Find out what we have been up to in the community.

Interested in having a member of Women in Digital speaker at your event? For all speaking, press or media enquiries, please send us an email.


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June 25, 2024 Alyssa Hughes

We can’t believe the End of Financial Year is upon us, and we are so excited to dive head first into the next twelve months of incredible events, programs and conversations with many incredible women across Australia.

To celebrate, we are launching an incredible offer you won’t want to miss!

The details

To celebrate the new financial year, one lucky winner will receive 3 x 60 minute sessions with Holly Hunt, Sarah Morgan and Cherie Canning, helping you feel empowered start the new financial year with a bang!

Everyone who signs up to a new individual Women in Digital membership before July 31 2024 will have a chance to win this incredible prize.

One lucky winner will be empowered to ignite their future by joining Holly, Sarah and Cherie for 3 different sessions aimed at building your confidence, nailing your personal brand and reshaping your leadership qualities. Join our community of digital-loving, career-driven, gender-diversity-championing members today!

What you will win

One lucky winner will secure:

A 60 minute career development mentoring session, delivered by Holly Hunt, Founder of Women in Digital and Hunt & Co.

Holly is the Founder and CEO of Women in Digital. She is energised to support women in their pursuit of careers in digital and technology. She does this through building a thriving community, hosting inspiring events, and leading Australia’s preeminent awards program for women in digital and technology. Born from a love of mentoring, a passion for career guidance, and a belief that technology should be built by all people, for all people, Women in Digital is now a cornerstone of the industry.

Alongside this she is also CEO and Founder of Hunt & Co. a boutique recruitment agency which specialise in building diverse, high performing digital and technology teams for value aligned businesses.

A 60 minute professional branding session, delivered by Sarah Morgan, Managing Director of Bespoken

As a former journalist and PR strategist, Sarah Morgan is the Managing Director of Bespoken and has worked with some of Australia’s top executives in raising their professional brand to position themselves for their next job, build trust and expertise with staff and key stakeholders or become an expert in their key sector.

A 60 minute leadership coaching session, delivered by Cherie Canning, Director of Luminate Leadership

Cherie Canning is not just a speaker; she’s a catalyst for transformation in the workplace. With over two decades of experience in leadership development and organisational culture, Cherie brings a unique blend of expertise and passion to her role as the Founder of Luminate Leadership. Her dynamic approach to coaching and training has empowered countless individuals and teams to unlock their full potential. Through her engaging keynotes and interactive workshops, Cherie inspires audiences to embrace change, cultivate resilience, and harness the power of authentic leadership. As a sought-after thought facilitator, her impact continues to resonate across industries Australia wide. Get ready to be inspired, challenged, and empowered by Cherie Canning as she guides you on a journey of self-discovery and professional growth.

 

I’m ready to sign up!

 


 

T&C’s

  • Eligibility:
    • The competition is open to individuals who sign up for our membership within the promotional period.
    • Participants must be 18 years or older.
    • Employees, agents, and affiliates of the organizers and their immediate family members are not eligible to participate.
  • Competition Period:
    • The competition commences on 26/06/2024 and ends on 31/07/2024. Entries received outside this period will not be considered.
  • How to Enter:
  • Prizes:
    • One 60-minute career development mentoring session with Holly Hunt, Founder of Women in Digital and Hunt&Co.
    • One 60-minute professional branding session with Sarah Morgan, Managing Director of Bespoken. Please note, this session will be delivered after August 16th due to Sarah’s availability.
    • One 60-minute leadership coaching session with Cherie Canning, Director of Luminate Leadership.
    • Prizes are non-transferable and no cash alternatives will be offered.
  • Winner Selection and Notification:
    • Winners will be selected at random from all eligible entries.
    • The draw will take place on 01/08/2024.
    • Winners will be notified via email within 7 days of the draw date.
    • If a winner does not respond within 14 days of the notification, the prize will be forfeited, and a new winner will be selected at random.
  • Prize Delivery:
    • Sessions will be scheduled at a mutually convenient time for the winner and the respective session provider.
    • Sessions may be conducted virtually or in person, depending on the availability and location of both the winner and the session provider.
  • General Conditions:
    • Women in Digital reserves the right to cancel, suspend, or modify the competition if any problem or unforeseen circumstances arise.
    • By entering the competition, participants agree to be bound by these terms and conditions.
    • Women in Digital’s decision is final in all matters relating to the competition.
  • Privacy:
    • Any personal information collected during the competition will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.
    • Participants’ information will not be shared with third parties without consent, except where necessary for the administration of the competition.
  • Limitation of Liability:
    • Women in Digital is not responsible for any technical issues, network failures, or any other events beyond its control that may cause the competition to be disrupted or corrupted.
    • By participating, entrants agree to release and hold harmless the organizer from any liability, claims, or damages arising out of their participation in the competition and the acceptance or use of any prize.
  • Contact Information:


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June 13, 2024 Women in Digital

The Game Changers: Women in Sport & Tech event, hosted with the support of our partners Cisco and Data #3, marked a pivotal moment in the journey toward inclusivity and innovation in both sports and technology. Set against the backdrop of the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, this event highlighted the significant opportunities for women in these fields and explored how we can collectively drive technology collaboration in the lead-up to this global event.

The event was a melting pot of ideas and insights from trailblazing women reshaping the landscape of sports and tech. Our speakers shared their experiences and strategies for fostering inclusivity and diversity, offering a roadmap for how companies, especially those led by women, can drive technological advancements and create more opportunities in the lead-up to the 2032 Brisbane Olympics.

Emphasising Representation and Mentorship

Highlighting the importance of representation, Annie Devitt, Founder at iNSPIRETEK, emphasised the need for more women in non-female-founded companies and on boards and tables. She shared her journey with iNSPIRETEK, demonstrating how she leveraged opportunities to raise funds and hire a (male!) CEO, even after interviewing 30-60 women, promoting allyship and equality. Annie’s story is a testament to the power of representation and the impact of seeing women in leadership roles.

Advocating for early intervention, Thelma Dzwowa, Community Operations Manager at Brisbane Broncos, discussed the necessity of running mentoring programs in schools. By exposing young girls to different pathways and current industry plays, we can inspire them to pursue careers in sports and tech. This early exposure is crucial in maintaining their interest and participation as they grow older.

Adoption of Sports Tech

Technological advancements are revolutionising fan engagement and athlete performance. This technology is now being rolled out across the Brisbane Broncos, with Thelma providing insights into how football tokens and engagement are taking off in Europe, sports betting is booming with an $89 billion market, and fantasy sports are rapidly growing. Holographic technology and AI are customising and enhancing fan experiences, making sports more interactive and engaging.

Promoting Equality and Allyship

Addressing the topic of equality, Elia Hill, Managing Director of Connecting in Consulting, spoke passionately about handling it with eyes wide open. She highlighted the importance of equal prize money, as seen in tennis, and emphasised that we must “get that ladder and lift them up.” Her message was clear: true progress comes from deliberate actions to promote equality and support one another.

“Get that ladder and lift them up”

The Importance of Storytelling

Stressing the power of visibility, Natalie Cook, Founder of The Aussie Athlete Fund, reminded us that “you can’t be what you can’t see.” She emphasised the importance of telling and sharing our stories and by doing so, we create unexpected connections and opportunities. Her journey in fundraising, learning to handle rejection, and persevering is a powerful example of resilience and determination.

Strategic Planning for 2032

Focusing on long-term strategy, Annie shared her insight on how 95% of her revenue comes from international markets. She stressed the importance of starting now for the 2032 Olympics by objectively analysing strategic plans to play a part in the games. Companies must ask themselves, “How can we impact the games?” and align their strategies accordingly.

Opportunities and Challenges

The Game Changers: Women in Sport & Tech event was a celebration of the trailblazers and innovators driving progress at the intersection of women, sports, and technology. By sharing experiences and strategies, our speakers provided actionable solutions for fostering inclusivity and diversity. As we look towards the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, it is up to all of us to ensure women are given equal opportunities across both the sports and tech sectors.

Join us in this journey as we continue to advocate for change, inspire the next generation, and celebrate the women changing the game in tech and sport.

 


 

Do you know someone who is forging their leadership path? Nominate them for the 2024 Women in Digital Awards!


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June 4, 2024 Women in Digital

“Conscious reinvention throughout your career will get you where you need to be.” – Susannah Rosoman, Managing Director at Accenture

 

In an era where technology drives transformation across all sectors, the need for diverse leadership has never been more critical. Women in Digital recently hosted our Melbourne showcase event “Leadership at Every Level: Forging Your Own Path”, aimed at inspiring and empowering women to break barriers and ascend to leadership roles in the tech industry. The event brought together CEOs and founders from the tech and digital industry, each at different stages of their careers, to share their insights, experiences, and the lessons they’ve learned on their journey to success.

The Current Landscape

Despite women making up half of the Australian workforce, they remain underrepresented in key decision-making roles. According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), women hold only:

  • 19.4% of CEO positions
  • 32.5% of key management positions
  • 33% of board memberships, and
  • A mere 18% of board chair roles.

At this pace, gender parity in CEO roles will not be achieved until 2100. This stark disparity underscores the importance of events like Women in Digital, which aim to accelerate progress by showcasing the achievements and strategies of successful women leaders in tech.

Embracing Challenges and Leading Boldly

A recurring theme throughout the event was the importance of embracing challenges and leading boldly. Dr. Morley Muse, Co-Founder and Director at iSTEM Co, highlighted the power of expertise and confidence. She emphasised that being exceptionally good at what you do can overshadow any biases or preferences others might have. This sentiment encourages women to hone their skills and assert their worth, regardless of the obstacles they may face.

In contrast, Nikita Fernandes, CEO and Co-Founder at Fora Health, shared a different yet equally powerful perspective: the value of cautious, considered action. She candidly admitted to feeling fear but emphasised the importance of trusting one’s gut and making bold moves despite it. Her approach resonated with many, underscoring that leadership does not require the absence of fear but rather the courage to act in spite of it.

The Power of Reinvention

Susannah Rosoman‘s (Managing Director at Accenture) journey illustrated the power of reinvention and staying curious. She spoke about the necessity of continuously evolving and surrounding oneself with the right people. This mindset of conscious reinvention ensures that one remains relevant and adaptable in an ever-changing industry.

The insights shared by the panelists provided practical, relatable advice that can be applied by women at any stage of their careers. From knowing one’s boundaries and worth to trusting in one’s value and making strategic decisions, these takeaways were not only inspirational but also actionable.

Building a Future of Inclusive Leadership

At Women in Digital, we believe representation matters. “You can’t be what you can’t see” is more than a mantra; it’s a call to action. The lack of female representation in leadership roles not only limits opportunities for women but also stifles innovation and diversity of thought within organisations. Research consistently shows that companies with greater gender diversity in leadership positions outperform their less diverse counterparts, achieving higher financial returns, greater employee satisfaction, and better decision-making.

The sentiment delivered by the expert panel underscored the transformative power of inclusive leadership. By stepping up to lead at every level, women can drive significant change within their organisations and beyond.

Moving Forward

As we look to the future, it is clear that more needs to be done to bridge the gender gap in leadership within the tech industry. Women in Digital, alongside the work being done by women such as Dr Morely Muse, Susannah Rosoman and Nikita Fernandes, will continue to create platforms for women to connect, learn, and inspire each other. By amplifying the voices and stories of women leaders, we aim to encourage more women to pursue leadership roles and forge their paths in tech.

 


 

Do you know someone who is forging their leadership path? Nominate them for the 2024 Women in Digital Awards!


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June 4, 2024 Women in Digital

“Impact is the new black” -Jenna Leo, CEO & Co-Founder of Like Family

 

Global events continue to influence the digital industry in Australia, and the intersection of social entrepreneurship and impactful change has become a focal point for technology-driven companies, especially those that have a high female representation. Recently, our ‘Women in Digital Building a Better World: Women in Tech Driving Social Impact‘ event highlighted this powerful synergy, bringing together remarkable female leaders who are making significant strides in their respective fields. The insights shared during the event were not only inspirational but also a testament to the transformative power of technology and social innovation.

Pioneering Change Through Social Impact

The showcasing of social enterprises and their contributions to sustainability, diversity, and inclusion is vital to understanding how technology can be harnessed to address some of the most pressing social issues of our time. From ending loneliness and social isolation to fostering cultural safety and promoting sustainable practices, leaders within the digital industry have been able to demonstrate the multifaceted impact of social entrepreneurship.

The recent discussions at the Women in Digital ‘Building A Better World’ event highlighted how we can be using technology to drive social impact across diverse communities.

Leveraging Technology to Combat Loneliness and Social Isolation

Voicing her compelling mantra that “Impact is the new black” Jenna Leo, CEO & Co-Founder of Like Family, highlighted the importance of community and human connection in an increasingly digital world. By leveraging technology, organisations are creating spaces where people can find support and companionship, addressing one of the most pressing social issues of our time – loneliness and social isolation.

Creating Inclusive and Supportive Communities

One of the core messages delivered by Lisa Sarago, CEO & Founder of Land on Heart, was the importance of building communities that align with your missions and values. With an emphasis on how creating inclusive and culturally sensitive environments can drive meaningful change, fostering such communities and highlighting the role of technology should be a core driver when connecting people and amplifying diverse voices.

Tackling Complex Problems Sustainably

Another key theme was the need for sustainable solutions to complex problems. Elakkiya Ramarajan, Lead Data Scientist at VAPAR, underscored the growing necessity for tech solutions that consider long-term impacts on both the environment and society. What was also illustrated was how innovation and curiosity can lead to sustainable practices that not only solve immediate challenges but also contribute to a better future.

Insights and Takeaways

With a treasure trove of valuable insights, particularly in addressing unconscious bias and making a meaningful impact as allies in the tech industry, we should all be considering how technology has the power to be a great equaliser, offering solutions to some of society’s most pressing issues.

Building communities that align with our missions and values should allow us to explore ways of creating opportunities that advance diversity and inclusion in the tech sector.

The work being done by organisations such as Land On Heart, Like Family, and VAPAR demonstrates the real-world impact of social enterprises and exemplifies how technology and innovation can drive social change and sustainability, inspiring others to follow suit.

Looking Ahead

As we move forward, it is essential to continue these conversations and build on the momentum generated by the amazing work being done by social enterprises and tech for good projects. By supporting and empowering women in technology, we can collectively contribute to a better, more inclusive world.

The intersection of social entrepreneurship and impactful change offers a promising path forward, one where technology serves as a catalyst for positive social transformation.

 


 

Do you know someone who is building a better world? Nominate them for the 2024 Women in Digital Awards!


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April 29, 2024 Women in Digital

Introducing the 2023 Women in Digital Awards Champion of Change powered by BlackCard, Renee Noble!

Renee Noble isn’t just your typical CEO. She’s truly a force to be reckoned with in the tech world as CEO of Tech Inclusion, CEO and Founder of ConnectEd Code and if that’s not all, she is also a Cloud Advocate for Microsoft. Her passion for technology, education, and community is at the heart of her professional journey.

Renee’s nomination for Champion of Change was centred around her incredible work with the Girls’ Programming Network (GPN) working to improve tech education for people of all ages and levels of experience, particularly women and girls.

Renee is really living and embodying the “if they can see it, they can be it” motto which has been evident in every step of her career journey! Her achievements as a champion for women in digital is nothing short of outstanding.

We were thrilled to talk to our 2023 Champion of Change about her winning entry, career journey and more.

Click here to meet all the 2023 Women in Digital Award Winners.

Congratulations Renee! We are huge fans of your work in the industry.

To try and sum up who I am at my core, I’m a person who loves to give to other people. Being able to build other people up is when I feel great, and helping other people flourish is how I feel like I am doing my part in the world. With that, I am also a person who goes all in on things. I struggle to do things by halves (but I am trying to have some more chilled-out hobbies now!) If I see the benefit or potential in something I want to give it my all, I want to see how good something can be, and I want to see what I have in myself to be able to make that a reality.

I’ve always been very motivated to prove what I can do, maybe originally this was to prove to others what I can do, but these days it’s more about showing myself how much I’m capable of. I just love figuring things out, learning what I need to take things to the next step, and working hard to make it happen. I could definitely have been described as a workaholic for a lot of the parts of my journey to this point, but along the way I’ve realised that all the opportunities I had to do all that work has been what lifted me up to this point, and that sharing the work around will not only benefit me by reducing my workload to closer to normal human levels but also make space for other people to have those same opportunities.

It has been a very conscious decision of mine to recreate opportunities that I had when I first joined GPN for as many people as possible. Being thrown in the deep end a little my first time at GPN helped build my confidence in my tech skills immensely, and having the support of the people around me was one of the things that made me feel like I had found a home in the tech scene. At that time, GPN was a tiny little thing with a tiny group of volunteers. Everyone had to do things they wouldn’t necessarily sign up for, things they didn’t think they were “qualified” to do. These days we have plenty of experienced volunteers, but it’s part of the culture I set out to establish to make space for those experiences – giving people a little bit of a push to take on giving a lecture, running a room, or leading a whole event.

And to bring our readers up to speed, could you give a little pitch for Tech Inclusion and ConnectEdCode. How did ConnectEd Code come to be?

So firstly, Tech Inclusion is the charity that I co-founded around the already existing GPN program. GPN had existed for over 13 years when we founded Tech Inclusion two years ago. Until then we had been under the umbrella of various organisations, but we thought it was about time we went out on our own. Now we have set up Tech Inc. (yep that’s what we call it for short! Our org where the Inc. stands for Inclusion!), we have a lot more ability to be agile, and to work with industry partners. We’re always looking for more sponsors and more university partners that can help expand and grow our program around the country.

Within Tech Inc we’re also looking at different ways to build on the work we are doing with GPN, providing more opportunities for our tutors, trialling a new program for year 3-6 students, and many other things that are on the to do list. It’s still all volunteer-run, but we hope to get to a place where we can have people working on this as their job, to help us achieve all these benefits for gender diversity throughout the tech education and career pipeline, as well as potentially other marginalised groups.

ConnectEd Code is actually also inspired by my GPN work. In 2020, everyone was having a bit of a watershed movement, I think. It was then that I realised that I had built up a huge amount of skills and a huge network through my work on GPN and they weren’t really being recognised and were under utilised at my job at the time. It was then that I decided I wanted to tackle the problems I wasn’t getting to take on in my job.

This was about tackling delivery of the mandatory Australian technology curriculum by really listening to teachers and working with the limited time they have and the constraints of the school system. I knew a lot of the pedagogical learnings I had from GPN would be something that could benefit a lot of people. Since then I’ve come up with a lot of really creative ways to work with schools to make meeting their requirements easy, while also having kids that are really excited to learn about technology. It’s all about bringing Coding together with content, community, and curriculum. You can do a lot of cool stuff with that as your basis, like have teams design and code the tech for an escape room, or solve a murder mystery using their hand-coded detective devices.

The crux of your nomination is GPN. Tell us more about this program and what you have achieved?

I joined GPN in 2014 when there were maybe 30 girls learning to code each term at a workshop in Sydney. In 2023 we taught 1500 girls to code around the country! And that’s not even back to our pre-COVID peak attendance of around 2000 a year, since some of our GPN nodes only started back up about a year ago, and a lot of the students have graduated high school and now become GPN volunteers.

When I joined, having a nationwide network of GPN nodes was not something that was on the cards, I don’t know if that had even been imagined. But today we have nodes in Sydney, Canberra, Perth, Melbourne, and regional Tasmania. And we’ve had four others along the way we hope are back on deck soon!

It’s amazing to see how GPN has spread over the country in less than 10 years, the full story goes something like this…

About a year after I joined, I discovered I had accidentally inherited the leadership of the program, and I was hooked. As I’ve mentioned, GPN was somewhere that felt like a home for me. I wanted to help more students and volunteers to find out about it. It felt like I was giving them a gift!

With a (big) handful of commitment, I was able to add some of the hands-on activity ideas we had been talking about for at least as long as I had been there. And with this I also made space for other ideas from our other volunteers to shape the event, adding our mentoring sessions for senior school students that has meant that a lot more students keep coming to GPN throughout their senior years, seeking that support as they look to their futures.

The student population at the events started to rapidly grow. Girls were bringing their friends, who then went on to bring more and more friends. At the same time, I was racing to reach out across the tech industry to find as many women to volunteer as possible to make sure we had enough volunteers for all the kids! This led to us having a richer, more diverse range of volunteers from a variety of tech, teaching, and other sectors, at various stages of their careers.

Eventually, we reached our cap in Sydney, there simply weren’t more than 180 computers we could use at the same time. We ultimately ended up having to add an extra day of the workshop, because so many girls were upset to be missing out. We had a problem that no one foresaw, too many girls wanted to learn to code.

And, while there were girls we knew were missing out in Sydney, surely there were girls around the country who would also love to go to a GPN workshop. Canberra was the first to jump on board, with support from ASD, and soon we had Perth, then Cairns, Mackay, Adelaide, Burnie, Melbourne, and Brisbane. In bringing on board people and partners from across the country I spent a lot of time working out what it really meant to be a GPN node. And then spent a lot of time making sure our content was something that could be delivered by the volunteers on hand at every location around the country, from the middle of Sydney where software developers are plentiful, to regional Australia where GPN events were run by passionate teachers. Finally, finding more ways to help more GPN die-hards get on board to help grow and support the program, and give them a methodology for spreading what GPN is, why we do it, and how to recreate it, to a diverse range of communities around the country.

We now have a great team of experienced GPN volunteers supporting nodes around the country, travelling to new nodes and supporting them as they come on board. And all our nodes are working together to support the growth of GPN nationally, sharing the knowledge that they have gained in their own communities and experiences. This in particular is something that has helped us thrive in recent years and looks to have us scale faster than ever into the future.

How are you planning to grow the program in years to come?

In 2024 we are hoping to have at least two more nodes up and running in capital cities around Australia and to be looking at reaching students in NSW that likely aren’t benefiting from our Sydney workshop. We’d also love to see our Sydney numbers return to their pre-COVID heights, and we’ll be chasing that this year too!

We’re also piloting our GPN Junior program for year 3-6 primary school students in Sydney. There is always such interest in our high school program from parents with younger kids, so we’re trialling a half-day experience designed specifically for that demographic.

Looking further ahead, I’d love to have a node in every capital city by 2026. I’d also love to get some of our regional Queensland nodes back up and running. With our expanded team and the help of our sponsors, I hope to be able to increase support for the hardworking teachers who were bringing GPN to life in pre-COVID years.

We have a lot of other ideas as well, from programs to support uni students who are new to coding, ways to reach more students in schools, workshops on ways to build essential career skills for graduates, and creating opportunities for high school and university students to experience what it’s really like to work in a tech team. These are just a few of the things we want to get done, we’re just waiting on the right partners to help us bring them to life and to energise our operations by allowing some of our volunteers to make GPN their job.

What led you to pursue a career in tech in the first place?

I actually ended up in tech by chance. Living in college my first year of uni a couple of people decided that they wanted to teach me to program at 11pm one night. That was my first ever experience of coding, I didn’t even know that anyone could just get started with it on a regular laptop before that. It really felt like a superpower.

I took to it quite naturally, and I saw it as a way to use all the types of maths and problem-solving that I had loved in high school. I was studying Chemical Engineering and Science degrees at the time, but added a computer science subject, and ultimately squished in another science major alongside my chemistry major in Science. For my chemical engineering honours thesis, I utilised coding and machine learning for sustainable energy solutions, coding my experiments up and leaving them to run overnight, coming back to my beautifully graphed results in the morning (most of the time at least!) Meanwhile, a lot of my peers were whiling away time in the labs, with one eye on their experiments as they slowly completed.

I really loved how I could use coding to solve problems in a new way that multiplied what I could do by myself by a factor of millions. I just had to know the instructions to tell the computer. I’d found ways to use code in my chemical engineering internship as well, to make processes easier for everyone and the huge amounts of data they had. I loved the feeling of scripting something and seeing the results come out and having achieved something or having uncovered the next problem to solve.

Upon finishing uni, I decided that I was going to take the computer science route, rather than the engineering one. I got my first full-time job at what is now Data61-CSIRO, then was in an ed-tech start-up for a while, then started my own business, and now work for Microsoft – all while I was leading and growing GPN.

Tell us more about your role and what it is you do in a week as a CEO and Cloud Advocate.

While all three roles, CEO for Tech Inclusion/GPN, CEO for Connected Code, and Cloud Advocate at Microsoft are similarly summed up as tech + education + community, they are all very different in terms of the kind of work I am doing for each of them.

For Tech Inclusion/GPN, as we grow and as we solidify the charity, it is becoming more high-level work. I am spending more time looking at contracts, policies, and prospectuses than I was before, which are all new skills I’m getting to build. I also only get to move up to these new tasks because there are other amazing volunteers who are taking on things that I used to spend a lot more time on, like educational planning and event management. I am still very focused on the mission, and how to spread that mission to other locations, so after my day job at Microsoft, I often have meetings to connect with the GPN Committee running leading GPN nodes around the country, with teams starting up new projects, or spending the weekend with my powerhouse COO, Alex Penna, at one of our classic “GPN Planning Parties”.

For ConnectEd Code, that is another one where I am lucky to not be taking it on alone anymore. Since I started at Microsoft, my fiancé and CTO, Jack Reichelt, has taken a lot more of the business. Most of my work for that will be chatting with him over lunch about new initiatives that we want to pursue in relation to new curriculums and the introduction of AI tech in schools. I’m in the loop in the education industry in a variety of ways, so most of my work is to loop Jack in so we can connect meaningfully with the schools and organisations that need some help in the tech space and provide them with a solution that works for their constraints and desires. Occasionally I might need to take a couple of days off work at Microsoft so I can go and be part of a cool event where we work directly with the kids, like getting a whole school year of over 150 students, coding to solve a murder mystery with data science, launch a weather balloon full of sensors, or build and code the electronics of their own escape rooms. Those are very exciting days to be a part of!

Microsoft is my full-time job, so that follows a bit more of a normal structure, except for the fact that I’m here in Sydney, a very awkward time for engaging with a global team during office hours. But, luckily, as a Cloud Advocate, the kind of work we do can be largely done independently. This might be writing a new module to be released on Microsoft Learn, working with the Microsoft Reactor in Sydney to host a YouTube livestream with a guest, writing a blog discussing an upcoming event, or working on collecting diversity and inclusion stories to be shared both internally and externally as part of my work on the D&I committee for my organisation. We’ve had so much cool new tech coming out from Microsoft in the last year, so some time has to go into getting up to speed with that, and then telling other people about what it was like to get started with it.

How do you manage to juggle it all while keeping your energy so high?

I really love giving opportunities to people, whether it’s the chance to learn, the chance to volunteer, the chance to join and be part of something. I think that’s what keeps me going, I’m just genuinely excited about what I get to offer people, and how they respond when they realise the possibilities they’ve unlocked through learning and building skills.

Also, having people along on the journey with me is now a major source of energy and momentum. I can’t pour as much raw energy in as I did when I was 10 years younger, but having a team who believes in the mission as much as I do and knowing that we will keep the momentum going as a team, it makes it both a lighter lift for myself and everyone, and makes me want to do it even more.

What does winning this award mean to you?

To be recognised in this way is a major honour. I’ve been doing this a long time, and you do kind of get lost in the day-to-day, never-ending nature of it. There’s always something more to do. But a moment like this is one to stop and reflect on all that I have been able to achieve on this journey, and all the people who are now on the journey with me.

Also, having this moment for GPN to be seen by a bigger audience is always so meaningful. That’s what all this work is about, and giving it a moment to be seen and knowing that could lead to an even bigger impact, that’s incredible.

You have achieved incredible company growth so far! Do you have any key personal highlights?

The highlights from my GPN journey really have been around uncovering the potential I could see in GPN and bringing that to life all around Australia. It’s amazing how many requests we get for GPN to start in different communities, or people travelling great distances to get to the closest GPN to them. It is also very special to me to know how many people are carrying GPN forward, to know that this idea to make GPN this crazy big thing is shared by others and together we can ensure GPN gets to continue into the future.

I have also got to have a lot of personally exciting opportunities around my work with GPN, doing photoshoots and events with other incredible women for Women’s Weekly, CREATE magazine, and the AFR 110 Women of Influence. To be included among lists of such talented people is both very humbling and empowering.

We’re so excited to know… what is next for you? Do you have an ultimate career goal or North Star?

I think we’re really in a moment in time where we’re seeing how important it is for everyone to have an understanding of technology, whether we think about how AI will play into our futures, or the impact of cybersecurity on our everyday habits. I think equitable access to opportunities around understanding how we can change our own futures with technology is key.

Whatever I’m doing, whether it’s through GPN/Tech Inclusion, ConnectEd Code, Microsoft, or something else, is about bringing tech education opportunities to the community in a creative way. There are so many exciting things about technology, I think it is worth the extra effort to think about how we can make the way we learn about tech as exciting as the opportunities that knowing how to code and create new technology has. I want to be at the front of that, taking on the things that people say “that sounds great, but impossible”, doing things that people just don’t know how to do, or creating whole new ideas that shake up how we think about engaging with technology. If I can do that, and make it easy for teachers, students, and learners of all ages to be able to use, then I’ll know I’m heading in the right direction.

It is commonly recognised that there are fewer women in technology. What do you think could be done to improve diversity in tech?

I have so many opinions on this, and it’s hard not to explain all the principles we have behind what we do at GPN. So I’ll sum it up in a few things we hold close to us, and some things we want to see even more of to help people at all stages of their tech journeys.

GPN’s core values are around ensuring that coding is fun, social, and represents a diverse community of people, not just “hacker” style people, but anyone, you can love ballet, baking, or basketball and still love coding. We also want to show more people that coding is relevant to them and can help them solve problems they care about, whether that’s helping people, the environment, or animals – coding exists across all industries and can be combined with nearly any aspiration in a new way. Being in a welcoming culture of diverse minds makes tech a fun place to be where we solve important problems together.

Another key component for people at all stages of their learning and career journey is role models. And that can’t just be one role model you see on the internet, or one who visits your school once. It needs to be a diverse set of role models at different stages of their own journey. The ability to interact with these different people is a core way to plan your own journey, seeing where you can be in 1 year, 3 years, 5 years, 10 years’ time. It’s a lot easier to hopscotch your way to your dream than to figure out the path all on your own.

I’d love to see these principles carried out in schools, from primary school, right through to universities and the workplace. When we focus on the people and problems to be solved first, and the tech tools later, we open up a new world of thought, new ways to work together, and hopefully more welcoming environments that will attract more women, and if we keep it up, will retain them too.

If someone wanted to get involved with Tech Inclusion or ConnectEd Code, are there any opportunities to do so?

To get involved with Tech Inclusion the best thing you can do right now is support GPN. If you’re high up in a company, find a way to sponsor us! Check out our prospectus – https://gpn.org.au/sponsor

GPN also needs university partners, that’s how we bring GPN to new locations. If you have contacts at a uni in a city that doesn’t have a GPN, we need to hear from you! You can reach us at info@girlsprogramming.network

And for individuals, if you are a woman or a gender-diverse person, volunteer for GPN! There’s so much to give and so much to get in return. You never know where it’s going to take you, I think my story is a great example of that. GPN is everything we can collectively imagine it to be. Fill out our tutor sign-up form: https://gpn.org.au/tutor

As for ConnectEd Code, we’d love to hear from anyone who wants to bring coding to their school or community group. We love working with individuals to make sure we give them the help they need, whether they need teacher PD, an awesome workshop for dozens of kids, or some tips and tricks on coding projects. We take pleasure in figuring out the hard stuff for busy people! You can reach out to us at info@connectedcode.org or check out our website: https://www.connectedcode.org/

What do you believe is the importance of industry awards such as the Women in Digital Awards?

There are a lot of people out in the world trying to do their best, trying to do something incredible, or something that goes against the grain. This is often true for women in tech, just trying to fight the uphill battle to succeed as a minority group in tech.

Industry awards like the Women in Digital awards are a moment to take stock of what you have accomplished and take in the fact that while you might not have finished your goals yet, you are doing something amazing and to feel the support of your peers and the industry smiling upon you. It’s a nod to let you know you’re going in the right direction and to not stop now, you’ve got even more great things ahead of you.

Renee, if you could leave the Women in Digital community with one parting word of wisdom, what would it be?

I look at myself as someone who doesn’t have any innate talents. Might seem a bit self-deprecating, but actually it’s to remind myself that everything I have accomplished is something I figured out and worked hard to get.

If there is something that you want to accomplish, (that doesn’t rely on some unchanging characteristic, like being 7 feet tall) you can get there. You might have to learn something, there might be some hard yards to put in, you might fail a bunch of times along the way, it might take a lot longer than you imagined and some days are going to be harder than others, and you might even need to inspire some people to help you on your journey. And when you do get there, you’re going to be even more proud of what you have accomplished for everything you have overcome along the way.

If I had to say I have a “talent”, it’s that I want to make things happen and that I’m prepared to work hard to get there. If you decide you want to say the same things about yourself, then I can’t wait to see what you do.

Once again, congratulations Renee on this accomplishment and thank you for taking the time to chat with us!

To read more about our 2023 Women in Digital Award Winners, click here.


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April 23, 2024 Women in Digital

Your profile on LinkedIn can be a powerful tool for promoting both your own personal brand as well as your company’s brand. But with only a limited amount of hours in the day, it more important than ever to be proactive in accessing this valuable networking resource, obtain resources and support and build
relationships with potential clients.

In March 2024, Women in Digital were joined by Sarah Morgan, Managing Director from Bespoken Agency, to delve deep into the world of ‘If I Google You, What Will I Find’. With an incredible understanding of  all things Public Relations, Sarah showed attendees how important LinkedIn was to not only promote your personal brand, but also to train the algorithm to make sure LinkedIn works for you.

LinkedIn isn’t just for Salespeople

Everyone should be building their brand and developing strategic relationships on LinkedIn. And while your news feed may be filled with irrelevant posts written by Chat GPT, it is up to you to train the algorithm. Sarah often talks to people who are only using LinkedIn when they are looking at changing jobs, but is an advocate for using LinkedIn for many other purposes.

“LinkedIn has a fundamental part in career progression and career development. I will never shy away from that. But it is only one part in the cog in the wheel.”

Crafting a compelling profile

Your LinkedIn profile serves as your digital resume and professional portfolio. As discussed by Sarah at our April Professional Development Series, you should be ‘cleaning house’ and taking the time to craft a compelling profile that highlights your unique skills, experiences, and achievements. Start with a professional profile picture and a headline that succinctly communicates your expertise and aspirations. Use the summary section to showcase your personal brand and value proposition, and optimise your profile with relevant keywords to increase visibility.

Engaging with purposeful content

Engagement is key to maximising your presence on LinkedIn. Actively engage with content that aligns with your professional interests and goals. Like, comment, and share posts from other professionals in your network, and contribute meaningful insights to discussions. By demonstrating your expertise and thought leadership through engagement, you can expand your reach and attract like-minded professionals to your network.

Sarah suggests maximising the search bar to find content you are interested in. The search bar is at the top of any LinkedIn page you’re viewing, and it allows you to search for people, companies, posts, and more. Here are 4 search topics to get your started:

  • Search connections of your connections.
  • Search for job titles or organisations – for business development.
  • Search hashtags.
  • Follow and converse with people who shared or authored a post that is relevant to you – by doing so, you will be introduced to more of their connections and be exposed to relevant content.

Creating valuable content

“Don’t just consume content—create it.”

Share original articles, updates, and insights that showcase your expertise and provide value to your audience. Share success stories, lessons learned, and industry insights that resonate with other professionals. Utilise LinkedIn features such as articles and native videos to diversify your content and capture your audience’s attention.

Strategic networking

Networking is a cornerstone of success for professional, especially in the technology industry. Be strategic in your approach to connecting with others on LinkedIn. Personalise connection requests and focus on building meaningful relationships with professionals who share your interests and values. Join LinkedIn groups and communities relevant to your industry or areas of expertise to expand your network and engage with like-minded peers. Check out Sarah’s 6 Steps on ‘How To Use LinkedIn For Business Development’.

  • Step 1: Optimise your page – Use translations if you serve a global audience, add keywords in your description as LinkedIn is
    indexed by Google, add hashtags to follow (not in your page copy), add a branded cover image and lastly, add a custom button
    (i.e., Visit website/contact us).
  • Step 2: Execute your LinkedIn marketing strategy – create a social media strategy and a content plan for LinkedIn i.e., what are
    your goals for the page?, what will you use your page for?, are you going to advertise?, what are your competitors doing?
  • Step 3: Make a content plan – how often will you post? what topics will you cover?, how can you repurpose existing content to use
    on LinkedIn? are you going to curate content from others?
  • Step 4: Turn on Creator Mode – If you’re constantly sharing updates, this is the feature for you.
  • Step 5: Look at Sales Navigator
  • Step 6: Follow your community

Continuous improvement

LinkedIn is not a static platform—it’s constantly evolving. Regularly review and update your profile to reflect your latest achievements, experiences, and skills. Monitor your performance metrics and analyse what content resonates best with your audience. Experiment with different posting times, content formats, and messaging strategies to optimise your results and continually refine your personal branding efforts.

And of course, the number one tip Sarah has when it comes to using LinkedIn for your personal brand…

“Start Now!”


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March 18, 2024 Women in Digital

Ten years. More than 13,000 members. An awards program that has seen 2,328 nominations, 238 finalists, 95 winners and more than 5,500 attendees across all our events. From humble beginnings in Brisbane a decade ago, Women in Digital (WID) has forged a name as a peak body for women working in Australia’s digital sector. 

Holly Hunt founded WID on March 18, 2014, after she realised the digital industry was missing something – a strong female presence. As a future-of-work specialist, she was particularly fascinated by the confidence gap between women and male candidate, plus the lack of inclusive digital events. Fast forward to today, WID collaborates with some of Australia’s leading technology businesses and industry heavyweights to deliver events, workshops and awards designed to promote diversity in the industry.

Terry Weber, Regional Manager – QLD, NT and PNG at Cisco and Platinum Corporate Member of Women in Digital said, “Partnering with Women in Digital has been an amazing collaboration for Cisco. It not only boosts our workforce, but also sparks innovation, diversity, and resilience in a fast-changing digital world. It has helped us change the conversation and support equality and inclusion for everyone.

So in honour of our 10th birthday, we asked 10 of our biggest supporters about Women in Digital and the state of the industry. Here are their answers!

How have you seen the digital and technology industries change for women over the last decade, or since you have been in the industry?

Rowena Samaraweera, Head of Customer Experience Design at Auto & General – I am really pleased to say that I can now see a lot more senior women hitting the CIO/ CTO role which was still quite rare even 10 years ago. Not far behind them are a more visible group of female senior leaders, as well as a wonderful cohort of female founders establishing their own businesses and social enterprises.”

Gavin Douglas, Head of APJ Alliances at Wiz – “I’ve seen increased awareness of the benefits of a more diverse workforce to employers (and their customers), an increase in employer programs to support women at work, eg. career breaks, paternity leave, work from home/flexible working hours etc. to support those with families/carer responsibilities (male + female) and more resources like Women in Digital for women wanting to forge a career in digital and tech.”

Lisa Sarago, Chief Executive Officer of Land on Heart – “Although I only recently joined the tech industry, I have already seen a massive change, with more visibility of women in tech, and championing their successes. There has been a lot more emphasis on women in tech from leading tech giants promoting their own, as well as through our social media, seeing the number of networks, events, and awards becoming established institutes – highlighting and celebrating the deadly female talent in tech.”

Nicola Lambie, Group Head of New Business Solutions at Findex – It’s been fantastic to see the rise of women across all aspects of digital and technology, from trailblazing senior leaders in traditional and start-up businesses to the shift in developer and engineering teams away from being dominated by males to more balanced or even female-led, and all supported by the wealth of networks and courses for women in digital and technology (shout out to the amazing She Codes, for which I’m an alumni of!) and the increasing accessibility within schools for girls to participate in STEM subjects and opportunities.”

Michael Reid, Chief Executive Officer of Megaport – “Over the past decade, I’ve witnessed a significant shift in the IT and tech industry towards inclusivity and opportunities for women. There’s been this incredible wave of initiatives and programs aimed at levelling the playing field and ensuring we tap into the full potential of women. From mentorship programs, diversity training, and equal hiring panel requirements to women represented in leadership, we’re making strides to address gender disparities. There has been a growing recognition and studies that have highlighted the invaluable contributions that women bring to the table, leading to increased efforts to foster full participation in all aspects of technology and innovation. I’ve had opportunities afforded to me by women in leadership; I’ve had the chance to learn from those leaders, including colleagues and team members, which would not have been possible if the room was only filled with men.”

Brooke Powell, Partnerships and Account Manager at Rivernet – “When I first started working in the technology industry, I was the only female in my team and had only met two other women in the company during my year in that organisation. As a 19-year-old looking ahead at a career in the tech industry, I found that uninspiring and unacceptable. My next role saw more female colleagues, but it was still a very disproportionate ratio of male to female. From the conversations I shared during my career there, I noticed a significant pay gap between men and women doing the same work. This was a real blow, as I had believed that a gender pay gap was a thing only companies that are ‘old school’, had a ‘legacy mindset’, had ‘boy club’ leadership, were ‘change-resistant’ (and all the synonyms that go with those terms) would continue to allow in this day and age – not a cutting edge, modern tech company!? Since completing my degree and starting my current role, I have to say there has been a huge change of tune. I started in 2022 as the second female employee, and now in 2024 we have 6 female employees – which occurred without aiming to meet any sort of gender ‘quota’. The pay is fair and even across the board and the team is the most cohesive and well-retained team I’ve ever been a part of.”

Zoe Ackerman, Safety & Wellbeing Data Analyst at Collins Foods Limited – “With increased awareness regarding gender diversity, there has been a significant increase in access to initiatives that are trying to close the gap. Initiatives such as Rails Girls and Women in Digital are helping to open paths for women in the technology space. Government and companies are clearly measuring gender diversity and what gets measured gets managed, as they say.”

Vinojini Nair, Major Pursuits & Planning Lead at GHD Digital – “Over the past decade, I’ve witnessed significant strides in gender diversity within the digital and technology industries. There has been a notable increase in initiatives aimed at encouraging and supporting women in tech, from mentorship programs to networking events and advocacy campaigns. Companies are placing a stronger emphasis on diversity and inclusion, recognising the value of diverse perspectives in driving innovation and success. That said, there is still significant work that needs to be done to deliver on these so they don’t stay as empty promises/cupcakes in meetings – this is decades of habits that need undoing!”

Rebecca Dredge, CEO & Founder of Kiddo – “The landscape has transformed significantly in just the past four years I have been in the industry. Companies have undergone a remarkable evolution towards greater support and inclusivity. We’re witnessing a surge in women leaders and entrepreneurs, serving as inspirational role models for future generations. While there’s been considerable progress, the journey towards full equality is ongoing, promising even more positive change on the horizon.”

Bel Lloyd, Founder of Zandi Group Consulting – “The rise of remote work, increased funding for STEM education for women and increased representation of women are standout shifts that have helped drive momentum for gender equity in the digital and technology industries over the past decade. Remote work has helped level the playing field. Providing women with greater flexibility and access to job opportunities in the digital and tech industries as we can now balance work and caregiving responsibilities more easily.

STEM education and initiatives for adult women are better funded now than ever before. I’ve personally experienced the momentum to promote women into STEM education and industry roles. Through COVID I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to re-invent myself and joined She Codes a coding education community with the sole mission to get more women into the tech industry. I’ve been actively involved as a mentor and now as a Lead Mentor due to the strong sense of community and progress being made by programs such as this.

How has Women in Digital been part of your diversity journey over the last decade, or since you have been in the industry?

Rowena Samaraweera, Head of Customer Experience Design at Auto & General – I joined WID to see if I could help raise awareness of the amazing digital and technology career paths out there as I wanted to see more women applying for my roles, learning new skills and representing the 50% of the community and user base we are designing for. I have enjoyed being part of the awards program and being able to hear the stories of women’s success and celebrate the achievements of the companies who really are embracing diversity and reaping the rewards. I also have found so much personal inspiration from networking events and meeting people in the digital community.”

Gavin Douglas, Head of APJ Alliances at Wiz – “Women in Digital has been hugely educational for me. I had a very simplistic view of diversity; what it meant and why it was important when I first got involved in WID, though I still have so much to learn and as the question implies, diversity is a journey. I still get a lot wrong but bring a curious mindset to learn from others on actionable ways to empower women. The experiences I have had, the information I have gathered/read and most of all the people I have met – have helped me to better understand a few things: Diversity is multi-faceted and so much more nuanced than simply having more of one minority (or another) in the workplace. eg. diversity of thinking is critical; Diversity won’t just happen – even if everyone in an organisation has the right intentions, explicit steps need to be taken & programs created to ensure diversity is front of mind and becomes a part of the every day.”

Lisa Sarago, Chief Executive Officer of Land on Heart – “I came across WID as was nominated for an award with WID by my team in 2022 and subsequently won the award. During this time, I was able to expand my network to include some amazing female tech experts and innovators – my fellow nominees – and also in the broader tech industry. I continue to support and work with WID as I see it as a critical platform for women, including Indigenous women, to be recognised for their skills and achievements. Particularly this year, when we called for #CountHerIn, WID saw the value of including a category for Indigenous women, but also called for Indigenous women to be nominated for any award.”

Nicola Lambie, Group Head of New Business Solutions at Findex – “Women In Digital has been the ONE constant network in my career journey over the past ten years. The leadership demonstrated by Holly and the team puts women firmly on the agenda in the digital and technology industries and I have enjoyed so many events, webinars and meet-ups that have allowed me to meet, interact and learn from a diverse group of women (and men!) through this time.”

Michael Reid, Chief Executive Officer of Megaport – “Women in Digital has been an integral part of my leadership and diversity journey over the past seven years. In 2017, I stepped into a role leading 60 folks in QLD. At that time, 6% were female. With the support of Holly, we made a tremendous turnaround to 30% female diversity over three years. This partnership led to my contributions back to the WID Advisory Board. WID has provided me with invaluable resources, support, and networking opportunities. It has also offered a safe space for males to ask difficult questions and understand best practices when approaching sensitive topics or decisions. Without male champions of change, it’s almost impossible to re-write the status quo since they continue to hold most positions of power. I’ve witnessed firsthand the transformative impact Women in Digital has had on empowering women, breaking down barriers, and offering a community that celebrates & recognises their achievements. The Women in Digital awards ceremony was an idea Holly and I devised on the back of a napkin. To think that today, more than 1,000 people attend each year is astounding!”

Brooke Powell, Partnerships and Account Manager at Rivernet – “I was first introduced to Holly at WID in 2019 while I was studying a Bachelor’s in IT and Business Management at UQ. Being involved in the events through volunteering and invitations, I was able to see that not only did women exist in the industry, but also that they held influence and impact in the industry. The statement ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ that is often WID’s north star, is extremely accurate – when you can’t picture yourself in a role, how can you possibly begin to aim for it? WID’s community has been a real highlight throughout my journey over my career, having that connection to other women in the industry has provided a support network, enabled mentorship, and exposed me to a wealth of knowledge through the sharing of experiences and advice.”

Zoe Ackerman, Safety & Wellbeing Data Analyst at Collins Foods Limited – “I have only been a member of Women in Digital for about a year. However, the advocacy, networking, community and informal mentorship, and leadership have all influenced me and are no small part in helping build my confidence and support me in my current role. Many thanks to the community.”

Vinojini Nair, Major Pursuits & Planning Lead at GHD Digital – “Women in Digital has been a crucial component of my personal journey, providing a platform for women to connect, learn, and advance in their careers within the digital realm. This community has played a vital role in fostering support networks, sharing experiences, and advocating for gender equality in the industry. There is an unspoken appreciation when women who are facing similar challenges, support each other and cheer each other along… especially when not many others are voicing us!”

Rebecca Dredge, CEO & Founder of Kiddo – “Women in Digital has been instrumental in fostering invaluable connections, providing me with exposure in the industry, and offering unparalleled networking opportunities for my business. The WID community stands out for its unwavering support, extensive reach, and remarkable diversity. As an entrepreneur, the connections I’ve forged through WID have propelled my business forward, enabling me to establish strong ties within not only the industry but with corporates, other entrepreneurs and business leaders alike.”

Bel Lloyd, Founder of Zandi Group Consulting – “Women in Digital has played a huge part in helping me see what I can be. Bringing together influential and inspirational women in the digital arena to network with and be empowered by. Winning the award for Digital Marketer of the Year with WID was an incredible feeling. It was empowering and gave me confidence I didn’t know existed. WID is fostering a community of empowerment and encouragement for women to be seen, heard and recognised – a powerful combination for contributing to the increase in representation of women across the digital and technology industries. Efforts from WID have contributed to not only raising awareness but also in creating opportunities for women in these fields to advance and gain seats at tables where once there were none.”

Where do you hope the industry is in 10 year’s time, in regards to gender equity?

Rowena Samaraweera, Head of Customer Experience Design at Auto & General – There is still a lot of work to be done, both to move forward and to hold onto the progress we have already made. I’d like to see more progress in young women studying in STEM, or mid-career women cross-training so that women are participating equally in what will be a heavily digitised economy. Research shows that gender stereotyping starts early, so we also need to bring schools, even at the primary level, into the conversation, as well as parents. We need to make sure women are part of the move to AI, to ensure safe and non-biased application of AI technology. In 10 year’s time I hope we have removed the ‘surprise’ around gender in the digital and STEM industry, dismantled as many of the unconscious biases as possible, and are being led by talented men and women who are confident to embrace all differences in their teams.”

Gavin Douglas, Head of APJ Alliances at Wiz – As I see it, gender equity is a human right, my hope is that there are some aspects that are addressed well before 10 years, for example, compensation (address the gender pay gap) and access to digital tools and education. Others may take longer to become equitable but we must see: more women studying digital/tech courses and choosing careers in the digital/tech industry; women representing 50% of leadership roles – to provide role models; making digital environments safer for women and girls.”

Lisa Sarago, Chief Executive Officer of Land on Heart – “Hopefully beyond parity for both gender and Indigenous representation.  In 10 years, my vision is for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls across Australia, regardless of whether they live in remote, rural or urban areas – know that they can be the next tech giant if they want to – that if they dream of being a tech professional, they know that there is a path for them to follow, and it isn’t a difficult one, because we have already created and walked that path before them.  Just like our ancestors did for us.”

Nicola Lambie, Group Head of New Business Solutions at Findex – My daughter turns 10 this month and we speak a lot about equal opportunities for all. My hope is that by the time she turns 20, we don’t even have to mention the issue or need for gender equity and that digital and technology can be one of the leading industries where this is the case.”

Michael Reid, Chief Executive Officer of Megaport – “In the next decade, I hope that ALL industries, not just IT/Tech, empower and support women to reach their full potential. For the IT and Tech industry specifically, I see us serving as a beacon for women to join this industry, feel appreciated, and make an immeasurable impact. I hope to see a time where women are not only equally represented across all levels of the workforce but also thriving in leadership positions, shaping the direction of innovation and driving positive change. 50% of Megaport executives and Board are women today. I envision a culture where gender biases and stereotypes are dismantled, and women aren’t just “breaking glass ceilings” but designing the whole ceiling itself. I have no doubt we will get there. With initiatives like Women in Digital leading the charge and companies doubling down on diversity and inclusion, we can all look forward to a future where Women In Digital is no longer needed, a time without gender bias… We’ve still got a ways to go yet.”

Brooke Powell, Partnerships and Account Manager at Rivernet I hope in 10 years time, the gender pay gap (which is still present between men and women today) in the industry has been closed. I hope that technology companies have modernised and adapted their workforce with the same sense of innovation and thought as their own products and services. We know a diverse, equitable workforce produces long-term staff retention and improves innovation – so it only makes sense to invest as much thought and effort into your workforce as you do your solution offering – one can only be as good as the other. I hope that in 10 years time in the tech industry, there is a strong representation of women in leadership. I’m hoping for an even split between men and women across C-suite, board, and management roles. I really hope to see strong representation of non-binary leadership in these positions as well.”

Zoe Ackerman, Safety & Wellbeing Data Analyst at Collins Foods Limited – “I hope the sector is well on its way to achieving gender parity at all levels. Not just overall numbers but equitable representation in all departments and sectors, including technical roles where women are currently underrepresented. I also hope that the workforce, in its entirety, is working towards gender equity. That the complex and nuanced forms of discrimination that can affect women of different races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, abilities and health and biological cycles.”

Vinojini Nair, Major Pursuits & Planning Lead at GHD Digital – “Looking ahead, in the next decade, I hope to see even greater progress towards gender equity in the tech industry. This includes not only increased representation of women in leadership positions and technical roles but also a culture shift that prioritises inclusion, equity, and respect for all individuals regardless of gender. I envision a future where women feel empowered to pursue and thrive in any aspect of technology they choose, where diversity is celebrated as a driving force behind innovation, where leading with vulnerability and other attributes that make us feminine are seen as strength and essential in ensuring optimal outcomes and where gender equity is not just an aspiration but a reality. And if I’d really allow myself to dream without any boundaries, I’d love to see a time when every voice gets listened to in the board room, not just those of women.”

Rebecca Dredge, CEO & Founder of Kiddo – “In a decade, I envision a world where the concept of ‘gender equality’ becomes obsolete, where our daughters and sons inhabit a realm where they’re acknowledged solely for their abilities and actions. A world where mothers receive support in the workplace, where such support is the norm, and where every individual can thrive and reach their utmost potential within a nurturing environment.”

Bel Lloyd, Founder of Zandi Group Consulting – “Let’s pick up the pace, keep the momentum and in 10 years imagine a world where diversity isn’t just a buzzword as part of a conversation, but the norm in which society operates, where companies in all industries will prioritise inclusion, creating safe environments where everyone, regardless of gender, thrives. Remote work needs to stay. The future of remote work isn’t just about flexibility—it’s about levelling the playing field for gender equity in the workplace.

Overall, while progress has been made, there is still much work to be done. My hope is that the next 10 years bring us the opportunity to focus on progress over perfection, to make mistakes as we go, but to keep moving in the right direction, fail fast, learn together, lift each other up and continue to address systemic barriers, biases, and stereotypes to achieve equity. So that my daughter is free from many of the burdens inequity brings and has the opportunity to focus instead on driving humanity forward into what will be an incredibly enlightened future we may have only ever dreamed of, shaped by the powerful forces of technology emerging today.”


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March 8, 2024 Women in Digital

MEDIA RELEASE
March 8, 2024

Cancel the cupcakes. This International Women’s Day we are licking the status quo – quite literally.

Bin the usual tokenistic cupcakes and serve up some real and sticky conversations this International Women’s Day (IWD) to drive greater equality in the workplace.

That’s the call from Women in Digital (WID), a national organisation representing Australian women in the digital industry with a community of more than 13,000 people.

To encourage IWD conversations that spark actual tangible change, WID will lick the status quo – quite literally – by handing out giant lollipops, not cupcakes, at its sold-out breakfast event in Brisbane on Friday, March 8.

The colourful lollies are sweet but come with a serious side, by way of stickers spelling out what women really want:

  • Real change, not tokenism
  • Equal parental leave
  • Universal childcare
  • Super contributions during parental leave
  • Equal pay for equal work
  • More women in leadership
  • Promotion pathways
  • Men championing workplace change

All 250 people attending the WID IWD event at the Emporium Southbank will receive giant lollipops, and be encouraged to share pictures to their socials with messages of changes they’d like to see in the workforce.

At the breakfast, WID will also launch its 2024 Women in Digital Discourse, which will ask women in digital about their real insights and experiences in the workforce and thoughts around areas for improvement.

The in-depth survey which will form the national discourse – the first sentiment of its kind to be published later this year – will be filled out by women at the event and emailed to thousands of in WID’s network.

WID CEO Holly Hunt said IWD was an opportunity to have real conversations – not just cupcakes and coffee – to help advance women’s career prospects.

“The stark reality is women continue to confront a myriad of barriers in the workplace, from a lack of flexibility in senior roles to poor policies around maternity and paternity leave.

We also know there is still much work to be done to close the gender pay gap, with landmark data released a couple of weeks ago revealing many large organisations pay women substantially less.

“What women really want from IWD is advocacy for tangible change, but what they largely get is an unfortunate exercise in corporate tokenism, with talkfests accompanied by cupcakes, tea and coffee, all of which lead to nothing.

Don’t get me wrong, women like cupcakes but on IWD we want something more meaningful. We want our cake, and we want to eat it too – that’s not much to ask.”

ENDS

For more information, or to speak with Holly, please contact Melissa Grant at Bespoken Agency on melissa.grant@bespokeagency.com.au / 0402 717 107.

About Women in Digital: Women in Digital is a national organisation offering events, mentoring and corporate services for organisations that value diversity and inclusion in digital.

With a community that’s grown to more than 13,000 people during the last nine years, Women in Digital has become a cornerstone of the Australian tech community with the key focus of improving gender diversity in the industry.


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March 5, 2024 Women in Digital

In the hustle and bustle of our fast-paced lives, it’s easy for our achievements to sometimes fade into background noise, drowned out by the everyday cacophony. We too often overlook the essential task of acknowledging and recording these moments which can go a long way in boosting confidence, especially when you need a pick-me-up! Sound like you? Well, we have a second question for you: Have you ever heard of an encouragement bank?

In February 2024, Women in Digital held an event in Melbourne powered by Corporate Member, Cisco featuring Ai Mawdsley, Fiona Boyd, Vinojini Nair and MC’d by Helen Fridell. The topic was: lessons on the career climb (is it really a ladder?)

Among all the incredible insights and advice shared by our panel, one thing that really stuck with us was a piece of advice from Ai Mawdsley, Chief Operating Officer of Private Media and 2023 Women in Digital Employer of the Year Winner. What is that you ask? An encouragement bank.

What is an encouragement bank?

An encouragement bank is essentially a collection of compliments or positive affirmations. But it’s really much more than that; it is a deliberate practice of self-care, self-empowerment and pulling apart imposter syndrome brick by brick. It serves as a repository for moments of validation, recognition and support that often get overshadowed or forgotten. By consciously recording these instances, you not only acknowledge your achievements and strengths but also cultivate a mindset of gratitude and self-worth.

Here is what Ai Mawdsley said about what the encouragement bank means to her:

“It’s a human condition: you could be told nine positive things and one negative thing and that negative thing is the only thing you’ll remember from that meeting.”

How to implement an encouragement bank?

It’s actually pretty easy, just start an excel spreadsheet or wherever you like to take notes. Every time someone gives you words of encouragement, like telling you that you are good at your job or that particular project you delivered was amazing – write it down!

It’s a tool that helps you reframe your narrative, instead of dwelling on setbacks or criticisms and helps you navigate challenges with greater resilience and confidence. But most importantly, on those bad days when life will inevitably get you down – it’s something to reflect back on to remind you how amazing you are.

Ai mentioned she also sought out a boss who could be her career champion:

“I was being repetitively torn down by a former manager and I had to ultimately exit that role for my own wellbeing. Now I’m in a role where my manager is a champion for me and regularly reinforces that I’m good at what I do.”

What if you are a manager who struggles to give positive feedback?

It’s true. Sometimes just giving a compliment or positive feedback can feel vulnerable, let alone receiving one.

What we can tell you is that just like every good habit, it takes consistency and practice. So here are some of our best tips to train those positive feedback muscles:

  • Be specific and timely: Provide compliments that are specific and timely to maximise their impact. Instead of generic praise, highlight specific behaviours, actions or achievements that you genuinely appreciate. For example, instead of saying “good job,” you could say, “I really appreciate how you handled that client meeting today. Your thorough preparation and clear communication made a significant impact.”
  • Regular feedback sessions: Schedule regular feedback sessions with your staff to create structured opportunities for recognition and encouragement. Use these sessions to not only provide constructive feedback but also to express appreciation for their contributions. Incorporating positive feedback as a regular part of these discussions helps create a culture of recognition and support within the team and improves retention.
  • Lead by example: Lead by example by modelling the behaviour you wish to see in your team. Demonstrate the importance of recognition and appreciation by actively acknowledging and celebrating the achievements of your staff. Whether it’s publicly recognising accomplishments during team meetings or privately expressing gratitude for their efforts, your actions speak volumes and set the tone for how feedback is given and received within the organisation.

We wish you luck building your encouragement bank!


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February 29, 2024 Women in Digital

For those pursuing an academic pathway, university is arguably some of the best years of your life! They are also crucial years that can serve as a pivotal launchpad for your career (and we’re not just talking about the qualification at the end). From internships, vacationer programs, student clubs, networking events and more, there are many ways to get your foot in the door and gain some real-world industry experience long before you toss your graduation cap. The key? A keen eye to recognise opportunities and the drive to go after them.

Meet Mackenzie Kerr. Mackenzie is currently in her final year of a Bachelor of Information Technology (majoring in Software Information Systems) / Bachelor of Business Management (majoring in Marketing) at the University of Queensland. She is also an Undergraduate Business Analyst at NTI, a recent Digital Engineering Vacationer at EY and has completed an impressive list of internship programs and industry roles that have set her up with an incredible foundation for her career.

With so many achievements already on her resume, we wanted to chat with Mackenzie and drive deeper into her experience finding opportunities at university, juggling study and internships and also ask her advice for students trying to land competitive positions or stepping into the corporate world of tech for the first time. As one of our very first interns who participated in the 4B Internship program – a partnership with Women in Digital, Cisco and Data#3, we also wanted to ask her a few questions about her experience with the program!

To kick things off, tell us! Did you know you always wanted to work in IT? What drew you to a career in IT and business management?

Leaving high school, I wasn’t set on any particular career. In fact, I originally applied for a Bachelor of Science majoring in Data Science as I’d heard that this was going to be the ‘in demand’ job. After receiving an offer for this course, I came to the realisation that I had absolutely no interest in this degree! I always enjoyed studying IT as one of my high school subjects as we did a lot of web design and development, so I decided to apply for a Bachelor of IT at UQ. As for business, I figured that if I was going to go to uni I may as well do a dual degree to broaden my career options in case either of the two didn’t work out.

In hindsight, I have found the areas of IT and business to be very complementary and both have provided me with a wider range of opportunities compared to if I had done a single degree.

Were there specific courses or projects during your university studies that you found particularly beneficial for your career?

Much of my IT degree has consisted of group projects where we are given a project brief and are tasked to design, develop and build a product over the course of the semester. I have found these subjects to be the most beneficial as we get to work in diverse teams where each member brings their own unique skills. This has taught me that utilising different skill sets in a team can actually make for a better-performing team, rather than each person trying to excel at everything.

A lot of students worry about having too much on their plate. How have you managed to juggle work, study and life?

For me, it is important to know what habits and routines work best for me. Personally I have found that I really enjoy the structure of a 9-5 so I have structured my work and uni around this. I work regular business hours on three days of the week and use the other two days to do uni whether this be attending classes or at home studying. Where possible, I try to avoid overlap (i.e. working on uni days or doing uni on work days). Having distinct work and uni days has really helped me to separate these two parts of my life and allowed me to be more present in each – I know that when I arrive at work I am 100% focused on work and on my uni days I am far more engaged in my classes.

In saying that, I am such a big believer that what works for might not work for everyone! I would strongly recommend finding out the routines that work best for you and doing what you can to fit your schedule to that.

We know a lot of students are nervous about the idea of going ‘part-time’. What is your response to this?

My response is simple – I get it! I was so worried about decreasing my subject load and extending my degree because I thought it would put me behind my peers. I thought that graduating a bit later than intended would mean that all my friends would be out working while I would still be stuck at uni.

I have been doing 3 subjects per semester and 3 days of work for pretty much my entire degree. Although this has meant I will graduate a year later than intended, I truly believe that it was the best decision I made career-wise. Having the ability to work 3 days a week in various industry roles has given me a wealth of work experience before graduating and more importantly, has allowed me to explore my own skillsets and discover a multitude of potential career paths. I have found this experience to be infinitely more valuable than having an extra year in the workforce and to be quite honest, most of my friends ended up extending their time in uni either by going part-time or changing degrees.

When should students start exploring opportunities for internships or entry-level opportunities? Is there such a thing as ‘too early’?

I would say that the right time to start exploring is whenever you feel ready – so long as you are still able to enjoy this season of your life as a uni student. There is absolutely no pressure to start your career the second you get into uni, and I truly believe it is important to enjoy this time while it lasts. Personally, I started looking at IT-specific industry experience in my 3rd year, as I was genuinely curious about what the world of tech had to offer and wanted to experience what an IT career would be like.

Where should students be looking for these opportunities and is there anything they need to know / any tips when looking?

LinkedIn, Seek, Indeed and word of mouth. I am a huge LinkedIn advocate and see a lot of internship opportunities either posted by companies or advertised by employees. The more you search the job section of LinkedIn with keywords like ‘internship’, the more tailored your algorithm will become and the more relevant your suggestions will be. Who knows – you might just stumble upon an algorithm-recommended opportunity on your morning scroll!

As weird as it sounds, LinkedIn ‘stalking’ people is also a great way to see what internship opportunities are available. You can stalk people who study similar fields in a similar age range to see what programs they have been involved in, and then go to the company website to find out more about the program such as when their application period is. This can be a great way to find out which companies run regular intern intakes and can help you plan ahead for internship periods.

What advice would you give your peers aspiring to land competitive internships like you have?

Think about your personal brand and unique skillset, and let this guide your application letters, resume and  interview answers. It is tempting to think that you have to be the best at everything to land these opportunities when in reality, it is just as valuable to identify what your unique mix of hard and  soft skills is. I would also strongly recommend using any mock internship opportunities that are available to you – interviews can be the most intimidating part of the application process and having interview practice personally boosted my confidence ten-fold. They are a great way to practice responses and get feedback without the pressure of an internship at stake.

Also, a running Excel spreadsheet of annual internship opportunities that tracks application deadlines, internship dates and interviews never hurts 😉

Did you face any unexpected challenges stepping into the corporate world of tech? How did you overcome them?

For me, my biggest challenge has been to accept the fact that I am by no means technically strong. Whilst I have a foundational technical understanding, I suck – and I mean suck at programming. I spent a lot of my degree worrying that this meant there were no opportunities for me and that I was at an immediate disadvantage because of this. I found it quite challenging to recognise that I didn’t have to be good at programming to have a career in tech and that there were plenty of non-technical IT roles out there. To overcome this, I spent a lot of time focusing on what my skills are and what kinds of roles these translated to – even though I may not be cut out to be a Software Developer, my skills are just as valued.

What can interns expect entering their first internship programs or undergraduate positions?

No one expects you to know anything, and everyone is there to support you! These programs are designed to give you exposure to the industry and for you to learn – you are not expected to enter your first internship with a wealth of knowledge. In fact, most internship positions will focus on how you learn, not what you know. It’s important to remember that every experience is what you make it – take the opportunity to be curious, ask questions and make lasting connections with those that you meet.

Tell us more about your current role!

Of course! I’ve recently started in a Business Analyst role and am absolutely loving it. For the platforms that are in my team’s remit, the BAs are responsible for identifying business requirements from our internal stakeholders and translating these into actionable solutions for our developers to implement. This can be anything from implementing new features on our platforms to identifying ways we can leverage our platforms to streamline business processes.

For me, this has been the perfect opportunity to combine my foundational technical knowledge with my broader business understanding. I am really enjoying learning about the intricacies of business processes and finding new ways we can use technology to solve non-technical problems. I have also been so lucky to have such great support from my new team and have loved working with them so far!

What advice would you give or what would you tell younger Mackenzie about university life or working in tech? Is there anything you wish you had known earlier?

I would definitely tell myself that uni is not an accurate representation of your career – it can be so easy to get caught up in the bubble that is university and forget that there is so much more beyond campus. To be quite honest, I spent the first few years of my degree wondering how my studies could possibly be preparing me for a career – aside from some basic programming understanding and a little bit of theoretical technical knowledge, I felt wildly unprepared for a career in tech! It wasn’t until I had a little bit of work experience under my belt that I realised the most valuable skills uni had taught me were soft skills – things like communication, teamwork and critical analysis of problems. So if I could give my younger self some words of wisdom, I would definitely tell her that uni isn’t forever and that there is so much more to learn from industry work experience. (I’d also tell her to not over pluck her eyebrows, but that’s another story…)

Are there any industry-related support networks, communities, events, or extracurricular courses you would strongly recommend to students or recent graduates wanting to break into the industry?

So many! Uni societies are the best place to start as they run heaps of events with industry professionals which are a great way to learn about potential career pathways or internship opportunities. I also find these events great to talk to professionals about their own career path – it’s always valuable to learn about how others reached their current roles, especially if it was on a ‘non-traditional’ path. I would also strongly recommend attending any mock interview or case study-type events that are run by societies as these give you a chance to practice real-world skills in a low-stress environment.

I would also strongly recommend Cisco’s MentorMe program – this isn’t an internship per se, but it is a great opportunity to connect with tech professionals and learn more about the types of careers available in tech. Over the course of the program, you will attend a variety of information sessions on topics such as new tech innovation or impactful tech projects, as well as professional skills like resume writing or interview tips. You will also be paired with a dedicated mentor, which is the perfect opportunity to build a meaningful relationship and ask all of your tech-related career questions. I had such an awesome experience in this program and still keep in touch with my mentor almost two years later!

Do you have any last pieces of advice do you have for students who are aspiring to build a successful career in digital/technology?

Figuring out what you don’t want to do in your career is just as valuable as figuring out what you do want to do. It’s okay to try different roles and not like them, as this just puts you one step closer to figuring out roles that may be more suited to you.

Also, make the most of being a student! It is the best opportunity to learn about tech careers without the pressure of having professional responsibilities. More people have your back than you think and there is no better time to be curious.

You are among the first group to participate in Women in Digital x Cisco and Data#’s 4B Internship program. How would you summarise your experience?

The 4B program was my first insight into a career in tech and I really could not have asked for a better introduction! The program provided exposure to a huge variety of tech roles from non-technical roles such as sales and account management to highly technical software engineering roles. It was the perfect opportunity to understand how tech businesses like Cisco and Data#3 operate, as well as gain insight into the different paths into tech careers. I remember being so blown away by how supportive the Cisco, Data#3 and WID teams were and it made me realise just how keen other industry professionals are to see young women succeed in tech. The 4B program has huge sentimental significance to these organisations and it was truly such a privilege to be part of the first intake honouring Brenda Conroy’s legacy. I truly could not speak more highly of this program and would encourage anyone who is passionate about a career in tech to apply.

What was your favourite part/s of the internship?

As cheesy as it is, definitely the people. The teams at Cisco, Data#3 and WID were so welcoming and supportive, which really made the idea of starting a career in tech way less daunting. I also really enjoyed learning about the high variety of non-technical roles that are available and it really helped to ease my concerns about having a more non-technical skillset. It was so reassuring to learn that so many of the team had such unique paths to their current role, regardless of their technical background.

How did the program open doors for you?

The 4B program allowed me to form strong connections across these organisations which I have been able to utilise in many different ways. Since being a part of the 4B program, I have been able to participate in Cisco’s MentorMe program, secured permanent employment with Data#3 and been a regular attendee at WID’s events which are an amazing way to network with other amazing industry professionals. I have also maintained relationships with many of the people I met through the 4B program and have used these connections as references, career consultants or even just friendly faces to chat with about tech careers, uni studies and life in general. Never in a million years did I imagine that I would have a strong professional network, let alone one as supportive as I do. Knowing that I have the support of so many has made such a huge difference to my confidence and speaks volumes about the value of having a supportive community.

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