Apps for Good Expert Sian Davies is a Business Analyst in BI and data projects recently led an Idea Generation session at Elstree UTC. Here she tells us all about the session which saw Elstree’s students sharing their creative and innovative solutions.
I would like to impose a 3-minute rule on all office meetings; if the problem or solution which gave rise to the meeting cannot be expressed adequately within that time, then the meeting should be cancelled immediately. That’s where we started from at UTC Elstree where the team from Apps for Good had invited me to facilitate an Ideas Generation Session and to give a short career talk on my tech industry experience to a group of students. A lot of seasoned professionals freak out when I give them a 3-minute countdown. The assembled brains at Elstree took it in their stride.
Elstree UTC is a technical school focusing on media and the arts. Meeting the students, witnessing their ambition and fire, and touring the school to view their unique facilities were highlights of the visit. Knowing that they were staying late to meet us, we all tried to keep the sessions interactive and fun – but we needn’t have worried – each of the students were engaged and lively, coming up with fresh ideas and communicating them happily to the group.
Talking to them about my experience in the tech industry was trickier to plan; what to tell them, show them, how to get across the breadth of roles and opportunities they will run into when they have completed their education, the sorts of challenges they might encounter; all of this whilst harbouring suspicions that they probably already know more about new and emerging technologies than me!
But I instinctively knew what were the messages I needed to get across because they were the ones I wish I’d had; that evolving your career through your own decisions is ok – and knowing what you want to do in your mid-career when you are 16 is not compulsory. That it’s ok to be wrong – I gave them an example of my incorrectly interpreting a technology trend and publishing it. And that the industry requires lots of different skill sets, which can be learnt on the way.
Finally, by my appearing in front of them as a woman who has made their way in this industry, I feel I am contributing to a wider effort to shift perspectives. I hope to be followed into this school by more women in tech, and especially women of colour so that the female students present will see people who look more like them, presenting their chosen industry.