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Women in Tech, Women at Star

Go for it! And then keep going! So offered one of the Star employees we reached out to for inspiring stories and insights on being a woman in the tech sector. Hear from the rest in this week's StarBlog

March is Women’s History Month, which celebrates the societal, cultural, political, and economic achievements of women around the world. Today we celebrate some of those achievements from a group of successful, powerhouse females who have chosen to make Star their professional home in the larger tech sector.

KELSEY​ AMAR, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, PROFESSIONAL SERVICES
What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give to your younger self or another woman starting out?
"Be confident in your abilities, and don’t be afraid of being passionate. As a woman, I’ve been told over and over that I’m being ‘emotional’ in my reactions. Embrace your passion and stand strong!”

What was the driving force for you to enter the tech sector?
“I fell into it, and then fell in love with it. It wasn’t what I thought I would be doing.”

What’s the best part of being a woman in the tech industry?
“I love what I’m learning on a daily basis. Although I don’t have a specifically technical role, I have to have a good understanding of the tech we sell and my team implements, and I’ve really enjoyed learning the industry. I also love setting an example for my kids, especially for my daughter, so she knows she can do anything she sets her mind to: including becoming a leader in any job or industry that she ends up falling in love with!”

Can you give some insight on how the culture at Star has changed in the time since you’ve been here?
“When I started, I was one of less than 10 women in our US office, with very few of those in leadership positions. Going from being one of the few women in the company to having so many women in leadership, including our CEO, has been quite a shift to watch happen and is a constant inspiration."

What advice would you give women who are considering a career in tech?
“Go for it! And then keep going!”


SHARON CAMPBELL, DIRECTOR OF CLIENT SUCCESS
What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give to your younger self or another woman starting out ?
“Be open to your own evolution. What you’re doing today may not be what you’re doing 10 years from now. Being open to opportunities within your journey gives you exposure to new skills and connections, which may alter the course you’d previously charted for yourself. It’s you finding your North Star.”

Did you always know that working in tech was your career path?
“I knew the client services industry was on my career path and from there, I think, the fintech industry chose me. With technology evolving every year, it’s natural for companies to want to optimize the latest changes. Providing the amalgamation between the technology needs of organization and client needs is where I find my sweet spot.”

Has there been someone in your career who has been a mentor to you or has had an impact on your career? If so, who are they, and how did they make an impact?
“Everyone I’ve come into contact with has had an impact on my career—in good ways and not-so-good ways. You learn and evolve from your positive experiences, although maybe more importantly, you learn and evolve from your negative experiences. Having a good balance through your career sets you up for balanced thinking.”

What advice would you give women who are considering a career in tech?
“’The question isn’t who is going to let me; it is, who is going to stop me.’” That's from Ayn Rand.”


PIPPA HAINEY, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, DATA FEEDS
What was the driving force for you to enter the tech sector?
“In 2008 a York, UK based insurance company shifted from employing IT service desk staff with only a technical background to those with a customer service background, to put a friendlier face to IT. I was hired due to my background in customer service and ended up loving IT. What’s kept me in IT is the variety. No two days are ever the same, and you need to be able to adapt to change quickly.”

Did you always know that working in tech was your career path?
“No! When I was growing up, I wanted to be either an actor or a mechanic!”

Has there been someone in your career who has been a mentor to you or has had an impact on your career? If so, who are they, and how did they make an impact?
“My previous company took a big chance in promoting me from a problem-analyst position to a head-of role, and I’m forever grateful for the opportunity they offered me. It’s led me to where I am today.”

VAISHALY NAIR, CONFIGURATION ANALYST
What advice would you give women who are considering a career in tech?
“Challenge yourself every day. In the tech world, innovation and growth come from challenge.”

Has there been someone in your career who has been a mentor to you or has had an impact on your career? If so, who are they, and how did they make an impact?
“Everyone I’ve worked with has had an impact on my career. The growth I’ve experienced as a tech worker wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my managers and colleagues. We all make mistakes, and we all learn lessons from them, even if it’s not always the most comfortable experience. But it’s a necessary part of the professional growth process."


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ORSOLYA PALL, SALES ENGINEER
What was the driving force for you to enter the tech industry?
“While I didn't start my career with tech specifically in mind, I’ve always gravitated to roles that required solid logical thinking skills, so ending up in tech was a natural fit for me. The world of tech is dynamic and constantly innovating, which I find particularly attractive. I thrive on progress, and there is always something new and interesting to get my teeth into.”

Did you always know that working in tech was your career path?
“No. My background is in research and data analysis. I wish that my education had put more emphasis on tech and presented STEM as a viable career option. I had to come the long way instead, but am very glad to have done so.”

What advice would you give women who are considering a career in tech?
“Don’t be intimidated, and don’t think you need to be able to code. There is a huge variety of roles in the industry. Budding writer? Become a technical author. Great communicator? Sales or marketing might be for you. Creative soul? Why not become a UI/UX designer. If you have ability and enthusiasm, you can pick up skills on the way.”

VICTORIA PARKINSON, DIRECTOR, R&D OPERATIONS
Did you always know that working in tech was your career path?
“Not at all. When I was young I wanted to be a chef, a lawyer, and a snowboard instructor. But by aged 10 I loved playing on our first computer: a BBC Micro Model B. I used to copy code out of my dad’s computer magazine to create simple games.”

What advice would you give women who are considering a career in tech?
“The same advice I would give to a man: There are a wide variety of roles in tech, and people skills are incredibly valuable. Don’t assume you have to be super technical.”

What’s your most hopeful vision for women in tech in 10 years?
“That there are as many women as men in tech, not just in technical roles but across all teams, and up to CTO and CIO. The tech industry needs to encourage more females to join by highlighting how technology helps to make the world a better place—a key factor for young women when deciding on their future career.”


JENNIFER SUN, CEO
What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give to your younger self or another woman starting out ?
“You own the outcome of your career. A successful career is a two way street. Your job is to deliver against the expectations of your company, and your company’s job is deliver against your expectations as an employee. When expectations are met on both sides, it makes for a long and great career.”

What’s been your career-defining moment in the tech sector?
“When I got the CEO job at Star. I had been an executive at another fintech company for the previous 17 years. However, I knew I wanted to be a CEO and build and run a company. I was waiting for the right time and the right opportunity, and both elements came together with Star.”

What other moments of note from your time in tech would you like to call out?
“I’ll always be grateful to Hollie Haynes, founder and partner at Luminate Capital Partners, the private equity firm that was the majority investor in Star when I joined in 2018. As a female entrepreneur in another very male dominated industry, Hollie took a chance on me and gave me my first CEO job. It’s another example of women supporting women. Thank you, Hollie.”  

What advice would you give women who are considering a career in tech?
“There are not a lot of women in technology, especially in financial services technology. It’s still a space dominated by men, especially in the R&D side of the house. Don’t view that as a negative: view it as a differentiator, and an opportunity for you to showcase your abilities and skills.”

What’s your most hopeful vision for women in tech in 10 years?
“Let’s keep going ladies. Let’s push forward and continue to conquer and break through. I’m confident we’ll get to a more balanced gender distribution in our industry. Be generous with your time, your energy, and your knowhow, and support other women to help them be the best they can be.”

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