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Inspiring Women in Tech – Alex Depledge

At Baltic, we are passionate about getting Girls into IT. So much so, we invited some of our country’s truly inspiring leading ladies to answer a few of our questions and give an insight into their lives and roles as successful entrepreneurs in the sector.

THIS WEEK’S OUR INSPIRING WOMAN IN THE SPOTLIGHT IS ALEX DEPLEDGE, FOUNDER AND CEO OF HASSLE.COM.

As CEO of Hassle.com, Alex took the firm to a Series a funding round of $6 million and 70 full-time employees within 12 months of launch – using the investment to quickly take the start-up into Ireland and Europe and making it one of Tech City’s biggest successes. Alex’s forthright views, industry experience and strategic leadership has led to her appointment as chair of the Coalition for a Digital Economy (Coadec) and founding board member of the government-backed Sharing Economy UK trade body SEUK. In 2016 Alex was awarded an MBE for services to the Sharing Economy. Educated at the University of Nottingham and the University of Chicago, Alex started her career as a consultant for Accenture in the UK. She rose quickly through the ranks before her desire for a new challenge led her to taking the leap into the world of entrepreneurship.

WHAT WAS YOUR VERY FIRST JOB?

When I was 13 I got a job laying tables for wedding in a grand hotel by the time I was 19 I was assistant restaurant manager!

WHY WORK IN TECH?  WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU OFFER YOUNG ADULTS WHO ARE CURRENTLY CONSIDERING THEIR FUTURE?

It’s quite simple – tech underpins pretty much every business in the UK. Whether it is a café that uses software to manage their employee’s shifts or pre-order their drinks to industries people associate more closely with tech, like hardware or social networks.  I think you will struggle to find many businesses in the UK or globally that don’t use technology to power them – if you are not at least digitally literate now coming out of school then you are confining yourself to a career that is vulnerable to low pay and job insecurity. Sounds like I am doom-mongering, but I am honestly not.

THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH YOUNG PEOPLE LEAVING SCHOOL AND COLLEGE CONSIDERING A CAREER IN THE IT SECTOR, WHY DO YOU THINK THIS IS?

We have been very poor at both teaching it and promoting it. Until recently kids were taught ICT which involved learning how to use power point and excel. Tech is so much more than that. Promotion has been severely lacking too. How many young people know what a UX/UI designer does or a data scientist? People are spending a lot of time talking about learning to code but that is just the surface – careers departments need overhauling and people need to realise its not just about code but about digital literacy and unpacking the world of tech from deep tech (AR/VR etc) to soft tech like performance marketing.

HOW DO YOU THINK WE CAN ENCOURAGE MORE FEMALES INTO TECHNICAL JOB ROLES?

Sponsorship rather than mentorship, more female role models, overhauling digital education in schools and in the media, apprenticeships….and finally I wish the newspapers would stop writing about Theresa May’s shoes or Nicola Sturgeon’s outfit or Sheryl Sandberg’s hair. Journalists and presenters reinforce gender stereotypes every day by asking women and not men about their family life or their fashion. It drives me insane. Rant over.

WHO INSPIRES YOU AND WHY?

I hate this question as I sit there wracking my brains trying to think of famous people and maybe that’s the problem – everyday people and things inspire me and maybe we need more of that in public forums to lift people overall. Maybe we should stop focusing on the same handful of individuals that the media has deemed worthy to write about and instead focus on the good that happens around us every day…maybe J

IF YOU COULD GO BACK AND OFFER YOUR ’17-YEAR-OLD SELF’ SOME CAREER ADVICE WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?

That it is ok to be different and not run with the herd. I think deep down I always knew this but it did lead to bouts of the blues when I didn’t really fit in.

FAVOURITE GADGET?

I am not really into gadgets L My Phone?

FAVOURITE WEBSITE?

The Economist – I wish they were a political party as everyone seems to have swung right and left and abdicated the sensible centre ground.

FAVOURITE APP?

So many! Google maps as I would be lost without it, but I think my favourite just because it is so easy and brings delight to me using it and the receiver when they get the gift is Bloom and Wild. Genius, proper service economy app. I wish I had thought of it.

WHAT WOULD YOUR VERY FIRST BOSS SAY ABOUT YOU NOW?

“She was always gobby that one, but I knew she would do well.”

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Alex for taking the time to answer our questions and for giving us a unique look at her life as a woman in IT!

Amanda McCombie

Marketing Assistant - Baltic Training