Gabrielle Earnshaw, Championing Diversity in Tech
Gabrielle Earnshaw from Infinity Works is a rare asset to the tech world; an academic with a hunger to learn and grow, an understanding of how to retain the best in the business and an outward view of the challenges facing the sector.
This is why she is our next guest on our Disruptive Podcast, and we discussed all manner of topics with her, from mansplaining, to resilience and how accepting that you don’t know how to do everything is actually a good thing!
Gabrielle is currently a Principal Consultant at leading tech consultancy Infinity Works, and she has certainly had an interesting journey in getting there.
Having originally wanted to keep her options open, Gabrielle chose to study Metallurgy, Economics and Management at The University of Oxford and then did her Master’s Thesis in Recruitment.
This challenging but rewarding course led her to her first role as a Risk Analyst at National Australia Bank which, although sometimes tedious, proved to be the start of a rewarding career in tech.
Since then she has often chosen to work in smaller companies where she could learn different roles while making sure she was “doing interesting work, solving hard problems and working with smart people.” This approach created a very organic career path that has resulted in her current position at Infinity Works.
The importance of resilience
Resilience has been a big learning for Gabrielle as it has equipped her with the skills she needs to deal with bumps in the road.
This is why she is wary of tech ‘Boot Camps’ as, although they are great at getting more people involved in the industry, it could mean that people are losing the learning of resilience and the ability to keep working through something until it lands.
She comments that “every day I go to work, and I don’t know how to solve the problems that are in front of me, but resilience has taught me that I will do eventually.” She is comfortable with the feeling that “I don’t know what I’m doing”.
Recruiting and Retaining the best
Having worked at a variety of places, Gabrielle saw first-hand the different approaches to recruitment and has realised that people are very often judged by a “man in a suit” and looked over for arbitrary reasons.
She has realised the value of ensuring that potential employees understand the company they have applied to and the benefit of giving them the time to think about whether they want to be part of that company.
By doing this it means you have a better chance of employing someone who will work hard in their role and stay in it for longer.
Gabrielle recognises that recruitment has certainly been a challenge in the tech industry and one that has resulted in significant learnings. The tables have turned in the industry, with lots of positions currently available but not as many developers.
This means that the old recruitment rule book has gone out the window. Recruiters are needing to consider applicants that don’t necessarily have the traditional qualifications on their CV but do have other diverse skills and experiences that will make them an asset in other ways.
Talking of Diversity, this subject came up a lot on our interview with Gabrielle, starting with the issue of women in technology.
It’s currently a hot topic, with the stats showing that the industry is way off where it should be, such as:
- WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) has reported that only 23% of people working in STEM roles in UK are female
- PWC has reported that only 5% of leadership positions in the tech industry are currently held by women.
Gabrielle commented that the lack of women in tech isn’t “something I noticed really but hindsight has showed me that it is a bigger issue.”
When she looks back over her career, she realises her numerous encounters with male office ‘banter’ and mansplaining weren’t appropriate and actually made her disengage with her colleagues on many occasions.
Diversity though doesn’t just refer to women in tech but is about finding new and different people to bolster the industry as well.
Gabrielle comments that diversity used to be a ‘box-ticking’ exercise but now people are genuinely realising the benefit and what can be gained from it. For example, tech users are international and diverse so having techies who are also diverse and can understand cultural nuances are essential. This brilliant movement will give us all a wider talent pool where we can learn from each other.
Time for a quick quote
As ever, we ended our interview by asking Gabrielle about a quote that has particularly resonated with her and she told us about a speaker she heard at a Women in Tech Conference.
The speaker said: “When you find success it’s then your responsibility to pull up the people behind you.”
This just shows the benefit of working with companies where the more you bring your team on the more you personally get success and explains Gabrielle’s approach to leading by example and that actions can often speak louder than words.
To hear more about Gabrielle’s views on diversity, recruitment and her love of building things, make sure you listen to the full interview here: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/lets-get-disruptive/id1496132687?i=1000466859151
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