Who has been your biggest inspiration?
Given the occasion, I decided to think about which woman in tech and entrepreneurship stood out for me in providing an inspiration. I realised that I'm inspired every day by women who take risks in this field and start something innovative on their own. Perhaps it's telling that I struggled to single out one key figure. Hence, lists such as these are an excellent initiative to help make the achievements of women in tech more transparent.
Why should more girls get into tech?
One of the things that I've enjoyed about the tech community is the interesting range of people I've met and had the pleasure of learning from. Having more women in tech will serve to enhance the diversity and richness of the community all for the better, especially with regards to the introduction of exciting ideas.
Where do you see yourself in 25 years?
The plan is to refine and develop my coding skills, and then create my own startups. Hopefully by the time the next 25 years are up I will have had some successful ventures and have changed the lives of some people, through the companies I run and through sharing the knowledge I pick up along the way. I'm keen to disrupt the education and publishing industries.
What advice would you give to your 18 year old self?
Stop going to all the finance events and start learning to code!
In the first of a series of profiles giving you an insight into the lives of the CF:G Ones to Watch 2014, Miriam Keshani tells us about her journey into the world of tech, and why coding is important if you’d like to enter this world yourself.
Miriam is Chief Happiness Officer at Sparrho and is on track to fulfil her dream of becoming a Head of Product within the next few years.
You can find her on Twitter @MimiKeshani
How did you get into the tech world?
“I always thought I would be a research scientist, and that the door to the world of digital tech had already been closed because of the decisions I made at the age of 18. I thought all that computer stuff "wasn't for me". Going to Cambridge and joining the Cambridge University Technology Enterprise Club (CUTEC) opened my eyes to the exciting nature of life in a startup, and showed me that it was never too late to get involved. Since graduating, I completed an intensive programming course (Collective Academy) and have worked for a number of high growth startups. I have tried out various roles to understand where I could both be of the most value to a team and thoroughly enjoy my work.”
What’s been the proudest moment of your career so far?
A couple of weeks ago I did my first pitch at the London Student Enterprise Hub at IDEA London. Public speaking in front of a room full of strangers was a fantastic experience for me. However, what I am most proud of is meeting a young woman who was inspired by my speech. She explained that she too hadn’t realise she could make the jump into tech without a CompSci degree, and was encouraged by seeing someone with a similar experience as her already having a go. It helped me realise how important it is for young women already in tech to be as visible and accessible as possible.
What advice would you give to your 18 year old self?
Study what you enjoy but make the most of the extra-curricular activities going at your university. There are some pretty inspirational students around doing amazing things that might open up a career path you hadn't thought of before. Also, if you are interested in the digital sector then start coding asap! You don't need to be a software engineer to work in the tech industry but an understanding of what is possible is important.
On Sunday we had our very first Code First: Girls Hackathon.
It was incredibly exciting to see how many ideas the participants came up with.
From eco-friendly investment portfolios to a geolocation app for personal security and a cultural guide to London museums, these girls built awesome and very useful products.
The day started with a killer ice-breaking game called "Captain's calling" (Charlotte from our team is now incredibly well-versed in ship routines), following which some of the girls pitched their ideas and formed teams.
They then started building and went on for 6 hours. At the end of the day, all the teams pitched their ideas and a panel of judges decided on two winners. The runners up were Dining 2.0, a platform which allows users to meet inspiring and interesting individuals to discuss ideas over dinner - a great way to learn. And a massive well done to our winning team for their great product: an app that sends text messages to your friends to let them know you got home safely after a night out.
Find out more on our Storify.
We just had the most amazing weekend.
On Saturday a series of amazing speakers came to tell the 100+ young women attending about their highly successful careers in tech - they were all incredibly inspiring and interesting.
Sarah Wood told us the story of Unruly, from the very first online platform to now having 12 offices around the world.
Kathryn Parsons from Decoded told us how we shouldn't fear falling into the rabbit hole - it's the most inspiring journey.
Avid Larizadeh from Boticca talked about finding what you love and doing it, through a series of inspirational quotes.
Lee Chalmers from Authentic Living held a very fun workshop on personal impact.
Debbie Evans from Bank of America Merrill Lynch told us about implementing Agile in a bank,
Melissa Trahan from Passion Capital gave us all the keys to starting careers in startups.
Maya Ross told us what she'd learned from working at GoCardless and why she enjoyed startups more than her previous jobs.
Our very own Alice Bentinck ended the day by talking about finding ideas and being creative.
We also had two panels, one with early-stage startup founders and one with developers. Their insights into building startups were incredibly honest and topical.
It was an amazing day, full of good advice and practical suggestions about how to get started, whether to build your own business or to work in a startup.
Find out more on our Storify.
Thank you to all our speakers -
Sarah Wood, Unruly Media, @sarahfwood,
Tom Watson, Spacious, @watsontom100,
Vivian Chan, Sparrho, @vivianchan_s
Laura Lambert, Befittd
Kathryn Parsons, Decoded, @KathrynParsons
Avid Larizadeh, Boticca, @avidl
Vikki Read, Unruly, @vikkiread
Tanvi Srivastava, BAML
Tom Livesey, Droplet, @tjlivesey
Nadia Odunayo, Pivotal Labs, @nodunayo
Lee Chalmers, Authentic Living, @leechalmers
Debbie Evans, BAML
Melissa Trahan, Passion Capital, @EmmEmmTeee
Maya Ross, @maya_ross
Alice Bentinck, Entrepreneur First, @Alicebentinck
We're very proud to be featured in Business O Feminin this week.
"As Boris Johnson proudly declared in his recent column for Tech City News, there are 35,000 companies in the sector, employing around 156,000 people. But where are all the ladies?"
Video by Juliette Dekeyser.
"I feel much more confident about developing my own website one day, and one big step closer to the prospect of achieving this!"
Trishita is a student in Manchester who attended Code & Create Manchester by Code First: Girls. This intensive weekend course taught students the basics of web development, and by the end of the class all the girls had made their own website.
"Right from the start (which involved ice-breaker games that got everyone laughing hysterically) the entire weekend course was an absolute delight – a truly amazing experience to say the least!
Sitting in a room full of bright and enthusiastic girls, all set to learn something new and exciting, I was initially a bit apprehensive as to whether I would be able to keep pace with the programme and grasp everything at once. But, Nick’s humour, Tom’s charisma, and the rest of the volunteers’ approachable and helpful attitudes quickly won everyone over.
I was pleasantly surprised by how much coding we covered and how fast we were able to learn, grasp formulas and manoeuvre our way through what initially seemed like complicated code.
I was overjoyed that my knowledge of coding is at an almost-professional level already, and I cannot thank Code First: girls enough for making it possible for so many of us. I feel much more confident about developing my own website one day, and one big step closer to the prospect of achieving this.
I’m sure I speak for all who participated in the Code & Create weekend when I say that Code First: Girls rocks and Nick is awesome!
A big shout out to Madeleine and team - Thank you Code First: Girls!"
Code First: Girls