Hi, I'm Tabitha.
Tabitha is currently the Co Founder & VP Business Development at CognitionX.
After graduating from the University of the Arts in London, Tabitha worked her way up at an online television network, t5m, as Head of Video Syndication Director where she noticed a gap in the market for simplifying the syndication and monetization of live and on-demand video. As a natural problem-solver, this led her to the co-founding of Rightster Group PLC, a video distribution company that automates the end-to-end lifecycle for content owners, publishers, and marketers. Her final role was head of product, having previously held the positions of head of brand solutions, head of fashion, marketing director and interim GM of New York. Rightster was the first Multi-Channel Network (MCN) to go public; it went on to acquire four businesses and became the largest MCN outside of the US with average monthly video views of 1.6 billion and total transactions value of £16.9 million in 2014.
Tabitha believes that AI changes everything,
The next 10,000 innovations will be “X + AI” (Kevin Kelly, Wired Magazine) but a fragmented market with 1000s of choices creates a number of challenges including, what’s best practice, how do I evaluate options, when to make improvements and many more.
Traditional model of research and evaluation is slow, expensive and results in low confidence of an optimal solution and so her new mission with business partner Charlie Muirhead, CognitionX, is to make it simpler, faster and less risky to find the right companies to work with in order to innovate.
She tells us,
CognitionX is a community and directory all things AI. We bring together Experts, Data Sources, Vendors and Businesses looking for data driven solutions, through our events and online platform.
In addition to this, Tabitha advises start-ups in London, including, NTS Radio, FYXER, and CatwalkCollective. She was recognised as a Media Week 30 under 30 and in the Evening Standard Silicon Sixty.
N: As a young girl, did you dream of being the founder of a successful companies like CognitionX, Rightster or Project Placed?
T: As a young girl I wanted to be anything I thought was impossible for young girls. A taxi driver, vicar, astronaut, mainly because I didn’t see women in these roles. When I set my mind on an actual career I wanted to be in advertising, I loved the idea of telling stories on a grand scale but after years of internships at the top london agencies I felt downtrodden by the slow pace of change and sadly very masculine environments.
N: It sounds a lot like an episode of Mad Men. The tech industry isn't much easier, in fact it could be harder to crack. Why would you say a gender diverse environment is important to you + your company's success?
T: It’s what makes the world go round. Without a balance everything is out of kilter. I believe without a balance of opinion I worry we wouldn’t be building the right product, making the right decisions or solving the right problems. I make a conscious effort to try and see as many female candidates for a role as male. It’s getting a little easier for those straight out of university but we have a long way to go.
N: I'll agree with you. Policies like GPG reporting are going to encourage firms to update their search and hiring strategies so they can meet targets, but given that it is only applicable to larger firms I worry that smaller firms aren't spending as much time as they should thinking diversity through in early start-up stages. You're an advisor to start-ups. Is gender equality something you coach them on?
T: Constantly! It’s not about fairness, it’s good business logic. I help in anyway I can to get startups to understand the importance of hiring, fostering and believing in women. I advise two young male founders and their birthday + Christmas presents have always been biographies of female CEOs because I want them to understand what it feels like to be a woman in this environment.
N: I love that. I think it's really important for women to start telling their stories and for the world (not only aspiring female technologists) to listen. So in saying that, what do you think are the most important steps toward bridging the gender gap in technology?
T: Education, we need to ensure girls feel like they can pick the more tech subjects and excel in them. There are some fantastic organisations in the UK who are focused on this and I think I can already feel the affect but there is a lot more to do.
Strong role models. There is an infinite list of women who I try to learn from every day. I started a Twitter group “Learn from Other Women” to collate their useful and often inspirational and wise words.
N: So on the topic of education, do you think we are doing enough to ensure that we are educating our youth to be digitally able?
T: Nope, sadly not. It’s still for those who seek it out rather than a universal skill that has to be learned like maths and english.
N: I'm curious to know, can you code?
T: I’m so painfully dyslexic that I’m not sure I’d have ever been a natural coder in the same way I’m not a natural writer or any language. That said I would have loved to have tried from a younger age and sadly at 30, my youth was spent thinking about analog jobs and coding was never a raised as an option. I swear I’ll never let that be the case for my kids.
N: I think the hardest part is having a high-level understanding of technology and being able to get your ideas down in the necessary technical jargon which you seem to have down. Moving on, from your experience, how difficult would you say it is to strike a balance in startups between hiring skilled technologists quickly and trying to balance out the gender ratios?
T: Very difficult still but I really believe we have the chance to change this with education.
N: Finally, what's next for you?
T: Back to my desk as I’m launching a new site for CognitionX today.
And there you have it! A huge thank you to Tabitha - an inspiring role model and female founder. We wish you all the best with the CognitionX new site launch today - check it out people!