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!

Daniela Alvaran | Xomina
WOMEN ROCK2023-02-14

Daniela Alvaran | Xomina

Did you know the top performing posts on social media include food or an animal - specifically cats or dogs? So when Daniela Alvaran ran into visa issues while studying and beginning her career in the Netherlands, she posted a picture of herself and her housemates (very cute) dog 'Oona' on her profiles to see if anyone could help - and she went viral. Daniela and Oona reached over 200,000 people, one of those people being a founder of Xomnia who got in touch with Daniela and a year later she is working as a talent consultant. When social media is used for the greater good it really does work! Women Rock Ambassador Lucia chatted with Daniela about how she aims to create a more diverse data team, what millennials can learn from Gen Z and who would be guests at her dream dinner party - we'd definitely want a seat at this table, that's for sure...FIRSTLY... HOW DID YOUR JOURNEY START, HOW DID YOU GET INTO TECH RECRUITMENT?The picture of my roommate’s dog saved me from being deported…After moving to the Netherlands for studies & kick-starting my career by helping young entrepreneurs, I ran into some visa sponsorship issues & was in a situation where I needed to find a job, or I'd have to leave the Netherlands. After posting a picture of myself (& gorgeous dog) it reached out to over 200,000 people & the founders of Xomnia found the post and gave me a chance. After being there for a year now, I've had my ups & downs, experiencing imposter syndrome, and having no idea what Machine Learning was when I joined, I've entered the Tech world now & I'm excited to see where this takes me! WHO KNEW A SELFIE WITH A DOG COULD BE LIFE-CHANGING?! YOU MENTIONED THAT YOU'RE AIMING & HOPING FOR THE DATA TEAM TO BE THE MOST DIVERSE, HOW CAN COMPANIES ATTRACT & RETAIN WOMEN IN SENIOR TECH ROLES?Today one of the most senior people we have hired accepted the offer – and she was a woman for the data engineering team! I almost cried when I found out this female was going to be joining this team (which has traditionally been very male-dominated), because it starts there, getting a few senior women on board through networking & recommendations. I worked with my Team Lead to make this happen because he understands the importance of more balance. We're also going to a campaign with one of our youngest Data Engineers & a Women's Tech hub in Amsterdam called Equals. She's so hardworking and really understands the value of representation, so she'll be able to demonstrate a more realistic path for those who are maybe only a small bit away from where she is, inspiring younger women to keep going. Branding is also super important, what you're posting on LinkedIn has to show diversity because if people don't see themselves in what you're posting they're not going to be interested.CAN'T WAIT TO SEE THAT CAMPAIGN ONCE IT'S FINISHED! WHOM WOULD YOU SAY INSPIRES YOU THE MOST?I could name a few, one being Marie Forleo who's super into the social space, celebrating femininity in the workplace. I also know it's cliché but I love Oprah Winfrey, I love what she's done with her platform & I love her new focus on spirituality.WHAT DO YOU THINK MILLENNIALS CAN LEARN FROM GEN Z?I think so much about generations, it's one of my guilty pleasures. Ray Dalio comments on how we're always repeating patterns of history & that what we're living through right now happened beforeI'm really excited to see more millennials make it into leadership positions because they tend to have a more holistic understanding of people and their wants and needs (unlike baby bloomers😉) & tend to understand people more. I think it's really important for millennials to learn more about the digital era from GenZ's. For example, LinkedIn influencers are a real thing now & it's not really cringy!! You can really make an impact at scale through social media and millennials should listen to GenZ because the digital era is going to be a tool to change the world not just something to use for fun.TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU! SO, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE WOMEN TRYING TO GET INTO TECH?I'll give two sides, a recruiter side & a Daniela side... I think it's so important in your early 20's to spend time to try and understand your mind, try to understand your limiting beliefs, and understand how your mind body & emotions are connected, so when you're faced with life later on, you'll be able to handle it a bit better. Also, join a community! I think there are a lot of great communities, women are great at building them. My best friend started from Good Girl to Bad Ass & we meet women from all over the world from. We chat about professional development, our love lives, and our minds & we're just all there for each other. Having a community to help you figure out who you are before your career, will make you feel less alone in the process. In terms of career, it's totally fine to be yourself. You don't have to act like the guys in the room to make it. Once you have that understanding of who you are, it's okay to own it. Stop trying to fit into this mould that the tech world has become!!Besides that, if you can get into consultancy, it's great because you can learn a lot very fast. The requirements do tend to be strict, so Product & start-up organisations are a great place to start. INCREDIBLE ADVICE, THANKS FOR SHARING! NOW MOVING ON TO PROBABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION... YOU'RE HOSTING A DINNER PARTY: WHO ARE YOUR GUESTS, WHAT'S ON THE MENU & WHAT ARE WE PLAYING FOR MUSIC? So funny... Dinner party guest Jay Shetty, he's a millennial with a great understanding of social media. I'd love to understand how he's marrying all these worlds together & how he's using social media to bring it to the masses in such a successful and beautiful way. I'd have his wife Radhi cook some of the lovely vegan stuff she makes! & then after dinner, we can have a salsa party.I'D WANNA BE THERE! AND FINALLY, WHAT'S THE MANTRA YOU LIVE BY?I was a bit hesitant because it's not guided by recruitment or tech, but it is something I live by...Direction over ambition, courage over control & playfulness over emptiness. I don't know what it is, maybe when we're trying to prove ourselves it makes us burnt out. You're trying to control everything. You achieve a lot of things, but you feel so tired and empty in the process, so I think the direction is more a mission-driven thing. It's something north, but you should be flexible on how you get there - it doesn't have to be as strict and demanding and you can definitely have fun in the process!Thanks, Daniela you rock 🤘Interview by Lucia Alcock

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ANITA PRITCHARD | PRINCIPALITY BUILDING SOCIETY
WOMEN ROCK2023-02-07

ANITA PRITCHARD | PRINCIPALITY BUILDING SOCIETY

There is an argument that soft skills are just as important when pursuing a career in tech, as tech skills and academia. Maybe we're using the wrong adjective here and "soft" doesn't represent the importance of these particular skills - Abilities like empathy, resilience and problem-solving are super important, especially in the tech industry. Women Rock Ambassador Sam spoke with Anita Pritchard this week about her journey into the QA and Testing world and the many important lessons she learnt from becoming a mum, moving from one country to another and securing a role that allows her to work in an industry she loves while celebrating diversity.   HEY ANITA! WE’RE DELIGHTED TO BE SPEAKING WITH YOU AND SHARING A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY IN THE QA/TESTING WORLD SO FAR. HOW HAVE YOU GOT INTO TECH AND ENDED UP AS QA COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE MANAGER AT PRINCIPALITY? Being originally from Germany, I did not plan a career in the UK or in QA. But love makes you do funny things. I met Jason in 2000 during a work placement as part of my language studies at the European Business School in London. I left the UK in 2000 with improved English but a broken heart….. After that, there were many, many flights between London and Frankfurt, and in 2002 we decided to fully commit to our relationship. I moved to the UK in April 2002 and we got married in 2005. Before I left Germany I worked in the payment systems department for the German Central Bank, the Deutsche Bundesbank. The transition to the Bank of England felt logical and I was over the moon when I got a job offer in their payments team. A few years later, I started my testing career after being offered an opportunity in the Bank of England’s Testing Team, testing their payments and settlement systems. The great thing about testing is that you can quickly be appreciated by your team even without having too much of a technical background.  Eventually I got to the point where I was ready for a change. It came quite naturally and I just felt that I needed to see something different and learn new things. I joined McDonald’s IT department as a Test Manager in 2013. After some exciting projects at McDonald’s, Jason and I decided to move with our two children to Monmouth. We always liked the countryside and decided that this change in lifestyle was very important to us. I had to reconsider what I wanted to do but I quickly identified that I really like Quality Assurance (QA) so I wanted to carry on in this field.   I initially accepted a pay cut for the role at Principality, but, I really liked the organisation and the brand and for me, that was more important. And, so that’s how, in 2017, I started my career in the Principality in Cardiff. In the beginning as a Test Lead, then a Test Manager and in 2021 there was the move to the QA Community of Practice Manager.  The main challenge as a Test Lead/Test Manager was the delivery of difficult testing updates. Communicating the impact of complex defects to a large senior stakeholder group was tough and nerve-wracking at times. But I think that the honesty and insight helped and I earned respect for that. In the end, programmes want to deliver high-quality software to their customers. So whilst some delays are sometimes hard to accept, we know it is done with the best intent.   As a Community of Practice Manager, my responsibility has now shifted to focus on the capability of the QA community. I had to make a conscious effort to embrace some new responsibilities and let go of some old ones. But, I thoroughly enjoy leading the QA community with my peer, Marc, and I am excited and passionate about QA and how the industry is continuously progressing. And just in November 2022, Principality won the European Software Testing awards for the Best Software Testing Project for delivering our Mortgages Transformation Programme, including implementing our new Mortgage Sales and Originations (MSO) platform, in partnership with Qualitest. So, it’s great to feel like we’re doing something right. HOW DID YOU FIND ADJUSTING TO LIFE AS A WORKING PARENT IN TECH? HAS THAT EXPERIENCE SHAPED HOW YOU SUPPORT WORKING PARENTS IN YOUR CURRENT ROLE? Tech is fast moving so it’s important to stay up-to-date and keep learning. I have had breaks away from tech, starting with a career break to go travelling in my mid-20s. Then I took 10-month maternity leave for each of my children when I was 29 and 31. These breaks were invaluable for me and also added to my personal experience and development. Having a break, travelling and then becoming a mum allowed me to learn new life skills like resilience, problem-solving, creative thinking, risk management and many others. These newly found skills and juggling family life made catching up on new tech seem so much easier in comparison.  Juggling work with being a parent is a balancing act, I use my working hours to their fullest and make the most of my time when logged on. This in return allows me to have time with my family and for hobbies. Work-life balance has always been important to me as this is the foundation for my mental and physical well-being.  I have had amazing Line Managers and coaches throughout my career. I think I am one of the lucky ones as I have found that my needs for my work-life balance have always been met with respect, and my career aspirations have been encouraged enthusiastically. My Line Managers have always wanted me to experiment and explore, learn new things, and make mistakes. They appreciated that I wanted to progress and gave me their full support. Having experienced this myself makes me want to provide the same level of support to everyone I am coaching in their role. PRINCIPALITY WAS RECENTLY NAMED FIRST IN THE 2022 UK’S BEST WORKPLACES FOR WOMEN AND THIS WAS A DIRECT RESULT OF FEEDBACK AND COMMENTS FROM WOMEN WORKING THERE. THIS IS AN AWESOME ACHIEVEMENT. AS A WOMAN WORKING AT PRINCIPALITY, WHAT MAKES IT SUCH A GREAT PLACE TO WORK? Equality, Diversity and Inclusion are very important to Principality. They provide various networks and forums to make it easy for colleagues to connect. These networks are used to share insights and inspire colleagues through articles, workshops and other engaging activities. “Everyone has the right to come to work and feel comfortable being their real and authentic self”…. I really like that statement from our former Chief People Officer.   The hybrid working strategy, which was introduced this year, was a game changer for me and many others at Principality, and has improved my work-life balance immensely. “Work is an activity, not a destination”, is one of my favourite principles from our hybrid working handbook. During Lockdown, our office was completely refurbished enabling collaboration between people working in the office and people working from home. Being able to work from home saves me over two hours of time commuting every day. That’s priceless. But equally, I do like face-to-face collaboration and the energy I feel when being in the room with other people. So I choose to go to the office one or two days a week.  In addition, Principality offers flexible working options and there is a healthy uptake in the teams. Some members of the QA community work compressed hours such as 70 hours over nine days (meaning a day off every other week) or 35 hours over four days. Adjusting working hours to allow for school runs or other personal commitments is also commonly used and makes a huge difference to individuals and means that we can juggle family and life commitments with work much more easily.  Another element that makes Principality a great place to work as a woman is the focus on mental health, something which is super important. This is supported through the Mental Health Advocacy Network led by our mental health advocates. Their mission is the promotion, protection and restoration of mental health at Principality. We also have an Employee Assistance Programme for a complete range of well-being considerations, including proactive counselling support and regular monthly webinars and online gym sessions. These small things together can make a big difference. WHAT DOES DIVERSITY MEAN TO YOU AND WHY DO YOU THINK IT’S IMPORTANT? I think the world would be very boring if we were all the same. I appreciate the broader perspective I get when discussing topics with a group of people with different genders or sexual orientations, different ages and cultural backgrounds, abilities and disabilities. A diverse group brings different skills, different knowledge and wider views to the table, even more so within Test/QA. I find it interesting how much better conversation is with a diverse community. At Principality, the Community of Practice Leadership team, which consists of nine line managers across change, feels nicely diverse. I look around the table (or the Webex screen) and see a healthy representation of different genders, ages and backgrounds. We never run out of things to talk about. Similar diversity is also evident at board level with a healthy ratio of male/female representation among our directors and board members.  As a woman in tech, self-belief and confidence are very important. Throughout my career, I have often found myself sitting in a meeting with just male peers or senior colleagues. It can be easy as a female to feel outnumbered in these situations, but, I have never allowed this situation to rob me of my confidence. We need to remember that at the end of the day, we are all people with our own thoughts and insecurities. What is important is what we have to say and what information or knowledge we can add to discussions regardless of our gender or background. Sometimes the best discussion comes from the most diverse mix of people. HAVE YOU SEEN A CHANGE IN THE TYPES OF APPLICANTS YOU RECEIVE FOR QA POSITIONS IN RECENT TIMES? In Principality’s QA Community, we recruited quite heavily over the last 12 months, filling 9 QA vacancies in total. I am pleased that we had a diverse group of applicants over the last year. More diverse than maybe compared to 2 or 3 years ago which was great to see. We also recently started our very first Test Engineering Academy in Principality, offering 3 positions to graduates or candidates seeking a career change into Test/QA. We received a really diverse range of applicants through FinTech Wales and Cardiff and Vale College so it’s great to see that more and more people are being drawn to a career in tech. IF YOU COULD GIVE ADVICE TO SOMEONE WHO’S THINKING ABOUT MAKING A CAREER CHANGE INTO TECH/ TESTING WHAT WOULD IT BE? Nowadays there are amazing Academy opportunities out there for people looking to pursue a career in tech who don’t necessarily have a technical background. As mentioned, we recently connected with FinTechWales and Cardiff and Vale College and found 13 great candidates that joined Principality’s Dev and Test Engineering Academy. Have a look at this interesting story here from one of our new joiners: Golfer to Coder. Collaboration, communication skills and relationship-building skills are important for whatever area of tech you end up in and there are some great webinars available. I do like a Ted Talk and I will never tire of the leadership lesson from a dancing guy. FINALLY, ARE THERE ANY QUOTES/MANTRAS/WORDS OF WISDOM THAT YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR WOMEN ROCKERS? “Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” – Nora Ephron  I feel strongly about the power of believing in yourself. So, I like those quotes that make me feel strong and confident. I often think that confidence in your own ability is half the recipe for a successful career. The other half is what everyone has to figure out individually.   I think a career will find you if you look after yourself and analyse your own ambitions. You need different things at different stages of your life. What is important to you when you are 20, might not be important anymore when you are 35. Always take time to reflect on your career aspirations and balance these carefully with your mental health and physical well-being.  Sometimes opportunities come along that weren’t part of the plan. In my case, moving to a different country for love. Take a chance. Sometimes a sideward step instead of an upwards step can be the right move. You’ll still learn something new doing this and who knows what opportunities it might lead to.    Thanks, Anita you rock 🤘 Interview by Sam Miller

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Hilary Stephenson | Nexer Digital
WOMEN ROCK2023-01-30

Hilary Stephenson | Nexer Digital

Inclusion: the "I" in "ED&I", to be "included" is to feel part of something, to feel accepted. If we think about this in terms of the digital world, and as more and more parts of our lives move online it is important everyone can benefit from the internet and technology, regardless of their background or circumstance. Enter stage right - Nexer Digital, and more specifically Hilary Stephenson, managing director and ED&I advocate. Women Rock Ambassador Charles spoke with Hilary about the importance of community engagement and having a team that can relate and are representative of the audience Nexer want to reach.In this refreshing post, Hilary speaks candidly about the areas that need improving within Nexer in terms of ED&I but also recognises the small steps that are being made towards the end goal of being a fully inclusive, diverse workforce. TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF AND NEXER DIGITAL?Nexer Digital is a design and development agency with a focus on digital inclusion and social impact. We are the user experience arm of the wider Nexer Group, a Swedish-based organisation with over 2000 employees globally. We work with users to design, test and build products that we hope help people to live and work better, focusing on sectors where we can make a difference, namely health, local and central government, education, culture and heritage. This includes a number of charitable organisations, housing trusts and public sector research bodies. I started the initial UK business in 2007, building on my career and interests in usability, accessibility and user-centred content design.WITH NEXER, HOW HAVE YOU MAINTAINED A POSITIVE D&I FOCUS WHEN GOING THROUGH RAPID GROWTH?We’ve always had a focus on digital inclusion, from our early work in web accessibility. We’ve also chosen to work with organisations that have a social purpose, such as Mind, Diversity Role Models and Citizens Advice. This means we rely on community engagement, co-design and testing with a diverse audience to create better products and services. A natural conclusion from that was we needed a team that is representative of the audiences we seek to reach for our customers, so inclusion and intersectionality became broader concerns for us as we grew. We were finding issues in some aspects of recruitment that required some affirmative action. Our investment in a partnership with Diverse & Equal last year was just one step, but probably the most important one made in our business in recent years. From that initial boot camp, we have been able to mentor and support career changes for eight people from relevant sectors who want to move into user-centred design work. In parallel, we have made some progress with our Disability Confident employer status. We can of course do much more in both areas.NEXER SEEMS LIKE IT’S HAD AN AWESOME JOURNEY SINCE IT WAS FOUNDED IN 2007 (THEN SIGMA). WHAT’S BEEN THE BIGGEST LEARNING FOR YOU IN THAT TIME?That you can stay focused on the work you want to do. I’ve been given a lot of freedom to build the team, services and culture we need to focus on the sectors and causes we care about. If you can find value and friendships in your work, from colleagues to clients, it’s all a lot easier and more rewarding. That does include being bold, and honest, about the things you want to tackle, both in your own organisation and the client problems you work with. Accessibility is never done, behaviours are never truly inclusive, and user's needs clash. If you can embrace that and all the hypocrisies and missteps it might bring, while showing you have good intent, things are less stressful, generally.WHAT’S BEEN YOUR PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENT?The team we continue to build, their enthusiasm for their specialist craft and their focus on making stuff better. I’m still proud when I watch them speak, show me something we have designed or built, raise a theme they want to explore, or simply compromise and design things collaboratively. We need to keep that.WE GOT IN TOUCH FROM TWITTER, WHERE YOU TALKED ABOUT OWNING ANY HYPOCRISY ON ANY D&I INITIATIVE. WHAT EXACTLY DID YOU MEAN BY THIS?I think this came from observing a reluctance in some client teams to work in the open, specifically about accessibility. Sadly, due to the very real and important legal aspects, some people are nervous about sharing what they’ve achieved, for fear of being criticised for what they still need to do. It means the good, small steps and commitments to inclusion aren’t shared, so don’t encourage others to invest. I’d favour a more open, honest approach, where gaps are acknowledged, roadmaps are shared, and apologies offered. The same applies to our own team and diversity, where we are stronger in some areas, such as LGBTQ+ inclusion, yet were falling behind in other areas. The Diverse & Equal partnership came about when we embraced some of the awkwardness around a lack of cultural diversity in our own team and in leadership roles. We also need to work harder at supporting disabled and neurodiverse colleagues so accessibility informs who we are, as well as what we do.FINALLY, YOU ARE A VOLUNTEER AT DIVERSITY ROLE MODELS. WHO ARE THEY AND WHAT DO THEY DO?Diversity Role Models are a UK charity that encourages inclusion and acceptance through positive LGBTQ+ storytelling. They deliver workshops, assemblies and training in schools to help people teachers and young people consider diverse families, inclusive language and reduce homophobic, transphobic and biphobic bullying. We have supported them with their digital strategy since they launched in 2011. They are still very much needed, as their most recent impact report highlighted that “Secondary school pupils are most likely to be bullied when they are gay or thought to be gay (42%)”. As well as supporting them in our work at Nexer, I also volunteer for them as a role model, trainer and workshop facilitator, where I share my own coming-out journey. The aim is to offer some personal insight into the experience of being a lesbian and living in a happy, same-sex relationship and raising a young family. I hope it resonates.Thanks, Hilary you rock 🤘Interview by Charles Hoskins

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Kinga Stryszowska-Hill, Ph.D. | StormSensor
WOMEN ROCK2023-01-24

Kinga Stryszowska-Hill, Ph.D. | StormSensor

Not many of us know what we want to do in our twenties...or thirties...or forties...let ALONE when we were 11. But as 11-year-old Kinga Stryszowska-Hill explored the forests and rural countryside of Poland, she knew she was destined to feed her passion for the environment - whatever that would end up looking like. Here, we hear about Kinga's journey from academia to industry having gained a BA, MS, and PhD in Environmental Studies, and eventually finding a strong affinity in tech to solve real-level environmental problems as a Geospatial Data Scientist. This wasn't an overnight transition but Kinga proves if you put the time and hard graft in - anything is possible. The other common thread throughout this interview is about the importance of networking, community and mentorship and Kinga's passion to help fellow techies and share advice over a coffee.So grab your tipple of choice and find out how to embrace change and take the first step toward your dream career!SO GOOD TO BE SPEAKING WITH YOU! LET’S START AT THE BEGINNING, WHEN DID YOU FIRST REALISE YOU WERE PASSIONATE ABOUT USING YOUR SKILLS AS A FORCE FOR ENVIRONMENTAL GOOD?Well, I grew up in a very rural town in Poland, an upbringing which saw me freely run around in the local forests and fields. So, it’s safe to say that from a very early age, I always had an affinity with the outdoors! In the ’90s my parents emigrated to the United States, bringing the whole family to New York City, the move was a HUGE shift to what I was used to, I’d be taken from a luscious green bliss to an urban jungle! It was a huge move for an 11-year-old, the move undoubtedly speared me to environmental stewardship whether 11-year-old me knew about it or not! I always had a natural gravitation to biology through high school and really excelled at Biology, when the time came to start thinking about what I wanted to do post high school it was such an easy decision. It has to be the environment; I remember thinking this is what’s been missing from my life! My passion only increased as I gained a BA, MS, and PhD in Environmental Studies, subsequently sharing my knowledge as a visiting assistant professor & postdoc associate before transitioning into industry as a Geospatial Data Scientist just over 12 months ago. WOAH, WHAT A JOURNEY! HOW WAS THAT TRANSITION FROM ACADEMIA TO INDUSTRY? Academia is relatively closed off, with most academics being expected to stay in academia to do research and teach. With very little guidance and support on how to get out and exit the system. I decided to leave not because I felt like I wasn’t making a difference in academia, I was still super happy, more so I found I was always struggling to find real security in a full-time position with an adequate salary. I identified Data/ Tech as an area I would excel, with my science background I knew my analytics skills were super sharp, knowing I could use those skills to solve real-level environmental problems.OK, AND WHAT KIND OF CHALLENGES HAVE YOU FACED AS A WOMAN MOVING INTO TECH, WHICH IS TRADITIONALLY A SPACE DOMINATED BY MALES?I guess I’m fortunate that I’ve not had any huge adverse experiences in both industry or academia (which is also very male-dominated). Which is good. That said, I’ve seen first-hand the positive power of having women in senior management can have on a business.WHAT LESSONS OR ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE OTHERS WANTING TO FOLLOW A SIMILAR PATH IN USING THEIR SKILLS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP WHO MAY BE LOOKING TO TRANSITION FROM ACADEMIA TO INDUSTRY? Well, it’s such a big shift and equally difficult, I will invite anybody to follow me on LinkedIn, I’m always wanting to help aspiring techies and welcome a quick virtual coffee to muse about all there is. That said, separating it into the particulars of my path as a Data Specialist/ Data Scientist, my advice would be to start with a basic analytics tool such as Excel and work up from there, to SQL, R or Python. You don’t have to be an expert in any of them, though there’s always an element of upskilling involved.And then there’s the subject matter expertise, for example, my company hired me because of my water expertise, having these specific nuances is often what secures you that role. Sidenote, My PhD took me five years, my Masters 3 years and Bachelors 4 years - it’s a lot of education! Sometimes I think how much of an impact I could have made if I spent some of this time working for a mission-driven start-up!I’m also a huge proponent of networking, and coffee chats. I learn something every single time I speak to someone new doing a similar profession. This is just talking to learn what type of work they do in different companies.HOW ARE YOU GOING ABOUT THESE INTERVIEWS KINGA? IT CAN BE PRETTY DAUNTING APPROACHING A CEO FOR A FRESH GRADUATE FOR EXAMPLE.I guess to get some runway, I started by reaching out to loose connections in the space I was looking to pivot into. Also, I don’t yet reach out to CEOs, more so people on a similar peer level or a role/ title that I’m interested in. You’ll likely get way more value immediately this way. I often ask, what do you do, how do you do it and how did you get her? People love helping, it’s in our nature. My advice to any student would be to be brave and network with people that inspire and motivate you.DO YOU SEE YOURSELF AS A MENTOR?I guess so, my LinkedIn presence has a mentoring capacity in some ways. I’ve had a lot of conversations sharing my advice which I love. I personally don’t have any formal mentor/mentee relationships.DO YOU FEEL MORE CAN BE DONE TO SUPPORT WOMEN IN THE TECH COMMUNITY? I think community is so important. Slack, LinkedIn, and Facebook can be really powerful in these respects. I think if more women can be featured as role models it’s only a good thing.WHAT DO YOU DO TO DISENGAGE FROM DATA SCIENCE, WHAT CAN BE A VERY MENTALLY ENGAGING CAREER?Naturally, it probably comes as no surprise, with three young girls I love just to have a full reset and get some fresh air and explore. We’ve recently relocated to North Carolina, so still learning about the local surroundings.FAVOURITE MANTRA OR QUOTE YOU LIVE BY? That’s super hard. I really struggle with these. The thing that resonated most is embracing change, and seeing it as a positive. Scary change may be the best of all, life is always going to throw changes at you, we’ve had some really unexpected times of late. Rather than being locked down by fear and inaction, just lean into things. Not operating by fear. My transition from academia to Data Science was terrifying but only good things came from it.DO YOU RECKON YOUR MOVE FROM POLAND TO THE U.S. AT A RELATIVELY YOUNG AGE HAS MADE YOU MORE ADEPT AT CHANGE?Yes maybe! Though it’s not something I often think about. Embrace things and take the next step forward!Thanks, Kinga you rock 🤘Interview by Mike Hardwick

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Laura Voineag | Software Engineer
WOMEN ROCK2023-01-17

Laura Voineag | Software Engineer

Role models are so important when looking for advice, inspiration and encouragement...so what do you do when you can't seem to relate to influencers in your industry? Well, you become one yourself of course! And that is exactly what Software Engineer and self-proclaimed "career changer" Laura did when she realised there was no real voice for "ordinary people" switching to tech. If you are feeling any self-doubt or unsure of your next step in your career then this is a MUST-READ! Laura talks candidly about anxiety and imposter syndrome, offers some amazing tips and there are tangible takeaways throughout! Get ready to feel motivated... THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO TALK WITH US TODAY, LAURA. CAN YOU START BY TELLING US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND, AND WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO TAKE THE LEAP INTO SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT? As a career changer, I never knew what I wanted to become, so I tried a few careers (in finance, law, and public service). I discovered that tech allows me to express myself as a person as I rarely stick to norms. As a Software Engineer, I have the opportunity to be creative, to learn, to improve, to problem solve and to work with others in creating great products. As a bonus, tech allows me to encourage others to code and improve the industry with my contribution.WHAT DO YOU THINK STOPS OTHERS IN A SIMILAR POSITION FROM TAKING THAT FIRST STEP?1. The unconscious bias where if you don’t see people like you — you feel that you don’t belong.2. Erroneous self-belief that you are not smart/good enough. This is primarily because, as women, we were never encouraged by our families, schools, community or country to go into technical roles from an early age.3. The Tech industry is not supporting authentic female leaders - female leaders think they need to adopt “masculine” traits to produce better results because the industry didn't create a space for them. 4. No training and support available for people going into tech. Most organisations only hire mid to senior devs. They expect developers to gain the knowledge somewhere else and apply to their jobs in 2 years' time to reap the benefits.5. Rightly, Imposter Syndrome kicks in with the cumulation of the above and women get disheartened and start to question their decision of picking tech as a career, some even abandon it.Tech is still perceived as a "difficult" subject to pick up where only the brightest would succeed and boot camps, companies, and recruiters cultivate it ignorantly. Even if women switch to tech, they rarely go for the more technical roles like software engineering.We should normalise pursuing our goal and accept that, in order to accomplish it, we need to overcome obstacles and learn a lot of lessons. Learning to code is the same as learning any other skill, it’s just a habit and anyone can do it. Nobody is born doing calculus! (Dr Heidi Grant - Growth Mindset) YOU TALK A LOT ABOUT IMPOSTER SYNDROME, HOW HAVE YOU STRUGGLED WITH THIS, AND HOW HAVE YOU MANAGED TO OVERCOME THIS?Before moving to tech I called Imposter Syndrome, anxiety. I sometimes suffered from anxiety because of not finding my place in the world, changing careers, moving countries, and failed relationships, but mostly because I was feeling the odd one out. After finding tech I substituted my Anxiety with Imposter Syndrome. I soon realised that I was worrying about things outside of my control. I read a lot of books about mental health, CBT and motivation and was able to pick up on my unhealthy habits. I made a decision to free myself from fear or worry and accepted that someone's opinion of me does not need to be my reality. Therefore, in my first month as a Software Engineer, I made my peace with getting fired. I dropped my ego and allowed myself to make as many mistakes as possible. I asked all the questions I wanted in order to learn without worrying about what people thought. I stopped doubting myself and stopped comparing myself with others and just focused on my progress and accomplishing my goal. And finally, I surrounded myself with positive like-minded individuals and ignored anything else that didn't support me.YOU HAVE BEGUN TO BUILD A PLATFORM THROUGH WRITING ARTICLES ON WOMEN IN TECH, AND FORGING A CAREER IN SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT. YOU EVEN MENTIONED THE WOMEN IN TECH PANEL YOU WILL BE SPEAKING ON IN THE NEW YEAR. WHAT INSPIRED THIS, AND WHY IS THIS PLATFORM SO IMPORTANT TO YOU?After securing my first role as a developer I joined a Women in Tech event. I listened to women speak about their experiences in the hope that they might offer a formula or some great advice that would help me in my struggles of becoming a great software engineer. Suffice to say that didn't happen, there was no actionable advice provided. Moreover, I got a bit frustrated with hearing other women only praising "the superstars" and the "most talented" individuals giving the impression that ordinary people cannot just switch to tech.In the absence of a role model, I decided to become a Speaker.I was accepted as a Panel Speaker at the Reframe WIT Conference in March 2023. Shortly after this announcement, I started to write articles on my Medium account.I want to provide practical and tangible advice to individuals pursuing tech and especially to software engineers. I don't want people to have to suffer from imposter syndrome and I want to empower the belief that everyone can switch to a career in tech.IF YOU COULD GIVE ONE BIT OF ADVICE TO SOMEONE WHO’S THINKING ABOUT FORGING A CAREER IN TECH – WHAT WOULD IT BE?You start by understanding your needs, the tech industry and the companies you would like to work for. Firstly, decide on your purpose and then you strengthen your reasons for picking it. Knowing why you've chosen your goal will help you during dark times. Secondly, think about how to accomplish your goal e.g. going to boot camp. Thirdly, understand the Tech Industry wall. I've written an article about this here. Lastly, choose the right company for you. A company that provides you with a safe space for learning, where your diversity is valued, and a collaborative and Agile environment where best practices are encouraged.IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT THE TECH INDUSTRY, WHAT WOULD IT BE?The change that I would like to see is how we address and recognise diversity in tech along with how we support early career engineers after completing their tech course.WHAT DO YOU ENJOY DOING IN YOUR FREE TIME?I do so many things (^v^) I am a Coder 👩‍💻Illustrator 🦋 Otaku (๑• .̫ •๑) who draws manga (๑•́ ₃ •̀๑) loves ♡ Anime & the Japanese culture🙌 Very active with Sports ⛹️‍♀️🏊 🏃‍♀️🤸‍♀️🧘‍♀️💃 ✨Painter🌟Learning Japanese おはようSpeaker 👩‍🎤 advocating for Women in Tech and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion 🦄 🧚‍♀️🧛‍♀️🧜‍♀️Early Career Engineers ❤️Obsessed with motivation and mental health.FINALLY, DO YOU HAVE A MANTRA TO LIVE BY? It's not whether or not I can do it. I am doing it because I want to!Thanks, Laura you rock 🤘Interview by Izzy Morgan-Davies

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Maddie Clingan | ControlPlane
WOMEN ROCK2023-01-10

Maddie Clingan | ControlPlane

This week Maddie Clingan is taking us on a journey into the unknowns of Agile Coaching and we couldn't ask for a better tour guide. Maddie followed her dream of working for a tech start-up after working for one in Beijing while doing her masters. Originally interviewing for a business strategy role, she ended up accepting an Agile Coaching position and, quite frankly: nailing it. As an Agile Coach, she has the opportunity to look at how people work together, and how people collaborate which often gives Maddie permission to talk to people about diversity, and inclusion - another huge passion of hers, a passion that grew as she travelled the world and truly embraced different ways of doing things.So, strap yourself in for a journey that explores the past, present and future of being a woman in tech...CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WHAT IT IS THAT AN AGILE COACH DOES PLEASE?Yes, absolutely. And I think that sense of being unassured and unfamiliar with this role or the Agile profession is really common. So even for myself about three years ago, I hadn't had any exposure to Agile. I actually said yes to my first Agile Coaching role without fully knowing the extent of what's involved. So it's been a learning process for me as well, and it's really nice to go on that journey alongside teams and companies. So, if I give a little bit of background, Agile is a way of working that has come become quite prolific across lots of different industries. But it started off in tech in 2001 when a group of people got together and wrote the Agile Manifesto. I think one of the really important things to know about Agile is that it was actually the response to a problem that they were experiencing in IT projects. So, namely, they tended to be planned upfront and delivered in quite a sequential way. And by the time they came to market, they weren't actually relevant for business or user needs anymore. So perhaps, as an example, if you think about the pandemic, if you planned something before that, and then delivered it a year later, whilst the pandemic was happening, the industry and the business and users are completely different, and needs and wants have changed. So Agile is a way of working that responds to that by looking at creating small, iterative feedback loops, and ways of working that create those feedback loops, both within teams and product groups with users and stakeholders. Agile Coaches are there as the people who are well versed in that way of working (or eventually become well versed in that!), and they help teams to bring those ways of working to light and continuously improve their process.HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE AGILE SPACE, PARTICULARLY IN TECH AND HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE INDUSTRY AS A WHOLE? Yeah, so my journey was slightly unintentional and also almost Agile and iterative. Again, unintentionally! So I originally wanted to seek a role within a startup because I'd worked in a startup in Beijing where I was doing my Master’s, and I really liked that environment as it was fast-paced, and I was given a lot of autonomy and responsibility. And so that was the direction that I started out in when I returned to London. And then in the process of that, I came across a tech startup that specialised in Lean and Agile product delivery. And I interviewed for a business strategy role there, and throughout the interview process, I got to know the interviewers. Around kind of stage three, they told me that their business direction had changed and they weren't looking for someone to go into this role, but they would really like to help me find a position. And I thought they were being very polite at the time, but what ended up happening was that they suggested that I went for an Agile Coaching role at one of their clients. And so I went for that and was successful. After I started the role, they coached me in Agile principles and ways of working, and, eventually, I ended up taking over the responsibility that they had as an external consultancy, but as an internal coach. So it was a real team effort, and I learned a lot along the way. I have a lot of credit to give to the people that helped me, believed in me, and put me forward for these roles.SPEAKING ABOUT THE BROADER TECH SPACE NOW: WE OFTEN GET ASKED HOW YOU GET INTO THIS, SPECIFICALLY - ARE UNIVERSITY DEGREES IMPORTANT? WHAT ARE YOU THOUGHTS? Yeah, so I tend to think about two sets of groups within the world of tech. So you have, at least in my mind, one group of people who have a really strong knowledge base. They might be your kind of Engineers, Developers, Security Specialists, or DevOps people. And for those kinds of roles, given that the contribution that you bring to the team tends to be quite specialist, I would say there's only ever a benefit to starting earlier, but that by no means excludes you if you want to start later. And then you've got another set of roles that are, in my mind, much more skills-based. So, potentially, Agile Coaches, Scrum Masters, Product Owners, or even User Researchers whose contribution is much more are focused on the skills and ways of thinking that they bring to get different contexts. And for those types of roles, I'd say in regards to your university degree or your previous experience, it matters less about the industry and more about the skills, experience, and impact that you'll be able to build up during that time. But I think regardless of whether you're going into either set of roles there, it's never too late to start. There are so many resources out there, so many different journeys and so many ways that you can get self-taught. So I'd say if you have that vision, start early, but never feel that you're excluded from the tech path just because you didn't do a university degree or haven't started yet.D&I is super important to have different perspectives when it comes to problem-solving - leading to better and quicker solutions...it really is a no-brainer! DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION IS SOMETHING THAT YOU'RE QUITE PASSIONATE ABOUT. SO WHAT DO YOU THINK CAN BE DONE TO HELP ATTRACT A MORE SORT OF DIVERSE MIX OF PEOPLE INTO THE TECH SPACE, WHICH CLEARLY IS GOING TO BENEFIT EVERYONE INVOLVED? Yeah, absolutely. So I think there's this stereotype of the character who works in tech. So that might be the kind of lone wolf male who sits in a dark room typing away at his keyboard, and I think if you have that image of tech, then that might not feel like a welcoming environment for someone who is not of that demographic. But I think actually, that's a very inaccurate representation of what working in tech looks like. Tech is one of the spaces that are trying to be really intentional about ways of working. Hence you have people involved, like Agile Coaches, whose whole job description is to look at how people work together, and how people collaborate. And so some of the values, specifically the Scrum values, such as openness, respect, and courage, really facilitate spaces where diverse voices are welcome and where people of different viewpoints can come together to try and find a consensus that satisfies lots of different requirements. I think those are the spaces that really benefit, as you said, from diverse viewpoints. So if we can change the image of tech to one that's a lot more vibrant, a lot more open, and a lot more intentional about these things, I think maybe more people would consider coming into the space. I know like me, myself, had I known that five years ago, I probably would have been much more open to coming into the industry. AS A WOMAN IN TECHNOLOGY, WHAT SORT OF CHALLENGES HAVE YOU FACED?I'd say one of the unique things about being a woman in tech is that it's very normal to be the only woman in the room. And I think that's not a problem in isolation, but it becomes a problem when that's the only professional environment that you ever experience.I, myself, tried to be quite intentional about getting female coaches, and female mentors, to have more perspectives, opinions, and professional experiences that I can draw on. And that's been really helpful for me to see those role models and understand how other people navigate these spaces. And then I think, at least in my case, being an Agile Coach puts me in quite a unique position where I'm given permission to look at ways of working and how companies set themselves up from an organisational perspective, which often gives me permission to talk to people about diversity, inclusion and, in general, be more vocal in that area. So I've had a lot of opportunities to have these conversations with companies and be part of the solution as well. Overall, I've loved the opportunities that I’ve had so far in this space: both in getting the support that I need, but also in trying to be part of the solution to make environments more welcoming for others.IN TERMS OF TECH AND IN YOUR PERSONAL LIFE AS WELL, WHAT ARE YOUR PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENTS SO FAR? I think one of the interesting things is that there's a program that I really want to go on called I Am Remarkable, which helps women speak about their achievements. It feels a little out of character to speak about what I’m proud of, but I will give it my best shot. I think the situations where I feel most proud of myself are the ones where I've taken things from an idea to full implementation, and you see the effects in the real world, impacting people. So I'd say on the tech side of things about a year or two into my first job, I was put on a second project from the get-go. We were able to take that idea and bring it all the way through initial discovery, then create a continuous discovery approach, as well as continuous delivery. We created ways of working where we were consistently delivering value for clients, and for the company more broadly, and I loved being part of that whole process from end to end. I got to work with such a diverse range of people, some of whom work really new to tech, for example, their first job, and some of whom had been there for many, many years. It was such a vibrant and collaborative process. And there was something so tangible (the first iteration of the product) that we were so proud of at the end, just before I left the role. That was a great, great experience. And then on the personal side of things, I had the idea when I was much younger than I am now - it makes me feel old to think about it! - but when I was a teenager, I was really fascinated by international affairs and China, and I had the idea that I really wanted to build up expertise in that area and create a forum for dialogue for young people to discuss what a rising China might mean for certain countries and industries. And so I did various things, such as going to China before my undergrad, learning the language and studying, and then I eventually got a full scholarship for my Master’s. From there, I contributed to a conference that brought people from around the world to Beijing. So, again, going from an idea to then living in Beijing, working in Beijing, and being surrounded by people with a similar kind of aspiration. I was really proud of that as well.IN TERMS OF WHERE WE ARE NOW, WE'RE AT THE START OF 2023 - WHAT DO YOU THINK 2023 HOLDS FOR YOU? AGAIN, INSIDE AND OUTSIDE OF WORK?Yes. So I think from a professional side, this year for me has been focused on looking at what's called flow metrics and probabilistic forecasting, which is a way of working that falls under the Agile umbrella. It really helps teams answer the question: when will it be done? which is notoriously hard in Agile where you're constantly learning as you go. So I had been looking at implementing that in the teams that I'd worked with at my previous company, and now doing a lot of training and knowledge sharing at ControlPlane in regards to this. So that's something that I'm really excited about because I think that it resolves a lot of these age-old tensions between more traditional ways of working and Agile ways of working. I'd like to get a certification in that area towards the end of the year just to formalise my learning there. And then I'd say, outside of work, I am really focused on my own health journey. Around a year and a half ago, I got really sick with a virus that wasn't COVID but left me with really, really, strong post-viral fatigue so I couldn't get out of bed for a long time. It was often a struggle to walk and then I also, somewhat unrelated, had really bad back pain. So it's been a very iterative journey again, to come back to full health but I've done amazing things like hiking across Albania last month, and, alongside that, I’m building up my frequency of going to classes like spin. And for me, that's really exciting as well, because I want to get to a place where I feel really physically strong too.IN YOUR FREE TIME WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPIEST OUTSIDE OF WORK?Related to what I just mentioned, I love travelling, being in new environments, learning about new cultures, and having that experience alongside good friends. I'm going to Amsterdam in a couple of weeks, and I've just been to Albania. I think that those experiences really help to shape me and my ways of thinking, and shake up my relationships too, so I love doing things like that. And yeah, overall I'd say I enjoy investing in relationships and the people around me. I have a lot of international friends from my time in Beijing so there are always good debates happening with us discussing various things that we're thinking about and the various things going on in the world.IN ONE SENTENCE, HOW WOULD YOU SUM UP YOUR CAREER SO FAR?I would say a squiggly career. This is the concept that there aren't necessarily linear ladders that you need to progress up. But you can do lots of different things, experiment, and try lots of different industries to see what you're interested in. For example, my background spans lots of different humanities and China studies, and now I'm in tech. So I see that as squiggly, but something that's really exciting for me as I navigate all of these different areas and find joy in all of them.ARE THERE ANY COMMON THEMES TO ALL OF THEM?Yes, I would say the common theme is that I'm primarily motivated by the environment that I'm in rather than necessarily the context of the work.I think when a lot of people think about their careers, they consider: what industry do I want to go into? And they think less about: what will my life look like in that field. Whereas I'm much more concerned about the atmosphere. This means that I seek out environments that are fast-paced, challenging, and tend to be cutting edge and help you really understand the world. So I would say that's the common theme.It's taken me to all of these different places, and I think will take me to many different places again in the future.WHAT YEAR WOULD YOU LIVE IN - PAST, FUTURE OR PRESENT? PERHAPS, IN A DIFFERENT COUNTRY, AND WHY? This is a hard one. I think I will close off any past options because I think being a woman in the world of work wasn’t great. I say I would love to go into the future and understand what the world of work looks like in 30 years because I'm really hopeful that it will develop and expand to be much more kind of human-centred, much more intentional, much more focused on how we collaborate and work together as people. And, hopefully, that creates great working environments for everyone and also better outcomes for businesses.WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE QUOTE?This is a quote that I found in Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead book, and it stuck with me ever since.And it is: “In the past, jobs were about muscles, now they're about brains, but in the future, they'll be about the heart.”And for me, that reminds me of the bigger picture transition that we've gone through in the last couple of hundred years in terms of what the world of work has looked like and also what success and leadership have looked like, throughout the different stages of work. And this, for me, ties into Agile because I think that now we're in a period where the main skill set that one should have is the ability to navigate uncertainty and continuously learn, and leadership in that field looks like creating those environments for teams. That is much more about the heart because, contrary to feeling like you always need to get it right and to have the right knowledge, it's much more about creating an environment so that other people succeed. I think that challenges traditional notions of leadership and success, but if you're able to do that internal work, collaborate with others, and create good working environments, I think the possibilities are endless. So yeah, I'm really hopeful about what's to come. Thanks, Maddie you rock 🤘Interview by Ben Dennison

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LORA KIOSSEVA | DAYE
WOMEN ROCK2022-12-11

LORA KIOSSEVA | DAYE

Tech and Tampons. From menopause bracelets to menstrual trackers, the Femtech industry has grown rapidly since 2016. The first tampon however, was invented by Earl Haas in 1931! During the 1930s there was common social discomfort with the idea of women touching themselves at all near their vagina. At the time, many people, including physicians, believed that women touching their reproductive organs during tampon use would cause them to sexually pleasure themselves or break the hymen. Thankfully things have moved on A LOT since then...and with sustainable and ethical companies like Daye, women now have the the opportunity to make educated and sustainable decision when it comes to their menstrual cycle.Today we hear from Lora, Software Engineer at Daye - creators of the world's first CBD infused tampon - about her journey into tech, why culture is so important when wanting to attract a diverse workforce and how she finds inspiration in her everyDAYE life! HI LORA, THANKS SO MUCH FOR TALKING TO US TODAY...WE LOVE THE DAYE BRAND EVERYTHING IT DOES FOR WOMEN'S GYNAE HEALTH AND THE PLANET! CAN YOU START BY TELLING US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF AND HOW YOU BECAME A SOFTWARE ENGINEER? It’s a family affair! - I come from a family of engineers with both mum and dad and also my grandma and grandpa being engineers - so I have been exposed to it for the majority of my childhood. I soon joined this family trait and went to Sofia Highschool of Mathematics – the classes were generally made up of mostly boys – I was one of eight girls in a class of thirty – but to be honest, I never really noticed the significance in that ratio back then. I went to the University of Strathclyde where I studied Mathematics and Computer Science and following that attended The Data Lab Academy - Scotland’s innovation centre for data and AI and I received a scholarship through them. They covered my MSc tuition fees but also provided additional training and networking opportunities with people from the industry, as well as a paid internship while I was doing my MSc dissertation. It's a great organisation that helps a lot of people build data skills or even change careers.AND WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO DAYE? During university my internships were mostly in the automotive industry that was basically just middle-aged men. I didn’t feel like I really fitted in, in terms of ethos and didn't feel like sustainability was much of a priority and this is something I'm really passionate about. I had been interested in implementing my knowledge into the healthcare industry so when the position at Daye came up, I went for it. My manager Ed is amazing, the most wholesome person on the earth and the interview was more of a great chat that left me feeling positive and excited. Finding out about the culture at Daye really excited me as it's super friendly and inclusive. You are surround by like-minded people and everyone is always on hand to help with any questions you have. We actually have a selected “Culture Guardian” who’s job is to arrange an activity each month to bring the team together – the next one is ‘painting with wine’ so painting with a wine reduction and drinking wine...PAINTING WITH WINE SOUNDS RIGHT UP OUR STREET! YOU MENTIONED THE CULTURE WAS 'INCLUSIVE' WHY IS THAT IMPORTANT TO YOU? ED&I is super important to have different perspectives when it comes to problem solving - leading to better and quicker solutions...it really is a no-brainer! WE WHOLE-HEARTEDLY AGREE! IF YOU COULD GIVE ONE BIT OF ADVICE TO SOMEONE WHO'S THINKING ABOUT FORGING A CAREER IN TECH, WHAT WOULD IT BE? Do your homework - there are so many different roles in tech, you can surely find something that suits you, transferable skills are super important. Research what type of companies get you excited and start a conversation with them - you never know where it might lead! WHO OR WHAT INSPIRES YOU?I find tiny bits of my everyday life inspirational. It can be a nice gesture I saw someone do or the way that tree in front of my home grows.WHAT DO YOU DO TO UNWIND AFTER A BUSY WEEK? I think having regular screen detoxes so important and I love being outside in the beautiful Bulgaria! In the winter I ski and in the summer; hang out on the beach friends and play tennis. I am also in the process of getting my captain license for a sailboat and hoping to soon be a fully-fledged captain. A CAPTAIN'S LICENSE? THAT'S INCREDIBLE! WHAT'S THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU HAVE RECIEVED DURING YOUR CAREER IN TECH? Take a walk! When you get stuck on something and hyper-focused the best thing to do is get outside in the fresh air, take yourself off for a breather and you will usually come back to the issue with a calmer and clearer approach.FINALLY, DO YOU HAVE A MANTRA TO LIVE BY? No… not really 😁 But whenever I get overwhelmed I try to focus on my breathing! Thanks Lora you rock 🤘Interview by Sophie Eadon

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Elisa Sai | Capgemini Invent
WOMEN ROCK2022-12-05

Elisa Sai | Capgemini Invent

The devil is in the detail, and the detail is in the data...This week's interview is fascinating as we find out more about the gender inequalities in healthcare. And who better to give us insight than Elisa Sai - Senior Director, Data & Analytics at CapGemini Invent. Elisa has worked in data analytics, within the public sector for her whole career and was involved in the recent partnership between Capgemini invent and Women in Data® as they published the paper: “Data-driven action to close the gender health gap” The partnership and paper were created to understand the role that data plays - and could play - in improving women's health outcomes - it's an incredible document and we urge you to give it a read! But before you do, hear from one of the experts! Elisa's focus and approach is so refreshing and inspiring! HI ELISA, THANKS SO MUCH FOR TAKING THE TIME TO TALK TO US ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY INTO DATA! CAN YOU PLEASE START BY TELLING US WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT ROLE AND HOW DID YOU ARRIVE AT THE WORK YOU ARE DOING?I’ve worked in data analytics and the public sector for my whole career. I studied for a PhD in the history of art, but realised that academic life was a bit too solitary for me. I applied for a job with a consulting firm and by chance one of my first projects was working with analytics, at a time when data science wasn’t very well known. Back then, there were few people with the necessary skills, and because I had some experience working in a data-mining team as a graduate, I ended up managing the project. And that’s how my career in data analytics began.WHAT ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT? Data and AI are fascinating – the way you can draw insights from data and the impact that can be made by driving appropriate actions. My work is focused on the public sector, where it’s possible to have a positive impact on people’s lives. I also care deeply about coaching and mentoring, which I see as part of team development. I love having a team around me that is empowered and inspired, so personal development is just a natural conversation. In fact, I also see it as reverse mentoring because I get so much out of it in terms of seeing from other perspectives.CAPGEMINI AND WOMEN IN DATA RECENTLY PUBLISHED A PAPER "DATA DRIVEN ACTION TO CLOSE THE GENDER HEALTH-GAP" WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THAT?Capgemini’s partnership with Women in Data® has been a fantastic experience. There has been a lot of discussion recently about gender inequalities in healthcare and we felt we could contribute to that, applying a data lens. Together we held a workshop with about 30 senior female professionals in the field, facilitated by Women in Data®. We looked at the data lifecycle, from collection to consumption, and examined the gaps in each area and what the possibilities were. The thinking that came out of the workshop formed the basis for this paper, which itself is intended as a basis for further discussion. Women in Data® is now looking at how it can take forward actions to address the issues raised, and I hope to be a part of that process as it progresses.YOU SPOKE ABOUT DATA COLLECTION AND DATA CONSUMPTION. TALK US THROUGH THE INEQUALITIES THERE?Research shows that women can sometimes lose out from a healthcare perspective and have poor healthcare outcomes. There are varying reasons for that, but one we discussed is that some illnesses affecting only women have not been studied as deeply. Endometriosis is a good example. We heard that it can take seven or eight years on average for a woman suffering endometriosis to be diagnosed.If you think about where we get data from, it’s often from clinical trials. But the participation of women in clinical trials is not as representative as it should be – 50 per cent of the population does not translate to 50 per cent of trial participants. There are conditions or situations that exclude women from clinical trials too, pregnancy being a big one. If you’re pregnant you are often discouraged from participating in a trial and that’s a problem, not only for balanced representation but also because we then lack data about how pregnant women are affected by medications, for example. But there are other ways to collect data from women. Data can be automatically donated by health-tracking apps, for example, but women have to have confidence that it will be used for the right purposes. In her recent podcast, Caroline Criado Perez, author of the book Invisible Women, has spoken about how in the United States, after the Supreme Court ruling on abortion, there has been a lot of concern around women who have provided data around periods and their health, because of the information that can be drawn from it. Could that information potentially be used against them in a legal context? The lack of clarity in this space does not encourage “data altruism” and the desire to share personal data. We also discussed how fewer than 20 per cent of data scientists in the UK are women and this number is going down. Data scientists also often work in silos and are not always adequately integrated with medical professionals. There are, of course, physiological differences between men and women, and when data is not disaggregated there is a risk that valuable information is lost. All this has an impact on how women are represented in research.WHAT CAN BE DONE TO ADDRESS SOME OF THESE ISSUES? The workshop generated a lot of ideas – for example, the creation of a regulated body that would provide standards on how private organisations work with the data provided. Rules on data collection to analysis could help women feel confident handing over data. The certification would guarantee that a person’s data can only be used for scientific or research purposes. We don’t have all the answers yet, but having these discussions helps. We’ve seen in other areas how conversations like these can lead to real changes in regulation. This is the first step. I think more work also needs to be done to understand the role of data both in terms of opportunity and risk, and what can be achieved.WHO IS BEST PLACED TO DRIVE DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION IN AN ORGANISATION?I think it’s everybody’s responsibility. When we talk about inclusion and diversity, we are not just thinking in terms of gender. It’s about diversity in all its forms, and the recognition of our biases, so we can change our behaviour. It’s also about recognition that one size doesn’t fit all. For example, I’ve had a lot of discussions around work-life balance and how to help working parents, and that benefits a lot of people. But that’s not the case for every single woman. For me, when I came back from maternity leave, the most important thing was having someone help me progress my career very fast – that’s what I wanted. Sometimes, in the spirit of encouraging diversity, we can end up falling into stereotypes.FINALLY, CAN YOU LEAVE US WITH YOUR FAVOURITE QUOTE? “You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realise this and you will find strength” – Marcus Aurelius I can be affected a lot by events and I need to keep myself in a steady space, regardless of what has happened. So, I like this idea that you can train your mind and have power over what happens within it. Traditionally, particularly in certain fields, women often find they’re the only woman in the room. How do you deal with your thoughts around that situation? It comes back to my passion for coaching and personal development – mastering the ability to control your mind and nourish your thoughts.Thanks Elisa you rock 🤘Interview by Charles Hoskins

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Zena, Maria & Heather | Kin + Carta
WOMEN ROCK2022-12-02

Zena, Maria & Heather | Kin + Carta

‘’Building up my own self-confidence and self-belief that I am a product manager, and a good one! I’ve always struggled with imposter syndrome, and never felt completely comfortable or confident in myself as a chemist, or as a management consultant. It’s been a rollercoaster ride as a Product Manager too, but for the first time I felt that I was really able to add value, and could make an impact that not just anyone, anywhere could do.’’ Heather Miles‘’Emphasise your transferable skills. While you might be starting from scratch in a particular industry, you are not new to the world of work. Highlight the skills you have picked up from previous roles on your CV and when interviewing. Whether it’s managing projects or working with clients, all of your previous skills are extremely valuable and could set you apart from other candidates with less work experience.’’ Zena Zerai‘’It is not always a bed of roses: there are many days you doubt yourself; you feel frustrated because you are used to producing results quickly in your previous job, and you have to remind yourself that you are starting again, and beginnings are always hard. It is difficult to ignore the “impostor syndrome” lurking behind you when you are the older person in a meeting, and maybe the less technically experienced.’’ Maria Valero Gonzalez Those are just a couple of snippets from 3 awesome ladies from Kin + Carta who have shared their successful journey from Law and Chemistry to User Experience Designer, Data Engineer, and Product Manager and so excited to share their stories for the world to hear. We are Tech Women quoted ‘’Technology has traditionally been a male-dominated field, with a persistently low representation of women. Tech Nation’s recent survey found only 19% of people working in tech are women. On the flip side, many employers are actively seeking to address this disproportionate representation by changing their hiring practices and engineering team environments to be more inclusive to women.’’ The challenge these employers face is that the traditional recruitment process relies on university graduates with computer science degrees. Not only are 80% of these graduates’ men, but also the three-year study period means current roles can’t be filled quickly. Today any changes made that positively impact course demographics won’t impact the hiring pool until at least 2024.In a bid to resolve the current skills gap, I and we are seeing companies updating their new hire processes and considering candidates from other educational backgrounds, such as tech academies and boot camps, creating a more accessible path for women wanting to pursue a career in Technology.Grab a kombucha, a cuppa, flat white and have a read of this beautifulnessZENA, MARIA, AND HEATHER PLEASE COULD YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOU AND WHAT YOU DO?Heather: I’m a Product Manager at Kin + Carta, which is a digital transformation consultancy. Distilled to its simplest interpretation, being a Product Manager means I’m responsible for ensuring that the products we’re building deliver value for both users and our clients’ businesses. In practice this means I work very closely with our clients and their customers to understand business and user outcomes, pain points and opportunities, and I work collaboratively with my team to decide on the best way to solve these. Internally at Kin + Carta I also help lead up our Product Practice - helping support and coach other Product Managers.Maria: I started in Kin + Carta as a Backend Engineer, and after six months there was an opportunity to join the Data team for a project, and that gave me the opportunity to start working with data manipulation tools, and I got hooked on the mix of managing data transformation applications and pure coding that felt more flexible and creative. The work goes from data modelling, looking for ways to organise data that will make the access and work more efficient, to handle transformation to maximise compression and optimise space used, and present the information in the best manner through reports: it covers a lot of different skills and expertise that makes my daily work very diverse and interesting.Zena: I am currently a Senior UX Designer, which in essence means I create end-to-end experiences across digital products that are enjoyable, user-friendly, and valuable for real users. This can involve anything from carrying out research with real people to understand their needs, sketching or wireframing out designs or helping to shape the overall strategy of a product. Prior to changing to UX, I worked for 7 years as a Radio Plugger, most recently at Universal Music. I worked with the likes of Rod Stewart, Gregory Porter, and Andrea Bocelli (basically all your mum’s favourites). Before that I studied law, so I’ve actually changed careers more than once!WHERE DID YOUR PASSION FOR TECHNOLOGY COME FROM AND WHAT WAS IT THAT MADE YOU MAKE THE SWITCH?Heather: Working in tech always seemed very exciting but I didn’t really know how to get into it, I assumed as I couldn’t code it wouldn’t be an option for me. No one I’d ever spoken to about careers during school or university had ever even mentioned it as an option.Having said that, I’ve always been curious about how things work, physics and chemistry were my favourite subjects at school and I went on to study chemistry at undergraduate and PhD level, but found academic research a really tough environment and, whilst I was interested in understanding how things worked, I just wasn’t as passionate as those around me for the nitty-gritty of lab work and didn’t enjoy working on a project alone.The bits I loved were the projects where I was working closely with a team - for instance designing and building a new piece of experimental equipment - my first real product! I found I was very good at explaining complex concepts to others (at scientific conferences and public science fairs). I also loved the process of hypothesising about something, gathering and analysing data and bringing it all together to draw out conclusions.After completing my PhD, I made my first career jump and joined a management consultancy which focussed on operational efficiency (improving processes in manufacturing and logistics). Whilst I learnt a lot, for a variety of reasons it didn’t work out and within a year I found myself back at the beginning again trying to decide what was next.Maria: I have always been naturally curious, and love learning new things: Back in the start of my career I dabbled on programming and databases, and I loved how trying to solve issues and resolve challenges made work feel like I was just having fun, but my job at that time ended up developing more into the business part. At a certain point, I thought I wanted to go back to work in something that will challenge my logic skills and made me learn new things constantly; as it was already more than ten years since I worked on something technical, I chose to join a Coding Bootcamp and train to re-enter the workforce as a software engineer.Zena: When I was working in music, I began doing some basic coding courses online and did a digital marketing course in my spare time. This sparked my initial interest, as I’m always looking to learn new skills. I loved the fact it was a completely new sector with the opportunity to continuously learn.HOW DID YOU DECIDE A PRODUCT MANAGER, DATA ENGINEER AND UX CAREER PATH WAS RIGHT FOR YOU?Heather: I’d never heard of a Product Manager before applying for this job and wasn’t aware that anything like that role existed. A close friend who is an engineer suggested that it would be something that would really suit me, so I did a bit of research and it looked promising - a way of combining my love for understanding how things work with my enjoyment of building things as a team, whilst also making the most of my strengths working with people and communicating complex ideas in a simple way to bring people on a journey (so much of product management is stakeholder management, building consensus around an idea, etc.)I looked for courses to help me get more experience and decided to take an intensive week-long Product Management course at General Assembly. It was a bit of an investment, and I was lucky to be in a position to be able to do this, but it proved to be incredibly valuable as it not only gave me the opportunity to ‘test out’ the role, but also showed potential employers that I was proactive in applying my skills in this new area (and ended up being part of the reason why I was hired by Kin + Carta).Maria: I already knew I enjoyed working on software development, and once I started working in Data engineering I could link some of the things I used to work with, and in many ways also unlearn things are not applicable anymore, but the same principle applies: making mistakes is just part of the process, it is not something that is inherently negative, but is just another path to write off in order to map out the labyrinth.Zena: After doing some coding courses, I reached out to an old boss of mine and mentioned I was looking for a change but that I was unsure of what direction to take. He suggested I look into a career in UX design. He had a friend who had changed to UX a few years back who was extremely happy and successful. However, the term ‘UX’ was completely alien to me, so I did a hefty amount of research online about what the role actually entailed. I also read an amazing book called ‘The Design of Everyday Things’ by Don Norman.What followed was research into available UX courses including courses with General Assembly. I decided to try out a 2-day weekend boot camp. This was great as it gave me a taster of what the course and a job in UX would really be like without committing to anything and I was hooked! It was really exciting as UX is the perfect combination of being creative but also analytical, which I was missing from my previous roles.WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE TO DATE?Heather: Building up my own self-confidence and self-belief that I am a product manager, and a good one! I’ve always struggled with imposter syndrome, and never felt completely comfortable or confident in myself as a chemist, or as a management consultant. It’s been a rollercoaster ride as a Product Manager too, but for the first time I felt that I was really able to add value, and could make an impact that not just anyone, anywhere could do. A huge part of overcoming that has been finding a place where I feel incredibly supported and valued - and Kin + Carta has always been that for me.Maria: It is not always a bed of roses: there are many days you doubt yourself; you feel frustrated because you are used to producing results quickly in your previous job, and you must remind yourself that you are starting again, and beginnings are always hard. It is difficult to ignore the “impostor syndrome” lurking behind you when you are the older person in a meeting, and maybe the less technically experienced. Luckily for me, I have a great manager and fantastic colleagues, who support me and give me a reality check over my contributions and progress to get me out of my head.Zena: After I finished the course, the first couple of months looking for a job were quite nerve-wracking and stressful. Not only is everyone on your course looking for elusive junior UX design roles but you’re also competing with the rest of the industry and with people with more experience. Quite often I would send out applications without any replies. I recall wondering whether I’d made the right decision to give up my job and at times was tempted to settle for any role I saw. However, I’m glad I didn’t settle and waited until I found something that was right for me, which is how I ended up at TAB (The App Business) which is now Kin + Carta.WHAT IS THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE THAT YOU RECEIVED WHEN YOU WERE SWITCHING OUT OF LAW/MUSIC AND CHEMISTRY/CONSULTING INTO YOUR ROLE IN TECH NOW? Heather: I was incredibly lucky to have a huge number of people who were generous with their time to act as sounding boards and give me advice to help me work out what I should do next. One of the most useful bits of advice I was given was to make a list of all the things I liked about my current role and all the things I didn’t. I then used this list to assess potential roles and organisations more analytically (from reading websites, reviews and through interview questions) - to really understand what I’d be doing day-to-day and whether or not I’d actually enjoy it. It’s something you need to spend time on though, it’s not a 5-minute exercise. If you find yourself writing things like ‘fast paced’ and ‘problem solving’ - try to go a level deeper as every job description will list those things.I can’t remember exactly what was on my list, but it was things like:Likes: external motivation (the right deadlines can be very useful - the PhD was incredibly lacking in these!), not being sat behind a laptop all day (going out and investigating things), building things (actually having practical outputs to my work), helping people to understand things (communication, coaching etc.), working with people who care about what they’re doingDislikes: pointless deadlines (often causing late nights/poor work-life balance), working on a project on my own, working away from home all week, the types of problem I’d been tasked with solving (often too abstract and not fulfilling to solve)Maria: “Success comes from having the right mindset rather than intelligence, talent or education. People with a fixed mindset believe that they're born with certain intelligence, skills and abilities that cannot change. (...) Intelligence and ability can be nurtured through learning and effort. Growth-minded people see setbacks as a necessary part of the learning process and bounce back from 'failure' by increasing effort.” - it is from “Mindset”, by Carol Dweck. In a nutshell, we are not born with a set of immovable aptitudes, but we can develop the skills we need through effort and work.Zena:  Emphasise your transferable skills. While you might be starting from scratch in a particular industry, you are not new to the world of work. Highlight the skills you have picked up from previous roles on your CV and when interviewing. Whether it’s managing projects or working with clients, all of your previous skills are extremely valuable and could set you apart from other candidates with less work experience.WHAT’S YOUR ADVICE FOR ASPIRING FEMALES AS THEY PLAN THEIR CAREER CHANGE?Heather: Some purely practical advice - think about crafting a skills-based CV (rather than a chronological one). It’s likely if you’re a career changer that your experience in previous roles won’t directly map to the requirements of the new role, and it can be hard for busy recruiters/hiring managers to see past this. So, start with the requirements of the new role. If they need “stakeholder management” or “prioritisation skills”, then list underneath those headings all the experience you have from any previous roles in those areas. Hiring managers can then easily check down their list of requirements and see that you’re a great match for their key skills. It can still be useful to provide a chronological list of roles but do this in a really streamlined way (no more than one line per role, and further down the page).In the event that you’re lacking experience in one or two areas - don’t be deterred (and go read this article)! I was definitely in this position and used my cover letter to explain (and give evidence for) the fact that I was a quick learner and that I’d already showed initiative to learn (the course I took and the research I’d done).In terms of more emotional advice - if you struggle with imposter syndrome, a career change can definitely be a trigger. Make sure you find the right role and organisation where you feel safe and supported enough to get regular feedback, and also where you’ll get the recognition you deserve. Be open with your manager if you can and ask for feedback and reassurance if you need it. As well as getting valuable constructive feedback to help you develop, make sure you’re getting positive reinforcement when you need it. I keep a log of all my positive feedback and successes so that even when I doubt myself and don’t feel confident, I can look at the evidence of what I can do and learn to ‘back myself’ anyway.Maria: Yes, you can do it.No, it is not too late.No, I am not the exception, and you can do it too.Go to pages with free resources like Codeacademy, choose a language like Ruby, Javascript or Python, and see if you like the process, if it is something that makes you smile once you figure it out, if working on something like this is something you will enjoy. And if it is, there are plenty of forums and resources to start your way into programming before you decide to invest in something like formal education, an apprenticeship or a boot camp.Zena: Do your research upfront about what the role will be and speak to people who have already made the change. Often when you’re changing career you will be starting from the bottom. This may mean a drop in your salary and also means you may know less than your colleagues when you start. However, if you do your research about what the role entails and it is genuinely something you know you will enjoy and be good at, then all of those things will feel like less of a challenge, and you may even progress quicker. Additionally, before I quit my job to do the UX course, I reached out to people that I didn’t know on LinkedIn that had changed careers and done different courses to chat about their experience and make an informed decision.WHAT GAVE YOU THE FINAL PUSH/ENCOURAGEMENT TO MAKE THE CAREER CHANGE?Heather: In a strange way I was lucky, as I was unemployed when I was looking to make the change - so the decision to ‘jump ship’ had already been made for me. The decision I needed to make was “what to?”. I could have played it ‘safe’ and taken a project management role in the public sector, which I was qualified for but not excited by, but instead I chose to take the risk of the slightly more unknown and have never regretted it for even a second. I think the final bit of convincing was walking into Kin + Carta’s office for my interview and meeting the people I’d be working with - I felt instantly at home.Maria: I realised I still have too many years in front of me to be stuck in something that did not make me happy or excited to go to work. I think most of the time you don’t realise how much of a routine you are in, and how often you just continue your daily life out of habit. You don’t really see how much more capable you are until you try. I had to take a step back into thinking what were the things I enjoyed most, and what have I done in my professional life that keep me interested and what could I do to make that into my full-time job.Zena: Honestly it was just excitement and interest around the topic and the course. I wanted to start right away after I did the boot camp!WHATS NEXT FOR YOU ALL?Heather: Over the past 5 years, I’ve developed and progressed faster than I ever thought possible from an associate/mid-level Product Manager just starting out to a Principal level helping lead up a whole group of PMs. I’ve built up my confidence along the way, and whilst with every step forward I’ve found that same old imposter syndrome tries to rear its ugly head, I’ve never felt more comfortable in myself and my abilities as I have done the past couple of years, and I’ve really enjoyed the journey.The next step for me is going to be quite different again (you could call it a career change of a different nature?!) - as I’m going to become a mum in March next year! I thoroughly expect to go through the same rollercoaster of excitement, fear, imposter syndrome and enjoyment that I’ve experienced in my professional life, and then the potentially even greater challenge of working out how to balance that with my career going forward. I feel incredibly lucky to have an amazing partner and an incredibly supportive employer and colleagues and between these two things I’m confident that this will be another exciting step forwards for me.Maria: So many new things to learn! It keeps work fresh and interesting, and you keep your brain awake and engaged. The best part is that there are always new developments in the tools we use, in the way we can optimise processes, make them more efficient, faster, and easier to use. Data nowadays is not only linked with understanding better how people act, and what motivates them, but also how to make that knowledge more sustainable and less polluting.Zena: With UX there are so many areas to learn. I’m always looking at different ways I can upskill. At the moment I am looking at increasing my quantitative research and strategy skills. I recently completed a few courses with Nielsen Norman Group - they are leaders in the UX field. Next, I would like to look at how we can combine data with user research in our client projects.Separately I’m also heavily involved in helping lead our affinity group at Kin + Carta, where we represent our black and brown employees. I have recently been involved in helping to create the content, talks and workshops for Black History Month, check it out on our LinkedIn!IF YOU WERE A SONG, WHAT SONG WOULD YOU BE?Heather: I found this a tough one! But I think I'll go with Joni Mitchell's Big Yellow Taxi. It's a lovely upbeat sounding song and I like to think of it as a song about making the most of what you have whilst you have it (we'll just skip over the part where her old man leaves her…).Maria: “Brave” by Sara Bareilles, not only the lyrics are so inspiring: “Maybe there's a way out of the cage where you live/ Maybe one of these days you can let the light in/ Show me how big your brave is”, but it reminds me that you have to keep taking risks, and that sometimes you just have to get up and do something brave (also the music video just makes me smile every time I watch it).Zena: This is hard! I can’t just pick one song…. Maybe ‘Aint No Mountain High Enough’ by Marvin GayeWHAT IS YOUR GO TO LIFE QUOTE OR MANTRA?Heather: I'm not sure I really have a mantra but I'm pretty optimistic as a person and I always try to find the positive in things.Maria: “Steady wins the race” … I grew up with my dad saying that life was not a 100-metres-race, but a marathon, so it is not a matter of making a quick and exhaustive effort, but to keep a constant pace and focus on the long-term objectives, even if your objectives change over time, and that is OK too, you just have to keep going.Zena: Probably a bit cliché but “trust your gut”, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve had more confidence in myself and in using my voice, it’s something I wish I had done earlier in my career(s).Heather, Maria, Zena - thank you - you all rock🤘Interview by Alicia Teagle

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