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!

 ”You have to paddle a lot in order to even have an opportunity to catch a wave” – An interview with Anna Ferfeli
WOMEN ROCK2021-01-12

”You have to paddle a lot in order to even have an opportunity to catch a wave” – An interview with Anna Ferfeli

I met Anna in a combination of LinkedIn stalking, a great referral and a love of G2… and she blew me away! Multi-lingual, passionate and successful in tech sales, she really is a superstar! We had a super frank conversation about her journey from selling mobile accessories to selling Enterprise Software into EMEA. Anna shared her thoughts around the highs and lows of tech sales, encouraging more women in tech and having role models, and switching off! One thing we both agreed on, was that the image of tech sales is rapidly changing, and we need to keep up with the changes and encourage them, to ensure more women are pursuing and retaining careers in tech!HOW DID YOU GET INTO TECH & TALK ME THROUGH YOUR JOURNEY TO NOW?Sure thing, I studied management studies at the University of Leicester, which is known for its critical thinking angle. It focussed on critical analysis of management theories and asking questions. “Is that how it should be?” or “Do we actually need leaders?” in order to cultivate new ideas and make you challenge the status quo. I always thought the toughest part of any business is selling the product or offering, so I decided to just go and master that role from all angles. My first role was a transactional sales role, selling consumer electronics – cables, phone accessories and mobile phones etc. I chose this role because it gave me the opportunity to manage the full sales cycle and work with most countries around Europe, Middle East and Africa.I speak 5 languages, so it was so useful to leverage those skills. There was a lot of cold-calling, tough negotiations and it was quite transactional at times. Eventually, I got to a point where I was looking for the next challenge, despite being quite successful. I wanted something where I could leverage my mental capacity, my skills, and my education a little more. For my next role, I went into consultative sales, selling servers and storage appliances, which include highly technical configurations – that really tested me. I worked with a wider range of teams, sales & presales, technical consultants, I had to manage longer sales cycles and go through a tough learning curve. Despite the challenge, I had a lot of fun, and learnt so much, spending 3 years there!Finally, to now, I transitioned into a value-selling role at G2, which was where my experience and skill set was best suited to. G2 is a customer review platform, where companies come to research and make easier B2B software purchasing decisions. In this role, invest the time and effort into building relationships, understanding pain points and educating prospects how to best measure success with G2. It’s very rewarding and so far, I love it.WHAT WAS IT ABOUT SALES THAT SORT OF DREW YOU IN?After looking at all the aspects of the organisation following my studies I enjoyed the finance segment the most, as I was good with numbers and a career in finance seemed a fair transition..After taking a step back, I realised that the most difficult aspect in any organisation is selling their product and my ambition was to start my own business eventually. Therefore, mastering the art of sales was the most reasonable decision. I wanted to sell, to learn about what challenges and objectives prospects have, be consultative and build relationships.DO YOU FIND WORKING IN SALES IS A MALE-DOMINATED FIELD?It depends. Traditional tech industries, such as consumer electronics and server appliances tend to be more male-dominated with less focus on gender diversity. That being said, we were an all-female team at Supermicro, which was a relief. When attending events and customer meetings, it was uncomfortable to be the only woman in a room, especially when certain men crossed boundaries, were offensive, or condescending, due to gender bias. The difficult part was to learn to set boundaries. Once that was achieved, people learn to respect that and it’s a lesson that has served me well in many areas of my life. Looking at software tech, the industry is more diverse. Generally, I like how conversations around diversity are more present, not just about male/female, but rather about true diversity of culture , race, religion and abilities. I love that at G2 our staff is about 40% female, which is much higher than average [industry average is around 17% in EMEA]. What I appreciate the most about our Employee Success team is their work around diverse hiring and fair promotion opportunities, which includes encouraging women to step up to a management role which is another issue. When companies hire Women, they tend to e balance out the bottom end, but we need to look at those top-level positions because that’s where the biggest gap is. G2 is doing a great job, maintaining gender diversity at 35% for managers.WHAT ARE G2 DOING SO WELL TO ENCOURAGE AND PROMOTE WOMEN INTO MANAGEMENT POSITIONS?I think we are good at having those career conversations, so everyone has the opportunity to evolve and develop and prepare themselves for a management role. My own manager was an individual contributor in sales and was encouraged to take the position she has now as EMEA new business team lead, based on her experience, and her amazing success as a salesperson. It’s about noticing and nurturing people’s skillset, no matter who they are and whether they are male or female.G2 are really good at encouraging internal promotions, rather than always employing externally. I think it takes a really good company to approach people proactively about promotions.WHAT BARRIERS DO YOU THINK WOMEN FACE WITHIN THE SALES INDUSTRY?I think Women often suffer from Imposter syndrome, where they maybe don’t feel like they deserve what they have, or where they are at with their career. This is something we have to face and conquer. Additionally, the courage to step up and go for it is another aspect that I see less in professional women. There are some great resources out there to support women through these thoughts, and help them achieve their career goals.WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNG WOMEN CONSIDERING A CAREER IN SALES?I would say “just go for it”. The fastest way to learn is to just immerse yourself in it and give it a try. You don’t need to have this perfect life plan, you just need to give it a go, learn from it, and make those mistakes at the beginning of your journey because it will only make you stronger and better.Tech is exciting, fun and really creative, and women can thrive in these environments. There are so many interesting and creative products, and so many different roles within tech businesses that women would ROCK, it’s all about them feeling the confidence and learning what all those roles are.DO YOU HAVE ANY ROLE MODELS, OR MENTORS THAT HAVE GUIDED YOU?Henrique, [(VP EMEA for G2) has been amazing! He is a male, who is one of the most supportive men I know in the tech industry. He approached me a couple of years ago to join his team at G2, and he has just been fantastic, the best leader so far. He really cares about the team, the diversity from all perspectives is empathetic and very supportive. He always takes each opportunity as a learning curve and looks at where we can grow from there. I find this very empowering.Bliss Billingsley, our Director of implementation, has been an excellent mentor for me in the past few months and I’m surrounded by incredible people here at G2, such as Sara Rossio, our Product VP, she is so authentic, empathetic and always seeks feedback to help her team grow. She is very inspiring.Looking outside of G2, Angie Vaux, founder of the Women in Tech forum, has been another source of inspiration for me. She has created this incredible network for women in tech, hosts great and useful events and touches on topics that women can really relate to, like mental health and wellbeing, etc.WHAT TRAITS DO YOU THINK MAKE A GOOD SALESPERSON?Ah, the million dollar question!! I believe Grit! But also a combination of passion and perseverance. You need to know what drives you in life, and apply the same passion at work – that’s what helps you make it in sales. Patience to manage a deal moving at it’s own pace and not rushing it, while also being able to focus on the deals that matter, your targets and your career goals.Certainly, you need to have a growth mindset, being open to learning from your mistakes and taking on board the feedback you receive.DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE QUOTE THAT YOU STAND BY?I’m not really a “quote” person just because I cannot memorize phrases. I’m more of a conceptual learner, where I understand the substance in the point of something and then I remember it. There is an analogy that I really like and I always try to remember it when things don’t go as planned. A couple of years ago I tried to learn how to surf, so I spent a week in a surfing camp. I did stand up on the board on day two or three, and I did catch a couple of waves by the end of that week, which I did not expect. Something I learned from that experience is that you have to paddle a lot in order to even have an opportunity to catch a wave, right?Basically, if you want to catch a wave, you have to paddle. If you don’t paddle, you have zero chance of catching a wave. Some days you could be paddling all day and catch 0 waves because that’s the way it is. This analogy is really how life is, how sales is; it goes back to the conversation of grit and resilience and that’s kind of an analogy that keeps me going when the results seem rather far-fetched. At least I’m still paddling, doing the best I can on a daily basis. Somehow, the results then become realistic and I regain my confidence.LAST Q – WHAT DO YOU DO TO SWITCH OFF FROM WORK?I’m a dancer, I love all types of dance! I’ve been learning to Tango dance for the past couple of years and I’m obsessed with it – or rather have been pre-first lockdown. I love the social aspect and the connection of the dance and the music. It’s a type of language that you have to understand and interpret non-verbally. I also love Ashtanga yoga, and it has become my new thing, where I have been doing it once a week since the first lockdown.By Emily Lewis A voice for diversity in tech <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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 ”Go with something that makes you happy” An interview with Ollie Sharpe
WOMEN ROCK2021-01-05

”Go with something that makes you happy” An interview with Ollie Sharpe

Happy New Year friends. We are buzzing to be back and kicking thing off in style with one of the most inspirational interviews we’ve had on Women Rock. Introducing… Ollie Sharpe – VP of Revenue, EMEA at SalesLoft  and Champion of Women in Tech.We spoke with Ollie about how he has built a successful and diverse sales team, where he has gone wrong and how he is getting it right now. He has spent his career in sales, from door-to-door to building an winning EMEA team. Ollie is a true advocate for Women in the Sales and Tech industry and this is a very refreshing and honest read.So without further a do.OLLIE, WHY DO YOU THINK THERE ARE LESS WOMEN IN TECH SALES?When we are looking at the sales industry as a whole, there tends to be 2 types of perceptions. On one end of the scale, there’s this view of sales as an old school, hard nosed “wolf of wall street” type environment, bashing phones and colourful language – which is not perceived as a female friendly environment. And true, there may still be some of those around. But on the other end of the scale you’ve got companies where the culture is prioritised, the environment is balanced and where teams are well balanced between male and female. That is what we are trying to cultivate more of.The main thing to think about is the job itself, which has dramatically changed. The way we sell has evolved, moving from being aggressive and ‘pushy’ to being about building trust, nurturing relationships & cultivating partnerships.Previously there was this connotation that Women would be better in Account Manager roles where they’re nurturing existing relationships. But there has been a shift where Women can (or should!) now feel comfortable in any position. It’s no longer just ‘a numbers game’, but it’s about the quality of those calls and communications, and Women are equally, if not more, suited to those kinds of positions.I don’t like to put people into boxes, but if we look at traits that are stereotypically perceived as “more female”, it’s really trust, reliability, relationship building – and these are key in the sales world. I believe this shift is why it’s becoming less male dominated, and I’m trying to do everything I can to help that shift.WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO INCREASE DIVERSITY IN YOUR TEAM?Honestly, I think it’s about looking at our mistakes and learning and growing from them. Firstly, we think of diversity as just male/female, but we also need to consider cognitive diversity, and race/ethnicity too. Also, we need to look at WHY we want diversity and build out from there. We want a diverse team because that breeds good results, it’s about taking the best person for the job, but also realising that the best person isn’t always the one that looks, thinks, or behaves like you. If I’m only interviewing or hiring white men, then we need to look at our brand, and our behaviours and take a step back and reassess.It’s not just about hiring the best person for that specific job, but also the best person for the business, who will have a positive impact on more than just their day-to-day responsibilities, but encourage that true diversity of thought across the team.When I first started the sales team here, I failed at building a diverse team. This was unintentional of course, we needed to scale quickly and I needed to hire quickly, and so my first hires were predominantly men. But, I promised to resolve this as soon as I could. I knew the kind of effect having an all-male sales team would have on the business and employer brand.So, once we were away, we worked hard on our brand, messaging, the team and the environment. Getting females higher up in the business, and getting them involved in the interview process. Now our SDR team is over 50% female, and the team is going from strength to strengthWHAT DO YOU PREDICT FOR THE FUTURE OF DIVERSITY IN TECH?What I have seen is that there are less Women now at the top, so we have to concentrate on both getting diversity within businesses, but keep them there and promote them to senior positions. That’s our focus, to hire, develop and promote a truly diverse team, to benefit all elements of the business.You find that some areas of the business, like Marketing and Customer Success, do tend to be more diverse than pure sales roles, so another thing is about looking at role branding and employer branding and how we can show what sales actually is and why anyone can do it!HOW DO WE GO ABOUT SHIFTING PERSPECTIVES ABOUT SALES?I think there are 2 parts really, the first is employer branding, and second is the interview process.I spent 10 years at LinkedIn, advising businesses on employer branding, Social Media content, and how important it is to show the actual culture of a business. It’s about showing people what it’s really like to work within your company, and how we encourage everyone to succeed. People start to understand that it’s not all sell, sell, sell, but instead it’s about being a part of something. Speak to your female employees, and make sure they are heard, listened to and respected, and make sure other people know that too.Secondly the interview process, consider that Men will apply for a job, even if they don’t meet all the criteria, whilst Women don’t tend to do the same traditionally. It’s about using language/terminology that speaks to women too, and getting females involved in the interview process, to avoid bias. We target our job descriptions more on how we can support that person, and what we will give them, rather than just what we need from that person. – This shifts the focus onto what they’ll gain by joining our team – both personally and professionallyI also think, as a rule, when considering whether to work for someone, women tend to be interested in the culture of the business. They want to know what it will actually be like, from office environment to leadership support. Therefore it’s important to put culture at the heart of your business from the outset. We want to show everyone, no matter who they are, what our business is really like, and how we care about the people joining us.DID YOU MAKE ANY CHANGES INTERNALLY TO ENSURE YOUR DIVERSE WORKFORCE STAYED ENGAGED?Not really, because we already harnessed that idea of diversity, building a strong team, and a positive culture. I don’t have to be around every second of every day to know they’re working hard, we trust our team and they respect that. Diversity isn’t something you just “solve”, it’s on-going, I think about it with every new recruit, every new customer, any time we make any changes. It’s an on-going thing that we as a team manage together. As a team, we come up with so many fantastic ideas, and we make sure everyone is involved.I’m constantly trying to expand the limits of what we can achieve both in results, but also in core values and culture. How can we all add more, add something different, something that we can all be proud of? We want to build a team that is both diverse and tight. Everyone is different, every brings a unique perspective to the team, and that is what we want.DO YOU THINK THERE ARE OTHER BENEFITS TO DIVERSITY ASIDE FROM COMMERCIAL RESULTS?I feel strongly that you need diversity, not just for the commercial results, but to encourage diversity of thought. That’s something you can’t measure in a gender pay gap report, or a diversity report. We need to be hearing other people’s opinions and experiences, because how else will we deal with people outside of our own social circles? For example, I went to an all-boys private school, so I didn’t spend much time around women until later on, but that was when I really grew, became more accepting and thinking about the things that really matter. We don’t learn by surrounding ourselves with people who are like us.WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A YOUNG PERSON, IF THEY WERE GOING TO CONSIDER A CAREER IN TECH, OR SALES?It’s a tough one, because it all revolves around doing what you enjoy. Start with building your brand, and your network. I’m sure as a young person, your brand is the last thing on your mind, but it helps so much. Knowing what you believe in, what excites you. Go out and get some work experience, paid or unpaid, it’s all important when learning what is right for you long term.Not many people “plan” to go into sales, I came out of Uni with a Graphic Design & Business Studies degree because I like drawing, but then, in my first job, they put me in front of a computer and I just didn’t want to be there.I started off in Marketing, actually first, in door-to-door sales, and I did that for 2 years and learnt so much! I once had to hurdle over someone’s wall and broke my ankle… but that’s another story!After that, I went to a recruitment agency and asked them to find me a job in sales, but they took me on themselves!A lot of people start off in sales to move on to something else, so returning to the question, sales comes down to attitude & commitment. If you have that, then you’ll be successfulANY BOOKS YOU’D RECOMMEND?“The Monk who sold his Ferrari” by Robin Sharma – a fantastic read, a fable about a “hot-shot” lawyer who has a heart attack and sells everything to go and live in the Himalayas, whilst training to be a monk. He learns about purpose and values, and it really helped me work out what I wanted to do, and how to build a successful team.Also – John Barrows – “I want to be in sales when I grow up!” A really great book for children to learn about the life of sales in a simple way, specifically for girls to encourage them to take up a career in sales.And Matthew Syed – “You are awesome”, a truly great read for teens to teach resilience, confidence and emotional intelligence.ONE LAST PIECE OF ADVICE?“Go with something that makes you happy”. If you’re doing something that you don’t enjoy, then you’ve gone down the wrong road. I look forward to coming to work every day. And I love doing my job and that comes through in our employer brand. When I’m on my deathbed, I want to feel like I’ve done everything I wanted and made myself happy, as long as I’m not having negative consequences to other people.Thank you so much Ollie. If everyone cared about diversity as much as you do the world would be a better place. You’re awesome. Keep rocking!By Emily Lewis A voice for diversity in tech <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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”In a world full of weeds choose to be a plant.” An interview with Alina Ungureanu
WOMEN ROCK2020-12-31

”In a world full of weeds choose to be a plant.” An interview with Alina Ungureanu

I am so delighted to introduce Alina to you all, she’s a talented Software Engineer who currently works for Hargreaves Lansdown in Bristol within their Java team. Alina tells us how she first became interested in technology and coding, as well as one of her greatest achievements which was being selected as a finalist at the Women in IT awards last year! She shares some insight into how she thinks the tech industry could become more diverse ? It’s a lovely read, enjoy!HI ALINA, TELL US WHERE YOUR LOVE FOR TECHNOLOGY AND CODING CAME FROM?When I decided to go to Uni I originally intended to become an accountant but after the first year I noticed that I had the maximum grades for IT related modules so in second year I decided to go for Business Information systems and that’s how my love for IT started. I became fascinated by the business analytics and how we can transform ideas into coding, I could easily transform a business need into a script or a program, automating the manual work.IF THERE IS ONE THING YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF, WHAT WOULD IT BE?Professionally, I am proud of my entire career progression. I started as a assistant manager in Romania and as time went by I always tried to improve my technical skills. I had the opportunity to work for companies across Europe and engage with colleagues in their native language like French, Italian and English from whom I learnt about their culture.I moved to England at the beginning of 2016 and as a reward for my hard work, last year I was nominated for the Software developer of the year at Women in IT Excellence awards and got into the finals.Personally, I’m proud of calling myself a multilingual speaker and being able to accept people for who they are and not what they do.WHAT GOALS HAVE YOU SET YOURSELF OVER THE NEXT FEW YEARS?My career goal for the next 3 years is to become a team leader which will help me climb the ladder and become a CTO.At the moment I’m working on my management skills, mentoring university students, attending different workshops about giving and receiving feedback, different personality types. This will help me understand the different style of working and will enable me to help others.It is also important to have a deep knowledge about the different IT systems a company has and how they interact.YOU CURRENTLY WORK AS A JAVA DEVELOPER WITH HARGREAVES LANSDOWN, WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?I work in a team of 3 developers, 2 testers, a scrum master and a business analyst using Agile methodology. We have flexible working so I choose to start at 9am and shortly after we have our daily meeting were we discuss about what we have worked on, what we will be working on and we communicate our blockers if any. Usually this meeting is very short. Immediately after we start our refinement meeting where we discuss tickets that will have to be brought in the following sprints, we refine the tickets by either breaking them into smaller tickets or adding more information if needed or assessing the impact or implementation methods.During lunchtime if it’s raining I tend to play boardgames in atrium. We have an HL boardgames group where people around the business can join. This is a great opportunity to get to know various colleagues that have similar interests. Instead, if it’s sunny I prefer to have a walk around the harbour side.In the afternoon my main focus is on getting changes delivered.HL has various groups like Cultural diversity group, Kaleidoscope, Mental health etc that I tend to attend their meetings and help them with their activities.IN YOUR OPINION, HOW COULD TECH COMPANIES BE ATTRACTING A MORE DIVERSE MIX OF PEOPLE?Firstly I think an inclusive environment is very important because even if the companies are able to attract diverse people, they will leave if they will feel excluded or not a good fit.To be able to attract diverse people we need to start with the basics: job specs, anonymity of data collected from resumes, diverse people interviewing the candidates, company groups where colleagues can find people with same interests.IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME AND HANG OUT WITH YOUR 13-YEAR OLD SELF, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO HER?I would tell her that she is on a good path and to have more trust in herself and embrace changes that happen as it’s part of the journey.IF THERE’S ONE THING YOU’VE TAKEN AWAY FROM 2020, WHAT WOULD IT BE?This year had huge impact on me as my family is in Romania and I always said I’m only 3 hours away from them.So I would say that I didn’t appreciate the liberty to travel, to see people, to be able to hug or even shake hands until they’ve been taken away.IF YOU COULD CREATE A DREAM TEAM, WHO WOULD BE IN IT? An ideal team probably has around 5 members, so I would have Gordon Ramsay as the leader (obviously for his leadership skills and mastermind), fairy godmother as a scrum master(when things go wrong we need an enabler), Iron Man(innovation),Dory from finding Dory(positive attitude and getting things done in abnormal ways) and the Mandalorian(getting things done) as core workers.WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE QUOTE? In a world full of weeds choose to be a plant.Thanks so much for sharing your story Alina, we are loving your dream team! Keep rocking. #womenrockBy Steph Jackson A voice for diversity in tech <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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Women Rock 2020
WOMEN ROCK2020-12-22

Women Rock 2020

SO, ALICIA. IT HAS BEEN A POOEY YEAR BUT LET’S NOT BE NEGATIVE NANCIES HERE.. IF YOU COULD DESCRIBE YOUR 2020 IN ONE WORD, WHAT WOULD IT BE? (KEEP IT PG PLZ)Interesting….YOU’VE SEEN YOUR AMBASSADORS GROW BY A FAIR FEW THIS YEAR, DESPITE EVERYTHING – WHAT’S THE BEST THING ABOUT HAVING A TEAM OF AMBASSADORS BEHIND YOU?I think a lot of people see Women Rock as my baby and yes it is I am super passionate about it and sometimes weirdly protective over it but this isn’t for me it’s for you, it’s for us all and it’s for me. The power of women and folk who support women in tech is a very special thing. We all know the quote, when women pull together amazing things happen and having a team of ambassadors both male, female and non-binary folk has allowed Women Rock to reach new heights and more!WHAT’S BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE WOMEN ROCK MOMENT IN 2020?I mean, 2020 got in the way of a lot of our plans, we had a tonne of events lined up and although we moved a few online, we definitely didn’t get to do everything we wanted. I think if I had to choose it was interviewing Avye who is just unbelievable and such an inspo for the next generation, and then also the new women rock re-vamp. I’m really glad we managed to get it out before the end of the year and now is a place for everyone to hopefully get something from it, whether it be a career changer, women in leadership or just some advice on mentorship.WE SAW YOU DOING YOUR THANG ON A FEW VIRTUAL MEETUPS SPEAKING ABOUT DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION – WHAT WERE YOUR FINDINGS?My favourite event this year was attending rather than doing. I attended Gill Cooke’s, Stem Connect event on ‘how to feel true belonging’ I learnt a lot about Neurodiversity, disability and gender. Also I cannot take credit for this but one of the best things I have read this year is https://dev.to/molly_struve/diversity-vs-inclusivity-understanding-the-difference-5hh6 where Molly’s speaks about the difference between diversity and inclusivity. I love how she has explained the difference ‘’A diverse team has many different unique individuals. This should not only include the usual diverse selections such as religion, sex, age, and race, but ALSO additional unique personality characteristics such as introverts and extroverts, liberals and conservatives, etc.One of the biggest distinctions here is that diversity is the who or the what. You physically have to have multiple people in order to achieve diversity. Inclusivity, on the other hand, is a mindset. You can have a team of one, which is not diverse, but, can be inclusive. Someone who has an inclusive mindset behaves in a way that welcomes and embraces diversity.’’Next year is about learning more about inclusivity. ?DO YOU THINK D&I HAS BEEN PUT ON THE BACKBURNER FOR A LOT OF COMPANIES DUE TO THE PANDEMIC?TBH I think the tech industry had thrived in the pandemic and I have done as many female placements as I have men so I have to say no. Although I have asked the same question to a lot of people I have interviewed this year and it’s been interesting to read their thoughts. I think at the start of the pandemic folk thought it would have more of an impact on diverse hiring. I know I’m not alone thinking it would be the mums, having to care for children, home school etc however the world has shifted, it’s allowed for a new way of working, more flexibility, allowing anyone who is looking for a job to find one which works for them and their life. I thought we would start going backwards and ruining all the hard work everyone has done but I now don’t see that being the case and thing we are still improving, slowly but we are definitely improving.DO YOU HAVE ANY WR PLANS FOR 2021? **SPOILER ALERT**I’m not giving anything away, you’ll have to closely follow next year. But yes, we have some fun plans.WHAT’S THE BEST THING TO COME OUT OF 2020?In short: People have really pulled together.You have just been named in the top 32 leaders to take 2021 by storm, what an achievement. What does next year look like for you?It’s crazy right! How have I been named in the top 32 Leaders, It’s such an honour but also already feeling the pressure to try and achieve some big things so it hasn’t been wasted on me. I don’t want to give too much away as I said, but it’s just much more of the same for me. I want to reach new areas, I feel really scared to leave Bristol (not physically but with the work I am doing) however I feel like now is the right time to spread my wings and look at a new UK location for recruitment. We have such a brilliant team at SR2 and Women Rock ambassadors that I’m sure we can do some epic things in 2021! Always with a smile ?WHAT’S ONE THING YOU’VE LEARNT ABOUT YOURSELF THIS YEAR?I’ve learnt to say no! It’s 2 letters and why is it so hard!! I promised myself in November that I was going to take the rest of the year off events, podcasts etc and focus on the day to day job. A couple of days after I agreed that with myself I got asked to come and speak at a recruiter event, and the guilt was so real saying no. I always feel so lucky to be asked to speak or attend any event, I still question why they want me, Alicia teagle, co-founder of SR2. Ok if I was Melinda gates then I would get it but I’m just me, I don’t have tonnes of life experience to share, I don’t have a dramatic story about myself I just do what I love every day and hope that it helps someone, that’s really it.I’ve completely digressed here haven’t I ? Going back to saying No, it’s been hard but I have achieved so much in the last 6 weeks, my to do list it’s almost done, as I’m writing this I only have 41 emails in my inbox and signing off on Wed 23rd with Zero – it’s my mission! I’ve managed to focus on me, on learning, on focusing and it’s been great.AND YOUR FAV 2020 QUOTE PLZ….Killed her, husband whacked him! LOL‘’No matter where you are in life, inspire and empower the women around you. Success is never reached alone. And, wisdom and wealth are sweeter shared.’’Merry Christmas, big thanks to everyone who has got involved with Women Rock in 2020, we’re ever closer to our mission and making our industry the best that it can be.Take care, god bless, until 2021 ….Keep rocking. #womenrockBy Charlotte Baker A voice for diversity in tech <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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“It’s about very early support, empowerment and thinking apart from stereotypes.” – An Interview with Dr. Anne Seebach
WOMEN ROCK2020-12-03

“It’s about very early support, empowerment and thinking apart from stereotypes.” – An Interview with Dr. Anne Seebach

Anne and I first started chatting a few months back, after I stumbled across BIKEYGEES online (more about this later on). We jumped on a Zoom and figured out that we have lots of things in common, one of those being our passion for Diversity, Equality and Inclusion in the workplace.  Anne is responsible for all things people and culture at Architrave, who are a company that are redefining asset management. I’m delighted to present this interview with her, where she talks about recruitment, D&I and BIKEYGEES.   Sit back, grab some popcorn and enjoy this fantastic interview <3.   ANNE, WE’RE VERY EXCITED TO HAVE YOU ON WOMEN ROCK. DO YOU WANT TO START BY TELLING EVERYONE A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR ROLE WITHIN ARCHITRAVE? Hi, my name is Anne. Originally, I come from Bremen in northern Germany but live in Berlin since almost 25 years. I am leading the People & Culture team at Architrave. It’s a start up in the Property Technology sector. We help commercial reals estate on its way through digitalisation. HOW DID YOU GET INTO RECRUITMENT? WAS IT A CAREER THAT YOU KNEW YOU WANTED? Hahaha. I have had quite a slalom journey: graduated from geography, wrote a PhD thesis in hydrogeology and suddenly found myself in a mobile games company from one day to the other. Rather because I was bored of my previous employment in an engineering office than being interested in working in tech, I took a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity and got hired by Wooga. My job was to be faster than Facebook or Google when it comes to engage students and grads for junior roles in engineering, building sustainable relationships with universities and attracting potential talent at very early stages. I was coordinating interviews and stuff, but refused to interview people since I didn’t feel it’s right to judge about peoples’ professional futures without having any idea about the domain itself… The ‘real’ recruitment started 5 years later on a freelance gig at Zalando – and that’s where I caught fire. Soon, I decided to help other fast-growing businesses grow and planned my career being self-employed and independently, hopping from company to company after a couple of months. However, I failed totally. Because, when working for Architrave, I realised that this might be THE chance to build something up I really enjoy working at, like Wooga before. So, I decided to stay with them. This is almost 4 years ago. In the meantime, we have scaled from 20 up to 110 and it’s an exciting, challenging journey so far. Even though I am an HR person, I do not really plan my own career. I wouldn’t exclude doing something totally different in the future, something with bikes or disadvantaged people. Who knows? TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT ARCHITRAVE AND THE STEPS YOU’VE PUT IN PLACE TO ENCOURAGE BETTER D&I PRACTICES INTERNALLY? Huh, I have to admit that all doors to hire diversely and inclusively were open, from the very early beginning. It all starts with the right mindset you can find in a let’s say first generation of staff, e.g. the founders. I believe that you do not have to necessarily implement initiatives or ‘processes’ when it comes to hire holistically and inclusively. It’s rather about an early buy-in of everyone involved in the interviewing process. You ‘just’ have to make sure stakeholders are educated, trained and aware of unconscious bias, that they do understand the business’ benefits of having a heterogeneous team.  At Architrave, we have almost 20 different nationalities on board, an age range between 22 and 65 and a gender split which is nearly 50/50. I would have to lie saying that we do have gender parity across all teams. I wished we had more female developers and more male employees in rather female dominated roles as customer support or overall ‘service functions’. However, one day I had realised and accepted that every team has its different aspect of diversity – and I like it somehow. Because in the end, it is not about ticking some diversity checkboxes. It’s about an overall culture that allows different opinions, different social and cultural backgrounds, age variety and sure, a healthy gender mix. You can and should steer hiring processes to be more inclusive, of course, but where is the benefit from hiring a person only because of his or her skin colour or sexual orientation?  WHEN WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU REALISED THAT THE TECHNOLOGY SECTOR HAS ISSUES WITH DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION?  Maybe when I started working in the games industry. But it was not because Wooga didn’t have a diverse and exclusive environment. The opposite: I have learnt quite fast how important it is to build diverse and inclusive teams and to foster a mindset of belonging. It was also part of my role back then, opening as creative recruitment / pipeline strategies as possible. And yes, we did focus on collaborations with Women Who Code, Girls in Games, Berlin Geekettes, only to name a few.  HOW HAVE YOU SEEN THE INDUSTRY APPROACHES TO D&I EVOLVE OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS? I have seen many events, great speakers and fruitful discussions about how and where to start at all. Overall, I believe the topic became more and more visible on roadmaps and agendas across industry, no matter whether we talk about large corporates or small and medium size businesses. However, there is still a huge difference between a diversity statement written down on a career page or code of conduct and the authentic eagerness to take real action on it. But probably a written statement only might be a first good step into the right direction. I would appreciate if the system allowed more D,I&B initiatives driven by the ones who are affected instead of for example me, a white privileged Head of whatever.  WHAT STEPS DO YOU THINK NEED TO BE PUT IN PLACE TO ENCOURAGE MORE WOMEN INTO STEM? I would say, first it starts with their parents! I suppose it’s about very early support, empowerment and thinking apart from stereotypes. But it is not only about supporting the girls – at the same time, boys should be educated a mindset that girls are equally capable to undertake great stuff and therefore, should have equal chances. Breaking down the boundaries between girls’ games and boys’ games for instance could even help manifest a more holistic mindset somehow.  When it comes to STEM schools, university programmes etc, we will also face the old chicken-egg problem: as long as the pipelines of students remain rather male dominated, we shouldn’t wonder why girls and women might shy away from getting enrolled. Who wants to be the only female in the room?  A great idea to drive more females into STEM has been realised by the HTW Berlin, one of the Berlin based universities of applied sciences: they have rolled out a female only computer science programme. I would love to see more of these creative approaches, at least as a temporary offer until the student pipelines have become a bit more balanced. HAVE YOU EVER COME ACROSS ANY DISCRIMINATION WHILST BEING AT WORK, EITHER PERSONALLY OR AGAINST ANYONE ELSE?  It happened already in my time as PhD student. I met a guy who I remembered was sitting in front of the room in which I was interviewed for my research assistant role a year before. He said: Anne, you got the job I was supposed to have. You only got it because you are not a man. Boom. That really hurt me.  Other than that, I frequently end up in discussions about whether or not it’s already discriminating (against men!) when you train your Hiring Managers to prefer female or diverse candidates for vacancies. If you find these and can tick certain boxes, it’s nice. But of course I do not want to hire anyone only because of their gender – I want to find great talent that’s capable to face our challenges. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE WHO HAS FELT THIS WAY?  Don’t take it personal – even though it’s tough NOT to take it personal. Maybe I would advise to bring this up, on social media for example. And of course, collect data points, write them down and consult a lawyer. But it all takes resources and energy. A more constructive way might be to find allies, build (female) networks in order to change the entire system to a better, fair (working) world. TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT #BIKEYGEES. HOW DID IT COME ABOUT? It all started 5 years ago when many refugees, mainly from Syria, arrived in Berlin. Back then, many grassroot initiatives were born to support new-comers on their way to integrate here in Berlin. We, basically my co-founder Annette and a group of female bike enthusiasts, thought about how we could help on a very low level. So we decided to offer cycling trainings for female refugees. Why females only? Because they tended to be the ones being isolated in refugee shelters, taking care of the children while the men gathered around, playing soccer, cards etc.  We believed that teaching the women how to ride a bike might not only empower them by learning something they never thought they would ever learn, but also contribute to individual, cost free, CO2 neutral mobility. Since then, we became an official NGO, have realised more than 400 trainings in which we taught more than 1000 women how to cycle, and we have even won a few prizes for our engagement. But it’s not only about physical bike trainings – we teach them traffic rules and basic bike repairing, but even more important: we laugh a lot, celebrate shared success stories and back each other, no matter where the participants come from and what god they believe in – or not.  Over the past years we have handed out more than 300 bike kits to new-cyclists. This increases their independence in all regards of daily life. We operate with a large pool of volunteers who help us with the trainings, some of them even became a bike trainer after learning to cycle with us! Thanks to all of them for their continuous support! Mainly, we are funded by donations, but here and there, apply for support by larger institutions to assure sustainable project planning. However, feel free to visit www.bikeygees.org to check out how we’re doing and drop your donation to support our work and assure many more future trainings. IF YOU HAD TO PIC AN ACTOR TO PLAY YOU IN YOUR FILM, WHO WOULD YOU CHOOSE? The Duracell Bunny 😉 Thanks so much for speaking to us Anne, keep rocking! #womenrockBy Sophie EdensorA voice for diversity in tech <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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Mentors, where on earth do you find them? – By Rachel Murray
WOMEN ROCK2020-11-25

Mentors, where on earth do you find them? – By Rachel Murray

For a long time I have constantly been asked by folk ”do you know where I can find a mentor?” and I haven’t had a good answer. However the brilliant Rachel Murray has been working on putting something epic together.She has done a hell of a lot of research to compile the newsletter and it contains some amazing schemes, resources and tips across a number of industries and support for underrepresented groups as well.If you are someone or know people who either want to be mentored or might consider becoming a mentor please share this with them. Rachel really wants this to help as many people connect with role models that can help their career and professional development and/or open doors that might not otherwise be opened.For more brilliant insights from Rachel please sign-up: pivotnewsletter.co.uk and see her website: rachelmurraycontent.weebly.co.ukSo without further a do, over to Rachel. Well, friends, we’ve got this far. Yes, it’s the final instalment in the mentoring series. Feel like I should have booked Four Seasons Total Landscaping for the announcement or something.Anyway, over the last five weeks, I’ve waxed lyrical about mentoring (as have my brilliant interviewees last fortnight), advised on what to look for in a mentor, how to be an awesome mentee and how to get the most out of it.I am convinced – now more than ever – that having a mentor is one of the best things you can do to help support you through a career change, in fact your career as a whole. If I had my time again (professionally, I’m not getting all existential crisis on you – yet – there’s still time during lockdown), I would seek one out as soon as I was ready.While I don’t regret the path I’ve taken – it led me here to Pivot! and to you all – I do think having one would have made things easier and I’d probably have been more strategic about steps I’ve taken. But mentors, like good toupées and non-orange foundation, can be hard to find. With that in mind, for the last newsletter in the series, I’ve compiled a list of tips and resources that can help you find a brilliant mentor of your own. Covfefe dear readers, covfefe.Scheme if you wanna go faster Mentoring schemes aren’t just the preserve of higher education, some still exist even though Jaegerbombs have become folklore and you’re considering adding eye cream to your morning routine (do it). You just have to hunt a little bit harder and in different places.First, if you’re in an employed role, look at what may be on offer within your workplace. Some companies offer formal mentoring schemes, buddy systems or at the very least, a training and development budget that could be used towards it. While they’re more common in bigger, global organisations, there a number of smaller places and startups that have seen the light and are jumping on the bandwagon. If you’re applying for jobs – actively look for the benefits they offer in this area and if unclear, ask at the interview stage.If you’re self-employed/contracting, not-working or your company doesn’t offer one, then try the following:If you were lucky enough to go to university, many institutions offer alumni mentoring schemes so check out their individual websites for more information.If your current role/profession requires membership of a professional body- like CIPD or Women in Banking and Finance for example – many offer mentoring programmes, so check out their websites and get in touch.In film and tv and want to take the next step? Women in Film & TV Mentoring Scheme can help. Sadly the England applications closed at the end of last month, but for those based in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, you have until 16 November 2020 to apply for the 2021 programme, which runs for six months. Similarly, the ScreenSkills Mentoring Programme runs across all sectors of the screen industry and across the UK. It is aimed at those who want to progress within or across the industry, return after a break and/or want to identify goals and drive a mentoring partnership. Applications for the 2021 scheme are open until 16 November 2020.Looking to break into journalism or take that step up? The Women in Journalism scheme in partnership with Tesco opens on 16 November 2020. Likewise, the Digital Women Leaders programme is open year-round and you can book a free 30-minute call if you’re looking for career advice. Along the same lines, The Freelance Journalism Assembly is a programme designed to connect and empower freelance journalists in Europe. The Assembly will include online training sessions, one-on-one mentorship activities, networking opportunities and a major event to be held in 2021.Trying to break into construction? FLUID offers mentoring support to women, LGBT+ and people of colour.From 16 – 25 November 2020, OK Mentor is running their biannual programme for women wanting to break into the creative industries – get on it while you can!Femme Palette offers mentoring to women in STEM looking to either break into tech or advance their careers. The Women in Technology Online Festival (ticketed) runs from 16 – 20 November 2020 and is billed to help you ‘identify role models, connect with mentors and access a professional match-making service.’The 30% club programmes, initially sought to achieve a greater gender balance at all levels within organisations, however, as of this year, they extended their reach with Mission INCLUDE to support individuals from all under-represented groups.Niche, but, if you’re a Chartered Financial Analyst, then keep your eyes on CFA UK’s mentoring programme for when it reopens next year.CROSSROADS – Navigating Next Steps in a Creative Career Mentoring Programme a partnership between DV Talent and The Talent Manager has unfortunately closed for this year, but given the speed at which we reached November, it will be July 2021 before you know it and time to apply for the next round.As it’s the 11/11 today (lest we forget), it seems only right that we finish with this number (it’s also my favourite number, but that might be because I’m born in this month – send presents!). Last but by no means least, Meet a Mentor is a free initiative founded and run by RecWorks Ltd. The community has over 1900 members (including 600 mentors) from the UK tech industry and runs an active online Slack group, meetups and 1-to-1 mentorship opportunities.Virtual assistanceI’ve talked previously about the benefits of communities in terms of finding your tribe and building your confidence, but they can also be great places to find a mentor (I found mine via Instagram). It might feel strange asking someone you’ve only met online to be your mentor, but we live in the digital age and there have never been so many people at your fingertips.Reaching out to someone can be daunting, but there are ways to maximise your chances of getting a yes:Be an active and engaged member of the community – You don’t need to be present/online all the time, but give back as much as you get. Offer advice where you can, support those reaching out and share your story – you’d be surprised how helpful it might be. The more you do this, the more connections you’ll make and the more trust you’ll build.Identify a couple of people within the community that you think might be good mentors and do your research – Industry, background, career trajectory, achievements etc.Don’t ask them publically – Send your chosen person a private message setting out who you are, what you’re looking for and what it is about them that you like/connect with. Be clear with the type and frequency of the mentoring commitment you want so they don’t have to second guess and will be more likely to give you a definitive answer.Be prepared for a ‘no’ – Not everyone wants (or has what it takes) to be a mentor and that will be fine because if you’ve identified more than one, you can just ask one of the others.The same process can be used for your own immediate and extended network. Chances are you know someone or at least know someone who knows someone who knows someone. Ask for an introduction over email, or reach out directly and explain that you’re looking for career advice and support. If they say no, THANK THEM and then ask them if they could put you in touch with someone that may be more suitable. Remember everything is a learning opportunity.When the penny dropsIf you have the means to do so and want a more in-depth, tailored approach, paid-for mentoring is also available through both commercial and not-for-profit entities.Programmes like Career Hack, services like MentorsMe or mentoring circles (group sessions run by coaches and peer mentors) or mentoring services offered by individuals who have experience in career advice, development and mentoring (looks around the room shiftily), like me and many others, there is lots of choice out there that can meet your career-changing and development needs. It’s just a matter of finding them.To round off, I’ll leave you with a quote from a very wise person* that I heard the other day and resonated: ‘It doesn’t matter where you begin, it only matters where you end up.” Except, if you meant to be in a hotel and ended up at a garden centre it seems.*Barack Obama, but okay yes, I did hear it on The Bold Type. Stop judging.You know how I love a good book. And this is no exception. While it’s definitely better to have a real live person as your mentor, I fundamentally believe in the power of others’ stories to help you learn and develop your career.In Getting There, thirty leaders in diverse fields share their secrets to navigating the rocky road to the top including the obstacles faced, the setbacks they endured, and the vital lessons they learned.Finally, in case you don’t have anything better to do during lockdown (N.B. I’m 100% sure you do, and no, it doesn’t have to be goal-reaching, workout-smashing productivity, whatever gets you through, is good enough). If you’ve run out of things to binge-watch first, I recommend The Bold Type on Prime (judge me all you want, but one day I will work for Scarlet). But in keeping with this newsletter, here are the 10 top TED talks on mentorship. Enjoy!As always, if you have any further questions about this newsletter post or want to know anything about the career-changing process in general, then don’t hesitate to drop me an email or message me on Instagram or Twitter.Finally, I don’t get paid to write this newsletter as it’s a labour of love and I genuinely want to share what I’ve learned to help others. So, if you like what you read and fancy shouting me a tea (I’m one of those weirdos who doesn’t drink coffee) or hot chocolate, I have set up a Kofi account which allows you to do so, safe in the knowledge that it would be very much appreciated!Thank you so much for putting this together Rachel. You rock!By Alicia TeagleA voice for diversity in tech <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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“We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.” – An Interview with Emily Lewis
WOMEN ROCK2020-11-17

“We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.” – An Interview with Emily Lewis

‘’There aren’t very many Women in Devops’’Those we’re the exact words I said to Emily when we she joined and we decided on her new market. She said well there must be and I’ll find them, and first full month with us she has just closed her first deal, and guess what it’s a brilliant female devops engineer. A bloody great recruitment story too.Sometimes you meet people who you just click with, who shares similar interests and who you could listen to all day. That’s what I found when I met Emily! I thought I knew a lot about Diversity and Inclusion but Emily has taught us all so much. Her passion for Diversity shines through in everything she does and she is an amazing ambassador for the brand.Her next is, to create meaningful and positive change within the tech world. She’d like to influence young women to get into tech earlier and really understand the avenues available to them. She’d like to continue having those tough conversations around implementing diversity and inclusivity strategies, and how they benefit as a whole. – We love it.Thank you for being you and inspiring and supporting me and the rest of the team. Keep doing all of that.WHY DID YOU JOIN SR2?From the first time I heard about SR2 – I knew I had to work there! Geographically it was perfect because I was returning back from Japan to the West Country, BUT (most importantly) as a business, we shared so many core values. I heard Chris’ (and then Alicia’s) Podcast on the Recruitment Rollercoaster, and I was blown away. It seemed such a refreshing approach to recruitment – from donating 5% of profits to local charities, setting up Tech Volunteers to give back to the community, Women Rock – a platform to raise the voices of Women within the Tech industry, plus codebar – a not-for-profit set up to train underrepresented groups to code. I mean the list really is endless!YOU WON RISING STAR AND WEARETHECITY IN 2019. HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT AND WHAT MADE THE JUDGES CHOSE YOU?That was really out of the blue! My old company nominated me because I had been doing a lot of work around Women in Tech, mostly from a recruitment perspective, including working with Mums returning to work, working with companies on attraction and retention in their recruitment process, and 66% of my placements were Women, and on average they received 17-19% pay rises! Sometimes I would actively search for Women to be in my network, but a lot was word of mouth or through my social channels. I was shortlisted out of 20,000 applicants! On the night, each award is separated into categories and there were 5 winners in each – and I was one!WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS AND AMBITIONS FOR WOMEN ROCK?It would be great to develop Women Rock into a community, of likeminded women, but also Men, and non-binary folx, because the work can’t be done without everyone being involved. Where best practices become standard practice, where we can talk openly about the best (and the worst!) of experiences and ensure companies are getting on board, taking us seriously, and implementing positive long-term change!YOU HAVE HAD AN AMAZING SUCCESS IN PLACING DIVERSE CANDIDATES INTO ROLES. THIS IS AMAZING TO SEE AND I KNOW MOST RECRUITERS DON’T SHARE THE SAME PASSION FOR THIS AS US. WHAT DOES DIVERSITY MEAN TO YOU?For me, Diversity means accepting the existence of different variations, characteristics and values within a group of people, and understanding the there is not a “one size fits all” approach. I think when it comes to diversity, there is a lack of data and understanding about what is the norm, because for so long workplaces have been dominated by the “cis white man”, but that has changed now. The world needs to keep up. Simone de Beauvoir said it best “representation of the world is the work of men; they describe it from their own point of view, which they confuse with the absolute truth.” Diversity begins from within.WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO COMPANIES ON HOW TO ATTRACT THE BEST DIVERSE TALENT?Before companies start “diversity hiring” they need to think about WHY they are doing it. Is it just a tick-box exercise, just a performative piece just because they think that people want to hear it? It can’t be pioneered by HR, it HAS to come from Leaders and hiring managers, and without that commitment, it doesn’t matter who you hire, they won’t stay.Companies need to understand that with diverse talent comes diverse needs and requirements. What has happened before will not suit what is to come. I think the first step, is to think about what’s on offer and WHY the best and most diverse talent would want to join, what benefits would it bring them? How will they be treated? How will they be flexible to support that employee. It’s not about just employing a Woman and then clapping each other on the back saying “we did it, good one”.DO YOU THINK COVID-19 WILL HAVE AN IMPACT ON DIVERSITY HIRING?I think there couldn’t be a better time to look at diversity hiring than now. Everyone is working from home, finally – leaders who have spent their careers sat in an office, are finally seeing the benefits of flexible home working, spending time with families, not commuting for 2-3 hours a day! There is more of an even playing field for a lot of people. Physically-challenged people don’t have to travel to interviews – they’re on zoom, a person with neuro-diversity doesn’t have to worry about sitting in a room with 3 strangers, candidates with childcare responsibilities can work around their school runs. There has NEVER been a better time to look at diverse hiring strategies and how they can positively benefit the workforce long-term.I’M CURRENTLY LISTENING TO THE HIGH PERFORMANCE PODCAST – JONNY WILKINSON TALK WAS MIND BLOWING. ALSO LOVING MRS HINCH’S NEW BOOK AND MID-WAY THROUGH MICHELLE OBAMA’S PODCAST WHICH IS STUNNING. ANY BOOKS, PODCASTS, OR BLOGS YOU’D RECOMMEND?I’ve recently decided to only read books, listen to podcasts etc by Woman, or non-binary folx, it’s been revolutionary. You wouldn’t believe how powerful it is to be in control of something like that, but I’m finding myself empowered more by what I’m reading, and inspired with words that resonate so much more.TOP BOOK PICKS:Invisible Women – Caroline Criado Perez (I’d also grab her weekly newsletter – its BRILLIANT! http://newsletter.carolinecriadoperez.com/)Sheryl Sandburg – Lean inAmanda Holden – No holding back (ok, rogue autobiography but I just loved it! ❤)TOP PODCASTS:Fierce Feminine Leadership – Eleanor BeatonPowerBanking – Jacqueline TwillieHow to be a STEMinist – Tiff Dawson (newbie addition but I love it!)IF YOU COULD CHOOSE ONE SONG THAT REFLECTS YOU, WHAT WOULD THAT BE?The Greatest Showman – This is me (By Keala Settle). My go-to karaoke song every time, and it’s just badass and powerful.WHO WOULD BE YOUR 3 PEOPLE AT A DINNER PARTY?Simone de Beauvoir, Emmaline Pankhurst and Miranda Gates.WHAT IS NEXT FOR EMILY?Hmmm tough question, the ideal scenario would to create meaningful and positive change within the tech world. I’d like to influence young women to get into tech earlier and really understand the avenues available to them. I’d like to continue having those tough conversations around implementing diversity and inclusivity strategies, and how they benefit as a whole.We love you Em! #womenrockBy Alicia TeagleA voice for diversity in tech <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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“What you think, you become” An interview with Hannah Hawken aka The Duracell Bunny!
WOMEN ROCK2020-11-10

“What you think, you become” An interview with Hannah Hawken aka The Duracell Bunny!

Hannah is a Junior Developer with Hero Health. From our first conversation, I loved her energy and passion, and the more we spoke, the more I knew we had to interview her for Women rock! Her journey from Durham Grad, to Le Wagon Bootcamp to Junior Developer with a start up was so inspiring… Here is her story!FIRSTLY, LET’S START WITH YOUR JOURNEY INTO TECH – HOW DID YOU GO FROM MODERN LANGUAGES TO COMPUTER LANGUAGES? (GREAT UNI BTW – DURHAM!!)So, my journey into Tech was the product of a touch of adversity in my life, as I found myself unsatisfied in a Business Development role at one of the top International Law firms in Paris amidst the Gilets Jaunes protests back in Autumn 2018. I was on my year abroad as part of the 4-year Modern Languages degree I was pursuing at Durham University in French, Spanish and Italian Literature. One weekend when I flew back to London from Paris, I sat next to a girl who I began chatting to and she shared that she was halfway through Le Wagon in Paris. Her explanation of the coding bootcamp filled me with an energy that I had been missing while stuck at my desk in front of Excel spreadsheets. I figured that coding would be a better option for me, especially with my linguistic capability; if I could learn 3 languages why not 9 more in 3 months? After extensive research into Le Wagon, I applied for the January 2019 batch in Bordeaux – fresh start necessary.WHAT WAS IT LIKE AT LE WAGON? THEY HAVE A GREAT REPUTATION! AND IN FRANCE TOO – TRES BIEN!My interview went really well, and I proved that my fluency in French would not hinder my ability to immerse myself in code at all. I had a 20-hour ‘exam’ on CodeAcademy and 60 further hours of preparation work to complete alongside my time in the mountains skiing over Christmas and New Year. This amount of coding in advance of the bootcamp was crucial, both to lay the foundations for my understanding of the different languages we would cover – HTML, CSS, JavaScript, SQL, ActiveRecord, Ruby on Rails – and to make me aware of the dedication. The days were long; 8am until 6pm if there was not an evening event. In the first 3 weeks there were multiple evenings that I flopped into bed skipping dinner, as my head just needed to disconnect from French, code, new people, a new home etc. I was lucky to have found a wonderful friend of a friend who took me in while her daughter was living in Australia, and she became the French mother I needed to have a giggle with as I found my feet and had renewed energy to cook with her. The most important factor of my integration anywhere is sport, and I thoroughly enjoyed running along La Garonne (the river) for an hour over lunch when at Le Wagon, and taking my new found friends on crazy-long 90km cycle rides to the beach or around the Saint-Émilion vineyards at the weekends. The highlight of Le Wagon was the buddy system, which ensures that you feel comfortable and bond with each individual in the batch, as you are paired together and complete the challenges with someone new each day.TELL ME ABOUT HERO HEALTH!? HOW HAVE THE FIRST 5 MONTHS BEEN? WHAT ARE THE BEST BITS OF BEING A DEVELOPER THERE?Hero Health continues to bring me such joy that I forget the Coronavirus pandemic even exists. It could not have come at a better moment, as I was in discussion with my now boss and the founder of the healthcare startup just as Coronavirus kicked off in March 2020, incidentally a year after my graduation from Le Wagon. The lowest moments that I had within a largely uncharismatic team in Paris have made me more conscious of how happy my friends at work here in Oxford make me. We are only 7, but each one of us has an irreplaceable presence in the office and each other’s lives – HH ski trip is already being planned! ‘On Wednesdays we wear pink’ in line with the Hero Health stash, visually exhibiting our tight-knit working relationship.WHAT DO YOU RECKON ARE THE BIGGEST BARRIERS FOR YOUNG WOMEN TO CHOOSE TECH AS CAREER?Even though I am aware of the practice, I have a way to go to reach the same speed and autonomy as the other 4 developers at HH, I am driven to continue and proud to be one of the 2 women/ladies/females/girls in the team – we often debate our label. I am a great believer in the greatest barrier being the individual themself when entering a new workspace; should they have the confidence to approach a male-dominated working-environment with a mentality that changes the story in their head to make them feel empowered to often be a minority and not threatened by the insecurity of standing outside of the majority then they have every chance of success and fulfilment.One of the best parts of working in tech for me is the respect I am shown for perhaps having a different manner of approaching problems and situations.ANY PROGRAMMES/CHARITIES ETC THAT YOU’D RECOMMEND OR PROMOTE TO ENCOURAGE YOUNG WOMEN TO GET INTO TECH? (EXCEPT WOMEN ROCK… OF COURSE HAHA!)If women have the interest and motivation to learn to code, get on and start the online courses with CodeAcademy and look into the available hackathons that will help their network too. Start by proving to yourself that you enjoy working in tech, and then you should never have to prove that to any future employer; if they do not appreciate this quality then they are not the colleague to work with. WHAT DO YOU DO TO SWITCH OFF? I NOTICED YOU WERE SUPER ATHLETIC AT DURHAM – CHEER, ROWING AND XCOUNTRY!Coding for 8/9 hours a day requires serious physical activity to help my body catch up with the pace my mind runs at. I cycle 50km to work and back or run for an hour before/after work in order to disconnect from work-thoughts and adjust my eyes to time off the screens. While at Durham for my undergraduate degree, I represented the University for Rowing, XC running and athletics, Cheerleading – for which we placed 2nd at Nationals – and in my final year, triathlons. Each sport involved at least 5 and up to 8 training sessions per week, so I consider my training schedule pure pleasure and can avoid ever feeling the competitive pressure now.YOU’RE A BIG SKIER LIKE ME! ANY PLANS TO GO SOON?Skiing and snowboarding over the winter months will be a big reward and head cleanse from a full-on year of degree completion, move, new job, new team amidst a global pandemic. I could not be more grateful for the opportunity and support Hero Health offer me.WHAT’S THE LONG TERM DREAM, IF YOU HAVE IT PLANNED OUT?It would be hard for my long-term dream not to concern the company’s success. I hope that chase 2 of our growth our fruitful and enjoyable. I am equally passionate about leading one of my own businesses to great scalability and success. Stay tuned.Thanks so much for speaking to us Hannah, keep rocking! #womenrockBy Emily Lewis A voice for diversity in tech <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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“Free to be” – An Interview with Chelsea Dow
WOMEN ROCK2020-10-29

“Free to be” – An Interview with Chelsea Dow

No matter how cheesy this sounds, it was a dream of mine to start working with LettUs Grow. Chelsea and myself have been working closely for the last year and whilst they don’t need much recruitment help from us, because so many people would like to work there. We have helped in more ways than just typical recruitment. LettUs Grow are one of Bristol’s most exciting tech companies, still in their early years but have achieved unbelievable things since founding in 2015. LettUs Grow are building the farms for the future making sustainable farming a sustainable business. They have a great team and as a business truly care about diversity. A company to watch for years to come! I am excited to have Chelsea their people and culture manager talk to us about the business, how they hire talent and much more.CHELSEA, CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR DAY TO DAY AS THE PEOPLE AND CULTURE MANAGER AT LETTUS GROW?My job revolves around our people, and this means I spend a lot of time ensuring there are processes and plans in place so that every employee feels heard, is cared for and is inspired to do their job. At the moment I’m running interactive workshops with each team to help define our company behaviours and team charters. In a week’s time I’ll be doing another set of workshops with each team to define our OKRS (objectives and key results) for the final quarter of 2020. Lots of presenting, lots of chatting and lots of brain storming!YOU HAVE BEEN WITH LETTUS GROW FOR ALMOST 2 YEARS AND BEEN A KEY PART IN BUILDING THE COMPANIES DYNAMIC CULTURE. I’M SURE MANY OTHER START-UPS ARE FOLLOWING LETTUS GROW AS A GREAT START UP IN BRISTOL WHO ARE DOING THINGS RIGHT. HOW HAVE YOU BUILT SUCH A GREAT CULTURE?LettUs Grow was started by three University of Bristol graduates who deeply care about the environment, have incredible drive and entrepreneurial spirit. Having these caring and responsible roots is definitely part of what makes LettUs Grow so special. Our founders are present, approachable, empathetic and deeply embedded into all facets of the business, which I think helps in creating a real sense of community.From the founders, the team has grown to encompass such a diverse and talented group of individuals. We come from all different walks of life, some having worked for large corporate companies and others just embarking on their professional careers. Yet we all have one thing in common and that is the mission of LettUs Grow. Caring for our environment and introducing resilient technologies into our food system is the main driver that glues us together. We care, and it really shows.The office environment (both in person and virtual) is also just generally a really exciting place. In the office you can always find people tinkering away with interesting inventions in the workshop. Farmers are blasting music while harvesting kale. We often have communal lunches, and if someone goes on holiday there’s always treats waiting for us in the kitchen upon their return. Online we host lightning talks, 10-minute presentations on something that interests you. We’ve had workshops on sword fighting, harmonic journeys and even vegan cheese making. There’s a real culture of creativity and openness here.Every company will organically have a culture without putting any work in. The LettUs Grow culture is special because we put in the work. We care for one another, we are open and honest, and above all we love what we do.YOU HAVE BEEN SUPER PASSIONATE ABOUT BUILDING AND BEING PART OF A DIVERSE TEAM, WHO SHARE THE SAME VALUES AS YOURSELF. WHAT DO YOU THINK COMPANIES DO WRONG WHEN IT COMES TO D&I?One phrase: “tick boxes.” A black person’s experience, or a trans persons experience or a female experience should never be used to simply “tick a box.” People’s experiences, their struggles, their identity and truth are not boxes. They matter and they have value.When diversity is simply just a metric used to please a board room, we haven’t done our job. Doing our job is authentically caring about every human being and their wellbeing. Doing our job is providing access to good jobs and fair wages. Doing our job is creating inclusive working environments where employees feel safe, heard and appreciated.DO YOU THINK COVID-19 WILL HAVE AN IMPACT ON DIVERSITY HIRING?We hired ten people in lockdown. These ten people came from very different backgrounds with different stories and experiences. I think making the recruitment process completely virtual actually helped strip a lot of barriers to entry. For example, candidates didn’t have to worry about making a long journey to interview in person, they simply had to have access to WIFI.Covid is making a lot of people think “What makes me happy?”, “What do I want to spend my life doing?”, “How can I contribute and actually make a difference?” We have certainly seen a rise of applicants asking themselves these questions, all from a wide range of diverse backgrounds.ARE LETTUS GROW DOING ANYTHING TO SUPPORT THE NEXT GENERATION IN TECH?Absolutely! We have had placements from Babbasa come work with us. Babbasa is a great Bristol-based company which provides one-to-one mentoring, training opportunities and work placements to youth from Bristol’s ethnically diverse inner-city communities.We currently have a placement from the University of Bristol on the R&D team and an apprentice on our Grow Team. We started out as three university graduates looking to make a difference through innovative tech. We truly see the value in supporting the next generation to go after the unthinkable.I’M CURRENTLY LISTENING TO THE HIGH-PERFORMANCE PODCAST – JONNY WILKINSON’S TALK WAS MIND BLOWING. I’M ALSO LOVING MRS HINCH’S NEW BOOK (I LOVE A GOOD CLEAN!) AND I’M MID-WAY THROUGH MICHELLE OBAMA’S PODCAST WHICH IS STUNNING. ANY BOOKS, PODCASTS, OR BLOGS YOU’D RECOMMEND?Where to begin? Book wise I’m a non-fiction reader. Michael Pollan is one of my favourite writers, many of his books are written about food and how it shapes our culture and environment. I highly recommend the Botany of Desire. His book “Cooked” is also a series on Netflix which is absolutely worth a watch! I also recently read 12 Years as a Slave which is a timely read given the political climate of the world and Black Lives Matter protests. It was a difficult read given the nature of the story but it’s important now more than ever to read literature on black history and do the work to demand justice and equality.Podcasts: I’m also loving Michelle Obama’s podcast. She is pure class and realness. I’m also binging a podcast called Ear Hustle which is hosted by current and former prisoners from San Quentin Prison in California. They cover a range of topics including racism, what it’s like to be LGBTQ in prison and being locked down during a pandemic. Another great podcast which is worth listening to (also Bristol based) is Woke and Confused. Similar to the Guilty Feminist in its approach, Woke and Confused details the environmental dilemmas of our time and what it’s like to be human amongst it all.Blogs: What started as a blog as is now quite an Instagram sensation, I am a HUGE fan of Humans of New York. Being from just outside New York City myself, this blog encompasses what it means to be a New Yorker, but more importantly what it means to be human. It’s raw, real and incredibly emotive. He’s expanded his portfolio as well, having spent time in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.IF YOU COULD CHOOSE ONE SONG THAT REFLECTS YOU, WHAT WOULD THAT BE?Resilient by Rising Appalachia.WHO WOULD BE YOUR 3 PEOPLE AT A DINNER PARTY?Anthony Bourdain to help me cook and just generally be insightful, Aretha Franklin to sing and Jane Goodall to fill me in on all thing’s chimps and conservation.WHAT IS NEXT FOR CHELSEA AND THE TEAM?For me, it’s continuing to expand our team, with more hiring planned for 2021. I’m always working on maintaining our open and caring company culture. And as we are unsure of how the world will look/what restrictions will still be in place in the future due to Covid, I’m working on supporting a workforce that is flexible and agile.For LettUs Grow, it’s launching our new product line: Drop & Grow container farms. We will be commercialising in 2021 selling our products across the UK. There’s lots more in store for us that I can’t exactly announce yet… so watch this space!FINALLY, ONE QUOTE THAT YOU LIVE BY <3This is a quote on equality from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who has recently passed:“Free to be, if you were a girl—doctor, lawyer, Indian chief. Anything you want to be. And if you’re a boy, and you like teaching, you like nursing, you would like to have a doll, that’s OK too. That notion that we should each be free to develop our own talents, whatever they may be, and not be held back by artificial barriers.”Thank you so much Chelsea and all the LettUs Grow team, keep rocking!By Alicia Teagle A voice for diversity in tech <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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