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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April 3, 2022 Women in Digital

Award-winning hairdresser turned Business Executive, Ashlynne Sharma has proven that you can have more than one successful career. With experience across business development, sales and even corporate recruiting, Ashlynne is a keen problem-solver and enjoys tackling any challenge her clients throw her way.

We were delighted to chat with her about her career journey and role as an Account Executive at Vmation, a video content marketing agency in Brisbane.

These are incredible professional accolades, but tell us, who is Ashlynne the person?

Ashlynne the person is a loving mother who really enjoys spending time with her family outside of work hours. You’ll find us either at the beach or in the country.

What is something that not many people know about you? 

A fun fact about me is that I am extremely talented at using claw machines!

What are you currently watching/reading/listening to?

Ted Talks everyday. I have attended two Ted Talk events here in Brisbane in the last couple of years and find them endlessly inspiring.

It is commonly recognised that there are fewer female leaders in digital and technology. How did you end up working in this industry?

I do agree with this statement. It was a role I just sort of fell into however I loved it and was so glad it worked out that way. I definitely encourage women to pursue a career path in this industry as it’s certainly very rewarding.

What’s on repeat with your work playlist right now?

Andra Day – ‘Rise Up’

What do you think can be done to improve diversity in the digital industry, particularly in more technical positions?

I think more awareness around the issue would certainly help to ensure more diversity throughout the industry.

What technology development is most exciting you at the moment? (e.g. AI and why)

Autonomous driving- because I dislike driving.

What’s your most recommended Business/Marketing resource?

Pre Covid-19, attending Interactive Minds was my favourite way to learn about the ever growing, fascinating world of Marketing.

How do you maintain work-life balance as a successful BD/Sales professional?

I’m lucky enough to work for a great company that understands the importance of work-life balance. I’m very grateful for this.

What is next for you?

I don’t have a specific title or role selected for my 5/10 year plan. What’s important to me is continuing to learn new things, get better at what I know and progress in my career at a reasonable pace. Working with sophisticated professionals is also crucial – as I feel like I’m at my best when working with other high quality people. Which is what I have at Vmation.

A huge thank you to Ashlynne for chatting with us and don’t forget to connect with her on LinkedIn. If you want to read more Q&A’s with the top women in business head over to our blog! We will also be sharing further female success stories on our socials so stay updated with our Facebook and Instagram.


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December 3, 2021 Women in Digital

Introducing the 2021 Executive Leader of the Year, powered by Avanade, Tracy Whitelaw!

Tracy Whitelaw won this award alongside Professor Mary Foley AM.

Tracy Whitelaw is the Chief Digital Officer at Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ), leading the digital transformation and data maturity of 77 Queensland councils to help the councils better serve their communities. Under her leadership, LGAQ are setting up the LGAQ Innovation Lab, powered by Telstra, and in conjunction with Google, Facebook, local startups and universities.

The judges were particularly impressed with Tracy’s use of technology to serve the community and drive innovation across local government.

We were thrilled to talk to our 2021 Executive of the Year about her winning entry, career and thoughts on diversity in digital.

Congratulations Tracy! You have no doubt had an impressive career so far, but tell us, who is Tracy the person?

Oh this is a great question! I am not sure I’m that much different from anyone else. I’m a wife, mother, nonna, daughter, self-professed geek, nerd, gamer, lover of learning and gadget fan to name but a few parts of me. I’m also a Scozzie – Scottish Australian – having come here in 2007 and proudly calling QLD home.

What is something that not many people know about you?

A lot of people don’t realise I’ve been with my wife for 23 years, married for 3 of those and that I’m a nonna to an 8 year old and a 6 year old, Jaxon and Aria who are the absolute light of my life. When people find out they usually say “you’re way too young to be a nonna!”! But I am, and that’s a story for another time!

Welcome to WID Awards Alumni! We want to know… what does winning this award mean to you?

I am so honoured to have won this award, it was completely unexpected for me. It means a lot because I’ve seen the ripple effect that it’s had on my friends, family and professional network. My family have been so proud and so excited to celebrate the win with me and my friends and team at work have gone all out to congratulate me and continue to remind me of the great achievement. Similarly, I have had so many people in my network reach out and I hope that they can see that it’s possible for them to win something so amazing too.

It is commonly recognised that there are fewer female leaders in digital and technology. How did you end up working in this industry?

I feel like I accidently got into it! I had a keen interest in digital communications in my undergrad degree and I’ve always been a bit of a digi-nerd since I was a kid, where I always had the latest computer or gaming device. When I moved to Australia I took a job as a content writer for a startup company who created AI chat bots (back in 2007!). In that role I quickly evolved into their Chief Knowledge Engineer and we created chatbots for companies like NASA, AMP, NAB and more. From there I was all in on digital solutions and digital communications and I combined both working as one of the first Social Media Specialists in local government for Brisbane City Council in 2010. After that, my career really just continued to evolve across the digital ecosystem and I’ve been focused on getting to a Chief Digital Officer role which I achieved in 2020.

We were inspired by your remarkable journey and evident admiration you have from your team. In a bite-sized summary, what does leadership mean to you?

Leadership is an honour, not a right. For me it’s about trusting your team to do the job they were hired to do. My role is really setting the vision and helping us get where we’re going. It’s about supporting them when they need it and getting the heck out of their way to let them shine. I think alongside trust, the biggest part of leadership is listening. I learn as much if not more from my team than they learn from me I’m sure. The trick is to hear them and action things where you can, it’s important to show you’re supporting them and always be there to get in the ring with them when they need you to. Roll up your sleeves and show up for them like they do for you.

The pandemic has been a challenging time for many leaders. How have you managed to keep your team engaged through COVID?

I am a big fan of ongoing communication with my teams whether that’s face to face or online. I have regular one on ones, team meetings and daily chats. We continued this through COVID, by ensuring that we stayed engaged online by having regular meetings, social events like trivia, coffees and more. We are a team that talks a lot, so staying engaged during COVID was an extension of what we’d normally do, but with a little more check-in time to ensure people weren’t feeling isolated or struggling.

What is one thing you wish someone told you about what a career in leadership is like?

I wish someone had told me that it’s okay to not always know what you’re doing or whether the decision you’re making is going to turn out positively. It’s hard, but being in a leadership role means people need you to sometimes make the hard calls and you can only do what you believe is right, with the knowledge you have available to you at the time.

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

It is important to continue to showcase the amazing work women are doing in this space because it does continue to be dominated by men. I think that seeing so many amazing women being nominated or winning is inspirational to other women who work in the digital field. Also, I think having the opportunity to showcase the work you’re doing on a national stage is wonderful. I’ve had so many people across Australia (and the US) reach out to me to congratulate me, so getting to put the work that local government in QLD are doing in digital under the limelight like it has, has been extremely important.

Who is your professional inspiration?

I’m a big fan of Gloria Steinem because I love that she led the way for the feminist movement and still continues to passionately advocate for that. I like that she carved a path for women to have a seat at the table, to fight for equality and that she embraced diversity at a time when many didn’t. She fought to have women of colour and lesbians considered as a key part of the women’s equality movement. I am inspired that she recognised diversity brings strength and is something that should be the minimum we’re willing to accept when it comes to our professional environment.

What’s your most recommended business or leadership resource?

I love reading academic journals and books. I’m a big fan of Brene Brown when it comes to leadership because I feel like I can connect with her empathetic and vulnerable leadership style. I like academic journals because I’m a bit of a learning nerd and like to study, so they work well for me. Also, I really cannot underestimate the power of Linkedin which I’ve become a massive fan of over the last few years. It is great for connecting and learning more about what’s happening in your field.

In what ways do you think diversity is important to someone in a leadership role?

It is critical. Diversity in your team will bring diversity of ideas. You can’t expect to deliver a good product or service to your customers if you have people lacking diversity making the decisions. We are all different and we should embrace that. As a woman in digital and as an out lesbian for many years, I have always felt I’ve been in the ‘diverse’ category, so I always strive to ensure I bring a wide range of diversity to every team I have with the people I employ. We all deserve a seat at the table.

What do you think can be done to improve diversity in the digital industry, particularly in more leadership positions?

If you’re in a position of leadership, make the difference. Help others into the same position. The excuse ‘we couldn’t find any females/indigenous/people of colour’ during the recruitment phase is one that needs to die. Change your recruitment process. Alter your adverts. Amend your targeting. Make the commitment to actively seek diversity and every chance you get, look to create a space for someone who is different from you. That’s where the magic happens. I’m a little tired of seeing the bro club in so many digital organisations and of seeing the ‘male, pale and stale’ on executive teams or boards. Not to say they don’t have a space, but just not ALL the spaces.

What tips do you have for early-in-career professionals aspiring to achieve leadership positions one day?

I never thought I’d be a leader as I was painfully shy during University. I couldn’t even show up for group work as it would make me so anxious. I also hated public speaking. So my advice would be, don’t count yourself out. Surround yourself with people who support you and who you can learn from. Don’t see them as competition, look at what you can learn from them and offer your own skills and expertise to them. There is always something you can bring to the table, find what it is and work on improving it. Also, don’t take critique personally (which is really hard!), use it to get better.

What technology development is most exciting you at the moment?

I am the founder of a VR/AR company called HavenXR and I’m extremely excited about the potential for the metaverse in its many forms, not just the Facebook element! We’re working on pushing the limits of technology to create a fully immersive VR/AR location-based entertainment. HavenXR will entirely immerse participants in a new sensory experience where technology and content are developed from the ground up to create an exciting experience and that’s just the beginning. This is what’s really exciting to me at the moment in terms of technology development and I’m so keen to see where this goes.

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

Want to get involved with the 2022 Women in Digital Awards? Register your interest here so you never miss an update!

To read more Q&A blogs from our line-up of Women in Digital Award Winners, head over to our blog and keep an eye out for more success stories on our Facebook and Instagram. You can also see our full list of winners here.


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June 30, 2021 Women in Digital

At Women in Digital, we love celebrating incredible women in digital and listening to the fascinating career stories they have to tell us Rachael Dagge has anything but cookie-cutter career. A former yacht stewardess, medical receptionist, private chef and product development scientist, Rachael has an impressively diverse resume that simply cannot be condensed into one short sentence.

She has not only co-founded a food wastage AI startup and studied a Bachelor of Health Science, but Rachael has also worked closely with UQ Ventures as the Chief Student Entrepreneur in 2020 and embarked on a fully funded scholarship for the SheCodes Plus program 2021 cohort. Currently a Consultant at KPMG Australia for the Health, Ageing and Human Services division and about to start her Masters in Biotechnology, we think there might be nothing Rachael can’t do.

Involved in several initiatives supporting women in tech, we were thrilled to talk with her about her career and insights into diversity in tech. Before we dive in, go and follow Rachael on LinkedIn to see her amazing journey for yourself!

These are incredible professional accolades, but tell us, who is Rachael the person?

I was born in Hong Kong because my parents lived there for 10 years and we then moved to Brisbane when I was 2.

I would probably describe myself as a high-energy, focussed people person. I am naturally very curious and I love learning anything new about the science/ technology space.

What is something that not many people know about you?

Hmm, that I used to be in circus school when I was younger!

What’s the most useless talent you have?

I’m really good at doing impersonations of people and characters from movies, particularly Dory from Finding Nemo.

What are you currently watching/reading/listening to?

I’m reading Atomic Habits by James Clear and I listen to the Fear and Greed podcast every morning before work for a news update – I would highly recommend both.

Who is your professional inspiration?

Albert Einstein – to be that deeply intelligent in both science and people is remarkable. He has one of the best quotes I know, “if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

It is commonly recognised that there are fewer female leaders in digital and technology. How did you end up working in this industry?

I just found it an interesting industry and liked the speed of it, it’s always moving, changing and you’re never going to know everything about it.

Having been involved in a variety of initiatives supporting women in tech, tell us what does diversity mean to you and why is it so important?

At the core of it, I’ve always really valued fairness and I think that’s why I’ve been really drawn to this area. There are major ongoing and snowball effects to lack of diversity. For example, if you don’t hire diverse people for a team, you create a product that only comes from the lived experiences of those people. I’ve heard of image recognition software that’s been built to recognise only white skin or HR AI software that’s sexist when choosing candidates.

What technology development is most exciting you at the moment?

The biotechnology space is super interesting, I still can’t get past this start-up I saw in San Francisco called Membio who are manufacturing artificial Red Blood Cells to eliminate donor recruitment.

There are also some really interesting advancements in the food/ agriculture biotech space, such as redesigning fruit and vegetables to grow yielding a higher amount of vitamins and minerals and counteract our degrading soil quality. I’ve also met the founders of a startup called AgriSea which are designing crops to grow and absorb nutrients in ocean water.

What is next for you?

Continuing in my role as a graduate at KPMG and starting my Masters in Biotechnology.

Thank you to Rachael for taking the time to chat with us about her incredible career journey so far. If you haven’t already, go ahead and follow Rachael on LinkedIn here. We look forward to seeing where her career takes her next!

Want to see more career spotlights on incredible women in digital? Head over to our socials and follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.


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June 21, 2021 Women in Digital

Camille Socquet-Clerc is the quintessential woman in digital. Originally from France, Camille has always been passionate about marketing and has extensive experience working as a Marketing, Communications and eCommerce Manager within global brands including Michael Hill, Alpha Digital, Mountain Designs and L’Occitane to name a few. We can’t help but be in awe of her career!

In 2019, Camille founded Bloom – an impact investing platform that helps people invest in cleantech and clean energy projects. And just last year, she did that thing that all founders dream (and fear) doing… Taking the leap and leaving full-time employee life behind her to focus all her time on Bloom.

Camille holds a very dear place in our heart at Women in Digital HQ for her passion for diversity in tech and being a long time Women in Digital community member. We were thrilled to chat to her about her career journey from Marketing Queen to impact entrepreneur and diversity ambassador.

These are incredible professional accolades, but tell us, who is Camille the person?

I was born in the French Alps and spent my childhood skiing and being out in nature. As a result, I love being outdoors! I spend as much time as possible hiking, surfing, swimming… But I also love learning and problem solving, which means my work has always had a lot of meaning to me. I am passionate about my work. And as a person, I guess I am a very sensitive person, who loves to connect with people on a deeper level.

What is something that not many people know about you?

I absolutely love dancing. I am that person that will dance until the music stops.

What’s the most useless talent you have?

I used to be a ski teacher, not very useful when you live in Brisbane!

You have recently founded Bloom. Looking back, when did you decide to ‘take the leap’ and put this idea into action?

I decided to go full time when we got accepted into the University of Queensland’s iLab program. It is a competitive and quite prestigious startup accelerator program, which gave me confidence that it was the right time to go all in. At the same time, our community was growing really fast, which also gave me extra validation that I was on the right track and needed to take the plunge. I have to admit as well that my partner has been pivotal, he encouraged me to go all in and accepted the financial risk – I owe him a large part of the courage it took to leave my full time job.

What has been your biggest career challenge and how did you overcome it?

My biggest challenge was to create my own company in a field (financial services) that was new to me. I did overcome my impostor syndrome and doubt by doubling down on work, and making sure that I methodically ticked all the steps to head into the right direction. Surrounding myself with mentors and advisors has been key to giving me confidence and accountability.

What are you currently watching/reading/listening to?

I am passionate about impact investing so one of my favourite podcasts is ‘Good Future‘. I am also a fan of Guy Raz (NPR journalist) so I highly recommend ‘How I Built This‘ or ‘Ted Radio Hour’. I purposefully don’t have Netflix to make sure I spend as little time as possible watching TV, but my guilty pleasure is “Adventure Time” – An American fantasy animated series. It’s incredibly witty and cute and only last 10min per episode – perfect after a long day of work.

Who is your professional inspiration?

I admire other female founders who have done really well in the green-tech field such as Katherine McConnell, Founder & CEO of Brighte. In general, my inspiration comes from entrepreneurs who have been bold in their vision and who are driven by making a positive impact.

What’s on repeat with your work playlist right now?

I don’t work with music – I need deep focus to do my work. In the past I actually suffered in noisy open-plan office environments! However I listen to music everyday when I run in the morning – I love the ‘Discover Weekly’ playlist on Spotify, always new things to discover and energising music to raise my energy levels and motivation.

What’s your most recommended Business/Marketing resource?

I love everything Harvard Business Review (podcast, magazine, website) – because it is nuanced and backed by research most of the time.

I recommend the book ‘Talking to Humans‘ (a practical guide to the qualitative side of customer development) by Frank Rimalovski and Giff Constable. This is one of the best resources I have come across to build my startup. Talking to your customers is so simple YET so few people truly do it. To me this is a skill and resource that should underpins any other business or marketing strategy.

From global brand names to Australia’s largest cleantech startup accelerator, how did this transition evolve?

My career took a turn in 2018, when I started learning more about Climate Change. I could no longer reconcile working for an industry that did not actively provide solutions to the climate crisis. As soon as I made the decision to be aligned with my value, a Communication Manager role at EnergyLab was advertised and I knew it was my chance to do the work I was meant to be doing.

What do you think can be done to improve diversity in the digital industry?

We need leaders and people in position to hire to develop progressive HR and diversity policies. We need leaders to educate themselves on the many benefits of diversity (Women in Digital activities and events are a great place to start!) – there is now overwhelming research linking diversity and performance for businesses, there is no excuse for any leader in business to be passive on this matter.

What technology development is most exciting to you at the moment?

I am excited by blockchain for its potential to create more transparency in supply chains and revolutionise the way people consume energy across the world.

What is next for you?

Launching our App later this year! For now people can sign up to our waitlist here.

A big thank you to Camille for taking the time to chat with us. If you haven’t already, go ahead and follow Camille on LinkedIn and learn more about starting your climate impact investment journey with Bloom here.

Want to see more career spotlights on incredible women in digital? Head over to our socials and follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.


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January 12, 2021 Women in Digital

Introducing the 2020 Women in Digital Awards Digital Marketer of the Year, sponsored by Canva, Lauren Swidenbank!

Lauren is a digital marketing expert and paid ads specialist with a passion for analytics. As Founder and Director of Cali Social, she has a solid track record of helping small to medium-sized businesses level up their digital marketing. Lauren’s winning entry was based on the exceptional work she did for a client’s business in 2019-2020. Using a mix of Google Ads, Facebook and Instagram ads, Lauren planned, created, implemented and optimised the entire campaign achieving a 307.51% increase in revenue for the client in 12 months, shifting a 6-figure business to a 7-figure business. Um, talk about impressive!

We were excited to talk to Lauren about her winning-entry, career journey and diversity in digital.

Watch the live announcement of the Women in Digital Awards Digital Marketer of the Year here.

Congratulations Lauren! We already know you are as the digital marketing guru, but tell us, who is Lauren the person?

Thank you so much! I am so honoured to achieve this award! Starting with the hard questions! Okay, so I moved to Australia 9 years ago when I was a young 21 year old backpacker. I had originally meant to be here for just 6 months and had plans of travelling the world – but you know the story, I met a cute Aussie guy, rescued an even cuter dog and I never left. I love anything to do with the water so you’ll find me by the beach whenever I get the chance. I’m an adventurer at heart and love finding new places or new things to do. When we are able to travel the next two places on my visit list are Morocco and Tuscany!

What is something that not many people know about you?

I am known for making the best cob loaf. It’s seriously so good and I’m so proud of it haha! Invite me round and I will turn up, cob loaf in hand.

How did you get started in digital marketing and paid ads in particular?

Like a lot of people, I actually ‘fell’ into digital marketing. It certainly wasn’t part of my plan! I graduated from university in the UK with an Economics degree and had big plans of moving to London and working on the stock market. Let’s just say that the idea of working in the financial industry was much better than the reality! I have been interested in social media ever since I can remember, and I started to research it more and more as it developed. My knowledge was all self taught and my experience in working with clients came from working in agencies. I am a very analytical individual who loves numbers and stats, I found that I could easily apply these skills to running paid ads, so paid ads was a natural direction for me to take!

Who is your professional inspiration?

Sara Blakely – founder of Spanx! I never get tired of hearing her story and my favourite quote from her is ‘ I did not have the most experience in the industry or the most money, but I cared the most’

You had worked in a number of digital agencies before Cali Social. What made you decide to take the leap?

I knew that I could offer a superior service where the client wasn’t just a number and that I could contribute to the wider strategy and take a more wholesome approach rather than just a ten minute phone call every couple of weeks. I pride myself on creating strong relationships and friendships with my clients, I know that they trust me fully and I never had the chance to get to this level of rapport when working in agencies as it was more of a ‘churn and burn’ way of working. I had clients from day one of taking the leap which was an amazing feeling.

What’s your most recommended Business/Marketing resource?

I have two recommendations for brilliant marketing resources. If you are new to the world of running Facebook ads, or lack the skills/knowledge to create campaigns, you can’t go further than Facebook Blueprint. It’s totally free and gives a basic overview of everything you will need to start your campaigns.
If you are in the marketing industry and looking for something a little more high level, my go-to would be Hubspot as there is such a variety and wealth of information

As you mentioned in your nomination, you originally struggled to relate to your winning campaign’s target market. Tell us a bit about that and how did you get into the mindset of this target market?

Yes, the biggest challenge throughout the campaign was definitely my own self-doubt – I had absolutely nothing in common with the target audience, I didn’t know anyone personally that fitted into the audience, I wouldn’t ever experience the products or buy any of the products so I had this niggling feeling that maybe another PPC specialist would be better suited for this client, but I love a challenge and thought that if it’s not me, it will be someone else so why not just give it a go?! I was so determined to make this campaign work that I attended several ‘Car Meets’ so that I could see the types of people that went along, what they were wearing, who they brought with them, what types of cars they drove and ultimately realised the insane amount of pride these guys have for their cars and that they just want show off. This formed the basis of my entire digital strategy – and it paid off!

How have you dealt with the challenges Covid-19 has thrown your way as a marketer and small business owner?

Covid-19 has been a really exhausting, strange time for my role and for my business! On the one hand I had a few clients pull the plug on their ads/digital marketing so I lost clients, but on the other hand I have been inundated with new enquiries as the world moved online. Covid-19 really highlighted the importance of the digital industry and the role it has to play in the future. Covid has taught me three things as a business owner:

  1. Some things are absolutely out of your control
  2. People experience things differently.
  3. Look for the opportunity even when you don’t think there is one. For me, Covid was the perfect time for me to read. Something I haven’t done in a long time because it always fell to the bottom of the list!

If you could go back 5 years and give ‘younger you’ any advice, what would it be?

Don’t be in such a hurry to have everything all figured out. I think we put too much pressure on ourselves to have achieved big things before a certain age. I honestly believe that everything happens at the exact time that we are ready for it, so as long as you put the work in, don’t stress about the timing!
Oh and manifestation is real, so start earlier!

What tips do you have for students and graduates seeking a career in digital marketing?

Learn to understand and interpret data. A huge part of digital marketing is now focused on the data and how to use this data to make decisions. Having a qualification or further study in an analytical area will set you apart from other applicants.

Obviously, diversity in digital is important to you but what is your definition of diversity and why it is so important?

Diversity is being able to recognise and champion the differences in people, including being able to utilise their differing skills and approaches. It’s important as it bridges the skills gap to give a more rounded approach to digital.

What do you think can be done to improve diversity in the digital industry?

I think we need to start in schools. We need to introduce digital technologies and outline a clear career path into digital! The stigma around it being a male, nerdy subject needs to go! We also need to highlight inspirational businesses that champion women so that young people have people to look up to.

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

The importance of these awards is undeniable! As women, we often downplay our success or don’t give ourselves the credit we deserve. The women in digital awards gives women a platform to celebrate their wins and all that they contribute to the industry.

What technology development is most exciting you at the moment?

I really love watching the technological developments that are happening in the health industry. The ability to increasingly predict and treat health issues in people even before they experience any symptoms is fascinating. The more data that technology can collate in regards to a particular individual, the better the outcome for each patient. This has to be a win for everybody!

What is next for you and for Cali Social?

We’re growing and niching into the luxury space! We’re going to be offering a one of a kind service that no other ‘agency’ is offering and I cannot wait to share this with the world! I’ll also be adding to the team over the next few months to include more ad specialists to keep up with client demand

Congratulations Lauren on these incredible results and thank you for taking the time to chat with us!

Want to get involved with the Women in Digital AwardsBe sure to subscribe here so you never miss an update

To read more Q&A blogs from our line-up of Women in Digital Award Winners, head over to our blog and keep an eye out for more success stories on our Facebook and Instagram. You can also see our list of other winners here.


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January 12, 2021 Women in Digital

Introducing the 2020 Women in Digital Awards Rising Star of the Year, sponsored by Amazon Web Services, Lucy Wang!

Lucy Wang is a third-year Information Systems student at the University of New South Wales with an impressive list of accomplishments and industry experience already under her belt. She has interned at PwC and Deloitte, taught at Code Camp, won 5 case competitions at University and is an executive member of multiple University clubs and societies. But perhaps her most significant contribution is co-founding the UNSW Digital Society. This society aims to empower students interested in digital innovation, strategy and user experience by providing on-going training and networking opportunities! We know this rising star has a bright future ahead of her. 

We were thrilled to chat to Lucy about University, career goals and advice for other early-in career students.

Watch the live announcement of the Women in Digital Awards Rising Star of the Year here.

Congratulations Lucy! You have achieved so much in your 3 years at university so far. Where do you think this drive comes from?

Thank you! 3 years have flown by so fast and I’m very grateful for all the people I’ve met along the way. I think my drive to make the most out of University initially stemmed from some regrets from High School – I had always stuck with what I was familiar with, and never really took the initiative to leave my comfort zone. I wasn’t involved in extracurricular activities and never put my hand up for any leadership positions. This left a feeling of emptiness, and a little “…what if?” voice in my head. When the first day of University came along, I promised myself to say yes to every opportunity and to take risks – so that I wouldn’t be faced with the same regrets looking back.

This fear of regret gradually shifted into a desire to make a tangible impact in communities. In the haze of Uni assignments and part-time jobs, I found myself competing in national competitions, organising large-scale student events, and creating a new student club.

We have obviously done a little introduction already but tell us, in your own words, who is Lucy?

I’m a third year student currently studying a Bachelor of Information Systems at UNSW. Throughout university, I have always been fascinated by the power of technology in enabling innovation and empowering people. Alongside my degree, I have the pleasure of leading a student community called “UNSW Digital Society” where I work with an amazing team of 35 to create events for over 400 students on campus.

What is something that not many people know about you?

I love the concept of minimalism and that less is more. I’m always trying to remove excess items from my living space and decluttering my mind to focus more on things that matter.

What’s your most recommended resource? Whether that be motivation, organisation, careers or professional development.

I recommend personal development books / videos! They really helped me view life through different lenses and perspectives, and are a great way to develop a strong growth mindset.

You are about to graduate from a degree in Information Systems – what made you choose this area of study?

I chose to study Information Systems because, growing up, I’ve always been fascinated by the power of technology and how it constantly changes the world around us. I heard that the degree was the intersection between Business and Technology, which sounded appealing because I wanted to learn about how technology is used to achieve business outcomes.

What has been your biggest lesson from uni to date?

Sometimes failure teaches you more than success – so don’t be afraid of constantly experimenting and looking for opportunities to improve.

Back to when you started the UNSW Digital Society, how did this opportunity/idea come about?

The idea of UNSW Digital Society came about when my friends and I realised that there was no society on campus focused specifically on the rapidly-growing Digital space. In my first year of university, I was involved in 5 different Business and Tech-related societies, and really wanted to use the skills I’ve developed to build a new society dedicated to empowering students interested in this space.

What advice do you have for students on securing their first internship?

Don’t (just) apply. Come up with creative ways to demonstrate the value you can bring to the company. This may involve:

  • Proactively reaching out to people in industries you’re interested in, to learn more about what they do.
  • Showcasing your projects, experiences and skillsets through an online portfolio / personal website.
  • Building a personal brand through Linkedin by writing and engaging with posts.

We are so keen to know, what is next for you?

As I complete my final University courses, I’m excited to be starting a full-time role next year in AWS as a Solutions Architect!

What is your ultimate career goal?

My career goals change all the time as I continue to navigate through different experiences – but my ultimate goal is to improve the lives of others. I want to look back at my career journey and be able to see that I made a positive, tangible impact.

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

Industry awards are a great way to recognise people and organisations making an impact. In particular, Women in Digital Awards do an incredible job of celebrating the achievements of women in the digital space, promoting diversity in the workplace.

Congratulations Lucy on all you have achieved so far. We can’t wait to see what you do next!

Want to get involved with the Women in Digital AwardsBe sure to subscribe here so you never miss an update

To read more Q&A blogs from our line-up of Women in Digital Award Winners, head over to our blog and keep an eye out for more success stories on our Facebook and Instagram. You can also see our list of other winners here.


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January 11, 2021 Women in Digital

Introducing the 2020 Women in Digital Awards Diversity of the Year Employer (SMB), sponsored by Urban Utilities, Blackbook.ai!

Blackbook.ai is one of Australia’s largest privately-owned service companies specialising in automation and artificial intelligence. Innovation is at the forefront of everything they do. But it is their commitment to diversity that really captured the judges. Over 1 in 2 employees are considered diverse with an overall female ratio of 30%. Blackbook.ai also promotes initiatives that support women in STEM from high school through to university and beyond. We look forward to seeing what they do next!

We were excited to chat to Blackbook.ai’s Head of Finance Automation, Natasha Lam, about the company, Covid-19 and of course, diversity in digital.

Watch the live announcement of the Women in Digital Awards Diversity Employer of the Year here.

How would you describe Blackbook.ai as a workplace in just one sentence?

Giving opportunities to all in the community to work on emerging technologies.

What is one thing not many people know about Blackbook.ai?

We are 30% owned by RACQ. RACQ with its community values were the first ones to believe in what we were doing.

What differentiates Blackbook.ai from other organisations you have worked for?

With the owners coming from corporate backgrounds, the professionalism on the client-side is evident coupled with that start-up mentality gives us the ability to be agile.

Obviously, diversity is important to Blackbook.ai, but what is your definition of diversity and why it is important?

Along with inclusion, diversity for us is giving anyone a go that has the right skills and attitude. We have also tried to be agile in our recruitment, helping those affected by Covid-19.

What does it mean to Blackbook.ai to have a commitment to diversity?

Our commitment to diversity has been evident from inception, with our CEO as a refugee, diversity is very much built within and it doesn’t feel forced. We are very proud of our backgrounds and we celebrate it regularly.

As a SMB, has it been more challenging to increase diversity than a perhaps of a larger organisation?

Yes and No. Even though we are growing quickly we can’t afford a lot of overhead like larger organisations. Which just means we are more strategic in our hires and consequently this has more of a powerful impact.

And how does Blackbook.ai demonstrate that diversity in ways that your competitors perhaps don’t?

I think generally Blackbook.ai takes more risk with hiring, giving those opportunities that traditionally may not have been given in larger organisations. This approach overall has had a positive effect.

What do you think Blackbook.ai can improve on when it comes to diversity and inclusion?

Female applicants for software development has been a challenge and we are seeing a definite shift, however we will continue to try and draw females into our industry.

How has Blackbook.ai supported staff and clients during COVID-19?

We have had target job campaigns recruiting for only those affected by COVID. We have hired a handful of people from Flight Centre, Deloitte and other companies that business was severely affected by the virus. In terms of staff support, we were already working remotely and on/off-site, so it wasn’t a massive transition for us. However we have continued to allow staff to work flexibly, staff are usually in the office when their gym sessions next door are on.

To businesses or leaders out there that know they want to improve diversity within their team but don’t know where to start… What advice do you have for them?

Take a risk, try something new, give them a go, the benefits will lift your organisation to the next level. Don’t focus on the stats too much, it takes time, but make sure you move in the right direction.

What else do you think can be done to improve diversity in the digital industry, particularly in more technical positions?

Education to girls in school. Primary school and secondary. We are missing an opportunity to show them that they can do these things. Echoing Holly’s belief, ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’. It’s true. In my daughter’s primary school there are only 2 male teachers, Maths and Science…..and the groundsman. This is what they see.

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

To showcase women in tech positions and how they are rockstars not only at work, but in their communities and in their families. It helps build our profiles and recognition within the business arena.

What can we expect to see from Blackbook.ai in the future?

Probably a little boring but more of the same hahaha, we are continuing to win contracts, create innovations and build a creative team. Obviously, we will be dabbling in new tech and we are hoping to grow more rapidly on a national scale – look out Australia!

And finally Natasha, what technology development is most exciting to you at the moment?

Gosh – so many things to talk about. But Bio, is and will be a game changer, bio-medical, bio-security, bio, bio, bio. Understanding our health and medicines is obviously front of mind after COVID, and security concerns in tech are growing. Passwords will likely be a thing of the past and multi-factor authentication will be eye scans, thumb prints, voice recognition etc. Exciting times.

Congratulations Blackbook.ai on this incredible accomplishment and thank you Natasha for chatting with us!

Want to get involved with the Women in Digital AwardsBe sure to subscribe here so you never miss an update!

To read more Q&A blogs from our line-up of Women in Digital Award Winners, head over to our blog and keep an eye out for more success stories on our Facebook and Instagram. You can also see our list of other winners here.


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January 10, 2021 Women in Digital

Introducing the 2020 Women in Digital Awards Technical Leader of the Year, sponsored by COSOL, Sorcha Abel!

Sorcha is a Software Developer at Genie Solutions with over 15 years’ experience. As part of her winning entry, Sorcha was involved in all stages of a project designed to automate the process of importing private health fund fees through a sophisticated script. But where she really shines is her industry contributions. Sorcha is passionate about mentoring women in technology. She regularly organises, mentors and presents at events including Rails Girls Brisbane, Elixir Girls, Brisbane Installfest, Coder Academy, Muses and Coder Dojo, introducing women to tech and showing young people what a career in tech could look like. Sorcha is a true advocate for women in digital.

We were thrilled to talk to her about her career, contributions to women in tech and of course, diversity in digital.

Watch the live announcement of the Women in Digital Awards Technical Leader of the Year here.

Congratulations Sorcha! These are incredible professional accolades, but tell us, who is Sorcha the person?

Thanks so much, honestly I’m still floating. Who is Sorcha… gosh… I guess I’m a few things. First and foremost I’m a mum of three fantastic kids. Grace, Harry and James. I’m Irish, my Husband is Australian and we moved to Australia almost 9 years ago. But a lot of people know that about me already 🙂

If I were to pick one word that describes me but equally a trait that I look for in others, regardless of position, it’s respect. I think this is the key to a successful person and a productive team. They may sound like empty words but I’m really passionate about this.

I truly believe if people feel respected, they feel valued. This in turn leads to a greater contribution in terms of collaboration/code etc. However, if people don’t feel respected they tend to withdraw, contributions to group discussions stop, morale drops, team collaboration stagnates and it usually ends up in high turnover. This is never a win from any perspective.

I don’t believe that respect is something you earn, I feel everyone should demonstrate and receive it from the get-go. Respect in the workplace really brings out the best in people.

What is something that not many people know about you?

I once played the piano well and now I play it badly. It’s on that long list I keep and I genuinely hope to start playing it again in 2021, this is the first of my 2021 New Year’s resolutions

What are you currently watching/reading/listening to?

Actually, I’m currently reading the Harry Potter books, my daughter is crazy about them so there came a point when I needed to educate myself on the values of Dumbledore vs Voldemort. Actually, the books are great!

On the tech side of things I’ve just started to read Clean Code and I’m also studying for the AWS Developer Associate exam. That’s all keeping me pretty busy!

It is commonly recognised that there are fewer female leaders in digital and technology -specifically in technical roles like you. How did you end up working in this industry?

I love problem solving and I love talking to people. Software development requires both. I’d probably say communication skills are the most important. If you can’t understand a problem then it’s impossible to develop a solution for it.

I started in a support role which ticked the above ‘problem solving’ box but I soon realised my passion was for software development.

What’s your most recommended business or technology-based resource?

I use a range of resources, I regularly sign up for a course on Udemy or use Pluralsight. I switch between blog posts and Medium articles and physical books. Currently, I’m using the DigitalCloud Training for the AWS exam.

As a kid, were you always drawn to computers. What made you enter a career in software development?

I have always been a keen student and studying technology gave me the opportunity to hone in on my passion for solving problems. Once I got the opportunity to write code for a career, I knew I had made the right choice.

Genie Solutions is obviously an incredible organisation to work for (and were actually the winners of the Diversity Employer of the Year award at the 2019 Women in Digital Awards). But tell us, what is your favourite thing about working at Genie?

It really is an incredible place to work. It’s actually difficult to pick just one thing! I guess the culture is a huge part of what I love. There is a feeling that we are all in it together, everyone helps everyone without question. It’s such a supportive place. Coupled with that is a genuine encouragement for all staff to grow and be what they want to be. Genie gives you the tools, resources, support and mentoring you need. For me that is massive.

What I love most about my day to day role is coding with the most supportive, amazing developers who truly make work a joy. That might sound a little cliched but it’s true. As a developer it’s so important to learn and grow, technology is always changing so to work with people who mentor and guide me is of paramount importance.

The executive team leads by example which is refreshing. My manager constantly asks what I need and how he can help me get there. They are not empty words. The CTO guides and empowers everyone and is one of the most approachable people I know. And we have a CEO who knows everyone’s name, chats to all and has a positivity that radiates.The company is like one big team of people who help and support each other to get things done. I feel blessed to be part of that.

What has been the biggest career challenge you have faced so far and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge I had that impacted my career was moving to Australia, I had just had my second child, I had left the banking sector in Ireland and had lots of experience but with legacy code. My biggest challenge was while dealing with the stress that comes with relocating there was an added stress of learning a very different tech stack. That coupled with not having any IT connections in Australia made it quite the challenge.

But it all worked out, and I guess that’s important to remember, most challenges do work out and looking back really helped me grow personally and professionally.

What tips do you have for students, graduates and early-in-career professionals set on a career in software development?

Tech wise I would suggest in the career early days not to specialise too much. Stay abreast of the current technologies and try not to pigeon hole yourself into any one stack. Ask lots of questions and listen.

Focus early in your career on good structure, good logic and always keep in mind the outcome your code is trying to achieve.

Be patient with yourself and your progress. When you come across something unfamiliar, remind yourself you simply don’t know it “yet”. Nothing is magic, all answers are out there. And finally not to forget that no one was born knowing how to code, it’s a skill we learn and perfect over time.

On the soft skills side, believe in yourself and give everything a try. When something doesn’t work learn to move on fast. Listen to everyone’s opinions, especially the ones you don’t agree with. Keep an open mind and view everything as an opportunity to learn something new.

What do you wish more people knew about working as a software developer?

I wish people knew how rewarding it is. My average day incorporates some great discussions, some great code, great support and fun. I think that’s the key to any happy role. Maybe people don’t think of IT as a fun role but great people are scattered throughout every profession and IT is no different.

I worry there is still a misconception about software development as a profession. Sadly I have heard the following sentiment more than once: “As a women you have to prove yourself more”. Maybe that was once true, but it’s not an accurate statement these days. I really want people to know that. Tech is a welcoming industry and you will be assessed on your ability/dedication. Gender really doesn’t play a role.

What’s next for you? You have already achieved so much but do you have any professional aspirations you still hope to achieve?

This is by far the hardest question so far. I have so many things on that list. The more I learn the more I realise there is to learn. The AWS Developer Associate exam is the next concrete thing on my list. Recently, an app that I developed for Xero has gone into BETA testing mode by both users and Xero. I’ve got my fingers crossed that it could be added to the Xero Marketplace soon… So busy but exciting times ahead.

We are so impressed by your community involvement in encouraging women to follow STEM pathways, are you working on any projects now?

I have lots of plans for 2021, I hope to run the next Rails Girls event ASAP. This year we have AWS Educate onboard and we are all set and ready to go.
We have new guides, new presentations, new mentors and an AWS dev environment..so many exciting things. We are just waiting for these times to get safer before a date is announced. I also intend to mentor and panel talk at other Brisbane events once everything is safe to do so.

What do you think can be done to improve diversity in the digital industry, particularly in more technical positions?

We need people to study tech, that goes without saying but equally we need people to stay in tech. That’s the key. Diversity is more than encouraging women into tech. That is of course one piece of the puzzle and a key piece at that, but keeping women in tech is of paramount importance. Diversity, as we know, encompasses more than gender, it includes life experience, travel, children, family and everything that makes us who we are. We want all those experiences around a table when we are trying to solve a problem.

Flexibility is the other piece of the puzzle. As a mum it is so important to me. I’m lucky to work in a company that supports part-time hours and I also have the flexibility to work from home. These ‘perks’ are huge, a great benefit for all employees but for a mum it can be the difference between staying in the industry and leaving it.

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

So important, sometimes life is so busy we don’t see our achievements or we completely take them for granted and therefore discount them. For me the WID awards made me stop, think, forced me to reflect and document my achievements. This helped me to change my perspective, from one that is always focused on looking at my future goals to look at my past achievements. It actually helped me to believe in myself more.

What technology development is most exciting to you at the moment?

At the moment for me it’s all about cloud computing. I am actively studying AWS certifications, having recently passed the AWS Cloud Practitioner certification and currently studying for the AWS Developer Associate certification. The more I learn the more I am amazed by the capabilities of AWS.

Congratulations Sorcha on this accolade and thank you for your many contributions to women in digital!

Want to get involved with the Women in Digital AwardsBe sure to subscribe here so you never miss an update

To read more Q&A blogs from our line-up of Women in Digital Award Winners, head over to our blog and keep an eye out for more success stories on our Facebook and Instagram. You can also see our list of other winners here.


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January 9, 2021 Women in Digital

Introducing the 2020 Women in Digital Awards Innovator of the Year, sponsored by Clinic to Cloud, Carolyn Mee!

Carolyn is the Founder and CEO of the Sound Scouts app, an online hearing screening service designed to check for hearing issues in children. This innovation incorporates the science of a hearing test in a mobile game that is not only accessible, but fun and affordable for families! Thanks to the Australian Government Department of Health, this life-changing service is now free in Australia and has been implemented in over 1,200 Australian schools, completed 40,000 children’s checks plus 15,000 adult tests. What an incredible innovation!

We are delighted to chat to Carolyn about her winning entry, career in digital and insights on diversity in digital industries.

Watch the live announcement of the Women in Digital Awards Innovator of the Year here.

Congratulations! We are so impressed by your entry and obviously so were our judges, but tell us, who is Carolyn the person?

I’m a woman who believes that if you put your mind to something, anything is possible. I’m a mother and a Founder. I’m as persistent as I am passionate because one without the other will only get you half way there. I care about making a difference, learning and growing in the process.

What is something that not many people know about you?

I lived and worked in the Red Sea in Egypt for a number of years. At one point I felt as comfortable under the water as I did above it.

In a bite-sized summary, how did you come up with the idea for Sound Scouts?

Sound Scouts was my final assignment for a course I completed in Digital Media. I was introduced to the concept of Serious Games, games that can do more than just entertain, and I quickly recognised the potential to apply the theory to testing children’s hearing. As the mother of three children I knew it was difficult to access a face to face hearing check so I was confident that a digital solution would be a game changer.

Who is your professional inspiration?

I’m inspired by everyday people doing things that matter because I believe that one person can make a difference. Dr Catherine Hamlin was and continues to be an inspiration. Her efforts to assist marginalised women were extraordinary. Dr Fred Hollows is also an inspiration.

You have obviously found a fantastic niche in the market, what were some challenges you encountered while launching Sound Scouts?

Disruptive technology is often frowned upon as people are skeptical about new ways of doing things. In the early days I presented to hostile audiences more often than not, rarely receiving acknowledgement for our efforts to think innovatively about a problem that had not been addressed in decades. Fortunately, we were able to demonstrate the effectiveness of the solution and the rigour that we had applied in its development, and the sentiment slowly changed.

What’s your most recommended business resource?

I recommend listening and learning from your customers.

Most of your career was involved with production and content creation, how did this experience tie into what you do now at Sound Scouts?

As a content creator the need for digital knowledge was becoming more and more important hence why I returned to study. But there’s also a need to integrate creative thinking into digital solutions, so my background in content creation was and continues to be extremely relevant.

I had spent decades thinking about how to engage and entertain so when it came to applying that to the Sound Scouts solution it was second nature.

How do you believe Sound Scouts has made a difference for families and clinicians during this pandemic?

Sound Scouts is a digital, app-based hearing check that parents can do at home. It enables a non-clinician to triage a child (or an adult) to determine if they need to take the next step and see a clinician.

During the early months of the pandemic we doubled down on the development of our Clinical Portal which enabled hospital audiology departments to direct patients on their wait list to test at home. The clinicians could then remotely review the results and make a decision on whether the patient needed to be seen by a clinician.

What advice would you give to anyone with an idea for a business solution/ product/ app?

I would encourage anyone with an idea to take the first step. That first step may be conducting research, finding a business partner or documenting a plan. Once you take the first step, which is always the hardest, more steps will follow and before you know it you will be on the road to building a business.

What is next for you and for Sound Scouts?

We’re working on making Sound Scouts available in more countries so more children have access to an accessible, reliable hearing check that has been purpose built for children . We’re also expanding our product offering and will be releasing a number of new web apps in the hearing space in the coming months.

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

I love the Women in Digital call to action that ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ and I fully support the drive to elevate more women working in the digital space to act as role models for others to emulate.

My digital journey has been supported by firstly, a scholarship and then by several government grants. I think distributed properly this type of government support can make a big difference.

Do you have any initiatives at Sound Scouts to recruit or support female talent? We would love to hear your insights.

Sound Scouts is a small company but we encourage diversity in our team. We appreciate the value people can bring to the team if they have a different perspective on the world. This drives our culture and is top of mind when we are hiring and building new relationships.

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

Awards, like the Women in Digital Awards, allow people like myself to take a moment to stop, reflect and appreciate what we have achieved. It’s not uncommon for Founders and innovators to be constantly focused on the next challenge, but it is important to celebrate the milestones and Awards encourage us to do this.

What technology development is exciting you at the moment?

I’m excited by the promise of technology to deliver better outcomes in the health space. Serious games have untapped potential to engage, entertain and inform and I’m looking forward to seeing how they will be harnessed in the future.

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

Want to get involved with the Women in Digital AwardsBe sure to subscribe here so you never miss an update

To read more Q&A blogs from our line-up of Women in Digital Award Winners, head over to our blog and keep an eye out for more success stories on our Facebook and Instagram. You can also see our list of other winners here.


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December 4, 2020 Women in Digital

Introducing the 2020 Women in Digital Awards Founder of the Year, sponsored by Amazon Web Services, Silvia Pfeiffer!

Silvia Pfeiffer is a technologist, author and digital health enthusiast. She is also the CEO and Co-Founder of Coviu, a telehealth start-up specialising in digital service delivery platforms. Her incredible innovation enables clinicians to conduct consultations with patients on a secure, user-friendly platform. As you might expect, COVID-19 turned into somewhat of a catalyst for the uptake of Coviu as remote appointments became increasingly popular and undeniably necessary. Having scaled rapidly to support healthcare businesses during this time, Coviu is expected to achieve 250% financial growth this year. What an amazing achievement!

We were thrilled to talk to our 2020 Founder of the Year about her winning-entry, career journey and thoughts on diversity in digital.

Watch the live announcement of the Women in Digital Awards Founder of the Year here.

Congratulations Silvia! We are so impressed by Coviu and you as the successful Co-Founder of this company, but tell us, who is Silvia the person?

Thanks, I’m stoked about winning the award. I’m a simple immigrant to Australia from Germany. I have not just fallen in love with this country, but also with an Australian, ensuring I would remain in this country. I’ve been contributing to digital innovation in Australia ever since arriving as a post-doc student in 1999 to work within the CSIRO. My company Coviu is the result of a CSIRO spinout bringing innovation to digital healthcare since 2015.

In a bite-sized summary, how did you and your co-founder come up with the idea for Coviu?

While working at the CSIRO on use-cases for the new WebRTC technology that we helped to develop at the W3C, healthcare was deemed one of the key markets for its application. We created a demonstrator application for the speech therapists at Royal Far West in Manly and it was a great success. We received a lot of positive support for this product and won a couple of awards, which encouraged us to develop it into a scalable platform for telehealth for healthcare businesses across Australia.

What is something that not many people know about you?

Despite having lived in Australia for more than 21 years, I only adopted Australian Nationality this year. It was during a special ceremony held at NSW Parliament House in March, just before the COVID shut down. I am very proud to be Australian and to work with Australian healthcare businesses to support the digital transformation of healthcare.

Why do you think telehealth companies like Coviu are so important for the health sector (and the wider public for that matter)?

Coviu is a new software solution for healthcare businesses that enables them to pick up telehealth and run it as a new service offering with their patients/clients. We’ve built Coviu so it can be rolled out easily and also work in a hybrid model of offering consultations in person as well as via video. This is important because it’s the beginning of a transformation of how we receive healthcare. It’s the beginning of including digital technology and digital delivery mechanisms into models of care.

Who is your professional inspiration?

I’m inspired not just by a single person, but by the work of many people. I admire what Tim Berners-Lee has achieved with the invention of the World Wide Web, I admire both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates have achieved as founders of Apple and Microsoft, I am inspired by the devotion of Marie Curie to science and by Mother Teresa to humanity.

Coviu was seemingly made for a world in a pandemic – where clinicians have had to switch to online services. Talk about being in the right place at the right time! What has been your biggest learning this year?

It was always our vision that we would support the digital transformation of your local healthcare providers – be that a GP, a psychology or physiotherapy, or a specialist practice. We expected it would take a long time for the behaviour of healthcare providers to change and for Medicare to support this transition, but we never lost sight of the need for transition to improve healthcare. My biggest learning is that it is important to be ready when the market that you predicted suddenly materialises. Never lose faith in the future that you predict – it might come around faster than you thought.

Speaking of Covid-19, what do you think was the biggest challenge Coviu encountered due to the pandemic and how did you overcome it?

By far the biggest challenge was to scale up our technology infrastructure and our customer support. Fortunately, we had built for scale – our technology was hosted in AWS and built in a way that we could take advantage of AWS’s scalability capabilities. We had some bugs in our code that led to some outages – just like all other video conferencing providers at the time. But the infrastructure scaled beautifully.

We also had to scale up our customer support and we did that by increasing the number of customer success managers that would reply to customer requests on our text chat application, on email and on the phone lines. We hired 15 people in a short time and trained them ourselves on the job. It was the only way and it worked well.

What’s your most recommended business resource?

I really like the book ‘The hard thing about hard things’ by Ben Horowitz – it appreciates how difficult it really is to build a new company and provides some great advice on how to be resilient.

If you could go back and change anything about how Coviu came to be, what would it be?

There are a number of mistakes that we made along the way, but that’s pretty normal. If I knew then what I knew now, I would have been able to avoid the mistakes and make our lives easier along the way. But I wouldn’t want to change anything about the general process of how Coviu came to be.

What tips do you have for other people with an idea for a business solution/ product/ app?

Make sure you understand your market. Who are the people that will buy it and how much will they pay? You can find out this information by talking to potential customers. It’s very important to understand this before you fully commit.

What is next for you and for Coviu?

Coviu is currently closing our Series A investment round. We will use this round to scale out the medical features of our platform, so we can better support our customers’ clinical services. We are further expanding Coviu internationally so we can offer our platform to healthcare businesses in other countries, particularly the US.

It is commonly recognised that there are fewer female leaders in digital and technology. How did you end up working in this industry?

When I started on my path in technology, it wasn’t yet a man’s business. You must know that women were the first programmers. That was because it was regarded as a secretary’s job. That changed as soon as men realised how close it was to engineering and renamed the job to software engineering. Suddenly it was a man’s domain and increasingly women were pushed out of it. I was part of the first student lot at Mannheim University to study a combined degree of business management and computer science. We had 40% women. Just a couple of years later it was down to 15% and less.

What would you tell someone interested or unsure about a career in tech?

The future is about technology. Humanity had to learn to read when the book press was invented. We now have to learn about technology because everything in the future will have technology in it. You should not be unsure about a career in technology, you should embrace it.

What do you think can be done to improve diversity in the digital industry, particularly in more technical positions?

We have to start at school. If we make programming a requirement at school just like maths, we’ll get girls as educated about technology as boys. We usually lose girls in their teens because it’s not cool. So let’s make it cool for girls. Finally, we have to change the way we hire. It’s well known that women don’t apply for jobs unless they fit it 100%, while men are more confident and apply even if they only fit 60%. It’s important to rewrite job descriptions in a more inclusive way.

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

Recognition of work is very important for anyone. Women are often overlooked and have to work twice as hard to get recognised. This is an outstanding award that shines a light on women in digital.

What technology development is most exciting for you at the moment?

I’ve been in technology for a long time. I did video analytics and machine learning for my PhD. It’s finally coming into its prime and there are many opportunities for its use, but also many ethically questionable misuse. We’ll have to learn to distinguish between the two and regulate the misuse, e.g. deep fake video could be used to impersonate people. But I am excited to see it come to its prime.

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

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