For some time now we’ve wanted to start building a community, a place where we could bring together like-minded people and provide an inclusive platform where those individuals can share stories, get inspired and stay informed.
To kick things off we wanted a showcase community event with a topic that was broad enough to encourage people from all areas in technology to come along and be inspired. Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change — that’s the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day and technology can have a big part to play in making that happen.
For our first event we wanted to bring together some of those truly Inspiring role models in technology we know in our networks that just happen to be women. The industry needs more diversity, and there are plenty of all male panels so it wasn’t a difficult decision. Our goal for the evening was to focus on the positives more than the trials and tribulations and showcase the wide variety of different roles that are emerging for women within the technology industry. Everyone has a story to tell. Bringing people together and letting them tell theirs is the basis of building any community.
Our panel Q&A was hosted by Jessica Gioglio and comprised leaders and technologists with interesting journeys and inspiring stories to share.
Twists and turns
Career paths are rarely linear. There are many twists, turns and intersections.
For Christelle Heikkela (IT Director at Arsenal FC) it was a journey that started in pharmacy then through Management Consultancy and on to IT. For Emily Sappington (Design Manager at Babylon Health) it began with a love of art and psychology, for Oana Garnett (Head Of Support at Jetstack) it was initially a desire to work for NATO and for Aubrey Stearn (CTO of the Nationwide Digital Accelerator platform) the love of code and tech that started with a Commodore 64.
A career in technology can mean many things. It’s engineering, it’s business, it’s design. Above all it’s about enabling and empowering people so they can do something easier or better than it was done before. As Christelle put it “If you can code that’s great, but don’t discount a career in IT if you can’t — you don’t have to be ‘technical’”
Having a voice
Impostor syndrome is a well known phenomenon. Many of us have those moments where we consider we’re ‘frauds’ despite evidence that indicates we have more than enough skills and experience. As Emily put it, quoting from Patty McCord’s book Powerful, “When you come into an organisation you are empowered the moment you walk in the door”. The panel all agreed that it’s particularly important for those women in leadership roles to create the respectful culture, environment and ‘safe’ space for other women to feel comfortable enough to ‘lean in’ and share their ideas. In Oana’s words “It’s OK to feel like a fraud but be who you are, find your voice and believe in the value you can bring.”
“There are stereotypes embedded in culture, but the more we see different role models the more we can break the stereotypes.”
“Everyone should try and work for a big and small company…and live in a different country if they can”, Emily’s advice resonated with all members of the panel. Being curious and open minded is key, this doesn’t necessarily come naturally to everyone but in technology it’s really important to embrace new ideas and not just stay focused on your beliefs.
Communities live by their stories
As with all communities there are stories being shared by everyone everywhere. Before and after the event our attendees mingled and listened to each other’s stories. It is these that are the lifeblood of any community.
After the Q&A session there was time for questions from the audience. What came through loud and clear was that despite the challenges there is optimism that things are changing, and they need to. The panel agreed “A Career in technology has never been more accessible”, the opportunities are there, and as Oana Garnett put it: “There are stereotypes embedded in culture, but the more we see different role models the more we can break the stereotypes.”
It was a privilege for us to host such a vibrant and insightful debate. Daemon Founder Calum Fitzgerald said “It was wonderful to see so many faces, both familiar and new, at our first event and everyone was immersed in the positive vibe. It is such an vibrant time to be involved in the tech industry and I’m really excited about the future for tech and the community.”
We look forward to seeing you at our next event. For all the latest updates join our meetup group here.