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Meet the women in tech at Thirdfort

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ARTICLE SUMMARY

SheCanCode met with Thirdfort’s women in tech to hear about their careers so far and to learn what life is like working at the security software firm.

KATE, HEAD OF DESIGN

WHAT FIRST SPARKED YOUR INTEREST IN WORKING IN THE TECH INDUSTRY?

I have wanted to be a designer for as long as I can remember. I knew that having the opportunity to work as a creative while designing and producing things that people would see or us would give me a huge sense of gratification. 

As my career took me from print into a digital world, thanks to the advent of smartphones, my work became much more focused on product design and the end-to-end process from research to development. For me, product design rewards innovation and creativity but demands accuracy and attention to detail.

WHAT QUALIFICATIONS HAVE YOU FOUND MOST USEFUL TO HOLD WHEN SEARCHING FOR A ROLE IN YOUR FIELD?

  • Design skills and knowledge (preferably at BA level)
  • The ability to innovate and successfully show your processes
  • To be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • An understanding of technology, the development process and analytical thinking skills
  • Persistence and determination
  • Thinking and reasoning skills
  • Complex problem-solving skills
  • User-centric testing and validation of ideas

HOW CAN COMPANIES SUPPORT THE WOMEN IN TECH COMMUNITY BETTER AND HOW DOES THIRDFORT CONTINUE TO DEVELOP YOUR CAREER?

Hiring women is the first step to closing the gender gap. Thirdfort makes a conscious effort to do this at all levels. Supporting your female team members and members outside of your immediate team is a must. Invest in them by offering formalised leadership development opportunities for women leaders, focused on building the leadership competencies needed to thrive in your organisation.

WHAT TIPS WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN IN TECH LOOKING TO EXCEL AT THE INTERVIEW STAGE?

1 – Never stop learning! Everybody has strengths and weaknesses, and it’s important to build and learn in the areas you’re not confident in. Think about areas where you have knowledge gaps, and look into courses and training you could do in your spare time to improve and widen your skills.

2 – Ask for feedback and take criticism as a positive. It’s easy to take criticism to heart, but you should view it as more of an opportunity than a negative. If you go out of your way to ask for feedback, you’ll have more of an idea of how you can improve and better yourself. Use any criticism constructively and learn to improve on your weaknesses.

3 – Keep a good work/ life balance – avoid burnout. Burnout is a real issue faced by many women in tech. Ensuring you have a good work/ life balance and are still doing the things that you enjoy outside of work is so important. Do things that you’re passionate about, spend time with loved ones and get some exercise/ fresh air.

IN YOUR EXPERIENCE, DOES BEING A WOMAN IN TECH COME WITH EXTRA MENTAL CHALLENGES THAT YOU HAVE TO OVERCOME, SUCH AS DOUBTING YOUR OWN ABILITY?

Self-doubt affects everyone, but being in an industry in which you are outnumbered by the opposite gender is particularly tough. Confidence comes with knowledge. Technology constantly evolves as new software and systems are created, so women paving their way in tech should continue to learn as much as possible.

Keeping on top of new developments will get you noticed and make it easier for you to advocate for yourself. It is worth remembering that the very act of being yourself will benefit your company’s mission the most.


ANNA KEREN, CHIEF TECHNOLOGY AND PRODUCT OFFICER

WHAT FIRST SPARKED YOUR INTEREST IN WORKING IN THE TECH INDUSTRY?

Anna from Thirdfort

I was good at Maths in school, software engineering is a very creative industry and the impact that a person can have is massive. It is rewarding financially and you get to see the results of one’s work quite quickly.

WHAT QUALIFICATIONS HAVE YOU FOUND MOST USEFUL TO HOLD WHEN SEARCHING FOR A ROLE IN YOUR FIELD?

I am always looking for curiosity, ownership, delivery of outcomes, ability to learn and evolve constantly.

HOW CAN COMPANIES SUPPORT THE WOMEN IN TECH COMMUNITY BETTER AND HOW DOES THIRDFORT CONTINUE TO DEVELOP YOUR CAREER?

Treat employees and women fairly, and provide equal paternity and maternity leave for men and women – this way I believe women will be less disadvantaged when taking long maternity leaves and left out of the cycles of promotions.

WHAT TIPS WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN IN TECH LOOKING TO EXCEL AT THE INTERVIEW STAGE?

Be yourself, believe in yourself, and employers worth working for will find a way to assess someone’s skills and potential regardless of their gender.

IN YOUR EXPERIENCE, DOES BEING A WOMAN IN TECH COME WITH EXTRA MENTAL CHALLENGES THAT YOU HAVE TO OVERCOME, SUCH AS DOUBTING YOUR OWN ABILITY?

It is hard to tell for sure, without real data and research, as I have never been a man in the industry. I guess for me the biggest issue was the period around maternity leave. During my pregnancy and afterward, I felt left behind and excluded from promotions. I felt like I was missing out on career opportunities. I attribute these types of experiences to being a woman.

IS THERE ANY ADVICE YOU WOULD GIVE WOMEN IN TECH CONSIDERING A CAREER IN ENGINEERING THAT YOU WISH SOMEONE HAD TOLD YOU?

No one encouraged me to go into the software engineering industry, I could have easily gone into something different, but I am happy I did almost by chance and I wish I knew more about it.


FERN TAYLOR, PRODUCT DESIGNER

TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF.

Fern from Thirdfort

I started as a junior web designer back in 2009 (before UI and UX were considered two separate fields). Starting within the car industry I worked with global clients like Ferrari and McLaren. I have worked in the Theatre industry and recently joined Thirdfort this year.

As I grew my skills and progressed in my career I discovered a love for Design Systems and all they entail. I lean more towards the UI side of design but have developed my UX skills through the years.

WHAT FIRST SPARKED YOUR INTEREST IN WORKING IN THE TECH INDUSTRY?

I originally wanted to work at Pixar when I was younger because I was in awe of the animation process. Turns out animation was not where my strength lay, so I became interested in the web at University.

WHAT QUALIFICATIONS HAVE YOU FOUND MOST USEFUL TO HOLD WHEN SEARCHING FOR A ROLE IN YOUR FIELD?

I don’t think it’s so much about qualifications as it is experience. I think in the tech world experience is key, whether that’s an internship or a placement. Real-world experience can be invaluable to better understand how those skills you have learned within education are applied.

HOW CAN COMPANIES SUPPORT WOMEN IN THE TECH COMMUNITY BETTER AND HOW DOES THIRDFORT CONTINUE TO DEVELOP YOUR CAREER?

I think companies need to make tech as visible and viable to women as early as possible. I remember going to a mixer when I was at university that was all about women leaders in tech and that was so inspiring and made me believe that it was truly an option for me in the future. The more we expose young girls to the idea that there are women up there in senior positions the wider we open their minds to the possibilities.

Since starting at Thirdfort they have been amazing at allowing me to decide on the progression path I want to achieve while at the company. They have encouraged and facilitated my ability to learn new skills to help me become a better designer.

WHAT TIPS WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN IN TECH LOOKING TO EXCEL AT THE INTERVIEW STAGE?

It’s going to sound cliche and super simple but believe in yourself. You have put in the time and effort to get to where you are in your life. Let that come across when you are in an interview. Don’t be afraid to talk about your accomplishments and highlight your strengths. As someone who has been on the opposite side of the process, remember that the company needs your skills and that this is not a one-sided relationship.

IN YOUR EXPERIENCE, DOES BEING A WOMAN IN TECH COME WITH EXTRA MENTAL CHALLENGES THAT YOU HAVE TO OVERCOME, SUCH AS DOUBTING YOUR OWN ABILITY?

Sadly imposter syndrome is common among women in tech and it is something that most, if not all of us, have suffered from at any given time. It can sometimes feel like your voice isn’t being heard or is being drowned out by your male peers.

If it’s a role you truly believe in and think is right for you don’t be afraid to keep speaking up – don’t let them silence you if you think it’s something that is best for the role you are in or the company you are part of. Your voice is just as important as anyone else on the team. Remember that you were hired for a reason and your skills were valued enough to pick you over others.

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