Have you faced any challenges as a woman entering the security and tech industry?
I think if you’d have asked me this 10 years ago, my answer would probably be quite different. There’s definitely been a lot of challenges entering this market; you’re a new entrant in the market, you’ve got to build credibility, you’ve got to create a great product and they’re challenges no matter what gender you are. Everybody will face that.
Things have come on so much for women, especially in the last decade. Yes, there have been challenges but there’s no really I could put down to my gender.
Certainly, the security industry is a lot more male-dominated than other industries, but the people around me who have given me the chances for success and encouragement have been men and women, and I can’t say gender has held me back at all.
How do you think we can encourage women to become entrepreneurs?
The more that we promote women in entrepreneurship in the more male-dominated industries of tech and security the better. Raising awareness that there are other people like you doing this just makes it much more attainable; like, if they can do it, so can I.
Access to funding is also a big factor. The last time I checked on this stat, only one in 20 Angel Investors (people who invest at an early stage) are female. So really, I think we need to start at that funding level to make sure that as you’re starting a business. There is a subconscious bias that people tend to invest in people similar to themselves, so it’s not a 50/50 going into that playing field. For me, I think if we can encourage more women that have been successful in that area of investment, that will help to give other women who are just starting a bit of a leg up.
Who is your inspiration in your career?
I’m going talk about an inspirational lady we shared an office in the Enterprise hub in the very early days of the business. She was this phenomenally intelligent lecturer who was working on a business idea which is now doing incredibly well. So she worked so hard full-time while trying to get this business up and running and looking after her family at the same time.
On top of all of that, she was just the nicest person, too. She loved a bit of chitchat in the office and always had time for everybody. I think there is a bit of a preconception that you can’t have everything, but she was brilliant. She works hard, she was intelligent and I just thought that’s exactly who I want to be like.
What is the most important piece of advice you’ve been given?
The one piece of advice that I always come back to is from a mentor who said,
‘Don’t take the highs too high and don’t take the lows too low. Just try and be as level-headed as you possibly can be.’
I know the word resilience gets bounced about a lot among entrepreneurs, but you have got to be resilient. This advice boils down to the practicality of resilience. You’ll have massive ups and massive downs. Just try and smooth those out so you don’t get caught up in all the excitement when it’s going really well because it will go down. And when you have a low, don’t take it as this is it this is the end.
It’s a bad day – put it behind you and then when you have a good day, it makes up for it. Just try and be as level-headed about it as you possibly can be. That’s key to anybody starting out.
What’s the one thing we can all do to support women as leaders and tech entrepreneurs?
Maybe don’t assume that everything’s going well and they’re full of confidence. Compliment somebody and I’m sure it will always go down well. Sometimes you can be having a really bad day and someone will send you a message to say they’ve seen your advert on social media and it looks great, well done, you’re doing really well. That kind of encouragement will never go amiss.
There’s one quote, ‘real queens fix each other’s crowns’. Women should always try and help one another whenever they see any opportunity. Try and uplift them, it doesn’t cost you anything. I think that should be everybody’s motto.
What do you think will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
Things are massively improving so you’d hope the challenges will get less and less with every generation and I can see a massive difference. People have different views on positive discrimination, such as X% should be women in senior management positions, and that’s happening in companies across the world.
The biggest challenge for the next generation could be an assumption that they only got that job to hit that quota. The only thing that these women can do to overcome this challenge is just be amazing, so there is no question as to why they’ve got that role. They are the best person for the job.
What did you dream of doing when you were younger?
I think I changed it about every week but probably longest running dream was to be a forensic scientist after watching CSI. I never really saw myself starting a business and maybe that does come down to that kind of confidence.
I always love business but I never really thought I would be the person that would start one of my own. But I had an idea that I loved and was just working through it, and that’s just kind of how it happened. If you love it, go for it, that’s the best way forward. But I’m really glad now that I am not a forensic scientist.
What career advice do you have for girls growing up today?
Don’t limit your possibilities. I’ve done a few STEM workshops, which encourage girls to look at science, maths engineering technology and it is quite surprising because before you go and do those workshops, you haven’t heard of quite a lot of the jobs in those areas.
So, as well as doing something that you love, I’d say just go out and explore. Talk to as many people in as many different industries as you can, whether that’s creative roles, or something office-based, whatever it is. Just make sure that you’re so fully informed, so you know all the options that are available to you.