Leigh-Ann Fowle

November 7, 2014 in Founder, Profiles
Leigh-Ann Fowle, Girl Geek Dinners & The Written Word

Leigh-Ann Fowle, Girl Geek Dinners & The Written Word

Name: Leigh-Ann Fowle

Designation: Copywriter, Content Creator

Company: Girl Geek Dinners and The Written Word

What do you do every day? My day job is as a copywriter. Basically, I create content for clients, the majority of which is for digital channels. My passion project is Girl Geek Dinners, which I run together with my partner Kirsty Sharman. Girl Geeks is a networking event for women in tech.

How did you get into the tech space? When I started freelancing, I was looking for networking opportunities for women in tech and I just couldn’t find any! I found out about Girl Geeks and I started the JHB branch in 2011. Girl Geeks is a worldwide phenomenon, with chapters in 99 cities.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? That you can do whatever you put your mind to doing, provided that you are willing to work hard. Some of the most talented people I know didn’t start off in the career that they ended up in.

What advice would you give someone wanting to get into the tech sector? Go for it! It is an exciting industry with great growth potential and new things happening every single day. And build up your network – it’s important.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? Knowing that I get to create content for some inspiring brands and the opportunity to learn on a daily basis.

Who do you want to be when you grow up? A superhero, one that has it all!

Find me on:
Twitter: @leighfowle
Blog: girlgeeksofjhb.co.za
Website: www.thewrittenword.co.za
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=99770427&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile

Debby Edelstein

October 20, 2014 in Entrepreneur, Profiles

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!

Debby Edelstein, QualityLife Company

Debby Edelstein, QualityLife Company

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
Blog: www.debbyedelstein.com 
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/118368504050628256821/posts
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/debby.edelstein.3
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=725740&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile

WomeninTechZA/Silicon Cape network CT tech ladies

September 10, 2014 in Events

WomeninTechZA and Silicon Cape successfully hosted WomeninTechZA’s first ever networking event in CT on Monday night. Attended by 40 local women (and one man), the event gave CT tech ladies a chance to meet and network and discuss the issues and challenges they face working in the sector.

WomeninTechZA aims to get women talking about the challenges they face as a vast minority in the sector. Only 23% of tech jobs in SA are held by women – if we are going to change that we need to start talking and doing thing that can make a real difference.

Speaking on the night, Silicon Cape chair Alex Fraser, who recently founded her own company, Stone Tree, highlighted the dire shortage of female VCs in the tech sector, and the huge impact on productivity and profit that women bring to teams and organisations.

After presenting an overview of the sad state of diversity into the tech sector and introduction to the WomeninTechZA initiative from co-founder Samantha Perry, the ladies split into four groups to discuss their issues and challenges and then report back to the group.

Participants highlighted the fact that women are often their own worst enemies in organisations, and rather need to learn to support each other and not see each other as competition.

Women are also not as good as putting themselves out there in the market at events, taking speaking slots and generally being visible – something we all need to work on, participants agreed.

Also under the spotlight was the different stories every women in the sector has – there are few common threads if you look at how each of us got to where we are, and we need to start sharing those stories and making them more accessible.

Ongoing challenges with sexism and sexual harassment both got a mention, contrasted with the recognition that if we are to address sector diversity challenges we need to stop thinking about ‘men vs women’ and start thinking as ‘people in IT’.

The lack of female mentors and role models was mentioned more than once and, after a follow up discussion with a smaller group of tech ladies the following day, WomeninTechZA is launching a platform to connect mentors and mentees on the womenintech.co.za website. Mentors can ask to be listed on the site (including focus areas and areas of expertise) and anyone needing their expertise can request a contact. Mentoring will be charged for per hour in accordance with the seniority of the mentor, and what the mentee can afford and all proceeds will go towards funding the running of WomeninTechZA. Watch this space for info and contact samantha.perry@gmail.com if you want to take part please!

Thanks again to our wonderful sponsors – The Office, which provided us with their gorgeous venue, and PayFast, which sponsored the very yummy snacks.

 The Office is Cape Town’s premium business club. A sophisticated work and meeting space, The Office was designed by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs – a considered space where business can get done. 

PayFast is a payments processing service for South Africans and South African websites. It enables easy, secure and instant transfer of money between online buyers and sellers.

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The Office