International Women’s Day is upon us, and here I am, working at Dreamr. I’m an emphatically nontechnical (though tech curious) female ex banker of a certain age, here in the amazing cutting edge world of app development and design, as the world’s one and only (unless you can tell me different) Head of Aspiration. I support and develop our team of Dreamrs to be the very best they can be. So how did that happen? You know what, if I’m honest, I reckon that at my prestigious Girls’ Grammar school, if you didn’t want to go to Uni, the teachers didn’t really know what to do with you. There was scant careers advice, and what there was was from teachers who had themselves almost never stepped outside a classroom.
I’m delighted to say that’s changed. Speaking to inspirational teachers like Elaine, champion of STEM at Loreto College or the great teachers we’ve worked with at Walkden High School, they’re well aware of the incredible opportunities open to their students, and they are passionate about giving them every opportunity to shine. Girls in tech are still way too few and far between – but that’s for another blog all of its own, IWD or not. So with a distinct lack of imagination or aspiration, I became a banker. It’s what my Dad did. And I did well. I got a bit of a bruising occasionally from bouncing off the toughened glass ceiling, but I made the best of it – for a long time – because people are my strength and my passion, and guess what, it doesn’t matter if it’s a Bank or a digital agency, there are amazing people in both. Yep, even in banks.
When redundancy came around for the third time in three years, I decided that rather than somebody else makes the decision whether I stayed or left, I wanted to take control of my own destiny at last. After so many years, I kept thinking I’d wake up and have changed my mind. Every day I didn’t. So I waited a long time to be a square peg in a square hole. I guess what I want to get across is that we have many more transferable skills than we think we do. And by “we” here, I mean women. It’s sad but apparently true that many female candidates will read a job spec and focus on what they feel they can’t do, whereas male candidates will just go for it. But what did I actually want to do when I left? No idea. I did write a wish list, which I wanted to work with (in comparison to banking) a relatively young team, in a creative environment, in Manchester, my home city. And then I made it happen, I put myself out there, and here I am.
So what lessons would I like to have passed on to my younger self? • Be proactive and go for your dream.
- Don’t settle for OK – you are better than that.
- If you do get onto the wrong path, change it
- You’ve got skills; you can use them anywhere.
- Know what you can do, don’t give “can’t” any brain room.
- If the role you want doesn’t exist yet, invent it.
I had a quick browse on Facebook this morning, and I can’t say it any better than this wise young woman, Malala Yousafzai:
“Do not wait for someone else to come and speak for you. It’s you who can change the world”