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!

 “Gather together to blossom”- An interview with Cat Houlihan
WOMEN ROCK2022-02-16

“Gather together to blossom”- An interview with Cat Houlihan

This week Ellen Cain brings you a WR interview with a twist, venturing out of the realms of Tech & Engineering, this interview dives into the healthcare world (on the other side of the world!) 🌏.Ellen recently spoke to a close friend of hers and an absolute wonder woman, Cat Houlihan. Their conversation covered everything and inbetween moving to Australia, being a new mum and setting up the first of its kind, a residential treatment centre for people with eating disorders 💙.“I believe we are all humans with a range of experiences on offer to us. For whatever reason some of us respond to the world’s challenges in this way or that.”So here it is, take 5 and immerse yourself in this incredibly insightful and refreshing interview with Cat Houlihan, Clinical Director and Clinical Psychologist at Wandi Nerida.Thank you for letting us pick your brains Cat, you are such an inspiration 🙌.PLEASE CAN YOU SUMMARISE WANDI NERIDA FOR ME?Wandi Nerida is Australia’s first residential treatment centre for people with eating disorders. Wandi Nerida means “gather together to blossom” and is a name gifted to us by the local Aboriginal community.TELL ME A BIT ABOUT YOUR JOB AND WHAT A DAY IN THE LIFE LOOKS LIKE FOR YOU AND YOUR SON, THE GORGEOUS REX?Wandi Nerida was built to be a home-like setting on 25 acres of beautiful bushland on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. As the Clinical Director I am responsible for the clinical program, the groups and therapies that our “participants” (clients) will engage in as part of their recovery journey. I’m lucky that no two days look the same! Some days I’ll be busy with meetings, talking to families and other services around Australia, other days I’ll be running groups, eating meals with participants and supervising staff. Sometimes I’ll be taking a mindful 5 minutes by the dam or walking down by the horses. Other times I’ll be in the office having a cry because I’m feeling overwhelmed by the intense nature of the job and balancing work and life responsibilities. On the odd occasion I have barricaded myself in the office because I’ve heard that Stan the carpet Python who lives under the staff building is on the loose!A day in the life with Rex is go, go, go, from breakfast to bedtime. We eat, play, go for walks, to the park and to the beach and that can sometimes be before lunchtime! Rex is lots of fun, a very busy bee, and once he has fully figured out what we’re doing he’s ready for the next thing. It’s enjoyable and energising and exhausting and challenging all at the same time.THE BUSINESS YOU WORK FOR IS THE FIRST OF ITS KIND IN AUSTRALIA, WHAT HAVE BEEN THE MAJOR CHALLENGES FOR YOU?Moving to Australia has been quite a big culture shift, especially working in healthcare. I didn’t understand how different it would be until I was in it, and it can feel quite lonely working in a team with different training backgrounds and ways of thinking. It’s been good learning too, but some days I find myself missing my old teams and the good old NHS! Having a baby and then taking on such a big role after maternity leave has been as challenging as you’d expect and doing this without my usual support network of friends and family around me has made the tough times extra tough. Being a new service with a new team meant the first few months were extremely busy and chaotic with unexpected problems that were my responsibility to solve. I’d often have to stay late, miss nursery pick up or seeing Rex at all that night – which still happens sometimes – and I feel incredibly guilty for.MUM GUILT IS THE WORST AND YOU ARE JUGGLING SO MUCH MORE THAN A NORMAL 9-5 AND BEING A PARENT. KUDOS TO YOU! BAR THE SOUNDS OF A TODDLER CRYING, WHAT GETS YOU UP IN THE MORNING?Haha, that’s pretty much it! I’ve just started walking once or twice per week in the mornings when I can which I love. I used to jog on the beach and trying to build this back up after a couple of years off. I also strangely enjoy my drive to work, it’s just under an hour and if I have a good coffee and podcast, it’s a nice peaceful moment in my day.HOW HAVE YOU FOUND BEING A FEMALE LEADER IN YOUR INDUSTRY?Working in healthcare in an eating disorders service means that I work with mainly females including other leaders which I’ve found helpful especially when coming into the role from maternity leave and having other mothers supporting me. Due to the nature of eating disorder treatment around 90% of our participants are female too, so as a leader I have felt quite comfortable in that sense. I still feel like an imposter most days, but that’s because I have an underlying sense that someone’s made a mistake hiring me generally, not because I’m female!I AM SURE YOU ARE MORE THAN QUALIFIED TO DO YOUR JOB! I GUESS WE ALL FEEL LIKE WE’RE FAKING IT AT TIMES. DO YOU OR HAVE YOU FACED ANY STIGMAS OR MALE/FEMALE INEQUALITY IN YOUR ROLE OR PREVIOUS ROLES?I can’t say that I’ve faced any stigmas beyond the typical cultural norms relating to gender stereotypes that can also be expressed in the workplace. There is inequality in my workplace with a larger female-male ratio of colleagues which means valuable experience and perspectives can be lost in the service development and decision-making. That said, the males we do have typically occupy more senior roles.YOU’VE HAD SOME MAJOR LIFE CHANGES OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS; MOVE TO AUSTRALIA, HAD A BABY, OFFERED A CHUNKY JOB AND ALL WITHOUT YOUR FRIENDS OR FAMILY. WHAT HAS REALITY BEEN LIKE FOR YOU?I’ve tried to give a real perspective in previous answers and not paint a fantasy picture of Australian life. I miss home every day, especially in winter (yes, I love the cold!) Covid has of course made things harder, though I’m very excited to be returning home with the family for Christmas 2022.Otherwise, life really has its ups and downs! Being a mum is one area that can feel both wonderful and challenging, so is being a clinical director, so is being in a relationship. I’m proud of how many challenges I have overcome and try to remember this when I feel the inner critic piping up. I’ve always been drawn to excitement and chaos to a certain extent, despite longing for predictability and order once I’m in it. I have high expectations for myself which have been both a blessing and a curse. My reality is probably quite ‘normal’ in that I am a typical human being with complex emotions and thoughts that I can’t always make sense of, and it doesn’t matter where you are or what you do when you have these experiences.YOU HAVE SO MUCH ON YOUR PLATE, I IMAGINE BEING OVERWHELMED IS JUST PART OF YOUR BREAD AND BUTTER NOW. ARE YOU ABLE TO SELF SOOTHE YOURSELF BASED ON THE EXPERIENCE YOU HAVE AS A CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST OR DOES YOUR MENTAL HEALTH, AND THE MENTAL HEALTH OF YOUR PATIENTS FALL IN TWO COMPLETELY DIFFERENT WORLDS?It definitely improved through my clinical training. Learning about psychology and mental health helped me understand myself much more, the suffering I’d experienced and how it was expressing itself in my daily life. I’ve learnt strategies for self-soothing but can’t always apply them effectively! It’s a lot easier for me to provide support to others but I don’t see myself as different in any way. Like I was saying before, I believe we are all humans with a range of experiences on offer to us. For whatever reason some of us respond to the world’s challenges in this way or that, I am lucky that I’ve had the training, therapy, and support for personal growth, but I’ve also definitely experienced mental health issues particularly anxiety and depression which I was not able to easily recover from without help.HOW DID YOU FIND THE FIRST YEAR OF MOTHERHOOD AND WHAT ARE THE BEST THINGS ABOUT YOUR LIFE DOWN UNDER?The first year of motherhood was really hard! Looking back, I recognise postnatal anxiety and depression but didn’t seek support for this at the time. The early months are a bit of a blur to be honest, I felt lonely and stressed and exhausted. I’m glad to see the back of it haha! You helped me get through the really tough times and helped me learn it’s ok not to look back. I’m happy to say I’m enjoying the toddler stage a lot more now, but I was really unprepared for the physical and emotional demands of motherhood especially in those first few months.The best thing about life down under is the exposure to nature, I live in a beach town with nice beaches and walks in the National Park. It’s a slower pace, early to rise and early to bed which suits me, and less of the daily stressors that come with city life (like traffic!). It’s normal to see dolphins in the sea and parrots in the back garden, and it’s so vast there’s lots of exploring left to do.SOUNDS DREAMY! HOPEFULLY THIS YEAR YOU WILL FINALLY BE ABLE TO BRING YOUR BABE HOME TO MEET YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS. HAVE YOU GOOGLED ‘HOW TO SURVIVE A 12-HOUR FLIGHT WITH A 2-YEAR-OLD?’ YET?Yes I have. There were some good tips but also many parenting blog posts simply saying, “don’t do it!”I’ll never forget the conversation we had about the flight, you managed to convince me that it was only a day and would all be worth it, and then when we were hanging up you said “but yeah I’d never do it with my toddler”. Haha thanks for the words of encouragement! And thanks for inviting me to this interview, its been an honour and a pleasure and I think you’re doing a wonderful thingThank you so much Cat! Keep rocking #womenrockAn interview by Ellen Cain.A voice for diversity in Tech & Engineering <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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 “Don’t dwell on the past, soak up every moment of the present and always be excited for the future” – An interview with Jessica Dowdall
WOMEN ROCK2022-01-18

“Don’t dwell on the past, soak up every moment of the present and always be excited for the future” – An interview with Jessica Dowdall

Jamie first connected with Jessica on LinkedIn just before Christmas and was blown away by quite how much work one person was able to be involved in – #iamremarkable mentor, Strategic Advisory Board member for Cardiff Uni, a fundraiser for MIND, STEM mentor, shortlisted for ‘Role Model of the year’ and winner of the highly commended ‘Rising star of the year’ at the 2021 Women in Tech Excellence awards. This doesn’t even include the day job! Jessica is super passionate about improving diversity, inclusion, and mental and I couldn’t have asked for a better person to my first Women Rock interview with. We cover everything from her journey from working in Starbucks to becoming the Global Program Manager at AWS, the power of networking, dealing with rejection, removing bias from the interview processes, and advice for young people starting out in the world of tech. This is educational and inspiring in equal measures so grab yourself a cuppa, sit back, and enjoy!JESSICA, WE’D LOVE TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR STORY SO FAR?Where did it all start?! So I was born and raised in Newport, South Wales. I originally studied Social Sciences at the University of Southampton where I went on to realise that the social sciences wasn’t for me after realising my passion for tech after landing a job at one of the coolest tech companies in the world. I then had to find a way to transition over to the tech world with barely any experience which was pretty tough, but it was worth the journey and I love to sharing my learnings with others these days to help people in the same situation. I faced a lot of rejection but ruthlessly changed my approach each time to follow my passion. I’ve worked for some awesome companies like Apple, Capgemini, Dyson and now I’m leading two programs (Cloud Migration, Digital Innovation) for the Business Development and Strategic Industries (BDSI) function at Amazon Web Services (AWS). I am extremely passionate improving diversity, inclusion and mental health, where my personal blog will be released very soon. I also do a lot of STEM mentoring on the side and also spend my spare time outside of work contributing to a Strategic Advisory Board for Cardiff University and other organisations across Wales (Universities, Welsh Government, NGO’s).HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE WORLD OF TECH?What a great question! I can’t deny my journey had a bit of a tough start. After starting fresh with a blank sheet of paper after deciding to change industries with barely any experience in tech, I had to do something to set myself apart. I probably applied for about 60 tech jobs and only got interviewed for about 8. I changed up my CV design, matched my content to the job application and started to take more care with each application whilst trying to do relevant online courses to put on my CV as a starting point. I was then offered a job in Cyber Security Sales in London which I thought would be an amazing in-between role for me to get into more of a technical role in future. Every decision I made from that moment on was to soak up all the information I could, deliver high quality results and help others who are also struggling with that transition into the tech industry to reach their career goals.TELL US A BIT ABOUT THE COACHING YOU DO OUTSIDE OF WORK TO HELP WOMEN AND UNDERREPRESENTED GROUPS FIND EMPLOYMENT?I started mentoring people in STEM two years ago now and its flown by and I absolutely love it. It is so gratifying helping others find their dream roles, increasing their confidence, improving their mental health and teaching people how to bring their full authentic selves to work. As well as 121 coaching, I also lead a group workshop for people around Diversity & Inclusion called #IAMREMARKABLE. This is a Google program that aims to 1. Increase self-confidence in others. 2. Teach others around unconscious bias. 3. Help others own their own achievements to help them thrive in their careers.HOW DO YOU THINK WE CAN CHANGE THE NARRATIVE OF COMPANIES USING EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND AS THE MAIN PART OF THEIR HIRING REQUIREMENTS?I think that organisations internally and externally should be focusing their energy on changing the narrative by 1/Gathering data around success in roles with educational background VS non-educational background (Qualitative and Quantitative). 2/Once you have the data, create a way of verbalising in the form of stories you can promote and highlight to companies and their benefits to change the dialogue. 3/Verbalise and promote this change across all organisations to make recruiting more diverse and inclusive.DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEAS ON HOW COMPANIES CAN REMOVE BIAS FROM AN INTERVIEW PROCESS TO MAKE SURE EVERYONE HAS A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD?I have loads of ideas, which are actually most from my learnings and experience from Amazon who set the bar SO high with diverse recruitment.Rework job descriptions: This provides the first point of contact with a company’s culture, make sure that job descriptions and the interview process is removing gendered wording and reviewed by multiple people.Blind CV reviewing: You need a level playing field where you don’t know their age, gender and other demographics. Just the best person for the job!Having standardised and mixed gender interview panels: Ensuring an inclusive environment and all feedback collected is based on facts and data, not opinions.Non-Bias Bar Raiser: Have an objective third party who facilitates the interview process. More information HEREWHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU FACED IN YOUR CAREER?Getting a 2.2 at university and no graduate schemes being prepared to take on talent based on grade and not passion and experience.Lack of female role models in tech to inspire me to be authentic, be different at work. I’ve learned this a lot later in life than I hoped and also the reason why I’m trying to be an advocate for others.Discrimination based on gender and age. As much as companies will never admit it, these things happen and we need to be the advocates for change. There is so much un-tapped talent out there who you need to enrich!WHAT ARE YOUR PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENTS (PERSONAL OR PROFESSIONAL)?I think talking about your own achievements is always a difficult one! However, I’m particularly proud of generally helping others achieve their goals but also improving their mental health (I have coached about 25 men and women now). Winning “Rising Star of the Year” 2021 in the Women in Tech Excellence awards. Landing a role at Amazon was genuinely one to be proud of, one of the rigorous processes I’ve ever endured. Finally, I was asked to join the External Advisory Board for Cardiff University and now building an Innovation Ecosystem across Wales which I’m so proud of.WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE WOMEN STARTING OUT IN TECH?“Own your insecurities, embrace the fear of the unknown, have the courage to get stuck in, continually change things up, NEVER give up, own the stage, ruthlessly ask for feedback and change your approach until you succeed”PLEASE PROVIDE A MANTRA OR QUOTE THAT YOU LIVE BY OR JUST LIKE?“Don’t dwell on the past, soak up every moment of the present and always be excited for the future”WHO HAVE BEEN/ARE THE MOST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE IN YOUR CAREER?Who were the most influential people in my career? Well, let’s start with my first manager when I was working as an SAP security consultant at Capgemini, Rob. He taught me that you can be a nice person, you can bring empathy to work and you can absolutely rock what you do and deliver results all in one. Another really influential person in my career who fully embraced me bringing my full, crazy and authentic self to work was David. At the age of 24, I had built trust with a senior VP at Capgemini when I was leading Innovation for the UK. He believed in me and my talent regardless of my age, letting me fly around the world building Innovation teams across EMEA and US and delivering design thinking workshops for incredible customers like Burberry and Lamborghini. My manager at Dyson, Morna. She taught me real hardcore operational rigor and resilience at work but also that it doesn’t matter about age, gender, sexual orientation when it comes to recruitment it should be about delivering value with the best person for the job. Finally, my current manager Leanne. She’s an incredible lady, so intelligent and articulate but has an incredible backbone too (has taught me to say no to more things and stand up for what I believe in) but most importantly she cares about people and their wellbeing so much. One of the best managers I’ve worked for. These are my role models and people who have shaped me over the years. I’m so thankful and grateful for everything they taught me, I wouldn’t be the person I am today without their support.Thank you so much Jessica! Keep rocking #womenrockAn interview by Jamie ForganA voice for diversity in Tech & Engineering <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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 ”You won’t know if you don’t try. I’d rather live knowing I tried and failed than never having tried.” – An Interview with Theodora Costley-White
WOMEN ROCK2022-01-11

”You won’t know if you don’t try. I’d rather live knowing I tried and failed than never having tried.” – An Interview with Theodora Costley-White

Happy New year everyone. Firstly thank you for all the support with Women Rock throughout 2021, we really enjoyed interviewing some great folk across the industry and also running the Little Girl is Me campaign and also What Rocked You feature.This year we will continue to promote ED&I across the industry, sharing stories, career highs, and lows and also speaking with companies about what they are doing to attract, retain and promote diverse talent within their teams. If we work together we can really make a change.I am buzzing to kick start 2022 with the awesome Theodora Costley-White We talked about her successful career and her current role as Technical Director at Edit. Her journey and advice as a working mum, being a black woman in technology, her new group – The Women in Tech Coterie and how girls just wanna have fun!Have a read, it’s great, and remember ‘you won’t know if you don’t try’Hey Theodora, thank you so much for taking part in Women Rock and sharing your story and journey in the hope it provides inspiration for other folks in the tech industry.YOU HAVE TOLD US THAT FOR MOST OF YOUR CAREER YOU HAVE BEEN THE ONLY FEMALE IN YOUR TEAM OR EVEN COMPANY. HOW HAS THIS AFFECTED YOU? HAS IT MADE YOU STRONGER AND MORE DETERMINED TO CHANGE THE INDUSTRY?In most part it has made me stronger but has been wearing. It has meant I have had to be extremely comfortable in my opinions, my voice, my perspective, and being alone when doing so because you will stand out. It has also made me say enough is enough, there is no excuses for why women are so underrepresented in Tech, we can change this…. We must.YOU ARE SUCH AN INSPIRATION FOR ALL WOMEN IN TECH, IN LEADERSHIP BUT ALSO FOR BLACK WOMEN IN TECHNOLOGY. IN YOUR OPINION HOW CAN COMPANIES ENCOURAGE BETTER DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION ACROSS THEIR BUSINESSES?I don’t know about being an inspiration, but I do hope to change the situation however I can. For starters employers need to stop assuming that there isn’t a diverse talent pool out there simply because their adverts are not attracting the talent, there is.Their recruitment campaigns need to be more targeted and intentional. Women after all go through more changes in their careers than men do, and so there are many considerations to be made when trying to attract women into Tech.I FIND THAT THERE ARE SO MANY WOMEN WHO FEEL AS THOUGH THEY MUST CHOOSE BETWEEN THEIR ROLE AS A MOTHER OR THEIR TECH CAREER – WHY DO YOU THINK THIS IS? YOU HAVE A SUCCESSFUL CAREER AS WELL AS BEING A MUM, I’D LOVE TO HEAR MORE ON WHAT ADVICE YOU WOULD GIVE A BUSY WORKING MUM?My personal experience of being a mother in the Tech industry is that because it’s an evolutionary industry. There is the perception that women who take time away from the job will fall behind in capabilities and this is simply untrue, we have so many mediums for continued development nowadays. It’s like saying you will forget how to read if you stop reading. What is true is that technologies evolve, but so do the women during that phase, becoming a mother does not stagnate your intellectual development, I would argue it enhances it. You learn so many skills that go on to serve you well in the workplace, and in leadership particularly.Parenting does not come with a manual; it takes emotional intelligence, agility, adaptability, compromise, time management, and resilience to parent and the same characteristics needed in the workplace. It has been proven that we hire better when we seek transferable skills and attitudes, and not just capabilities.The best workers are those who can understand our clients’ problems and then apply the tech to solve it. That skill comes from life experience and the ability to put yourself in the shoes of another. I have a friend who has returned to working as a Software Developer focusing on Accessibility for a FTSE 100 after nearly 10 years of staying home to raise her children, and she is doing great!My one advice to working mums is to make special time to invest in yourself, professionally and personally because you are still YOU, the individual before you are an employee, mum, wife, sister, etc.I AM SO EXCITED TO BE SUPPORTING YOU ON YOUR NEW PROJECT ‘WOMEN IN TECH COTERIE’ I THINK MORE THAN EVER WE NEED A NEW WOMEN IN TECH GROUP IN BRISTOL. CAN YOU TELL US ALL ABOUT IT AND THE PLANS?We plan to have fun in-person and virtual networking events – Black Tie events, Meetups and Socials. Also we will be running technology capability training sessions, offering coaching, mentoring and peer pairing work. It will also include blogs and thought leader speaker events as well as awards ceremonies recognising up and coming talent. We are especially excited to be working with the next generation of women in Tech – Schools and Universities, to help young women along with their career progression into Tech and increase diversity for the future.WE SHARE THE SAME PASSION FOR ENCOURAGING THE NEXT GENERATION AND SUPPORTING THEM INTO THE TECH WORLD. IF YOU HAD 60 SECONDS TO ADVISE ALL YOUNG WOMEN ACROSS THE GLOBE TO FOLLOW A CAREER IN TECHNOLOGY – WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?Don’t knock it before you have tried it – Technology as an industry is very broad and its more interesting and diverse than you realise. It’s not just about IT Helpdesks though they are the lifeline of every company, there is so much more than what is portrayed in the media. Speak to people in the industry, do some work experience you will be amazed at the wide range of fun job types available. Yes, I said fun jobs!IF YOU WE’RE A SONG, WHAT SONG WOULD YOU BE?You’re going to find this one funny, when I was a kid, I was a huge fan of ‘Girls just want to have fun by Cyndi Lauper and still am, it’s on my ‘Get up and go’ playlist. I made my mum make me a poker dot tutu just like in her video and I would roller-skate on my driveway draped in plastic bead necklace, singing the song at the top of my lungs. It just made me feel fearless like I could be anything I wanted to be, and I’d have fun doing it!WHAT IS THE SAYING OR MANTRA YOU LIVE BYYou won’t know if you don’t try. I’d rather live knowing I tried and failed than never having tried, wondering for the rest of my life. Thank you so much Theodora! Keep rocking #womenrockAn interview by Alicia Teagle.A voice for diversity in Tech & Engineering <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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 #THISLITTLEGIRLISME – Samantha Miller
WOMEN ROCK2021-10-18

#THISLITTLEGIRLISME – Samantha Miller

This little girl grew up in Cornwall & then Bath. Her dad was a pilot and her mum looked after her and her brother. She was lucky in life, she had very loving parents and family. She loved animals, reading Enid Blyton and spent her days dreaming of becoming a vet. Her life revolved around horses, her pets and at just 8 years old she was selling her toys on the side of the road raising money for animal charities.She did well at school and got a scholarship to secondary school (rewarded with a kitten of course). Then, one teacher at school changed the whole direction of her life. A personality clash with her science teacher made her rethink her career choices, made her lose her passion for wanting to do the Science A Levels needed to study Veterinary Science. She changed schools, decided to do different subjects and went to a high performing academic school for her A Levels where she felt constant pressure to keep up and where she felt out totally of her depth. She felt like she didn’t fit in, wasn’t good enough, intellectual enough and was never going to do as well as everyone else. At 17 she took an overdose. It’s the one biggest regret of her life. Nothing prepared her for the devastation it caused her family and the guilt she would feel in years to come for putting them through that.But, with her families support she picked herself up and took control of her life. She got good results and went to University and studied Geography. Following graduation and with no idea of what she wanted to do, she decided to apply to recruitment roles.Recruitment was, and still is a tough industry . At the time it was very much male dominated and she was told she was too fluffy, too nice, not tough enough. But, she was stronger now, she wasn’t going to let anyone make her feel like she wasn’t good enough and couldn’t do it. She found her own style, and showed others that you didn’t need to be the stereotypical salesy, cut throat person that the industry thought made a good recruiter. 13 years later and she is still going, stronger than ever, in a company full of people whose approach to recruitment is just like hers, where she is no longer the odd one out.Does she still wish she had become a vet? Yes, every day, but life is for living and not regrets, she found a job she loves, where she can make a difference to people’s lives.Now a wife and mum to 2 gorgeous girls (and many animals) the one thing she wants to do is encourage her kids and others to believe and follow their dreams. Have confidence in themselves and not to let anyone stand in their way or make them think they aren’t good enough. You are in charge of your own destiny and as Walt Disney said if you can dream it, you can do it 💗. #Thislittlegirlisme WHY AM I TELLING YOU THIS?Because 70% of girls feel more confident about their futures after hearing from women role models. I’m happy to be part of the #thislittlegirlisme campaign for female empowerment initiated by Miriam Gonzalez Durantez of Inspiring Girls International to mark International Day of the Girl 2021.A VOICE FOR DIVERSITY IN TECH & ENGINEERING ❤️I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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#THISLITTLEGIRLISME – Steph Jackson
WOMEN ROCK2021-10-18

#THISLITTLEGIRLISME – Steph Jackson

#thislittlegirl grew up in Bristol, loving to sing, perform & make people laugh. Her parents were great, loving her to bits, supporting her in everything she wanted to do and achieve. Her dream was to be a popstar one day & could sing the alphabet before she could speak. She hated school, feeling she was never good at anything, especially the difficult subjects and struggled to pay attention in class. She daydreamed about singing most of the time!Fast-forward to completing her A-levels, following her passion of singing by starting a course in music, but she didn’t enjoy it and realised that any type of ‘school’ environment just didn’t float her boat so left all that behind & went out into the working world… Now she was really starting to learn about life, firstly working in a preschool, doing 50 hours a week on a low wage, but it taught her about hard work. Little did she know, this was only the beginning of a very exciting path in life. It allowed her to get a spot at a children’s summer camp in California for the summer, then she travelled across America.She caught the ‘travel bug’, got a one way ticket to Oz all by herself. Now she was all alone in a new country, trying to make friends & earn money to afford hostels and food – she discovered a hidden talent for sales, worked for Hello Fresh, knocking doors all around Sydney and selling it to people. She worked on 100% commission with no stable salary – but she did great, loved it and was able to travel more!She met incredible people on her travels, who left imprints on her heart and they’re now her friends for life. They went on to travel around South East Asia together! Lots happened whilst travelling, one huge life changing experience where she discovered about her purpose and found faith in God. After this she knew it was time to come home, but she felt complete now and wasn’t searching for herself anymore.Fast forward 4 years later, she knows the meaning behind it all and that it was part of a plan. If it wasn’t for the preschool, she wouldn’t have gone to America… if it wasn’t for the Summer camp, she wouldn’t have gone to Australia and got the experience that little did she know, was going to help her to excel in a recruitment career.She bought her first house last year. She’s a Principal Consultant at SR2 | Socially Responsible Recruitment | Certified B Corporation™ & couldn’t be prouder of the person she’s become through her adventures & the people she’s met along the way. She strives to be her best self everyday & wants to help others to know they can achieve the same. She’s learned there’s a reason for everything in life, and that she should always trust the process ❤.#Thislittlegirlisme WHY AM I TELLING YOU THIS?Because 70% of girls feel more confident about their futures after hearing from women role models. I’m happy to be part of the #thislittlegirlisme campaign for female empowerment initiated by Miriam Gonzalez Durantez of Inspiring Girls International to mark International Day of the Girl 2021.A VOICE FOR DIVERSITY IN TECH & ENGINEERING ❤️I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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 #THISLITTLEGIRLISME – Rachel Comer
WOMEN ROCK2021-10-18

#THISLITTLEGIRLISME – Rachel Comer

Once upon a time there was a little girl that was so shy she used to pretend she was a cat! I’m not joking …. it got to such a stage, that when her mum went to the parent’s evening (year one I will add) all the teacher had to report was ”well she isn’t meowing as much in class”. She struggled in school without the confidence to join in or ask questions, eventually finding herself in all the bottom sets.At the age of ten, she joined a circus school, where she trained three days a week practicing for a total of 8 hours, not your normal hobby I know but something fascinated her and before you knew it she was hooked. A few years down the line it was time to start performing her new acts amongst the other kids of Gerry Cottles Circus. As you can imagine this was terrifying and I can’t lie mistakes were made and embarrassment was felt, but that’s the point I’m trying to make.It wasn’t easy but as her skills grew so did her confidence and this started to show in all areas of her life, school got easier and she went on to graduate university with a first.I can’t pretend she has everything figured out yet (just yesterday she got a parking ticket) but what she has learned is, confidence is something that is worked on every day, in every area of life, by everyone! Although now her circus days are behind her the self-confidence she gained remains and she hopes what she learned was passed on to the new generation of children at the school.Now she is on a new adventure at SR2 | Socially Responsible Recruitment | Certified B Corporation™ where they have tools such as the Women’s rock platform, created to share stories and journeys to educate and inspire.It’s not easy but do what you are passionate about, and you will find it for yourself. Just remember when you have found it, share and encourage it in others around you.photo: Glastonbury festival 2011#Thislittlegirlisme WHY AM I TELLING YOU THIS?Because 70% of girls feel more confident about their futures after hearing from women role models. I’m happy to be part of the #thislittlegirlisme campaign for female empowerment initiated by Miriam Gonzalez Durantez of Inspiring Girls International to mark International Day of the Girl 2021.A VOICE FOR DIVERSITY IN TECH & ENGINEERING ❤️I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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 #THISLITTLEGIRLISME – NATALIE SIDWICK
WOMEN ROCK2021-10-18

#THISLITTLEGIRLISME – NATALIE SIDWICK

This little girl grew up an only child on the outskirts of Bristol with a caring mum and dad struggling with alcoholism. At 4 years old her mum left her dad to find stability in the countryside with her grandparents. She would occasionally see her dad when he would take her to The Rising Sun for the day and she would play pool with the locals (and beat them) to pass the time until her mum came and rescued her. She felt neglected and learned that her needs were not important. She was not good enough.Over the years she saw her dad less, growing up with a single mum who worked long hours to provide for them. This little girl found escape in sport. She played County Hockey, won the league with Bristol Ladies FC and Captained Somerset Girls Cricket Team through an unbeaten season. Things were going well. This girl grew in confidence. She was happy. She had found her purpose.Unfortunately during school, she started to get bullied for being “big” and “butch” and she lost her confidence and enjoyment in sport. Once again she felt not good enough. She didn’t want to be the things people were calling her so she went out to change it. After a while people had stopped calling her “big” and “butch”. She was too thin. She had an eating disorder. She was unable to carry on playing the sport she loved as she no longer had the energy.She struggled with her eating disorder for a couple of years and instead of socialising she spent her time studying to get good A Levels. She managed to get AAB and got into Cardiff Uni.A year into her degree she was sold the recruitment dream… “100K OTE+ first year” was the promise. The reality was very different. She started on 15K, was told to rent in Bristol and worked her a** off each day from 7:00AM to 8:00PM. This continued for over a year until one day, without any pre-warning she was fired for underperforming on a dead market.She’d hit rock bottom.But like with most rock bottoms it was actually the biggest blessing in disguise.This girl who felt burnt out and depressed would have never left. She still believed that her needs were not important and that she was not “good enough”.Despite this, she decided to continue her career in recruitment. This girl has now gone on to hit lunch clubs and holiday incentives. This girl started to believe that maybe she could be good at recruitment. She overcame her eating disorder, she now looks after her body, and also the importance of looking after her mental health.Now this little girl isn’t so little she is able to look after that little girl and she tells that little girl that her needs are important and that she is good enough every single day.#Thislittlegirlisme WHY AM I TELLING YOU THIS?Because 70% of girls feel more confident about their futures after hearing from women role models. I’m happy to be part of the #thislittlegirlisme campaign for female empowerment initiated by Miriam Gonzalez Durantez of Inspiring Girls International to mark International Day of the Girl 2021.A VOICE FOR DIVERSITY IN TECH & ENGINEERING ❤️I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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 #THISLITTLEGIRLISME – Gina Sumner
WOMEN ROCK2021-10-18

#THISLITTLEGIRLISME – Gina Sumner

This little girl grew up in a small town. She was the type of child who would never stop talking. 🤐She constantly asked ‘why’- she wanted to know EVERYTHING. She’d prance up to people to introduce herself in her then thick Scottish accent “I’m GINA!!!” (With her parents in tow) and she wanted to be everyone’s best friend.Fast forward a few years and starting school, she randomly lost all her confidence and would sob, refusing to leave her Mum behind at the school gate. her parents were regularly called back in with “she won’t stop crying but she won’t tell us what’s wrong”.(I genuinely remember this, when the teachers would ask what was wrong, I’d sob “I don’t know.” and I genuinely didn’t know. I just felt panic and worry for no particular reason, and this went on for MONTHS.)At a bit of a loss, her parents decided to enrol her into Stagecoach, a weekly school of singing dance and drama lessons to try and get a bit of her confidence back. She ended up staying there for 10 years and it was probably the best decision her parents ever made. (Eternally grateful to Mum and Dad, even to this day!)She never became a singer, definitely not a dancer, or an actress, but it brought back the spark she had lost and gave her the tools she needed to go out into the real world and become the woman she is today.Since growing up she’s moved to 2 new cities alone, and she packed her bags and got on a one way flight to Australia to fulfil her dream of living and working on the other side of the world.Fast forward to today, and to be honest I’m still deep down the same little girl who never stops talking, wants to be everyone’s best friend, and constantly asks ‘why’. I’m just a bit older and have rent and bills to pay now 🤣I certainly am not perfect, and I make mistakes, but I feel like I’m on a path in life which I’m proud to be on. I’m proud to be a Tech Recruiter, and I’m even more proud to work for a company like SR2 | Socially Responsible Recruitment | Certified B Corporation™The tools I learned throughout my childhood have been instrumental to becoming who I am today – and being a woman working in tech myself, I am so grateful that we have got blogs like Women Rock – A Voice For Diversity In Tech. which is there to give more of a voice for underrepresented humans in the technology space.#Thislittlegirlisme WHY AM I TELLING YOU THIS?Because 70% of girls feel more confident about their futures after hearing from women role models. I’m happy to be part of the #thislittlegirlisme campaign for female empowerment initiated by Miriam Gonzalez Durantez of Inspiring Girls International to mark International Day of the Girl 2021.A VOICE FOR DIVERSITY IN TECH & ENGINEERING ❤️I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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 #THISLITTLEGIRLISME – Aja Tuchband
WOMEN ROCK2021-10-18

#THISLITTLEGIRLISME – Aja Tuchband

This little girl didn’t have your typical childhood… it started amazing, a lovely little family in a beautiful home in Bristol. However, when she turned 6 everything changed. She was told her father had terminal cancer, and before she knew it, she had lost him. She went through immense pain and couldn’t even fathom what her mother was going through.The years following this were difficult for her – she was sad, numb, and wondered how she would live without him. She then had to tackle secondary school, which was particularly difficult. Her friends were able to talk about their dads and go on the school holidays, but this girl couldn’t as her incredible mum was working ridiculous hours just to support her and her sister 💙. She built some amazing friendships, but for the most part, she felt shy, inferior, and lacked confidence both personally and academically.She received below-average GCSEs for her school and had to move for the sixth form, as her father’s inheritance money could no longer cover the cost of that school. She knew things had to change. She put herself out there, worked smarter, and harder, and got herself into university.She went on to be the first to graduate in her family. She received a 1st class degree. What’s even crazier is that during this time she gained a stepsister… her best friend from school! These girls bonded through their hardship at a young age, which brought their parents together and in 2017 they got married 💕.Fast forward 3 years and a whole load of recruitment later, this girl has just moved to London and started a master’s degree with a scholarship. Her sister has her own business, and her stepsister is a doctor. She (and her sisters) may have been dealt a strange hand in life, but she is grateful for every card!Where you start in life doesn’t define where you will end up – aim high!#Thislittlegirlisme WHY AM I TELLING YOU THIS?Because 70% of girls feel more confident about their futures after hearing from women role models. I’m happy to be part of the #thislittlegirlisme campaign for female empowerment initiated by Miriam Gonzalez Durantez of Inspiring Girls International to mark International Day of the Girl 2021.A VOICE FOR DIVERSITY IN TECH & ENGINEERING ❤️I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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