Maggie Berry is the managing director of Women in Technology. Maggie has been a mentor to the WeAreTheCity Team and has given guidance and advice to us. We took some of her valuable time (once again) to ask her a few questions
What made you decide to set up your website?
The website was set up as a resource to increase the number of women working (and succeeding) in IT. The project grew out of a piece of diversity research that was undertaken in late 2003 that showed the acute lack of women in the technology profession. We set the website up to act as an information portal for women in that sector and to help connect them to employers. The website and our network have grown so much since we launched in March 2005 – we now have 6,000 members and over 15,000 visitors each month.
If you can imagine something, you can achieve it. Life doesn’t have to be a linear career path – there are so many different possibilities out there.
What have been your biggest challenges so far in the business?
We’re funded by the organisations who are advertising their roles on the website so it’s tough for us when firms aren’t hiring as in the current economic situation. It’s also been a big learning curve for me to be managing web development projects – it’s not something I’d been involved with before and if I build another website, I will know the technical pitfalls to avoid!
If there was one thing that you could say was a great success, what would it be?
Our network and the networking events we’ve run – over 30 since September 2005. The events have always been incredibly popular and we’re often oversubscribed for places. It’s amazing to see all these technical women networking with each other. And at one of our events you could almost forget there’s a lack of women in IT as there’s hardly ever any guys at the events (although we’d love to see more of them!).
How do you see the market performing in the next 12-18 months?
Honestly – not that well but everything’s cyclical and business will come back.
If you could go back to when you started the company would you change anything?
I wouldn’t know where to start with that! I’ve learned so much from so many of the mistakes we’ve made along the way but then you have to learn from your mistakes or you don’t gain anything. I’m so proud of the website and the network and it’s where it is today because of all the hard work that’s been put in over the last five years. So if I could go back and change things, we might not be where we are today and I wouldn’t have gained as much experience as I have.
When and if you get the time, what do you like to do in obtain a life balance?
I’ve got a busy, busy social life – I’ve got friends from home, friends from university and London friends to keep up with. I’ve got a boyfriend I want to spend time with and a family in Scotland (including four nieces under five!) to keep in touch with. I love history and enjoy reading sweeping historical novels – I usually find the time to read them on the tube during my commute. And although I love London, I also really like weekends away from the city being out in the countryside with wide open skies.
Can you share any tips for any members wishing to start out on their own?
If you can imagine something, you can achieve it. Life doesn’t have to be a linear career path – there are so many different possibilities out there. So if you want to do something different, you can! With regards to practicalities, work out your funding / budget and check out your competitors – make sure you know what differentiates you from them, especially if they’re established in your market space. Embrace social media, get a mentor and enjoy the experience – however it works out!
WATC TV: Interview here
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