Celebrating International Women’s Day, we’ve gathered twelve of London’s biggest female voices in tech. We asked them to share some advice for the next generation of women thinking of getting into tech. Looking at how they started their careers themselves and the challenges they had to face, they talk about their own role models, and even debunk some tech myths. Ready? Let’s dive in and hear from the first six.
UX Researcher, Msc Psychology, Author, Speaker & Mentor
Sabrina has over 20 years of experience in UX and earned her MSc in Psychology at Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany, where she specialised in Engineering Psychology and Cognitive Ergonomics. Sabrina co-founded one of the first UX agencies in Germany, eye square, and served for over 12 years as a managing director and partner. In the UK, she has worked as Head of Insight, Head of UX, Principal UX Researcher, and Senior UX Researcher for various public and private sector organisations on both the client and agency side.
Sabrina enjoys going to UX conferences and frequently speaks and writes about UX. She has published around 30 articles, co-authored a UX textbook and spoken at many international conferences (see the full list of publications here or take a look at ResearchGate). She is also an active mentor on ADP List.
Choose the right subject to study. A degree is the basis of your career and especially as a UX researcher, you need an academic degree, ideally a master’s degree or even a PhD.
At university, find a professor who supports you and ideally supervises your master’s thesis. Choose a research topic for your master’s thesis which is unique, relevant and reflects your passion and on which you can work independently. Your master’s thesis can be the entrance ticket to your career because you will have a great case study and, with luck, your first publication.
Create a website, maybe even a brand for yourself. On your website, you can present your experience and examples of your work. Create a professional LinkedIn profile and ask people you have worked with for recommendations (that works best when you also offer to write a recommendation for them). Job recruiters will find you on LinkedIn; try to write blogs or articles and try to give talks.
Go to conferences and meetups, both to learn and to network – and because it is fun! Do courses and training.
Choose jobs where you learn something new. If you feel you cannot learn anything new or are stuck with no further options to advance, switch jobs.
Sabrina’s role models and inspiration
The basis of my career is still my former professor Prof. Hartmut Wandke (Engineering Psychology & Cognitive Ergonomics, Humboldt University Berlin). I specialised in Engineering Psychology and he was the supervisor of my master’s thesis and encouraged me to publish my thesis. I owe him my career and I still benefit from the knowledge and expertise I gained from his lectures and seminars almost 25 years ago. More recently, I enjoyed reading Sheryl Sandberg’s books Lean In and Option B. They are well-researched and her personal story is impressive and inspiring.
Two books I would highly recommend to everyone working in UX are ‘The Lean Startup’ by Eric Ries and ‘Sprint’ (Google Design Sprint), by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky and Braden Kowitz. Both books show the importance of a data- and evidence-driven approach to business strategy and give practical examples and advice on how to put this into practice.
My personal inspiration is Hannes Robier, the founder and organiser of the World Usability Congress (WUC) in Graz, Austria. The WUC has grown into a unique and inspiring international UX conference with insightful talks. He created a real community, the WUC family, which includes all speakers and supporters of the WUC.
CEO at Tapoly
Janthana is the CEO of Tapoly, one of the first on demand insurance providers for SMEs and freelancers in Europe and the winner of Technology Development at the European Business Awards 2021. Here are some of her many awards:
Forbes named her sixth on their Top 100 Women Founders to watch list
The Insurance Institute named her among the Top Ten Insurtech Female Influencers
She was listed as one of the Most Influential Women in Tech 2021
She won the Insurance Leader of the Year by the Women in Finance Awards 2021
Her previous work experiences include working as a former chartered accountant and internal audit director at investment banks like UBS, Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan, and BNP Paribas.
My advice for young women who want to get into FinTech is to just go for it. Many companies include diversity and inclusion metrics in their recruitment process and most companies are starting to increase their headcount again after the COVID-19 pandemic, so it’s a good time for those who want to find new opportunities. Overall, you have a good chance at getting the job today; however nothing is guaranteed, you will still have to show that you are the best candidate. Depending on your experience, you may need to refresh your knowledge or upskill.
Finding a mentor within the industry who can support you in your career will also help. Aside from their connections and insight, mentors provide invaluable support and can be a useful sounding board. I would encourage women to expand their knowledge about the sector as much as possible. This could be by reading articles and listening to podcasts and attending networking events because you never know who you might meet who could open the next door.
Finally, don’t believe that your gender will hold you back or be a barrier to your FinTech career. In our careers, most of us will have moments when we doubt our own abilities, experience imposter syndrome, or lack self-confidence, but we are all capable of so much and should feel empowered to go after our dream roles.
Dr. Anastasia Dedyukhina
Founder at Consciously Digital
Dr. Anastasia Dedyukhina (UK) is a global thought leader on digital wellbeing, twice TEDx speaker, bestselling author of Homo Distractus, and founder of the international network of 110+ digital wellbeing coaches Consciously Digital. But that’s not all:
She acts as a director of the first digital wellbeing training program certified by two major coaching associations, ICF and NBHWC.
Anastasia is a frequent speaker at global conferences, such as Mobile World Congress (Barcelona), National Wellness Conference (USA), Sync Digital Wellbeing Summit (Saudi Arabia) on digital wellbeing, the ethics of tech and more.
She has appeared numerous times in the national and international press, including BBC, ITV, Metro, Guardian, and others.
Anastasia's first TEDx talk “Could you live without a smartphone?” has been viewed more than 370,000 times on Youtube.
Her second TEDx talk "Are you a robot?" will be published shortly.
Dr. Anastasia’s Advice
If anyone told me 10 years ago that I'll be one of the people defining the global digital wellbeing movement and tech ethics, I would never believe them. I've always been curious about tech, but my background has been too "soft" for it. I never thought I could make a difference in it without knowing how to code (and I did try coding - and found it boring!).
What helped me was just living my true story - I got rid of my smartphone for a year and a half because I was frustrated by the many distractions and this piqued my interest in why I felt this way. I researched it, did a TED talk, wrote a book... and one thing followed the other, and now I am running a network of over 110 digital wellbeing coaches!
And... just do it, try things! In my experience, women frequently have the idea that they are not prepared enough or that they need to study more and they end up overthinking and missing opportunities.
Be a little bit more adventurous and have fun with it - you'll figure things out!
Futurist at The Big Reveal UK
Recently named one of the “Top 25 Women in the Metaverse,” Amelia Kallman is a leading London futurist, speaker and author.
As a technology communicator, Amelia regularly consults brands, agencies, and governments on the impact of new technologies on the future of business and our lives.
She forecasts global trends and behaviours, helping clients navigate innovation, build strategies and deliver industry leading initiatives.
She specialises in the emerging opportunities - as well as the risks - of AI, XR, data and Web 3.0.
Recent areas of study include the metaverse, sustainability, Gen-Z/Gen-Alpha, NFTs, and the surfacing human rights issues of tomorrow.
Host of XR Star, Blockchain in the Metaverse and The Big Reveal, Amelia's clients include Together Labs, Unilever, JLL, Lloyd's, Red Bull, TD Synnex, and UK Parliament.
She is a mentor, activist and is currently writing her third book.
Don't be afraid to speak up! Be heard, ask questions, ask for support, call out bad behaviour, take credit when it's yours to take, ask for a raise, ask how much a male counterpart is getting paid, champion others, admit when you're wrong, and don't let anyone make you feel like you don't have a voice.
Secondly, find a mentor and be a mentor. This can be someone you work with, someone you find on LinkedIn whose career you admire or someone you find through a community group. Knowing that you have someone you can talk to and ask for professional advice, who has your best interest in mind, provides you with both a valuable and rewarding relationship.
Founder and CEO, Tech Nordic Advocates
Jeanette is Founder and CEO or Tech Nordic Advocates (TNA) Northern Europe's largest and only pan-Nordic/Baltic tech/startup and women-in-tech ecosystem and Nordic arm of Global Tech Advocates, the world’s only global tech startup community. She is also the founder and CEO of newmedia2.0, a leading independent strategy boutique, a corporate, startup, diplomatic and EU advisor and leading conference chair and keynote.
Over a 30 year career in tech, Jeanette has led UK, European, US and global businesses, founded tech sector businesses, played a key role in London’s tech city ecosystem, advised the UK and Nordic government, ambassadors and the EU on all issues relating to growing and scaling technology businesses
Jeanette also lectures about innovation & entrepreneurship and supports tech accelerators at leading international business schools
In recent years, Jeanette has developed and delivered Europe’s only international female tech founder growth programme, helping over 200 female tech founders launch, grow and scale innovative tech sector businesses to date
In 2018, Jeanette was voted “Inspirational Woman” by the City of London and invited to Buckingham Palace for her contribution to London’s tech sector
In 2021 and 2022, she was a finalist in the 2021 Nordic Women in Tech Awards
In 2022, she was voted amongst the 10 most impactful women in tech
Believe in yourself - never apologies for your performance (before speeches/presentations). Stand tall, be confident and smile!
Never think you need to know everything - no-one can! Asking for help is not a weakness, but a strength. Focus on understanding what your key strengths/skills are and use those and get others with complementary skills to do the things you are less skilled at/enjoy less.
You don't need to be a nerd to be in tech - there are so many different skill sets needed in the fast moving and super exciting tech space. Take a look at your skill set and what you enjoy . Tech is pervasive and is in every industry sector. If you're excited about how technology and technology enabled innovation can improve user experiences and peoples personal and/or business lives, there will be a role for you to play in tech - and if you're a tech nerd, that's of course great too! You can show other women that it's perfectly normal to be a female techy nerd.
Be yourself - don't assume you have to look or behave in a certain way.
Remember to be inspired by all sorts of people from any gender/background/race - don't assume that just because you're not in a room full of women or are even the only woman in the room, you're not meant to be there - you absolutely ARE! And in doing so, you are helping to make tech a space for all talent to feel included and empowered and inspire other women
And to close our first part of the article, we asked one of our own alumni to share their experience and advice with 5+ years of experience since graduating from Ironhack in Barcelona. Here is what she had to say:
Senior Software Engineer - Ironhack Alumni Ambassador
Maikha is an Ironhack alum who has been working as a software engineer for more than five years. Originally a designer, she focuses on the intersection between design and people-centred software engineering and likes to build artsy AI bots in her spare time. Her current area of expertise is the creation of multi-platform applications from a single codebase.
When she first started her career as a software engineer, she was lucky enough to join a global software consultancy firm where I was inspired by the words of CTO Rebecca Parsons: “You are the only person who truly knows what you are capable of.”
Starting a career in tech can be daunting, especially when surrounded by colleagues who may feel the need to prove their worth and competence. Don't feel intimidated by the competitive atmosphere; you are the only person who truly knows your potential and what you are capable of achieving. Believe in yourself and your abilities and don't let the actions of others discourage you from pursuing your career goals.
Have you enjoyed hearing from some of the leading women in tech in the UK? We’re proud to be working to create the next generation of female tech leaders. Are you next?
Next, we’ll bring 6 more leading women’s advice to continue learning and getting inspired.