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International Women’s Day 2023 - Embrace Equity

Posted on 8 March 2023 Read time 8 mins
Author Sara 💫

At Tillo, we champion diversity and prioritize inclusion; we are an equal opportunity employer. Our people are what drive our success, and we are proud to have so many exceptional women across the business. 

In honor of this year's International Women’s Day theme, #EmbraceEquity, we wanted to share some inspirational and insightful stories from women at Tillo.

Representation is vital in overcoming inequality; we hope that by sharing these stories, we can highlight different routes into roles and show how businesses can support women to succeed.


Martha Weaver, Head of Retail Partnerships

24 years ago, when I accepted a position on Target’s newly formed Gift Card team, I had NO IDEA that it would lead to such a fulfilling career

One that brought me so many opportunities to learn and grow from other women, experience new things, and work with so many fantastic people! 

To say this has been a rewarding career is an understatement. 

Pinch me! 

The adventure continues as I help introduce Tillo Inc to the USA.  I’m so excited to continue this journey and mentor the next generation of Women with Gift Cards and Incentives!


Maria Khoury, Head of Operations

Building a career on your own terms, one woman’s journey into the world of Tech!

This part of my journey started in Digital Marketing, a junior accounts position that I thought I’d take as a temporary role out of necessity. I was curious about all the weird line items I was invoicing that made no sense to me - I wanted to find out what it all meant, so I spoke to the training and support teams. Once my knowledge grew, I ended up with a position in that team, moved on to managing the team by proposing new ideas and showing a keen interest in the business, then moved up to manage the Account Management Team. My journey continued from there for over 7 years until I left as Head of Service Delivery, managing Professional Services and Support Teams.

After all this time in one place, I wanted to challenge myself and see how my skills would translate in a new industry; now, this part is key - having belief in yourself and your transferable skills can help you take a calculated risk and try new things. You don’t have to go for the obvious next step. I ended up as Head of Delivery in a fast-growing DevOps Consultancy, taking over management of the engineers who had skills I could never dream of learning, working on complex projects with large blue chip and government organizations - it was scary - but I soon learned how I could bring my own knowledge of managing and scaling teams, and understanding customer needs,  and apply it as I learned a whole new industry.

My transition to Tillo and the Gift Card industry felt like coming home, although, yet again, it was a whole new world - I was back to the world of providing technology as a service, but in a company and industry that really excited me - one that is constantly changing and evolving, with new trends and opportunities emerging all the time. It helps that I’ve found a company that so completely aligns with my own values, and this, for me, is the key to success. 

My key takeaways for any women wanting to grow their career:

✨ Women often feel pressure to conform to male-centric models of leadership and success. However, focusing on your unique strengths and abilities can help you to carve out your own path to success.

Speak up and advocate for yourself and your ideas, even if it feels uncomfortable or challenging.

Seek out mentors and role models: I’ve been lucky to have a few along the way that have inspired me and also believed in me, and I’ve jumped on the chance to learn from them and take their mentorship. 

Stay curious about the details, but think BIG when it comes to the impact you and your role can make. 


Hannah Saunders, People Business Partner

Acting, Nursing, and Teaching are a handful of the professions I had thought about throwing my hat into. I didn’t go to University, which I regretted all the while my friends were there and, from what I could see, were having the best time ever.

I’d been told, “You’d be great in HR”, but quite honestly, I didn’t know what HR really meant, nor did I look into doing anything about it. It was only when I had some time to kill during a seasonal job, that a friend got me some part-time work in an HR Outsourcing company - so I quite literally “fell” into the job I now believe I was always meant to do. I had finally found my thing, but the real test came when I felt it was time to start a new company. Could I make it on my own?

That’s when I found Tillo, and with it, I am finding myself as the People Professional I want to be. Looking back on the person I was when I first joined, compared to now - I am genuinely proud of that growth. I no longer regret not going to University; it wasn’t what I wanted or needed to do at the time. Instead, I am currently doing my Level 5 CIPD- and I am sure I won’t regret putting myself through the stress when I complete it!

My greatest challenge; believing in my own capabilities. I am lucky to be surrounded by people who support and push me when I am full of self-doubt, but you’ve gotta be your own greatest cheerleader!

 

Sophia Whitham, Content Marketing Manager 

As my nan loves to remind me, the world has come a long way in the last fifty years, yet much still needs to be done to achieve gender equity.

I’m a non-identical twin, and I’ve constantly been benchmarked against my brother. As an adult, I now look back and see quite how disparate our formative years were. Despite sharing a birthday, school year, and even a bedroom for a while, we were divided by our genders from day one, and were it not for my mum constantly pushing me to challenge misogyny, I’m not sure I’d be the same confident woman I am today.

After university, I was fortunate enough to work for a female-owned tech start-up, the founder of which became one of my first real mentors. I can’t state enough how powerful mentorship is in the workplace. Over the course of my career, I’ve had two game-changing female mentors; one who helped me see my self-worth and one who helped me embrace my stereotypically ‘male’ personality traits, which would once have labeled me as bossy.

At Tillo, I’m surrounded by strong and unapologetic female leaders. I’m empowered to be the woman I am and am supported in becoming the woman I want to be.


Hannah Dempster, Head of Marketing  

As I recently turned 40, I was giving some thought to what I would tell my younger self if I had the chance and what I have learned in the world of work over the last 20 years or so.

Here are a few of my musings: 

 

✨ Establish your values and what’s important to you - match them to any potential companies you are interested in working at. Does the company actually embrace them? Glassdoor is a great place to check in on. If they say they ‘value equality,’ who is their senior leadership team made up of - do women have a seat at the table?

✨ Get a mentor - Don’t underestimate how brilliant it is to have someone in your corner, someone who’s been there, done that, made the mistakes, and will give you open and honest advice and guidance with no agenda.

✨ Lead with empathy or seek it out from your manager or would-be manager - all too often, empathy is classed as a ‘soft skill’ in the world of business and often not held in as higher regard as something measurable, for example, when, in fact, study after study shows how important such skills are in the workplace and the impact they have on employee retention.

✨ Flexible working is key for so many people, and often women in particular if children are in the picture or on the horizon. Therefore I would highly recommend understanding any potential employer’s flexible working policy/maternity package before you consider working there. I feel like I’ve always been incredibly lucky in this regard - Tillo especially is a fantastic business with the flexibility it shows to working parents. 

I definitely long for a gender-equal world, sometimes that feels some way away, but we can only get there if we all keep working towards it together; we need to keep striding. 

 

Naomi Gotts, Senior Software Engineer

I never set out to become a software engineer. I didn't really even know that the job existed when I discovered coding after university. But encouragement from people around me to follow the path of what I enjoyed doing landed me my first role in tech. After that, I didn't really look back.

Being a self-taught engineer - by which I mean via online resources, tutorials, and forums - comes with it an interesting set of challenges. At the top of this list, no doubt, has to be imposter syndrome, something I felt very regularly in the early days of my career (and no, it hasn't ever completely gone away!).

However, I think my route into tech has always driven a feeling in me of wanting to give back through the means of helping to educate others and enabling them to progress. I really enjoy seeing concepts land for others and seeing their confidence grow as they learn new skills.

I'm now just starting my third year at Tillo. Since being here, I've benefited from many opportunities that a successful and fast-growing tech company can offer.

Last year we were able to deliver the company's first internal tech conference, which in no small part led to my appearance as a keynote speaker at the PHP UK Conference in February this year. Being surrounded by enthusiastic and supportive people has been a key part of this journey, and I'm looking forward to finding out what comes next!


Nicole Stanaland, Senior Business Development Manager

Ever since I was little, I've loved helping people. I studied Psychology in college and decided to take a gap year before graduate school to save up some money. I immediately got a job working in Account Management within the Fintech and gift card industry. Through hard work and building trusted relationships, I moved up into Sales and Business Development. Within Sales, I was always surrounded by mostly men with a specific, dominant sales style; however, I was able to be successful by staying true to my personal values with more of a collaborative, transparent style. 

After many years in the same role, I was really looking for a change and a company that aligned with my values. While on LinkedIn, I kept coming back to Tillo - their passionate team and innovative platform really captivated me. Making a change and learning a new business has been so rewarding, and it's been a great lesson in courage! I feel so grateful to get to be in an industry I love, working with the absolute best people and getting to help empower partners with Tillo's incredible infrastructure. 


Sharon Forder, CMO

International Women’s Day 2023 is themed around inclusion, so it made me reflect on bias.  

As a female leader who’s honed my craft in a male-dominated tech sector, it hasn’t always been easy, but here are my tips for breaking through the glass ceiling: 

  1. Find a Mentor: With the right guidance, women have a better opportunity to transform their careers.  Take the time to find the right mentor for you, someone you feel comfortable with and can have an open dialogue with and trust.  Mentors could be from within your company, an expert you’ve admired, or someone you’ve worked with in the past, but the key is you ensuring you feel a strong connection with them and they have empathy.

  2. Command a room: With 75% of female executives experiencing imposter syndrome in their careers, this may be easier said than done.  But honing the skills to speak confidently in a room of peers whilst highlighting your intelligence is a great skill to build.  It can be intimidating if you’re one of only a few women in the room, but if you push through and continue to develop the skill, people will notice.  

  3. Be proactive about professional development:  Finding groups that support and promote women in leadership, women in tech, women in the workplace become invaluable resources and sounding boards for times you encounter gender-bias, and you may even find yourself a mentor too!  

  4. Advocate for yourself: Women are notoriously bad at making people aware of their accomplishments, but our male counterparts do it all the time.  Making our achievements visible is a critical advancement strategy and helps to prove our competence, but it’s important to get the balance right so as not to come across as overly self-promoting. 

  5. Work for a company that aligns with your values: We spend hours of our lives at work, so prioritize working for a company whose values reflect yours.  It can make a world of difference to career growth but also ensure work is rewarding and fun. 

So to all women in tech, advocate for yourself, reach outside your comfort zone, surround yourself with the right culture and mentors, and find a company that shares your values, and you have the ingredients to break that glass ceiling!


 

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