So let me start with my journey…I guess my previous employers have not always been technology focused, but my roles have contained analytical and technical elements. I have always been an avid watcher of film and television and my first job in London was, remarkably, at a major television broadcaster. I was a nervous but excited intern in their Audience Technologies & Insights department. This was a huge eye-opener into insights, big data and consumer behaviour and my first behind the scenes view into the development of TV shows. At first, I found the excel sheets and number crunching overwhelming. The pressure of an office environment and juggling big numbers on e-mails and phone calls was a huge challenge for someone like me who was, at the time l, very inexperienced. But I knew this was the right career path for me and I continued to learn and develop.
How did I get the job? Well, I was a super-fan of their content and I could talk about Big Brother and The Simpsons ‘til the cows came home. They loved my (almost hyperactive) enthusiasm and decided to give me a chance.
After my 1 year internship ended I pursued marketing roles (the field in which I studied my degree) in various television production jobs. But soon found that I wanted a more defined job as my I.T. skills improved, I was hungry for more strategy rather than production.
Your current role and skillset, does this inspire you, or is there any other role you would love to be doing?
After a few years of internships and volunteering, I finally landed my longer term role at a film studio as Digital Marketing Manager working in their Home Entertainment department for the distribution of Film and Television.
My most current role evolved the creation and distribution of video content (i.e. Spider-Man trailers) and marketing materials across online and digital retailers to promote the release of television and film titles. My skill set includes marketing and media planning, client and account management, and creative and technical production of marketing assets.
Like many roles, it was a juggling act of multiple projects and deadlines, and the biggest frustration became a case of repetition and relentless workload. I started to get inspired by the digital industry and actively looked for an opportunity where I could develop further in digital and become an innovator and expert in my field. This is ultimately what I would love to do full time.
What or who drives you in the industry? /
What do you find frustrating within technology and what inspires you?
This is a difficult one, as I struggle to find a female leader in the limelight in my industry. The lack of representation is disappointing and outdated. It is a big reason why I am determined to challenge the status quo and inspire others to get involved.
On a basic level, I am mainly driven by exciting brands and content that can inspire, educate and inform people. But currently for me, the most exciting development in technology is the growth of VR and AR, and how it’s transforming our understanding of the gaming, healthcare, motor and educational worlds (to name a few). Not only is it going to develop the human capabilities but it will aide and support our everyday lives. I find this future very exciting.
If you are you a mother that is returning to work in the technology industry, tell the readers what your journey back to work was like (good, bad and the ugly). What could have been done differently or improvements that could have been made?
Alternatively, if you had a career break for another reason, tell us about that and what you have experienced.
I decided to take a career break and leave my permanent role due to two reasons.
1) Mental health
2) Career Progression
I was unfortunate to experience a number of mental health and stress related illness during my times of employment. This was due to a number of work and family tragedies which made the stresses of a very busy work life environment difficult to navigate. I am a huge advocate for talking therapies and prescribed medication to help people through difficult times, therefore I promised myself some overdue self-care and taking that valuable time away from a computer screen was essential to getting better. Now feel I can move forward with my head held high.
Career progression was a very real stumbling block for me. I found it baffling that the digital industry was still a huge mystery to most people I spoke to. I struggled to get support for the work I was doing, from both a resource and a budget perspective.
I have found from personal experience, that most companies are still stuck with the same process, same mindset and same leaders which prevent the growth, talent and innovation in the tech world. There is a surge of talent coming from junior employees, but the current environment is not sufficient to support them. In order to keep up with the growing competition in the tech world, these companies would have to re-invent a culture that encourages it. The demand is there yet the understanding, unfortunately, is not.
Looking back, I found that I had lost my shine as a professional and could no longer face resistance. My recommendation would be if you have noticed this too about yourself, then I strongly recommend to be brave, bite the bullet and take a career break to reengage, re-energise and reinvent yourself.
When looking for a new role, what did you find were the main things that stopped you or made you hesitant when applying?
I am still concerned with prejudice in the recruitment process. In most cases, without the option of a blind CV or an internal reference, there can be stumbling blocks to be put forward for interviews. This could be anything from my education, my name or even my identity. Unconscious biases still exist and unfortunately, computers make it very easy to dismiss a text based CV without any consideration on what the individual might be like. Getting through that virtual scanning process is the biggest step.
I have also struggled to find a good mixture of tech roles that are both analytical and creative – they seem to be quite separate. Marketing, insights and analytics tend to be different departments in companies, but really they should operate harmoniously owing to the inherent synergies between them.
And finally, there are an overwhelming amount of recruiters and job websites, and it can be confusing to know which ones are advertising real vacancies and then how to cut through that noise and pluck out the genuine ones!
Within the technology industry do you have specific female role models and if so why? Perhaps if your female role model is not in technology tell us a little bit about her too.
I am afraid I don’t, but I would love to meet her!
For women who are just looking to get into technology do you have any advice for them or could you tell us what you think worked well for you?
There are a number of things that you can do, and the most valuable one I have found is to find support from a mentor.
LinkedIn now has an option to display on your profile that you are an expert in your field and are happy to be contacted by people who seek advice.
There is also a great women network called Bloom who are starting up their mentoring programme shortly.
What you believe the future of technology looks like for women and what policies or improvements can be made.
I would love to see equal representation of people in the future. Firstly, we still have some work to do to stamp down on unconscious bias. Secondly, we need to inspire young talent in schools, universities and rural areas where talent can be harnessed. Then we need to improve the recruitment and hiring process to make it as easy as possible to ‘get a foot in the door’. And finally, we need to challenge our existing internal processes and politics, to ensure internal talent is being supported, given the right training and nurtured to become the leaders and innovators that they are destined to be!