Brisbane based Mother and Daughter duo, Christine and Kelly Newbery recently joined forces to develop and launch an app together on the app store. Christine is a retired programmer who taught herself app development and Kelly is a digital marketer by day and a passionate gardener by night who is sick of friends telling her about their dead plants.
I can’t believe your mum was one of the first female coders- how epic. What app have you released? And how did this idea come about?
Kelly – I’m super proud of Mum. She’s certainly been an inspiration to me growing up and in my career.
We’ve created an app called PeppyPlant that reminds people when and how much to water their plants. The idea came about because I constantly had family and friends complaining that they killed their house plants. So I came up with an idea for an app to help people stop killing plants.
I didn’t actually think I’d do anything with it, but when I mentioned it to Mum she said she’d be happy to try and build it for me. We decided to use beautiful illustrations to make the app fun to use and it snow balled from there.
Christine – I’ve been a programmer most of my working life so when I retired I wanted to keep my skills up and my brain active. I was teaching myself how to develop apps which was fun but when Kelly mentioned her app idea I jumped at the chance to develop it from the ground up, so that I could practice my skills.
Do you think being raised in a house where women in tech roles was encouraged has changed how you saw yourself in the industry?
Kelly – It’s interesting, growing up, Mum always encouraged me to consider IT as a career because she loved it so much. But it never really appealed to me and I studied marketing instead. The funny thing is, I’ve actually spent the last 5 years working for tech companies and now I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Between the two of you what roles/jobs have you experienced? And what skills have you found most valuable or transferrable?
Kelly – I’ve spent most of my career working in marketing but started out Communications/Media. There are a few skills I think are really important in digital (and most industries!):
- Project Management. Most digital teams move fast and have multiple balls in the air at any one time. Being able to juggle priorities and effectively manage projects is key.
- Creative thinker. Creativity is not just about designing beautiful things. It’s also about creatively thinking to solve problems. And I believe creativity is at the heart of innovation, which is something most digital companies strive for.
Christine – I’ve spent most of my career working as a Programmer or Business Analyst on large payroll and human resources systems. The skills I have found to be important are attention to detail, problem solving and the ability to work with other people.
What are the pros and cons of working with your parent? Do have advice for others who may be interested in starting a family venture?
Kelly – I’ve been really lucky because Mum and I have an excellent relationship, so we haven’t had an issues working together.
We have actually previously been involved in ventures with other family members and I think one of the most important things to do at the start is to create a conflict resolution plan. That way if people disagree there’s a plan in place to resolve any issues.
Christine – I think it’s really important to set clear expectations about time (and potentially money) that you’re willing to invest. It’s essential that both parties are on the same page when it comes to this stuff.
Probably more relevant to Christine but how do you think women’s involvement in the industry has changed and how would you still like to see it change?
Christine – When I started in 1978 there were very few female programmers. This has changed over the years with more women entering the industry. However, by the time I retired, there were still many more male programmers where I worked than female. I would love to see more women who are interested in this type of work take it up.
Do you believe that mentoring and community groups are important for women’s career development? Have you have experienced this yourself?
Kelly – I think mentoring is incredibly important and I am lucky to have two mentors with very different backgrounds. I also mentor a student from QUT, and I wish I had found mentors earlier in my career.
It’s funny, I attend tons of different networking and professional events, but it’s the Women in Digital events that I enjoy the most. And the reason why is because of the community that’s around them.
Christine – I have not had a mentor but I have been lucky enough in that wherever I’ve worked, there have always been many people willing to share their knowledge and help out newer staff. This leads to greater productivity and a more pleasant place to work.
On the other hand, I have previously been a mentor at CoderDojo, which is an initiative put on by Digital Brisbane that teaches school kids how to code. It’s been great being involved and seeing so many kids take an interest in coding.
Kelly and Christine have shared so much together both personally and professionally. Please check out their latest venture PeppyPlant, I know I will be I somehow just killed two succulents! PeppyPlant will keep your plants happy and healthy by setting reminders to water plants, making recommendations about sun requirements and where to position plants, plus providing expert tips to help plants flourish.
PeppyPlant is available to download for free from the App Store. You’ll never need to worry about killing your plants with neglect (underwatering) or love (overwatering) again!
If you enjoyed reading this, why not read our interview with 2016 CIO of the year, Nina Du Thaler!