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Women In Tech Summit - a place of passion and inspiration

20 Nov 2018

Stacy Keogh

Inspiring, passionate, creative some of the words Stacy Keogh, Senior Consultant on Brightwater’s IT team uses to describe the Women In Tech Summit.

“Be Inspired….Meet like minded people…and super charge your career”, A quote that popped up the minute I took a look at the website of the “Women In Tech#” Summit days before the event on the 15th November and something that stuck in my mind throughout the entire day. It couldn’t be truer. I have attended many events in IT over the years and this was one of the most inspiring, vibrant, energetic and fun events I have been to and that is not just because I am a woman, a girl, a lady. It’s because I was surrounded by so much talent, success and passion.

There were so many excellent speakers, who took us all through their own journeys, their own successes but also their failures and what was very apparent was that their failures really played a large part in their success in getting them to where they are today.

It is hard to pick what areas to focus on as each talk brought something different but the trend from each talk that stood out to me was “Inspiration”, “Passion” and excellent advice that will help me on to my own path to success.

Caroline O`Reilly, The Senior Director of Engineering at Workday kicked off the day with an awe-inspiring, energetic and humorous talk. The crowd immediately warmed to her and I was right there with them. A stylish talented lady who you could clearly see from her outfit was fun, creative and vibrant was also clever, approachable, passionate and extremely talented in technology and from her conversation, not shying away from discussing personal experiences with the crowd. I could clearly see how she has successfully got to where she is today. Caroline spoke about how she developed her career from Engineer to Senior Director of Engineering in one of the largest and most well-known technology companies in Ireland.
Caroline O'Reilly WIT 2108
The headline of Caroline`s talk was “Rewiring yourself for Success” and her advice was excellent. She gave a personal touch and was not afraid to speak about her own experiences both good and bad and sometimes even embarrassing which gave us all a good giggle in the crowd.  The main points that really stood out were:

  1. Don’t Peanut Butter your time: Be laser focused, don’t be afraid to say No. Write down what is important and what projects need to be delivered at a certain time and be clever with what you work on- What is most important?
  2. Feedback; Are you a Sponge or Porcelain? Be a sponge, take in all the feedback as advice on how to be a better version of yourself. Criticism is always constructive and will help you grow, it will help you be better- Don’t be porcelain, don’t let it smash you, don`t let it break your confidence or derail you, use the advice, use the feedback for the better.
  3. Covey Quadrant: Caroline uses this herself every day and described why she feels it is an excellent tool in choosing the most important areas to work on day to day. How to Manage, Focus, Avoid and Limit your time. As she put it “A fast No is better than a slow Maybe”.

Sarah Cunningham, the Vice President, Technology Hub at Mastercard, again another talented, approachable, go getter, walked us through her successes and her failures and her own path to success- giving excellent advice along the way. She spoke about how she ensures she has Peer Mentors that she feels have added to her success and help her get to where she is today.  She spoke about “Owning your Career and Owning your Opportunities”. A quote she used throughout the talk was “Know your North Star”. What do you dream of? Know your direction and reach for it. She made every woman in the crowd of talent feel “Yes I can do it”. She made you feel your worth. One of the main areas that stood out during this talk was to not be afraid of new pathways- be open to new pathways. Sometimes you learn a lot even if it was not on your career path, even if it is not a direction you planned to go in.  Your North Star can always shift and don’t be afraid to move your north star. This is where you grow.

SArah Cunningham WIT 2018
She spoke about her ways of coping with feedback and gave some funny examples of silly criticism she had been given in the past that was not very constructive. She also discussed how you need to find ways to disregard the bull, take the emotion out of it and know when advice is constructive or not.

Something else that stood out from Sarah and I think it resonated with all us Irish ladies was “Own your achievements” As Irish children we were always told “Don`t be a show off” “Don’t get too big for your boots”. It was built in us as we grew up.  But as the world grows, as we grow- we need to realise that “If you don’t sell yourself, nobody else will”. Don`t shy away from owning your achievements. Be proud of yourself. Own your narrative- you are your Own Brand and no one else can speak about your success, your achievements better than you. Ensure you craft your Elevator Pitch and allow yourself to stand out.

The lady herself – Anne O`Leary CEO at Vodafone: A chat with the Chairperson discussing Leadership and Success as the crowd watched on, intently listening to her answers. The minute Anne took the stage in a beautiful green dress (and fantastic shoes!)  she engaged with the crowd and had every woman listening to every word. She had humour, passion, talent, strength and such a great style- a real fire cracker who is clearly a great leader and has worked very hard in an industry full of men to get to where she is today. She has also worked diligently over the past ten years to ensure Vodafone has just as many successful women in the workplace as there are men.

She gave us a great insight into what it was like to be the only women at the table in a room full of testosterone and how she used to make such an effort to not feel like she got to where she was because of how she looked. She gave us all a giggle when she spoke about her Paul Smith Floral suits and how her partner would say you look like a little boy and she would say “Good”.
Anne O'Leary WIT 2018

She is an advocate for change, working hard to ensure companies hire more women in the industry and she believes this needs to come from the top down, something she is very passionate about at Vodafone. She also gave great advice on stop trying to be superwomen, stoop trying to do it all-It is not possible to be a great leader, a great friend, great sister, great mom, great at yoga and whatever else is on your list. There are not enough hours in the day- stop putting pressure on yourself for perfection, it doesn’t exist. Choose what is most important, have a top 3 and make it achievable.

Some of the other speakers included:

Julie Spillane – Commercial Director, Global Geographic Services Division and founder of the Dock at Accenture: spoke about "Fuelling your Journey".

Caterina Oliveira, Senior Software Engineer and Tugba Tosun, Senior Data Engineer at Groupon – took us through how and why they use Big Data in Groupon.

Barbara McCarthy- Director of Engineering at Hubspot gave a great talk on "Engineering a Generation Z Culture" which raised the level of interest and excitement in the crowd.  

It was no doubt a very successful and sold out event- I found it to be incredible, inspiring and extremely helpful in giving the rapt audience techniques and advice to create their own success. Already looking forward to next year.

Stacy Keogh is Senior Consultant on Brightwater's IT desk, stay tuned for another blog from Stacy about what she feels were the major take-aways from the summit