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!

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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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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