Takeaways from the Women in Silicon Roundabout Conference | Ellen Donnelly

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This week the Women of Silicon Roundabout conference took over the London ExCel centre: hosted by Maddox Events as part of their event championing diversity in the workplace.

After attending, here are some of the insights that thought leaders in technology shared that I believe are key for anyone advancing a career within the industry:

Diversity AND Inclusion

Any measures to increase diversity in recruitment processes are null and void unless we make the effort to ensure everyone is truly included in the workplace. As eBay’s Chief Diversity Officer Damien Hooper Campbell highlighted – a dance party is only fun if you’re actually allowed to dance.

Say yes to opportunities

We may only get a handful of truly big opportunities presented to us in our careers. As women we shouldn’t disqualify ourselves for fear of being inexperienced or unprepared, but always take the chances that come up.

Resilience is key

In the tech world hard times will inevitably come. But the people who ride the wave and stick it out will always come out stronger. Don’t give up after personal or professional disappointments but persevere, show loyalty to a company and learn about yourself along the way. Some of the best displays of greatness have come off the back of hard times, Intuit’s Marketing Director Alicia Skubick told us.

Tech belonged to women first

We are reclaiming an industry we helped to build. In wartime women were the codebreakers and many companies only employed female programmers before the ‘80s. It’s only a recent rhetoric that women are the minority in technology.

Get over yourself and learn to code!

It isn’t that hard. When you consider all of the other hard things we do in our lives, in comparison coding should be a breeze. Joanna Hannaford, Goldman Sachs Head of Technology laughed off the idea that any smart woman couldn’t manage to do it if they put their minds to it.

Put up a mirror to yourself

Self-awareness is one of the most important factors when it comes to effective leadership. Get to know yourself, your strengths and understand your bigger life purpose. Without a core purpose driving you, it‘s difficult to overcome adversity. Pepsico CIO Jody Davids shared how the death of her son coupled with an estranged husband shaped her career, in a particularly poignant talk.

Rest Up

Just. Stopping. Occasionally. We can never bring our best. Make sure your commitments are spread more evenly than just work and play – find ways to relax, re-centre and get your 8hours sleep. When you’re operating in high pressure environments your health must remain a priority to prevent burn out.

Your phone is not your friend

Very smart people are being paid a lot of money to keep your attention on your smartphone. Digital addiction is real and felt widely amongst the industry. We need more awareness of its downsides: reduced ability to focus, recall information and be creative – so put it down!

Trust each other

Team environments require trust to flourish. This looks like being open, honest and able to reveal our vulnerabilities. There is no substitute for face-to-face communication (without hiding behind screens) to truly built trust and empathy. In a start-up; a close knit working environment is everything.

Just start!

Failure is part and parcel of the industry but you won’t know where you stand until you try. For women seeking entrepreneurial paths, the opportunities to start a company are more readily available than ever before. The Bakery Start is just one of these programmes, that doesn’t even require an idea to get started.

About the author

Ellen is Head of Entrepreneurial Investment at The Bakery, responsible for finding and investing in people to start new companies from scratch. She is experienced working across industry sectors to help organisations tap into their entrepreneurial potential. Ellen also does 1:1 coaching for women looking to make more of an impact in their careers.

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