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Norfolk Business Awards 2019

Women in Tech: Ones to Watch

PUBLISHED: 13:29 08 March 2019 | UPDATED: 13:29 08 March 2019

(Clockwise from top left) Kathryn Wright, COO op supapass, Laura Goldson, solicitor at Mills&Reeve, student Phoebe Sayer and computing lecturer Natasha Hales. Picture: Various

(Clockwise from top left) Kathryn Wright, COO op supapass, Laura Goldson, solicitor at Mills&Reeve, student Phoebe Sayer and computing lecturer Natasha Hales. Picture: Various

Various

We've got hundreds of inspiring women in tech, or tech enabled careers in Norfolk.

But here are some of the ones to watch:

1. Kathryn Wright, COO of Supapass and owner of Discountvouchers:

What was your perception of tech and the industry before entering it?

I thought it was way more complex than it is and thought it had a clear divide between design and development and that the thinking behind the tech was pretty binary.

Do you consider yourself as a tech ‘creator’ or in a job facilitated by tech?

I am in a job facilitated by tech. Because our team is predominantly software developers, there is definitely some in-depth knowledge needed to understand what is in the realms of possibility for deliverables, and we need to understand our product thoroughly for talking to potential clients.

What would you say to any young woman thinking about embarking on a career in tech?

Just to do it if you enjoy it. I personally have found

(having worked in predominantly male-led environments) that the tech industry measures you more on your output, KPIs and data than your gender. Work hard, read as much as you can outside of work, keep your finger on the pulse, and it’s likely that all of the skills that would carry you forward in any industry will be appreciated in an industry that needs more specialists - regardless of gender.

2. Laura Goldson, a solicitor in the commercial, IP and IT team at Mills & Reeve

What was your perception of tech and its industry before entering it?

I have studied and worked in science and tech for more than 20 years and, to be honest, entered into it without any real preconceptions.

Over time though I have seen a real shift in society’s perception moving to a much less male-dominated and more fast-paced, exciting world to be in.

How does your role interact with tech?

The best part of my job is working with and understanding the objectives of scientists and other tech creators. I am then better able to help them protect and increase the value of the outputs of their achievements.

How will tech shape your job/industry over the next decade?

Legal services have always been seen to be old fashioned and lacking in innovation and the use of technology. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Innovation constantly changes my current role and with machine learning and AI tools being introduced to support document heavy legal roles, repetitive tasks can be completed more efficiently. Already I am seeing a shift in the way we work with clients. For example, we are using hackathons to help provide clients with innovative solutions to issues which they face and to improve internal processes at my firm.

3. Phoebe Sayer, a student looking to embark on a career in tech

Would you like to embark on a career in tech?

I want to work in robotics and plan to apply to study engineering at Cambridge or Loughborough. I am also very interested in cyber security.

I think many young women my age are interested in STEM, but some end up being put off, either by feeling they are the only women they know who are interested in it, or sometimes by the attitudes of other people.

What would you say to other girls thinking about going into a tech career?

If I had to choose one thing to say to girls interested in a tech career, it would be that they are not the only ones at all. Even if they are among the only ones in their school, as they go to more events they will meet more and more young women who share their interests. Some of the ones I’ve really enjoyed are the CyberFirst courses (some of which are for girls only) and Cyber Discovery, along with the Penrose Engineering Residential at Loughborough.

4. Natasha Hales, a computing lecturer at City College Norwich and chapter lead for the Ladies of Norwich Hacking Society

What was your perception of tech and its industry before entering it?

I used to work in administration for a large IT department, and I used to think “I could do that”.

I really liked the idea of building, breaking and fixing something and I felt that was something I would be good at. Everyone seemed to be using tech to produce amazing products and I wanted to be part of that.

How will tech shape your job/industry over the next decade?

We are at the beginning of a really exciting period of massive tech growth.

There are advancements in technology that will alter the way we live such as AI, robotics, automation and cyber security threats and young people will need a very different set of skills than the ones I needed growing up in order to flourish in this future.

What would you say to any young woman thinking about embarking on a career in tech?

Try things, all the time, find something you enjoy and learn it, then find something else you enjoy and learn that. Don’t be intimidated by something you don’t know yet, it just means you haven’t learnt it yet.

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