by Lexi Willetts, published 19 November 2018
I’ve been a “working woman” since age 13. No joke. First running around football grounds, by 16 refiling rails in retail, by 18 serving pints in pubs with smiles. Enter university, a degree in law, followed by a stint in legal recruitment and by 26 I further qualify in intellectual property rights — developing all things logos, protecting them with trade marks and the like. I flick back to footy, juggling balls at FIFA as Head of IP, then at 31 leave for London to study a masters in Luxury Brand Management.
25 years from where it all began and I find myself serving my fourth year in tech, this year transitioning from mobile app development to blockchain infrastructure as Director of Coinweb.io.
Tech, a 3trillion dollar industry and counting, is an everyday part of our life, networking itself into most industries in some which way. So it makes sense that commercial talent from other sectors easily transitions into this exploding sector, bringing with them “human” qualities that all serve to propel the tech industry forward. Tech projects need people of all disciplines to scale; brand, comms, sales, marketing, HR, finance, strategy, ops, legal, client services, investor relations — the department list is wide, the roles are varied. For me, it’s never been an easy time to embrace a “career in tech”; of my uni gang, at least five of us are working in tech ventures like eBAY, Carbon, Google and Deliveroo.
Whilst I have crossed sectors with relative ease, I also know that much of this has been down to my personal network vs. my knowledge base of that sector at that time of hire. “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” still stands, it’s just less about the old boy network and moreover being in people’s consciousness when roles/businesses are created. Practical confidence and chameleon qualities help, as does the flexibility to move for work — my tech career has resulted in huge amounts of global travel — awesome, but hectic on personal life.
I’m chatting more on this later this week at a University of Birmingham, Careers in Tech panel.