In this ongoing series, we speak to our winners about life after winning a TechWomen100 Award.
Now in their third year, the TechWomen100 Awards recognise and celebrate the achievements of women in tech – the emerging tech talent and role models for the future.
We spoke with Rania Svoronou, who won a TechWomen100 Award in 2018.
After a career that’s taken her from a local print design shop in Athens through several startups, design studios and ad agencies, Rania Svoronou is now an Associate Design Director at IBM iX– a new division within IBM, which has been named the largest digital-agency network in the world.
Rania made it to The Drum list Top 50 Under 30 UK, was awarded We Are The City’s Rising Star Awards 2018 in its Digital Category, has been shortlisted for the Rising Star 2018 category at the TargetJobs National Awards and has won multiple internal IBM awards. Selected as a TopTalent IBM Global Business Services UKI and recognised as a Future Leader among 2,300 IBM practitioners, she is also a member of Founders of the Future – an invite-only private community of the most promising entrepreneurial tech talent in Europe, launched by Founders Forum.
Rania is a keynote and TEDx speaker, guest lecturer, industry mentor and has been invited to judge and mentor at multiple hackathons and design events across Europe. With the aim of empowering more women in her industry, she has appeared at London Business School, UCL, UAL, King’s College London, Royal College of Art and at events such as Ladies Wine Design, UCL Women’s Career Club, UX Crunch, MobileUX London, UAL Graduate Futures Week, Techstars, Startupboost and Google’s Startup Weekend.
How did you feel when it was announced that you’d won a TechWomen100 award?
There is a quote from my favourite life coach Tony Robbins which says “People are rewarded in public for what they practice for years in private” and I couldn’t agree more. It felt great and a relief that I’m still heading towards the right direction. For me, any recognition or award has a real value when it’s used for a good cause, to support other women in the industry and develop a strong voice to embrace change. The Tech industry, as we all know, still has diversity issues and I come from a country (Greece) that the problem on diversity and technology is much bigger.
Please tell us what has happened in your career since winning the TechWomen100 award?
The TechWomen100 Award was one of my proudest moments, as all the women on the list were just incredible and I was thrilled to be part of the Top 100 Women in Tech UK. I am lucky to be surrounded by many wonder women such as Alison Clark, Debbie Vavangas, and Susanne Jones who support me and have changed my life. The global division I work for in IBM, which is IBM iX (Interactive Experience), have been very supportive on my win and I was featured on the internal IBM comms, got shout-outs from the most respected leaders within the company and I gave an interview to Fortune Greece Magazine who featured me on of their ‘successful profiles’. People Greece Magazine also featured me and even my high school did a profile on me to inspire the younger generation of Greek females who want to enter the world of design and technology.
I got invited as a speaker to TEDx AUEB (Athens University of Economic Business) in front of 500 attendees where the theme was ‘BLANK’ and my TEDx Talk “Think Like a Designer. Act Like and Athlete” will be online on the official TED website in couple months. Furthermore, I had the incredible honour to be invited as a speaker on The Next Web Conference 2019 in Amsterdam, alongside the biggest names in technology and business in the world.
Saying this, I’m still an active speaker, a guest lecturer and an industry mentor to various events such as ‘Ladies Wine & Design’ which is a group created by Jessica Walsh in NYC to empower creative ladies around the world and I was an invited Career mentor to UCL Women’s Career Club. I’ve been a mentor to ‘Women Founders Hack Event’ powered by Natwest and got invited as a Judge on the VISA Design Hack in collaboration with AKQA and Founders of the Future. I’ve definitely gained more confidence over my skills and we owe a big thank you to Vanessa Vallely who empowers more women to sit on the table!
What advice would you give to someone else going through the award’s process?
To be authentic. Don’t try to pretend to be someone else – just be yourself. Easier said than done. Each woman has its own personality that makes her unique. I am bold, emotional, resilient, temperamental and I’m embracing my Greek Culture which is a big part of who I am. Be honest on what you do and why you do it. I absolutely love what I do and an award is just the result. I’ve seen quite a few women wanting to get an ‘award’ for the sake of it. That is not the point – it shouldn’t be the point. The goal is to be honest and the best version of yourself. Keep faith and keep going.
What tips would you give to our other members to enhance their careers?
As silly as it sounds, it actually took me all these years to realise that giving your 100 per cent all the time on every single task or action is just not sustainable. While I was doing my research for my TEDx talk, I’ve read that the highest achieving athletes in the world, such as Olympic Athletes, are using their energy smart, by knowing when and where they have to give their 90 per cent, 80 per cent, 70 per cent and eventually stretch themselves by giving their 1000 per cent when is crucial. I thought that is actually brilliant and we can all learn from that. Career is a marathon – not a sprint. Take care of your body and mind if you want to enhance your career. That would be my best advice.
You do have to love what you do and know why you’re doing it, but you also need self-discipline. What I see missing are grit and perseverance. I can see the talents and the motivation but I don’t usually see the actions that it takes to progress any career further. There are many who preach what they have never done and they are telling others what to do. I practice what I preach, and I’m inspired by other women who defy the odds and challenge the status quo. Is not a trend – is a way of life and it will absolutely test your limits.