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!

I spot opportunities and make sure I take them – An interview with Frances Burton
WOMEN ROCK2018-07-10

I spot opportunities and make sure I take them – An interview with Frances Burton

What’s Jisc?Jisc is a Bristol-based membership organisation for the UK’s universities, colleges and skills training organisations.It provides them with big-ticket shared digital infrastructure, including this country’s national research and education network, which is one of the busiest in Europe and serves 18m users. It’s called the Janet Network and it is super-fast, reliable, secure and built to handle the huge volumes of traffic that education and research organisations generate.Jisc provides many other shared services, including data centres so that researchers can store their data and share it securely with others. It also negotiates cost-effective deals and preferential service levels with commercial suppliers and offers advice and training on many different topics.It’s just the kind of place that you’d expect to find stuffed with men who took the traditional science, technology, engineering, maths (STEM) sort of route into work. But now Jisc has launched a programme to make sure it’s a great place to work for women, as well as for everyone with skills and talents to offer but who don’t necessarily fit the into the typical techy mould.Meet Frances Burton, fashion and textile designer turned cyber security expert. Frances is a security services manager, based at Jisc’s security operations centre in Harwell, Oxfordshire.One of three women security specialists in her team of 24 people (there are also a couple of women working in non-technical jobs), she says that her ability to touch-type was enough to launch her into a career in IT.HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN THE ROLE?I’ve been in Jisc’s cyber security division since 2017, but I’ve been with the organisation for about ten and a half years in all. My first job here was in research, I moved for a while into customer engagement and then found myself in security in 2015. We set up the dedicated security operations centre last year, and here I am!TELL US ABOUT YOUR CAREER PATHI went to college to train as a fashion and textiles designer but in those days they didn’t really bother to help you explore the kinds of jobs you might be qualified for, and I left with very little idea of what do next. So I got a job as an office junior at the Atomic Energy Authority (AEA). At that time the AEA had one of the first text-based databases and I got the job of demonstrating it purely because I could touch-type.As it turned out, I had an aptitude for the technology and so I grabbed the opportunity and became an operator. I then went on to get involved with other business systems and IT services. When I had my daughter I had a bit of a break from work and started an Open University degree in information and communication technology (ICT). Later, I got a job in a school to fit in with her school hours and then progressed to working with Jisc authentication services.Since then, I’ve kept an eye open for opportunities and taken them whenever they looked promising. I’ve been lucky – people have always been supportive and believed in me.IS A MALE-DOMINATED ENVIRONMENT INTIMIDATING FOR TALENTED WOMEN?It’s certainly true that there are still more men than women on my team, but I’ve never found it intimidating and I’ve never experienced any prejudice. To be honest, I’ve never felt at a disadvantage in any of the predominantly male environments I’ve worked in. Perhaps I just don’t notice it – my parents raised us to think of ourselves as people not just boys or girls, and to believe that we could achieve whatever we wanted if we were willing to work at it.Being the only woman can even have its advantages. I’m often the only one in a project team and it does mean that you don’t face a queue for the loo.WHAT WOULD ATTRACT MORE WOMEN INTO TECHNICAL ROLES?I think that the education system needs an overhaul. These days kids have to start choosing a direction quite early on and it can really limit their options later. We know that boys are more likely than girls to pick STEM subjects at an early age and this sets boys and girls on different paths.I chose arty subjects like many girls, but back then it was pretty easy for me to switch direction. I think it would be a lot trickier now and this means that employers can lose out on some great talent.I do think that the world is waking up to this problem. The Cyber Security Challenge is trying to create a more diverse pipeline of talent to work in cyber security, which is highly promising. And at Jisc we’re taking steps to cast our net more widely to attract talent from the widest possible pool.That means, for example, placing job ads in different media, wording them differently and being less prescriptive about the skills we’re looking for. Technical skills can always be taught to promising candidates who have aptitude and a range of other useful skills that transfer into this environment. Their different perspectives may well give us fresh ways of looking at problems.We’re very keen to recruit more women and we have our first female cyber security degree apprentice, Nicole. We’re making her training as broad as we possibly can so that she has freedom to make choices about her career progression.LASTLY, WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE QUOTE?It’s one from Dolly Parton. Someone asked her how she gets her hair to look as it does. Her answer? “I don’t know, I’m never there.”And there you were, thinking I’d say something worthy about women working in a man’s world. Thanks Frances, and the team at Jisc#womenrock

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Can I have a pay-rise please?
WOMEN ROCK2018-07-03

Can I have a pay-rise please?

One of my now friends who I have met through the WTH (Women’s Tech Hub) pulled me to one side at an event a few weeks ago to talk about how to approach the topic of a pay-rise – her annual review was coming up and she’d never asked for a pay-rise before.A little research later and I found that…. According to the Chartered Management Institute, men are twice as likely as women to ask for a pay rise – and just as shocking is the fact that three in five women have never even asked for a pay rise ever!So a question absolutely worthy of this week’s blog post! Why aren’t we asking?!Salaries are usually quite a personal topic, and potentially quite emotive too – it’s also a negotiation which not everyone finds comfortable – okay it kinda comes naturally to me but I do it every day and my dad (aka delboy) taught me the art of negotiation when I was younger and didn’t want to pay £1000 for my 1990 white corsa when I was 17! 10 minutes later, driving away in my first car with £200 off and a free fluffy dice and steering wheel cover, winning!Anyway – negotiations make some people uncomfortable although you can’t let that hold you back! The key is preparation, take the following steps to help you with potential negotiations.Know your worth: Give yourself some bloody credit, too often I hear ladies tell me about their amazing achievements at work and all too often it goes un-noticed because we don’t realise our worth! It’s not about what you are earning in comparison to colleagues (this can be counter-productive), but more about market value. Look at ads for jobs fitting your skill-set, what salaries are being paid in the local market? Also use salary checker websites like IT Jobs Watch to try and establish what the ‘going-rate’ is for those with your skillset – https://www.itjobswatch.co.uk/. Please note – if you are on more than the average that doesn’t mean you can’t ask! You will just need to be prepared to perhaps build a better case! Prepare your evidence: Be prepared to highlight the great things you have achieved, maybe you introduced a change that has seen an increase in productivity in your team, or you’ve completed a project well ahead of deadline day, or maybe you’ve gone above and beyond to meet a deadline – document it, maybe even obtain testimonials from colleagues and be ready to talk about it! Deliver it well: Present your case clearly, be polite and graceful (no steaming in with ‘I want XYZ or I’m outta here’) but don’t apologise for asking! Be confident! Be Sasha! Also specifics are more likely to resonate and always base the conversation/evidence on facts. Timing is also key, perhaps book the conversation in, it is important your manager doesn’t feel ambushed and the whole process is done in a considered and adult fashion. It’s also important to remember that it’s just a conversation at the end of the day and nothing to be scared about. Have a plan B – If your manager doesn’t agree to the pay-rise remain polite, ask for feedback on how you can work towards a pay-rise in the future. What can you do to add more value? Agree on an action plan alongside timescales that will warrant a pay increase in the future.Having offered advice to many men and women over the years on this subject I am more than happy to continue to do so. A good recruitment partnership is about far more than just discussing a live job or setting up an interview up. If you have any career or work related questions and you would like some support with or fancy picking my brains about then please pick up the phone and lets have a chat.Anyway, I’m off to ask for a pay-rise.#itscominghome #womenrock

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The woman making change happen – An interview with Simone Bartley
WOMEN ROCK2018-06-27

The woman making change happen – An interview with Simone Bartley

We are thrilled to have Jisc as one of key sponsors for 2018! When I first spoke with the team at Jisc and Simone I knew they were a company who would fly the flag and have a solid plan to ‘making change happen’. We are going to create a leading-edge community with passion, and tap into a huge audience that wants to join the Women Rock movement. Simone is a people business partner, working out of Jisc’s London offices. Jisc has a ‘people plan’ and she helps to deliver it, leading on equality, diversity and inclusion. When she’s not doing that, she’s an enthusiastic baker who’s overly modest about her abilities and also a keen walker and cyclist.WHO ARE JISC?Jisc is a membership organisation for the UK’s universities, colleges and skills training organisations with offices across the UK, including Bristol.Jisc provides its members and customers with big-ticket shared digital infrastructure, including this country’s national research and education network (NREN), which is one of the busiest in Europe and serves 18m users. It’s called the Janet Network and it is super-fast, reliable, secure and built to handle the huge volumes of traffic that education and research organisations generate.Jisc is a member organisation dedicated to saving the UK’s education sector money with shared services, including data centres so that researchers can store their data and share it securely with others. It also negotiates cost-effective deals and preferential service levels with commercial suppliers and offers advice and training on many different topics to help members work smarter through digital technologies.Sounds like it may be full of nerdy men in sandals? Possibly so, once upon a time, but that’s been changing fast. And change is accelerating now that Jisc has launched a programme to make it a great place to work for women, as well as for others who have lots to offer but don’t necessarily fit the into the typical techy mould.WHAT IS YOUR DAY-TO-DAY ROLE AS PEOPLE MANAGER AT JISC?I aim to support managers and staff right through the employee ‘journey’, from the moment when we place the job ad or pick up a cv to beyond the point when they leave us. We want good people to stay with us and develop, but if they choose to move on then we’d like them to leave as advocates of Jisc. It’s important to us that Jisc is a great place to work. Of course, different people will have different reasons to think so, and it’s my job to make sure we’re imaginative and supportive enough to be a great employer for all sorts of people.HOW DO YOU SUPPORT WOMEN WHO WORK IN TECHNOLOGY JOBS AT JISC?Well, we strive to support all our female and male staff right across the organisation in the same way – by being open, responsive and as flexible as we can to support individual needs and aspirations.But it’s certainly true that women are under-represented in technology jobs generally and it is not just girls, there is a general lack of diversity in the sector. We are doing various things to even things up, both at Jisc and across the education and research sector generally.For example, we’ll be working with STEM ambassadors to encourage everyone to think seriously about studying science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects and we took part in ‘Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day’ this year for the first time. The primary school girls were so enthusiastic and some showed real early promise. One seven-year old showed an impressive level of understanding of direct denial of service (DDoS) attacks and of some of the steps we take to protect our members against them. Her dad is one of our technical staff and it’d be great if she wanted to follow in his footsteps.We’re going to start offering teachers placements at Jisc so they can discover the breadth of opportunities that exist in technology jobs and then go back into their schools enthusiastic and ready to spread the word.And we’re doing some work on unconscious bias, reviewing our policies and guidance to make sure we recruit on merit and providing training for our staff to demonstrate how bias can play itself out in the workplace. We are not just addressing unconscious bias by dragging our people through training, it is far deeper than that, for example through widening our perspectives we can reduce our biases so we’re running a campaign called ‘this is me’, encouraging our people to share their own stories with colleagues so that we can walk a mile in each other’s shoes, to widen all our perspectives and demonstrate that we respect, value and celebrate difference. This is not only about supporting women in a traditionally male-dominated environment, it’s also about celebrating diversity.HOW ARE YOU ATTRACTING WOMEN TO APPLY FOR JISC?There’s lots that we plan to do on this but as a start we’ve adopted some simple, practical steps that we hope will tempt more women to think about giving it a go. We’re overhauling the careers pages on our website, and being more mindful of the language we use in our adverts for example. We never advertise jobs as full time because lots of people, and particularly women, need flexibility. We’re certainly not slaves to the nine-to-five model. And we’re thinking again about where we recruit, and how to reach the widest possible pool of potential recruits.We’re moving increasingly towards smarter working, not longer working. The long hours culture tends to disadvantage women more than men. Still true, after all these years!And we’re reviewing our family leave policy to ensure that it meets more diverse needs. This will benefit both men and women because we’re focused on genuine equality. So we’re making sure that the policy is more flexible, allowing for the usual maternity and paternity leave and also adoption leave and shared parental leave. And when men opt to take this leave they’ll get the same contractual enhancements as women.ARE TALENTED WOMEN INTIMIDATED IN A MALE-DOMINATED WORKING ENVIRONMENT?It’s so hard to answer this question. I’m as sure as I can be that the men who work in our technical departments don’t intend to intimidate. Some women might sometimes feel at a disadvantage, it’s human nature when you’re in the minority. But what I can say with absolute certainty is that we’re working on making sure that Jisc is welcoming to women, listening to their voices, valuing their contribution and offering great opportunities for fulfilling work and ongoing career development.AND FROM ME TO YOU.‘Privilege is invisible to those who have it’. – Michael Kimmel, a professor at Stony Brook University in New York. For me this gets people to stop and think when they get stuck and don’t see it.Diversity is not about quotas, it is exciting. Gaining true representation creates more rounded, innovative, dynamic and impactful products, actions and solutions. That benefits everyone.At Jisc we’ve made a good start on changing things, at least in our own back yard. Thanks Simone & the team at Jisc, so excited to have you as our sponsors.#Womenrock

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Women Rock – Celebrating Success.
WOMEN ROCK2018-06-26

Women Rock – Celebrating Success.

The first “Women Rock” event took place at the newly renamed DevOpsGroup in Cardiff last Thursday ( 21st June ’18) and despite Ed Sheeran pulling in 60,000 fans to a packed Principality stadium less than a mile away, the turnout was fantastic.There were plenty of thought provoking stories shared – challenges, successes and inspiration. Exactly why this event was created!I was a bit emotional when I arrived, stuck in the car from Bristol for 4 hours, arrived an hour late, ran from the car park arms full with banners and balloons and then smashed a glass of prosecco when introducing myself, GO ME! Really, the reason for the emotions was because I got to see what I have created and what was plain to see is people are extremely passionate about this ‘movement’ and excited to see how things develop. Mark Elias, IT Infrastructure Manager at Coastal Housing Group quoted    ‘The event was full of passion, purpose, fire, care, tenderness and awareness.’ It really was!We heard from Charlotte Bennett – Information Security, Product Development & Diversity at Admiral , Emma Hopkinson-Spark  – Delivery Director at 101 Ways, Kate Jones – Operations Director at The DevOps Group & Louise David – BD lead at Chwarae Teg. The theme of the evening was …… them. I didn’t want this to be another event where we speak and hear about diversity and the problems with the industry, we know there are issues, this evening was about all of us and the ladies successful careers. We also heard about what their respective organisations are doing to attract, promote and retain female talent which is pushing the boundaries and creating opportunities.We are looking forward to the next event in just a few months’ time, you won’t want to miss it. In the meantime we will be sharing the stories of many more inspirational women around the South West & Wales.Finally a special thanks to James Smith – Devops Group for stepping up and covering whilst I was re-routed around the countryside end of Newport…………. TWICE! and to the whole team at The DevOps Group for sponsoring and hosting the event.CONNECT, LEARN AND TAKE ACTION ON GENDER DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION.#womenrock

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It’s definitely a whirlwind in the tech industry as it is ever evolving and changing, but I absolutely love it! – An interview with Georgina Hopkinson
WOMEN ROCK2018-06-13

It’s definitely a whirlwind in the tech industry as it is ever evolving and changing, but I absolutely love it! – An interview with Georgina Hopkinson

It’s definitely a whirlwind in the tech industry as it is ever evolving and changing, but I absolutely love it! – An interview with Georgina HopkinsonGeorgie is an ambassador for Women Rock, and an agile coach at OVO energy. Her interest in coaching started during her time volunteering as a ChildLine counsellor for the NSPCC. She has a genuine passion for coaching individuals and teams to increase motivation, team effectiveness but most importantly, increase happiness in the workplace. She’s fallen into the tech world through her passion for coaching but now thrives off the excitement of working in an ever-evolving industry of highly skilled professionals. She’s spoken at Agile MeetUps and is speaking at Agile on the Beach this summer to share her experiences and enthusiasm for working in an Agile way.FROM MARKETING CONSULTANT TO AGILE COACH HOW DID YOU GET INTO TECHNOLOGY?I left university pretty much not knowing what I wanted to do, but being open to learn new things and see what opportunities were out there. So I joined a large financial services organisation and worked my way up. My role just before I became an Agile Coach was in marketing as a project consultant, I was managing part of the marketing side of a large tech project (moving all our docs online). The team I was working within happened to be an Agile tech team and I felt so in awe of the knowledge and skills of the developers and loved working with them and being able to learn from them, I then started working as an Agile Coach and never looked back. It’s definitely a whirlwind in the tech industry as it is ever evolving and changing, but I absolutely love it!WHAT IS YOUR ROLE AS AGILE COACH?As an Agile Coach I am responsible for helping teams and organisations to be the best they can be. Just to caveat that, by ‘best’ I mean the happiest team who are building the right thing so the customer’s happy, building it right so it’s of high quality, and trying to increase the cadence of delivery (due to this ever changing market we are living in, we want to try and stay ahead!) I do this by coaching, teaching, mentoring and facilitating… I mean, there’s a bit more to it, so feel free to contact me if you want me to go into more detail.WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNGER WOMEN IN SCHOOL?I think young women, and men (particularly when I was at school) had no idea of the exciting careers out there, particularly in the tech industry. There are some awesome games available that can teach them to code, there are also some really exciting programmes that teach young people to code. I would say, just take all of these opportunities! Instead of hopping on Instagram or Facebook when you go on your phones, go onto Kodable or any one of the other coding games – there is a massive range from basic to more advanced and there are reviews online so find one that you enjoy. This is an incredible skill to have, even if you don’t want to be a developer, if you decide one day to start your own business, imagine being able to simply make your own website or even an awesome new app to get people engaged?WHAT IS THE BIGGEST SUCCESS IN YOUR CAREER?My biggest success is probably being chosen to speak at Agile On The Beach which I’m really excited for this summer. However, when I look back over my career, my proudest moments are when I’ve been able to make someone’s’ work life a little happier or easier.WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE QUOTE?‘The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple.’ – Albert Einstein.WHO IS YOUR ROLE MODEL?As an Agile Coach, it’s probably Henrik Kniberg as he really embraces the above quote.IF YOU COULD CHANGE ANYTHING WITHIN THE INDUSTRY, WHAT WOULD YOU DO AND WHY?I would introduce talk of ‘feelings’ into the workplace, I would want to know how people feel about organisational decisions and team decisions, even about decisions on what code to use, for example, because only then will we be able to truly work together in line with our values with true empathy for one another.HOW CAN WE GET MORE WOMEN INTO TECH CAREERS FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE?For me, seeing women in these roles helps. So more women who have made it into the tech industry should be going to schools and teaching girls that not only is this a train that they should get on because it’s awesome, but also that it’s one they can get on as it’s accessible to them! Thanks Georgie#womenrock

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Role Model Ladders – A concrete path to getting more women in technology.
WOMEN ROCK2018-05-30

Role Model Ladders – A concrete path to getting more women in technology.

I have had a couple of very interesting and insightful meetings over the past week all around ‘Role Models’. This topic is my biggest passion as I care so much about the future of our industry and encouraging young girls to follow a career in technology. I met with Jaycee Cheong about her volunteering for Woman Hack for Non-Profits and also the amazing work she does with Code First: Girls, you’ll see her story soon. This article I am sharing comes from someone who connected with me to discuss the future of role models and how women and young girls can feel intimated by seniority. Think, are female founders and CEO’s always going to be their role models, or are they the women right now who do the job everyday. The female devops engineers building and optimised infrastructure, the fullstack developers making augmented reality games or the software testers who are testing a health care application changing the way medicine is distributed? I applauded the women who have followed their passion and worked so hard to create their own business and the women who have progressed into Senior and Leadership roles but I truly believe that we need role models who are similar to the next generation, the women developing, engineering, testing etc to promote Women In Tech.ROLE MODEL LADDERSA CONCRETE PATH TO GETTING MORE WOMEN IN TECHNOLOGY.By Nicole Bryan, VP product management Tasktop Technologies.This was a week of extremes for me. Seven customer visits in a whirlwind trip to Europe. It was exhilarating, as every one of them was impressed with how Tasktop is innovating. But there was something missing. Women. There was not a single woman in any of the meetings I attended. Disheartening. Then, my 10-year old daughter chose a woman on my team as her role model to write about for her school project. Back to exhilarated. And now, on the airplane for the long trip home, reflecting on this roller coaster of emotions, I just realized something that can help girls and women, especially women in technology. We need “role model ladders”. And you can help. Let me explain.What is a role model ladder? As Albert Schweitzer once said “Example is leadership.” Basically, people need their role models to be attainable examples of what they can be. That means role models need to be similar enough, or close enough in age, to help someone imagine the path that lets them “be” like that role model. Sure, heroes are great, but our role models need to be closer to who we are. For example, my 10-year old daughter needs to be able to look up to someone who is just starting out in a career — because she can imagine that. And that person, the person who is just starting out in her career, needs to have someone to model who has say, 10–15 years of experience. And that woman in turn needs to see a female in a significant management position. Each rung in the ladder is quite important — and if you are missing a rung in your organization, it severely limits the likelihood of creating a thriving female cohort in your organisation.So how can we create these ladders in the technology industry? Here’s how Tasktop is doing it. One of our three founders, our Chief Science Officer, is female. She, very early on as the company began growing proactively, talked about and reminded Mik, our CEO, that in order to foster a great and collaborative workplace in tech you need to actively recruit and retain women. She knew that in technology women don’t come knocking on your door. You have to find them. Mik took this to heart and he found, well, me ;). I didn’t find Tasktop, Tasktop found me. Then it was my turn. As my team began to grow, I had hundreds of resumes cross my desk…but no women. So, I contacted a nearby university and found, you guessed it, a female professor in the information systems department. She actively reached out to talented women in her program and encouraged them to apply. And that is how we hired the woman my 10 year old daughter has chosen as her role model for her school project. Now that is quite a ladder! And, our Senior Director of Engineering took a look at his management team, and recognizing that they were all men, consciously sought out a talented female engineering manager. He just built what is likely one of the hardest rungs in the ladder — because women engineers have a strong tendency to move out of engineering entirely as they progress in their careers. But now all of the co-ops in our engineering group see a clear path. And that will undoubtedly make a difference for our company.This week, while on these customer visits, I did notice there were some women in the development bullpens. But if all they see is men attending the “important meetings,” the ladder will be broken. You can change that in your company. There is really no magic to it. Simply look at the women in your company’s organisational chart to see where you are missing rungs in your ladder. Then focus on those areas. Be specific. Cultivate a woman to fill the middle management role in IT, or a senior engineering role. And make sure your culture and environment are inclusive, so that when you expend this energy and find a great woman, their contributions are welcome and they will stay and grow with your organization. It will take effort and you may need to get creative about how you find and cultivate talented women — and creating an inviting culture where women want to stay also requires creativity and perseverance. But it is worth it.It is only through small but intentional steps that we can change things. Tasktop is doing it. Your company can too. And, I guarantee that if your daughter comes home and says that she is writing about someone in your ladder, you’ll feel exhilarated and hopeful about the future.#Womenrock #rolemodels

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No Ache, No Cake – An interview with Lisa Matthews
WOMEN ROCK2018-05-29

No Ache, No Cake – An interview with Lisa Matthews

I met Lisa at WTF (Women Tech Founders) a month or so ago, where she did a panel discussion about being a female CEO. If you just look at her linkedin profile she has had a phenomenal career within construction and now technology so she was someone I was really excited to sit down with. She is a woman to watch and an inspiration for females wanting to start-up in tech.YOU HAVE HAD A VERY SUCCESSFUL CAREER FROM COMPLETING YOUR PHD, TO BUILDINGS LEADER, DIRECTOR, CEO AND CO-FOUNDER, WHAT’S YOUR STORY LISA?I’m an engineer by background – Civil and Architectural, with a PhD in computational fluid dynamics (which involved spending four years writing C# code). So a pretty logic-driven and practical person. When I got into industry I did a lot of different things. I project managed one of the first electric vehicle demonstrator projects in the UK, optimised the design of an opera house to save 3000 tons of carbon and worked out how to stop some wind turbines sinking in the North Sea.I’ve always liked doing new things. Then I pitched to my employer that I should start a new regional business for them (so I could cut my commute and see more of my then 1-year old daughter!). And I spent five years doing that, winning business, managing clients and growing the team. That business is still going strong and I’m hugely proud of it. But about two years ago I had a burn out. It was the weirdest thing, to feel less and less in control and less and less able to make the right decisions. So I took a sabbatical and my experience ultimately inspired me to start HellyHolly. Now I run HellyHolly, Carba and also help my previous employer with their digital venturing programme. It’s a great mix, and I love it.COULD YOU TELL ME ABOUT HELLYHOLLY AND CARBA CONSULTING?Carba is a consulting business that offers expert witness services to the construction industry; when there is a dispute the legal teams or insurers will employ experts to research what’s gone wrong and give their opinion on who is responsible and why. We specialise in steelwork fabrication and design, and digital design processes, including forensic investigation of digital building models. My role in the business is strategic, I don’t contribute opinion but I work on quality and business development – reviewing what’s produced and helping with client relationships.HellyHolly is a startup in the AI/chat space. We make a productivity platform for managing the competing demands of all the different domains of your life – work, social, home, family. A huge amount of mental energy goes into making sure all these different areas are in sync and coordinated, because existing tools and data are in silos that don’t talk to each other. When you’re busy, stressed and tired doing all that coordinating and collaborating can easily go wrong. So we make software that stops things going wrong, helps you make better decisions and shows you opportunities to do the things you want to do. We’re currently running in private beta with working parents – these people have a lot of stuff to get right and feel terrible if they get something wrong! So it’s a great use case to start with.HAVE YOU EVER SUFFERED WITH THE IMPOSTOR SYNDROME?All the time! For me it manifests more in finding it hard to decide what advice to take and what to leave. I’m naturally collaborative – I’ll always crowdsource opinion and insight from my colleagues or networks, I value others’ perspectives and expertise and I will always listen. There’s always something to learn right? Sometimes though you can get into the habit of undervaluing your own opinions. So I’m getting better at looking at the advice I receive through the lens of that particular person’s perspective, not taking it as hard rote fact, and trusting my gut.WHAT IS THE WORST BUSINESS ADVICE YOU HAVE RECEIVED?Being advised to use tools and processes that don’t fit the stage of the business. Having been in large corporates, grown a business from scratch to scale and now running a startup, I’ve learnt that you need to pick tools – whether mental models, frameworks, software, whatever, that are right for right now. You can’t take the tools you use to run an established business and apply them to a startup, because what you’re trying to do is entirely different. An established business is all about refining and optimising operations, stabilising and embedding. A startup is all about learning, trying stuff, moving fast and evolving. You can’t write an 80-line gantt chart for that, so don’t try.WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU WOULD GIVE TO A WOMAN LOOKING TO START HER OWN BUSINESS?Spend some time learning about yourself first. What’s your purpose? What really drives you? Whatever you’ll do you’re going to need bags of passion for it. Passion is the only thing that’s going to get you through the deep, deep pits of despair when it seems like nothing is working or no one else cares, or worse – when everyone thinks you’re wrong! You’re going to have to commit seemingly irrationally to your vision for an unreasonably long time so it helps hugely if it aligns with how you want to show up in the world.WHAT HAS BEEN THE CHALLENGES OF BUILDING TECH PRODUCTS AS A NON-TECH FOUNDER?Making progress when the only resources you have are your own time and the time you can convince other people to give you for free, and getting that MVP into existence when you have a big CTO-shaped hole in the company. I see a lot of other ‘non-tech’ founders struggle at this point too; you have to decide to raise money, pay an agency or find a technical co-founder. Even if you think you are ‘non-technical’, I would recommend getting absolutely as far as you can as fast as you can under your own steam. We hacked together our first proof of concept prototype ourselves before finding our technical co-founders, using things like google scripts, zapier, slack etc. You can get a long way with free (or very low cost) tools. This isn’t going to be a product that you can take to market, but you can use it to share your vision and to do customer research and ultimately to convince others to join you. I feel like we massively lucked out when we found our co-founders and could get on with building our ‘proper’ product and our company, we’re such a great fit as a team.WHAT SINGLE THING WOULD YOU CHANGE TO IMPROVE GENDER EQUALITY WITHIN TECHNOLOGY OR EVEN CONSTRUCTION?Having spent all my working life as a minority gender in the workplace (including being the only female on a construction site of 250+ all male welders at nineteen years old) I’ve seen a lot of issues. I’m not a fan of the ‘fix the women’ approach that is typically how companies choose to tackle gender issues – got a gender equality problem? Let’s get women to be different so then they’ll succeed more! To me this is a lazy attempt at a solution. This isn’t to say that mentoring or coaching isn’t valuable; it’s valuable to anyone, not just women. But mentoring, coaching, role models, case studies or whatever aren’t going to change anything if we don’t fix the culture first. We need to fix the inherent structural reasons that make the landscape of opportunity disproportionately favourable or difficult to one gender or another. We need to fix decision making. We need to fix bias, conscious or otherwise, in systems and processes. And for me this comes down to better diversity right from the top down. So until someone can prove to me by research that there is true equality in our selection, promotion and progression processes then we should have quotas that require equality at board and senior management levels.I also want to see more men speaking up for gender equality, by rejecting appearing on ‘manels’ for example, and calling out bias. This isn’t just a women’s issue, equality and diversity makes things better for everyone.WHAT’S NEXT?The fund I help manage in my corporate VC role is expanding, so there’s a lot of strategy to work out about how to scale up our processes and collaborate more with startups, which is super exciting. For Carba we’ve got a couple of really big international cases on at the moment, so that’s heads down and power through time. And for HellyHolly we’re building on from our private beta – the next few product iterations to get through before we go for a public launch. I’m hugely excited to get the product in the hands of more people, learn how it gets used ‘in anger’, and keep on making it better and better. Anyone interested in the launch can let us know at www.ourcanary.com, we’d love to hear from you.AND FROM ME TO YOU ….Waaa there are so many!“No ache, no cake”, which I say to myself over and over in my head during my spin class, right when I hit that ‘why on earth am I doing this to myself again’ moment.And “We are what we repeatedly do – excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – I like this because it reminds me that we can chose to become whatever we want – to build skills, adopt new behaviours or change our mindset. Nothing is inherent – you just have to start acting how you want to become. Thanks Lisa#womenrock

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Take a chance, life is a chance! The person who goes farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare – An interview with Jaycee Cheong
WOMEN ROCK2018-05-22

Take a chance, life is a chance! The person who goes farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare – An interview with Jaycee Cheong

I met up with Jaycee a couple of weeks ago, and all I can say is WOW, she is such a positive inspiration for the industry and women in tech. She didn’t follow the typical STEM route, but always knew she wanted to follow a career in technology so did her research and completed a course with Makers Academy. She is often at meet-ups around the city, hackathons and conferences to stay in the loop of emerging frameworks, practices and languages.Jaycee also contributes back to the community, mentoring others on their programming journey, contributing to Open Source, and presenting technical topics. Together we are going to be working on something really exciting for Bristol over the next coming months (now  https://codebar.io/!)Here is her story.FROM A BACHELOR’S DEGREE IN HUMAN NUTRITION TO FULL STACK ENGINEER, WHAT IS YOUR STORY?Growing up, I have an interest in both areas, science and coding. I decided to pursue Human Nutrition degree and during the years at university, I took the time to explore career options after graduation. In the end, I realised I loved anything tech. Over the years since graduation, I worked in tech companies but the roles I went for became more technical and eventually I decided to go to a bootcamp, and landed my first software development job shortly after the bootcamp.WHY DID YOU CHOOSE MAKERS ACADEMY?I decided to attend a bootcamp after exploring a few training options so I researched a few online and local bootcamps. As my goal was to be a part of a software development team, I spoke to experienced developers, and they mentioned that the curriculum at Makers Academy really stood out from the crowd. I learnt a lot, not only technical knowledge, but a few other things such as adopting a growth mindset and more. Link to my blogpost about this.WHERE DOES YOUR PASSION FOR TECHNOLOGY COME FROM?I completed a Double ICT module at GCSE, and one of the projects was to build a website! I was obsessed with that project, and I still remember the Myspace days, which helped me learnt HTML and CSS!BEING A ‘FULLSTACK DEVELOPER’ ISN’T JUST ABOUT CODING, WHAT DO YOU DO DAY TO DAY AT IMMERSIVE LABS?My day to day throughout the week at Immersive Labs can be quite vary. Beside coding, I help the business to translate business requirement into technical requirement for my team. I also facilitate Scrum duties within the team, so the team can stay focus within each sprint on the goal.YOU ARE A VOLUNTEER FOR WOMEN HACK FOR NON-PROFITS, A LEADER OF WOMEN WHO CODE BRISTOL AND AN INSTRUCTOR AT CODE FIRST: GIRLS – WHAT DOES THIS ENTAIL?Women Hack for Non-profits is a community of women in tech building open source projects for non-profit organizations and individuals with a cause. As a volunteer, I was involved in the organisation’s website rebuild project and I was mentoring a few volunteers with the project they were involved in.I am also an instructor at CodeFirst:Girls where female student at universities attend a free 8 weeks course to learn about coding. I’ve taught around 20 students each term with other instructors about frontend technologies since 2017. I love the demo day at the end of the course, where the students present their website they built.As a leader of Women Who Code Bristol, I organise events and workshops for the Women Who Code network in Bristol. Recently we partnered with LGBTQIA+ in tech for an amazing software development talk and an evening of networking. We are currently planning our summer social and hopefully have more volunteers on board!WE SPOKE ABOUT THE NEED FOR MORE TECH VOLUNTEERS IN BRISTOL, WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING THINGS ABOUT BEING A VOLUNTEER?For me, it is when they have a lightbulb moment. Knowledge has the ability to empower anyone to continue learning and we need everyone’s contribution in tech to ensure the tech we use will always be fair and accessible.HOW CAN SOMEONE BECOME A VOLUNTEER IN TECH?The first step is to reach out to the tech community in your local area. There are many initiatives across the UK to teach people across all ages and backgrounds about technology, such as CodeFirstGirls aiming at students, CodeYourFuture aiming at refugees, CodeClub aiming at children. Or you can even do it online, such as JrDevMentoring https://launchpass.com/jr-dev-mentoringWHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNG WOMEN WHO WOULD LIKE TO BECOME A DEVELOPER?Join a group in the tech communities, and look for a mentor. No one should do it alone, and the support from your group and mentor can go a very long way!WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE GETTING WHERE YOU ARE TODAY?The biggest challenge… it’s a bit cheesy but it was believing in myself. I have a wonderful partner who is my constant source of encouragement and support, and honestly the tech communities in London such as Codebar, Women Who Code London and Ladies Who Code, where I first started out were so welcoming and supportive, they gave me the confidence to start public speaking, and become more involved in the tech community in Bristol so the members will always have the level of support I had.You can reach Jaycee via Twitter @herecomesjaycee if you want to have a chat about anything!Thank you so much Jaycee #yourock #womenroc

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The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new. An interview with Kate Jones
WOMEN ROCK2018-05-08

The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new. An interview with Kate Jones

DevOpsGuys build high performing IT teams within enterprise organisations.The company work with household names such as Vodafone, ASOS, Fitness First and Admiral. Along with private sector, they are supporting important changes and aiding in the digital transformation across the UK, working with Companies House, DVLA and MOJ.They are winners of: Best Tech Workplace, Wales Start up Creative and finalists at the St David Awards, the national awards of Wales which are nominated for by the public. Deemed ‘thought leaders’ in an emerging field, they champion Wales as the home of Digital Innovation.The company also has an in-house training academy, having felt the pain of the skills shortage within their industry they decided to tackle it head on. The DevOpsGuys Academy was founded on the belief that they can make a positive difference to the IT skills gap and nurture the next generation of talent along the way.I spoke with Kate about her stellar career within technology. From programmer to now Operations Director, she has a lot of determination to drive positive changes and is an exceptional leader with a passion to encourage more women into technology.KATE, WHAT IS YOUR DAY TO DAY ROLE AT DOG?My time is largely split over ensuring we have the right processes and systems in place to scale and on day to day operational issues, traditionally I’d be giving direction and the solution to solve the problem directly.I try and do things a little differently, a lot of my time is spent listening to the challenges we face and helping individuals or groups by teasing out the details and giving them a sounding board to talk through the problem. Trying to help guide them on how they could solve it, injecting an occasional steer. Sometimes this doesn’t always work and people need (or want) a direct steer but generally I find it helps people understand the course of action, could things have been done differently or give them a perspective they may have missed as they are close to the detail.I find the approach rewarding on two fronts, talking it through helps understand why my team have chosen a sequence of actions and I can prompt some reflection, secondly we get fresh, innovative ways of problem solving operational issues from a diverse workforce.WHAT IS THE BEST PART OF BEING A ‘WOMEN IN TECH’?In what is a very male-dominated environment it’s nice to be able to provide that different perspective, to make a place more diverse, to challenge the status quo and hopefully encourage more women to have careers in tech. I’m not sure this is because I’m a woman but its exciting. It’s always changing, it’s always interesting and there is soo much opportunity to shape the future.You have had a hugely successful career in technology, from Project Manager to Operations Director what challenges have you faced with career progression?I think peoples expectations of me has been a challenge. For a reasonable period I knew I had bosses who thought I would start a family and saw this as a hinderance, this left me feeling conflicted. I didn’t want to deny I wanted a family but I was very aware that this was seen as a negative thing to aspire to. Rather than companies working out how to make this work, they would work out how to get round it and who would replace you. I would also say my own internal voices have challenged me, I still find it hard to sell myself and the reality is that in many companies you have to do that. You need to put yourself in the running if you want to be considered.WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN WHO WOULD LIKE TO STEP UP INTO A MANAGEMENT POSITION?Be confident, you can do it. Put yourself in a position to be considered, look at how your male colleagues put themselves forward and ask yourself “Are they really that much better than you, or just more confident to say they can do it?”. I think the best advice I ever gave myself is no matter a persons’ seniority they are just a person at the end of the day, don’t be intimidated. Women (including myself) are too good at looking at their flaws instead of their strengths.DID YOU ALWAYS KNOW THAT WORKING IN TECHNOLOGY WAS WHAT YOU WANTED TO DO?Ha ha, no not at all. I have two brothers and when we were kids we had a Commodore 64 and we used to code from a book and save to a tape. My brother’s programs always worked, mine, not so much. I did a politics and history degree. I kind of fell into tech and realised quite quickly that it offered such a spectrum of variety. Initially, I was a developer, I liked the logic and I liked making something work (I had progressed from my early days) but I think the bit I liked the most was learning about new industries, and the tech gave me this opportunity, it was always changing. And it’s all around you, so once I found it, it just felt right.FROM MY KNOWLEDGE, THE DEVOPS GUYS DO VERY WELL IN SUPPORTING AND HIRING STUDENTS INTO THE BUSINESS. HOW DO YOU ENCOURAGE WOMEN TO JOIN DOG?I think we try hard to promote an external image of inclusion and diversity that reflects our internal way of working. We offer very flexible working and try hard to understand what a person needs. We understand that for many women they do have a family which means they have other commitments and we want to make that as easy as possible for them, you shouldn’t have to choose a career or a family. We actively discourage people working long anti social hours which also often leads to trying to be the hero, we are all about teamwork. The biggest issue we have is that there just aren’t that many women out there who are even looking to be in tech at the stage we are looking.We need to find a way to encourage the younger generation of females to stay in tech so that they have the opportunity to even try. We are trying and need to do more though. We are looking to have regular sessions at our monthly company meeting that are solely focused on women and how everyone can help make it an even playing field. We have started a lean in group to have a forum for women to discuss things. But we need to do more, we can always do more.HOW CAN MANAGERS HELP RETAIN TECHNICAL WOMEN IN THEIR TEAM?They need to listen. There are a lot of men in managerial positions in tech and they care but they need to actually listen to what the women in their team are saying, not assume they know. I have worked with a lot of men who are quite passionate about getting more women in tech, but until recently none had actually asked me what I thought. If we want to retain women we need to listen to them and allow them to be themselves not try and turn them into something that suits other people.WE ARE ADVOCATES FOR PROMOTING WOMEN IN TECHNOLOGY, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A WOMEN CONSIDERING A CAREER WITHIN THE INDUSTRY?Don’t let other people tell you what you can and can’t do. It might be hard but that doesn’t’ mean it’s not possible. You can have a family and a career, yes its hard, but it is possible. Don’t feel you have to make a choice. There are an awful lot of assumptions people make, its learnt behaviour, challenge it, try and find a partner who will be a true partner and share your home life 50/50 and enable you to have the career that you are capable of. And tech can be so wide-ranging. To so many, it just seems to mean coding but there is such a vast array of jobs in the tech industry, don’t write it off without finding out first. And its flexible, a lot of tech companies are a lot more flexible than traditional companies, this really helps with the work-life balance that so many people want and when it comes to having a family it’s invaluable.WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED ABOUT LEADERSHIP AND MENTORING?It matters. Being a good leader is hard, you have to put your ego aside, ask yourself tough questions about what you could have done better, realise that your behaviour shapes other people and that you are not there to tell people what to do but help guide them to where they need to get to. Working out how to move away from blame and understand how you get better, how you help.Another quote that I think says a lot of what leadership works towards is “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new”. SocratesFor a long time, I’m not sure I thought I was either a leader or a mentor, seeing yourself through other peoples eyes is not always that obvious. So I think the other thing I have learnt is things I take for granted that I know, or do, have value to others and sharing them is a very positive thing. And you can always get better at it, for me it’s a huge responsibility that I love but I feel very responsible for. I want to help make people in our organisation the best that they can be and that takes time and effort.FROM ME TO YOU ….“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t give up.” – Stephen HawkinsThank you so much Kate, I am looking forward to hearing you speak at the Women Rock event on the 21st June.#DOGROCKS #WOMENROCK

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