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!

Let's Take A Moment To Reflect
WOMEN ROCK2023-12-20

Let's Take A Moment To Reflect

As we come to the end of another year it’s nice to take a moment and reflect on an incredible year of growth, empowerment, and insightful conversations we've had on Women Rock. A whopping 78,865 people have read these stories and were proud of our impressive global reach – I mean, are we surprised, have you seen that lineup!! Women Rock 2023 has featured inspiring women from various fields, we've truly made waves in championing justice, equality, and inclusion and being a voice for diversity in tech. Let's take a moment to celebrate the remarkable women we've had the privilege of highlighting: πŸ’™ Maddie Clingan πŸ’™ Laura Voineag πŸ’™ Kinga Stryszaowska-Hill πŸ’™ Hilary Stephenson πŸ’™ Anita Pritchard πŸ’™ Daniela Alvaran πŸ’™ Karen Fynn πŸ’™ Victoria Reed πŸ’™ Kellie Hill πŸ’™ Olivinana Bailey πŸ’™ Gaia Armelin πŸ’™ Iffat Rose Gill πŸ’™ Hannah Grinsted πŸ’™ Loraine Kelly πŸ’™ Grace Witter πŸ’™ Ciara Conway πŸ’™ Felicita Coulibaly πŸ’™ Jenny Strickland πŸ’™ Fleur Thompson πŸ’™ Tobu Olowu πŸ’™ Violet Snell πŸ’™ Tanmaya Kulkarni πŸ’™ Namrata Sarmah πŸ’™ Candice Storm πŸ’™ Shirley Cavin πŸ’™ Susie Piggot πŸ’™ Melody Sylvestre πŸ’™ Alisha Mclaughlin πŸ’™ Cathrin Hirling πŸ’™ Charlotte Philippe πŸ’™ Priya Baheti πŸ’™ Hannah Cross πŸ’™ Raana Saheb πŸ’™ Raghad Al-Abboodi πŸ’™ Camilla Brizzi πŸ’™ Penny Rae-Byford πŸ’™ Amber Swift πŸ’™ Marian Hussein πŸ’™ Carla Ruiz Martinez πŸ’™ Becky Tsao πŸ’™ Neela Rai Throughout the year, Women Rock has delved into critical topics. We've explored the importance of finding one's tribe, the shocking pain gap in emergency medical situations, and the alarming statistics revealing that black women are four times more likely to die in childbirth than their white counterparts. We've also addressed issues surrounding menopause, and the lack of diversity within the realms of AI, hardware, and computer vision plus so much more. The key theme throughout this year was just that – MORE. We can all do more, we should be doing more to speak about ED&I, to celebrate diverse talent, and to ask for more CV’s when the shortlist is as non-diverse as possible lacking diverse candidates. As we head into 2024, Women Rock is committed to tackling the ongoing challenges in Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (ED&I). Our focus will be on amplifying voices that often go unheard, fostering an environment where every woman feels seen, heard, and valued. Our plans for the upcoming year include: Amplifying Underrepresented Voices: Continuing to showcase and celebrate women from diverse backgrounds, ensuring a platform for those often marginalised. Collaborative Initiatives: Partnering with organisations that share our commitment to ED&I, fostering collaboration to drive meaningful change on a broader scale. And. The Women Rock Podcast: Come on, you knew it was coming….. Launching in March 2024. The podcast aims to empower and inspire listeners by showcasing the achievements and stories of remarkable women in Tech. You’ll hear engaging conversations and gain insights from women who are making a difference in their respective fields. And yes, I’m having a mega launch party – you’re all invited. I am forever grateful of our stunning community, contributors, and again thank you to the awesome folk who have shared their stories. Together, we will continue to rock the narrative and I promise to give everything I have and make 2024 a year of positive change for diversity everywhere. Stay great! #WomenRock

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Camilla Brizzi | Motability Operations
WOMEN ROCK2023-12-11

Camilla Brizzi | Motability Operations

Camilla Brizzi, Full Stack Software Engineer, coding influencer/content creator on Instagram @breezycoder and 1:1 mentor for women & non-binary folks looking to switch careers. Is there anything this lady can’t do? She is breaking the norm and challenging the status quo! The pressure of society tells us that we need all our s**t figured out by the time we are 30, in this refreshing interview Cami shares her story of how she fell in love with coding and quit her job as a teacher to pursue a career in tech at the age of 30. Don’t miss out reading this one, it gave us goosebumps! If there’s something that Cami’s story teaches us the most, is to never let someone else's fears or age hold you back. You can do ANYTHING you put your mind to. Camilla is truly a force to be reckoned with, firstly she is one of the coolest, most passionate people the tech market and is admired by all of us here at Women Rock. Her inspirational story of taking the “risk” to switch careers at age 30. Steph first met Camilla in 2022 during her job search after she’d completed a coding bootcamp, she was in the process of switching careers from teaching Science to become a professional software developer. In true Cami style, it did not take her long to secure a job because she is amazing. Cami teamed up with SR2 to find her first Software Engineer role with Motability Operations in Bristol, a software company who are improving the lives of people living in allowance of the government disability allowance. Outside of work, Cami has an ever-growing following on Instagram where she creates content to inspire other girls in tech make sure you follow her @breezycoder and she is now offering 1:1 mentoring to other women and non-binary folks who are looking to make the career switch. We love you Cami, you seriously rock!   Your story will be one that will inspire so many being a career switcher after teaching science to school students for 4+ years. Could you share a bit about your journey so far and why you chose to become a software engineer?  Ciao! I’m so excited to be on Women Rock, thank you for having me ❀️ As a kid, I was known to ask a lot of why’s and capture unfortunate critters to force them under my rudimentary microscope. I left rural Sardinia - where I’m from - as soon as I finished school to study Forensic Science in the UK. The problem-solving element of it, combined with the prospect of making a real difference to the families of those people who could no longer speak for themselves, was what drew me to it. I loved my degree, did very well and proceeded to do master’s in Crime and Forensic Science at UCL, where I had the opportunity to do my own research on a case of potential miscarriage or justice, as well as deepen my knowledge of data science. The year I started my undergrad, the Forensic Science Service was closed and forensics got in the hands of private laboratories. Unfortunately, this meant that once I got my MSc, I became overqualified for most of the roles out there. A few months into application hell forced me to think creatively about my skills, which led me to become a Show Presenter at the London Science Museum. This inevitably caused me to fall in love with education, so I decided to train to become a teacher a year later, and then ended up teaching Science and A-Level Biology in a secondary school for four years after that. How does all this lead to programming? Well, for various reasons, teaching wasn’t something I wanted to continue with forever. It lacked flexibility and work-life balance, as an example. Since covid, I started to feel more and more trapped and I wanted to be able to go visit my family more often than once a year. I picked up coding as a hobby, initially, like someone might get started on Duolingo. I worked through a couple of courses on Codecademy and I was hooked. I signed up for an evening course provided by Code First Girls, then signed up for another one, and handed in my notice a few weeks later. I knew I wanted to dedicate myself to learning to code full-time and I just had to take that brave decision then, before knowing how I was going to do that exactly. Luckily, I made it onto the amazing School of Code bootcamp, which is fully-funded, and in four months I gained the skills I needed to get my first job in tech. Less than a month after that ended, I was offered my current role as a full-stack Software Engineer.  Younger me never thought this would be my path. The only computer ‘lessons’ I had in school involved sharing a PC to play around with Paint and Word every few months. Of course, I had MySpace and - even better - I was an admin to one of the official My Chemical Romance πŸ–€ online fanclubs in Italy, which meant I dabbled in very basic ‘coding’, but unfortunately I used to think real programmers didn’t look anything like me. I know my career has been a road with lots of turns, but I honestly believe this has given me the confidence to challenge myself in ways I had never imagined, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  It’s amazing to see that you’ve switched careers so successfully, there are a lot of people who would be really inspired by what you’ve done so far – what advice would you give to other women who are wanting to break into a tech career?  Don’t let your age or other people’s fears stop you. It’s funny how many people I have met in the field worry about having started ‘too late’, yet they are all doing brilliantly. Recently, I spoke to this girl in her second year at uni who was comparing herself to people who were coding since the age of 5. I couldn’t help but giggle, given my situation, but I made sure to reassure her that it really doesn’t matter. There is always going to be somebody better than you, but it’s not about that. It’s about working a job that makes you happy, and appreciating all of the fresh perspectives and other skills you bring to it. You may not have started when you were 5, but you have done so much more since then, and that is a real asset. Cherish and learn to sell your uniqueness, and don’t compare your path to the one of others. I also would recommend to anone considering a career in tech to find a mentor who can be a cheerleader and help you out with practical advice as well as networking. I had two, and I am super grateful to them for giving me the extra boost of confidence I needed when started looking for a job. Finally, it’s always worth attending tech meet-ups. In Bristol, I went to the Women’s Tech Hub and Code Hub evenings soon after my first ‘Hello World’, and it was a great way to get rid of my preconceptions of what ‘tech people’ were like. Everyone was super welcoming and that played a big part in my final decision to switch career. As a woman joining an industry that is predominantly made up of males and a lack of diversity, what has been the biggest surprise to you so far?  To be honest- and sadly - no surprises in the negative sense. I have always been a woman in STEM so I am used to experiencing some struggles in being taken seriously due to gender perception. I guess, I hadn’t realised fully realised quite how much male-dominated the industry truly is until I started attending tech events. However, I have been positively surprised by how helpful and encouraging the vast majority of techies I have connected with have been, both online and in-person, and I am very fortunate to have found a company that values me and has been incredibly supportive from the start.  I saw that joined the GirlCode family to offer mentorship to other girls interested in tech, could you tell us a bit more about that?  I love the GirlCode community! It’s a brilliant platform that I am proud to be and ambassador for, and with it I intend to do more to help other women succeed in tech. I have given CV and general career advice to a couple already, as well as other people I met through my Instagram page - @breezycoder. I’ve also been doing that on LinkedIn, and I am going to be mentoring a new career-switcher Junior at work from January. The coaching aspect of teaching was one of my favourite parts of the job, and I am excited to develop this further in my current role. Future aspirations include inspiring more young girls into tech through outreach work. If only I could have some extra days in the week! What has been the best thing about becoming a software engineer for you so far?  It has to be the amount of learning involved! There isn’t a single day that goes without me feeling out of my ‘comfort zone’, and that is so exciting. I like to be challenged and I like learning new skills. There is a lot of context-switching - which can be daunting - but once you accept that you have to get it wrong first to get it right, you can start appreciating all the novelty. In your opinion, why do you think there are so little women in tech roles and what could companies looking to hire more diversity do to change that? For me, the low uptake of computer science degrees and tech roles by women has to do - in great part - with lack of representation in the industry. That’s why it’s so important that companies have a deep look at what they can do to retain the brilliant women they already have. Around 50% of women leave the field by the age of 35, so it’s not just about hiring more at entry / junior level - although that is very important too. Employers must support women throughout their career, making sure they can access and thrive in higher-paying and leadership roles, regardless of whether they are dealing with motherhood or are being affected by symptoms of reproductive health issues, for example. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of systemic sexism in tech, but I am hopeful that the younger generation will be inspired by the ever-growing talent pool of fantastic women in STEM, lots of whom are spreading the word through social media. That’s pretty much what drew me to coding in the first place. If you could go back and give your younger self some advice what would you tell her?   Wear your skin proud, take up space and fight to get the help you need. I know it hurts now, but one day you’ll realise that none of this matters, and that your beauty goes far beyond your looks. Also, definitely don’t pick up smoking to chat up a boy! 😀 What is your favourite quote?  I really love this one by Italian Nobel-prize scientist and former senator for life, Rita Levi-Montalcini:  ‘Above all, don’t fear difficult moments. The best comes from them.’Interviewed by Steph Jackson

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Raghad al-Abboodi | She Codes Too
WOMEN ROCK2023-12-04

Raghad al-Abboodi | She Codes Too

Raghad is someone who has followed her dream of becoming a software engineer, but not only that, she’s also helped other women follow that same dream. Whilst completing a business course in 2020, Raghad got the inspiration for ‘She Codes Too’, a bootcamp that supports women in Iraq with their goal of having a career in the tech industry. Having started as an idea, this has now transformed into fully-fledged in-person bootcamp that is expanding to other locations across Iraq, changing multiple lives! Raghad, you’re an inspiration! Can you give us a brief overview of your own background and how you qualified as a Computer Scientist? I am originally from Iraq and grew up in a small town near the ancient city of Babylon. I completed my undergraduate degree in computer science at the University of Babylon. After that, I was fortunate enough to get a scholarship to study for a Master's degree in computer science at the University of Bristol in the UK. As a requirement of my scholarship, I had to return to Iraq and work for five years as a lecturer at a university in Baghdad. You mentioned that you’re originally from Iraq – can you share with us what some of the barriers are that women in Iraq face when looking to get into the tech industry? Women in Iraq often face many barriers when considering a career in tech. Beginning with societal norms and expectations that usually steer them towards professions like medicine or teaching, rather than encouraging them to explore tech-related careers. Similarly, these norms and expectations may require women to stay at home, restricting their movement freely and travelling around the country, which can limit their ability to attend events like tech bootcamps or coding workshops. Can you tell us a bit about the She Codes Too initiative that you created & how it works? I started She Codes Too (SCT) after participating in a UN program in Japan that taught about business development. Instead of starting a for-profit business, I chose to create She Codes Too as a charitable initiative. SCT started its journey in 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, by providing online coding courses for women. Initially, I taught programming courses myself but soon formed a team of volunteers to assist me. Last year, SCT received funding from the UN Development Programme and this year we received funding from the US Embassy in Iraq. We also collaborate with Meta – formerly Facebook – and Baghdad Business School. Now SCT has funding, we can employ full-time staff members to help run 6-month-long front-end web development programs in person in Baghdad. The programs not only focus on programming but also develop a programmer's mindset. Participants learn both the skills required by industry but also communication and team skills to ensure they are ready for tech careers after graduating. Was there a particular event or moment that inspired you to create She Codes Too? During my previous job as a lecturer in Iraq, I was keenly aware of female students being discouraged from developing their tech skills. This made me want to create a space for them to feel comfortable and empowered to become software engineers; hence, I started the She Codes Too initiative. I believed that creating such a supportive environment could refocus and empower women, providing them with a sense of belonging and encouragement within the tech industry. Can you share any success stories from She Codes Too so far? She Codes Too were able to connect its graduates with employers in tech companies in Iraq. Two of our graduates secured internships as junior web developers in a tech company in Baghdad, while another two received job offers as web developers in another tech firm. Several other graduates are currently in the interview process, and we believe that many more will soon secure jobs with our support.  What is the long-term vision for She Codes Too? We aim to expand She Codes Too to reach other cities in Iraq; however, other cities (e.g. Mosul) pose an even greater challenge due to a lack of resources and other external factors. Beyond that, we also have an ambition to take She Codes Too to even more countries. It is important however to ensure the sustainability of She Codes Too. We aim to build an organisation that can run stably in terms of resources and funding, allowing us to continue our mission and impact for years to come. What advice would you have for anyone else who’s interested in setting up something like She Codes Too? My advice is to start with a genuine passion because this will be the driving force. One needs to understand the specific needs of the target audience and to design the programs accordingly. When thinking about sustainability for a charity like She Codes Too, it is important to know how to seek funds, form partnerships, and build a committed team. One needs to be prepared to take on any required role to make it work. And lastly, remain patient. Initiatives like this require determination and patience, but the impact and fulfilment they provide make the journey truly rewarding. What’s next for you personally Raghad? I recently got married and settled in the UK. I would personally love to continue building a life here and enjoy seeing more of this country and the rest of Europe with my husband. On a professional level, I would like to continue my path in technology and develop my skills to reach a senior level in my career. What motivates me the most is the opportunity to inspire and empower women to challenge societal norms, break barriers, and pursue their aspirations fearlessly. It’s tradition on Women Rock to finish with a motto or inspirational quote – have you got one you would like to sign-off with? We have this famous quote in Arabic that I often think about when I need motivation. A translation would be: “Whoever fears the ascent of the mountains, shall dwell forever in the abyss.”

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Penny Rae-Byford | Farsight Consulting
WOMEN ROCK2023-11-28

Penny Rae-Byford | Farsight Consulting

In Penny's world, tech meets transformation, blending fearless ambition with authenticity and guided by kindness. As a tech enthusiast and transformation expert, she pioneers online platforms for iconic events like Race For Life and spearheads large-scale transformations at Cancer Research UK. Penny's secret to climbing the career ladder is to boldly ask, stay positive, and embrace continuous learning. A beacon for aspiring female leaders, she urges authenticity and celebrating uniqueness. Skipping the traditional academic path, she advises the next generation to explore diverse routes, embrace failures, and own their journey. To Penny, diversity is a blend of varied perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences shaping better outcomes. In her daily life, she champions kindness and is also a yoga teacher. Namaste to that! Tell us about how you initially got into the transformation / tech space? In my earlier career I was always interested in seeing how we could use technology to increase efficiency and speed things up, I always wanted things to be done quickly and with less manual effort.  I remember working with the development team building the first ever website and back office system for Race For Life, we were moving everything from manual postal entries to online (I’m showing my age there!) It felt revolutionary at the time and what back then we would have called RAD Rapid Application Development, but for me I was just working with the programmers to reduce the effort from my team to do manual data entry of hundreds of thousands of ladies who wanted to take part in an event and raise money for cancer. My first real transformation programme was at Cancer Research UK, for me this was still ‘just change’ but on a bigger scale with more stakeholders to consider, with much bigger benefits but also more risk. I loved the challenge and the scale and learnt so much from other experts who done large scale transformations before but also just by throwing myself in and learning as I went. You enjoyed a number of promotions over your career, how do you think you stood out vs the crowd and achieved these time and time again?  Don’t be afraid to ask, I think for at least 70% of my promotions (certainly in my earlier career) I saw an opportunity, stated my case and asked for it. I was quite fearless, what’s the worst that can happen they say no, I am no worse off. I think that helped show people my appetite for the promotion and also a positive attitude whilst also being clear on what I still needed to learn and develop. What advice would you give to aspiring female leaders today? Be authentic and be yourself. Don’t compare yourself to others and try to emulate their intelligence, knowledge, expertise, or style, be proud of what you have to bring to a particular company, project or role. People will value the authentic you. You didn’t go to university, do you think this had any impact on your journey and what’s your advice to the next generation? In my early career it didn’t bother me at all, I worked hard, pushed myself and got so much experience, by the time some of my friends had left uni I had a really great job had done further education whilst working and didn’t have any student debt which was a bonus. Once I started to move around and consider more senior roles I did have a period where I would be embarrassed about the fact that I didn’t go to uni and I might never know if I wasn’t considered for some roles because of it. But I re-claimed it and used it as a positive message. I have a 15 year old daughter and my advice to her and any other young people is that there are many ways to be successful and many routes to find your path especially when you are young try out a few different things to see what works for you and don’t compare yourself to anyone else’s paths, that’s theirs to own, you own you. What would you say to your younger self if you could meet her today? You go girl, stay confident, don’t let others hold you back and don’t be afraid to change things that are not working out. Life is there to be lived and experienced, breath it all in. What does diversity mean to you? Diversity for me means lots of different people from lots of different backgrounds with many different experiences all having a perspective to bring and something to offer and that together diversity will bring a better outcome. Sometimes I can get frustrated and overwhelmed with the injustice, unfairness and quite often discrimination in the world. How I choose to address that is to make a difference in the space in which I operate and what I can influence in my every day to day. What is your favourite quote?  “Be more kind to yourself, be more kind to others and be more kind to the planet” Its not a famous quote, it’s my own mantra and I say it every day and at the end of every yoga practice (I’m a yoga teacher as my side gig).

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Amber Swift | Northumbrian Water
WOMEN ROCK2023-11-16

Amber Swift | Northumbrian Water

Meet this weeks' Women Rocker, Amber Swift πŸ‘‹.  A data wizard at Northumbrian Water, who started her journey with curiosity in ICT during her GCSE and A-levels. Thanks to her tech-savvy grandma's wisdom, she skipped the business degree bandwagon and leapt into a Degree Apprenticeship at Northumbrian Water. Between sips of coffee and lines of code, dipping her toes in various teams, she discovered a love of data and coding. Amber's story covers everything from the challenges that came from being a young trailblazer, her work as a mentor guiding university placements & apprenticeships, being an advocate for neurodivergence and diversity within tech to her work beyond the keyboard where she breaks stereotypes with CrossFit and Olympic weightlifting. Amber is on a mission to encourage more women to pump iron and break the glass ceiling (and a sweat) Amber has achieved great things in her career so far, as well as being nominated for the Rising Star Award for her work and accomplishing a 1st Class Hons Degree. Some might say, she is equally as inspirational as her parting quote: “find your allies, take every opportunity you are given even if it scares you. Because stepping out your comfort zone and challenging yourself is what opens your horizons and opportunities”. πŸš€βœ¨ THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO SPEAK TO US. FIRSTLY, PLEASE CAN YOU START BY TALKING ME THROUGH YOUR POSITION AT NORTHUMBRIAN WATER? I currently work as a Performance Insights Analyst; I like to think of this as a fancy title for a Data Analyst that often dabbles into Data Science. I work in the Intelligence and Analytics Team here at NWG and my day usually looks like: finding new insight and efficiencies within corporate data, producing automated reports and dashboards, creating intelligent data science solutions predicting future trends in which if we act now, we can improve performance against our key measures! I’m super passionate about it so sometimes when I start, I can’t stop! But to give some examples, I helped predict areas in which water poverty may be an issue (customers struggling to pay their bill) so we can put them on affordability tariffs to combat this. I’ve also been involved in creating an industry first Customer Experience Digital Twin – a model that predicts customer satisfaction levels and highlights where we can improve our processes. Seeing my impact is what motivates me, so hopefully that gives a little taster into my role! TELL ME ABOUT YOUR STORY SO FAR. HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE WORLD OF TECH? I studied ICT (or Computer Science) at GCSE and A-Level just out of interest, it was always something I enjoyed due to the creative aspect. I guess I realised I was pretty good at problem solving and developing solutions, a key skill in what I do now. When it came to university decisions it was my amazing Gran who convinced me not to do a traditional business degree. I felt it was more ‘normal’ at the time and she told me that she saw me working in IT and thriving, she saw my potential and my passion. I left traditional university after a month, worked for a year to gain employable skills and confidence, and then looked out for an apprenticeship. Northumbrian Water were recruiting for a Degree Apprenticeship in Digital and Technology Solutions at the perfect time for me. It was a very vigorous process given they were financing your degree, but I am so thankful I was given the opportunity. Between September 2016 – July 2019, I worked for NWG Monday – Thursday and attended Sunderland University every Friday to gain my degree. NWG placed me around many different teams from Business Analysis, Development, Data, testing etc that meant I was able to apply my learnings and find the right role for me upon graduation. About 2 years in I discovered my love of data and coding, I was fortunate enough to land a graduate role in my current team and 2 years ago was promoted into the role I am in now. I still love what I do and seeing the difference I can make to my company’s performance through data daily. DO YOU FEEL THAT EDUCATION IS IMPORTANT IN CHANGING THE GENDER GAP IN TECH OR ARE THEIR OTHER WAYS FOR WOMEN TO START THEIR CAREERS WITH A MORE HANDS ON APPOACH? Education certainly plays a crucial role in narrowing the gender gap in the tech industry, but it is not the only factor at play… Creating a supportive and inclusive environment within educational institutions and workplaces is crucial. This includes addressing issues like gender bias, harassment, and stereotypes that can deter women from pursuing tech careers or lead to attrition. Mentorship and Role Models: Having mentors and role models who are women in tech can inspire and guide aspiring professionals. Mentorship programs can provide valuable insights and support for women looking to advance their careers. Hands-On Experience: A more hands-on approach, such as internships, apprenticeships, and coding bootcamps, can complement traditional education by providing practical skills and real-world experience. These opportunities can be especially beneficial for women looking to transition into tech careers later in life or those without formal STEM education. I can vouch for this one as this is how I began my journey! I knew I wanted to go down an apprenticeship root and I think it really fine tunes those employable skills and gets you applying the knowledge you gain from studying to a point where you can become years ahead in terms of experience. Networking: Building a professional network is essential for career growth. Attending tech events, conferences, and joining industry-specific organisations can help women connect with peers and potential employers. I was very fortunate that during my apprenticeship my manager and mentors gave me so many opportunities. Even though I was nervous, I took every opportunity and made connections for life. WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU FACED IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR? With many roles I’m sure, I struggled with being thrown into a workplace at quite a young age and not being taken seriously due to my age and possibly my gender. Having to report my findings to internal stakeholders when given tasks I felt dismissed and that my older more experienced colleagues were listened to rather than myself. This is something that did diminish over time and workplaces have grown a lot since, but early on in someone’s career it is vital that we support and encourage people, so they grow. I see this as one of the factors that is perhaps why ¾ of women in technical roles leave before the age of 30. Gaining my role in the first place, as when I graduated, I came up against a very talented pool of people when interviewing for what became my graduate role. I compared myself too much at this point in my life and felt I didn’t stand a chance against those with years more experience than me. I put hours into planning and revising for my interview. Something I feel fellow women in tech could agree with. I feel we naturally put more effort into tasks feeling we need to overcompensate and compete with the men in our industries. TELL US A BIT ABOUT ANY COACHING/MENTORING YOU DO IN OR OUTSIDE OF WORK TO HELP WOMEN AND UNDERREPRESENTED GROUPS FIND OPPORTUNITY? University Placements – Since joining my team in 2018, I have been involved in supporting university students during summer internships. From our initial uptake I have then led on the interviewing and mentorships / shadowing of the students. I have endeavoured to find fellow women with the right passions and skills. We have supported 6 students in internships over the past few years which led to me and a colleague hosting a guest lecture at a local University to help with future intake and show universities that a water company does more than what meets the eye. Apprentices – I am a representative to new and existing apprentices that we recruit. providing advice and shadowing where needed. This year I am supporting a new female apprentice analyst on a neighbouring team which I find so empowering! Speaking to someone with similar passions to myself, I endeavour to do all I can to help her with her studies and work experience. Mentorship – I am part of a wider group of mentors within Northumbrian Water to offer mentorship to student placements, work experience, apprentices, and graduates. We meet quarterly to share learning experiences / advice which we then take back to any mentees. For me, this is just small ways in which I can make a difference and I am so passionate about promoting tech roles, which is why I was asked by NWG’s IS Director to represent women in STEM. Alongside my role I am beginning to work with local schools, companies, and universities to promote the roles and the skills to the next generation. Our aim is to close the gap and find more exceptional women for the analytics and technical space.! WHO HAVE BEEN / ARE THE MOST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE / MENTORS IN YOUR CAREER? Two people very dear to me and who were fantastic mentors were men, which we love to see! Men should be allies and supporters of women and help to inspire the next gen. My previous manager in my current role, Mike Hull, presented me with so many opportunities. I came into his team as a graduate with poor confidence in public speaking and in my own abilities, comparing myself to the rest of the team and people who had years of experience. Through his support I became a confident speaker, giving presentations at Director level, to External Companies and so on. My learning and development soared with his guidance, and I began to contribute ideas for the team and began to lead on projects, I am eternally grateful to him. My manager during my time as an apprentice, Malcolm Duffield. Mal inspired me as he is someone who started from developer/engineer and ended up as a senior manager. He had all the technical knowledge alongside managerial traits, but if you needed him, he’d drop everything and be there for you in whatever capacity. He ridded impediments in the workplace and gave me the study time and support needed. He surprised me by turning up at my graduation which made me emotional because he was there at the beginning of my career and at the end of my apprenticeship to watch me walk into new roles and opportunities. Melissa Tallack, someone who was interim manager in my current team and inspired me from the get-go. A female manager of many data teams, oozing with strategic direction whilst understanding the technical side of the roles, because she’d been in them! Melissa really ramped up my passion for representing women in technical roles and helping my department and company identify bottlenecks to help increase our female headcount.  YOU MENTIONED THAT YOU ARE AN ADVOCATE FOR NEURODIVERGENCE IN TECH. WHY DO YOU THINK IT IS IMPORTANT TO ENCOURAGE MORE FOLK FROM THE NEURODIVERGENT COMMUNITY TO JOIN THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF TECH? AND WHAT DO YOU THINK COULD BE DONE TO IMPLEMENT THIS? For me, I struggled to see a lot of my traits all my life as strengths, I was always very self-critical, and it heavily impacted my mental health never really understanding myself. I was diagnosed with ADHD as an adult and through therapy I am now able to see that it is because of who I am, I have thrived in my career. People with ADHD or fellow neurodivergent are often very creative individuals, good at problem solving, passionate about topics they are interested in and really care about what they do. From my diagnosis I have been very open about my journey and want to help others see their traits as strengths earlier than I did, hopefully to lessen impact on mental health but also to help others see their potential. So, because the Neurodivergent Community possess a lot of the traits and skills needed to work in tech, I think through early engagement and highlighting said traits as desirable, we can encourage more people to join our community. I have been working with other teams in my company to engage with schools and universities showing skills matrices of tech roles, telling my story, offering work placements, and shadowing so that the world of tech and all its amazing career opportunities can be show cased to the next gen at a young age. Obviously much more can be done. My manager Kacper and I have become advocates for the Neurodivergent community and plan to start LinkedIn blogs about our experiences to reach other companies and individuals. We plan to hold more awareness sessions in the company to help teams accommodate their neurodivergent colleagues. We are working with a neurodivergent recruitment specialist to offer future roles in our team, knowing such individuals should thrive in our heavily data oriented and problem-solving roles. I truly believe if company’s get rid of the job descriptions with the ‘must have’ experience and instead highlight the desirable skills, then more neurodivergent people will feel they can apply for roles in tech as they can relate more to the JD. TELL ME ABOUT YOUR HOBBIES OUTSIDE OF WORK. I UNDERSTAND YOU DO CROSSFIT AND OLYMPIC WEIGHTLIFTING. HOW CAN WE ENCOURAGE WOMEN TO TAKE UP SPACE IN AREAS THAT HAVE BEEN TRADITIONALLY SEEN AS MALE? I started CrossFit and lifting weights in lockdown, and it felt empowering, it became my unwind after a heavy workday or even after those difficult weeks we all experience. I still saw drilled in values in my family with grandparents telling me not to lift weights because I’d look ‘bulky’ or ‘like a man’, but rather than be offended it was more educating them on what I now know. I think we have seen a shift in what was traditionally male, and women are now being encouraged to go for the roles or participate in the sports. By becoming positive role models and sharing our experiences, what is good for our mental health and wellbeing, what has worked for us and makes us happy, it will encourage other women and the next generation to take these spaces too. Gone are the days where I feel I must conform to the beauty standards that were expected of women, especially what has been depicted on socials and through the media for decades and that’s from being in the environment and surrounded by other strong, healthy women. So, I always like to preach, lift the weights, and eat ALL the food. WHAT ARE YOUR PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENTS (PERSONAL OR PROFESSIONAL)? I was part of the team that created an Industry First, Customer Experience Digital Twin. Using many sources of corporate data, we produced a machine learning model that predicted which of our customers struggled to pay for their water bill and who may benefit from extra support. Within its first month of deployment and the actions we took from the insight, we had a 25% increase in customers signing up for our affordability tariffs and help schemes, thus seeing a significant difference in overall Water Poverty in the UK. Last year I was nominated for Award of Rising Star at the everywoman in Tech awards for my work in the Data Science space. I was thrilled that I became a finalist and even being nominated was a career goal for me. I graduated with a 1st Class Hons Degree. As someone with ADHD I struggled through school and sixth form, always feeling like I had to overcompensate and try so hard to get my target grades. Don’t get me wrong, I was thrilled with my results, but I know I had to put a lot of work in to get there due to the way I learn and take in information. I think it helped that I am so passionate about computer science so completing a degree in it, the coding, and the practical assignments, I made it my goal to graduate with a 1st and did just that. I bought my first house at 18 because I chose a Degree Apprenticeship over University. It was a goal of mine to save and own my own home rather than rent. This is not possible for all, but it was a goal of mine and I was so thankful to Northumbrian Water for the apprenticeship scheme and working full time as I was able to make that possible. ANY LAST WORDS OF INSPIRATION? It sounds cheesy but if like me you begin your career quite shy and lacking in confidence, find your allies, take every opportunity you are given even if it scares you. Because stepping out your comfort zone and challenging yourself is what opens your horizons and opportunities. If you have ideas to increase the number of women in tech, preach them, surround yourself with people in your company who will get involved and support your initiatives. To me your job doesn’t just stop at your job description, you can make it so much more, add the extracurricular activities to that as you go along and find what inspires you. You could really make a difference in your workplace and to someone’s life! Thanks Amber, you rock 🀘 Interview by Bella Snell  

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Mariam  Hussein | Slalom
WOMEN ROCK2023-11-07

Mariam Hussein | Slalom

"Fall seven times, get up eight.” This Japanese proverb really sets the scene for this week's Women Rocker Mariam Hussein, whose phone screen holds the mantra "it all works out" to remind her, that perseverance and resilience pay off in the end. Mariam works as a full-stack engineer at Slalom, is a UN Women Delegate and a Code First Girls Ambassador and her journey into tech has taught her that even the best-laid plans, sometimes don't work out. Originally looking to study and learn about how to improve workplace wellbeing in the UK and Japan, the global pandemic put an end to that dream with a tough marketplace and little opportunity. But, undeterred, Mariam discovered her skill in coding when she came across the incredible Code First Girls, an initiative to transform the tech industry by providing the skills, space, and inspiration for women to become amazing developers.  From having candid and passionate conversations with H.I.H Princess Tomohito of Mikasa in Tokyo about how young people need to start upskilling to keep up with the ever-evolving tech world, to working with Code First Girls to give those from underrepresented groups a pathway into tech, Mariam continues to persevere to help diversify the ever-changing tech landscape.  THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SPEAKING WITH ME TODAY, TO START US OFF, TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR STORY SO FAR. So, I was born and raised in Manchester and my career in tech and my journey into tech is an unconventional one. My initial passion was to study and learn about how to improve workplace wellbeing in the UK and Japan. Unfortunately, I graduated during the COVID-19 pandemic and not only was the job market tough but there were little to no opportunities to pursue this academic passion of mine. It was during this time that I worked at my university's incubator, and I came across the growing demand for people in technical and non-technical roles to support a lot of tech-based initiatives. I then gave myself a couple of months to learn how to code and to see if I even liked coding. It was during this time, that I came across the Code First Girls organisation which provided accessible ways for women and non-binary coders to get into tech. Currently, I work as a full-stack engineer at Slalom, which delivers digital transformations using modern tech stacks for our clients.  Currently, my focus has been on digital skilling advocacy and promoting accessible support for new techies in Manchester. My efforts include being a content creator to provide accessible information and insights on how to enter tech, but also what to do once you’ve entered your first tech job.  I NOTICED ON YOUR LINKEDIN THAT YOUR CURRENT FOCUS IS ON INCREASING DIVERSITY IN THE WORLD OF TECH, SPECIFICALLY THROUGH CODE FIRST GIRLS. COULD YOU TELL ME A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT THIS? Through Code First Girls, we have been focusing on transforming tech by providing the skills, space, and inspiration for women to become amazing developers, data whizzes and future leaders in tech. We have the largest community of coders, instructors, and mentors who provide free access to coding education and help more women break into the industry. What makes Code First Girls particularly amazing is that we partner with local and global businesses to connect them with talent to provide their first step into tech. Currently, we’ve taught around 145,000+ people how to code over the past few years, with over 55% being from underrepresented communities.  Aside from my work with Code First Girls, I’ve been focusing on creating content. It’s primarily aimed at those looking to enter the tech industry, or what next steps they should take once they get that first role. I found that opportunities such as Code First Girls, the Skills for Life Bootcamp, the Institute of Coding, and more are only known if people are aware of these opportunities and where they can take you. With this, my content’s focus has been on educating people on roadmaps into tech, and how to navigate your first year as an engineer. It’s important for me to showcase these opportunities for women and marginalised communities. Throughout my past year as an Engineer, I’ve engaged with local communities, organisations and events to talk about how to get into tech, but more importantly how organisations can support them. My most recent focus has been an internal panel at the BBC to help provide insights to senior leadership and hiring managers on how to best support their diverse talent, but also attract a variety of talent.  Although I do work with Code First Girls and by myself, there has been an immense amount of effort brought on by a variety of organisations to promote intersectionality in tech. For those looking to tackle their first role in tech or to just upskill themselves – check out what’s happening in the North! We have so many opportunities from apprenticeships, boot camps, academies, and community efforts. πŸ˜€  COULD YOU TELL ME A BIT MORE ABOUT YOUR RECENT ENGAGEMENTS IN JAPAN?  My work as the UK Delegate for MIRAI relates back to my previous master's in workplace relations in Japan. Being part of the MIRAI Programme was an opportunity to learn about Japan’s economy, business and sustainability initiatives, but it also really gave me a lot of appreciation for Japanese culture. The highlight for me was presenting our learnings back to Japan's Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and being able to really see the social and economic trends in Japan. Since then, I went on the Top Outstanding Young Persons Award Programme with JCI Osaka. This was an opportunity for me to bring what I do in my current role as a Software Engineer to talk about all things technology, digital skilling, and the mindset needed to transition to a Web3 landscape. On top of connecting with some amazing people making amazing changes in Web3 and Tech, I had the opportunity to present to students how Web3 can be used to improve labour and human rights issues globally. My focus was to tie in my current tech knowledge with my previous research during my Masters. Throughout this trip, the message I left with Kansai’s population is in order to make the change to Web3, existing companies need to be more open to general digital transformations and utilising Web2.0 technologies to create a ‘Web2.5’ for them to easily utilise and benefit from Web3.0. Alongside this, my other focus was to encourage students to consider digital skilling and the impact it can have on their careers and professional toolkits. The world is ever increasingly becoming more digital – in work, life, and even leisure. Being able to understand those changes and work with them is essential for our future. It was this particular topic I was able to talk about with H.I.H Princess Tomohito of Mikasa in Tokyo and was a particularly engaging conversation as she was excited and passionate about Japan’s youth developing the mindset for technological changes.   HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT DIVERSITY IN THE WORLD OF TECH AND WHAT ELSE DO YOU THINK COULD BE DONE TO SUPPORT PEOPLE FROM A DIVERSE BACKGROUND? There is a lot happening in Manchester. From increased diversity in a lot of companies to opportunities to enter tech, and even the thriving community and ecosystem we have to uplift new and existing talent. However, I personally found there can be a lack of representation at the top levels of companies within Manchester.  There are a lot of amazing and talented people who come into organisations, and a lot of effort needs to be put in to ensure companies can retain and celebrate their diverse talent. It’s important because when we’re making software, solutions, or digital products for people to use, we need to consider all types of people who will use them. If the primary designers, coders, and individuals making the key decisions for organisations don’t have the insights and understanding of all their audiences, it can cause our digital solutions to not meet all the needs of our users.  The other aspect to this is if organisational decisions or changes need to be made, having diverse leadership with an awareness of what their employees’ needs are can help cultivate and nurture an environment that enables their talent to flourish. Over 50% of women leave their tech roles before age 35, but 81% would have stayed if they were given chances to upskill in their roles. Ensuring you have knowledgeable, talented, and diverse leadership starts with attracting, retaining and uplifting existing talent! DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR YOUNG WOMEN OR PEOPLE FROM DIVERSE BACKGROUNDS IN THE INDUSTRY? See what you like! There’s a lot out there and you don’t need to go into technical roles. Although I advocate for techies and those learning to code, over 82% of jobs now need digital skills. Learn a new language, software, tool, or skill set. Put yourself out there to learn something new. If it doesn’t work out, the fact you went and learned something new is still amazing. I thought I’d never have to rely on my niche knowledge of Japanese Workplace Practices, but I was able to leverage that knowledge in my recent engagements in Japan.  The other aspect is to find a community and build with them. There are so many passionate people in Manchester advocating for women in tech but also for diverse talent and experiences in tech. If you’re unsure of where to start, there are many groups you can join that have meetups, workshops, and activities for you to build your network and skills. I found when I started to engage with the local ecosystem and started to understand what was happening in Manchester – I got a lot more opportunities to contribute and engage with others. At the end of the month, there will be The Manchester Tech Festival, which is a week-long mix of tech events, socials, and opportunities to meet others. Signing up for events like these is an opportunity to meet diverse talent, but also tap into potential resources and networks! A QUOTE OR A MANTRA THAT YOU LIVE BY? Discipline over motivation The idea to always work towards something slowly, regardless of the passion or goal. I found myself that focusing on small habits every day – like coding a little bit or prioritising my physical/mental health helped me achieve my goals! It all works out.I have this on my phone screen to remind me to keep having and adopting an optimistic perspective on things. This has helped me during a lot of difficult times and has prompted me to build my resilience and perseverance when needed. I will say it’s important to know when to tap into your community for help and not take everything on at once. But a mix of community help and resilience has supported me so much!   Thanks Mariam, you rock 🀘 Interview by Rob Marsh

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Carla Ruiz Martinez | Bippit
WOMEN ROCK2023-10-31

Carla Ruiz Martinez | Bippit

Did you know a mere 22% of autistic adults are in some kind of paid employment? No, neither did we until we met this week's incredible Women Rocker Carla. Carla is a woman on a mission. A mission to revolutionise how tech companies engage with and support the neurodivergent community. Carla's own personal experience as an autistic woman in tech has unfortunately meant she now deals with imposter syndrome and her journey has been more of a fight to get where she is now. But don't for a second think this is a story of woe...that would be far from the truth. This is a story of strength, perseverance, integrity and full to the brim with advice for companies who are missing out on the hugely talented minds within the neurodivergent community! From re-writing job descriptions to having an "Employee Directory" Carla's tips and advice are golden. As we come to the end of ADHD Awareness Month we celebrate all the neurodivergent folk out there, smashing it in the tech industry and beyond πŸ‘ŠπŸ‘ŠπŸ‘Š HEY CARLA, WELCOME TO WOMEN ROCK. I’M SO EXCITED TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY SO FAR. YOU’RE CURRENTLY A SENIOR DESIGNER AT BIPPIT, HAVE YOU ALWAYS KNOWN YOU WANTED TO BE IN TECH?  Hey there! I'm so happy to be a part of Women Rock – thanks for the warm welcome! You know, diving into Tech wasn’t initially on my radar. University days had me dreaming about design studios. All the projects and examples shown were rooted in those environments, making them seem like the ultimate dream. But, as it turns out, many of these studios weren’t my kind of place. With their heavy drinking culture and endless social events, they weren’t exactly a great fit for someone like me with autism. Now that I work in Tech, I realise it is where I was meant to be. I love the challenges that come with a product, how to make users’ journeys smoother, the neverending path to innovation… There is always a new challenge for me. And Tech companies are usually pretty good in terms of benefits: I get tons of perks at Bippit, such as ‘Me Days’ for when I am not feeling myself, and professional coaching. And here's the best bit: Tech is bursting with companies driven by meaningful missions. Take Bippit for instance. One of their core objectives is ensuring everyone has equal access to financial education. This is close to home for me. Growing up, I saw the financial struggles my family faced, which made me wary of spending on myself. My understanding of money was skewed, to say the least. But, thanks to guidance from my coach at Bippit, I’ve managed to fix my relationship with finances and even set aside a budget for mental health therapy. Tech is changing people’s lives, and I love being a part of that.  WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE TO DATE? Being taken seriously. In one of my first jobs, I was rejected. They had gone with somebody who, according to them, had more experience. Surprisingly, a few days later, they told me I was hired. When I joined the company, their designer reached out to me because she didn’t agree with how they had acted. She let me know the first time I was not hired because I am Spanish and the other candidate was British. But the other candidate wasn’t great, so they got rid of them and hired me instead. The designer had insisted on hiring me from the start: I had done very high-quality work and she didn’t understand why they would go with somebody that didn’t fit the job requirements. During my time there, I always went above and beyond, despite frequently being met with racist comments from both clients and my boss. On my last day, my boss tried to make me work for free on a personal project for him, lying to me and saying it was a company project. When I challenged him about this, his response was a threat. Needless to say, I was very happy I left. But that made me realise a grim reality: as a foreign disabled woman, it will take a lot of work to be taken seriously. I have proven my expertise: at the age of 23, I was headhunted to become a Senior Designer, an accomplishment that not many people can claim. But this isn’t enough for many businesses. There was always a designer who was thought to be better than me, just because he was a man and he was older. Regardless of the fact that they would ask me to teach them how to use their design programs; regardless of the fact that every time-critical or important project was assigned to me; when it came to who would be getting a promotion, they would tell me either the man would become my senior or they would hire an external “old man” to do that job. In my current company, I am trusted and valued. They listen to me. I finally have a say in things. It has taken me 3 years of hard work, nights of study and improvement, tons of scary projects and tears, lots of showing people my worth and being ignored… As a result of how I have been treated in the past, I now deal with imposter syndrome. We need to teach women and girls we are worth it. We work very hard to get where we are, nobody gifts us anything. We have to work twice as hard than our male counterparts to be taken seriously. We actually have to prove ourselves, time after time, to have a say in meetings that, on top of that, talk about our area of expertise. It is ridiculous. AND YOUR BIGGEST SUCCESS? Would you class being stubborn as a success? Honestly, it’s the main reason I am here. I never gave up. Many times I thought: “go back to Spain. There is a warm room and nice food waiting for you. Your family is there.” But I also knew that going back to Spain would have meant no future for me. Finding a job there is hard, finding a job that allows you to have a life is impossible. Salaries are very low, benefits are non-existent, and treatment of autistic people is poor, to say the least. Giving up would have meant living in my parents’ house for the rest of my life, with a job (if I was lucky enough to get one) that would barely pay for food. I am proud of fighting so much. I am proud of all the nights that I cried and didn’t give up. I am proud of all the times I told myself “It will get better, you are good, you just need that little push.” I am proud of not listening to the many rejections I got. Having the skills that I have wouldn’t have mattered if I went back to Spain. Women face many rejections in the workplace, regardless of our skillset, just for the fact of being a woman. We need to be stubborn to succeed. Always remember, you are here because of all the work you have put in. If they don’t value you, it’s their loss. WHY IS DIVERSITY IN TECH AND MORE SO DESIGN SO IMPORTANT? I love this question! I talk about this at work all the time. First of all, diversity is good everywhere. Teams that are diverse make better decisions 87% of the time, according to Forbes1. Having diversity also ensures young people have a role model. Did you know that I wanted to be an astrophysicist? But with a lack of female role models in astrophysics, I couldn't picture myself there and ended up being drawn to design. Diversity is especially important in Tech because not having diverse teams has dire consequences. Artificial Intelligence (AI) models have been mostly built, trained and tested by white men2. As a result, AI has a bias against People Of Colour (POC), women, LGBTQIA+ people, neurodivergent people… Did you know that Joy Buolamwini, a Black scientist in Boston, found out that an AI system recognised her better when she wore a white mask? Three experts have flagged this issue, but not many companies are listening. Leaving AI aside, there are tons of issues with products, particularly with their design. Let’s have a look at websites. WebAIM Million does an annual accessibility analysis of the top 1 million homepages. In 2023, it found that 96.3% of homepages had WCAG 2 failures4. WCAG, or the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, is a set of recommendations designed to ensure that web content is accessible and user-friendly for individuals with disabilities.  Despite recent efforts in diversity awareness, in the last 4 years the detectable WCAG issues have only been reduced by 1.5%. This is astonishing, considering how many guidelines there are out there indicating how to make what we do accessible. I have found that many times, this is due to a lack of diversity in the teams involved. A recent example of that was an advertisement by the Barbie movie5. Yes, the recent Barbie movie! I know it’s not technology, but it is a reflection that regardless of budget or size of the team, you need diverse people in order to make the best decisions. I saw on LinkedIn a post where they showed an underground stop sign. The Barbie movie team had covered the sign with a sticker. The stop now read Barbiecan instead of Barbican. The poster had praised the cleverness of the marketing team. People were applauding how witty it was. But I didn’t find it funny. First of all, British people may know what Barbican is, but someone like me, who is not native to the UK, doesn’t. So I wouldn’t have a clue of where I am. Second of all, I am autistic. And one of the things I have because of autism is no sense of direction. I cannot tell buildings or cars apart. I get lost going to the shop next to my house, the shop I can see from my window by the way. I can’t use GPS either. So imagine how I would feel arriving at the station, getting off the underground and seeing that sign. Add to this the fact that I do not understand train announcements because of auditory processing issues, and you get an incredibly anxiety-inducing situation. The Barbie team didn’t have the intention to hurt anybody. But by not having disabled people in mind, they did. Talking about social media… Almost all posts I see don't use CamelCase! CamelCase ensures screen readers can read the hashtag, improves readability, and creates a more user-friendly experience for all. I always let the authors know, but this is something that could easily be fixed by improving a company’s diversity. Did you know LinkedIn doesn’t use CamelCase in the “Talks about” section? You can see this in people’s profiles that have creator mode ON. Going back to design in Tech, accessibility issues happen ALL the time. Most apps I have on my phone aren’t accessible for colour-blind people or people with visual impairments. Not to mention the use of incredibly saturated colours, which gives me migraines because of my autism (I have sensitivity to light). There is no way to turn these down, so you have to deal with it. And don’t get me started on senseless trends… There was a “minimal” trend in design not a long time ago where everybody wrote the text as small as possible, and as tight as they could. It was unreadable, but they did it all for the sake of what they considered aesthetic. This is going to be a controversial opinion, but as designers, we have the duty to put people first. What we like doesn’t matter. If we want to make something aesthetic, we should make a personal project, or something artistic rather than a product that people are going to use, or a document people are going to read. DO YOU MIND IF WE TALK ABOUT NEURODIVERSITY AND SPECIFICALLY AUTISM? I STARTED WOMEN ROCK ALMOST 6 YEARS AGO AND IT WAS A PLACE FOR DIVERSITY BUT MAINLY AROUND GENDER. HAVING GONE THROUGH MY OWN JOURNEY BACK WHEN I WAS 12 AND MOST RECENTLY THIS YEAR WITH ANOTHER DIAGNOSIS, I WANT TO MAKE THIS A PLATFORM FOR REAL INCLUSIVITY. WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST PIECE OF ADVICE FOR SOMEONE WHO IS AUTISTIC LOOKING FOR A ROLE IN TECH RIGHT NOW? My biggest piece of advice is to pay special attention to the way a company writes its job posting: it can tell you so much about how they treat disabled candidates, and how they will treat you once you are employed. If they start with the benefits, it’s a green flag. Most companies write the benefits at the end as if this was a chore rather than something to be proud of. Why are they not shouting about them? Are they embarrassed? They probably know they aren’t offering enough. They probably also treat benefits as a tick-box exercise. Make sure to keep an eye on what benefits they offer as well. Pension is not a benefit, it is compulsory by law6. So unless they are giving you above minimum contributions (3% on the employer’s side), and they mention this, I would treat it as a red flag. Also, do they talk about diversity, or are they limiting it to that disclaimer that all companies have to include? You know, the statement that means absolutely nothing. That one that says “Oh, we are an equal opportunities employer…” Sure. But then they don’t offer adjustments in the interview. What can I say, I am pretty sceptical of those words. Look for things like interview accommodations. Do they mention they offer any? Do they have an actual statement about diversity? Do they mention any policies? Visible salary bands are vital too. Otta revealed that women are setting their salary expectations 7-20% lower than their male counterparts7. If a company posts their salary band, it makes it easier and fairer for everybody, as we don’t have to guess what the company will offer. Keep an eye on how they write the description. Do they want a wizard or have they written an actual job description? Autistic people like me take things very literally. So if you tell me you want a design wizard, I am expecting you to hire a cat wearing a witch hat. But if you call me by what I am, a senior designer, and give me a detailed list of requirements and responsibilities, then we are talking. And last but not least, check if they have any other autistic employees. Stalk their LinkedIn. If you find one, message them. It doesn’t hurt to ask for information, and nobody is better than an autistic employee to tell you how that company actually is for us. Remember, only 22% of us are in employment, 16% in full time paid employment8. Being unemployed is no reflection on you. Struggling in your job because of a lack of adjustments, is no reflection on you. It is a reflection on the many companies that refuse to support disabled employees. Don’t forget: your skills are valuable, we have unique abilities as autistic individuals that make us key team players. If you ever need to talk to someone, feel free to send me a Direct Message (DM) on LinkedIn!  THERE IS A HUGE AMOUNT OF GREENWASHING AROUND, COMPANIES STATING THEY ARE ‘INCLUSIVE’. I’M WITH YOU THAT INCLUSIVITY ISN’T A TREND OR A MARKETING STRATEGY. WOULD YOU BE ABLE TO SHARE YOUR TOP 3 TIPS ON WHAT A COMPANY CAN DO TO TRULY BE INCLUSIVE? I recently wrote an article about this for Neurodiversity in Business, you can read it here: “The Power of Autistic Minds: How to Tap into It and Why You Should” My top 3 tips would be: Revamp your job postings.Start with the benefits! Show that you are an actually inclusive employer, be proud of what you offer. Have disabled people in mind when creating and expanding your benefits offering: for example, professional coaching is very helpful for autistic people because it is hard for us to access the workforce and the education system is not made with us in mind. After listing your benefits, make sure to write about interview accommodations. By being proactive you are letting us know you are an employer we can trust. In the role description, be as descriptive as possible and avoid vague language. You can read more about this in the article I listed above. Educate yourself and your workforce.But do not put that responsibility on your disabled employees’ shoulders A lot of companies rely solely on disabled employees to educate the workforce. This is often unpaid and adds to the already heavy weight we have to lift every day, as society does not adapt to include us. A good way to educate yourself and your workforce is to invite external speakers to talk about it. These workshops allow employees to ask any questions they may have and it is also a great opportunity to train managers. Another way to educate the workforce is having an Employee Directory, just like we do at Bippit, where employees can write about themselves, their hobbies, how they like to be managed, their preferred mode of communication, how they like to receive feedback… It’s a great way to learn about adjustments, and it also makes disabled peoples’ lives easier. For example, as an autistic person, I struggle with socialising. It drains me so much to think about conversations I am going to have. By reading the Directory, I can think of topics to bring up or maybe things we have in common ahead of time. It also removes the weight from my shoulders of having to meet everybody when I first join a company. This Directory also helps others in how to give me feedback: for instance, I need direct language and examples when given constructive feedback. I prefer written communication over verbal because I struggle with auditory processing issues. It is a win-win situation for everyone.Make sure to also follow disabled voices online. Lived experiences are vital in creating a better environment. For example, I post a lot of tips for both employers and employees, you can check my LinkedIn profile here. Thanks to one of my posts, many people learned about the Sunflower Lanyard scheme. It is a card you can order with your hidden disability and it lets other people know how to help you. It is super useful in airports. You could link these profiles to a Notion page, or maybe share them in Slack, so your employees can have a look at them.On top of that, you can follow organisations like Neurodiversity in Business, who post interesting reports and articles on how to make businesses a better place for disabled people. Practise what you preach.I have spoken with many disabled employees who say that, even though their companies look good on paper, in reality, they don’t practise what they preach. This is usually due to a lack of actionable policies and unclear reporting processes. Yes, you may have the policies written down, but are they actually being followed? Are you creating a safe space for disabled employees to report if something bad has happened? Or if they have any opinions on how to improve the workplace. To ensure policies are followed, you need to provide training for everybody, including C-Suite. You also need to have a feedback loop with employees, perhaps submit an anonymous survey every quarter to check how things are doing, if policies are being followed and how to improve. I have seen so many employee surveys that don’t include this information!But being a great employer isn’t limited to policies. You should take an active part in the support of disabled people during the year. For example, run a charity event during Autism Awareness Month to raise funds for an autism charity. Outside of awareness months, run workshops to educate the workforce, and ensure work activities are inclusive by offering remote options on top of in-person events (you could have a remote pizza cooking class!)...  WHAT’S NEXT FOR CARLA? Since I was diagnosed in early 2023, I realised there is a lack of disabled women role models in design. I want to become that role model for young girls so that when they are in university, they see me and realise it’s possible to go up the corporate ladder as a disabled person. I also wanna be a support for women who are pursuing design careers. I want to be there for them, I want to listen to them, talk about our experiences, and inspire them to keep fighting for the place they want and deserve!  And I want to transform companies because I have the privilege of having experienced how amazing it is to work for an actually inclusive employer. I have already spoken to quite a few to improve their approach to diversity! For example, a very well-known design studio now offers remote options for disabled employees thanks to a conversation I had with them. Going back to wanting to become a role model, most of the big names in design are men. All the seniors I have met are neurotypical men. Did you know that some 79% of female designers have changed careers to another field?9 This is due to the many inequalities we face. I am hoping to one day become a Chief Creative Officer (CCO), or something along those lines, to show everybody it is possible, despite it being a male-dominated industry. We need more women in leadership, we need more people fighting for equal opportunities. And that is what I want to do!  ANY BOOKS OR PODCASTS YOU’D RECOMMEND? Definitely! My favourite book is The Little Prince. I know the author didn’t have autism in mind, but The Little Prince is the perfect depiction of autism in my opinion. He is curious, he sees the world differently. Unlike adults, in this case, society, the Little Prince questions everything (just like autistic people do!).  He places a lot of value in what he likes, and he is very specific about it: his special interests are his rose and his lamb. Two particular entities. Even though there are millions of roses and lambs, he likes those specific two. Autistic people are very similar. For example, I am obsessed with the side profile of the boars in Rimworld10. Yes, that specific. My boyfriend is not allowed to eat the boars in the game because of this, and all boars need to be pets and given immortality or I will cry. People don’t understand the love the Little Prince has for his rose, just like some neurotypical individuals don’t understand us whenever we talk about our interests. “Grow up” is two words I hear a lot as soon as I mention my passion for Rimworld boars’ side profiles. The Little Prince follows specific routines on his planet, just like we have our own routines we don’t break. And when these break, both the Little Prince and autistic individuals suffer. Also, the Little Prince challenges the nonsensical universe he lives in. He is not like the banker who hoards stars or the king who rules on his solitary planet. When he meets them, he asks questions that unsettle them. Questions that, to everybody on Earth, make sense. Because we don’t live on a planet that hoards stars as currency. But think about all those times that autistic people have raised their voices and others haven’t understood our struggles. Maybe we don’t hoard stars, but we are forcing people to go back to in-person environments when it’s not necessary. And when autistic people say no, we are told to deal with it or face unemployment. Society doesn’t comprehend the Little Prince because he is different, and they try to make him fit their norms to no avail. Autistic people have to constantly challenge our environment. Things were not made with us in mind, we have to fight to create a world where we are welcome. When I feel misunderstood, alone, lost, or doubting myself, or anything negative, I open my Little Prince book and I read it. It is very short, but it fills my heart with so much warmth. So yes, I recommend The Little Prince to both autistic and neurotypical individuals. I think it will help others understand our perspective. And it can be a great support for autistic people when they aren’t feeling well. In terms of podcasts, The Sunflower Conversations is a must. It features a wide range of people with hidden disabilities talking about their experiences. This is very helpful to ensure proper accessibility in Tech: there are so many things we do not know because we don’t get to hear disabled people’s lived experiences very often! But it is also great on a personal level: we need to constantly improve our knowledge of all disabilities, as well as diversity matters, to be able to make this world a better place for everybody.  IF YOU WERE A SONG, WHAT SONG WOULD YOU BE? You know the song Phoenix by Raizer? It's about overcoming challenges and rising stronger. It also speaks about revolution. Honestly, it feels like it's about me. At the age of 20, I was faced with a tough decision: continue my studies in Spain or find work in the UK. I chose to work. It was very challenging, I was living in a tiny house with four other people, with no electricity in my room. I remember being incredibly cold because the windows were broken and the heater didn’t work (obviously, no electricity). The bed I slept in was broken. I went from surviving on 10p a day to becoming a Senior Designer in just 3 years. All of this while struggling with undiagnosed autism and tons of mental health issues: anorexia, body dysmorphia, depression, anxiety… Life was hard, I cried almost every day but I never gave up. I was stubborn, I have always been. And it paid off. Being an autistic woman, I've faced my fair share of challenges. But like a phoenix, I rose above them. I once believed my autism held me back, especially remembering my school days, where I had no friends. But now, it's my strength! Because of the experiences I have lived, I am now advocating for autistic people in the workplace. I have started my own revolution, just like the phoenix in the song. Thanks, Carla, you rock 🀘Interview by Alicia Teagle

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Becky Tsao | ITV
WOMEN ROCK2023-10-24

Becky Tsao | ITV

Meet Becky, an Engineering Manager at ITV who is shaping the future of technology and the workplace. Becky is an influencer - not the type you'll find endorsing protein, standing in tree-pose on the top of a mountain...oh no! Instead, she is a leader who wields influence to build thoughtful, high-performing, and inclusive teams and workplaces, knocking down the barriers that she has come across far too often as a woman and ethnic minority.  Becky's thoughts and views on ED&I in tech are so insightful and Just. Make. Sense. From why women can be more susceptible to motion sickness- while using VR, to how CVs are reviewed which could lead to someone getting or not getting a job interview - she reminds us all that "diversity in tech is important because there's diversity in humanity" Get your mind blown this morning and read Becky's story... PLEASE COULD YOU START BY TELLING US ABOUT YOUR TECH JOURNEY? I started my career as a graduate technical consultant after graduating in Computer & Information Engineering for BAE Systems in its financial services department.  I spent a few years working to deliver social network analytics solutions in spaces such as insurance and trade finance for various clients. Eventually, I was a technical lead, leading implementation teams. I wanted a new and meaningful challenge, so then moved into the law enforcement side of the business, where I worked on projects including a proof of concept for early detection of child abuse which was featured in the New Scientist and building bespoke data engineering solutions. During my time as a consultant technical lead for various projects, I found that I needed to wear different hats, ranging from coaching people to technical design. I loved all of these things, but wanted to see what engineering was like in the commercial sector as well as explore my passion for people development - I'm at a point in my career where I want to learn more about people and organisations; the variety and depth that different people bring can be so unique. I'm now working as an Engineering Manager at ITV (working on the ITVX streaming app!) managing two teams. YOU’VE MOVED FROM CONSULTANCY INTO A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT INDUSTRY. CAN YOU TELL ME WHAT IMPACT (ED&I OR IN THE INDUSTRY IN GENERAL) YOU WOULD LIKE TO MAKE? One of the reasons I really enjoy being an Engineering Manager is the opportunity to influence the shape of teams and workplaces. I want this shape to be a thoughtful, high-performing, and inclusive one, as I don't believe that these qualities are mutually exclusive. I also want it to be one where women and other minorities in tech aren't unusual.  WHY IS DIVERSITY IN TECH SO IMPORTANT? As a society, we are becoming more and more reliant on technology to augment or create shortcuts in our lives. You can have a small team working on something that could impact thousands of lives. You are ultimately designing products for humans to use (directly or indirectly), and if you have a limited worldview within that team, you are likely to build something that doesn't handle all the cases it needs to. Something like name field validation can look very small on a project plan or as a ticket but can lead to people being told that their name isn't valid because it's not long enough, doesn't have a vowel, or has "unexpected" punctuation. Women can be more susceptible to motion sickness after using a Virtual Reality headset - not because of biology, but because headsets are often designed for male heads by default. Humans can be biased, so we need to be careful about training that unnecessary bias into our machine learning algorithms, especially if they're being used to, such as sifting CVs which could lead to someone getting or not getting a job interview, or whether social services should visit that child or not.Ultimately, diversity in tech is important because there's diversity in humanity. If we're not aware of that in what we build, then it's just not going to be truly fit for purpose.  CAN YOU SHARE WHAT BARRIERS YOU HAVE FACED DURING YOUR CAREER TO DATE AND WHAT HAS HELPED YOU OVERCOME SOME OF THESE BARRIERS? Throughout my career, I have often been either the only woman or ethnic minority in the room - or both! There is that saying about "having to work twice as hard to get half as far" and without getting into too many specifics I have definitely had that experience. I've had the stereotype of suggesting something where it wasn't taken on board until a white man re-suggested it, and I've also had experiences where I felt like I was being held to a different standard to my colleagues. Studies have shown that women and ethnic minorities are more likely to be penalised more heavily for making the same mistake compared to their peers, and I feel like I can relate to that. That pressure of being the sole representation of a certain group can get a bit heavy. I have found that a combination of being clear on expectations as well as seeking out more inclusive teams to be really beneficial for my professional and mental wellbeing. I also love my role as an Engineering Manager at ITV because I can help to change processes to dismantle some of these barriers for other people. HOW HAS MENTORSHIP OR SUPPORT FROM OTHERS IMPACTED YOUR JOURNEY OR SUCCESS?  So much! I owe a lot to my previous manager at BAE Systems, Clare Cornforth, who is an extremely accomplished architect. I could be so confident that she cared about my development and wellbeing, and that she trusted me, but she also didn't hesitate to call me out on mistakes. I also had a fantastic mentor at BAE Systems a few years ago in Jo Massey who is just such an inspiring and insightful leader. Being exposed to great role models really shows you the art of the possible sometimes. I'm also very fortunate to be surrounded by a strong cohort of Engineering Managers where I'm not the only woman or ethnic minority, and we're all very good at supporting each other with various issues that come up at work.  WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHERS STARTING IN THE INDUSTRY? Be ready to learn, find the learning opportunity in everything you do, and don't specialise too early. Role models are amazing but remember that you're your own person with your own brain, and that you don't have to be exactly like the senior people in your company. Also, get used to the idea of networking - even if it's just the ability to small-talk with a stranger - and ask questions; the sooner you build these skills the easier they are to maintain.  IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE THAT INSPIRES YOU OR WOULD YOU LIKE TO TALK ABOUT? I think inspiration can be found in all sorts of situations and people; you just need to be open to seeing it. I really love seeing a 'spark' in people when they're engaging in problem-solving and coming up with ideas, so a big motivation for me at work is enabling people to showcase their skills.  SOMETHING FUN TO ROUND THE INTERVIEW OFF - WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE QUOTE OR MANTRA YOU LIVE BY? I'm not really a quote or mantra person but I do like these two words: "Be Brave!". Sometimes they're just what you need to hear before you go and do something a bit scary. :)  Thanks Becky, you rock 🀘 Interview by Gracie Sparks

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Neela Rai | Glue Reply
WOMEN ROCK2023-10-17

Neela Rai | Glue Reply

As kids, we weren't entirely sure what our dads did every day as they left the house, briefcase in hand and tie swinging while we shovelled soggy cornflakes into our mouths. He'd then return from saving the world (?) with stories of "firewalls" "bugs" and "crashes" as we wondered where he kept his laser gun...So when Neela Rai decided a career in tech was her destiny, she turned to the one person who had ALL the answers when it came to this complex and fascinating world - her dad. With his 30-year career in IT as a database developer, Neela's dad not only offered knowledge and advice but invaluable support and perspective as she joined as a grad at Glue Reply.  So this one's for all the dads who spoke in code before we could, but more importantly, became our allies when navigating this male-dominated industry. TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF AND WHAT YOU DO Hi, my name is Neela and I'm a Business Change Consultant at Glue Reply. I joined as a grad and I've been at Glue for two years now. I have a BSc in Economics and Management and an MSc in Computer Science. I’ve loved the range of work I’ve been exposed to during my time at Glue. I've worked on digital transformation projects for both public and private sector clients as a business analyst and a user researcher. I’m really interested in how data analysis can be used to make more informed decisions in both user research and business analysis and love working in such a fast-growing field! I love learning new skills and haven’t stopped studying alongside working. I'm currently studying to get my BCS International Diploma in Business Analysis.  YOUR BACKGROUND IS INTERESTING, TALK US THROUGH YOUR MOVE FROM AN ECONOMICS DEGREE INTO A COMPUTER SCIENCE MASTERS I've always had a really keen interest in technology and people, so I thought naturally, a career in consulting would merge two of my interests together. However, when I graduated with an Economics degree I wasn’t the best candidate for a job in tech, and I struggled to find a job in the market no matter how much I was reassured by recruiters. I was told that technology companies like "people with business degrees because of our ability to articulate ourselves and communicate with others," but it felt like that wasn't always the case when you compared my application to someone who had three years of studying a technology-related degree. As a result, when I graduated, I panicked and took the first job that was offered to me  -  an audit role, even though I knew I had no interest in audit! Safe to say after 6 months I handed in my notice because I wasn't enjoying it. I took some much-needed time off, and then the pandemic happened. I was toying with the idea of doing a postgraduate course but wasn't sure what direction I wanted to go in, I’d considered going into strategy, behavioural economics or something tech-related, like computer science. What drove me to choose tech was spending time with my dad.   During the pandemic, my Dad inspired me to look into SQL and databases as they rely on logic and the answers are black and white and, as he knows, I thrive in logic-based work. After this discussion, I finished a couple of database courses and loved them. I continued to learn and took some courses in software engineering and found that I enjoyed both coding and database design. At this point, I knew that a career in tech was what I wanted and what I found exciting. I applied for jobs in tech but they still wanted people with relevant work experience. It was at this point that I decided I wanted to do a Master's so I could get qualified and widen my job opportunities. I remembered a conversation I had with a friend after graduating where she mentioned her interest in a Computer Science conversion course.  I did some research on universities, courses, and modules offered, and I ended up applying to and getting accepted at the University of Birmingham for their MSc Computer Science course. The course is specifically designed for people who haven’t studied computer science at undergrad. The course was great as it was paced perfectly. I could learn a lot quickly, but also had the time to practice what I was learning. This gave me the time to find out what I liked about Computer Science. I finished my masters with a project that developed a  web app that would suggest Spotify playlists to Twitter users based on the emotion and sentiment detected in their Tweets.  DID YOU HAVE ANY ROLE MODELS THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER THAT ENABLED THIS? Yes! My family has always encouraged me to explore all the opportunities presented to me but it was really my Dad who's been my biggest role model. He's a database developer and he was the first person to suggest I try programming. He's been in the IT industry for over 30 years and it amazes me how much he knows and how he’s watched the industry change. He's a very knowledgeable person and has always helped me when I needed career advice or help in my core programming modules. My family have always made me feel like I could do anything I wanted no matter what.  WHAT DO YOU THINK THE TECH INDUSTRY COULD BE DOING DIFFERENTLY, TO ADDRESS UNDER-REPRESENTATION? Personally, I think the tech industry could do a lot but I understand change is incremental. As a female working in tech, I know that we're severely under-represented at all levels across the industry. I read a statistic the other day from Wise that said the number of women IT professionals has actually fallen from 21.0% to 19.9%, and 21.0% was very low to begin with. There's a multitude of things the tech industry could be doing differently to address under-representation, my three key suggestions are education, awareness and visibility. We need to start encouraging women early on to join the IT industry and inform young women on the opportunities available. If we start promoting the IT industry, and the roles available in the early years of education, then women will be exposed to career opportunities in the IT industry at the start rather than considering it as an afterthought or "second choice". If we educate people early on, we can also debunk the myths surrounding opportunities and roles available in the tech industry. When we think of the tech industry, people predominantly think of software engineers, a lot of coding and people stuck at their desks. Firstly, the majority of those people are men and secondly, there’s the perception that the technology industry is only cool if you're a programmer. There are so many "non-technical" roles in technology. To name a few there is project management, product management, business analysis and user research. These roles are often referred to as "fluffy" or not that complex but there's so much to what we do. If you think of it, programmers solve problems by writing code and developing IT solutions but the roles I've mentioned above do the exact same thing through talking, prototyping and writing requirements - we're all contributing to solving the same problem just from different perspectives. In my eyes, I would still consider these as  "technical roles" because of the depth of understanding required to understand client problems in order to formulate ideas and solutions to help them. When advertising job opportunities, businesses could do more to raise awareness and bring context to these other roles. Finally, we need more visibility. It’s hard to join an industry where you don’t see yourself represented. We need more female role models and mentors at all levels, not just leadership positions. This stems from the idea that with more female mentors, we can encourage more women to join the industry, giving them a visual representation of what their career path could look like. I’m lucky that I work in a company with such an array of visibility across all levels. Since my first day at Glue, I was able to see what my career path could look like because I could see myself represented. YOU’RE PART OF THE TEAM AT GLUE REPLY AND YOU HAVE AMAZING CULTURE FROM WHAT I’VE EXPERIENCED. WHAT’S THE DRIVING FORCE BEHIND THAT TO MAKE IT SO GREAT?  The driving force is the people. Since my first day at Glue, I've always been encouraged to come into the office and meet the team and the senior consultants and managers around me have always made me feel welcome and included. I like the fact that Glue has created an environment where people can grow and develop their potential as consultants. We're all given positions of responsibility as soon as we join, and that enables us to take ownership of the things we do both internally, for business development, and externally to our clients. As well as this, I know my voice and opinion have always been valued and that applies to everyone. We're encouraged to speak up and make suggestions no matter how junior or senior you are at the company. WHAT PROFESSIONAL ADVICE WOULD YOU LIKE TO GIVE READERS WANTING TO GET INTO IT? Do your research! You have so much knowledge available to you through LinkedIn and other social media platforms - people are always sharing their journeys and providing advice. I took the non-traditional route to work in IT and I don't think it's talked about enough. There's this perception that you have to be able to code to work in IT and that really isn't the case. If you are looking to get into IT without an IT background, show your enthusiasm in the industry by taking courses, building a portfolio and networking. Employers are looking for enthusiastic and proactive people, so make sure that comes across in your CV and when you're interviewing. Make sure to keep your LinkedIn and Github (if relevant) up to date to showcase your skills and interests. Thanks, Neela, you rock 🀘 Interview by Charles Hoskins

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