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!

Go for it! Have confidence in your ability – An Interview with Corinne Sherman
WOMEN ROCK2018-11-27

Go for it! Have confidence in your ability – An Interview with Corinne Sherman

I first spoke to Corinne when we launched Bristol Technology Volunteers and quickly, we decided to partner with Bristol Free School after hearing about the brilliant things which Corinne is doing and trying to achieve. Now, Corinne isn’t very good at celebrating her achievements so I wanted to do it for her because she’s a bloody amazing person who heads up Computer Science and Design Technology at BFS and is having quite an impact on the young ladies to give technology a go! She is going to keep pushing relentlessly for Computer Science to be at the forefront of everything for the students and to ensure the future generations think and develop with ethical, environmental and cultural issues as a priority.COULD YOU TELL ME ABOUT YOUR ROLE AT BRISTOL FREE SCHOOL?I am Head of Computer Science and Design Technology at Bristol Free School and have been working here since 2016. Prior to this, I was Head of Computer Science, Business and ICT for 10 years at another school.YOU ARE A SELF-TAUGHT PROGRAMMER, HOW DID YOU TEACH YOURSELF TO CODE?Not really sure – it just kind of happened! Actually, thinking back it started when I was at university and I was offered a temp job at Boots HQ in their photographic department and I was asked if I could used Excel and I said yes. I was tasked with designing a basic system to keep track of vouchers used by customers. It was not by any stretch of the imagination an amazing system but it far surpassed my managers expectations and worked effectively and I resulted in my being offered a permanent role during my final year of university. At the same time, I helped my housemate complete his Computing project in FrontPage – you may not think this unusual given where I am now, but I studied Modern Foreign Languages and European Studies at university!With regards to programming ability now, I would never profess to be an expert but I like to be ahead of the game as much as I can in terms of what we can offer the students and enjoy the challenge of keeping my skills up to standard to support the students to the best of my ability. In my previous role I knew that I needed to change the curriculum offer to ensure Government changes to qualifications didn’t impact us negatively, as teachers or as students. We were teaching ICT at this stage rather than CS, so I taught myself how to use Adobe software such as Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Fireworks, Flash and InDesign proficiently to meet the needs of the qualifications we offered as well as Scratch. We then introduced to Computer Science as well as ICT which meant we had to introduce a wider range of skills at KS3 to prepare students for the new course including a software development units using HTML and Python to the level that was needed to deliver the current curriculum. I found I had the time to learn additional skills and basics in different languages before having my daughter but it is a bit trickier when you become a parent. I moved schools to be closer to home when she was 1 year old but it is harder to find (justify!) the time when you become a parent. I have been lucky enough to be able to redesign the curriculum at Bristol Free School including introducing A Level and discrete lessons in Year 7 and 8 but, like I said I like to be ahead of the game giving the students the opportunity build their skills in programming and theory from Year 7 has meant by the time students reach KS4 now, they are fairly proficient programmers and have a hunger to develop and learn more – I find myself delivering KS4 skills to KS3 students and KS5 skills to KS4 students and are large number are using these skills with ease.SINCE YOU HAVE BEEN HEAD OF CS, YOU HAVE RAISED THE PROFILE FOR YOUNG WOMEN TO GET INVOLVED IN COMPUTER SCIENCE, HOW HAVE YOU DONE THIS?Most important thing I did was dispel the myth of what computer science is and the stereotype of computer scientists! Making it clear that it is not just taking computer apart and making games and ‘for boys’ and the new specification at GCSE and A Level helps dispel this myth. The skills developed by learning computer science will ultimately make students better learners in all subjects – analytical skills, problem solving, resilience, thinking ahead, being reflective, understanding ethical responsibilities and of course creativity. Ensuring all students understand this is important so they get the most out of taking Computer Science but demonstrating and creating enthusiasm and excitement amongst girls at BFS is essential – sometimes it is the simple fact that young women that need to believe they can succeed in and benefit from studying Computer Science! And they can see the success that the girls before them have had here which is a bonus. We have also just appointed another female computer science teacher who is a not just a specialist but also a published specialist and we’re very excited about her joining the team. Finally, being female myself obviously helps raise the profile!WHAT DOES BRISTOL FREE SCHOOL DO TO PROMOTE COMPUTER SCIENCE TO THE GIRLS?I ensure that the curriculum is accessible to all students so avoid any emphasis on one gender or the other. This means all the real life examples we use in lessons must be just that, real life so we use examples from traffic management (eg traffic lights, air traffic control), travel (eg sat navs, driverless cars), health (eg self diagnosis, advances in medicine), education (eg cloud based resources, e-learning) and general lifestyle (eg online shopping, cyber security, gaming, home appliances in particular fridges!) plus the fact that their generation will be responsible for the future development in these areas which excites them! We have worked with Zan Nadeem, founder of Zobotics, to run Girls Only Arduino workshops which have been successful. We also run the Cyber Discovery competition to promote careers in Cyber Security and Bebras Computational Thinking competitions showcasing the success our girls have had in these national and international competitions.WHERE DOES YOUR PASSION FOR TECHNOLOGY COME FROM?when I was younger (primary school age) my parents bought an Amstrad CPC6128 and I used to enjoy going to the shops, buying my gaming magazine and programming the game then playing it as well as other bits of programming. I kind of lost interest during secondary school and didn’t have any opportunities in school to learn ICT or programming and didn’t give it a second thought other than using the computer we now had (I remember we had an Acorn!) When choosing my A Levels I thought about doing ICT but the school I went to didn’t offer it so went with languages. In my final year at uni, I had an old PC of my parents (think it was the one up from the Acorn at this point!) and even though this was 2002-3, no-one else I knew had a PC in their student house and I was the only student on my course who gave presentations using actual presentation software rather than acetates and an overhead projector!! During my PGCE I used technology a lot to produce resources and ran workshops to fellow trainees in a number of subjects about how to enhance teaching and learning. I took my portfolio along to the interview for my first teaching post and agreed to teach ICT as well as French and from then on I was more passionate about teaching ICT then languages. And this was at a time when we didn’t even have projectors in the classroom – myself and a fellow NQT shared the cost of a portable projector to use in the classroom so we weren’t limited to just using textbooks! After my first year there, I relocated back to Bristol and was appointed as teacher of ICT and became Head of Department a year after.YOU HAVE SAID YOU WANT BRISTOL FREE SCHOOL TO BE THE ‘BEST’ FOR COMPUTER SCIENCE, HOW ARE YOU GOING TO DO THIS? (AMAZING GOAL BTW)I am going to keep pushing relentlessly for Computer Science to be at the forefront of everything! Offering an exciting and varied curriculum in which students are engaged and eager to find out more. Other than that, ensure results from GCSE and A Level increase year on year and students make exceptional progress as that is what we are measured on! I am active on Twitter @BFS_CS and in our school newsletter as much as possible to promote the Faculty as well as the school.COULD YOU TELL ME A BIT ABOUT ONE OF YOUR STUDENTS CURRENT PROJECTS?Its hard to choose just one to talk about as I am very excited about all the projects that the students are developing or planning! One that comes to mind is a Year 12 girl who is described going an product to promote earthquake safety in Nepal. She is visiting Nepal with the school in the summer and will conduct market research and my Dad, who is Trustee of The Pahar Trust Nepal, has put her in touch with a contact in Nepal who trains locals in earthquake resilience as well as expertise from Bristol University. I always encourage students to focus their projects on designing that will support others or educate people about an issue as I think it is important that students understand how to be socially responsible when developing software and we have a responsibility as educators to ensure the future generations think and develop with ethical, environmental and cultural issues as a priority.YOU ARE LOOKING FOR VOLUNTEER SUPPORT AT THE MOMENT FOR YOUR STUDENTS, COULD YOU TELL ME WHAT HELP YOU ARE LOOKING FOR?We’re mainly looking for industry experts to guide and mentor students with the programming side of their project for example being available via email or video call to answer questions on how to approach part of their solution or improve their efficiency. Also looking for people to act as clients as the students have to develop a solution for a real problem with a client – this is an area that students struggle with!WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNG WOMEN WHO WOULD LIKE TO GET INTO TECHNOLOGY?Go for it! Have confidence in your ability – if you enjoy it and are succeeding it is because you have an aptitude for the subject! I wish I was at school now with the qualifications and opportunities that are actively encouraged. I do feel I could have been better advised regarding my options – I didn’t even know about computer science! Get involved in programming clubs and competitions at school as well as online forums and networks. There are so many options out there that you’ll be spoiled for choice!WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE GETTING WHERE YOU ARE TODAY?Confidence in myself and my own abilities! I know I am doing a great job, delivering fantastic lessons and have engaged students who making excellent progress – in fact love my job more and more every day and it is not often you hear that from a teacher! I am very fortunate; I have an incredibly supportive Senior Team and Trust who believe in me and support the decisions I make and I work with fantastic colleagues, amazing students and receive wonderful feedback from students and parents every week. There are a huge number of challenges facing education now, the main one being rapidly falling budgets which make it incredibly hard for schools when faced with rapidly rising costs and expectations on schools but I would not want to be doing anything else.AND YOUR BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT?All of the above. Making a positive change to young people’s lives!Thank you so much Corinne. You can drop me a message Alicia.teagle@sr2rec.co.uk if you’d like to hear about volunteering opportunities at Bristol Free School and follow Bristol Tech Volunteers on Twitter @Bristoltechnol1#womenrock

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‘Do or do not, there is no try’ An interview with Claire Rogers
WOMEN ROCK2018-11-13

‘Do or do not, there is no try’ An interview with Claire Rogers

We recently met Claire after a referral from the amazing Eriol Fox. Claire moved over to the UK and was looking for a role in Tech. After successfully finding her a job with a Fin-Tech in Bath I was really keen to discuss her career and wanted to find out about women in Tech in Thailand, where she says there isn’t really a gap, it’s an even 50/50 split. We also talked about what’s next for Fintech and her love for Marie Curie as learning about her taught her at a young age that women can do science!WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO PURSUE A CAREER IN TECH?I have always been interested in technology since I was young. I still remember when I first used a computer , it was very fascinating for a 12 year-old girl. Since that day, technology has become more and more involved in my life. Games and internet have got my full attention, and I believe that much more fascinating things will be invented around computing technology. I personally think that technology is very a powerful tool and it can make the world a different place. This is the reason why I presumed my career in technology so I can help make the world a different place, a better place.WHAT IS YOUR ROLE AS BUSINESS ANALYST?My role as Business Analyst is a bridge between the development team and business management. My main responsibilities are gathering requirements from business side, analysing requirements and creating software specifications for the development team. I also create and maintain documentation of requirements and business rules for change control.HOW DID YOU FIND A ROLE IN THE UK?A friend of mine recommended Alicia Teagle of SR2, so I contacted Alicia to discuss about a role I was looking for. After the discussion, Chris found me a Business Analyst role in a FinTech start-up which was exactly what I was looking for. The job matches my experiences and expertise and they were the reason why I have been hired. It was less than two weeks for the process. I would like to thank SR2 for their excellent work,ARE THERE MANY WOMEN WORKING IN TECHNOLOGY ROLES IN THAILAND?It is around 50-60% of women in technology in Thailand. I would say that the ratio of men and women working in technology is very similar. There are a few certain types of job such as System Administrator that prefer men over women because the work hours sometimes are late at night.WHY DID YOU MOVE AWAY FROM SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT INTO A BUSINESS ANALYST ROLE?When I was a Developer I didn’t have a Business Analyst or a system analyst in my team so I had to communicate with business side to clarify the requirements. As a Developer, my focus was on writing code so whenever I had to communicate to confirm requirements, it slowed my work down. Also after almost 2 years of working as a developer I discovered that I’m actually interested in analysing requirements.HAVE YOU ATTENDED ANY FEMALE FOCUSED MEET-UPS SINCE YOU HAVE RELOCATED TO BRISTOL?I haven’t been to any female focused meet-ups but I plan to in the near future.WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN LOOKING TO BREAK INTO THE FIELD OF COMPUTER TECHNOLOGY?My advice would be be confident and believe in your potential. I truly believe that in computer technology industry, skills, expertise and experience are the most important things.WHAT’S NEXT? WHAT ARE YOU WATCHING?I’m interested in Project Management and I’m trying to learn about project management from my responsibilities as a Business Analyst.WHAT’S NEXT FOR FINTECH?There will be more responsible, ethically-driven and improved accessibility to financial markets.SQUAD GOALS!Marie Curie – learning about her taught me at a young age that women can do science.Princess Ariel – she knows exactly what she wants and she goes for it.My old boss – she is my mentor and my role model as a woman in tech.Thank you for your time Claire, looking forward to seeing you soon#WOMENROCK

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“You only live once but, if you get it right, once is enough” – An interview with Georgia Stewart
WOMEN ROCK2018-11-06

“You only live once but, if you get it right, once is enough” – An interview with Georgia Stewart

The winner of ‘Future Spark’ at the sparkies earlier this year, a good friend of SR2’s, Co-Founder of Tumelo, and the organiser of Golang Bristol, she is defiantly one to watch! I spoke with Georgia about the future of sustainable investing, female mentors, wine, netball and mama mia.WHAT IS TUMELO?Tumelo (formerly ‘Hedge’) helps everyone to shape the future through engaged investing. Our app is designed so that our members can facilitate positive change by investing in portfolios that reflect their personal values; taking control of their finances and engaging with corporations to create a better future. People, like me, want to save more, invest more, learn more and engage more – we’re building an app to make that happen.YOU GRADUATED FROM CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY WITH A FIRST DEGREE IN NATURAL SCIENCE, NOW YOU HAVE FOUNDED A TECH COMPANY, WHERE DID THE IDEA COME FROM?Well my course was called “Natural Sciences”, but really, I just wanted to be a conservationist, so alongside Maths and Geology I took all the fluffy, biology subjects like climate change, ecology and conservation. Once I’d recovered from Freshers’ Week, I was looking to get involved in societies and stumbled upon Positive Investment Cambridge which was a small group of people working to ensure that the university engaged in the ethical and transparent investment of its £5bn endowment. So, I joined them, and every Monday, for 2 hours, for three years, we talked about sustainable investment; designed campaigns to involve students, and tried to cooperate with the council. Once I left I knew that was the way I could help to make a difference. For me ‘tech’ was just the best way to scale up our efforts.TUMELO IS DESIGNED TO ENGAGE THE NEXT GENERATION WITH SAVING AND INVESTMENT. THINKING ABOUT THE NEXT GENERATION OF FOUNDERS, HOW CAN WE ENCOURAGE WOMEN TO LAUNCH THEIR OWN TECH START-UP?At the risk of stereotyping, women seem to be more risk-averse and more conscientious than men. I see it with the three of us (my two co-founders are both guys and I’m definitely ‘the worrier’ among us) but I also see it in all of my UX testing: Women are less likely than men to invest, and when they do they are more cautious. I don’t think that’s just a matter of who controls the finances, because the ‘next generation’ of women are financially independent. It might be conditioning, or it might just be in our genes (que the nature/nurture debate…). Starting a tech start up is a high-risk activity, so I can totally see why the trend is as it stands.I didn’t have a female mentor when I first started, but I’ve found them along the way. Rosie Bennett at Bath’s SetSquared has been a great mentor, and I think the more women that women founders/would-be founders can surround themselves with, the better.I also think teaching both women and men that seeing and approaching things differently is so often a benefit. Start-ups are nearly always about people, and almost every problem you come across will be about communication. Generally speaking, we (women) are really good at that.HOW DID YOU GET INVESTMENT FOR TUMELO?We sought angel investment from people in the financial sector. Our lead investor is the out-going Head of Compliance at Goldman Sachs, for example. I pitched at Pitch at the Palace, a three-round pitching competition with the final at St James’ in London. The first round at Cheltenham Racecourse was my first ever pitch in front of other people – it was a good place to start!HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT RECRUITING FOR THE TEAM?We didn’t think about recruitment for the first 4 months, then suddenly, once we realised we were going to raise successfully, it was the only thing I could think about – all day, all night. And it was so stressful! The first thing I did was get a recommendation for a good recruiter in Bristol… and so that’s how I met Alicia. I went in to meet the team and she basically coached me on talent finding – it was amazing. I told her what I thought we needed, then I changed the brief, then I changed it again, then I changed it again. I must have been the worst client ever. Eventually we actually found the person we were looking for – Pilar – independently through a meetup group. Everyone looking to recruit should go to meetup groups… and try not to talk about yourself, even if people ask you, because it’s them you want to learn about.Henry, our class Junior Engineer and first ever hire actually worked with us for free for three months before we could afford to hire him. That’s the type of person you really want on your team. Since then everyone has been through word of mouth or an internship. Georgie was the best intern in the world, so we’ve trapped in an employment contract hoping she’ll never leave us… and when Wyc said he wanted to work for us Ben, Will and I were all gobsmacked because he was totally out of our league. When great people back you with their time, that’s when you finally start backing yourself.WHAT KEEPS YOU MOTIVATED?We have a purpose at Tumelo which is to facilitate a better future for everyone by influencing positive change in big corporations. That sounds complicated, but basically, we all come to work knowing that we’re trying to do something that could genuinely change people’s lives: financially and for the bigger picture. Plus, my family have backed me since the day I first said “I want to be a vet” when I was about 4. My path has changed a lot, but I still really want to make them proud.WHAT EXCITING THINGS ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?Georgie and I are currently working on the user experience (UX) and design (UI) of the app and web tools. It’s very fun and really tiring, but we’ve met lots of people in the community through our interviews which has been great. People have been really supportive; RSM even let us host an interview morning in their Victoria Street Offices. The rest of the team is busy building the back and front end of the app and Will, having submitted our FCA application for financial advisory permissions, is now erecting the company whiteboard!HAVE YOU EVER SUFFERED FROM THE IMPOSTER SYNDROME?ALL THE TIME. I felt it the whole way through Cambridge as a woman in science, the boys always seemed to talk louder, think faster (and bullshit better). But it’s not just about being a woman: All three of us are really young founders, in a really old, traditional industry. Feeling like an imposter is the whole point, because if we didn’t we wouldn’t be able to build the right product for the people who need it – the rest of the world. Finance is exclusionary, so we need to fight our own way in and then fight for everyone else to feel welcome too.FROM MEETING AND WORKING WITH YOU FOR A LITTLE WHILE I THINK I COULD ANSWER THIS ONE FOR YOU – I’M SURE YOU HAVE BEEN IN A ROOM FULL OF MEN, WHETHER THAT BE AT A ‘MEET-UP’, NETWORKING INVESTMENT OR BUSINESS MEETINGS, HOW DO YOU HANDLE THAT?Drink wine? Across four banking internships, I’ve spent a lot of time in rooms full of men. There’s no casual changing room chat; people aren’t used to talking about their siblings, kids or families at work; they haven’t seen Mama Mia; and they tend not to play lacrosse or netball. There’s definitely less to talk about at first glance. Then one day I went to a networking event for female investors in London and, trust me, it was equally terrifying in different ways. Moral of the story is that any kind of networking is uncomfortable, scary and tiring and you need to work hard to be good at it.WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE QUOTE?“You only live once but, if you get it right, once is enough”. – Mae WestSQUAD GOALS!You need a squad you can float around in the ocean with for 6 weeks without going bonkers. So, I would have to choose my core 2017 transatlantic sailing team:Dad – because he’s energetic and, amazingly, doesn’t annoy me over long periods of time (sorry mum).Erica – because she maintains balance and, amazingly, doesn’t get annoyed by me over long periods of time.David – just because: Campari, tapestry, eyebrows.Thanks Georgia#womenrock

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She Can She Did – An interview with Fiona Grayson
WOMEN ROCK2018-10-31

She Can She Did – An interview with Fiona Grayson

I caught up with Fiona last week after hearing She Can. She Did is coming to Bristol. Ladies and gents if you want to read stories about fabulous, inspirational, driven women then check it out, oh and the rest of the stories on here too! 🙂 Fiona is bringing The Midweek Mingle to Bristol in a few weeks, get your ticket and come along to Runway East for a evening of empowerment, no bullshit, honest, real talk! Tickets hereCAN YOU TELL ME A BIT ABOUT SHE CAN, SHE DID?I can indeed! She can. She did. is a platform that I launched last summer aged 25, that through a series of face-to-face interviews with female founders and a down to earth event series, (She can. She did. The Midweek Mingle!) puts the spotlight on women in their teens, twenties and thirties who have dared to go solo and launch their own businesses in the UK.I was really determined when I launched She can. She did. to provide women with an honest representation of what launching and running a business looks like in reality (ie. we don’t just gloss over the setbacks and make it all look easy) and I also wanted to focus on female founders from all over the UK as opposed to just honing in on London. Because of that, I’ve spent the past year driving around the UK in my rusty old corsa meeting as many female founders as I can and after three sold-out events in London, I’ve just been sponsored by Xero to take The Midweek Mingles on tour to Bristol, Brighton and Manchester in the coming weeks!WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST STRUGGLE?Money (or a lack of!) I walked away from a chunky pay cheque each month to launch She can. She did. which meant taking a big hit financially and that’s meant having to adapt my personal life in a big way since becoming self-employed and my mindset towards money along the way too. I also really struggled with the lack of routine in the early days – my old job meant that from the moment my alarm went off at 5.30am, every part of my day was planned and losing that structure hit me hard in the first few weeks. I quickly learnt to adapt though and found constants amongst the chaos ie. yes you don’t have set hours anymore but you learn to create your own. If you work extra late one night, it’s easier to forgive yourself if you finish a little earlier the next day etc… and then I suppose, getting used to the fact that it’s not and never will be plain sailing. Not everyone is going to ‘get it’ and to begin with I really struggled with that but now, if I hear a “no” from one person, I know that I still have a good chance of hearing “yes” from someone else!WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST SUCCESS?Hmmm it’s such a hard one to answer! I think the launch of The Midweek Mingles in London in April will stay with me forever because I was so overwhelmed with how much support I received from not just the guests when it sold out as quickly as it did but the brands that partnered with the event, the speakers and the feedback from the guests afterwards too. All of the London events so far have been a huge highlight for me though because it gives me the opportunity to meet so many amazing women and just have a big chit chat face to face as opposed to via Instagram/emails. I love Instagram but we all know a good face to face chat is better!And then I suppose more recently, I’m also working on an idea behind the scenes for She can. She did. that requires me to raise investment and in the past month I had an offer to invest in that idea which was amazing. The journey I went on with those investors was such a crazy experience and I learnt so much in such a short space of time about the investment process. Ultimately it fell through because we couldn’t agree on the percentage share (so perhaps not quite the success I’d hoped for..!) but just knowing that there’s people out there that get the idea and were willing to invest their money in it meant a huge amount and has made me more determined than ever before to see it materialise.HOW DO YOU MOTIVATE YOURSELF?If I’m being honest, that’s the bit I’ve found the easiest. I’ve always dreamed big and set myself goals since I was little and even if I’ve had days where I’ve wobbled along the way and questioned why I’ve set myself those goals (!) I always buckle up and get on with it when it matters – be it sporting challenges, my education, my career etc… The difference I suppose with She can. She did. and motivating yourself to run a business in general though is that the goal posts are constantly changing so it’s less of a buckle down in the short-term and it will pay off kind of thing but more a long-term game of get up, do your best, chip away at it and see it build gradually. For me, knowing that if I don’t put the work in, nothing will happen is motivation in itself. Looking back and acknowledging the little wins along the way that have gradually built up over time keeps me on track. And then lastly, surrounding myself with other business owners and people that ‘get it’ always helps because it makes me feel less alone in the whole thing, realise that I’m not the only one to have setbacks along the way and I’ve always been the kind of person to look at someone I admire and think, ‘if they can do it, there’s no reason why I can’t too.’The women you interview must really inspire you, what has been your best advice?Hugely and for me they are ultimately why I pick myself up after every setback I’ve faced with She can. She did. because they’ve all pushed through so many challenges to get to where they are today. If I’m being honest, each interview is packed full of so much advice but the overarching one from all of them is that every single business owner faces challenges along the way where they have seriously considered whether it’s worth it/ whether they should walk away now/ whether it’s going to pay off in the long run etc… but not once have they decided to walk away. Olivia Wollenberg, Founder of Livia’s Kitchen likened running a business to “fighting fires every day”… the first fire is always the scariest but you get better equipped at putting out the flames as you go.YOU MUST WORK YOUR BUTT OFF, HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT ORGANISING YOURSELF?Haha something like that! At the beginning I was working silly hours 7 days a week but I quickly realised it wasn’t sustainable and it was giving me no room to focus on long term plans. Now I’m really strict about having Sundays off to relax so Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are spent working on my events and my long-term plans for She can. She did. and then Friday and Saturday are spent working on my weekly interviews or – if I have an update from my own story launching She can. She did. to share – a post from me. If I’m being honest though, the past few months have been a giant emotional rollercoaster with the highs of the launch of The Midweek Mingle roadshow which I’m so excited about but then giant lows when the investment fell through on the project I’m working on behind the scenes, so I’m actually gearing up for my first holiday tomorrow which means a whole week off to just recharge. My partner booked it as a ‘you need to just stop and relax’ break so we have a week off before The Midweek Mingle roadshow begins and I can’t wait!HAVE YOU EVER SUFFERED FROM THE IMPOSTURE SYNDROME?It’s a funny one. In some ways, yes. In the weeks leading up to my first event, I had a big panic about whether I’d be able to host an event for female founders and aspiring founders when I hadn’t ‘made it’ yet but then the whole reason I launched She can. She did. was to provide women with an honest portrayal of what launching and running a business looks and feels like in reality and given that I’m in the midst of that myself, I ended up having a big pep talk with myself and just got on with it! I’ve learnt so much from this experience and all the women I’ve interviewed that I just have to keep reminding myself of that!WHAT’S NEXT?Well when I get back from my holiday, I have a week before The Midweek Mingle roadshow kicks off in Bristol on 24th October which I’m so excited about (if a tad nervous!) and then I’m heading to Brighton and Manchester in the weeks that follow! Then it’s The Midweek Jingle in London in December which will fingers crossed, provide self-employed women with the festive party that you miss out on when you work for yourself! And of course chipping away at trying to find a way to raise investment for my other idea in the background and hopefully getting that off the ground in 2019! That’s the plan anyway…!WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE QUOTE?Oh my gosh I have so many! I’m always drawn to ‘No one is you. That is your power.’ and ‘try to live every day like Elle Woods after Warner told her that she wasn’t smart enough for law school’ for obvious reasons but anything by Veronica Dearly tends to do the trick on a day to day basis. I swear that woman reads my mind!WHO’S YOUR SQUAD?Please can I have 4?! My Mum, Dad, big sister Carrie and boyfriend! I feel so lucky because we’re such a close-knit family, they’ve all got their own businesses too so they just get it and they’re the first people I turn to when I need a pep talk to pick me up!If you want celebrities though, I’d say Reece Witherspoon (because I have it in my head that she is basically a real life Elle Woods!), Michelle Obama (because she had a way of making herself relatable to every audience she spoke in front of which I admire and let’s face it, was the epitome of class and grace) and David Attenborough (because business aside, I bloody love animals and he would 100% have so many incredible stories to share!)Thanks Fi, see you in a couple of weeks.

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‘Believe in yourself and assert yourself’ An interview with Helenna Vaughan-Smith
WOMEN ROCK2018-10-30

‘Believe in yourself and assert yourself’ An interview with Helenna Vaughan-Smith

Nearly a third of women in tech say lack of female leaders and role models hinders careers.’ But I believe we have some of the best role models in the South West and Helenna is one of them! I met Helenna at Nationwide’s Adas Loveday event and then popped over to Good Energy where Helenna works as a Scrum Master. Good Energy have endless possibilities in technology and they want everyone to take full advantage of the tech revolution, and to be rewarded with a work-life balance which works for everyone. The world of technology is better with women in it – this story is many reasons why.FROM TEAM MANAGER AT A LARGE FINANCIAL SERVICES COMPANY TO DIGITAL SCRUM MASTER AT GOOD ENERGY, HOW DID YOU GET INTO A TECHNICAL ROLE?From my Team Manager role in Financial Services I was TUPE’d to an outsource provider in 2012 and picked up a job working as a Client Relationship Manager. I really enjoyed it and it helped to broadened my knowledge of the business and understand more about what options might be out there.After 2 years I made the leap into a Junior Project Manager role. It was a huge learning curve – I didn’t understand most of what they were talking about; middleware, releases, infrastructure, architecture, API’s, servers, technical debt…I had a lot to learn! I really enjoyed the pace and working with people all over the country and the world to deliver software whilst keeping the client updated and happy. It was a lovely team to work with but it was a very commercial environment and I always felt a pull towards doing something “good”.After another two years in that role I applied for a job at Good Energy as a Project Manager and was delighted when they offered me the position. It was the “good” company I had been looking for. I worked on commercialising Selectricity as my first project and I absolutely loved working on such a positive launch. I also project managed the GDPR programme which I expected to be very dull but it really wasn’t. I worked with a first class Compliance Team and we actually had a blast. At the start of this year we started our transition to Agile and I became Scrum Master for the Digital Team where we’re developing with a new stack on our website and we’re working on launching our new mobile app. I love working for a mission led company and feeling like I’m making a difference in the world, even on the difficult days.HOW HAS YOUR BACKGROUND PREPARED YOU FOR SUCCESS IN THE INDUSTRY?From being a child people have always fascinated me. I enjoy getting to know people, working people out and including people who don’t always naturally include themselves. I’ve always fallen back on communication, coaching and people skills. Being a team manager and then a relationship manager meant that I was used to dealing with all sorts of different personality types and I would always try to connect with and understand people to get the best out of them. I think knowing when to get everyone in a room and to pick up on body language and vibes has served me well in my career. I’ve just been asked to lead on working with my organisation to make Good Energy an attractive proposition for women looking for Technology roles and I can’t wait to get stuck in.HAVE YOU EVER SUFFERED FROM THE IMPOSTURE SYNDROME?Always! I have a very self-deprecating sense of humour and friends would tell you I’m terrible at taking a compliment. I’ve always been brought up not to “blow my own trumpet” so I’m trying to re-programme myself at the moment. It’s taken me a while to realise it but I’m not employed to know the ins and outs of everyone else’s job, I have my own skillset and I need to bring the best of me to the table without all the self-doubt. I’d say I’m a work in progress in this regard.WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU FACED IN THE WORKPLACE, ESPECIALLY YOUR EXPERIENCE IN MALE-DOMINATED ENVIRONMENTS?I love working with the team I do and for an organisation with a lot of strong female role models. We have a female CEO and really balanced representation in our Exec Team. Unfortunately in Tech women are still low in number and we get very few CVs through from women but my team are supportive and professional and always treat me with respect. I’m lucky that at Good Energy diversity is embraced and it’s a very inclusive place to work.Good Energy works with STEMettes, which is a social enterprise working to encourage girls of school to university age to study STEM subjects. We recently ran a schools day programme with them, hosting a group of secondary age girls from a local school called Hardenhuish where representatives from across the business, including our CEO Juliet Davenport, introduced them to what we do. Then we ran a workshop where all the girls were tasked with designing their own ‘smart home’ app — there were some fantastic entries, really interesting to see what young minds come up with!WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN LOOKING TO BREAK INTO THE FIELD OF COMPUTER TECHNOLOGY?Don’t feel like you have to know all the answers. Be confident and ask the question if one is burning. Chances are other people in the room don’t know the answer either. People will often talk about niche topics when you work in Tech (I think to look clever); don’t let it knock you. There are lots of jobs in Tech, you don’t have to be a developer and therefore don’t have to have the same vocabulary as they do. You can be an Analyst, Project Manager, Product Owner, Scrum Master, PMO, UX designer and lots more and they all come with their own jargon! Believe in yourself and assert yourself.WE SPOKE ABOUT INTERVIEW QUESTIONS, CAN YOU TELL ME YOUR WORST INTERVIEW EXPERIENCE?When I was around 20 I was asked during an interview when I was planning on having children. They offered me the job and kept offering me more money until I had to tell them that it was their questioning in the interview that meant I wouldn’t work for them regardless of the salary.WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT IN THE WORLD OF ENERGY?The old world of energy is set up for big power stations to supply to end customers, but the future will be the ‘three Ds’ — decentralised, decarbonised and digitised. So that means more of a matrix system where everyone is generating and sharing power peer-to-peer. It will be decarbonised as generation systems will be renewable, like solar and wind, which are already the cheapest forms of energy available to us.Then you’ve got battery storage, electric vehicles and the smart home all part of the mix, so we’ll need sophisticated digitisation to make it all work, with artificial intelligence and automation making it all happen, potentially managed via a blockchain system. And of course great UX on the front end so it makes sense for the customer. That’s why energy is such an exciting space for tech right now — we’re on the verge of a massive shift, in which energy will be enabling and underpinning virtually everything that’s happening in technologyANY READING/WEBSITE YOU WOULD RECOMMEND TO STAY UPDATED?I really like www.funretrospectives.com – it’s a great resource library for Scrum Masters to run meaningful retrospectives, planning sessions, futurespectives and team building activities.We spoke about your girls and how one would like to be an Architect and the youngest who is flying through coding apps that you can’t keep up with her, but they say they are no good at Maths, what do you think can be improved in schools to promote future skills and careers in technology?This frustrates me so much! They are both so mathematically minded and we have bookshelves full of books about inspirational women at home. As a result I have a couple of Marvel loving, tree climbing whirlwinds in my life who question everything from politics to advertising. But there still seems to be this fear of maths, of making a “mistake” or “getting it wrong” which doesn’t seem to apply to the Arts in the same way. I attend their school every year for Jobs Jamboree Day to talk about what I do and do some fun activities with the children. A lot of the careers they see are quite vocational so talking about some of the less visible jobs in society helps them to broaden their horizons. After doing an activity with one group where they had to make a building out of lego to my requirements I asked how they found being a Project Manager and one girl put up her hand and said “stressful” – I think she got the point!Ultimately I hope that doing more computer science, robotics, coding and programming in school will allow girls to approach maths from a more creative and less theoretical perspective. When my daughter makes a virtual robot climb the stairs on her app and he does a wrong turn she is not disheartened by this, she can quickly see where it’s gone wrong, undo it and re-do it, something she doesn’t experience when she is doing her maths homework.ON THAT NOTE OF CHILDREN, HOW DO YOU JUGGLE YOUR JOB AND BEING A MUM?I have two daughters who live with us and two stepdaughters who live in Exeter and juggling this with full time work can only be achieved with a very supportive family. My girls’ dad and I are separated but he’s a brilliant dad and always shares drop offs and picks ups. My husband is a huge support for me and we always act as a team. We each work from home one day a week so we can be there for the girls at the start and end of their school day and then my mum picks up for us twice a week. My mum has been an extra parent figure to them over the years and I’m very grateful to her. It’s not easy but it’s always been very important to me to have a life alongside parenthood and for them to have a working role model mum in their lives. They are also the most lovely girls and it doesn’t enter their heads that I would be doing anything but being independent and pursuing a career – plus they prefer the breakfast when they get to go to breakfast club!WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE QUOTE?Good question……I find myself shouting teeth and shoes a lot but not sure that’s what you’re after! I always love Roald Dahl’s quote “If you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely”. Being kind and nice to other people really costs nothing and goes a long way.CHOOSE YOUR SQUAD!Just 3?! I’m honestly surrounded by the most amazing network of people, I feel very fortunate.If I had to choose 3 it would be my husband for being the most selfless person I know. He lives to look after other people and we’re so lucky to have him. Then my children for inspiring me all the time. My oldest daughter Hope is totally non-conformist with short hair, bags of energy, a wardrobe full of hero t-shirts and a quiet confidence that means she throws herself at every opportunity. I swear she can whisper to animals too. My youngest daughter Belle is hilariously funny with red hair, freckles and gorgeous dimples. She is forever pranking teachers with rubber spiders and has a wisdom way beyond her years. She’s a chip off the old block creating a floor plan on the computer complete with project schedule for her 8th birthday party (laminated of course)!Thank you Helenna, you’re an asset to the industry and looking forward to working with you and the team.#womenrock

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‘Be Fearless’ – An Interview with Carly Dyson
WOMEN ROCK2018-10-02

‘Be Fearless’ – An Interview with Carly Dyson

Carly is a Senior Technical Specialist at Nationwide, a fabulous person to have in your network and a woman who is doing everything she can to help females in the industry. She is here to share valuable and insightful advice that is real, relatable and inspirational. Carly & Nationwide are continuing to make difference in people’s lives, and are celebrating Ada Lovelace Day on Tuesday 9th to celebrate Women in Tech (Link to tickets below)FROM RESEARCH ASSISTANT TO SENIOR TECHNICAL SPECIALIST AT NATIONWIDE. HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE TECH INDUSTRY?Like a lot of the women I’ve met in my career – it was purely by accident.When I was at school I disliked IT, and despite studying Physics, Chemistry, Maths and further Maths, it wasn’t once suggested to me that computers could be anything other than something you type on and play games on (two things I hated), let alone that you could actually control them and get them to do useful things AND have a career with them! (I can only imagine I assumed that they just magically knew how to do everything!).After my research contract at the Health Protection Agency (now Public Health England) came to an end, I decided to take a few months out of a ‘proper career’ and did some part-time temp work while I decided what I wanted to do.It was then that a job at the John Lewis Partnership came up. It was a Trainee Computer Operator role, kind of like an informal apprenticeship, in the Operations Bridge and Data Centre. There was a long list of computer systems that you’d end up working with, but, most importantly, the job description made it very clear that you would be taught everything you needed to know – you just needed an enquiring, and logical mind, a willingness to work shifts, and the ability to speak to people on the phone. It sounded interesting, and totally not what I’d imagined IT to be like. So, I submitted my CV, attended an assessment day, and the rest as they say, is history!WHAT DOES YOUR ROLE ENTAIL AS SENIOR TECHNICAL SPECIALIST?The role of a Senior Technical Specialist varies, depending on where you work, and part of the company you work for. In the Payments Squad at Nationwide, the team I’m based in, I focus a lot on the governance side of things, which may not sound the most appealing to some, but means I get a really broad overview of what’s happening in the industry. I chair the Payments Design Authority, which looks at things like design, security, resilience and scalability of our payments platforms.I’m also the person who co-ordinates the annual Report on Compliance assessment, working with external bodies on our Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards. I’ve also been a bit more project based, and lead on different pieces of work from a design and governance perspective.At Nationwide, we’re allowed to choose how we develop into our roles. For example, I focus more on the governance and compliance side of tech, where as some of my colleagues choose to get a little more hands on with the code, and are involved with things like code reviews.I LOVE THAT YOU SUPPORT OTHER WOMEN AT EVERY OPPORTUNITY. CAN YOU TELL ME A BIT ABOUT THE CONFERENCE YOU ARE ORGANISING FOR WOMEN RETURNS AND WOMEN STARTING IN TECH?Yes!!! I’m so excited about this event! Myself and a group of incredible women from Nationwide are hosting an Ada Lovelace Day event on Tuesday 9th October at the STEAM museum in Swindon.Our aim is to create a supportive network, for women who are either returning to tech or considering a career in tech, and just need a little bit of a confidence boost. As well as a great networking event, there’ll be talks by speakers, including Dr Sue Black OBE, Danielle Macleod and Rachel Robinson from Nationwide, alongside some hands-on workshops too – if you attend and get chance on the day, try and have a quick word with any of them, I’m so in awe of everything they’ve all achieved.Anyone interested can sign up here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ada-lovelace-day-nationwide-supporting-women-in-technology-tickets-49980994500IS THERE ANYTHING THAT YOU FEEL WOULD HELP ELIMINATE UNCONSCIOUS BIAS IN RECRUITING WOMEN INTO TECHNOLOGY ROLES?I think raising more awareness that unconscious bias is actually a thing, would help. If you can get people to recognise themselves making decisions that have perhaps been influenced by unconscious bias, that would go a long way to people identifying it, and therefore avoiding it.Maybe we have to actively stop ourselves from thinking in a specific way – it’s a challenge. The fact that they’ve noticed it’s happened is a positive. They’ll hopefully be more aware if there’s a next time.WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE FOR THE NEXT GENERATION OF WOMEN AND HOW CAN WE BE A STRONG ROLE MODEL FOR THEM?There are still many challenges, when women are more likely to take extended time off to raise a family, or care for a relative, and the industry remains gender dominant.What I do think we’re obligated to do is support each other. I suppose what I’d want my niece (who’s 4) to see when she looks back in 30 years’ time is that we were the generation that lifted each other up. I really do think that we can be stronger together.HAVE YOU EVER EXPERIENCED THE IMPOSTER SYNDROME?Yes. I think this is a topic that will be covered at least a couple of times at our event – I’m hoping to be going home that day with a couple of strategies for dealing with those feelings.WHO’S YOUR SQUAD?My mum, my brother, my partner and my two best friends Charlie and Bex. I know that’s five but I’m a rebel! They are the most amazing bunch of people, and are equally happy bigging me up, coaching me through the bad times, sitting me down and telling me straight, or simply laughing at me when I say something stupid (they all laugh quite a lot!). I can be comfortable being me when I’m with them, and they help me be my best me. I love them all.WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE QUOTE?Well, apart from ‘It’s all in the reflexes.’ (Jack Burton, Big Trouble in Little China – best film ever), I suppose it’s ‘Be Fearless’ – it’s something that we were told as IBM grads, and at the time if I’m honest I thought it was very corporate, but it’s stuck with me. Every time I’m in a situation that I’m uncomfortable with, that’s what is going through my head, and it’s not done me too bad ????Thank you Carly, see you next week

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Trust your own Brilliance
WOMEN ROCK2018-07-31

Trust your own Brilliance

Ok, so this is taken from Girl Code but something that is resonantly with me massively at the moment and something I wanted to share. I’ll try get an Interview with Cara Alwill Leyba one day, that would be insane!!The interviews in this book are so real and can relate to so many people, if you haven’t read it you must! My favourite bits are the takeaways and the extra credits, these are my top 3.Page 29:TAKE A SOCIAL MEDIA DIET‘This is hands down my top tip. Social media can be a fantastic tool for growing your business, but it can chew you up and spit you out just as fast, When you feel yourself getting on the crazy train, vow to take a break from social media. Plan your break, and even schedule it into your calendar if needed. Close out of your browsers, turn the notifications off on your phone, etc. . Set aside a two-hour break, a three-day break, whatever your need to reset your thinking and get out of ‘compare and despair’ mode.MEDITATE‘Meditation does not have to involve chanting and sitting cross-legged on the floor. To meditate simply means to clear your mind and focus on a positive, affirming thought. And there is nothing like meditation to tap into your purest thoughts and get in touch with your true self. Set aside ten minutes a day to spend in a quiet place, taking a few deep breaths. Create a mantra for yourself that makes you feel proud of who you are.’CREATE SOMETHING YOU WISH EXISTED‘Rather than looking around at what everyone else is creating, think about what you wish already existed, what story needs to be told, what product needs to be created? Out inner magic shines when we stop trying to replicate other successful ventures and innovate from our own desires. ‘And finally. ‘If you don’t go after what you want , you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no . If you don’t step forward you’re always in the same place.’On that note, we are starting the Social Media Diet, but we’ll be back in September with some amazing interviews and some VERY exciting news.Thank you#womenrock

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Treat Yo Self – An interview with Jess Saumarez
WOMEN ROCK2018-07-24

Treat Yo Self – An interview with Jess Saumarez

Finalist for under 25 entrepreneur SPARKies award 2018, Finalist for best startup in the South West 2018, investment from Just Eat, Angels Den and 130 investors on Crowdcube. I’d say that is all the introduction this interview needs. Me and Jess caught up over a gin at Picco’s a few weeks back and, well she’s just a true inspiration for all of us, I went home buzzing after we met, that and the quarter finals were on! Her drive, honesty, humour and passion to support women in this industry is so endearing and I’m really excited to see what her and the team at LUX Rewards achieve over the next few years.If you’re aiming for the top, then read on……WHAT IS LUX REWARDS, HOW DID IT COME ABOUT?LUX Rewards works like Air Miles but for the restaurant world. We partner users with high quality restaurants and bars and allow them to collect points from their spend. Although most point-based companies offer 0.5% to 1.5% back (like Tescos Club card, Nectar points or Boots cards), we like to give our users maximum value: Up to 7.5% back!These points can be collected and redeemed for rewards such as spa days, wine tastings, hotel getaways and free meals!It all came about when my co-founder was working for IBM and getting points back from a wide range of expense budgets: Air miles for flights, Mariott points for hotels, AMEX for general spend… but nothing for his restaurant spend despite having most of his expense budget accorded to meals!On the flip side, high quality restaurant and bars are lacking a tool to incentivise corporate customers into their restaurants: Discounts don’t work because discounts are orientated towards price savvy customers such as students!Et Voilà LUX!DID YOU ALWAYS KNOW YOU WANTED TO OWN YOUR OWN COMPANY?Absolutely! I belong to a family of entrepreneurs and creatives so always had the ambition to have my own company. I love to take risks, network, get creative and problem solve so entrepreneurship is a natural fit for my personality.My degree did orientate me towards larger companies so I ended up working in some businesses such as AXA and TBWA. Although these companies gave me some fantastic experience, I hated feeling like a clog in a machine and the slow pace that big businesses move frustrated me.WHAT DOES YOUR DAY TO DAY LOOK LIKE?Every day is different! One day I’ll be in the LUX HQ based in the Just Eat offices in Bristol, the next I’ll be wondering around Bristol & Bath speaking to restaurants… another I’ll be in London pitching to investors. One thing that stays the same everyday: Copious cups of tea that are left half empty.YOU MENTIONED TO THAT YOU VERY RARELY MEET ANY FEMALE TECH FOUNDERS, ANY TIPS FOR WOMEN WHO WANT TO START THEIR OWN BUSINESS?Don’t see yourself as a “women entrepreneur” – you are just “an entrepreneur”! The worst thing you could do is set yourself back before you have even started just because of your gender.Yes I have very rarely found female tech founders, we are definitely a minority! However, it’s not something that can change overnight so best not get angry about it. My advice would be to use it to your advantage. There are many support groups, recognitions (such as this), awards, funding… all exclusively for women in tech business. Use them and work hard!YOU ARE A MENTOR FOR WOMEN IN BUSINESS, WHAT DOES THIS ENTAIL?There are two main things when you mentor people: On a personal level you are there to talk to them and make sure their moral is kept up! Secondly, it is helping them in areas of business they are not familiar with. So many people have great ideas but have no idea where to start when it comes to setting up a company.I WOULD LOVE TO SEE MORE WOMEN MENTORING OTHER WOMEN, AND YOU HAVE RECENTLY MENTORED TWO YOUNG LADIES IN BUSINESS. WHY DID YOU WANT TO DO IT?I read an article back in February by Fortune saying that the #MeToo movement was alienating male mentors: Male managers are now three times as likely to say they are uncomfortable mentoring women and twice as uncomfortable working alone with a woman. This creates a big problem: Most senior positions are occupied by men, and having a mentor increases your chance of moving up in your career.I really want to change this and give young professionals or entrepreneurs the confidence and advice they need. That way more females will be in senior positions to mentor others in the future! Goodbye gender pay gap!I’M SURE YOU HAVE BEEN IN A ROOM FULL OF MEN AND BEEN THE ONLY WOMAN, HOW DOES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL?When I was first starting out in business it made me very angry. Not because I was the only woman, but because of the atmosphere it created. I would walk into groups of guys talking about business but as soon as I joined the conversation they would switch to very condescending subjects such as the weather. The networking event would change into a “gentleman’s club” and my co-founder (who is a man) would secure several followup meetings when I would secure none.Also being asked to get someone a drink… what’s that about??I used to simply walk out of those events (I can be fiery and didn’t want to make any enemies) but now I have taught myself how to deal with events like this.I OFTEN SUFFER FROM ‘IMPOSTER SYNDROME’. DO YOU?Absolutely – especially when I was starting out! In my head, any achievement was down to luck.This is something I have been really working on though. I feel that people can be scared of being over-confident because they don’t want to come across as cocky. But in my experience, when you are confident, people gravitate towards you. Confidence is always key!WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU HAD TO OVERCOME?Naturally curious, I like to be good at EVERYTHING and understand EVERYTHING. Problem with this: you become a jack of all trades, master of none . My biggest challenge has been to accept that there are just some things I will never be great at, and that it is better to delegate tasks to people than try and figure everything out myself.WHAT DOES SUCCESS LOOK LIKE TO YOU?Being able to buy my groceries from M&S without worrying about my bank balance.WHAT DO YOU THINK THE TRAITS OF A KICKASS LEADER ARE?Personable, positive, convincing and good at reading people!WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE QUOTE?“Three words: Treat Yo Self” Parks and recreation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsABTmT1_M0SQUAD GOALS! IF YOU COULD PICK ANY 3 PEOPLE IN THE WORLD WHO WOULD THAT BE AND WHY?My mum: She’s a constant source of inspiration for me.James my co-founder: It can be so hard for people to work in such intense environments, remain friends and continue to be on the same brain length. I couldn’t ask for a better co-founder and squad member!Elon Musk: Because hey… he could surely pull some strings??To download LUX Rewards or find out more about Jess’s business, follow the link here to the LUX website!Jess, thank you so much#womenrock #kyliejennerwho

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No one said it would be easy – An interview with Nathalie Alpi
WOMEN ROCK2018-07-17

No one said it would be easy – An interview with Nathalie Alpi

So women who want to have kids leave, worsening an already embarrassing gender gap in technology but this isn’t the case for Nathalie Co-Founder and Managing Director of CookiesHQ. Nathalie and Nic, can I just say, bravo to you for so many things first, for being really cool people and creating a brilliant business for Bristol. But also for coming together to help others be just a little more successful in work and life. Nathalie is a woman who is juggling business and being a mum, like a boss!Have a read of Nathalie’s story, take some notes and go smash it!There are some brilliant groups set up in Bristol to help founders and entrepreneurs. Check out WTFounders and the meet-up set up by CookiesHQ which is happening this Thursday 19th DMB #6 Successes and Failures – see you there. DBM #6 SUCCESSES AND FAILURESThursday, Jul 19, 2018, 6:30 PMBristol Engine Shed @ Temple MeadsBS1 6QH Bristol, GB53 Members WentYou will fail many times before you succeed, and you will learn more from your failures than your successes. This wisdom is widely accepted in the tech industry. But we tend to hear about businesses once they’ve succeeded, which means we’re missing half the story. How exactly do you go from failing – once, twice or many times – to success? Join us …Check out this Meetup →Q2 IDEAS: GETTING READYTuesday, Jul 17, 2018, 6:00 PMDigital Studio, NatwestTrinity Quay, Avon Street, Bristol , BS2 0PT Temple Meads, GB25 Members WentThe second part in our quarterly series – this is about knowing that you have a great business idea, understanding what it is, how to research it and where to get support before dipping into the unknown. For our speakers this quarter we have: Rosie Bennett – Centre Director of setsquared Bath which is an accelerator for virtual, pre-incubation and …Check out this Meetup →WHO ARE COOKIESHQ?CookiesHQ is a digital agency based in south Bristol. We create bespoke web and mobile apps for businesses and build lasting partnerships with them. Our clients are mostly startups and SMEs, but we work with international organisations like ARTICLE 19 and Médecins Sans Frontières as well.My husband Nic and I started CookiesHQ in 2011. Since then, we’ve grown organically into a team of nine. We mainly build applications in Ruby on Rails but we’re branching into WordPress and voice apps, and can offer design, consultancy and copywriting services too.WHY DID YOU START YOUR OWN BUSINESS?It came almost by chance. Nic was a freelance web developer, and I was looking for a new job. Nic’s client base was growing and he was struggling to manage the sales and paperwork on top of coding and client management.So he suggested that we work together. I thought about it long and hard, and still went to a few interviews – working with your partner is not a decision you take lightly. But with my background in management and marketing, I realised our skills complemented each other. So we gave it a go.WHAT HAVE BEEN THE MAIN BENEFITS?Flexibility and understanding. We have the same life objectives, and even though we don’t always agree on how to achieve them, we know that we’re working towards the same goal.We also don’t have to justify our working hours. Undeniably, I work fewer hours than Nic – even though we are equal partners in the business – simply because we decided that I would work part-time while the children are little. We always put our family first, and then we make it work with the business – that, for me, is the main benefit of working with my husband.Our main goal is to build the kind of agency that we would have liked to work for – a place where team members are happy to come to every morning, where we can provide them with interesting and challenging work, and where we are all valued as individuals and can fulfill our full potential. It sounds a bit cheesy, but we believe that profit should help us grow rather than be an end goal in itself.I’M GUESSING IT HASN’T BEEN PLAIN SAILING, WITH 2 CHILDREN AND ANOTHER ON THE WAY (CONGRATULATIONS) WHAT HAVE BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES?Thank you!We started the business, got married and had our first child within a year – it was a challenge! It took a while to find our feet, and understand what we could each bring to the business.Early on, we laid down a simple rule: no talking business after 8pm and on Sundays. At home, when one of us doesn’t feel like talking clients or projects, we just say so and save it for later. Now the children do that too – they get bored very quickly when the conversation turns to business stuff!Having these rules allows us to separate work and home life, and have quality time as a couple and a family. Work is important – especially when it’s your own business – but I don’t think it should be everything. It would be too easy to let it take over our whole lives.The first couple of years were a steep learning curve. Then came the time to hire our first employees, which is a big step for a new business. As a husband and wife team, we had to make sure that the employees would never got caught between us. This issue was partly solved by the decision to have two offices – one at home and another for the team – so we don’t always have to work from the same place. We’ve kept this principle for all our team – they can choose to work remotely whenever they want.Overall, I would say that the benefits have outweighed the challenges. We’re still married and had more children, so I guess that’s a good sign!YOU ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT WOMEN IN BUSINESS. DO YOU THINK WOMEN IN BUSINESS NEED MORE SUPPORT/MORE POSITIVE ROLE MODELS, PARTICULARLY MOTHERS IN BUSINESS?These last couple of years have seen a rise in positive role models for women in business, and, even though there is still a long way to go, I think we’re going in the right direction.I do think that mothers (and fathers!) in business need more support and would benefit from a change of mentality. You can run a successful company without working all hours of the day and night, or sacrificing your family life. It might take longer, but slow and steady is not a bad way to build up a business. We aren’t less committed or less capable – we’ve just realised that we don’t have to choose between fulfilling our career ambitions and raising a family.HAS RUNNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS ALLOWED YOU TO SPEND MORE TIME WITH YOUR CHILDREN?Yes and no. It’s all about how you manage the time you have. Nic and I do have to attend meetings and events, sometimes in the evening, which means that our children tend to go to sports clubs and after-school clubs quite a lot, compared to other kids.But I also have the freedom and flexibility to take a couple of hours off to attend the school’s Christmas performance or sports day – that’s what makes it worth it.FLEXIBLE WORKING IS SO IMPORTANT TO MANY MUMS AND DADS, HOW CAN COMPANIES SUPPORT FLEXIBLE WORKING?Most workplaces can adapt to accommodate flexible working.The problem is that many mothers who return to work struggle to find interesting, challenging part-time roles. Going part-time shouldn’t mean you have to do a boring job, or a job for which you’re overqualified.I think that’s what missing – appropriate part-time jobs. Women don’t lose skills just because they’ve had children. If anything, they have to become more productive and organised, because they know how to make the most of the limited time they have, no matter what task they’re tackling.Besides, traditional working hours (9am to 6pm) are incredibly difficult for parents to fit around. Children need dropping off and picking up from nursery or school at specific times. Employers can help by adapting their ways of working, which doesn’t require much effort.We recently hired a software tester, Sarah, who is mum of two and works for us part-time. She works 4 days a week, during school hours, so she can be there to pick up her kids at the end of the day. We’ve had to adapt our meeting times so she can take part but, apart from that, it has worked seamlessly for us and for her.Employers need to understand that mothers returning to work are often after more than just a paycheck. Yes, they want and deserve to earn money like any other employee, but the quality of the work and the prospect of a good work/life balance is more important.WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE QUOTE?A poster on our office wall reads ‘No one said it would be easy.’ I’m not sure where it’s from, but it couldn’t be more true. Not every day is going to be easy, not every day will be fun, but it’ll all be worth it in the end. Sometimes you just need to remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing and what you’re trying to achieve. I believe that the ability to remain positive and look at the bigger picture when things get tough is an invaluable quality for an entrepreneur.ARE YOU RECRUITING AT THE MOMENT?We are recruiting for maternity cover for our project manager, Gemma, who is going on maternity leave quite soon. We’re looking for someone who has at least a couple of years’ experience, good knowledge and understanding of the web and tech industry and great communication and multitasking skills.We are also looking for an experienced UX/ UI designer to work on a variety of visual and interaction design projects, both for internal and client products.If either of these sounds like you, please see our website for more information and how to apply.We are always on the lookout for talented developers, so feel free to email me at nathalie@cookieshq.co.uk and tell me why you’d be a good fit for CookiesHQ.Thanks Nathalie#womenrock

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