How I got inspired at Women of Silicon Roundabout

A shot of the conference as a large crowd sits in rows watching the front projector screenA few weeks ago, I attended Women of Silicon Roundabout in London. It was a lovely couple of days with inspiring and motivating talks by women in the tech industry.

The talk that inspired me to take action was the opening keynote, ‘How do we attract, develop and retain more women in technology?’ by Joanne Hannaford, the CTO at Goldman Sachs.

Joanne spoke of her professional journey and how she was never made to second guess herself. Why? She started learning programming in school and at that time, it was actually an expected career choice for a woman, given the history of how programming originated.

Jumping to the present, she now continues learning by regularly taking part in hackathons and joining programming courses once a week with her husband (they call it ‘date night’).

She strongly feels the need to impress the importance of pursuing science, technology, engineering and maths subjects upon young women and develop a stronger pipeline of technical opportunities for them. She invests time in supporting the programmes People Like Me and Girls in IT and founded Go-Girl which teaches young women from disadvantaged backgrounds how to code. She also helped create a reskilling course at Goldman Sachs designed for women returning to careers in technology (especially after maternity leave) or who may have a desire to change their career direction.

Listening to how Joanne values her and other women’s professional development and her motivation for continuous learning has inspired me to take a leap.

For a couple of years now, I’ve had an interest in learning more about software testing. Thoughts in the past stopping me from progressing this further were:

  • Shouldn’t I be spending my time improving skills for my current job?
  • It's too late to change careers so why bother studying again? (lame I know)
  • Am I willing to give up my free time for study?
  • If I do this, will anything ever come of it?

Remembering Joanne’s advice of ‘get over yourself’, I chose to ignore those thoughts.

First up, I asked for advice from a test lead at Red Badger who suggested a learning path for a newbie. With that, I created a learning roadmap, began a Udemy course, started to learn testing basics in my team and aim to take the ISTQB Certified Tester exam at the end of the year.

Next up, I worked out how to keep myself on track. Being a classic obliger (they have good traits too!), I work best when I’m held accountable for my tasks. So I’ve enlisted my boyfriend for help. I’ve shown him my learning roadmap and asked for support on study nights. I also aim to start a monthly blog chronicling my learning journey.

Lastly, how would I keep motivated during the study process? By reading at least one software testing article or blog post everyday, watching testing videos and TED Talks.

I’m quite excited about this journey and I want to say a big thank you to Joanne for her inspiring words.

I’d love to hear if anybody else who attended Women of Silicon Roundabout was inspired to take action? Contact me @vidler_michelle .

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