Victoria Reed | LUSH Digital
The power of 'WHY?'.
Not asking questions can ruin teamwork, individual relationships, projects, and deadlines and result in an unmotivated and uninspired workplace. Without fostering a culture that is open to curiosity, no company can innovate successfully. Curiosity might have killed the cat but asking the question and learning something new might just lead to something fantastic.
When Victoria Reed began her adventure into tech, she found asking a room full of men 'why?' extremely daunting. However, now running a large team at LUSH Digital, Victoria has discovered that by harnessing the power of 'WHY?' not only do projects run a lot more smoothly, but you also gain insight AND the respect of your team by showing them the willingness to learn and grow.
THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO TALK WITH US TODAY, VICTORIA. CAN WE START BY TELLING US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND AND WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START A CAREER IN TECH AFTER FINISHING YOUR DEGREE IN POPULATION AND GEOGRAPHY?
It’s a pleasure, and lovely to chat with you too. Of course, I really enjoyed my degree as it was focused so heavily on demographics and statistics. What I enjoyed the most was learning about the impact of events on people. This I feel is something that I have ended up carrying into my career in tech with the focus always being on the customer. After I graduated, I decided to do some travelling and did a ski season, which I loved! I was applying for a summer job to get some money in the bank before my next adventure when I found a role which I was really intrigued by at The Richmond Group. I was the first Project Manager they hired and was a core part of growing their fintech portfolio, I didn’t do the extra travelling as I loved the job so much! The main thing that inspired me to start my career in tech was realising how anything is possible in tech and how evolving technology is and most importantly the benefit it can bring to the customer in their day-to-day lives.
WHEN YOU STARTED YOUR CAREER, YOU WERE THE ONLY FEMALE IN A TECH TEAM OF 40 PEOPLE, WHAT WERE THE OBSTACLES YOU FOUND? AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?
I remember when I was leading my first tech project, I was managing a team of 8 men who were probably double my age at the time and half of them had been at the company a very long time! I was daunted and found it very difficult to ask that simple question ‘why?’ to challenge situations in order to steer the project. I remember thinking, why would they listen to a young woman that’s just graduated? I had to work hard to overcome this and realise that I knew more than I thought and they needed me. I was fortunate enough to have a female director that I was reporting to which really helped in my confidence growth. I learnt the hard way, I made assumptions by not questioning my team enough and my project was delayed. But we have to fail, to grow. I strongly believe that failure is healthy, as it allows you to find areas for improvement (self and team) and implement with a real understanding of why it’s important.
YOU NOW CURRENTLY RUN A LARGE DIVISION AT LUSH DIGITAL, (WHAT A JOURNEY!) HOW DO YOU USE YOUR EXPERIENCE IN IDENTIFYING, AND SUPPORTING PEOPLE SHOWING SIGNS OF HAVING IMPOSTER SYNDROME WITHIN YOUR TEAM?
In a lot of my 1:1s imposter syndrome and confidence are often areas I work with some team members. I think we have all been there at times, whether it’s a new role or a new team. I think the main challenge in tech is the mixture of teams being non-technical and technical. The beauty of this is that it’s the perfect recipe for success and we rely on each other heavily. But in reality, it can cause barriers in relationships with the different technical understanding sometimes leading to these feelings. My key learning and number one piece of advice is to encourage team members to ask questions, specifically the ‘why’ question. I feel I gained a lot of respect from my peers when I paid an interest in their technical problems and solutions as it showed that I cared about tech, their work and my willingness to learn. This in result not only builds the relationships peer to peer but also the individuals knowledge and confidence. I still do it today, we are always learning, especially in tech when it’s constantly evolving.
(Sticky Dates Shower Gel is one of Victoria's favourite LUSH products!)
LUSH IS A HIGHLY ETHICAL COMPANY WHO HAVE RECENTLY HIRED FROM CODE YOUR FUTURE, COULD YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT CODE YOUR FUTURE AND WHY YOU THINK IT IS IMPORTANT TO PARTNER WITH THIS ORGANISATION?
Code your Future is a UK non-profit organisation which trains some of the most deprived members of societies to become web developers and then helps them land their first job in the tech industry. They are trained by volunteers from the tech industry. At LUSH, we strive for diversity and inclusion in our teams, and this is at the forefront of our recruitment. Since working with Code your Future we have made 4 hires through them. We also work heavily with Otta and have sourced a lot of our new hires from there. We are always looking out for new ways to support people from different backgrounds in their tech careers. We acted quickly in the Wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to establish a focused recruitment program to help Ukrainian refugees and are always posting on Women for Tech job boards.
WHAT POSITIVE IMPACT DOES HIRING PEOPLE FROM DISADVANTAGED BACKGROUNDS HAVE ON LUSH AND ON YOUR TEAM?
It sings to our values, all are welcome always. We really want to invest in our team members and watching someone starting their career in tech, learn and grow is so rewarding. Last year, I hired an extremely passionate junior who had just started their career in tech. After mentorship and dedication, I’ve just promoted them in reflection of their hard work, commitment and results. These stories are vital to LUSH Digital and close to my heart as we want to be growing our employees not only for LUSH, our customers but the tech community. We strive to ensure our products are number 1 for every need, just as we strive to ensure our tech is innovating for the future.
WHAT INCENTIVES DOES LUSH DO TO HELP WITH INCREASING DIVERSITY IN DIGITAL?
We are lucky to have lots of female employees at LUSH Digital. This in itself helps empower women in tech, specifically when joining the business. LUSH Digital offers a very flexible remote working policy, which gives you the ability to juggle parenthood with work. We have enhanced parental leave and nursery schemes, they are an extremely supportive and flexible employer. We operate a very flat hierarchy and autonomous environment which helps ensure everyone's voices are equal. Since joining, I have been able to challenge and drive change due to the responsibilities I have been given.
WHAT IS YOUR MESSAGE FOR FEMALES FROM A NON-TECH BACKGROUND THINKING ABOUT GETTING INTO TECH?
Don’t doubt yourself, you know more than you think you know. If you have something you want to say, say it, the worst that will happen is that you’ll learn the right answer. Don’t let long technical words overwhelm you, they are just words! Ps make a glossary!
WHAT DO YOU DO OUTSIDE OF WORK?
I live by the seaside so love going for daily dog walks on the beach, sea swimming and adventures in our rooftop tent. In the summer, you’ll find me out on the water and every now and then water skiing before work! It’s all about that work-life balance.
FINALLY, DO YOU HAVE A MANTRA YOU LIVE BY?
I know it’s a cliche one, but I truly do believe that everything happens for a reason. I take this outlook into my work often, everything makes you more resilient and allows you to take clear learnings to build the future.
Thanks, Victoria you rock 🤘
Interview by George Booth