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!

“Being confident and believing in your own self-worth is necessary to achieving your potential.” – An Interview with Lucy Grimwade
WOMEN ROCK2020-04-01

“Being confident and believing in your own self-worth is necessary to achieving your potential.” – An Interview with Lucy Grimwade

I know one thing that me and Lucy are catching up over a glass of champagne at Selfridges when all this is over and I can’t wait. This week Women Rock is dedicated to Lucy Grimwade Service Design and Transition Manager, Women in IT & Digital Coach, Equality Culture Creator and Business Enabler at Selfridges. In November 2018, she launched a platform called ‘The Wonder’, in her spare time, which works across three service pillars: Career coaching for Women in IT & Digital; Small business coaching to aid brands to digitialise their business and Community with the aim to bring people together.We’ve talked through her career journey, a great piece on networking and Stella McCartney handbags. Thank you so much Lucy, looking forward to catching up in person really soon.BACK TO THE VERY START – YOU ATTENDED UWE (UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST OF ENGLAND, BRISTOL) AND COMPLETED YOUR DEGREE IN COMPUTING. AT WHAT POINT DID YOU WANT TO GET INTO TECH AND WHY?I will always remember when I was looking through a university prospectus trying to figure out what I wanted to do to further my education, it wasn’t as simple as picking your options like I had for GCSE’s or A Levels.All I knew was that I wanted to go to University. My education life had a rocky start – with one teacher telling my mum (at the age of 5) that “Lucy will never be able to read words that contain more than 5 letters…” from then on, I was tarnished with the brush of not being ‘one of the clever kids’ – So, you see, I had a point to prove!I enjoyed studying ICT for GCSE then for A Level. And I was good at it. I wish I could give you a bright, fancy reason why I decided to go to UWE and study computing but, the truth is – it seemed the most sensible choice with good career prospects. Another deciding factor was the ability to choose modules – I liked the sound of the flexibility especially around the options of forensic computing, ethics and business skills.So, I looked at map – I didn’t want to be too far away from home but far enough to gain independence, Bristol seemed ideal and in September 2007 my university life began! Oh and I was one of 10 (max) female’s on the course. The other 50 +, were male. That’s when I knew, I had another challenge on my hands around a gender balance…FROM UNIVERSITY, YOU WENT SENT STRAIGHT INTO THE WORLD OF WORK, CAN YOU GIVE US AN INSIGHT INTO YOUR CAREER JOURNEY AND WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU ENCOUNTERED ALONG THE WAY?My career journey started working on an IT Service Desk for a government body, which was my very first office job. I quickly adapted to the change of environment and using my customer service skill I gained working on the shop floor in retail– I became the face of IT for the small IT team, my roots started to bed into an IT Service career.I progressed up the career ladder from first line to second line then into management roles to finally finding my niche within service delivery, with a specific interest in design and transition. I firmly believe I achieved this by not being scared to take on new opportunities, for being curious and challenging the status quo.I have encountered many challenges along the way, from lack of support or access to mentoring/coaching, to bad company cultures with glass ceilings and, of course, the gender pay gap. I have also experienced first-hand negative situations that can so easily cause self-doubt yet I have found and grasped opportunities to shine and progress gaining confidence, skills and learnings. Having a good community around me also helped.I now work for Selfridges, and recently moved into the role of Service Design and Transition Manager, with the main responsibility to work with project and support teams to design and deliver services into Selfridges IT ops world. I still form part of a Service Delivery Management team where I continue to manage business and supplier relationships, support management with service improvement needs, and contribute towards the service delivery strategy.I am also part of the Women in Tech initiative where I lead meetings, collaborate with teams and have had the opportunity to set the overarching objectives for the group. One of the goals are to arrange realistic career success talks from people in industry for the wider IT function with the aim to inspire and contribute towards team member PDPs.AS WELL AS WORKING AT SELFRIDGES, YOU ALSO ARE THE FOUNDER OF THE WONDER. CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT IT?I started The Wonder in November 2018, with the concept focused on being a free networking platform to connect women in business, provide empowerment, share knowledge as well as give a sense of belonging.A year + on, The Wonder is constantly growing where now it has expanded into a service platform focused on female empowerment with the strapline: ‘powering your potential’ – The main goals are: To enable women working in IT and Digital to be the very best versions of themselves, empower small businesses and entrepreneurs with their business ventures and allow followers/members to be part of a community.The Wonder works across three service pillars: Career Coaching, Small Business Coaching and Community, supported by The Wonder Blog where I write articles and guides specifically aimed at women working in IT and Digital with ambition to help them with career aspirations and explore topics such as technology, female empowerment and wellbeing.WHAT DO YOU THINK COMPANIES/TEAMS CAN DO DIFFERENTLY TO ATTRACT AND RETAIN WOMEN IN TECH?Companies need to create a culture where equality is at the heart of their value system which means creating internal groups like Women in Tech or Diversity in Tech to give a fair platform for their staff.Organisations can educate themselves on diversity topics by allowing their staff to:Attend and have a presence at networking events.Be involved in think tanks and hackathons.Invest by bringing in expert companies and people to coach their staff and shape strategies.With so many resources, there really is no excuse for ignorance.Companies need to be transparent with regards to pay, use gender neutral language on job specs and use their social platforms to market their own women in tech forums.Management need to support personal development. I recently read that women working in non-technical IT roles are not given the opportunity to progress into technical roles resulting in women leaving both the company and IT all together! Learning and development is key to empowering teams, growing an individual and the success to an organisation. By ensuring and securing budget for training and opening channels for staff to learn technical skills will be the start of the journey for many to follow.YOU ATTEND A LOT OF NETWORKING EVENTS, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO GET INVOLVED BUT ISN’T SURE HOW?There is a running joke in my collective of friends about the amount of networking events I attend. I just love meeting new, likeminded people sharing stories, ideas and building those all-important contacts…So, my advice to anyone who would like to get involved/attend networking events would be to show up and go for it. Ok, it seems simple, but how many times have you seen someone’s Instagram post at the event you didn’t go to and felt like you missed out? (that used to be me).It can also be a little dauting, so why not take a friend, but don’t stay connected at the hip through the duration, aim to speak to at least one other person and build on it, next event two… so on.Networking events are not all the same – so it is about finding the right format for you. I particularly like attending events that have a feature talk then time after to discuss.I recommend looking at Meetup and Eventbrite – search key phrases like ‘women in tech’ and set the location. There are also female only member clubs available – a few to check out are: Allbright and Step Up which offer networking event throughout the year.THE QUESTION THAT EVERYONE WANTS TO KNOW I’M SURE (EXCUSE ME, NON TECH!), WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE PURCHASE YOU’VE USED YOUR DISCOUNT ON?Great question! I am so lucky, and my bank account is very grateful to have access to such an amazing benefit. Other than all the beauty products I buy – I would say my favourite purchase would have to be my Stella McCartney handbag. (see picture of me outside of Macy’s New York).DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE QUOTE?Sheryl Sandberg said “Being confident and believing in your own self-worth is necessary to achieving your potential.”I am such a strong believer in that the formula of knowing yourself plus being confident in who you are, will always unleash your potential!Contact me:Linkedin Instagram @the_wondercoThank you again Lucy, you’re awesome!#womenrockAn interview by Darcie CornishA voice for diversity in tech <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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The Boy With Two Hearts – An interview with Hamed Amiri
WOMEN ROCK2020-04-01

The Boy With Two Hearts – An interview with Hamed Amiri

Introducing you to Women Rock’s debut video interview with Hamed Amiri.I was introduced to Hamed only a few months back and we instantly had a connection and it was obvious we shared a huge passion for inclusion and diversity. Whilst this interview goes into depth around that subject we also discuss so much more including his background and how he came to the UK in 2001 from Afghanistan, we talked about his amazing family, his career, his mistakes, his mentors and his inspiration. In this interview, we also discuss ‘The Boy With Two Hearts’ a book which Hamed has written and will be released in the summer. You can order Hamed’s book here.We are also now thrilled to share the news that this story is now theatre-ready and will be the first production of Wales Millennium Centre’s re-opening season and the first Welsh refugee story brought to the stage. Tickets can be found here.I wanted to post this heartwarming interview to share positivity, motivation and also another reason why we should be so proud of the NHS!Thank you so much Hamed, you are truly amazing and this Women Rock interview is dedicated to your brother Hussain.An interview by Alicia Teagle A voice for diversity in tech <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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”You make your own luck!” An interview with Gill Love
WOMEN ROCK2020-03-03

”You make your own luck!” An interview with Gill Love

Gill is Head of Development Services for the Technical Documents team at Vistair Systems in Bristol, they provide software solutions to some of the biggest airlines in the world! Gill has heaps of experience within the IT industry and shares some brilliant insights on her opinions of University degrees with us… and whether they’re really necessary in order to be a great coder? We also discussed Gill’s management style and how her people first approach has made a positive impact on her life. Thank you so much Gill for sharing such honest and bold answers, this interview would be a great read for people at all different stages of their career and I feel like we covered the sort of questions that you want to ask your manager, you’re truly an inspiration Gill! ????GILL, IF THERE’S ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU WOULD GIVE TO A WOMAN GOING INTO HER FIRST EVER TECH JOB WHAT WOULD IT BE?Have confidence in your own ability, I think that this is good advice for everyone but especially if you are entering any environment as a minority, which most women in tech are. If you don’t believe in yourself it’s much harder for others to believe in you, but more important is having the self-belief that you are as good as anyone else.You don’t have to be more forceful, or loud, or anything like that, confidence and self-belief will just shine through if you have it.WHAT’S YOUR OPINION OF UNIVERSITY DEGREES? DO YOU THINK THEY ARE COMPLETELY NECESSARY IF YOU WANT TO BE A CODER?People need to be competent to perform their role. Academic achievement is one part of the competence jigsaw, but it’s equally important to demonstrate the right behaviours and to have experience which is both relevant and current. A university degree is undoubtedly essential in some positions, but I sometimes believe people focus too much on the academic aspects and overlook behaviours and experience.All education is beneficial, and I would never say that a university degree is not worthwhile, however the ability to do the job, for me, is far more important than how you get there.I didn’t go to university, and when I started my first job (many years ago), I had no idea what I really wanted to do with my life and changed direction a few times before finding the path I travelled on.I do not believe that, even today, girls are encouraged enough to look at technology related career paths, so having the opportunity to get into a tech job later on through other routes is really important. Equally some people just don’t get the opportunity to go to university – it should never be too late for someone to do what they want to do.IF YOU COULD STEP INTO TIME MACHINE 50 YEARS INTO THE FUTURE, HOW DO ENVISION THE WORLD OF TECH?I have no idea! When I first worked in the tech environment, I worked with main frame computers sitting in a big room that looked like something you now only see in old black and white films! Today there is more computing power on a mobile phone! – who knows what the world will look like in 5 years let alone 50! All I can say is that being part of that evolution means that nothing is ever boring and those working in the tech world have fantastic opportunities to change the world for the better.AS A FEMALE MANAGER, NATURALLY YOU WOULD HAVE A DIFFERENT MANAGEMENT STYLE TO A MAN – HOW DO YOU THINK THIS HAS BENEFITED THE PEOPLE IN YOUR TEAM?I have worked for both male and female managers over the years, some good and some bad. I have worked for women in the past that have had little empathy and a distinct lack of soft skills and some men that have been the most supportive and caring.I think my management style is quite people focused, I have always tried to treat people how I would like to be treated, with compassion, consideration and honesty – I don’t doubt for one minute that I have got it wrong sometimes!   What I hope is, that as a female manager, I may have shown that working in tech is not a ‘men only’ domain and that women can hold more senior positions.HOW DO YOU DEFINE DIVERSITY & INCLUSION IN YOUR OWN WORDS?For me diversity & inclusion means everyone having the same opportunities, a level playing field. As hiring managers, we need to get the best person for the job and whoever that person is deserves to get that job. We also need to do what we can to ensure that everyone believes that there is a level playing field.  I certainly don’t subscribe to ‘positive’ discrimination, I would never hire someone just because I wanted to bring more diversity into the workplace, that’s not fair to anyone.I don’t think any of this is easy, it is extremely hard for anyone not to have some degree of unconscious bias, but this is where we need to be really honest with ourselves and ensure that we question ourselves when dealing with others.But it’s all worth it, in my experience the more diverse your team is the better, working with people from different backgrounds with different life experiences results in a happier and healthier workplace.I love getting to know people that are different from me, I know far more about the world and I genuinely believe my life has been enriched by this.TELL ME ABOUT THE FIRST TIME YOU EVER TRANSITIONED TO AGILE WAYS OF WORKING?Many years ago, I was lucky enough to be working for someone who had the vision and courage to want to change the way his development team was working.  He came in to the office one day and threw ‘Lean Software Development’ by Mary and Tom Poppendieck on our desks (his team managers) and told us to read the book and we would discuss how we were going to do this in the morning!  Reading that book was a revelation and we set about changing things, we were also lucky enough to have the Poppendiecks visit us later on in our transition to validate what we were doing. This was in a time when agile had not become as widespread as it is today and this was therefore a leap of faith and took some courage from the senior management team.In still believe that following the principles of Lean, no matter how you actually implement agile, is the best way to work. Prescriptive agile practices are not really agile are they! So, working with principles to me seems a far better approach, evolving and doing what works best for the situation. I love the fact that agile is now seen as best practice however I worry about what seems to be a growing trend of hostility to anyone who is seen not to understand agile or does not say quite the right thing, people who try to implement agile and get it wrong should have support not criticism.AS A LOCAL BRISTOLIAN, WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE HIDDEN GEM OF A RESTAURANT IN THE CITY? I KNOW WE’VE ALL GOT ONE! ????Anywhere that I can get a glass of wine to be honest!WITH THE IT INDUSTRY BEING HEAVILY MALE DOMINATED, I HEAR FROM LOTS OF PEOPLE THAT IT CAN BE EASIER TO BE ‘ONE OF THE LADS’ SOMETIMES – HAVE YOU EVER FELT THIS SORT OF PRESSURE?So many times! When I first worked in IT Support fixing PCs, I carried a toolkit – shame on those men who asked if it was my makeup bag!, but I was never one to shrink away from that kind of banter and I think I gave as good as I got.  Things have moved on since those days thankfully I don’t see so much of that type of attitude anymore.It has definitely been the case though that I have tried to ‘fit in’ at times, but there have also been times when I have called out some laddish behaviour! I guess trying to be one of the lads is only a problem if you feel uncomfortable with it, as women we need to be able to be ourselves at work and not be put under pressure.IF YOU COULD BUILD YOUR OWN DREAM SQUAD, WHO WOULD BE IN IT?I have worked with some great people over the years that I would include, I suspect the ones I would pick would know who they are!If I was to choose one attribute that was an essential element of any dream team, I would say it was a motivator. Where I currently work, we regularly bring in motivational speakers. The ones that had most impact on me were the Four Mums in a Boat – if you have not read their story I’d really recommend it. I’d love to have them as part of the team, to be called on whenever motivation flagged. I’m not sure if we’ve got space for their boat in the car park though…NAME A QUOTE THAT YOU LIVE BY, OR JUST ONE THAT YOU REALLY LIKE?You make your own luck!An interview by Steph JacksonA voice for diversity in tech <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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Random.
WOMEN ROCK2020-02-28

Random.

We’ve been a bit quiet for a couple of weeks, we have had a lot of February birthdays and the month has been crazy busy so we needed to take a breath. This is a bit of a random post which includes some great events which are coming up and we also wanted to share some book recommendations.International Women’s Day is fast approaching and we are running an event with our friends at Runway East on Friday 6th March. This years theme is #eachforequalAn equal world is an enabled world. How will you help forge a gender equal world? Celebrate women’s achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality.Please join us from 3pm where we will be celebrating International Women’s Day 2020 through equal measure cocktails and a pub quiz. You can get a ticket here   

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“Blend in with the rest when needed, stand out as required and be able to adapt to meet shortages”- An interview with Liz Simmonds.
WOMEN ROCK2020-02-26

“Blend in with the rest when needed, stand out as required and be able to adapt to meet shortages”- An interview with Liz Simmonds.

I first spoke with Liz Simmonds around July 2019, when she was looking for a new role as a Test/Programme manager. We instantly got along, mainly as we share a huge love of dogs! I managed to find her a new role within the amazing organisation that is International Baccalaureate, where she has been working on developing and implementing a robust test strategy for a major multi-project business transformation programme. Here we talk about how she got into tech, the challenges she’s faced and of course her lovely Monty.HEY LIZ, THANKS FOR AGREEING TO CHAT WITH ME ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY INTO TECH! I GUESS IT WOULD BE GOOD TO START FROM THE BEGINNING… WHEN AND WHERE DID YOU LAND YOUR FIRST ROLE IN SOFTWARE TESTING?I started in IT as a programmer in the early 1980s, then went on to become the analyst/programmer, systems analyst/designer, project leader and finally a project manager. I was working as a project manager on contract to npower in the year 2000 and an opening came up for a test manager and voila, my journey through in the wonderful world of testing and QA started!DO YOU THINK YOU FOLLOWED A MORE ‘TRADITIONAL’ PATH INTO TECHNOLOGY (DEGREE ETC)?I really didn’t know what I wanted to do when I left school – I attended a girls grammar school and career advice then (bear in mind this is the late 1970’s!) didn’t even touch on technology or engineering disciplines and the advice I received tended to focus more on teaching, clerical work and nursing, none of which floated my boat. My Dad worked in the mysterious world of data processing (which is what IT was known as then) as what would have been the Head of IT for a large engineering group. He steered me towards a career in data processing and I gained a place on a course sponsored by National Computer Centre which I guess would have been the equivalent of a BTEC. The course provided both classroom learning and practical experience in real companies of programming and computer operations. Although there were girls on the course, the majority were boys and I believe I was the only girl in the top ten at the end of the course. I do remember that at least two of the girls dropped out of the course mid-way through ☹. At the end of the course, I was offered jobs as a trainee programmer by both of the companies that I had done my practical experience with (Silhouette – bra and undies manufacturer :-D) and Thorn EMI (electronics, manufacturing etc.). I took the role with Thorn EMI and progressed to thru to being a Senior Systems Analyst/Designer in the four years I was there.WHAT MAIN CHALLENGES HAVE YOU COME AGAINST OVER THE YEARS AS A WOMAN IN A PREDOMINANTLY MALE MARKET?My own self-confidence and imposter syndrome was an issue for me when I was a young pretty thing in my early 20s in quite a senior position – I actually felt quite intimidated and out of place working alongside confident, experienced men who were twice my age. Working full time and having a young family was very difficult in the 80s and early 90s both from a practical perspective (flexible working was not so much of a ‘thing’ then) and I felt that despite being a top performer, I was overlooked for more challenging roles – I remember I was working with a well known global organisation at the time and I applied for an internal vacancy – in those days ‘personal’ questions were allowed at interview they actually asked me whether I really wanted a career or whether my children would be my priority! They also asked me how many children I was planning to have lol. I have worked at many organisations during my 30-ish years as a contractor and have fortunately only been exposed to overt sexism on a cultural level in one of those – needless to say I didn’t stay there long!IS THERE ANYTHING YOU THINK WE CAN DO AS A COUNTRY TO HELP WITH ENCOURAGING YOUNG WOMEN INTO TECH?I am not sure of any specific reasons why more women don’t want to go into tech – I have always worked in IT and have always been interested in techy stuff so my 4 daughters have been exposed to tech and are familiar with the opportunities and what a career in IT entails. None of them though have chosen to go into IT, though interestingly my son works in IT! So, in short, I am not really sure what we could do to encourage girls to go into IT.I know not all girls will want to be mothers but I do feel that for those that do, that more flexible working patterns, working from home/remotely options etc. would help and that we should really be moving away from the idea that we need to be stuck in the office 9-5 to be effective.YOU’RE CURRENTLY THE PROGRAMME TEST MANAGER FOR INTERNATIONAL BACCALAUREATE IN CARDIFF… HOW ARE THEY APPROACHING DIVERSITY & INCLUSION? DO YOU FIND YOURSELF IN A DIVERSE TEAM NOW?IB is an amazingly diverse organisation in terms of gender, race, disability and sexual orientation. The team I am currently working in has around a 50/50 gender split (not orchestrated!).DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE ABOUT D&I FOR YOUR PREVIOUS BOSS?Again I was lucky enough to work within a diverse and inclusive organisation and I would just say keep up the good work!YOU’RE A NEW ADDITION TO THE CRAYON BOX. WHAT COLOUR WOULD YOU BE AND WHY?I’d be a colour changing crayon so I could blend in with the rest when needed, stand out as required and be able to adapt to meet shortages of other colours.FINALLY, IF YOU WERE WRITING A BIO ON YOUR DOG, HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE HIM?Monty is a big gentle, clumsy oaf who has no perception of personal space or his own size. His favourite hobbies are getting muddy, playing with other dogs, sitting on people, mangling his teddies and eating human food. He dislikes being brushed, baths, grumpy dogs and wheelie bins. Thank you Liz, for sharing your story with us ????.An interview by Sophie Edensor.A voice for diversity in tech <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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“It’s up to you how far you go. If you don’t try, you will never know!”- An interview with Ana-Maria
WOMEN ROCK2020-02-11

“It’s up to you how far you go. If you don’t try, you will never know!”- An interview with Ana-Maria

Meet Ana-Maria Pasparan from Gousto, she is a Software Development Engineer and is an avid lover of all things tech. Besides working in a development position, tech is her passion and even brought her to London leaving everything she knew behind to start a new job in the UK.Ana has done various talks in tech and is involved with various different diversity technology related conferences and even gets involved with different coding camps. Gousto do a fantastic job of diversifying their teams and Ana is certainly a success story ????.ANA, PLEASURE TO HAVE YOU! YOU’RE SUPER BUSY AT GOUSTO AT THE MOMENT, NOT ONLY IN YOUR DAY-TO-DAY JOB IN DEVELOPMENT BUT OTHER THINGS TOO. CAN YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT WHAT YOU GET INVOLVED WITH THERE?Sure. Gousto Tech has developed the culture of working cross functional and that means that our teams have more than just developers. My team, for example, works with people from Brand, Food Team and sometimes Marketing in order to ensure the quality of our solutions and the use of them for customers. Besides the code part, we are involved in the discovery process where we analyse customer behaviour based on analytics data and we come up with ideas for prototypes which then we validate in user testing. It’s really important to be so close with the customer and understand that sometimes they have different tastes and we want to fulfil all of them.AT WHAT POINT DID YOU KNOW THAT TECH WAS THE RIGHT CAREER FOR YOU?I never knew for sure that is the right career until I actually got into tech. Around high school, my teacher of Informatics encouraged me to do more code and showed me the beautiful world I can create with my coding skills. I continue studying Computer Science because of that, but I wasn’t sure is the right thing for me until I got the job in IBM and actually worked on a project for one of their clients. The first application I worked on was an app that helped the employees to do a better audit with less use of paper. The feeling of helping people to make their job easier was amazing so I realised that was the right career for me.YOU MOVED TO LONDON NOT KNOWING ANYONE AND STARTING A NEW LIFE IN THE UK WHICH IS BRAVE. DID YOU FACE ANY CHALLENGES AND HOW ARE YOU FINDING THE UK COMPARED TO ROMANIA?Yes, it was quite a last-minute decision made on the bus on the way to the airport after my interview with Gousto (I really like the interview process Gousto has). I realised only when I arrived in Bucharest that I actually need to move to London on my own. I was a bit nervous when I realised I had no idea how living in London is plus how expensive life is here. I was quite lucky because my line manager was so willing to help me with the things I need to do in order to move here. He actually recommended me to rent a room in this campus (The Collective) where I actually lived for the first 3 months. When I had to apply for NINO, my colleagues helped me to understand what I needed to do and it was quite easy to adapt here with all the support from Gousto.GOUSTO SOUNDS LIKE THEY DO A LOT TO ATTRACT AND RETAIN DIVERSITY WITHIN TECH, WHAT WOULD YOU RECOMMEND OTHER COMPANIES DO TOO?The best thing Gousto does is to focus on the culture part and that is really important especially for women. Another thing I really like is we do support everyone and we work like a family, again something I personally value a lot. One of our principles is Make 1+1=3 that is very important when you want your product to be the most loved way to have dinner in the UK.HAVE YOU EVER RECEIVED ADVICE THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO PASS ONTO SOMEONE WHO IS CONSIDERING A CAREER IN TECH?I think one piece of advice I received from my mother is to believe in myself and if I believe then I can do it. Another important piece of advice was from my current manager (Amy Phillips), she suggested that I should show more of my work in order for others to see it. I was doing a lot of things besides my day to day job but never talking about those things so it was hard for other people to see it. I think this is really important in this industry, to show off and not be afraid to claim your achievements.WHEN YOU WERE IN SCHOOL, DID YOU FEEL LIKE TECH WAS PROMOTED AS A CAREER TO WOMEN?I will say I was lucky here. My both teachers of Informatics were women so I would say yes, tech was promoted really well. I would like to mention that I studied in Romania and there the percentage of women in tech is much higher than in the UK. (27% RO vs 17% in UK).WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE GOUSTO MEAL?Glad you asked. Even if I am not vegetarian, my favourite meal from Gousto is a vegetarian recipe, Roasted Tomato Linguine With Basil & Seed Crumb. I bought this recipe every time it was on the menu.FAVOURITE QUOTE?`It’s up to you how far you go. If you don’t try you will never know!`- Merlin in “The Sword in the Stone” – I feel like this quote really represents my personality.WHO’S YOUR SQUAD?Alex Kelly (Software Engineer in Gousto – she is a quick learner and amazing person to work with), Ellie Crome( Software Engineer at ANDigital – she is great at mentoring juniors), Tara Ojo (Technical Lead at FutureLearn – she really motivates me to learn more with her talk about knowledge share from Frontend London Meetup). Thank you Ana!An interview by Darcie Cornish.A voice for diversity in tech <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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“Strength lies in differences, not in similarities” – An interview with Muge Ersoy.
WOMEN ROCK2020-01-28

“Strength lies in differences, not in similarities” – An interview with Muge Ersoy.

I spoke with Muge Ersoy over Christmas and instantly got chatting about everything diversity – she’s a huge advocate of diversity in tech in general! She moved to London to fulfill her career in software development and after joining Spotify a couple of years ago, she hasn’t looked back! She’s managed to build the most amazing team with people from all over the world, not to mention that almost 50% are female!If like Muge, you’re on a mission to build a diverse team this year, this interview is definitely worth a read!HEY MUGE, CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF?My name is Muge Ersoy and I’m an Engineering Manager at Spotify. My team and I are working on providing delightful experiences to children aged 3-13. We released Spotify Kids last year to some selected countries and we are planning to roll it out to the whole globe this year!HOW DID YOU FIND YOURSELF IN A CAREER OF SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT AND WHAT FIRST ATTRACTED YOU TO SPOTIFY?I was always a “solution finder” and had an interest in electronics from a very early age – I was repairing my family’s ovens and TVs when I was just 10 years old! So pretty naturally, I went to technical university to do electronics and information systems and then realised it is actually more fun to write a program that fixes things for people, hence starting my software development career.The main reason I was attracted to Spotify was their work in diversity and inclusion. I met with a bunch of Spotifiers in 2017 at Women in Tech Amsterdam conference where I was giving a technical talk. After spending some time with those ladies, I knew instantly that I was going to apply for a position in Spotify. Luckily, they decided to open a tech hub in London around the same time, so I applied to one of the positions and got accepted!I KNOW THAT YOU’RE A BIG ADVOCATE OF DIVERSITY IN TECH IN GENERAL, WHAT DO YOU DO DIFFERENTLY TO ATTRACT A DIVERSE MIX OF PEOPLE TO YOUR TEAM?I am proactively engaged with meetups and groups who support diversity and inclusion, we also have a local group in Spotify which we use to reach out to people both internally and externally. We believe diversity is a strength, not a weakness, everybody is welcome to Spotify and their differences will be celebrated!WHAT’S BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?I always thought I was lucky since I actually love challenges! I think one of the things that I am trying to address is creating a diverse hiring pipeline. I believe if we address the challenges right at the beginning of the recruitment process, we can have better representations at higher ranks across the company. Even though Spotify is doing a really good job, there are still many underrepresented groups which we are working on!FOR SOMEONE TRYING TO BUILD A DIVERSE TEAM, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE?It is really important to understand the underlying problems for diverse hiring and the most important thing for me is building a strong diverse pipeline to increase our chances of hiring those people. It is actually simple math, if we have more people who are interested in tech, we will have more applications from that region. You are not nearly done after hiring, you need to invest in those people, keep them happy and healthy, providing growth opportunities to constantly improve them.WHAT/WHO INSPIRES YOU?I think there are a lot of lessons and stories waiting for us to be discovered just by observing people, nature and the environment. Reading about successful people’s habits is also very useful. I was extremely lucky to have a very strong woman to be my mom who inspired me with her persistence in life. Yuval Harari’s “Homo sapiens” is now my comfort book – I don’t remember how many times I have read it but it helps me to see the holistic view, rather than focus on the small things in life.HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED?I’d love to be remembered by the positive changes I have made in people’s lives, pieces of ideas I planted a long time ago, which have resulted with amazing outcomes for others.WHAT DO YOU ENJOY DOING IN YOUR FREE TIME?I have a good routine of exercises, from early morning swimming to evening running sessions. I love to read and listen to audiobooks – I am a history enthusiast and can read for hours and hours about world history starting from big band. I also have close friends who I love to spend time with.WHAT’S THE MOST INTERESTING THING ABOUT YOU THAT PEOPLE WOULDN’T NORMALLY KNOW?I am secretly having private pilot lessons. Oh well, it is no secret anymore.ONE GOAL FOR 2020?I want to complete my training and get my pilot license, so my commute can be improved AND FINALLY, WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE QUOTE?I really love Stephen Covey’s “Strength lies in differences, not in similarities”. I truly share the same sentiment! Thank you Muge for sharing your story with us ????.An interview by Rachel Rickard.A voice for diversity in tech <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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“Designer by day, Illustrator by night” – An interview with Kiwani Dolean.
WOMEN ROCK2020-01-21

“Designer by day, Illustrator by night” – An interview with Kiwani Dolean.

“Designer by day, Illustrator by night” – An interview with Kiwani Dolean.I met Kiwani just over a few weeks ago now where we spoke about everything across design, inclusion and good food – obviously we had a lot to talk about! Kiwani is the Head of Product & Design at limber which is a platform which helps empower gig workers to work flexibly. Originally from Italy she came to the UK – starting her journey in London before coming to Bristol where she’s here to stay, hopefully! Already she’s fallen in love with our city and has created some beautiful illustrations which represent everything Bristol stands for – you’ll see them below.With everything that Kiwani and I spoke about we both felt obliged to share it with the universe, so here it is!SO, YOU’RE ORIGINALLY FROM ITALY – AMAZING! HOW HAVE YOU FOUND BEING IN THE UK?I’ve always loved the UK and I really enjoy the life here, especially in Bristol. Working in the tech sector, I can’t appreciate enough the amount of brilliant startups and companies that innovate and disrupt the market. From a creative point of view, I’ve found the UK, and Bristol, to be a fantastic place that allows people to express their talents and offers many opportunities. Plus, it’s so beautiful!WHEN DID YOU FIRST REALISE YOU WERE THE CREATIVE SORT?This happened very early on – I was a curious, perceptive child who loved exploring and creating. I’d draw for hours, write and illustrate mini short stories, experiment with paint, watercolour, clay, natural elements. I couldn’t imagine a world without creating and it’s always been a part of me.WHEN WE MET, YOU MENTIONED YOU LOVE WORKING ON PROJECTS WHICH GIVE BACK TO THE COMMUNITY – WHAT’S BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE PROJECT TO DATE?All the projects I’ve worked on have something special and I remember them fondly for different reasons. I loved being involved with Good For Nothing Bristol, where I collaborated with other creatives and makers on a project to help Chandos House (the only residential rehabilitation centre in Bristol) with a fundraiser. The most rewarding part of the project was to attend the fundraiser and meet the people we were helping, knowing that my contribution had made a difference in their lives.DO YOU FEEL THAT THE DESIGN COMMUNITY IS PRETTY EQUAL IN REGARD TO MALE-FEMALE-NONBINARY GROUPS?I’ve worked with many talented and diverse designers of all genders. Especially when working in London, I had the pleasure of collaborating with some wildly talented women and non-binary folks – it looks like in the UK the design community is quite diverse and I find it brilliant. I’d love if there was more inclusivity and openness from companies regarding non-binary folks, as I’ve seen it can sometimes be challenging for people to use pronouns they are not familiar with and respecting all identities.“DESIGNER BY DAY, ILLUSTRATOR BY NIGHT” IS THE FIRST THING WE READ ON YOUR LINKEDIN. IT’S GREAT YOU’VE GOT SUCH AN INTERESTING HOBBY WHICH YOU’RE CLEARLY GOOD AT – CAN YOU TELL US A BIT MORE ABOUT YOUR ILLUSTRATIONS?My illustration work has been defined as quirky, conceptual and delightful. I always search for meaning and love telling visual stories with the use of textures, watercolours, contrasts and words – illustration is not just a hobby for me, but something that gives me meaning. You might have seen my work on the £B20 Bristol Pound’s banknotes or at my exhibition at Harts Bakery, where my Weird Wonderful Words project was on display.    WHAT KIND OF THINGS WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE MORE OF IN DESIGN TEAMS?I’d like to see more diversity, not only in term of genders, and more openness and trust between team members and organisations. Also, more fun and playing! I love how doing fun activities together creates stronger bonds.70% OF WOMEN AND JUST OVER 50% OF MEN HAVE HAD IMPOSTER SYNDROME. HAVE YOU EVER BEEN A VICTIM OF THIS?Absolutely – especially at the start of my career and when I made some bold choices, such as moving from Italy to London. It’s very important to talk about this in order to know that we’re not alone when we experience imposter syndrome. What has helped me overcome it has been reframing my thoughts in a positive light, talking to my peers about it, and letting go of the idea of perfection.DO YOU HAVE A MANTRA OR PRACTICE WHICH YOU INCORPORATE INTO YOUR ROUTINE WHICH YOU LIVE BY?I love questions like these! I don’t have a specific mantra or practice, but I try to approach every situation with curiosity and an open mind – this is applicable in my design work as well as my illustrations and every other area of my life.WHAT’S ONE THING YOU COULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT?Everything considered, basic necessities aside, it would be music and art. I could certainly live without it, but it would feel like a much less joyful life. If you’re looking for a more “materialistic” answer, I’ll say the Internet – we have so many connections and opportunities thanks to it!WHO’S YOUR ROLE MODEL?My mother. She’s raised me nurturing my creativity and giving me the ability to dream big. She’s given me nothing but support and I’ve always admired her strength and resilience in everything she’s done in her life. Thank you for taking the time to speak to us Kiwani – we’ve loved getting to know you!An interview by Charlotte Baker.A voice for diversity in tech <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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“First make it work. Then make it good. Then make it fast.” – An interview with Sarah Beharry
WOMEN ROCK2020-01-14

“First make it work. Then make it good. Then make it fast.” – An interview with Sarah Beharry

I am delighted to share this awesome interview with you, Sarah Beharry is a Software Engineer who has just taken the plunge of moving from Southampton to Bristol to start her new job with OVO Energy this month. She was first introduced to me by a friend of hers in Southampton who had suggested to get in touch with us to help find a role in Bristol. Of course, I was so excited to help her! I was struck by Sarah’s confidence but also calm nature and positive outlook on life, she gave me some very honest (and useful) opinions on how tech companies can attract a more diverse mix of people and not just focus on attracting more women.This interview is definitely worth a read if that’s something you are trying to improve within your organisation, thank you so much Sarah for sharing your story with us ????SARAH, I KNOW THERE’S BEEN SOME BIG CHANGES HAPPENING FOR YOU RECENTLY AND A HUGE CONGRATULATIONS ON SECURING A POSITION WITH OVO ENERGY IN BRISTOL. WHAT WAS IT THAT ATTRACTED YOU TO THE COMPANY + ALSO TO BRISTOL?Bristol’s always been a city that has been attractive to me: I have friends there, the music scene is incredible, and the tech opportunities are so exciting. When I heard about OVO and started reading about them, I realised it was a place where I would be able to learn so much in a short time, and be given quite a lot of autonomy to make technical choices, which was pretty attractive. (The office is also gorgeous!)HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN YOUR CAREER AS A SOFTWARE ENGINEER?I did a Masters in Mathematics and decided to continue my studies further wasn’t right for me, so I decided to find work after graduating. I ended up working for a small software house that took STEM grads who didn’t know how to code yet and trained them up. I remember coding up a basic calculator in my training and just falling in love with being able to get my code working… The rest is history! 🙂THERE IS A LOT OF STIGMA AROUND WOMEN IN TECH POSITIONS, AND A LACK OF DIVERSITY IN MOST TECH COMPANIES. WHAT DO YOU THINK COMPANIES COULD DO DIFFERENTLY TO ATTRACT A MORE DIVERSE MIX OF PEOPLE?Some people think of diversity as simply being “more women” or “more folks of ethnic minorities”, but I believe so many more types of ways in which we are different: some of us have kids, some of us are disabled, some of us are night owls or teetotal or just really really shy! Workplaces should make it clear that all of the ways people can be different are expected and accepted. They can do this by demonstrating quietly, but constantly, that people are accommodated for what they need without it being a big deal. Things like flexible working, and varied social groups can help, but there are lots of things (big and small) that can be done. Once you start doing that for all the ways people are different, accommodating for someone being a woman should follow. Hopefully 🙂AS A FEMALE IN THE TECH INDUSTRY, WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST BARRIER YOU HAVE FACED AND WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE WHO MIGHT BE GOING THROUGH THE SAME THING?The hardest thing has been to deal with the micro-aggressions: every now and then, someone will assume I’m more junior than I am, or need more assistance than I’ve asked for, or just say something off-colour and not very professional.I’ve dealt with this in multiple ways in the past: generally, I will want to correct the person, especially if it’s someone I will be expecting to be working with for a while. But sometimes, it’s better to make like Elsa and “let it go”!I KNOW THAT YOU LOVE TO SING AND PERFORM, IS THAT A PASSION YOU THINK YOU WOULD FOLLOW MORE NOW THAT YOU’RE LIVING IN BRISTOL?Absolutely! I’ve had a bit of a search online and there are more choirs than I could shake a stick at! I hope to join a choir very soon once I’ve settled in.WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU THINK YOU WILL BRING TO THE ENGINEERING TEAM AT OVO ENERGY?I am pretty good at trying to translate between those who understand the details of building software and those that understand the details of a customer’s desires – I aim to help teams that I join to stay customer-focused while also being able to explain to our stakeholders about the technical sticky patches that always hold things back from time to time.TELL ME SOMETHING THAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE ABOUT YOU?I was misdiagnosed with tuberculosis in my early twenties – it was just a nasty case of pneumonia but they had to quarantine me for weeks!2020 IS HERE – WHAT DO YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE IN THE NEW YEAR?Successfully moving and settling into Bristol is the main goal! Secondary goals are to learn more about functional programming, and attempt making puff pastry from scratch.DO YOU HAVE A ROLE MODEL?I have found a great deal of inspiration from Pat Kua (@patkua) and Captain Awkward (@Cawkward): between them, I’ve learned a lot about how to be a good tech lead and how to handle difficult situations with grace.IF THERE IS ONE THING YOU WOULD WANT PEOPLE TO REMEMBER YOU BY, WHAT WOULD IT BE?I do try to find the positive in almost anything – and I will always find myself volunteering for everything going!WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE QUOTE?A general quote: “Nothing worth having is easy to get”.One more about software: “First make it work. Then make it good. Then make it fast.” Thank you for being our first interview of 2020!An interview by Steph Jackson.A voice for diversity in tech <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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