Women In Tech: Sofie Lindblom

Throughout our crowdfunding campaign we'll be interviewing leaders and upcoming women in the tech industry, asking how they got involved in tech and the importance of role models.

In this interview we speak to Sofie Lindblom, CEO and co-founder of a company called ideation360.

 

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you're working on? 

My name is Sofie Lindblom, I’m 27 years old but some people mistake me for being 17. I was born in Stockholm, Sweden and am currently based here again after moving between different cities for a couple of years. I love adventures. Therefore I’ve spent most of the money I’ve earned on traveling the world. Because for every country you go to you learn a little bit more about the world and about yourself. You broaden your perspectives and develop empathy for cultures and lives different from your own. This addiction to adventures and seeing the world has helped me a lot in my professional life working with innovation and technological development. Since last year I’m the CEO and co-founder of a company called ideation360. Our mission is to empower organizations to innovate through modern platforms and methods. It is the journey of a lifetime to build a company from the ground up. I hope more women dare to make the jump because the learnings are invaluable even if it is hard work too.

Sophie Lindblom speaking at TEDx (photo credit: August Dellert)

Sophie Lindblom speaking at TEDx (photo credit: August Dellert)

How did you first get involved in tech?

As a kid I was curious and loved to play. Most kids love to play but I LOVED to play. When growing up that curiosity and creativity translated to several different hobbies, adventures, jobs and educations. I ended up studying engineering by coincidence. I didn’t think it was something for me but after switching programs from focusing on hardware to software I fell in love with it. I also had no idea you could work with Innovation Management until my third year at university when I found a course about it outside my curriculum. I was studying for a master in Computer Science and Media Technology but decided to take the Innovation Management course on the side. Since then I’ve been obsessed with creativity and how it transforms into innovation. Technology is a very important driver and enabler for innovation so I’m happy I also finished my Master in Computer Science and Media Technology.

Sofie Lindblom moderating a panel at Intraprenuership Conference (photo credit: Intraprenuership Conference)

Sofie Lindblom moderating a panel at Intraprenuership Conference (photo credit: Intraprenuership Conference)

Why are role models so important?

I believe it is important to create a wide variety of role models within different industries and fields. Taking engineers as an example you don’t have to love jolt cola and be like the guys in the TV show “Silicon Valley” to become great at math or programming. You can love high heels and parties and still rock those algorithms. I even did a TED talk on this topic called “IT girls are the new it girls”. We need role models that are world famous to lead the way but we also need role models closer by that we can identify with. Growing up you might have a hard time to identify with a CEO of Fortune 500 company but the 30 year old female engineer across the street who has cool job, a nice apartment, goes on holiday to amazing destinations and can take care of herself – her you might have an easier time to identify with and be inspired by. I really believe a more diverse set of role models is the one answer to the lack of diversity we see in so many companies, board rooms, CEO and founder positions.

Can you give us an example of how a role model has influenced you and your career?

I get inspired by people who have the guts to go their own way and speak up. People who dare to break structures, question inequalities and challenge how it has always been. No matter if it is a CEO of a big company or someone in the line at the gas station. The woman who has had the biggest influence on me so far in my career is my first manager at Spotify. She took a chance in hiring me and then supported me through five different roles in three years at Spotify. I learned a lot from her and have a lot to thank her for. I called her Batman, she called me Robin.

You can find Sofie on Twitter as @SosLindblom

Women in Tech: Dr Sue Black OBE

Throughout our crowdfunding campaign we'll be interviewing leaders and upcoming women in the UK tech industry, asking how they got involved in tech and the importance of role models.

In this interview we speak to Dr Sue Black OBE, computer scientist, academic and social entrepreneur.

 

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you're working on

I'm an Honorary Professor in Computer Science at UCL, CEO of a social enterprise I set up called #techmums which teaches digital skills to mums and an author currently writing a book on coding for Penguin. I also do a lot of public speaking at conferences and events around the world.

Dr Sue Black OBE and #techmum team (http://techmums.co/)

Dr Sue Black OBE and #techmum team (http://techmums.co/)

How did you first get involved in tech?

I always loved maths as a kid and when aged 26 I decided to go to college to study I chose maths. When I passed that course I needed to decide what to study at university. I chose computer science because I believed then and still believe that technology is the future ❤️

Dr Sue Black OBE speaking at a Bloomberg event (https://blackse.wordpress.com/)

Dr Sue Black OBE speaking at a Bloomberg event (https://blackse.wordpress.com/)

Why are role models so important? Can you give us an example of how a role model has influenced you and your career?

Role models are really important. You can't be what you can't see. We need to be able to see people like us achieving to give us the vision we need to keep going towards our goals.

Incredible role models like Dame Professor Wendy Hall, Dame Stephanie Shirley and the women who worked at Bletchley Park have been great role models for me in my career. Before that I was inspired by amazing women like Oprah Winfrey, Alice Walker and Maya Angelou, they helped me to realise that just because I was in a difficult situation in my life I could change things for the better. They really did help me turn my life around. 

You can find Sue on Twitter as @Dr_Black

Her best-selling book 'Saving Bletchley Park: How #socialmedia saved the home of the WWII codebreakers' is available to buy now.

Women in Tech: Karoli Hindriks

Throughout our crowdfunding campaign we'll be interviewing leaders and upcoming women in the tech industry, asking how they got involved in tech and the importance of role models.

In this interview we speak to Karoli Hindriks, Founder and CEO of Jobbatical.

 

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you're working on

I am the founder of Jobbatical, a marketplace that connects globally minded companies with a community of ready-to-relocate business, technology and creative professionals. I founded my first company at the age of sixteen, officially becoming the youngest inventor in Estonia. I also successfully led the launch of seven television channels in Northern Europe (including National Geographic Channels, MTV, and Fox Entertainment). 

Right now my focus is on building Jobbatical, an Estonia-based platform that matches a vast community of diverse professionals in the tech, creative, and business fields with global companies for extended periods of time working abroad—anywhere from some months to many years. 

For example, if you've always dreamed of living in Europe or Asia, you can join a local team in your dream city and get a truly local experience while working there. We’re on a mission to build a borderless world through jobs. We believe that the more people live and work among other cultures the more creative and understanding our world will become.

How did you first get involved in tech?

It’s difficult not to be involved in tech these days—it’s all around us! I guess I just found a new way of using tech to build more exciting career journeys and through that, move towards a better humanity. 

Why are role models so important? Can you give us an example of how a role model has influenced you and your career?

On the journey as an entrepreneur—or as a person in general—one of our great challenges is overcoming our inner doubts. Role models give us examples of how a simple human being like ourselves can change the world. If they can do it, I can do it. I love following people's stories. I remember being Italy, working remotely for a month at MTV, when I read Richard Branson's “Losing My Virginity”. Branson tells the story of how he started an airline because his flight was cancelled. At the airport, he decided to check how much it cost to rent a plane, did the math, and then went through the airport holding a sign, selling tickets for this flight. This book gave me the good kick-in-the-butt feeling that everything starts with the belief that you can make a difference. I’m also a great admirer of Angela Merkel who probably has the world’s toughest job right now, leading the Free World. 

You can find Karoli on Twitter as @karolihindriks

Women in Tech: Emma Lewis

Throughout our crowdfunding campaign we'll be interviewing leaders and upcoming women in the UK tech industry, asking how they got involved in tech and the importance of role models.

In this interview we speak to Emma Lewis, front end developer and Cambridge Engineering graduate.

 

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you're working on

I'm a front end developer, specialising in data-visualisation for the web. I mostly write HTML, CSS and Javascript code and work with designers to create websites that look beautiful and interact smoothly. I am freelance which gives me the freedom to choose the projects that I work on, and take time off to work on my own projects or just have a break! I've worked for clients including the BFI, Channel 4, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust. I am currently doing some work for a really exciting organisation, Code for Africa.

How did you first get involved in tech?

I went to university and studied Engineering (I should have studied maths, but a friend warned me off, saying it was "too geeky"); I really enjoyed the degree, but I wasn't sure what to do afterwards. I ended up in Japan teaching English, which was really great because I got to ask all sorts of people about their jobs. I have always had an artistic side and found that the sector that appealed to me most was the creative digital industry, as it would enable me to combine arts with technology. I was fortunate enough to secure a fully-funded place on a Master's Degree in Design and Digital Media where I learnt all about the fundamentals of design, animation and much more. From there I got my first role with a digital agency in London who were willing to take on a complete novice and train me up.

Why are role models so important? Can you give us an example of how a role model has influenced you and your career?

In my career I've had a lot of people who I respect and I think that's really important. I was fortunate to start out my career with a couple of excellent line managers who taught me good coding principles and I've learnt a lot from many of the developers I've worked with since. Having said that I'm not sure I would call any of them "role models", and I think the main reason for that would be down to gender: throughout all of my roles, freelance or otherwise, I've worked with very few coding women, and I've never worked with one who is senior to me. That said, the absence of a coding role model has at least partly been filled by a number of brilliant, inspirational women - designers, project managers, business leaders - who I've had the chance to work with.

You can find Emma on Twitter as @emmalewis
 

Women In Tech: Pauline Narvas

Throughout our crowdfunding campaign we'll be interviewing leaders and upcoming women in the UK tech industry, asking how they got involved in tech and the importance of role models.

In this interview we speak to Pauline Narvas, Biomedical Sciences student, self-taught developer and Code First: Girls ambassador and instructor.

 

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you're working on

I’m currently 10 months into my year in industry placement where I work at the University of Sheffield in a Communications and External Engagement role. Compared to others in my Biomedical Sciences course who are also on placement, I decided to stray away from working heavily in the labs and to a more client-facing environment.

In my very diverse role, I take on the lead in internal and external communications, stakeholder engagement as well as support various areas of learning and teaching (and technological applications in this), marketing and research in the faculty of social sciences. I also have had various website development opportunities where I use my self-taught skills in coding to improve current digital practices and websites in the university.

I also lead in the organisation of Code First: Girls community courses for females in the University and assist in the delivery and teaching of the Introduction to Web-Development courses. I’m very passionate about women in STEM initiatives and work closely with other communities (for example, more male-dominated hackathons) to ensure diversity in them!

I am also an avid blogger of 9+ years. I currently blog on pawlean.com where the aim of my blog is to share, inspire and motivate!

How did you first develop an interest in tech?

I think my interest in tech really started when I played my first video game, Fighting Force.

I was a hardcore console gamer for years and gradually found myself really enjoy playing online which somehow resulted in my interest in web development. I then started up a blog (my first website was up when I was about 9~ years old) and from there have been interested in the potential and growth in tech.

Despite the many barriers and stigma, I faced growing up, I didn’t give up in my love for tech and continued to choose “male-dominated” subjects like Computing at GCSEs. It was scary at the time, but I’m so glad that I never lost my interest in STEM. However, I saw many girls at the time did and therefore things like Code First: Girls, and Project Prep are so vital.

Are there any role models who you look up to or have influenced you?

Thankfully, I am surrounded by such an inspirational community of wonderful men and women who motivate me daily. They have all my role models and have been a positive influence on every aspect of my life.

I could talk about each one of them for hours but here are just a few who have had a either motivated me in the work I do currently or my future plans.

Charlotte Fereday

Since officially “graduating” from Code First: Girls as the Programmes Manager, Charlotte is now working as a developer. She’s a role model to me not only because of the fantastic work she’s done with Code First: Girls and getting more young girls into technology and entrepreneurship but further proving to me, and other girls out there that:

A) you don’t need a Computer Science degree to be a developer. Charlotte came from a non-technical background.

B) Learning to code is a superpower, not limited to men. She’s motivated me to continue learning – I recently started a Ruby on Rails course thanks to her influence!

Bryony Olney

I currently work with Bryony in my placement year, assisting her with aspects of learning and teaching and using new technology such as the use of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality in applications in Higher Education. Yeah, she’s a one of those pretty cool virtual reality chicks.

She’s an inspiring role model to me because she’s another woman who proves that you don’t need a technical background to be working in a role that involves tech. Her passion for improving current practices in higher education using technology – which is a huge challenge – has shown me that being determined can get you further than you think!

I’m always so motivated to apply that mind set to continue pushing my own boundaries – personally and professionally.

You can see her current work with VR here.

Matt Burman

I first met Matt in November 2016 when he came across my blog and approached me to work in collaboration with the Sheffield CF: G course and HackSheffield, with the hope of increasing female participation in hackathons!

Matt has been a constant source of inspiration for me. His genuine passion for inclusion in tech is what we need more of from guys; after all, inequality in STEM can’t be fully tackled without support from everyone!

I can say that now, months later, through a joint effort, we’ve generated a lot of interest in hackathons. The two communities we’ve mashed together is such an exciting thing to be a part of - I’m really looking forward to their next huge hackathon next academic year. Keep an eye out!

He’s also reminded me why I love what I do online on my blog and growing social media presence, and driven me to keep improving myself – who doesn’t want to work towards being a better version of themselves, every day? 

You can find Pauline on Twitter as @paulienuh