“If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” – An interview with Helena Dite
I met with TCarta for the first time a couple of months ago, and when I started talking about Women Rock and how we were sharing the success stories of inspiring women, they insisted I met with Helena Dite who was their Technical Superstar!
Helena began her journey as a Geography Graduate, where she found her passion in the technical aspect of remote sensing. She’s since explored her passions of climate change and how sensing data could provide impactful insight, combining her passions of technology and saving the world as a self-confessed digital tree-hugger. Helena is now a Technical Team Lead and involved in everything from coding to client bidding. She’s since developed a passion for encouraging more women to get involved in the tech industry and after chatting to her about our Women Rock platform, it’s been great to showcase how techie’s can come from all backgrounds and passions and the importance of diversity in the workplace!
SO TO START, WHAT DOES DAY TO DAY LIFE LOOK LIKE AS A REMOTE SENSING ANALYST AT TCARTA?
It’s a little mad at times, and always begins with a coffee. TCarta is a perfect place for those easily bored – no day is the same. One moment I could be helping to bid for new work, the next I mapping an entire country’s vegetation health, then the next knee deep in python. I think the beauty of remote sensing is the wide applicability across many sectors. Being part of an SME like TCarta, ensures role diversity, encourages adaptability, and provides opportunities you wouldn’t get anywhere else – which keeps it interesting. As you can probably tell, I am most motivated when I am doing different things!
HOW DID YOU GET TO WHERE YOU ARE TODAY? I CAN SEE YOU COMPLETED YOUR DEGREE IN GEOGRAPHY, WHERE DID YOUR PASSION FOR THE TECHNICAL ASPECTS COME FROM?
A mixture of hard work, long hours, countless failures, and a strong determination borne from a deep seated stubbornness. I’ve had the pleasure to work with some incredible people that I have learnt a lot from. The diversity I’ve encountered having worked in councils, SMEs, Universities, and family businesses, has helped me some way in overcoming challenges in constructive ways, whilst helping me hypothesise what my current and future challenges might look like. Once I had the experience, I was able to have more choice about which companies I actually wanted to work for. I chose TCarta mainly for their ethic – they invited me on board for their journey and I’m happy to be a part of it!
I actually discovered remote sensing by mistake. My passion was a combination of my love of all things geography particularly climate change and trees, my curiosity in exploring new unknowns, and ambition to do something I felt would be impactful on a global scale. Remote Sensing was by far the most interesting and challenging aspect of my degree, though it sometimes hurt my brain, I knew I wanted to pursue it by first year – who wouldn’t want to work with space?! Though if you dig down the bones of it, I’m essentially a digital tree-hugger.
I CAN SEE YOU’VE RECENTLY BEEN PROMOTED TO A TEAM LEADER POSITION (CONGRATS!). WHAT 3 ATTITUDES DO YOU THINK ARE VITAL FOR A TECHNICAL TEAM TO BE SUCCESSFUL?
○ Introspection is key for a successful professional and personal life.
○ Most issues can be resolved through effective communication. It’s also integral to conveying technical information to non-technical audiences whilst maintaining your content.
○ Technical problems are often multi-faceted, new, and require some intense research i.e. googling! You have to work fast and be open minded to new ideas however outlandish they initially seem.
FROM YOUR EXPERIENCES, WHY DO YOU THINK THERE IS A LACK OF FEMALE TALENT IN TECHNICAL ROLES?
It is sometimes intimidating to compete in male dominated industries, and initially difficult to get taken seriously as you can face some negative attitudes. I’ve got a fair few stories! Unfortunately I think the small number of negative attitudes do put a lot of women off. Whilst most people I’ve worked with are fine, you do get the odd pockets of outdated thinking from people who are challenging to overcome. Both women and men provide invaluable contributions to the workplace, when the relationships are maximised compliment each other perfectly.
WHAT IS ONE BIT OF ADVICE YOU WOULD GIVE TO A WOMAN WANTING TO GET INTO A TECHNICAL ROLE?
Do it! Be yourself, let your personality shine through, embrace the fact you are a woman and don’t be afraid to call people out. The sector is crying out for us! Look for a dynamic and progressive company that works for you as much as you work for them. An organisation worth your time will positively foster your personal development and value your contributions.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE QUOTE?
Can I have two?!
“If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” Mahatma Ghandi
“You have to be odd to be number 1.” Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr Seuss)
WHO’S YOUR SQUAD?
Mike Smith, my partner who coaches me through most things on a personal and professional level. Sinead Morgan, my partner in (figurative) crime, who taught me by example to always be myself. Finally, on a professional level, Donna Lyndsay (ESA), because she’s super inspirational and a strong advocate of women in space tech.
Thank you Helena, we’ve loved hearing about your life at TCarta and your general positivity!
A voice for diversity in tech!
An interview by Amy Vitoria