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April 4, 2019  4:16 PM

SuiteWorld 2019: I’m a geek and proud says, Shaquille O’Neal

Clare McDonald Profile: Clare McDonald
"Angel investor", "Board of directors", "diversity in tech", boards, Diversity, geek

Ex-basketball star, philanthropist and entrepreneur Shaquille O’Neal made an interesting appearance at SuiteWorld 2019, not just to DJ at the show’s closing party but also to talk about his various activities in the business world.

NetSuite has a history of inviting sports personalities turned business experts to talk about their adventures in the business world – sometimes it’s relevant to the technology industry and sometimes it isn’t.

Last year, for example, Magic Johnson shared his thoughts on adapting to the millennial customer, especially in the wake of a technology driven world.

This year was the turn of Shaquille O’Neal, and his session highlighted to me the connection between this particular NBA Hall-of-Famer and diversity in the word of business.

As part of his Q&A session, O’Neal explained how he is an investor in various different businesses, and has advised some of his more recent partners he wouldn’t be involved unless they implemented more diversity in its boards and leadership roles, which will eventually filter down to those running the franchises.

He used his partnership with Papa John’s as an example of this attitude: “Papa John’s pizza, everyone is welcome and we accept everybody.”

There is often an emphasis on how people in privileged positions, the white men who hold c-suite positions in tech companies being those most often mentioned in Computer Weekly, should do what they can to use their privilege to shift the world towards a more balanced and fair place.

O’Neal shared details of other investments he has made too – those more focused on the tech sector.

His first investment? Google.

He invested in Google, and he did so by accident.

O’Neal claimed his involvement with Google came out of a simple conversation about an idea that sounded cool.

Ring, the smartphone-connected doorbell with a built in camera, is another firm the sport titan has invested in and offered help to after using the products in his home.

Professional security firms were offering O’Neal extortionate prices for home monitoring equipment, so he went to a local store, came across some Ring products and now has 30 of them across his property.

He said: “I see this doorbell thing and I thought I’d try it out. The crazy thing is I installed it, I don’t install anything. That’s how easy it was.”

After meeting the people from Ring at tech event CES, he began to do what he could to give the firm exposure, including appearing in commercials.

Quoting Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos, O’Neal said: “If you invest in things it’s going to change people’s lives. It’s a win win.”

This quote has formed his strategy as an angel investor, and he said it’s going well.

 

 

O’Neal admitted: “A lot of times it’s just about meeting people and it’s just about having conversations with people and I have a lot of people working for me that are really into this stuff.”

And apparently, he’s into this stuff too.

He’s a self-confessed geek, and proud of it, sharing his experience in a computing class in the 80s.

Role models is another topic I cover regularly, so I feel it’s particularly relevant for O’Neal to talk about the “geek that saved [his] life” in a class he was failing.

He admitted: “I just looked at it and I figured I couldn’t do it. But there was a guy and his name was McDougal, and he broke it down for me and showed me how to use it and ever since, being intrigued by that I always considered myself a geek. I always wanted to be at the forefront of new technology.”

By the end of the session, he said he wanted to do an internship at NetSuite. He quickly gave up on the idea when asked if he could code.

O’Neal shared two pieces of advice during his talk that resonated with me in particular:

  • Make people laugh
  • You can’t make it on your own

Claiming the world to be “too serious”, O’Neal wants to be the person in the room who will make you laugh to forget the modern day stresses that impact us all.

He claimed: “It’s a proven fact that when you laugh it releases endorphins in your face, in your body and it helps you relieve stress.”

As for the importance of others in one’s success, O’Neal began with a sports analogy to explain why teamwork is so important.

“You have to utilise your teammate for ultimate success. I’m not here by myself,” he said. “Nobody can win a championship by themselves.”

Tying in (loosely, I’ll admit) with the women in business event that ran on the same day, it was said many women find it difficult to lend each other a helping hand, but could go so much further when banded together.

O’Neal is under no impression he could be where he is without his team, and those he has worked with in the past.

And it seems now he’s using his privilege to try and be that helping hand for others too.

Yes he’s rich, and yes he’s famous, but there are just as many people in his position doing nothing to support others who don’t have as much as them.

Say what you will about sports personalities sharing their experiences at technology events – his advice was relevant, and I liked it.

I’ll leave you with a final quote from O’Neal that everyone should keep in mind: “If I had tried to do everything by myself, I would have failed miserably.”

March 27, 2019  10:41 AM

The challenges and solutions of the UK’s tech skills gap

Clare McDonald Profile: Clare McDonald
"women in IT", "women in tech", Software engineering, Software Engineers, Women in Technology

GUEST BLOG: In this contributed post Claudia Harris, the new chair of software bootcamp Makers, discusses the challenges and solutions to the UK’s tech skills gap – could encouraging more women into the tech industry be the answer?

The UK’s digital skills crisis is well documented. There are 600,000 digital vacancies at any one time at an estimated annual cost to the UK economy of £63bn. A key feature is the role of gender. Only 17% of employees in the UK technology sector are women.

Solving this challenge requires much better engagement in our education system. Take up of computer science and maths A-levels has been increasing in recent years. Maths is now the most popular A-level. However a gender gap persists. Fewer than one tenth of A-level computer science students in the UK are female, and men are almost twice as likely to take Maths.

For young women, interest in certain subjects drops dramatically at the age of 13. Women look up, can’t see people like them in techy roles, and don’t think it’s for them. We know that role models are one route to solving this problem. The Careers & Enterprise Company, which I lead, works to link schools to employers to help provide this inspiration.

Given its urgency however, the digital gap also needs to be addressed by mid-career switchers. This is something that Makers looks to address with its software coding bootcamp.

The programme puts Makers through a 16-week bootcamp focused on learning to problem solve in coding. This equips them with the tools to continue to be confident learners even once they have left be bootcamp. Employers from the Financial Times to Deloitte have recognised the power of this model, using it to recruit talent. Conversely, for the individuals involved the experience is life changing.

Makers is focused on inclusion – 35% of its software engineers are women, twice the national average. It attributes its success in attracting women to its inclusive learning environment and to its application criteria. It does not ask for A-levels in its recruitment. Its focus is on problem solving and mindset. The positive learning experience of female Makers then leads to word of mouth referrals.

As well as addressing the digital skills gap, these female coders will become the very role models who can go back into schools and show younger women what is possible.

The bootcamp model holds some vital clues on how to build the digital skills that are in such great demand, and shows that it is possible to do this while beating the averages on gender. It is a model that has the potential to benefit both the economy and our society.

 


March 4, 2019  12:40 PM

FDM everywoman finalist profile: Laurelin Chase, student at Clacton County High School

Clare McDonald Profile: Clare McDonald
"role models", "women in IT", "women in tech", IT jobs

WOMEN IN TECH PROFILE:  Laurelin Chase, student at Clacton County High School and FDM everywoman in technology awards finalist in the “One to Watch Award” category, talks about the role models that encouraged her into tech, and how we can get other girls to consider science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

What do you love most about STEM?

What I love the most about being a student and working in STEM is the fact that it’s a great starting point for me, I have teachers and technicians to guide and help me as I experiment with new materials, processes and projects. Not only that, but being a student also means I have access to programmes such as STEM and Women in Technology that allow me to work both independently and alongside peers and professionals to create innovative and unique projects. However, my favourite thing about being a student is being able to positively influence and encourage younger girls to join STEM and embrace their creativity.

Did you benefit from having a role model when starting your career in the tech industry?

When I was younger, I didn’t really have a role model in tech, I just knew that I liked making things and so I made them! However, as I got older and learned more about design and technology, I considered my role model to be my grandmother who studied and taught engineering, at the same time as raising three kids! She and my mum both encourage me to work hard and be creative, and seeing another woman succeed in tech inspired me to get more involved with and STEM and encourage other girls to do it too.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

I think the best advice I’ve ever been given is to not listen to what other people say. I think this is important because I let what people thought of me affect the way I lived my life for a very long time. It made me miss out on some great opportunities and experiences, however, when I embraced this new attitude, nothing could stop me! When all my friends dropped out of STEM I didn’t, I kept on going, and I’m so glad I did! It helped me discover something that I love doing and gave me a lot of courage to try new things!

Are you actively involved in any initiatives promoting gender diversity in the tech industry?

At the moment I am not involved in any initiatives promoting gender diversity other than the women in tech programme that my school runs, which I’m not directly involved with, but it encourages young girls to do things such as STEM and product design. Although I may not be directly involved with any initiatives currently, that hasn’t stopped me from speaking to younger girls in my school and encouraging them to join the different STEM clubs our school has to offer or to consider taking GCSE product design as an option, and to my delight a few of them already have!

How can we make young girls more enthusiastic about STEM subjects?

I think the way to make young girls more enthusiastic about STEM subjects is to give them the chance to try them out, a lot of young girls may not realise what STEM is really about and haven’t had the chance to find an aspect of it that they enjoy or can relate to, thus encouraging them to pursue it. Another way I think we can draw girls to STEM is by making it relevant and giving them the opportunity to create something they care about, or solving a problem they never knew they had the power to solve, and showing them that they really can make a change.


March 4, 2019  12:15 PM

FDM everywoman finalist profile: Nelly Kiboi, software engineer, American Express

Clare McDonald Profile: Clare McDonald
"women in IT", "women in tech", IT jobs, IT recruitment

WOMEN IN TECH PROFILE: Nelly Kiboi, software engineer at American Express, and FDM everywoman in technology awards finalist in the software engineering category, answers questions about her role and the importance of role models for future women in tech.

What do you love most about your role? What does it involve? 

At American Express, I’m granted the opportunity to lead projects and work on solving complex problems.

Moreover, the position allows me to work on tasks that are key to my values, such as accessibility and improving diversity in the workplace.

I get to work on new and emerging technologies with supportive team members, while creating new innovative products for our customers.

What initiatives are most effective for women for supporting women in the workplace?

A supportive company fosters a culture of inclusion for women within the work environment where they are heard and supported by their colleagues. This gives them the opportunity to grow and flourish within their careers.

Women also ought to be presented with stretch assignments and innovative projects, which provide them with visibility within the organization to showcase their technical knowledge and support their career progression.

Creating and sharing success stories of roles models also is important, as they allow women to be able to see what they can achieve, what’s possible within the tech industry and their organizations, as well as opportunities that are available to them.

Why are visible role models so important for women who might want a career in tech?

Role models show women who want to take up careers in technology that there’s a place for them in this male-dominated industry. I’ve been fortunate to get to see women achieving great success in their careers, and I’ve been encouraged to believe that I can achieve and succeed as they did. I learn from their successes and the unique challenges they’ve faced. This teaches me how I can forge a fulfilling career for myself and others within technology.

What challenges have you faced as a female software engineer during your career journey?

People sometimes make assumptions about my technical abilities. It means you have to work harder to prove yourself. Personally, I’ve experienced a lot of imposter syndrome – the lack of diverse female role models in the industry and reference points for African women in tech definitely contributes to this. This is why I’m deeply involved with helping to build the diversity within my workplace – I want the next generation of female and minority software engineers to see what’s possible for them.


March 4, 2019  11:33 AM

FDM everywoman finalist profile: Megha Prakash, founder of Earthmiles

Clare McDonald Profile: Clare McDonald
"women in IT", "women in tech", IT jobs

WOMAN IN TECH PROFILE: Finalist in the FDM everywoman in Technology Awards Innovator Award category, Megha Prakash, founder of Earthmiles and Earthmiles@Work answers questions about her role and her career.

The Earthmiles platform helps use behavioural psychology and data analytics improve its users’ wellbeing.

What do you love most about your role?

There are a huge number of things that I love about my role. Although I wear the hat of CEO, which many people would tend to look at as a primarily business role, in reality creating and growing a product from scratch requires a multiplicity of skills, skills that I am constantly striving to learn and enhance in myself.

There is a lot of creativity in deciding which problems to focus on and which approaches to use in solving those problems. You’re looking constantly across a breadth of areas from product and strategy to commercial partnerships and sales, and working all the time in lockstep with technology because ultimately tech is the medium through which we deliver our innovative approaches.

I love that we are working on fundamentally improving lives and for solving broad issues that exist in workplaces and our lives today and that really need solving. Having a mission-oriented mindset really gives me something to look forward to every day, and an enthusiasm for tackling the issues of the day.

What the importance of behavioural psychology in the workplace?

Behavioral psychology popularly refers to the various shortcuts and heuristics that our brains have developed as we have evolved over millenia. Rational behaviour might dictate that we do one thing – exercise every single day, never be addicted to cigarettes or sugar, save for old age, etc. However reality is very complex and there are myriad forces actually driving the decisions we made from day to day.

A lot of the decisions that are said to be “impulses” are actually driven by our subconscious minds (rather than our conscious minds) and have their roots in complex evolutionary triggers that have nothing to do with conscious rationality. There are well-known cognitive biases that may lead to suboptimal decision making. We seek to harness some of this hard-wiring within our brain to drive better life outcomes for e.g. can we harness reward-seeking to drive positive behaviours by creating a reward or incentive for it?

This remains as important at the workplace as outside of it. We spend half our waking lives at work, and today its becoming very apparent that our environment and habits at the workplace are major determinants of our overall health and wellbeing. The view of the workplace as something just yielding a paycheck at the end of the day is changing. At Earthmiles we seek to give employees various “levers” to engage with their wellbeing at the workplace. For some, this is healthy rivalry with their colleagues (step challenge anyone?) For others something like this would do the opposite, and they’d be intimidated into not even taking part. For those with other motivations we provide rewards in the form of financial incentives, social cues, team play, and personal self-improvement “small victories” to grab their interest.

How is tech evolving behavioural psychology in the workplace?

In fact, tech is changing the very nature of the workplace. Today a huge number of companies are operating teams that are geographically dispersed, employees that are working remotely or flexibly, the “gig” economy is changing the nature of employer-employee relationships, and many other changes are at play. The younger generations who are entering the job market now also have a very different set of expectations from their employers as opposed to prior years, and this too is driven by information and technology.

These changes make it difficult today to apply traditional thinking to creating and maintaining an organisational culture and identity, loyalty and retention in employees, and other new challenges. But on the flip side of the coin, with the help of tech platforms including mobile phones, there are now new ways to reach and interact with the workforce. Employers can create meaningful programmes that are more immediately usable and available to employees and (with their consent of course) supply them with modules, incentives, and communications to affect better awareness and behavioural change.

For example, in the Earthmiles app, employers can create “group mission” which involve the entire firm in a cause of their choosing. Everyone has to walk during a certain period of time and all their steps will go towards releasing a corpus of funds towards that cause (say, cancer research). This motivates and incentivises activity levels in employees but also creates opportunities for team building, organisational identity, loyalty, retention and recruitment. The app offers a range of modules to cater to different such goals.

What does success look like in the workplace once these practices are implemented properly?

Success can look like a number of things because different types of employers are dealing with different types of challenges. In the case of a traditional workplace, success may be seen as a culture enhancer that ultimately leads to better productivity i.e. a good wellbeing programme creates communications and incentives for them to step away from the strains and stresses of everyday work and focus on their wellbeing in a number of ways. The ultimate goal being able to view the workplace and the employer as an enabler of better wellbeing, not a distraction from it. Over the long term this would lead to lower sickness, high productivity, better employee engagement and motivation. In a different set up, such as a young company with a distributed workforce, success may be measured foremost by recruitment appeal and the employees’ involvement (regardless of geography) in their roles and their team. No matter what the nature of the workplace, in every situation successful programmes and practices would drive up employee engagement and enable better overall wellbeing.

How have you helped support women in the tech industry?

Tech is still a space where women are still finding their voice. It is important to be part of the dialogue and the process, being involved in women in tech communities and forums and most of all to listen to and give opportunities to other women through employment, partnerships and mentoring, all of which I strive to do.


March 4, 2019  10:24 AM

Technology can transform lives and society for the better

Clare McDonald Profile: Clare McDonald
"diversity in tech", "women in tech", Charities

GUEST BLOG: In this contributed post, Helen Lamprell, General Counsel and External Affairs Director, Vodafone UK, talks about how technology can be used for social good

We are living in an age of change. There is political and economic uncertainty as we go through one of the greatest constitutional changes in memory; an aging population; rapidly increasing urbanisation and more.

At the same time, technology is bringing sweeping change to long-standing industries – changing business models, customer expectations and the job market. Much of this change has been enormously positive: connectivity and technology are helping to level the playing field and enabling plucky entrepreneurs to compete with much larger businesses.

As we enter a new era of communications and technology – with the rapid development of the Internet of Things (IoT), 5G, artificial intelligence (AI) and more – the possibilities for innovation are truly endless.

The power of technology to drive positive change

Here at Vodafone, I’m delighted that we have some great examples of technology delivering real social good.

The Vodafone Foundation is a charity that invests in the communities where we operate. It focuses on projects across the world where communications technology can deliver real benefits, in areas such as health and education.

The DreamLab app, launched in the UK the foundation in 2018, is a fantastic example of social innovation in action. The app works by using the collective power of people’s smartphones when they are not in use to help speed up cancer research. We’re working with Imperial College, London to help them analyse huge datasets using an algorithm they have created. The aim is to uncover new uses for existing approved drugs and drug combinations. Researchers believe that this could speed up access to effective drugs and enable truly personalised treatments for patients.

We must foster technology for social good

There is enormous potential to develop solutions for social benefit using technology. If someone has an idea, there are many avenues and resources available to help build the technical element. In the past, you had to have a computer science degree or developer skills to do this; today, technology is much more accessible to everyone. Technology can help us address our most challenging and pressing social needs in areas such as health, education or inequality.

However, we need to make the process for bringing such ideas to market easier. Industry and investment bodies can play a big role here. It’s one of the reasons we teamed up with Social Tech Trust, a leading charity in the technology for social good space, to launch our new social innovation award programme – Vodafone Techstarter.

We launched it in September 2018 to help UK social tech ventures scale their ideas. We’re offering not only funding but also access to industry expertise in areas such as technology or commercial development. Support like this is particularly valuable to ventures who are developing prototypes; it’s an area where there is a gap in support and where larger companies can help.

On 7 February 2019, we celebrated some of the most incredible social tech companies in the UK. I was honoured to announce our Techstarter winners: Code 4000, Full Fact, The Children’s Society and Wayfindr in the not-for-profit category; and Alice SI, Blakbear, Lettus Grow and Walk With Path in the for-profit category. I’m really looking forward to seeing what these amazing small businesses will be able to achieve.

Why the UK can lead in social technology

The UK is one of the greatest places in the world to develop technology ideas. We have some of the best research and education institutions, amazing networks of truly innovative people and real entrepreneurial spirit. We have a great history of innovation in this country and we’re pragmatic – we recognise the challenges we face and know we need to think differently to address them.

We all have a role to play

We are seeing more and more companies embracing their social responsibility. I think, and hope, we’re going to see greater collaboration and sharing of ideas across industry, government, charity, research and education. This can only be a good thing.

No one organisation has the answer, but working collectively and collaboratively has the potential to be hugely transformational.


February 12, 2019  1:30 PM

Diversity and inclusion – getting the balance right

Clare McDonald Profile: Clare McDonald
"diversity in tech", "women in tech", inclusion, IT jobs

GUEST BLOG: In this contributed post, Patricia DuChene, GM EMEA and VP of Sales at Wrike, discusses the fine line between diversity and inclusion, as well as lessons she’s learnt during her career 

Companies are now spending millions to get their diversity initiatives up to speed. Considering that only 12% of tech founders employ five or more employees from underrepresented backgrounds, this is long overdue. But while diversity sets the stage, inclusion is where the play unfolds. Inclusion is an ongoing, thoughtful effort to build and maintain an environment that fosters and encourages participation. It gives a voice to every worker, so they know their input matters in critical decisions. Diversity without this practice is, frankly, an empty effort that will not drive change.

Though many companies tout the progress they’ve made in their Diversity and Inclusivity (D&I)  Programmes, a greater emphasis needs to be placed on the ‘I.’ As Laura Sherbin and Ripa Rashid wrote for Harvard Business Review: “It’s easy to measure diversity: it’s a simple matter of headcount. But quantifying feelings of inclusion can be dicey. Understanding that narrative along with the numbers is what really draws the picture for companies.”

After joining Wrike at its Silicon Valley headquarters in 2013, I relocated to Dublin in 2015 to open the company’s EMEA headquarters. We started with two employees and quickly scaled to a team of more than 80. Throughout this journey, diversity and inclusion has been a top priority and will continue to be so as we expand our global footprint.

Here are a few lessons I’ve learned along the way that promote an inclusive working environment:

Empower your staff to share ideas and insights

If companies really want to challenge the status quo, their employees need to feel safe sharing opinions and ideas, free of shame or ridicule. The easiest way to empower new team members is through mentorship. Pairing up senior or more-tenured employees with newer members will help break down some of the barriers that exist with being the newbie. This will help build employees’ confidence and enable them to share ideas in a productive dialogue.

The same theory applies to knowledge sharing sessions or informal meetings where anyone can pick a topic and present on it. One easy way to do this is to have one team share details of a project that they’re working on and how they’re approaching it. For example, someone from event marketing could do a ‘lunch-and-learn’ talk about how they plan, market, and execute events, as well as how they measure success.

These sessions give the person presenting the opportunity to make themselves known. They also give others the chance to learn a new skill from a peer that they may not have otherwise had the opportunity to. When these sessions are made optional, they tend to be smaller, so people are more likely to be at ease when speaking. This creates a low-stakes, welcoming atmosphere that allows employees to be their full, authentic selves.

Get to know your team

Employees need to know that they are valued as an individual with unique talents, not just a cog in the machine. Everyone’s presence adds something unique to company culture and it’s important that everyone knows that.  Encourage managers to set up recurring one-on-ones to learn what motivates each member of their team. Knowing what drives them will help you engage in a way that lets them be heard and understood. You’ll also be better equipped to provide them with whatever information or assistance they need, in the manner they need to receive it.

Be hyper-conscious of your meeting environment

Meetings should be seized as an opportunity to let employees know that they are valued and that their ideas matter. This applies whether meetings take place daily or monthly. You might not realise it, but where people physically sit in a meeting matters. Those who do not feel included are more likely to sit towards the wall or stand if there are not enough seats. Make sure everyone has a seat at the table. If there isn’t enough room, create it by moving people around.

Keep an eye on how people talk to each other. Interrupting someone is a backhanded way of saying, “your opinion isn’t as important or as valid as mine.” Have a ‘no interrupting’ policy and own it – provide feedback in one-on-ones if someone is a repeat offender and keep an eye out for those who are often interrupted.

Inclusive teams make better business decisions up to 87% of the time. More importantly, inclusion-driven diversity nurtures a deeper sense of dedication to a role, which leads to greater job satisfaction, less employee turnover, and more employee engagement. Inclusivity just makes good business sense – so implement policies and practices that support it.


February 11, 2019  10:26 AM

Makers launches nominations for inaugural Women in Software Power List

Clare McDonald Profile: Clare McDonald
"women in IT", "women in tech", Diversity, inclusion, IT jobs, IT skills, Skills

Software developer bootcamp Makers has launched its first annual Women in Software Power List, nominations for which are now open.

In partnership with Level39, the Women in Software Power List is designed to recognise some of the female rising stars in the UK’s software development sector.

Nominations can now be put forward for consideration, and those suggested will be assessed by a group of judges to determine the final Power List of 30 women.

“We want to recognise the significant contribution of the rising stars of the software industry,” said Evgeny Shadchnev, CEO of Makers.

“There’s a need to examine the roles they play – as well as the companies that allow them to thrive. Compiling 30 incredible women across the country will bring the community closer and hopefully inspire others to consider a career in the digital economy and to encourage businesses to create environments that break down gender barriers and are conducive to everyone.”

The judges will use the following criteria to help decide the women who make the final list:

  1. Growth – in learning and leadership
  2. Influence – in the community and among peers
  3. Innovation – contributing to interesting projects at work or independently

Many blame a lack of visible and accessible female role models for the low number of girls who choose to go into science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) subjects or careers, and young women have said they want more encouragement from role models in the industry.

Women are often underrepresented in technical roles such as software development, and Makers’ Power List aims to celebrate the contribution women make to the sector across the UK, as well as make these role models more visible to aspiring software engineers.

Makers is launching the Powerlist to address this lack of role models and encourage more women into the sector, after a Tech Nation report found only 19% of the digital workforce in the UK is female – despite the fact London in particular is a huge hub for global software engineering talent.

Tech Nation also found in 2017, the number of female software developers had dropped significantly over a 10 year period, with only 3.9% of technology and telco professionals in the UK made up by women in 2017 as opposed to 10% in 2007.

Makers also wants to but an emphasis on the importance of creating an inclusive workplace making women more likely to want to stay – many women in the technology industry tend to leave the sector at the seven year mark of their career – mainly by highlighting the companies young women in the software development space are thriving in.

Recognising the work these women contribute to the sector is one way of contributing to a more inclusive approach to the workplace.

While candidates must have been in the profession for fewer than six years, all roles and levels will be recognised and accepted as part of the nominations process.

Nominations will be open until March 10, after which the winners will be announced at a special event in London on 8 May 2019.

Anyone is welcome to nominate themselves, a friend, or a colleague they feel should be recognised for their contribution to the industry.


February 7, 2019  1:00 PM

FDM everywoman in Technology Awards 2019 finalists announced

Clare McDonald Profile: Clare McDonald
"role models", "women in IT", "women in tech"

The finalists for the 2019 FDM everywoman in Technology Awards have been announced prior to the awards ceremony in March 2019

Judges have decided on the finalists for the 2019 FDM everywoman in Technology Awards after considering hundreds of applications.

The theme for this year’s award ceremony is ‘achieve, elevate, inspire’ and aims to showcase people in the science, technology, engineer and maths (Stem) sector who have done what they can to be visible Stem role models.

Maxine Benson, co-founder of everywoman, said: “The judges were united in their admiration and respect for the achievement of this year’s finalists. Without question, each of them has the ability to inspire more women and girls into a career in technology. Research by PWC shows that there could be a £180billion boost to UK GDP just by increasing female employment rates. This shows just how valuable female talent is and why this awards programme is so important in ensuring that more women enter the industry.”

The 2019 FDM everywoman in Technology Awards finalists are as follows:

One to Watch Award – sponsored by Computacenter

  • Laurelin Chase, student, Clacton County High School
  • Aoibheann Mangan, student, Mt St Michael Secondary school
  • Avye Couloute, student, Bishop Gilpin
  • Leslie Sarango Romero, student, Harris Academy Bermondsey

Apprentice Award

  • Emily Tomlinson, trainee IS security coordinator, Northumbrian Water
  • Chloe O’Shea, technology consulting bright start, Deloitte
  • Tiffany Cooksley, software engineer, CGI

Rising Star Award – sponsored by T-Systems

  • Clare McKeever, software engineer, PwC
  • Tasha Morrison, solution architect graduate, Whitbread
  • Mahek Vara, founder and CEO, Code Camp

Digital Star Award – sponsored by CGI

  • Melissa Dunn, head of digital product development, Sainsbury’s Argos
  • Monique Ho, innovation exchange lead, BAE Systems Applied Intelligence
  • Esther Kieft,senior product manager (contractor), former product owner at Lloyds Banking Group
  • Kar Lok Chan, technology architecture associate manager, Accenture
  • Samantha Charles, director, Float Digital
  • Rebecca Ellul,head of strategy and business development, digital and tech policy, Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport

Software Engineer Award – sponsored by NatWest

  • Pae Natwilai, CEO, TRIK
  • Nelly Kiboi, software engineer, American Express
  • Nadine O’Hagan, senior software engineer, PwC
  • Hannah Bird, senior squad manager (platform engineering), Lloyds Banking Group

Academic Award – sponsored by Lloyds Banking

  • Apala Majumdar, reader in applied mathematics, University of Bath
  • Adelina Ilie, reader in nanoscience, University of Bath
  • Shakira Asghar, head of design and technology, Ashlawn School

Team Leader Award – sponsored by American Express

  • Janine Hughes-Griffiths, director of service, CGI
  • Edel Owen, CTO BUK ventures, Barclays Bank
  • Sally Bogg, head of service management, Leeds Beckett University
  • Ranjeet Ruprai, technical team lead, Experian
  • Jasleen Budhiraja, assistant consultant, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd
  • Shilpa Shah, director technology consulting, Women in Technology Lead, Deloitte

Entrepreneur Award – sponsored by IBM iX

  • Kim Nilsson, CEO, PIVIGO
  • Colleen Wong, founder, Techsixtyfour
  • Joanne Smith, founder and group CEO, Recordsure
  • Helen Mitchell, co-founder, Blukudu Ltd

Innovator Award – sponsored by Equiniti

  • McCall Dorr, innovation strategy director, Experian
  • Maureen Biney, software engineer, American Express
  • Megha Prakash, co-founder, CEO, Earthmiles (GMS Partners Ltd)
  • Felicia Meyerowitz Singh, CEO, Akoni

Leader Award – sponsored by BP

  • Angela Maragopoulou, global head of IoT/UCC operations, Vodafone Group Services Limited
  • Deborah O’Neill, partner, Oliver Wyman
  • Ana Perez, senior director consulting, Oracle
  • Marianne Lillian Breen-Hart, program and project mgmt associate director, Accenture
  • Amy Chalfen, global service and delivery director, decision analytics, Experian Ltd
  • Sharon Moore MBE, CTO for government, IBM

International Inspiration

  • Jessie Haugh, head of research and development, The Ablegamers Charity
  • Mujde Esin, founder, KizCode
  • Adriana Bianca, biofuels CIO and ethics and compliance leader, BP

Male Agent of Change Award – sponsored by VMWare

  • Jonathan Pritchard, reader in astrostatistics, Imperial College
  • Jim Bichard, UK insurance leader, PwC
  • Philip Neal, founder, digital workplace director, BP
  • Philip Wallace, managing director – Oracle Business Group, Accenture

Having access to visible role models can help encourage people from diverse backgrounds into Stem, and many young women have claimed they would like more encouragement from Stem role models.

Diversity as a whole is equally as important for a firm as having a gender balanced workforce is, as the better a team reflects the audience they are producing for, the more successful they will be.

Sheila Flavell, chief operating officer of FDM Group comments: “The FDM everywoman in Technology Awards are an extension of our commitment to championing diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Promoting and celebrating the incredible achievements of women in technology is important in order to inspire other women to join and thrive in the industry. At FDM, we have embedded diversity and inclusion into our culture and as a result, circa 50% of our senior management team is female and we have reported a 0% median gender pay gap for two consecutive years. Diversity is part of our DNA and contributes to FDM’s success as a modern business.”

The finalists for the ninth annual FDM everywoman in Technology Awards, in association with The Tech She Can Charter, will be announced at an awards ceremony in London on 6 March 2019.


February 1, 2019  11:48 AM

Widening the discussion about tech careers

Clare McDonald Profile: Clare McDonald
"women in IT", "women in tech", IT careers, IT jobs

GUEST BLOG: In this contributed post, Clare Young, head of delivery at dxw digital discusses how tech careers are portrayed and what the industry needs to do to attract more women into tech. 

Organisations continue to wrestle with the challenge of how to attract more women into technical and engineering roles. One of the reasons having a diverse team matters to us – and by that I mean diversity in its widest sense, in terms of a mix of voices and backgrounds – is that it provides richer thinking and enables us to gain a better understanding of user needs. Put simply, diverse teams are better. The users of the products and services we design, build and operate are diverse, so we can better meet and exceed their expectations with a diverse team.

At dxw we’ve made progress in increasing the number of women in our organisation, as well as increasing diversity on other characteristics as well, but it’s something we continue to focus on across everything from our recruitment process to our working environment.

As I looked at our statistics, I realised that women are well represented across all our disciplines – the majority of our user research team, one-third of our operations engineers, more than a third of our designers and developers, three of our five delivery leads, one of our two product managers and half of our business operations team are female. And our marketing team are all female – although we have had a male intern and are aware of the need to improve diversity here too. It highlights the range of roles and skills that make up a tech team in order to deliver the end result.

This is where the media discussion about diversity often loses its way. Too often it is framed in terms of coding, with initiatives such as Code First: Girls and Women Who Code. However, whilst these initiatives are important and worthwhile they focus only on seeking to increase the number of women developers, and the discussion needs to be much wider. First, the multidisciplinary team needed to deliver a tech project is made up of a wide variety of roles and skills, and women are contributing in every single one, from development to delivery to the functions that support a business such as commercial and finance. We need to highlight and celebrate role models in all of these areas.

Second, we need to highlight the results of technology projects as well as the skills needed to deliver them to attract a diverse talent pool. One of the things that makes a career in tech so attractive is the end result. In my sector – building digital services for the public sector, from central and local government to the NHS and housing associations – it’s delivering projects that benefit everyone through improving the public services that we all use. It’s something we’re passionate about at dxw, and it comes up time and again in our recruitment interviews – people want to see that their work has a positive impact on the public and has a tangible output in the modern world. So we should be talking much more about the outcomes that we in tech deliver, and getting across that sense of excitement and satisfaction we all feel when we deliver something that makes life better for our clients and their users.

Doing this means getting out there and demonstrating to other woman what we’re doing and why tech is a good place to work. As an organisation we’ve participated in events such as Women of Silicon Roundabout and Women in Digital Government, we run discussion panels for Ada Lovelace Day, and many of our team, both male and female, participate widely in other industry events to encourage women into tech roles. I describe it as ‘talk, share, show’.

Diversity really matters, and we should all be working to increase it. That means discussing the full range of skills that we need, and the end results that we deliver, so that we attract the widest possible pool of talent.


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