“Follow your passion, combine that with something you care about and you will be unstoppable” – Professor Bose of MIT’s words of wisdom relayed by the Chief Technology Officer of the US Government. Loved that quote which I heard when she was speaking at the ‘Silicon Valley Comes To the UK’ Event today at Imperial College in London.
Ah – now anything strike you as strange? Yes, the CTO to the US Government is a woman. How many of you read that statement and assumed the CTO was a man? I know I would.
Megan Smith described her role as “advising the president and his team on harnessing data, technology and innovation for the nation.” Wow I thought – that’s some job.
Silicon Valley to the UK aims to inspire the younger generation to consider becoming entrepreneurs and seek to support high growth companies. They took 17 Female CEOs of the fastest growing UK Technology companies to Silicon Valley this year to provide them with an opportunity to learn from the hub of innovation. The event today showcased some of the highest calibre people from the valley with one common feature – they were all female.
They were an impressive cast! I’ve paraphrased my favourite sound bytes.
Margaret Gould-Stewart (Facebook) was full of wisdom. Her biggest piece of advice was to NEVER accept the first offer. Women need to be reminded they should always negotiate even if the negotiation is not successful, as it sets the tone.
There was a lively discussion about being oblivious to the impact of being a women and a mother in the workplace and how that may be a good strategy. In addition a warning for aspiring entrepreneurs, if you have a family whilst building your product you will not have maternity leave so establish a good support network. Margaret made the point that until there are equalised paternity and maternity leave policies, it will not be regarded as a human issue but as a female issue.
Megan Smith suggested juggling rather than balancing your life. You need to know what you would feel resentful about if you missed it – and then ensure you always work around those events.
Angela Lin (You Tube) talked about importance of being ‘moxy’ (having guts) which she described as not just saying yes to opportunities but saying yes and then spelling out your value towards the opportunity.
Crystal Hutter of Edmodo and Liz Dickenson of Mio were very clear. If you are an aspiring entrepreneur you need to be able to persist through difficult times and bounce back from spectacular failure.
How many women are there in Silicon Valley? Between 20-23% of the workforce. I think we were lucky to meet these inspiring women this afternoon.
So today’s event left me in no doubt. We’re on the right track with The Female Leaders Programme that we run in partnership with Capp & Co. It tackles the common challenges women face when progressing their career.
The irony was not lost on me that I couldn’t stay for the coffee networking afterwards as I was off to do nursery pick up…….