Anisah Osman Britton runs 23 Code Street.
In 2012 Anisah won the Young Entrepreneur Festival in London, which brought together 150 of the best young minds in the country.
Since leaving school, Anisah has pursued internships around the world, learnt to code, worked as ops director for a corporate accelerator and started 23 Code Street.
Anisah believes there are multiple routes to success, and that students need to be shown all possibilities.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
I’m Anisah, and I am the CEO and Founder of 23 Code Street, a coding school for all women where for every paying student, we teach digital skills to a woman in the slums of India.
After doing the International Baccalaureate at college, I interned in businesses around the world- an upgraded gap year, so to speak.
I then ran a company, which allowed students to earn some extra cash by doing odd jobs for individuals and companies. This is when i started to get into technology and began learning how to to code.
When I finished with that company, I went to work for a corporate accelerator called The Bakery. I learned loads about startups and corporates, and was lucky to be sent on a coding course which cemented my foundations and my love for web development.
I started 23 Code Street out of frustration at the lack of women with technical skills and understanding, and the effect this had on products and services. We need more representation across the board.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
Ha! No. I thought I was going to be an actor/director/pilot/translator…I fell into tech. I didn’t plan it.
Have you faced any particular challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?
Of course! The biggest challenge I am currently facing is my health. I have Myasthenia Gravis which literally means grave muscular weakness, is a rare long-term condition that causes muscle weakness that comes and goes. It’s sometimes hard for me to get to work, and sometimes my eyelids are droopy which means I don’t want to be seen by anyone which is something I’m trying to overcome. I’m dealing with it by listening to my body, cutting out sugar, sleeping, and being more active.
If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?
Across the board equality. Simple. And technical skills. OK, I cheated.
How would you encourage more young girls and women into a career in STEM?
I would show them the vast range of things you can do in STEM- it’s not just about white coats, it’s not just about “hacking”, it’s not just about being a math professor- you can be a fashion designer, make up creator, an inventor, a games maker, a marketer, a business owner, a superhero…My point is, especially from my tech perspective, that having technical skills is relevant no matter what industry you are in. To encourage them, I would show them and tell them the stories of women and non binary people doing amazing work right now.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
I think mentoring can be incredibly powerful. I am currently formally training as a mentor with the incredible organisation Creative Mentoring Network, and have a brilliant mentee called Adora who wants to get into computer science which brings me so much joy.
I have a few people who I’d consider my mentors, but it’s not a formal thing. They have taught me tonnes and opened up doors for me, so they deserve that status. To their faces though, I call them friends.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Getting 23 Code Street past year 2 and having our own lovely office space in Clerkenwell.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
My next personal challenge is to have a tech column. I’d love to write from inside the industry about what is currently happening in an accessible way. I’d love to interview people who work in the industry who are not necessarily the founders so there are different roles to aspire to.
In terms of 23 Code Street, we are going online and we are going global. Our next webinar course, which can be taken from anywhere in the world as long as they speak English, is a daytime course. I’m so excited to see who that brings through our (virtual) doors.