Features | 11 Jul 2024

Women in tech: Nine pieces of advice from industry leaders

Vodafone UK teamed up with software company MongoDB to host two panels comprising some of the UK tech sector’s leading female voices. Here are some of the best insights from the event.

From being shushed mid-meeting to having an older male colleague introduce them as “like me, but prettier” and, somewhat predictably, being labelled as “sassy”, “bossy” and “a diva”.  

This was just some of the workplace testimony an audience of more than 100 Vodafone staff heard during Vodafone and MongoDB’s ‘Inspiring the Women in Tech’ event on 12 June 2024.  

Thankfully, the good advice outweighed the bad experiences, as an eclectic group of industry leaders from Vodafone, MongoDB, AWS and Accenture shared insights across the two panels.  

Their advice remains sorely needed, unfortunately, with women still only accounting for roughly a quarter of the UK tech sector. Whether you’re an industry leader or just starting out in your career, here are nine key takeaways from the event:

1. Encourage diversity

“It’s really essential for leaders to foster diversity, because if individuals feel comfortable bringing their true selves to the workplace, then they are more likely to be super motivated. All of which starts with leadership getting together to think about how they can act as role models for their team.” 

Kate Apps, Senior Strategic Portfolio Manager, Vodafone UK

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2. Foster psychological safety

“As leaders, we need to be authentic. Before COVID, I was very private and didn’t like to show any weaknesses. During the pandemic, however, we sat down as a team and had a really personal conversation about what was working and what wasn’t. By admitting that I was struggling, my team resonated, and felt like they could talk about these issues a lot more openly.” 

Charlotte Crowson, Head of Digital Product, Vodafone UK 

3. Make vulnerability a superpower

“The best work happens when you’re in an environment where you feel safe. But, to get there, you first have to be vulnerable. This means proactively sharing what’s personally and professionally important to you. Because, if people know where you are coming from, they can better understand your point of view.” 

Graham Seamans, North Europe Area Vice President, MongoDB 

4. Support your staff

“Get in the habit of giving the floor to individuals in your team and showing them that they have your support. This can help you build an inclusive environment that shows you are a forward-thinking company, with values that reflect the people you are looking to hire or retain.” 

Cheryl Razzell, Head of Compute (Solution Architecture), Amazon Web Services 

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5. Find your passion

“In the tech world, we are trying to solve problems, so you need to be passionate about what you are doing. To find this passion, I recommend people start thinking about what makes them an individual, and then to feed this into their day-to-day work.” 

Miryem Salah, Chief Data Officer & Head of Digital & Transformation, Vodafone UK  

6. Make the most of networking

“Networking can be hugely valuable, but only if you’re intentional as to what you want to get out of it. It should also be a reciprocal process, so make sure to pay it forward when you get the chance.” 

Victoria Nash, Head of HR – Technology, Vodafone UK & European Digital Engineering

7. Stay in the moment

“Remember to always enjoy the journey and live in the ‘here and now’, as all experiences – good and bad – are useful in building who we are.” 

Karoona Ramah, Head of Demand and Delivery, Vodafone UK & Global Digital Engineering 

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8. Think outside the box

“When people think of career paths, the instinct is often to think of a linear ladder, but obviously that isn’t always the way things pan out. As a result, it’s important to think about what we really want, as well as how we might get there.” 

Anna Kowalczuk, Vice President – Governance Risk and Compliance, MongoDB 

9. Learn from mistakes

“Everyone make mistakes and, of course, the weight of these mistakes will increase as you progress in your career. What’s really important, however, is to always be satisfied with how you arrived to your decision, the counsel you sought, the reasoning process you went through and what you learned from the mistakes you made.” 

Lauren Campbell, Cloud First Growth Lead, Accenture UKIA 

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