October 05, 2022
According to TechNation, in UK tech firms, women make up only 23% of tech director roles and only 19% of the total workforce.
At Valtech U.K., diversity and inclusion is core to how we scale, how we deliver solutions for clients and how we work together as teams across the world. We do this through our 5-pillar Group diversity and inclusion strategy, and as part of that work, there are two areas that we are focusing on in particular in the UK: Hiring and Community.
Given our desire to reach, support and empower women in tech, in June we decided to sponsor AthenaHack. AthenaHack is an event that resonates so closely with our values and gave us the opportunity to meet and share experiences with a group of highly motivated and passionate technologists at different stages of their careers.
Introducing Athena Hack
AthenaHack is a hackathon, dedicated to women and non-binary people in tech, run across the U.K, with the goals of bringing together these communities to build awesome projects, meet and learn from some great women and non-binary people in tech or to launch or advance their career in tech.
Following the event, we were privileged to welcome 4 new members to the Valtech U.K. team, who sat down with us to share what the event meant to them and why they decided to invest in their careers by joining us.
Why did you decide to attend AthenaHack?
Emma: I saw AthenaHack advertised by someone I went to university with. I thought it sounded like a fun challenge and a good opportunity to network with other women and non-binary people interested in programming and data.
Immanuella: At the time I considered participating in AthenaHack, I was ready for a new stage in my career. I was searching for a hackathon online and came across AthenaHack. I am very fond of initiatives targeting women in STEM and this hackathon presented me with the opportunity to network with brilliant women from different cultural and professional backgrounds. I was intrigued with the programme also, the numerous sessions, different topics for discussion, the various speakers, and the diversity of companies and sponsors represented.
Rhea: I had heard about the AthenaHack for the first time through my previous company. They had asked if I wanted to go as a judge for the challenge we had submitted. I was also welcomed wonderfully by everyone there, had a great time doing a small seminar before the competition on pivoting into tech. The main reason I was interested was to because I had never been to a hackathon before, and I wanted to meet a community of women + non-binary people who were in the same industry as me.
Keldra: I came across the AthenaHack through Coding Black Females. It was a chance to push myself a little bit outside of my comfort zone and network. It was also a great opportunity to meet other Black women + non-binary people who already work in tech/were looking for a way to break into tech.
What did you enjoy the most?
Emma: I really enjoyed getting to know my team who I met for the first time at the event itself and loved the challenge of creating something that worked within the 24 hours.
Immanuella:I loved working with other STEM girls – this was my first experience, and it was great! Each of us got to share a bit of our own story, we all had shared interests and leveraged our strengths to complete a project in a limited period. The knowledge gained from attending the extra sessions was invaluable. Some of the speakers encouraged me to reflect on my current practice and consider my career in the IT industry long-term. I also enjoyed the fact that there was a great choice in terms of potential employers, and everyone was willing and ready to answer our questions.
Rhea: We are so few in STEM, it was so empowering to see people trying to pivot into tech or who have been there for a while share their experiences. The networking with companies and everyone who attended the Hackathon was such a wonderful experience. The different people I met, the backgrounds they came from all it was such a learning experience and fun time.
Keldra: Collaborating with the people in my team. I had a really good time getting to know them all, I especially enjoyed brainstorming and executing our idea. Also, we were all on the same page when it came to why we chose to attend the hack, which was nice.
We have to ask – what made you decide to come and continue your career with us at Valtech?
Emma: I decided to join Valtech because I enjoyed the interview process. It felt very focused on making sure I would be a good fit and ensuring I had time to ask questions to ensure the converse was true too! My role involves working with people from across Europe which is really exciting to be a part of.
Immanuella: I had a really great experience speaking with Ed, the Head of U.K. Talent Acquisition. I remember bringing my notebook to our second meeting and bombarding him with my long list of requirements for my next role, some of which were mentorship, clear role objectives, health benefits. I was impressed with the learning opportunities and excited about the career progression offered here at Valtech. I am glad I made the choice to join Valtech – two months in, so far, so good!
Rhea: I had met Valtech at the hackathon while I was an analyst in my previous company... At the time I had lovely conversations with both Ed and Tony, from the Talent Acquisition Team, who explained what it means to be a part of Valtech. My first thought was interesting community of people, second, they have a lot of career options in this new age digital transformation era which was a new concept to me. The interview process was probably one of the more interesting aspects as I had to not just speak about the technical ideas but also who I was as a person. This helped me kind of decide on how they were trying to create diversity through different areas of this firm. There is a lot of scope and career progression, so many opportunities I felt like it was a perfect fit with my personal goals.
Keldra: I had a good talk with Valtech employees at the event, everyone was extremely open and positive about their own experiences at Valtech.
After doing some research on the company, I could see that Valtech had some really great initiatives like ‘Tech Girl’ and were keen to change the current landscape by encouraging young girls to consider tech as a viable career path.
During the interview process, I could tell that there was a lot of room for professional growth within Valtech and they had the infrastructure to aid me in achieving my long-term career aspirations.
We will be back at AthenaHack this October (it’s sold out in person, but you can still sign up to join us virtually) where you can meet Emma, Rhea, Immanuella or Kendra and ask them any questions you’d like about their journey to the Valtech team, and of course even more of the Valtech team will be there too – see you there.