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How I went from a million ideas a second to one

Hello! What's your background, and what are you working on?

Experienced digital delivery manager. As a young person I picked up lots of work experience as

I worked from the age of 13 in various companies and job types. This gave me broad exposure

to different processes and business models. At university I studied computer science and

management with the career objective of being able to translate between those delivering

technical solutions and the businesses that need them. Today my work is split between project

delivery, writing occasional code and the running of a small technology company.

Describe your idea in less than 50 words

I have about a million ideas a second. So, I’m guessing you don’t mean that, but rather, what

am I working on right now big picture? In 2006 after quitting a career with Procter and Gamble

to become a teacher, I teamed up with this awesome guy to start a tech company that would

support smaller businesses with high quality bespoke software solutions.

How did you get started with your business?

I had enough of working in slow moving big companies, being charged out at high rates to other slow moving companies. I wanted to start working with companies where saving money and being more efficient meant the difference between thriving and surviving.

In a way, I was reacting to a frustration of being trapped into a world where me working in a specific role made very little difference to the world. I wasn’t adding unique value by performing the tasks requested of me. I wanted to make a bigger impact.

We actually don’t really have a product, and that’s the fun of it. We partner up with start-ups and businesses wanting to grow so that we can design and build technology that supports and

expands their business. Every project is unique in the same way that every business is.

What did you do to attract users and grow your business?

To this day this is the biggest mystery to me. Usually clients come from referrals or meeting one of the team whilst networking. We don’t advertise or promote ourselves. That’s because our service is pretty full-on and until 2 years ago we were only a really small team so we couldn’t handle many projects at once. This might be about to change as we’ve now grown to 12 of us and our plan is to grow more to support the demand from our existing clients. So I guess the way that we attract new clients is by trying to do a really great job on every project and ensuring that every interaction with our company or team leaves the person impressed and happy.

What are your plans for the next 12 months?

As I mentioned before we plan on expanding and growing a bit further over the new year –

including getting into some new technology areas that are rapidly expanding (VueJS, IOT,

Machine Learning etc.)

Personally, I want to get more involved in the movement to encourage equality and encourage

young women to learn more STEM subjects, women in leadership and causes like this.

Tell us about the challenges you have faced and what you have done to overcome this.

I don’t think that challenges ever subside, even when you get to a good place, having overcome

the previous ones. That’s a good thing. Without the challenges, we don’t grow, we don’t learn.

The challenges I’ve personally faced in my career are discrimination, disrespect, dyslexia and

lack of self-confidence.

When I was 24 I was the IT manager at a German manufacturing plant. They did not want me

there – young, female and English. It was probably the toughest year of work I’ve ever had.

They insisted on speaking in German, which I wasn’t good at, even though they were all fluent

in English. I faced road blocks on everything that I wanted to implement and every day felt like

an impossible battle.

My self-confidence suffered as did my health. I was so frustrated that everyone seemed to be so obstructive, as I expected more collaboration. I was totally alone. Having grown up with Dyslexia at school, I was used to people telling me I can’t do things and had developed a stubbornness to fight these low expectations and my inner “can I give up now”

voice. I stayed for over a year at the plant and used every skill I could to push my projects

through and make changes. I managed to get some people on side and built up alliances with

people who had previously been openly against me.

I set up some schemed that encouraged innovation across the functions and teams and rewarded new ideas from the factory floor, instead of expecting all direction to come from leadership. This was a cultural change, so was tough to implement and get accepted, but I was really proud to see the growth in some of the interns and workers when they realised that their improvement ideas were not only good, but people were talking them seriously. When I left, this project was self-sustaining.

I find that the biggest help has always been to surround myself with the right people. People

who inspire me and make me feel accepted, but also won’t accept half measures. They expect

me to do better, because they know I can. When I was struggling the most I would call either

friends or my dad and moan about how hard it was often through tears. Every time, they would comfort me, but then ask me – what are you going to do about it?

What's the one tool or resource you've found helpful?

I recommend reading Growth Mindset – Carol Dwerk. Easy to understand. Really hard to

implement on a day to day basis – put a poster on the mirror as a constant reminder. But in

terms of tools – I would be lost without my Outlook Calendar – I know it’s old school, but all

meetings go in there and things I want to achieve – everything I plan to do gets a time slot. That

way I can see in advance if I’m trying to do too many things and I can head off this failure and set expectations before it happens.

What's your advice for other women who are just starting out?

You are already good enough to do this. Believe in yourself, and remember that everyone has

doubts. Get a support network, or a mentor. I currently mentor two women entrepreneurs

through the Virgin Startup program and they both tell me it’s really helpful to have someone to

bounce ideas off and reassure or ask intelligent questions. It’s interesting, as previously I

mentored a guy and he wasn’t bothered about having many chats, he just wanted my

connections.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

If I stayed there all day I’d never achieve anything. I have this inner drive inside me that wants to help people and make a difference. I measure my worth not on what my bank balance says but on how useful I am as a human being – staying in bed doesn’t really serve anyone else, unless you’re sick. In which case that’s the best thing to do. I’ve never had an issue getting up in the morning, unless it’s a gym day and my abs already hurt

What's your morning routine?

Depends on the day either, get up go to the gym, then breakfast, coffee and start work. Or get

up, go for a walk with my husband and then breakfast, coffee and start work.

My favourite quote is

Never let the fear of getting knocked down stop you from getting up (or something to that effect)

Describe yourself in 3 words

Enthusiastic, honest, generous (determined).

Where can we go to learn more?

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