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Collaboration, Publications, Community: Building your personal tech brand


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Expanded slides from the talk given at the Tech Women London Meetup group on 29th August 2017

"Wordy" slides are additions. The blue quote slides were most of the original presentation.

Published in: Career
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Collaboration, Publications, Community: Building your personal tech brand

  1. 1. Collaboration, Publications, Community: Building your personal tech brand STORY-STREAM.COM STORY-STREAM.COM
  2. 2. From this point onwards in your professional career, everytime you’re asked to do something, everytime you consider going to an event or spending your precious time on an activity, I want you to keep one key thought at the front of your mind…
  3. 3. “How does this benefit me?" STORY-STREAM.COM STORY-STREAM.COM
  4. 4. This might sound incredibly selfish but it doesn’t have to be… Your benefit could be altruistic, supporting others, or even because you need to keep your job! This is about focus. Take a look at this cartoon…
  5. 5. Chris Hadfield is an awesome human. (quote illustrated by “Every decision you make… turns you into who you are… don’t let life kick you into the adult you don’t want to become.”
  6. 6. Early in my career I let life kick me. I let opportunities come to me rather than searching for them. I had fallen into IT because of a childhood passion but had no direction. My PhD wasn’t written up, I was playing far too many console games and my Guide computing badge was my only relevant qualification. You may have read that the Guides are “introducing” computing and STEM interest badges. They had them three decades ago and they quietly disappeared… this is an original complete with CRT monitor!
  7. 7. I had to change my current brand from: “capable developer, no prospects” to “credible c-level executive” I had to reinvent myself
  8. 8. Then I took a step back and made a plan Technical skills only Projects highlighted technical ability No leadership No external interests No relevant technical qualifications STEM undergraduate degree Starting Brand End Game Leadership experience Broad experience in different areas £M budgets Innovative projects Credible expert in industry Better life balance and salary “The Plan”
  9. 9. I looked at my manager and his manager and the CTO. I watched what they did. I heard them speak in meetings and make decisions. I knew I could do their jobs. But… As Denzel Washington said in “Training Day” (and later Gerard Butler in “Law Abiding Citizen”)…
  10. 10. “It’s not what you know, it’s what you can prove" STORY-STREAM.COM STORY-STREAM.COM
  11. 11. Similarly David Wong in his “6 Harsh Truths” post (”) “It doesn’t matter what’s inside – you need to demonstrate that to the world. Kill the excuses and [do] something” So I put all my energy into building “Brand Jan” and I now have a new end game for myself. So how to build brand “you”?
  12. 12. Brand “You” is a combination of your: • Professional experience • Publications • Collaborations • Community involvement Know your end game and what you need to prove to get there.
  13. 13. If you don’t have the experience you need, find a way of getting it STORY-STREAM.COM STORY-STREAM.COM
  14. 14. In one company, my manager left and I had been doing his role during the hiring process. I applied too and was told I didn’t have the experience even though I’d been successfully doing all the aspects of the role while they recruited. I asked how much more experience I needed and they had no answer. I updated my CV and left the company for the senior role I wanted 5 weeks later.
  15. 15. Be the person you want to be, not the person you think you have to be. I’ve got to where I am without screwing anyone else over to do it, despite being on the receiving end of that style of management. You don’t need to be a dick to people to be successful – there are too many dicks in tech already. Being respected as a leader is a great personal benefit.
  16. 16. Collaborate and Network
  17. 17. Professional collaboration is not like those horrendous school projects where you did everyone else’s work! Find people with similar ideas and create something together. Whether it’s a python library or a meetup group – go for it.
  18. 18. You’re not alone. There’s a huge support network out there. Find a mentor STORY-STREAM.COM STORY-STREAM.COM
  19. 19. Come to meetups, conferences and make contacts. Have personal business cards and leave something tangible with the people you meet. I guarantee there will be someone feeling as shy as you are. Find someone who isn’t talking to anyone else and ask them what they thought of the last talk. Chances are they were wondering how to start a conversation too. You never know when you might meet your next employer, employee, or someone else who can benefit you.
  20. 20. Your CV only goes so far. This isn’t enough anymore to prove your skills. STORY-STREAM.COM STORY-STREAM.COM
  21. 21. When I recruit, I gets lots of very similar CVs. I look for skills that go beyond: Passion, motivation, intellect and innovative thinking. This is where building brand “You” really comes into its own.
  22. 22. Write your own blog or contribute to or is particularly embracing of people just starting to contribute. Ask your marketing department if they need content for the company website. Get Writing And Be Involved
  23. 23. If you’re worried about abusive comments turn them off. I’ve only had one negative comment on my own blog – an attack on my appearance. Ad hominem attacks don’t upset me. If they’d managed to construct a logical argument against my opinion then I might have actually been affected! There have always been trolls, the internet has just given them a voice they don’t deserve.
  24. 24. “It’s a lot easier to criticise other people than to create something yourself” David Wong, 6 Harsh Truths STORY-STREAM.COM STORY-STREAM.COM
  25. 25. Contribute to answer questions, even if it’s just to point people at other answers. Fix bugs in open source projects and build your github profile. There are lots of simple issues that nobody has time to fix for beginners, tehn move on to the harder problems. Think of all the python libraries that haven’t yet been made compatible with python 3… probably due to the change in print()…
  26. 26. Join organisations that support your chosen area. British Computer Society IEEE Royal Statistical Society These cost a subscription but can provide support, training, discounts to conferences and a route to publications.
  27. 27. Women on Boards has Non-Exec board positions for both experienced and early stage women. Further in your career and have the experience? and to make yourself available to freelancers for articles and opinions (requires payment)
  28. 28. Speak about what you love. To get into bigger conferences you need speaking experience, sometimes videos. Get this from internal presentations, speaking at meetups. Practise until you’re comfortable speaking, but always speak on topics you are passionate about.
  29. 29. Even the shyest individuals overcome their fears when talking passionately about what they believe in STORY-STREAM.COM STORY-STREAM.COM
  30. 30. Did you see the intellectual property clause? On signing, everything you create even outside of working hours belongs to your company if it’s capable of being used by them. This apples to UK contracts – international contracts may have different policies Did you read Your contract?
  31. 31. Beware Intellectual Property Restrictions
  32. 32. If a company wants to patent your work then that’s great for you! Companies can’t be named as inventors, only people, and only the people who had the idea are named, not the people who only implemented it. The company may own the IP but the patent will be in your name as long as it is active, even if you leave the company (or have left before it’s filed). Patents prove you are an innovative thinker.
  33. 33. If you talk or write about your work, make sure the company is happy with it – if you make public something innovative then they will not be able to patent it in future. Don’t lose your job building your own brand. Finally, think about the brand you want to build and how you’re going to get there. Chances are that you’ve been around 10 people today who can help you either directly or through an introduction.
  34. 34. Keep thinking: “How does this benefit me?" STORY-STREAM.COM STORY-STREAM.COM
  35. 35. STORY-STREAM.COM STORY-STREAM.COM Thank You @yssybyl