Women of Silicon Roundabout’s Biggest Fan

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Interview with Joanne Nolan, Senior Developer, Sky.

Tell us a bit about your professional background.

I have a bachelor degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Speech & Language Processing (Computing).  I have worked as a consultant for Thames Water, Vodafone, UKBA, NHS. I am currently a Senior Developer in Sky

You’ve been attending Women of Silicon Roundabout since 2016; as a woman in tech, what changes have you witnessed in the industry between then and now?

The conference started so small but was always well attended and interesting. I found learning about other people’s perspectives fascinating and enlightening. The industry has changed so much, with so many new ways that technology can be utilised as it has changed. The speed of the change, and the passion of the people driving it has been inspiring.

What is it about Women of Silicon Roundabout that you enjoy the most?

I really enjoy the talks on soft skills helping to build confidence and giving techniques to help manage unfamiliar or uncomfortable situations, which I know has helped a lot of people including myself. Also, the opportunity to meet and get to know other people in the industry in a relaxed setting has been a great way to improve my network.

You’ve been incredibly committed to the event, on an annual basis, since it was launched, could you tell us why?

I have found the conference has really helped me improve my career and believe in and promote myself in work. I interact more with communities within my company which gives me the opportunity to pass my experiences onto the next generation

Over the years, which talk(s) have you enjoyed the most and why?

I really enjoyed the keynote talk in 2016 by Faz Aftab from ITV, where you had to send yourself a letter about what you want to achieve in the next six months. It was a great boost to get and see if I had followed what I set out to do.

I also enjoyed the talk given by Jodi Goldman. It was a great talk on presenting yourself as a confident person, whether you felt that way or not.

How important do you think networking with peers is for women working in the tech sector?

I think networking is extremely important as, even though the industry is large, it is important to have contacts. Networking also provides a way to learn about other parts of the industry, or get some inspiration to change jobs/ careers which one lady I spoke to at the last conference was planning and I was heavily encouraging her to take that step. It also provides a sounding board of your peers to help inspire you and give/take advice.

Would you describe WoSR as a good opportunity to meet other women in the tech industry and have you met interesting people at the show?

Yes it is a great opportunity, the networking events are great to just chat and discuss the talks you were at throughout the day and compare what you attended versus other people. It also lets you chat with people in your company you may never have talked to

What are your top three professional priorities in 2023?

I plan on mentoring and encouraging the new starters in my department. I am also planning on creating new applications to make my life easier at work which is also a good way to improve/learn new skills.

The tech industry has been fairly tumultuous lately, what’s your view on the direction of travel for the next 12 months?

There seems to be a lot of smaller Fintech companies starting up and a lot of changes in large companies such as Facebook/Google. I think a lot of people will be looking at stable large/medium companies as that is a safer choice for a lot of people. Also, a lot of companies seem to be becoming more flexible in their ways of working which I think is having a big impact and is becoming more important for a lot of people especially of the disruption of COVID and for those with families.

How would you describe the current opportunities for women in the tech industry?

I think the current opportunities are great, especially with the more flexible working conditions that a lot of companies are offering. There are also a lot of Tech initiatives to help women who may have been dissuaded from doing technology jobs, to move into the area or come back after being away for various reasons.

I personally have noticed more women coming into my company, via the grad schemes and Get into Tech, who are so enthusiastic, confident and smart – it’s great to see.

What is the one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?

  • Believe in yourself, you know what you are doing
  • Keep learning; technology moves fast and it’s important to keep up
  • Ask questions, no one knows everything, asking questions is important.

What is the one piece of advice your older self would give to you today?

Mentoring is important, helping to train and support new joiners is essential. Be an inspiration for those who follow

Have some of the talks at WoSR been a source of inspiration to you? If yes, please tell us why and how.

I used the Imposter syndrome talks to really change my perspective on how I viewed myself and how others viewed me, and made a lot of small changes to reduce that including: promoting myself, helping others and `fake it til you make it` to make being a more confident person an ingrained habit.

What would you say to people who are considering attending WoSR for the first time this year?

Try to attend a mix of talks and workshops. Fill your day. Speak to people and attend the networking event. There is so much to learn, grab the opportunity to speak and listen to others

Sum up Women of Silicon Roundabout for us in one sentence…

It can open a door you didn’t even know exists and change your perspective.

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