Women in Technology: the rise of the tech entrepreneur
Entrepreneurs are a unique breed.
Not driven to follow any traditional career path, they’re inherently different to those of us who thrive in a corporate, structured environment. Some of them do end up in that structured environment – but most often at the top of it, having built the foundations beneath them. And then, the entrepreneur’s greatest challenge is letting go…
It’s evident that many female entrepreneurs working in the technology sector ended up here by accident rather than by design. Technology is at the heart of everything so it’s no surprise that entrepreneurs are drawn to the opportunities to innovate.
And that in itself tells us something: women who are entrepreneurial in spirit have a desire to create something new, to change and challenge the norm, and often end up in the high tech sector because they can see an opportunity to innovate or to make a change.
Emma Sinclair MBE is one of those women.
At 29, she became the youngest person in the UK to take a business public, floating Mission Capital on the London Stock Exchange.
Speaking at the latest in our series of Women In Technology events, Emma said that she never considered that she wouldn’t end up doing things her own way.
But, she was keen to assert, you don’t need to own your own business to be an entrepreneur.
In fact, you should always strive to be entrepreneurial in whatever role you’re in: care for the business as if it were your own, and be prepared to respond to challenges quickly and with the agility that the pace of the business world requires.
There’s a natural symbiosis, Emma said, between the agile, risk-taking entrepreneur and the secure confines of a larger enterprise. There’s a huge opportunity for large and small businesses to harness this symbiosis to collaborate and co-create for mutual benefit.
Finding your tribe
Look in the right places, and you’ll find entrepreneurs everywhere.
Seeking people out in this way, Emma told our attentive audience, has been absolutely central to her successes to date.
“The importance of finding your tribe is so important,” she said, “no matter who you are or what you do, you need people who can empathise with you because it’s those people who really carry you forward.” Great advice for all women – seize the opportunity, shape it and build a network around you to help you to be successful.
Shaping your environment
Entrepreneurs make unusual choices, they don’t always have a plan and they are agile and intuitive in the way they work.
The bottom line is that although we can’t necessarily harness entrepreneurs, we can certainly learn from them – their energy, passion and drive are exactly the characteristics we seek in the young women we want to attract to IT roles in more traditional organisations.
The challenge is to ensure we have the environment and the flexibility to allow them to thrive.
In my view entrepreneurship and ‘traditional’ IT roles are not mutually exclusive. We all have the opportunity as leaders to create a more entrepreneurial culture and workplace that will attract women who want the security of a more traditional path, but perhaps have an entrepreneurial flair too.
That way, we can have the best of both worlds – if only we can create the environment that will allow women to exercise their creativity and flourish.
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