environments where people with diverse backgrounds can thrive.WE WANTED TO ASK FOLK, WHAT DOES DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION MEAN TO YOU?”D&I is more than just filling a quota or to be used as a CSR bragging piece. Your company, organisation or team should make people know they belong here and are valued — not that they are allowed to be here because they have permission, which maybe be withdrawn at any moment. Empower the historically underrepresented by giving them power — real power! No mentoring, just paid positions. Trust them, give them room to fail and they will succeed.” Jay Smith – Legal Engineer @ Stephenson Law  ”Diversity is getting to work alongside and learn from people of all different backgrounds and experiences – and inclusion is celebrating this! It’s allowing people to bring their whole self to the table, whether it be their culture, work experience, personality type or just uniqueness, and feel like they belong. Then using this to come up with some amazing ideas together and do some pretty cool things!!”Amy Vitoria – Talent Partner @ OVO Energy  ”To me, diversity and inclusion means being able to build technology that works for everyone. A diverse team is able to draw from a more varied experience when evaluating how a service can be used and abused. This impacts how services are designed and built, who they serve and it makes them more resilient to external changes and challenges.”Bruno Girin – CTO & Cofounder @ imby.bio ”To understand diversity is to be open minded to the different realities that affect people every day all over the world. Inclusivity is realising that one size does not fit all. Recognising diversity can be difficult at times, even when you know the headlines (gender, sexual orientation, disability etc), unless you become exposed to it. And to gain exposure we need to create meaningful human connections with others. When we then care for each other we become ready to be inclusive, recognising the needs, challenges and joys of each other and adapting our environment and behaviours to create a better place to share together.”Borja Lazaro Toralles – Software Engineer  “Diversity is recognising the value of bringing together voices representing a wide range of experiences and perspectives. Inclusion is striving to continuously improve our workplace so that these diverse voices arrive and thrive.”Mark Wood – Software Development Manager @ Brightpearl  “Diversity & Inclusion is everything, both in the workplace, in our communities and in our everyday lives. It is ensuring that we create the right environment for everyone, where everybody feels safe, both physically and psychologically, and can be their true selves. It’s where everyone feels included, heard, seen and valued. It’s about valuing everyone as an individual, celebrating our differences and the things that make us unique.”  Emily Perrett – HR Manager @ NMI  ”For me, D&I is about breaking down the barriers for entry into software as a profession, and ensuring that our colleagues are never made to feel like they don’t belong. I’m thinking about this a lot at the moment, as I’m currently building up a new software team at Context. I want to make sure we get the right people for the job, and ensure they feel welcome and are able to do their best work. We’re taking practical steps like not requiring candidates to have a degree, and checking the language used in our job adverts for gender bias, but this is just the start. We sadly still hear many examples of inappropriate behaviours across our industry, and I’m not naïve enough to think that we will never encounter these in our company. I think the most important thing here is creating a culture where people are able to call out negative behaviours when they see them, and where people can share their experiences openly and without fear of repercussion. I’m in no doubt that building and maintaining such a culture will require constant work, but I’m sure it will be worth it.” Andrew Briggs – Software Architect @ Context  ”Diversity is what makes my hometown the greatest city in the world (New York). It’s what breaks down barriers and opens our minds. It’s what dismantles racism, sexism, and xenophobia. Embracing diversity shouldn’t begin and end out there in the world. It should inform how we view every interaction, especially in the workplace. This leads to different though perspectives, which in turn can lead to ground breaking products and businesses. At Deed, this is at the core of our hiring process and I have to say it’s not easy. But when you are deliberate about it, it is definitely possible.” Deevee Kashi – CEO @ Deed #womenrockThank you all for sharing your thoughts, more to come next week.By Alicia TeagleA voice for diversity in Tech & Engineering <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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 “We’ve all felt the pull to fit in, but your authenticity and uniqueness is your power.” An interview with Kate and Sam from Sotic
WOMEN ROCK2021-03-09

“We’ve all felt the pull to fit in, but your authenticity and uniqueness is your power.” An interview with Kate and Sam from Sotic

IT’S FATE ?I first came across Kate Maunsell and Sam Chamberlen at Sotic through an article exactly this time last year for International Women’s Day 2020. To say it resonated with me is an understatement. Kate provided purposeful insight around ‘bro’ culture and provided the world with encouragement and guidance on what it’s like to be a woman within the tech industry.And then we saw Kate’s rock band, so… OF COUSE Women Rock just HAD to reach out ?And by her side has been Sam. Sam’s has been with Sotic for close to 9 years and has been at the front-line regarding hiring, HR and other workplace-background admin. She has witnessed the cultural change experienced by the business and the industry over the years, before and since the pandemic.This interview gives you a wedge of encouragement and knowledge with a side of Cher.KATE, LET’S START WITH HOW YOU STARTED A CAREER IN TECH? I took a bit of a messy route to my current role! Graduating with a MA in History of Sexuality, then moving through roles as an archivist, publican, musician, project manager and finally an accountant! It was this latter experience that led me into tech as a Head of Finance. At first it was a huge culture shock, I felt totally out of my depth. However, I took the time to listen and learn and quite quickly I began to understand and appreciate the joy and power of digital technology. It’s important that young women realise that tech isn’t just about developers, there are many rewarding positions that require a host of transferable skills. My diverse background has been a strength, in that it allows me to step out of the narrow view and think more objectively. I ask the silly questions and, more often than not, find they’re actually sensible! The tech sector attracts innovative, exciting people and I feel very lucky to be working with them.SAM, BEING IN THE FRONT-LINE AS SOTIC’S HR MANAGER HOW ARE YOU ENCOURAGING DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION ACROSS THE BUSINESS?Obviously, we must avoid the legal pitfalls of positive discrimination so it’s hard to attract a diverse candidate pool in a traditionally male-dominated industry. However, we consider every CV speaks for itself: gender, socio-economic position or religion play no part in the decision-making process. What we can do is visibly and vocally change the traditional culture and subvert expectations of working in tech. A ground-up approach may be long-term but it’s a solid solution.KATE, YOU MENTIONED IN YOUR ARTICLE LAST YEAR THAT YOU WERE ASKED TO “PLAY THE DUMB BLONDE” BY A SENIOR MANAGER – HOW DID THIS EFFECT YOU/DID IT MAKE YOU STRONGER/HOW DID THIS MAKE YOU FEEL?At the time I had achieved significant success in improving company performance and to be reduced so summarily was both insulting and infuriating. I was livid at the implication that my male colleagues, people I felt admired and respected me, would buy the ‘dumb’ act! However, perhaps the most gallingly ignorant remark I’ve had levelled at me is the insidiously misogynistic ‘basically, you’re a man’. This ‘compliment’ is bestowed upon me with the expectation that I will be hugely flattered at the comparison! The suggestion being that any femaleness would preclude me from being an effective leader.We have a responsibility to challenge this careless language, whilst reminding ourselves that these words are rarely spoken with malice. I think by demonstrating that strength is gained not through fear and dominance but through humility and empathy (Jacinda Ardern is a perfect example of this!) female leaders are contesting the outdated perception that authority and leadership is the exclusive preserve of the masculine.SAM, WHY DO YOU FEEL THERE’S A LACK OF FEMALES IN LEADERSHIP ROLES ACROSS THE TECH INDUSTRY?Referring to my previous answer, I believe that historically women have not been attracted to the industry per se. Allow me to give you a brief history lesson: the 1960s counter-culture [hippie] scene of San Francisco bore the seeds that grew into Silicon Valley, and the exploitative prevailing mindset did not change: that women were subordinate to men and mainly considered a supply of uncommitted sexual gratification. Tech’s roots are therefore androcentric, placing men at the centre of the world-view; the industry has had a long way to come. It’s important to say that feminism was another off-shoot of the counter-culture and as in the field of technology, we’re making great progress. I hope now is the time that the two dovetail – great advances in technology led by people with vision and clarity of communication, irrespective of gender.KATE, DO YOU FEEL AS THOUGH THE PANDEMIC HAS CREATED MORE OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN WHO HAVE HAD CHILDREN DUE TO HOME WORKING, REMOTE WORKING ETC?I think it has both created opportunities and exposed gender bias. The pandemic has proved that flexible and remote working is both possible and effective and I hope this will open up greater opportunities for women with childcare commitments. I’m proud that the tech sector has pioneered this, with remote working a common contractual offering. However, in the families of some of my network there has been an expectation that the women, even where they’re the higher earner, should manage the lion’s share of the childcare. Male friends of mine have been less supported by their employers when it comes to flexible working and childcare commitments. We’re getting there, but in some sectors there still exists the assumption that ‘the woman’ should and will take care of the children.SAM, IF YOU HAD 30 SECONDS TO ADVISE ALL YOUNG WOMEN ACROSS THE GLOBE AROUND A CAREER IN TECH – WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?I’d say, carefully consider where you want to be – front-end, back-end or architecture. Each favours its own particular skillset and personality type and delivers its own reward. If you want to be a designer, what better validation than to have your work seen by millions? If you’re more of a programmer, you could be the author of the next global scripting language. Once you’ve decided where you’re going, constantly apply yourself to learning – this is a fast-paced world. And finally, don’t doubt that you can do it. You can!KATE, WHO’S YOUR INSPIRATION?I’m inspired by those women who have challenged expectations of femininity. Loud, brave, angry women like AOC, and pioneering women like Bessie Coleman and Valentina Tereshkova.A perhaps less lofty aspiration, but something that struck me as a teenager; I remember seeing Cher interviewed, bemoaning the fact that her mother wanted her to marry a rich man. Cher replies by saying ‘mother, I AM a rich man’!SAM – WHAT’S BEEN GETTING YOU THROUGH THIS THIRD LOCKDOWN?I hesitate to answer because I know this will sound disingenuous but it’s the truth – my friendship with Kate is helping massively. I consider this a time to strengthen the bonds that mean most to us, even though we have to do that remotely. I like to think that Kate and I have a very open, communicative relationship and having her in my life as my friend, boss and collaborator makes work, and life, sweeter.Kate – I’d echo that!AND BOTH – SHARE YOUR WISDOM! PLEASE PROVIDE A MANTRA OR QUOTE THAT YOU LIVE BY, OR JUST LIKE FOR THE SAKE OF IT.Sam – Marcus Aurelius: You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.Kate – When I first entered the business world, I thought I had to be a man to beat a man. Much like the women referenced in Ariel Levy’s Female Chauvinist Pigs, I felt I had to pull on a power suit, join in with the bro culture and, essentially, hide my femaleness. However, I’m pleased to say I’ve witnessed huge changes in the corporate sector over the last 20 years, and I see that companies are recognising that diversity is, in fact, a strength. We’ve all felt the pull to fit in, but your authenticity and uniqueness is your power. In tech, where we’re creating products for hugely diverse demographics, only those business that recognise this, will succeed.Thank you both for sharing this with us, keep rocking!#womenrockBy Char Baker A voice for diversity in Tech & Engineering <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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 “Power is not given to you. You have to take it.” – An interview with Dalgis Diaz Leon
WOMEN ROCK2021-03-02

“Power is not given to you. You have to take it.” – An interview with Dalgis Diaz Leon

I had the pleasure of speaking with Dalgis Diaz Leon, who is an inspiring woman working in tech and also a female leader. She tells us the funny story of how she used to sneak into her parents Object Orientated Programming lectures they taught at University when they were back in Cuba, which is how she first fell in love with programming and computers! She also opens up about her struggles with taming her curly hair (which is fabulous by the way!) and gives some brilliant advice to women everywhere that you don’t have to compromise on your professional goals and becoming a mother – she says “you don’t have to compromise, you have the duty and the right to look after yourself!”. Get ready to smile, laugh and nod along whilst reading this interview with Dalgis, who is truly an inspiration for women in technology everywhere.HEY DALGIS, THANKS SO MUCH FOR TAKING PART IN A WOMEN ROCK INTERVIEW – COULD YOU TELL US HOW YOU FIRST GOT STARTED IN TECHNOLOGY?Thank you for having me! Well, both my parents used to teach Object Oriented Programming in university when we lived in Cuba, so in that sense, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. I started sneaking into their lectures when I was fourteen and -in addition to getting an exclusive peak of mum and dad in work mode- I became rather fascinated with programming and computers.IT’S GREAT TO SEE A FEMALE IN A LEADERSHIP POSITION, HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR MANAGEMENT/LEADERSHIP STYLE AND WHAT WOULD YOU SAY YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT THE JOB?I guess my style is largely relaxed and supportive, but firm. I encourage my teammates to be as self-sufficient as possible while working at their own speed in their own style. I’m always happy to provide support if they need it and they know they can come to me if they want my assistance when dealing with situations that fall out of their comfort zone. And this is one of the things I enjoy most: lending my voice in circumstances that make others uncomfortable and that would’ve otherwise gone unaddressed. It is also somewhat self-serving as it puts my rebellious streak to good use. In exchange for all that freedom and support, I hold them to high standards as individuals and as engineers.IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME AND GIVE YOUR 13-YEAR-OLD SELF SOME ADVICE, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL HER?To be honest, my 13-year-old self was doing pretty well at school and life in general. I’d definitely tell her to learn how to handle curly hair though; that was a mess.YOU’VE BEEN WORKING AS A SOFTWARE ENGINEER FOR QUITE SOME TIME NOW, WHAT IS IT THAT YOU ENJOY SO MUCH ABOUT CODING?I love the mental puzzle and the logical thinking aspect of it. The capacity for abstraction that it demands sort of taps into parts of my personality that don’t get as stimulated with other tasks. I was very into maths as a child so programming came as a natural transition, and if I’m honest, I truly hope I’m still writing code when I retire.From a more practical sense, I also like the concept of being able to communicate with a machine and engineer solutions to my own problems. And I do find debugging errors quite thrilling. Even with memory issues. Even if I pretend I don’t.I FIND THAT THERE ARE MANY WOMEN WHO FEEL AS THOUGH THEY MUST CHOOSE BETWEEN THEIR ROLE AS A MOTHER OR THEIR CAREER – WHY DO YOU THINK THIS IS AND WHAT WOULD YOU TELL PEOPLE IN THAT POSITION?I think as a society we make women feel like children are their main responsibility and mainly their responsibility. Having children doesn’t suddenly negate your value as a person or your individuality. You are more than someone’s mum, and as such, you have the right, and almost the duty, to look after yourself. Whether that means nurturing your career, being a mother, or both, you don’t have to compromise, and no one has the right to make you feel inadequate for having ambitions.AT SR2, WE HAVE AN AMBITION/GOAL TO MAKE BRISTOL KNOWN AS THE ‘MOST DIVERSE CITY FOR TECH BY 2025’ – DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR US AND OTHER TECH COMPANIES ON HOW THEY CAN ACHIEVE THIS?Bristol is a pretty awesome city, so if anyone can do it’s us!There is great value in looking inwards for answers. Consider the language your company uses during the recruitment process. Is there an opportunity there where bias can be removed and gendered words that might be putting women off from applying?Start community programs to encourage young girls to pursue technical degrees. We are limited in what we can do to significantly impact the diversity of the workforce as is, but we can encourage the younger generation to widen their horizons. That paradigm shift needs to come at a young age.Consider hosting technical events like meetups, hackathons or workshops, targeted at women and non-binary folk to provide the community with a safe space where they can nurture their technical skills.IF THERE WAS ONE THING YOU COULD CHANGE ABOUT THE INDUSTRY WHAT WOULD IT BE?Specifically to the software industry, it’d be good to shift away from the perception that developers are always sweaty guys in t-shirts who spend all their free time playing video games. Only half of my developer friends do that ;).HAVE YOU EVER FELT LIKE YOU’VE COME UP AGAINST SOME BARRIERS IN YOUR CAREER BECAUSE YOU’RE A WOMAN, AND WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE WHO MIGHT BE FACING THE SAME THING RIGHT NOW?I’ve come across my fair share of inappropriate behaviour and “vanilla” discrimination, ranging from objectification to sexual harassment to the perception that I’m not geeky enough to be a real developer. It took me a moment to shift from the de facto accommodating, almost fearful-of-consequences attitude to a more assertive mindset, but when I did, the right and wrong of each of those situations became much clearer. We’re conditioned to be non-challenging crowd-pleasers, and that’s just another form of suppression. So, be fearless, be strong. Be entitled to your own space and voice, it is yours by right, it is not a favour being done to you.IS THERE SOMEONE IN YOUR LIFE OR EVEN WITHIN THE TECH INDUSTRY THAT YOU LOOK UP TO AND TAKE INSPIRATION FROM?I tend to focus on individual traits that I admire, rather than revering the person itself. I find it leads to less disappointment! But there are some people…My mother is an Automation Engineer and got her Master’s degree while raising two children and looking after the house in a country with limited resources, as was the expectation in a very patriarchal society. My father carried the weight of the family on his shoulders when we moved from Cuba to Spain, with all the stress and uncertainty that entailed, to give my brother and me a better chance at achieving our dreams.There are also a couple of women in my current company -one fierce, one calm- of whom I admire their ability to push back on drama, assert themselves, and carve their space in what is a very male dominated field.WHAT DO YOU THINK WOULD BE THE BIGGEST THING TECH COMPANIES COULD DO TO ATTRACT MORE WOMEN? AND I GUESS, IF IT WAS YOU LOOKING – WHAT WOULD ATTRACT YOU TO A COMPANY?A big one for this is to advertise the perks that would allow women to remain part of the workforce after motherhood e.g. enhanced maternity pay, flexible hours, parental leave, etc. While this is something that will benefit everyone with children, childcare more often falls under women’s responsibilities, and anything that can be done to make it easier for them to not have to choose between their careers and motherhood will ultimately keep more valuable professionals in the market.Give more visibility to the women in your environment. Reconsider the images and other marketing material your company uses. It is not about misrepresenting the truth, but about giving potential candidates someone they can identify with, and a way to assess whether they’re likely to feel included and understood when they join.FINALLY, COULD YOU LEAVE US WITH YOUR FAVOURITE QUOTE?“Power is not given to you. You have to take it.” I think Beyoncé said that, but this applies to everything: pay rises, promotions, opportunities; don’t assume they’ll be given to you just because you deserve it, you have to ask for it, you have to take it.Thanks so much for sharing this with us Dalgis, keep rocking!#womenrockBy Steph Jackson A voice for diversity in Tech & Engineering <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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 ‘Jumping to conclusion leaves no space for inclusion’ – An Interview with Adriana Morvaiova
WOMEN ROCK2021-02-23

‘Jumping to conclusion leaves no space for inclusion’ – An Interview with Adriana Morvaiova

Culture Genie, engaging people since 1984. Introducing Adriana Morvaiova, a creative who loves going beyond limits and being different. She is a keen culture bean and a non-conformist. Her passion lies within Diversity, Equality, Communication and people engagement and here is her story…ADRIANA, LETS START OFF WITH FINDING OUT A BIT ABOUT YOU…Ahoj, I’m Adriana and I was born in Slovakia with Hungarian roots. Moved to Northern Ireland in 2005 with my mother. One-way ticket, one suitcase each, with zero English and zero jobs lined up. I work as a team development co-ordinator for Sensata Technologies. I chair our D&I Council and race network ACE (Appreciating Cultural Exchange). I speak 3 languages fluently; I’m a qualified chef and I am currently studying part time with Open University – Open Degree in Philosophy and Leadership. In my spare time I love reading, gardening, networking and learning about new cultures. In 2020 I taught myself how to make macramé plant hangers. An amazing way to clear your mind and destress while you are concentrating on tying knots.WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR 2021?In 2020 I had the time and opportunity to go through radical self-discovery and deep dive into my personality, values, beliefs and goals. What a great reset! I tend to fail goals so for this year I am setting intentions. For 2021 my intentions are to continue my journey of learning, reading, networking and helping others. I accepted my first board position as a trustee with Mediation Northern Ireland, so I am excited to get stuck in and start serving my community.WHAT’S THE BEST APPROACH FOR A BUSINESS TO TAKE WHEN BUILDING A D&I STRATEGY?Engage and involve your employees from the start. Create space and opportunity for conversations around diversity & inclusion. When building a strategy, have a look at the demographics of your company, ask the people what matters to them but leave room for the underrepresented and the silent. Start with small ideas, find your champions and back it up with research. Some organisations take the route of HR driving the strategy. In my experience, employee led initiatives that form organically as affinity groups or employee resource groups have a bigger impact. People feel more empowered and being part of the journey. There is no right or wrong way of doing it, as long as you are doing something.HOW CAN BUSINESSES DO MORE TO MAKE THE MOST OF OVERSEAS TALENT LOOKING TO MOVE TO THE UK?Provide good support and as much information beforehand as possible, from relocation guides to linking people up with team members to financial support. Create a culture where everyone chips in with helping not just HR or the person doing the onboarding. Encourage people to create support networks to help new team members to integrate successfully into the local area and culture. Engage the new hires from the day of confirming employment and link them up with internal team members who are either local or familiar with the relocation process. Create links with local communities and support networks so you have extra help you can direct employees to.WHEN IT COMES TO THE WORK YOU DO IN DRIVING DIVERSITY, WHAT AREA ARE YOU MOST PASSIONATE ABOUT AND WHY?I equally love working on all areas of diversity and inclusion as the end goal is to create equal opportunities for everyone. I naturally have an interest in race and cultures as I’m an immigrant myself. I am fascinated by accents and how they affect our identities and people around us. Another area is cognitive diversity and how we engage with new, uncertain or challenging situations, for example different beliefs. To be truly invested in inclusion and for it to work, we need to be ready to re-evaluate our opinions, welcome discomfort of doubt and foster the attitude that every disagreement is an opportunity to learn something.TELL US ABOUT A BOOK YOU’VE RECENTLY READ?Rutger Bregman – HumankindIt’s a book that had a tremendous impact on how I see the World and the people in it. The author presents an argument that humanity and people are good. Our instinct is to cooperate rather than compete, trust rather than distrust. How we see people affects everything we do in life. The book presents a collection of research data, history and facts that backs up the author’s argument, and takes you on a positive journey to learn about humanity.Thanks for sharing this with us Adriana. Keep rocking #womenrockBy Charles Hoskins A voice for diversity in Tech & Engineering <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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 ”Alis volat propriis” – An interview with Valentina Vacca
WOMEN ROCK2021-02-16

”Alis volat propriis” – An interview with Valentina Vacca

Myself and Val go way back, we’ve stayed close, helped each other and I can’t believe I am only just getting around to speaking to her for Women Rock. We all know the stats for women in leadership in the industry and even more so with the devops, cloud, infrastructure space. Val is with me in agreeing we are slowly seeing a change and it is only by speaking and doing that we will get to see the improvement in the industry. Val is a mentor, an advocate, we share a love for animals and good people. We’re really excited to hear and share your story and career so far, thanks for speaking to us Val. ❤I’VE BEEN LUCKY TO HAVE KNOWN AND WORKED WITH YOU FOR A GOOD FEW YEARS NOW BUT COULD YOU TELL PEOPLE READING THIS A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOU AND WHAT YOU DO?I’m a chief architect in the Infrastructure and Cloud domains. My career started over 20 years ago working as Linux and Infrastructure systems admin for Telecoms then moved my way up and learning new technologies on the way. I’ve been working with DevOps and Cloud for quite a few years now.Since I’ve been in senior management my role has been less and less hands-on, today I drive change and vision and build that community of people that build great things.WHERE DID YOUR PASSION FOR TECH AND CLOUD/DEVOPS COME FROM?I would say it was a normal evolution coming from infra systems administration, working on a multiple type of role, challenges and industries. Cloud and DevOps are just an evolutionary step for the like of us.Being a women in leadership and in tech, we know the stats are a sight for sore eyes, but there’s a change happening, slowly but I really feel we are seeing more people from underrepresented groups shining through and stepping into leadership roles.WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE AS A LEADER?I think the stats in the UK are definitely worse compared to other European countries where more women studies in STEM. Not only being women can be a blocker but also the fact that I’m a foreigner and my culture and education background is someway different.I feel sometimes we need to prove more why we deserve a role, there is an unconscious bias rooted in education and social background. We need to change the mentality at early stages of the education journey so that women in IT do not seem as some rare whiteflies.I also think the problem goes well above, it impacts BAME whatever is the gender, it impacts the way we perceive foreigners again no matter of the gender.I SAW YOU ARE NOW A MENTOR THROUGH REED TECH WHICH IS AWESOME AND SO NEEDED. WE GET SO MANY MESSAGES ABOUT WHERE TO FIND A MENTOR. CAN YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT IT AND HOW SOMEONE CAN FIND A MENTOR?I think finding a mentor is like finding a friend we can talk about work without been judged, it’s opening up to each other experiences and it’s not about getting power but more coping with the challenges before us.There are different programs supporting woman in IT, I’ve been part of the Reed program for over a year now and I think it’s great to be able to share our burden with someone, helping us look at the problem from a different angle. I think a program of coaching will also be great to support us in our leadership role, sometimes we feel ashamed asking for help….we feel vulnerable.IF YOU COULD STEP INTO A TIME MACHINE 50 YEARS INTO THE FUTURE HOW DO YOU ENVISION THE WORLD OF TECH?I think 5G will give a big push to a more mobile way of consuming services, most likely we are going to see more micro and nano scale engineering based on bio chipset.Systems wise, we will be moving to a micro-edge distributed model.ALONG WITH OUR JOINT LOVE FOR ANIMALS WE BOTH SHARE A PASSION FOR DE&I. HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION IN YOUR OWN WORDS?It’s acceptance, it’s learning from each others diversity.Culture and identity diversity is what makes human better, richer, we have so much to learn from each other, if we could only lose our stereotypes.And animals….what can I say, best company ever!WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU?Do my job, set the change, build IT identities, a vision to share.ANY BOOKS, BLOGS OR PODCASTS TO RECOMMEND?Best books are about philosophy and psychology, as leaders, we need to learn how the human-machine works to make our teams successful.AND LASTLY WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE QUOTE?Alis volat propriis – She flies with her own wingsThanks for sharing this with us Val, you really are an inspiration for everyone, the future engineers and the future females in leadership! Keep rocking#womenrockBy Alicia Teagle A voice for diversity in Tech & Engineering <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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 ‘If you believe it, you can achieve it’- An interview with Zineb Leghnider
WOMEN ROCK2021-02-09

‘If you believe it, you can achieve it’- An interview with Zineb Leghnider

From a degree in Psychology to sales assistant, Lululemon educator to budding DevOps and Software Engineer. I think 2020 showed us that anything is possible and the brilliant Zineb is here to tell us all about her truly inspirational journey into Tech.There were massive cultural factors that may have deterred her from taking a Computer Science course, as you don’t see many Arab women in the field (even to this day). So she decided to go for something she felt she was good at and had a strong interest in, which is where Psychology came into play. Though she definitely enjoyed her degree, she found that the prospect of working as a Psychologist did not excite her as much. Therefore, she knew she had to dedicate her own personal time to expanding her skills and expertise, as being self-taught is celebrated in the tech industry. Over the last few years, she has spent a lot of time learning how to program in different languages, create her own applications, design and deploy cloud architectures, skills that have proven to be very useful in the working world. The Cloud was also an area of tech that she really did not know much about until she started the AWS re/Start programme. Cloud computing is quite a recent, exponentially growing technology which is being adopted by so many companies, day by day. What interested her the most about the Cloud was the fact that it was so straightforward to use that anyone could learn how to do so from the comfort of their own home. It almost removes the difficulties of building everything from scratch, maintaining all this hardware and can be deployed in an instant!After a couple of years of dedication learning all about Tech, Zineb is about to start her career in the summer and we cannot wait to follow her on the journey. You are the future Zineb and we all wish you all the best, you’re going to be one to watch!I WAS LUCKY ENOUGH TO CATCH UP WITH YOU IN JAN AND TALK ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND AND WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR. BUT FOR PEOPLE READING THIS, PLEASE COULD YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOU AND WHAT YOU ARE UP TO?I’m a recent Warwick graduate with a Psychology degree, who happened to be beginning the job search during the biggest global crisis we’ve had in decades. I have spent the last few years trying to figure out how I would successfully launch a career in tech without going down the traditional route (i.e., a Computer Science degree), with a number of opportunities to learn how to code. I happened to come across a tweet about a 12-week AWS programme designed for those without a traditional tech background and gave the application process my best shot. After successfully securing a spot, I found out that only 22 places were given out of a massive 2000+ applicants (I was over the moon)!! It almost felt like it was meant to be as the timing aligned perfectly with the completion of my Bachelor’s degree. The programme was an amazing opportunity to learn an array of different topics in computing and cloud technologies, which set us up perfectly for our first AWS certification exam. Since graduating from the AWS re/Start programme in December 2020, I have successfully passed my AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam and have continued to develop my technical skills such as getting comfortable with Terraform and learning how to code in JavaScript!WHERE DID YOUR PASSION FOR TECH AND CLOUD/DEVOPS COME FROM?My journey into the industry so far has been primarily driven by my curiosity and natural affinity to tech and how computers actually work. I always found the prospect of being able to press a few buttons and eventually creating an entire programme was fascinating. There have been massive cultural factors that may have deterred me from taking a Computer Science, as you don’t see many Arab women in the field (even to this day). I decided to go for something I felt I was good at and had a strong interest in, which is where Psychology came into play. Though I definitely enjoyed my degree, I found that the prospect of working as a Psychologist did not excite me much. Psychology is very much dominated by rigorous, scientific research which is well-established and standardised. Whereas tech is very dynamic, challenging, innovative and creates room for creativity, something I need to keep me engaged! Therefore, I knew I had to dedicate my own personal time to expanding my skills and expertise, as being self-taught is celebrated in the tech industry. Over the last few years, I have spent a lot of time learning how to program in different languages, create my own applications, design and deploy cloud architectures, skills that have proven to be very useful in the working world. The Cloud was also an area of tech that I really did not know much about until I started the AWS re/Start programme. Cloud computing is quite a recent, exponentially growing technology which is being adopted by so many companies, day by day. What interested me the most about the Cloud was the fact that it was so straightforward to use that anyone could learn how to do so from the comfort of their own home. It almost removes the difficulties of building everything from scratch, maintaining all this hardware and can be deployed in an instant! For those who are keen to get involved in tech, I would highly recommend looking at launching a super exciting career in the cloud.HOW WAS THE AWS RESTART PROGRAMME, WOULD YOU RECOMMEND IT TO SOMEONE WHO IS ALSO INTERESTED IN STARTING A CAREER IN THE DEVOPS WORLD?If I could sum up the AWS re/Start programme in one word, it would be transformational. It was the most incredible programme to start my journey into tech, covering all bases needed for a successful and exciting career. The programme is structured in a way that covers all the knowledge you would need in a technical role including topics such as Linux administration, networks, security, programming and databases, as well as AWS fundamentals. It almost summarised the most important content you would gain from a computer science degree into a concise, 12-week programme! I also went from having barely any knowledge of cloud computing to being able to have conversations about such topics at length, something I didn’t think would be achieved in such a short length of time. The team at Generation have been so supportive both throughout the programme and post-graduation, with regular career-focused sessions and numerous employer networking events. What’s also so incredible about the re/Start programme is that it is completely free and your AWS Cloud Practitioner certification fee is covered!I have to give a massive shout out to the team at Prince’s Trust for the support they continue to give the re/Start graduates. You will be set up with a mentor throughout the entire process, with regular 1-to-1s to discuss both cloud and non-cloud matters. One thing I always say about mentorship is that you don’t actually realise you need a mentor until you have one. Overall, I would encourage people from any background to apply for the programme, as I can’t imagine a better way to prepare yourself for a future in the cloud!AS SOMEONE WHO DIDN’T FOLLOW STEM IN SCHOOL BUT HAS RE-TRAINED WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE WHO IS LOOKING TO DO THE SAME?My biggest piece of advice is to truly believe in yourself. Something we covered in the re/Start programme was the importance of having a growth mindset when working in tech, through multiple group exercises and discussions. It is so easy to feel defeated when comparing yourself to others who have been successful in their career or have studied subjects like computer science at university. However, the tech industry is one of the few where those who are self-taught are just as highly regarded as those who have gained a formal education. If you dedicate enough time and effort into expanding your skillset, developing projects and engaging with the community, it will eventually result in success!There will be times where it feels like nothing is going how you expected it to and it is impossible to find a job (especially in the current climate). When it comes to the job search, don’t let a lengthy role description deter you from applying. This one is especially targeted at the women trying to secure a tech role, as women are less likely to apply for jobs but are 16% more likely to get hired after they apply and rising to 18% for senior roles (Tockey & Ignatova, 2020). After all, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take! ALTHOUGH YOU HAD A FEW FEMALES WITH YOU ON THE COURSE (THANKS FOR SENDING THEM OUR WAY) WE ALL KNOW THERE IS A LACK OF DIVERSITY AS A WHOLE IN THE TECH INDUSTRY. WHY DO YOU THINK SO MANY FEMALES DON’T FOLLOW TECH OR A STEM SUBJECT IN SCHOOL?There are a number of reasons why women are less likely to end up taking STEM subjects or pursuing tech careers, which I believe starts early on in childhood. Gender norms and stereotypes play a massive role in shaping our behaviours and psychosocial development, which can even be observed in how teachers interact with different students. Subjects like English, Humanities and Languages are seen as stereotypically ‘feminine’, whereas STEM subjects like Maths and Sciences are seen as more ‘masculine’. For example, the number of men on my Psychology course at university made up around 10% of the group. Whereas, subjects like Economics, Maths and Computer Science were heavily dominated by male students. A research study carried out by the Department of Education found that female students in KS4 were much less likely to consider them to be best at a STEM subject (33% compared to 60% of males). If we want to see change in the tech industry, we need to start with structural changes within the education system in order to break gender norms and expectations at the source. By placing initiatives to encourage women to take STEM subjects at GCSE and A-level, this will have a ripple effect on future generations, eventually leading to more women creating successful careers in the field of technology!By encouraging more women to go for technical roles, this allows for more individuals to act as role models for those who may not feel confident enough to re-train or apply for certain positions. As an Arab woman, I almost never see women like myself in technical roles or in the working world in the UK. If I am able to help contribute toward more representation for Arab women (as well as women in general) in the world of tech, I consider myself to have achieved my career goals!CONGRATULATIONS ON GETTING YOUR FIRST ROLE IN TECH ? CAN YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT WHAT IS NEXT FOR YOU?Thank you so much! I’m super excited to finally see the time and effort I have dedicated over the years come to fruition. I’m set to join EY at the end of this month as a junior developer apprentice, which is an incredible opportunity in collaboration with Makers Academy. I couldn’t imagine a better place to start my tech career, especially knowing that I will have the time and resources to gain extensive training experience before beginning the role in May. I hope to still continue to study toward more AWS certifications in the future, as cloud skills will remain in demand for the foreseeable future! As for further into future of my career, I am open to see where life takes me; COVID-19 has been a harsh reality for us all in terms of making plans. ANY BOOKS, BLOGS OR PODCASTS TO RECOMMEND?A newsletter I have really enjoyed over the last few months is Morning Brew, keeping me up-to-date on the emerging technologies in business! I find that by keeping updated on what is happening in the tech industry, I felt much more confident in my knowledge and abilities when going into interviews.A podcast I would recommend is ‘Reply All’ on Spotify, which takes a more light-hearted and comical approach to discussing the ‘internet’. Would recommend if you want to hear some funny tech stories!Finally, one of my favourite books is The Daily Stoic, which discusses how to live a life that is very present and in the moment. Stoic principles have proven to be very helpful in coping with the pandemic, as adopting stoicism encourages you to take each day as it comes. Rather than worrying too much about how the future will unfold, I have learned to appreciate the here and now!WHAT SONG REPRESENTS YOU?This might be a little cliché, but Stronger by Britney Spears. Each day goes by and I feel more confident in myself and where I will end up in the future. I just continue to remind myself that I’ve already come so far over the last 4 years and it’s only up from here!AND LASTLY WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE QUOTE?‘If you believe it, you can achieve it’ – long-term, successful change will only happen if you truly believe in yourself (another cliché, I know!).Thanks for sharing this with us Zineb, you really are an inspiration for underrepresented folk, the career changers and next generation.Keep Rocking#womenrockBy Alicia Teagle A voice for diversity in Tech & Engineering <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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 “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so” – An interview with Charles Hoskins
WOMEN ROCK2021-02-03

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so” – An interview with Charles Hoskins

Did you know that Women Rock is not purely about Women? Ok the name may make you think so but we have so many brilliant others including men who are true advocates of diversity and inclusion. Also yes, Women Rock is a voice for diversity in tech but we are ready to spread our wings and start speaking about the Engineering Industry, which as per Charles words is known to be male, pale and stale with a whopping 92% of the engineering industry being male. So we need to start talking!Charles wants to start to penetrate the labs, manufacturing floors and software teams, so it’s not just HR talking about D&I. It would be a huge achievement to get any of my clients on here, but if some of the men in his network are talking and driving awareness, that’s a huge step in the right direction. Finally, he wants job seekers to see that this is an aim of ours and our clients. Women Rock can help us have a diverse candidate pool, where you can work at places which are inclusive.Have a read, take note and let’s start talking about D&I in Engineering.WHY DID YOU JOIN SR2?I felt like SR2 to me was different. I don’t mean we got to use different job boards or anything like that, but I see so many companies market themselves as a “Leading Engineering Recruitment company” etc … Like what value does that add!? SR2 were disrupters in the tech scene because they champion D&I and really put people first.On a more personal note, I guess my own goals and ambitions were only going to be achieved somewhere where I had full control of them. Somewhere where I could be inspired again and hopefully inspire myself!WOMEN ROCK HAS BEEN FOCUSED ON THE TECH INDUSTRY FOR A COUPLE OF YEARS NOW, BUT WE ARE EXCITED TO SUPPORT D&I IN ENGINEERING. HOW CAN THE ENGINEERING INDUSTRY INCREASE DIVERSITY IN THE WORKPLACE?More than any other industry Engineering can be very male, pale and stale. It’s not the most welcoming, particularly for younger generations of engineers.We can look at multiple areas here. Firstly, from more government grants driving apprenticeships in engineering fields in all-girls schools. From software engineering to mechanical design there are some super rewarding careers available that people should hear about. Secondly, we need an industry shift into using more gender inclusive words and phrases, changing the branding of engineering in all its marketing (an area massively impacted by recruiters, obviously).As with anything, the biggest change comes from the people within this sector. Who are these people? Well right now 92% of them are men. So chaps, we need to get talking too!How many businesses educate their staff on the benefits of D&I, other than “it’s something we should do”. Engineers are passionate about their products, but do they know a diverse work force has proved to have better work productivity, better company sales, customer satisfaction and innovation in what they make? What a great way to make the best thing possible and have the biggest impact possible by accepting a varied workforce.The turnover of female staff in engineering is a lot higher compared to men, so we need to address retention. There are so many reasons that could attribute to this, but I’m confident if all staff know why it’s important to retain certain members of the company, people will band together to make the environment as accommodating as possible. If one of our readers is thinking that their R&D/leadership team is male dominated, why don’t they appoint at least one female in the company to be on any internal committees that vote on changes in the company. Give people a voice any way you can!HOW HAVE YOU ENCOURAGED AN ENGINEERING COMPANY TO BE MORE DIVERSE?By educating businesses on how easy sponsorship licences are to get. It’s allowed me to place candidates from all kinds of backgrounds. The engineering sector was predicted 1.82 million skills shortage jobs in the decade preceding 2022, and maximising the amazing talent in the wider world adds so much value to engineering teams. It’s a conversation I’m expecting to have more in a post-Brexit world.DO YOU THINK COVID HAS HAD AN IMPACT ON DIVERSITY WITHIN THE INDUSTRY?I haven’t seen it first-hand if I’m completely honest, but Covid has forced a lot of working from home. I’m sure there are some great examples of overseas candidates working for a company in the UK from their living room anywhere in the world! Huge potential to implement a near-shore/off-shore development teams!HOW DO YOU THINK SCHOOLS CAN HELP INCREASING DIVERSITY INTO STEM SUBJECTS?Let’s start with recruiting teachers… For me, I LOVE History. I studied History at university and ask any of my friends, I will bore you to death with it if you give me the chance. This came from a string of teachers I had that I could really engage with and was inspired by. Of course, we need ‘the right hire’ to teach the class, but surely that hire is someone that’s going to represent a wider variety of the UK today, encourage all kinds of people to follow this career path and take a pro-active approach with diversity. Lets put that in our interview process!WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS AND AMBITIONS FOR WOMEN ROCK?I want to use this amazing platform to penetrate the labs, manufacturing floors and software teams, so it’s not just HR talking about D&I. It would be a huge achievement to get any of my clients on here, but if some of the men in my network are talking and driving awareness, that’s a huge step in the right direction. Finally, I want job seekers to see that this is an aim of ours and our clients. Women Rock can help us have a diverse candidate pool, where you can work at places which are inclusive.WHAT ONE SONG REPRESENTS YOU?‘Old Man’ by Neil YoungFYI I’m only 27 … but I take from the song he’s reflecting on his life, which I feel makes you appreciate things a lot more. It’s an acoustic song but I feel a happy one, with some simple drums that the percussionist in my likes. So there’s me – not old, but happy and simple ?ONE LAST BIT OF ADVICE?I’ve mentioned talking about D&I loads, but the most important bit is action. Don’t be afraid to speak out against the norm and be the first person to start that change. Those are the people who are remembered and respected!Thanks for sharing your thoughts and advice Charles, we hope with you as a Women Rock ambassador we can see some great improvement in the Engineering world.Keep Rocking#womenrockBy Alicia Teagle A voice for diversity in Tech & Engineering <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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 ”Do your best and let them say.” – An interview with Elizabeth Tweedale
WOMEN ROCK2021-01-26

”Do your best and let them say.” – An interview with Elizabeth Tweedale

Elizabeth Tweedale – Mother, Wife, Founder, CEO, CTO, Chief Innovation Officer, Female Entrepreneur of the year 2020 by ClubHub Awards, Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2020 Finalist, the list goes on… Elizabeth is so inspiring – raising a family, building a career, founding a Coding Academy for children (Cypher Coders) and launching a successful Tech Start-up (GoSpace)! She is looking to change the way coding is seen by the next generation, and encouraging more young girls into Tech!TALK ME THROUGH YOUR JOURNEY INTO TECH?It started with the fact that I was a gamer to begin with, I started with Super Mario Brothers and it evolved from there – Tony Hawk Pro Skater, and all those kinds of games. I think gaming is one of those things that makes an easy segway into technology. Also, my father worked in tech, he worked on the server side, the set-up of the computers for big companies; there were times when he was transferring over servers where my brother and I would be in the office as well, unplugging hard drives and just messing around with all the techie bits, so that’s when Tech set in.It wasn’t until University that I really discovered computer science. I always wanted to be an architect, so for my undergrad I chose my major majors as Maths and Art because I thought, OK, that leads you into architecture, and one of the first courses that you take as a math major is computer science. And I just fell in love with it because it wasn’t like pure maths, where you have you know 1 + 1 = 2, or A plus B = C, which can come from any different multitudes of types of A or B’s and C’s, and it felt so much more relevant to me in terms of the world and how to solve problems.I continued on to become an architect, & did my Master’s in architecture. When I was practicing architecture, I realized even more, how important that background in technology as a base foundation for being able to apply technology, and the way of computational thinking towards any kind of career. That led me to want to teach children about the importance of Computer Science.LET’S CHAT ABOUT CYPHER CODERS. WHY DID YOU SET IT UP AND WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS?Our mission is to empower children to be able to move freely and confidently in the world; ensuring that they’re equipped with that base understanding of technology, and therefore the language of code. Also, our mission is really to prepare the next generation for what’s coming because we all know how important technology is and how quickly it’s changing our day-to-day lives. We teach children between the ages of 4-14years, how to code, and we do that through creative themes such as fashion, architecture or conservation & linking those to coding. We teach children during the school holidays, after school clubs, as well as within the school day as part of the National Curriculum.Teaching computer science has historically been very tech-first focused and often times it lends itself to be more males over females, I really set out to create a company that inspired both boys and girls into coding and understanding the technology around them, which is why we incorporate those creative themes because it gets a broader range of children interested. Today we’ve already taught thousands of students who have joined our program and we are now expanding throughout the UK, which we were doing pre-covid. But now that we have transitioned everything online as well, we’re expanding into countries like the US, Canada but also the Philippines.WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE BARRIERS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE PURSUING A CAREER IN TECH?First, I think one of the main barriers is just the perception of a “coder”, by that, I mean somebody that’s successful in technology. If you ask children about famous people in technology, they tend to say Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Tim Cook. But what about Sheryl Sandberg, who’s the CEO of Facebook or Ginny Romeney who was the CEO of IBM? & let’s not forget the key one being Ada Lovelace, who is actually the creator of computer science! One thing we need to do is really praise those successful Females in technology so that they’re as inspirational for young girls.On the one side, and I think the other kind of main barrier is really the fundamentals of how coding is taught. When computer science was first taught in University and just sort of in the Ivy League schools and at that time the only people that were allowed to take those courses were men just because of the time that it was. So when computer science evolved as a subject matter, it was created by Men, for men, so we need to find ways to broaden the subject so that we can teach it to men and women. It all comes down to perception. For example, if you call a class l “Learn to programme a drone” you might only get boys interested, but if you call it “Learn how drones are used in saving the ocean” you might get more girls interested in the conservation side, thus learning how to programme a drone to collect plastic from the sea. Our classes now are around 55% girls!TELL ME ABOUT GOSPACE AND YOUR JOURNEY SO FAR?Bruce and I co-founded GoSpace together and initially, I was the CTO, so I was behind the scenes writing the kind of key algorithms, & Bruce was raising investment in building up the business development. From a technology perspective, GoSpace is extremely exciting. Particularly because of the advancements that we’re tackling in Artificial Intelligence, drawing on the cutting edge of research in this field. We have seen these huge shifts in AI research and development, and we are applying this to the allocation of people in the workplace, it’s even more important now than ever with COVID. We are accelerating the way the future of work will look. There’s a huge multi-dimensional problem that needs to be solved because you’re talking about different people, different teams, different days that they want to come into the office, so we can automate that.From a tech perspective, it’s an exciting problem because it’s so complex that it can also be applied to a lot of different industries. I’m the Chief Innovation Officer, so I’m not involved day-to-day, but in how those theories evolve in terms of creating the algorithms. I’m also supporting Bruce as a director. It’s been really inspiring to see how Bruce himself leads the team and how he raises capital or executes key business objectives, that has really helped me & I’ve really learned a lot from him over the years.DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER FEMALE ROLE MODELS IN TECH OR ANYONE YOU LOOK UP TO THAT INSPIRES YOU?I think we can definitely find inspiration from other females in tech like those mentioned before, but actually my mentors have come more from probably the entrepreneurship side of things, rather than the technology side. I think there’s a running debate – being an entrepreneur, is it something that you’re born with or is it something that you can learn and develop? For me, it’s definitely something that I was born with. I’ve been starting companies since I was in 3rd grade.So, In terms of a mentor. I would have to say probably Bruce (Co-Founder of GoSpace and Husband) has been one of my biggest mentors. I think it’s because he has a business degree, to compliment my education, and I’ve found that to be invaluable.When we’re talking about finding a good mentor first we need to decide what the key strand is for you that inspires you everyday. Is it business development or entrepreneurship? Or is it technology? Or is it finances or operations? For me, it’s entrepreneurship first but it just happens to be that like technology underpins all of that. Then find somebody that has that same kind of key, aspirational thing, but a completely different knowledge base in that particular areaIn terms of other females that have been really influential, it’s really come down to my Grandmother who passed away a couple of years ago, she was a mother of five and she was trained as a Nurse. But back in those days you couldn’t be a nurse and be married, so then she met my Grandfather, interestingly, over the operating room table, and they fell in love so they had to get married in secret! When she had her first kid, she obviously had to give up her career. She was so inspirational to women. She used to volunteer at the Women’s prison to try to educate these women into what kinds of careers they could do and not to let being a woman hold them back.WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON HAVING A DIVERSE WORKFORCE?I think it’s important for women to understand that roles in Tech are multi-faceted, it’s not about just being a full-stack developer or code, there are so many roles within Tech. From Sales, to Marketing, to QA Engineering. You don’t need to be super technical to understand it. women are successful in Tech because they approach problems in different ways, they see fresh ways to solve issues. By bringing together both perspectives, we can solve problems quickly and efficiently. I think men and women bring different things to the table and that we can benefit from both of those.WHO WOULD YOU HAVE AT A DINNER PARTY? DEAD OR ALIVE?My grandmother, definitely; Seymour Papert – the original creators of the logo programming language and a huge educator. And, maybe one of the Egyptian Pharaohs who built the pyramids, they created this timeless piece of architecture, completely man-made. Incredible.DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE QUOTE OR INSPIRATIONAL MESSAGE THAT YOU STAND BY?We have a “family motto”, something my grandmother always said, which is, “Do your best and let them say”, which I think is important because you can read into it in so many ways, not being influenced by what people think of you or not being worried about what they will say. It’s just always doing your best, and also doing your best for others too.CAN YOU PINPOINT ONE THING THAT YOU COULD SAY IS YOUR PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENT TODAY?I don’t know this might be too cliche, but I think my proudest achievement today is that I’ve built my entire career, whilst being a mother. I had my first child when I was 24, so I hadn’t even finished my undergraduate degree. I had my second child 2 weeks before presenting my final thesis and we had our third child 2 years ago. I think my proudest achievement is being able to say that I have done both building a career and having a Family. I want to inspire other women because I think having kids is sometimes something that women put off until after they create their career, and I just would hope that women might consider having children while building their career, because I think it’s important for you, that we motivate women to believe that they can do both.By Emily Lewis A voice for diversity in tech <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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