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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.


January 20, 2021 Women in Digital

At Women in Digital, we are fierce advocates for connecting, educating, and empowering women to give them the skills and support they need to thrive in the tech industry. We are very lucky to not be alone in this mission and another great organisation trying to build up women (and software) is She Codes. We were beyond ecstatic to be able to attend their She Codes Plus Brisbane Showcase last month. Keep reading to learn a little more about She Codes and some of our key takeaways from the night. 

Facts are facts. Despite national conversations about diversity in tech, women are still largely misrepresented in the tech industry. According to ARN, only a fifth of Australia’s IT graduates are women! While yes, diversity statistics are slowly improving, clearly, there is still a long way to go and this is why we love to support organisations such as She Codes.

In late 2020, we had the incredible opportunity to attend the She Codes Plus Showcase at Lightspace in Brisbane. If you haven’t heard of She Codes, you’re missing out! She Codes is on a mission to teach women coding skills, get women into technical careers, and build communities of like-minded women. Their vision is to increase diversity in tech by inspiring 100,000 women across Australia by 2025 and this is absolutely something we at Women in Digital can get behind.

Run in partnership with BHP, the She Codes Plus program is a six-month part-time course that focuses on supercharging the tech careers of women. This showcase was an opportunity to celebrate their achievement, share their portfolios and connect them with other professionals in tech including recruiters, hiring managers and potential industry mentors.

We were thrilled to attend this fantastic event and celebrate the 2020 graduating class. We were equaly excited to listen to a range of fabulous panellists including Sammy Herbert, Peta Ellis, Emily Taylor, Rene Chappel and Sorcha Abel (who was also the 2020 Women in Digital Awards Technical Leader of the Year – go Sorcha! See all our winners here). These women are five powerhouse leaders with an accumulative 78 years in the industry (woah!). They are also key role models for young women in tech. If there’s anything we’ve learned at Women in Digital, it’s that ‘you can’t be what you can see’ which is why showcasing these role models in this industry are so important.

Here are our key takeaways from the SheCodes panel discussion…

Connect with your network around you

You might have heard the saying that ‘your network is your net worth’ and it’s true! Although it may not be your all-time favourite activity, I think we can all agree that networking is a key skill for any professional. Building a network filled with strong, quality relationships is just as important. So if you find yourself wanting to level-up your networking game, start small and try ‘nudging’ one person a day. Watch over time as good things happen!

Be okay with not knowing all the answers

As much as we wish we could be experts in everything, that is never going to be a realistic goal. But that’s okay. This is your opportunity to ask questions, collaborate with others and build connections with other professionals in areas you may be unfamiliar with. However, if this is not your vibe, another way you can learn is by simply throwing yourself in the deep-end! What better way to learn than through experience?

Value your experience

Your experience is unique to you and to be honest, it is more than a lot of people have! Though many people follow similar career paths, it is highly unlikely your pathway is identical to any other individual and you, therefore, you have different (and meaningful) insights to bring to the table. So make your experience and career journey be your unique point of difference and flaunt it!

Find a mentor to support you through the journey

This all goes back to the importance of your network. Finding a mentor to guide you or simply offer advice throughout your career plays a key role in your network. Whether that’s a former teacher, past employer, or maybe someone you have looked up to in your industry, it’s always worth reaching out. Most people are more than happy to provide some form of mentorship and share their experiences with you.

Appreciate it’s not going to be amazing immediately – it’s a journey

The idea of a linear career is long gone. Hey, we’re not saying that you won’t thrive immediately at the beginning of your career journey (some people do!). But in the 21st century, most people will find that their career pathways become ‘squiggly’ rather than straightforward. This means it is important to accept and embrace that there is more than one way to achieve what you want in your career. You can read our insights from the Women in Digital Squiggly Careers Panel here.

Imposter syndrome is something we hear a lot of women in digital struggle with and a narrative we desperately want to change! Here are the She Codes Showcase panel’s top tips on beating imposter syndrome:

Go to meetups – once you’re there, doors will open

Can you tell we love networking? Guilty as charged! But we can’t stress this enough and neither could the SheCodes panel… whatever your experience or background, it is so important for women in digital to take opportunities to connect with others in your industry. If a door opens, assume inclusion, (don’t talk yourself out of it) and walk right through. You never know what might happen! Especially in the tech space, there are more and more networking and professional development events popping up for you to enjoy. We recommend challenging yourself to attend at least one event a month and bringing a friend to back you up if you’re nervous.

Personify your negative persona and tell it to go away

No one likes a ‘negative Nancy’. If you take anything away from this blog, let it be this! A lot of people have a nagging voice in their head that feeds on and metastases any feelings of inadequacy and failure. Does this sound like you? Go ahead and visualise this voice as a personification of your negativity. Name it, picture it, and every time you catch [insert name of inner critique here] being a voice of irrational negativity, just tell it to bug off! Don’t be your own worst enemy!

Go to your crew to gas you up

We are all social creatures. Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, we naturally crave communication in some capacity (some more than others, of course). This is why finding your work crew may very well be the secret to both personal and collective success. If you need a boost after a rough day or just need some general motivation, connect with your crew and have them refuel your drive – sometimes you just need to let someone else be your cheerleader (we all know you are always being a cheerleader for someone!)

Verbalising the issue

If you’re a ‘fake it til you make it’ type of person and this works for you, then go for it. But truthfully, a lot of people struggle with nerves and it’s 100% okay to 1. Feel that way and 2. Verbalise that you feel that way. Remember, your coworkers, employers, and employees are human too. Most likely, they will appreciate your honesty and be able to sympathise. Plus, sometimes it can be a great ice breaker to verbalise your nerves.

Stop looking up at the things to do, look back at all the things you have done

My guess is that a lot of people reading this are looking forward to opportunities to level-up in their career. That’s great! You’re probably ambitious and hungry to succeed and we can’t fault that. But every now and again, it’s important to also look back at things you have done, take time to reflect and appreciate your accomplishments along the way. You earned it!

You should only be comparing yourself to you

Too many people fall into the trap of comparing themselves to others. It’s an easy thing to do and we have all done it at least once (or more 😂) in our lives but as soon as you stop that, the better off you will be and likely happier in general. There’s always someone who you think knows better when reality is, someone is thinking that about you in the same way! So next time, keep that in mind. Your career journey is YOUR journey. Keep doing you and go after what YOU want!

Final Top Tips:

  • Keep learning – It’s okay not to know everything. Google is your friend and so are industry workshops!
  • Find your tribe – Who are those special people in your life that will support you and your career no matter what?
  • Go and pitch yourself to someone else – Take a chance and put yourself out there! If nothing else, it will become a fantastic opportunity for feedback and confidence building.
  • Stay mainstream and don’t specialise too early – ‘Early specialisers’ may find themselves disadvantaged because they have boxed themselves into a corner in the ever-changing modern tech world. Broad experience is key for long-term success so learn as much as you can before deep diving into one specialisation.

A huge thank you to BHP, Amazon Web Services and BDO for sponsoring these amazing community events/ initiatives. Make sure you follow She Codes on LinkedIn to stay up to date on any upcoming events and workshops!

If you yourself are looking to hire some tech superstars, seeking your next opportunity, or wanting to partner with us to support diversity in digital, get in touch! We would love to connect with you. Follow us Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin!


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!

Want to get involved with the Women in Digital Awards? Be 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 see the full list of 2020 Women in Digital Award winners here.


November 23, 2020 Women in Digital

At the 2020 Women in Digital (Virtual) Awards, we were thrilled to host the Director of International Emerging Tech Innovation at Walmart (yes, Walmart!) as our international keynote speaker. Her name is Fareena Contractor.

A former molecular geneticist, Fareena has experienced her fair share of surprising career pivots to get where she is today. After helping develop the H1N1 vaccine in India and researching brain cancer suppressors at the University of Alberta, she left the lab in 2011 to explore Design Thinking and Strategy. This is where she found her calling in business innovation. Over the past 3 years at Walmart, Fareena has built a grassroots innovation organisation which has disrupted the status quo and effected significant changes across functions, levels and countries. We were so inspired by her personal journey and story of resilience, we HAD to have her speak at the 2020 Women in Digital Awards.

2020 has been a tough year (to put it mildly). Whether you’ve been separated from family, lost your job or struggled throughout isolation, everyone has a unique story to tell. In the face of this global crisis, we believe the role of resilience has never been more relevant (or important) to our Women in Digital community. Fortunately, Fareena was eager to lend her insights on building resilience and now we are thrilled to share them with you!

You can watch her full speech from the Women in Digital Awards here:


Here’s a summary of Fareena’s top 8 tangible tips (backed by science of course) on building resilience:

1. Eat well, exercise, rest

It makes sense that boosting your overall health will give you the strength to take on stressful situations as they come along. This starts with eating right and exercising, releasing those ‘feel-good’ chemicals we call endorphins. For the average adult, 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week is recommended (Australian Government Department of Health, 2019). But believe it or not, sleep is just as important. Without sleep, your ability to learn, make decisions and cope with stress drastically decreases. For most adults, medical professionals recommend seven to eight hours of sleep per night (Harvard Health, 2017).

2. Connect with yourself & connect with others

Strong ties to family, friends, co-workers or any person or group of individuals are key to building resilience. They are your stress buffers, particularly your close family and friends. Together, these parties form your social network that you can lean on from time to time to help you bounce back from setbacks or offer support in return. But it’s important to also have regular check-ins with yourself as well to help assess your emotional, psychological or physical needs and deal with any issues you identify.

3. Meditate and reflect on the uncomfortable

Of course, nobody enjoys being comfortable. But it is something you should try and embrace. Next time you experience a situation that makes you feel any discomfort or stress, rather than avoiding it, sit in your discomfort, and clear your mind. Meditation can help counter the stress you’re experiencing by eliciting a relaxation response and help build resilience (Headspace, 2020).

4. Be creative

When we are creative, we automatically become resourceful and look to solve problems in new and interesting ways. It is so often overlooked as a great source to cultivate resilience. Think about what is your creative outlet? We all have elements of creativity – it doesn’t have to be a Michelangelo piece). Whatever it is, find time to be creative and create something!

5. Be generous and give back

You know the saying – the more you give, the more you get. Generosity fuels the soul, giving you a sense of purpose and wellbeing as well as that warm and fuzzy feeling. Who doesn’t love that?! Being generous doesn’t require anything drastic either. Simply buying a coworker a coffee, volunteering at a local event or putting a few dollars towards your favourite cause is enough to get those feel-good vibes flowing!

6. List things you are grateful for

We may not celebrate Thanksgiving in Australia but anyone can see the benefits of taking the time to be thankful for what we have in our lives. It not only increases positivity and self-esteem as you reflect on your achievements but also helps reduce stress and make you happier overall (Happify Daily, 2020). Fareena recommends that every day to sit down and write out three things you are grateful for. This can be anything – if your family is safe and healthy then that’s enough to be grateful for as not everyone has that.

7. Experience new things

Take opportunities to experience new things! Leaving your comfort zone to try new things can be undoubtedly daunting but what better way to build confidence and resilience? Now, we’re not pushing you to jump out of a plane or anything but you could travel somewhere new, give pilates a go or experience anything that energises you and will help you create new memories.

8. Smile 🙂

This is the most simple step to building resilience that you can apply immediately! According to recent research published in Experimental Psychology, when you smile, the emotional centre of your brain (called the amygdala) is stimulated and releases neurotransmitters that moves you into a more positive space (Marmolejo-Ramos et al., 2020). Also, you’ve probably heard this before but smiling really is contagious (Wood et al., 2016). So we recommend you start now! 🙂

Thank you to Fareena – we are so excited to see what this powerhouse is going to do next! If you are interested in learning more about Fareena, connect with her on LinkedIn.

Want more? To read our Q&A interviews with our line-up of Women in Digital Award Winners, head over to our blog and keep an eye out on our Facebook and Instagram. You can see the full list of 2020 Women in Digital Award winners here.