WomeninTechZA’s Samantha Perry is chairing the Marketing Your Personal Brand panel discussion at the annual Wired Women tech conference this Thursday! In the spirit of coherence, today we’re profiling Wired Women co-founder Debby Edelstein. Get your tickets here – we hope to see you there!
Name: Debby Edelstein
Designation: Joint CEO and founder
Company: QualityLife Company
What do you do every day? I’m addicted to innovation and new ideas so my days generally include various combinations of the following: I conceptualise and design conferences, conversations and leadership development programmes; run twitter chats; find, coach and train new leaders; identify new talent for the speakers circuit for our three platforms (the Annual Women’s Leadership, WiredWomen and InspiredTeachers events); facilitate and speak on women’s leadership; manage social media campaigns, write, edit; train and mentor speakers for the speaker’s circuit; check in with the circle of women leaders I mentor, meet lots of interesting people in coffee shops near Parktown North and Rosebank and talk on radio whenever I can because I love radio. TV appearances however only when I’ve slept really well (which is rare) because I always look too pale!
How did you get into the tech space? My husband Dunne and I are serial entrepreneurs and when we had to close our publishing business QualityLife magazine, Dunne (whose background is IT) suggested that we start an email newsletter. I was initially resistant and was pining for my print creation, but quickly developed a passion for the immediacy and accessibility of the digital realm. This was nearly 15 years ago and gave us a fantastic edge in using email, and later social media, for creating communities and marketing our leadership and training courses.
What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? My Dad said, and still says: “What’s the worst thing that can happen?”. It’s a wonderful lens through which to view fear and risk because often the worst thing that could happen (and usually doesn’t) isn’t really so scary after all. And the ability to take risks is fundamental when you’re an entrepreneur.
What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? Tech has become so all encompassing that it’s hard not to be involved in tech in some way. Whether or not you have traditional tech skills like the ability to code, there is a space for you to contribute. Sheryl Sandberg, after all, is no techie. Mardia van der Walt Korsten who heads up T-systems is a clinical psychologist. The sector is craving inspiring women leaders who are skilled communicators and who are able to inspire others with a vision. So if you’re attracted to innovation and constant learning, I would say don’t think twice.
What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? Usually my barking dogs! Or my need for coffee. Or because I’m a bit of an insomniac, often it’s a creative idea which needs attention in the wee hours of the morning. In terms of passions that motivate me though, it’s my family and I’m driven to give them the best lives I possibly can. Not just materially but by showing them the value of taking charge of your destiny and that there’s no greater satisfaction than creative work that you love that makes a difference to others at the same time.
Who do you want to be when you grow up? Still haven’t got a clue. But one of the things I would still like to do is start a fund for women-owned start-ups. There are so many talented women in this country and I would love to be part of giving them the confidence and leg-up they need to make their dreams come true.
Find me on:
Twitter: @debbyedelstein / @wiredwomensa