How did the whole nomination process start for you?
It started off as a very casual conversation with my manager, John. He mentioned there was an award that himself and our CEO, Anne, would like to put me forward for. I didn’t really understand what this meant until I found out what the award was and that Starling Bank would have to submit a 250-word award entry on why they were nominating me. I wondered if they would even have 250 words to say about me! The entry was submitted in September and a few days later I was asked to provide supporting information for the award.
There were five questions I needed to answer about my background, significant achievements/contributions at Starling, how I am helping others, why I am a future leader in the tech industry and how I would leverage the award. I thought… Oh my, that’s a lot of questions! But then I took the time to reflect and think about my answers and I submitted in October. The following month, on my way into the office I saw an email notification pop up on my phone titled “Congratulations, you have been shortlisted for WeAreTechWomen’s TechWomen50 Award” and I was both surprised and overjoyed that what I had accomplished so far was worthy of a shortlist by a panel of impressive judges in the tech industry.
Following the good news, the next step was to spread the word and get some votes but ultimately the selection of the winners were up to the panel of judges. There were a 100 women shortlisted and as I read through a few of the nominees biographies I felt a mixture of emotions; they were really impressive and had achieved amazing things (master inventors, entrepreneurs, etc), maybe I should have shown more of my accomplishments in my bio, getting this far is an honour and also humbling and even if I don’t win, this is still a great achievement.
On 11th of December 2017 I was delighted to find out I was one of the 50 winners (hence TechWomen50); it was one of my highlights of 2017!
I feel that winning this award has given me the added confidence to support and mentor like minded women in the industry. So… I do not have a technical academic background, and I am not a developer, but I work in a tech company and I want to help people understand that you do not necessarily need a technical background to become a technologist or to work in technology. Right now I am enjoying the best of both worlds – Finance and Technology aka Fintech – and I want to be able to inspire mine, and the next generation, and to be a testament to the fact that what they do in this industry no matter what level your role, is important and can make a difference.
I am hoping this award will boost my credibility in the technology industry in terms of influence and awareness to those who are unfamiliar with Starling and afford me the opportunity to support others who are looking to provide similar technology and innovation in their respective fields.
What do you think the importance of these awards are in supporting women in tech?
I just started reading a book titled ‘Women, Work, And The Will To Lead” by Sheryl Sandberg – I am probably one of the last people to read the book – but better late than never. So far some of the points raised in the book have resonated with me; just paraphrasing – the majority of women find it difficult talking about their accomplishments and would rather downplay their achievements, maybe because they do not see it as a big deal? (this is exactly how I felt when I had to answer the question about my achievements at Starling for this award). I think the downfall of this is that sometimes we may not feel worthy of recognition or worse may not be recognised at all (because it is ‘Business as Usual’).
The tech industry is still predominantly male dominated and I was going to corroborate this with some stats, but let’s be honest we all know this is the case – it’s a hot topic of discussion! With this, and the above statement in mind, I think awards like these are very important in recognising the achievements of women and encourage more to join the bandwagon. This will create a network and support group that other women interested in working in technology can tap into and also heighten their expectations of what they can achieve as women in tech.