Celebrating Women in Tech!

Celebrating Women in Tech!

In the fast-paced world of technology, women are breaking barriers, and leaving their mark. Let's dive into the personal journeys and insights of these incredible women here at Silverfin:

Meet Delphine, a Junior Solution Developer. For her, International Women's Day is about sparking meaningful conversations and recognizing the resilience of women worldwide.
Zaira, a Software Engineer, draws inspiration from the story of Hedy Lamarr, emphasizing the importance of confidence and perseverance.
Irina, Head of Business Solutions, is passionate about creating inclusive spaces where everyone's voice is heard and valued.
LMH, our CEO, shares insightful advice on self-belief, authenticity, and embracing opportunities in the ever-evolving world of technology.

Delphine - Junior Solution Developer and Zaira Zafar - Software Engineer.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

Delphine: To me, International Women’s Day opens up a window to have important conversations with friends and colleagues about the roles and challenges women face worldwide. It’s a day to amplify women’s voices and recognize their resilience.

Zaira: International Women's Day means to acknowledge our sexist history and appreciate the women who broke the stigmas and norms of their time and brought women to where we are today. Also, to appreciate everyone and anyone who supported these women to reach their goals and believed in their potential. After all, every Batman needs an Alfred.

This year’s theme is "Inspire inclusion". What does inclusion mean to you?
Delphine: Inclusion to me means actively embracing diversity and providing equal opportunities for all.

Zaira: To make part of. To include anyone who needs to be included in relevant discussions, whether they're about climate, economies, or health. The hand has to be extended from within the group, not expected of an outsider to 'join in, they can if they want to'. It's the mindset to ensure everyone at the table feels like accepted by others.

Who is a woman you admire in Technology Industry?
Delphine: I'm fortunate to be surrounded by some inspiring women in my work environment who serve as excellent role models. I admire their confidence and competence in their professional roles, all while balancing the responsibilities of motherhood and/or family life. Some notable mentions to Sofie Cleemput, a Solution-Analyst Developer navigating the challenges of parenthood with a newborn while excelling in her career at Silverfin. To Irina Moskadina, Head of BSO at Silverfin who infuses her work with immense enthusiasm and drive. And to Lisa Miles-Heal (a.k.a. LMH), CEO of Silverfin, whose remarkable career journey as a woman in STEM inspires many.

Zaira: Hedy Lamarr, not many people know that the actress was also a pioneer of frequency hopping which later became the foundation for Wifi, Bluetooth, and GPS. Funnily enough, she used a technique used in music and applied it to frequencies, showing that diverse backgrounds only bring more to the table, not less.

What barriers have you faced, as a woman, in becoming successful in your field? How did you overcome them?
Delphine: As I embark on my career journey, I haven't encountered significant obstacles thus far. I have however noticed a gender disparity, with more men than women, while pursuing my major in Management and Informatics as well as in my current work environment. I noticed that subtle biases and stereotypes often undermined my contributions and potential, making it challenging to sometimes assert myself and gain recognition. By surrounding myself with supportive peers, I’m gaining more and more confidence in my abilities and learning to advocate for myself effectively.

Zaira: Early in my career, being the only woman in my team, I had to face a lot of sexism from my direct lead. I was never assigned work even when there was obviously a lot to do. Another team lead recognized my potential and assigned me to a project. I will always appreciate him for believing in me. He is among those who I thank for my success today.

Based on your own experience, what advice would you give to women trying to pursue a career in your field?
Delphine: It is not about comparing ourselves to the men in our lives, it’s about encouraging the women around us to do an excellent job in whatever field they choose to excel in. Gender does not determine competence or potential!

Zaira: Don't shy away from challenges. Be confident. The tech industry is built on the contributions of nerds who had the confidence to build and never shied away from challenges.

What initiatives or programs do you believe are essential for fostering a more inclusive and diverse work environment?
Delphine: I believe creating safe spaces for open dialogue and feedback can help address systemic issues and promote a culture of inclusivity and belonging for all employees.

Zaira: I think it's a difficult question to answer because what works for one company might not work for another. Every company needs to identify their own reasons for the lack of diversity in their teams and work from there.

We also reached out to Irina (Head of Business Solutions) and LMH (CEO) to get their take on Women's Day, and they kindly shared their insights with us.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
Irina: International Women's Day represents a time to celebrate the achievements of women around the world, to celebrate the progress we've made towards gender equality and reflect on the work that still needs to be done.

LMH: International Women's Day is an opportunity to celebrate all the women in our lives, in our communities, in our workplace, and for me to do two things, to reflect on the progress we've made in bringing things to a place of better equity for women alongside those who don't identify as women and also to think about the things we can be doing to take us even further and all be getting on board with that in this one important moment called International Women's Day.

This year’s theme is "Inspire inclusion". What does inclusion mean to you?
Irina: Inclusion means creating environments where everyone feels valued, respected, and empowered to contribute their unique perspectives and talents. It's about breaking down barriers and ensuring that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed, regardless of their background or identity.

LMH: It's a bit of a cliché, but inclusion for me is making sure that once we've invited a woman to the party, so to speak, or to the table, that we make sure that they can dance at that table. And not that we have to ask them to dance, even though that's an important step we can take around inclusion, but it's so that the woman feel as though they can contribute and that their contribution will be valued, that it will be heard, and that it's important. Important because it's slightly different, it's a diverse contribution.

What inspired you to pursue a leadership role?
Irina: A desire to make a meaningful impact. I believe that leadership is not just about achieving personal success, but about using your position to advocate for others and drive positive change.

LMH: Less about a leadership role per se, I think, and more about the inspiration for me to do what I do every day in work is this feeling of contribution and this opportunity to stand up and be seen and be heard as a woman who is successful in business. I didn't necessarily want to be a leader, but at a very young age, my parents gave me the belief that I could be whatever I wanted to be and be successful on my terms. And I think that's a really important part of if you want to be a leader or if you don't want to be a leader, it's just super important that you feel that you believe that you can be whatever you want to be without constraint and limitation.

Why do we need more women in leadership?
Irina: We need more women in leadership because diverse perspectives lead to better decision-making and drive innovation. Women bring a different set of experiences and insights to the table, which can help organizations achieve new heights.

LMH: I think it's really important for there to be more role models for women to look up to. I believe that it's super important that as we run our businesses, we know because the data tells us now that a business that has got a diversity of thinking and of actions, that represents their customers, that represents the world at large, where we know the world is a diverse place, that those businesses are not able to serve those communities as well. If you look around the leadership table
there's an absence of diversity and women are one of those groups that we would like to see some diverse inputs from. So I think it's super important to help us run a better business, to have more women at the leadership table helping with that diverse thought and those diverse decision-making inputs.

How have you built confidence and resilience over the course of your career?
Irina: Building confidence and resilience has been a journey for me. I've learned that confidence comes from taking risks, challenging myself, and believing in my abilities. Resilience comes from embracing failure as a learning opportunity and never giving up on my goals, even when confronted with challenges.

LMH: I have to say it's an ongoing thing. Resilience and confidence aren't something that you get right and then it's always on. Personally for me, a little bit of personal disclosure, I think I struggle most weeks with confidence and resilience and I have to continue to invest in it. Some of you will have heard of the imposter syndrome. It's not just something that women feel. I think often others, many people can feel it. But I do think it's something that I find and I hear from a lot of my female colleagues. They often express how this struggle hits them particularly hard. Despite their hard work to advance in their career, they feel the constant pressure to prove themselves and maintain a level of certainty that may not be expected of their non-female counterparts. So I think it's something you have to keep working on.
Get support from your networks if you need it. Talk to other women and just be aware that if you're not feeling so resilient and confident that's okay as well and you're not the only one.

Based on your own experience, what advice would you give to women trying to pursue a career in your field?
Irina: My advice is to lean in, speak up, and never underestimate your worth. Surround yourself with supportive mentors and allies who can help you navigate the challenges of the workplace, and don't be afraid to advocate for yourself and others.

LMH: I think for women it first starts with self-belief, and it’s not just an issue for women-it applies to everyone. My advice would be that you really need to believe in yourself and also to find that thing that you're uber passionate about because when you get that combination of two things, I think you're almost unstoppable.
And to a degree, you need to make sure as well that you know the kind of environment that's going to help you thrive. You need to seek out environments that ensure your aspirations as a female, your aspirations as a woman, or even the aspirations of the environment as a whole towards inclusivity and diversity. Look for a culture that you believe will bring out the best in all people, including yourself.
I think that anything is possible if we put our minds to it. That's what a growth mindset is all about.

Technology offers an incredible opportunity for women because it's a "new school" career. If you’re a great learner then you can grow and contribute hugely. Tomorrow's technology is constantly being re-invented, so if you’re excited by that potential then this is super liberating as there’s no “history” that says you can’t smash it!
It's also what I call a meritocracy - you can succeed on your merits and it doesn’t rely on who you know or what your background is. For me, that's hugely powerful for women from non “traditional” backgrounds, and also as we tend to push ourselves quite hard - that effort will generally pay off.
Additionally, technology offers flexibility. As a working mum with two kids, I've experienced firsthand how my career can adapt to my priorities.
Furthermore, technology opens up global pathways, transcending geographical boundaries and providing broad opportunities. Whether you have a technical or non-technical role, if you can add value by understanding business and user needs and delivering solutions, you can thrive in different markets and industries.

How do you support other women in the business?
Irina: For now, I am primarily supporting other women in the business through mentorship. I offer guidance and support to women navigating their careers, sharing insights and experiences to help them succeed.

LMH: Well, I believe there are aspects I can influence within my role and at an organizational level. You might have noticed from my recent Slack post that I've been wondering whether we're doing enough and if there's room for more initiatives. But overall, my approach is to remain authentic and serve as a role model. Reflecting on my journey, I realized that growing up and navigating my career, I didn't see many female role models who looked like me. So I kind of went, well, maybe that leadership isn't for me.
When I reflect on that, I think the contribution that I make now is to just try and be as authentic as possible because then potentially there will be women in the business who might look over and go, ah, actually I thought a woman in leadership needed to look like this, act like this, be like this, but hey, LMH is kind of a little bit different or a little bit less of what I see in the stereotypes. And so that means that it makes it accessible for people. So I think that's the contribution I make, but I'm conscious I think I could be doing more. And I'd encourage anyone reading this, if there's anything they think I could be doing, please come and have a chat with me and let me hear what it is you think that is a good idea.

Is there someone you look up to / admire as a Leader or Mentor?
Irina: It’s difficult to choose one, as you take along something from all the leaders you have worked with. But if I had to pick, it would be my mother. When I was born, she decided to balance being a mom and having a career, which wasn't common then. She showed me how to handle both with grace and determination, and that's always stuck with me.

LMH: I am inspired by many women, and tbh different women at different stages and phases of my life and career. Most recently I’ve been super inspired by four women. The first is Dawn Marriot a Partner from Hg Capital - she is a powerful and very down to earth woman in the PE world - and so smart! Next is Elona Mortimer-Zhika the CEO of Iris Software - she makes me look low energy (and tall) and drives so much value into her business through determination, then there’s Emma Loisel, a London based kiwi entrepreneur who opened my eyes up to dealing with menopause and lastly - and it might sound staged, but I’ve known Merete our Visma CEO since before the acquisition and she would is a truly impressive leader and parent and nothing ever seems to phase her - I wish I was as composed as her running a business that size!

Last Question: What initiatives or programs do you believe are essential for fostering a more inclusive and diverse work environment?
Irina: Mentorship programs, recurring discussions to create awareness, as well as policies that promote work-life balance and flexibility to ensure everyone has equal opportunities.

LMH: I believe it starts with initiatives like this one, where we increase visibility and we foster conversations about what inclusivity means. It’s not just about women; it’s about everyone around them, as they play a crucial role in promoting inclusivity and equity. We all know that we're all better off when inclusiveness and diversity are something that we promote and we hold valuable. And if we can create a really strong foundation for women in our business, it sends a clear message to other groups within our communities and our stakeholder groups. This message signals our commitment to diversity and inclusion and that everybody can play a part in that as well. I believe that this isn't just something that should be championed by women. I believe that others who don't identify as women can contribute significantly to making sure that as we look around us, there is much more equity amongst our colleagues and our communities. And I think there are specific programs that we can get underway, but I think awareness and understanding of what we can all do and what we can contribute, and why it's important, I think that's probably the biggest step.