To celebrate and recognise the brilliant and inspiring women in the team, Zoocha would like to focus on some of their experiences of working in the tech world. The tech sector remains stereotypically male dominated and Zoocha strives to nurture role models for the next generation of women entering the workplace. We are extremely proud of our female workforce and today want to highlight these valued members of our team.
How did you get into the tech sector? Was it what you always wanted to do?
"I have always had a good relationship with the tech world. I studied industrial design engineering to combine my passion for art and this sector. From there I wanted to study something related with graphic design, and I decided to continue in the web world thinking how it would impact more and more in the future." - Sandra Diaz Ridura - Front End Developer
"I wanted to work in a role that would allow me to grow and would give me the opportunity to work for great companies that would enable me to reach my objectives which are to be happy with my job, to have money to do the things I like and to have time with family. I graduated in Control and Automation Engineering, but I started to work as a Front End developer as this was more aligned with my goals. The role also allows me to grow as a person and work with something that makes me happy." - Rafaella Canez de Pinho - Front End Developer
"I first became exposed to the technology sector whilst at University when I was offered the opportunity to apply for Code First Girl’s web development course. This course was specifically run for girls to encourage us to get into the tech sector. It was my first real experience with coding and sparked my interest to pursue a career in this field. " - Nadia Atwal - Back End Developer
"I didn’t know what career I wanted to go into when I left university. I studied Maths so I saw a lot of data analyst, actuarial and finance roles around when I started looking (and I was of course always asked if I was going to become a teacher!). I couldn’t really imagine doing any of those jobs long-term and wanted something I saw as more creative. The posting for the position at Zoocha came up and it sounded interesting. I’d always been into science and technology through academic subjects and playing around with bits of tech. At first I was put off by my lack of experience in computer science and programming, but I had done a small amount of coding during my degree and was confident I’d be able to pick it up. Through the interview and from researching more about what being a web developer entailed, I thought it sounded like a good fit for me; it had a variety of projects and clients to work with, room for creativity in building the applications, as well as opportunity for growth within the company. I decided to give it a go." - Kimberley Massey - Back End Developer
"I’ve always been involved in STEM, even back in primary school maths was one of my favourite subjects, and I even studied engineering at university. I have always enjoyed tech, and now love working directly in the sector and the amount there is to learn. I always wanted to work in the technology sector although that role has definitely evolved over the years to where I am now." - Jenny Wilson - Back End Developer
"I had never really considered the tech sector as an option for me until I was approached by Zoocha. I thought I didn't have the experience necessary to apply for a job in tech. I knew I wanted to be in a client facing role that involved a degree of creativity and ownership over my work, however I had little to no knowledge of where this role would fit within the tech industry." - Hannah O’Leary - Business Development Manager
"During my final year of university, I was excited to secure a spot on a business graduate scheme. Fast forward to my final exams, I was less excited to find out that the company had abruptly cancelled said scheme. Back to the drawing board! With my parents’ move to the sticks imminent, I needed to come up with an alternative plan or else, face a new life in the country, where one of the neighbouring sheep would likely deliver my job applications faster than the local internet. After some research, project management quickly emerged as a strong fit for my skill set. I also knew that I wanted to work in a fast-paced and growing sector and with that information, I began to trawl through online job adverts. During my hunt, I was lucky enough to stumble across an exciting project management opportunity at the web development agency, Zoocha. I hadn’t set out to land a role in tech; however, I was immediately drawn to the people-orientated and innovative culture, where I could grow and make real contributions on a daily basis. Over three years later, here I am, still loving working at Zoocha, managing the delivery of a whole host of web solutions and development projects." - Alice Minett - Delivery Manager
"I always wanted to study psychology but my deep interest in visual communication took me into the design field. I studied product design first and then specialised in Interaction and Digital Design. I am fascinated by investigating users' needs, observing their interactions with a product and defining solutions that will improve their experience. I have been working in different environments, from agencies to the fashion industry, always with a focus on digital experiences. I have found my way from visual design to ui/ux design both from training and from job experiences. It has been a natural progression following my interests and the projects that I’d like to take part on." - Alessandra Ferragina - UX/UI Designer
"I knew that I would thrive on a job that required a combination of creative thinking and technical expertise and thought that being a design engineer would provide the right balance, but I ended up on a 2 year sojourn to the marketing world as a graphic designer straight out of college. Working on the renovation of the company’s website from the client side is what made me want to learn Front-end development and reconnect with the tech side of things." - Alba Leiva Aguilar - Front End Developer
What do you love most about this industry?
"I love the atmosphere it brings, the open mind, the constant feeling that we are at the forefront." - Sandra Diaz Ridura - Front End Developer
"I love that the tech area is always growing and therefore people that work in technology need to grow alongside it. We should always be studying and improving our knowledge to keep up with the growth and developments within the tech industry. Nurturing my own knowledge is something I am really passionate about." - Rafaella Canez de Pinho - Front End Developer
"I enjoy the challenges, everyday is different and you are constantly faced with new situations which require you to be adaptable and creative in your approach. For this reason, I find everyday interesting as you can utilise your creativity in different ways to overcome issues and there's a great deal of satisfaction that comes as a result. Additionally, I love the collaboration and team-building aspect when developers come together with a different approach and new ideas of how to deliver client requirements." - Nadia Atwal - Back End Developer
"The thing I enjoy the most about web development is designing and producing bespoke solutions to specific issues and requirements, and these requirements vary so much because of the breadth of this industry. We’re able to work with a range of sectors and a variety of organisations within those sectors which means the work always differs from one project to the next." - Kimberley Massey - Back End Developer
"The number of opportunities. Working in this sector can mean so many things, each one important in developing new technologies and exciting in seeing what can be developed. It's so fast paced, there's always something new to learn or discover." - Jenny Wilson - Back End Developer
"It’s really modern and flexible, you're encouraged to be yourself at work and there's no performative traditional professional environment. Everyone brings something different to the table so there's always the opportunity to learn." - Hannah O’Leary - Business Development Manager
"I love how collaborative the industry is. Today, technical projects, such as creating or maintaining a website, involve a variety of skills and roles. As a project manager, it’s incredibly rewarding to be at the heart of this multidisciplinary collaboration and to see a project come to fruition thanks to the combined efforts of so many different people. I also love that tech is a truly global industry, meaning that not only do I have the pleasure of working with and meeting a wide range of talented people in the UK but also in Spain, Brazil and beyond." - Alice Minett - Delivery Manager
"I love the fact that it is a field of constant change and development. There is not a still or boring moment if you work in a tech agency: you will be working on different projects, picking up new skills, collaborating daily with many departments across the company. Specifically to UX/UI, I found amazing how “visual design + functionality + psychology” can have such an impact on accessing services and how powerful their combination can be in improving people's lives. I enjoy working for public sector clients, educational institutions and socially responsible companies. I think that we can shape our culture also by deciding which projects we are working on." - Alessandra Ferragina - UX/UI Designer
What is your typical day like?
"I wake up at a reasonable hour, I walk with my dog, sometimes I take him to the office (Zoocha is pet friendly), I work from 9am to 5pm, usually in the office, since it is more bearable for me. At lunchtime we usually talk about life, curious things that some of them share, or we play Mario Kart! After work I dedicate a little time to myself!" - Sandra Diaz Ridura - Front End Developer
"I wake up really early in the morning at around 4:30am. I study and take some courses so that when I start working I’m already energised and mentally prepared. I work some days at home and some at the office. I benefit from being alone as much as I do from spending time with colleagues so it’s great to have this balance. My daily tasks will include developing websites and training new colleagues. I also have meetings with colleagues and clients from different countries, which is nice." - Rafaella Canez de Pinho - Front End Developer
"My day typically starts with a scrum with a client - this is where we discuss what was achieved the day before and clarify any criteria - and set out objectives on both sides for the day. This sets up my day so I’m clear on the work I need to complete. Occasionally, other issues occur and I may get asked to prioritise another ticket or pick up something that has been escalated on support." - Nadia Atwal - Back End Developer
"My typical day usually involves a couple of scrum calls. These allow us to touch base with the whole project team - including the clients - every day to discuss progress and any blockers which means issues can be resolved quickly. As the lead backend developer of a project I’ll review all code before it reaches the main testing and production environments to ensure standards and security are maintained from the beginning. Lead developers are also responsible for overseeing the technical architecture of the project as a whole, ensuring all the different streams of work take into account the key considerations of the site. My day involves planning and estimating upcoming work, this could be planning the architecture of a new site build from scratch, depending on the stage in the project cycle. Lead/senior developers will work across the project, picking up some of the more complex aspects of the build." - Kimberley Massey - Back End Developer
"A day starts off by picking up anything left from the previous day. This is often looking at feedback from clients or starting early with fresh eyes on some development work. Throughout the day I can be in meetings, working on some proactive maintenance on websites or picking up some trickier website bugs. Some days I'm on tricky bugs from 9am through to the end of the day. Towards the end of the day, there’s the opportunity to tie up and organise ready for the next day." - Jenny Wilson - Back End Developer
"My typical day ranges quite a lot. I work pretty independently so I have to be fairly self motivated and organised to make sure that everything that needs to be done by the deadline is completed. On a typical day I am usually writing proposals, pitch decks, liaising with new clients and assisting the project team in the onboarding process of new projects." - Hannah O’Leary - Business Development Manager
"I enjoy starting work early in the morning, reading emails while having the first coffee of the day. For family consideration I start a bit earlier than usual so that gives me some time to work on projects in silence and without distractions, I tend to be more productive in the morning so I love to leave the easiest tasks for the afternoon. I have daily catch up meetings with my team, usually I will be working on a couple of projects per day plus meetings and estimation, so organisation is key. I enjoy not having a strict routine on my break time: sometimes I take a small walk, sometimes I enjoy the sunshine on the balcony or make time to get to a bar nearby to take a coffee-break. For my mental well being, I always make space during the week to enjoy painting, reading, walking or just having drinks with my friends. I need to find my space to recharge my batteries and go back to work and family with a clear mind. I am also a mother of a 2 year old, so I spend a lot of time enjoying playing in the mud, jumping off the slides and watching lots of Disney movies. I always have a lot of ideas on cool experiences and new things to try but I can’t seem to find enough hours during the day. Of course by 11pm I am in bed, reading or watching some cool TV series." - Alessandra Ferragina - UX/UI Designer
How can more women get into tech?
"I don't think there is a specific way. I think it is in the minds of each one of us to think whether or not we are worthy for this type of position. I think women are starting to feel much stronger in deciding what we want to do with our future. It's only a matter of time before the number of women in tech goes up!" - Sandra Diaz Ridura - Developer
"I believe that a lot of people think that working in programming is a role mainly for men. However, nowadays, we have a lot of women in those roles and a lot of companies with opportunities for women. I think we can inspire more women in tech if we talk more about this profession to increase awareness of the opportunities it holds. I often talk about web development on my own social media hoping that more women can learn about this industry and the roles available." - Rafaella Canez de Pinho - Developer
"We need open and honest conversations with our young females. I think a great opportunity to do this is by offering talks in local skills or at career fairs where we can break down the barriers of communication and answer personal questions. Alternatively, more women could feature on online webinars regarding the technology sector or host specific talks directed at women in technology." - Nadia Atwal - Back End Developer
"There are so many opportunities to get into tech as a woman. If you’re technically minded, then one of the best things you can do is read! Read more into the opportunities and even start looking into coding. If you don’t necessarily have the head for technology but love the sector, then there are also opportunities for managerial roles where you can use that passion. There should never be anything holding you back from getting into tech as a woman." - Jenny Wilson - Back End Developer
"I think women need to apply for roles where they may not meet all of the criteria listed as often we can write ourselves off before we even start. Research has shown men are more likely to apply for jobs where they don't meet a certain portion of the requirements so I think it's key to address this disparity." - Hannah O’Leary - Business Development Manager
"I think it’s important for more women to know that they can have successful and impactful careers in the tech industry without a technical background. Whenever someone asks me what I do for a living, and I tell them that I’m a digital project manager, I am typically met with the same, general assumption - I know how to code and I must have some sort of computer science degree. In reality, I didn't have a technical background when I started my career and there are lots of ways to add value to tech organisations other than writing code - as a UX designer, content writer or business analyst to name just a few. Hopefully, busting the myth that you need technical experience or a STEM degree to get into tech will encourage more women to join the industry too." - Alice Minett - Delivery Manager
"Luckily there is more information about tech roles and access to tech industry, for example: https://www.shecodes.io/ has free coding classes for women or https://www.womenintech.co.uk/ that is divulging information about the different roles in the industry and educating on which path/training to take to get there. There are more and more specific online courses and dedicated platforms to the tech industry, certifications and training, such as Google certifications that are economically more accessible than university and have working-opportunities. But most importantly, the shift needs to be made at a young age. We (women) start hearing unfair comments on our potential and doubting ourselves from a very early age. If you are a woman you have possibly heard the typical “no darling, choose another toy, that’s for boys” or “that’s not a girl’s sport” or even “are you sure you don’t want to take an easier class? That’s a bit difficult…” . Hearing that is the perfect recipe for failure." - Alessandra Ferragina - UX/UI Designer
"Today there’s technology in practically everything we do, and that means that whatever your interests and skills are, there’s probably an area in tech where you could feel fulfilled. I feel like this point needs to be made in schools, instead of treating interests like “helping people be healthy”, “learn languages” and “understanding how a device works” as if each could only lead you to one career and as if they were mutually exclusive." - Alba Leiva Aguilar - Front End Developer
How can we inspire the next generation of women?
"I think the most important thing is that they get rid of the idea that the world is not for us as women. There is nothing definite, and I know that if they just try they will find that this industry is the place for them." - Sandra Diaz Ridura - Front End Developer
"I feel inspired by seeing other people achieve things that I also hope to achieve one day. Therefore if I share my own achievements, hopefully they can inspire more women, and specifically the next generation of young women, who will see that being a woman does not need to hold you back." - Rafaella Canez de Pinho - Front End Developer
"I believe seeing women in senior roles within the technology sector is motivating and inspiring. We could further inspire the next generation by offering mentorship and guidance to help them in their career. A suggestion for Zoocha and other companies would be to host workplace visits and support local schools with extracurricular STEM related activities to make it not only more accessible to women but it could also spark some interest in young people who may not have considered it." - Nadia Atwal - Back End Developer
"There are many different roles within a web development agency, even more so within the tech sector in general, so you don’t need a particular university degree. I think a key element is showcasing the range of roles available and showing that it’s not a limited mindset and skill set in demand. For the development/engineering side I think it’s important to encourage STEM subjects in schools and ensure girls aren’t put off taking up those courses if that’s where their interests lie. There is a shift in this and it’s not as male-dominated as it used to be. I think it’s also necessary to show women in lead and managerial roles in the tech sector as an example for other women to look to." - Kimberley Massey - Back End Developer
"I think the best way to inspire is to be open about experience and encourage women, especially young girls, to chase their interests and not be scared to try new things. By giving a rounded view of all of the options out there we can spark and inspire those interests." - Jenny Wilson - Back End Developer
"By being proactive members of the workplace and occupying leadership roles, younger women will be able to see themselves represented in tech. It is also important to demonstrate that women do not need to eliminate or hide traits that are traditionally associated with femininity in order to blend into a traditionally masculine workplace for fear of not being taken seriously; this will be key to creating a safe and welcoming environment for the next generation of women in tech." - Hannah O’Leary - Business Development Manager
"We need friends, parents and teachers to create an equal opportunity and empower women to believe in their potential and skills. We need to inspire young girls to achieve the career they dream of, to show them examples of other women that didn’t listen to these ugly comments and provide equal access and opportunities to training for the job. Between age 10 and 12 we start doubting ourselves, we thought we could do anything as a child but when we grow up we start feeling the social expectations and pressure of how a woman should look and aspire to. This is a powerful ad from a couple of years ago: Like a girl https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjJQBjWYDTs This is a beautiful Ted talk that I suggest on this topic : The key to more women in technology https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XebNxUE3ugA We need events and information to reach out to those girls and potential tech professionals and let them know that their potential is equally valid and show them the steps into a tech career." - Alessandra Ferragina - UX/UI Designer
"References are important, so we must lead by example." - Alba Leiva Aguilar - Front End Developer
What does it mean to you to work in tech and, in particular, at Zoocha?
"For me it means flexibility, understanding, recognition and teamwork. A great chance to grow." - Sandra Diaz Ridura - Front End Developer
"I love working at Zoocha because everyone tries to help each other to grow. We are a big family!" - Rafaella Canez de Pinho - Front End Developer
"Working in technology is not just about writing lines of code. To work within this industry you also need to be creative, collaborative and adaptable. At Zoocha there's a great amount of teamwork. As developers we are able to brainstorm ideas and we are assigned a mentor we can refer to for support. It’s a great opportunity to learn a lot of new skills and share your passion, you also have the ability to work anywhere. Zoocha is a very modern day company, with monthly socials, 5-side football, and a fun social area in the office. There is also a lot of diversity within the company. This makes it even more enjoyable. The company hires anyone with no technical experience and is passionate about helping people kick start their careers, learn and excel." - Nadia Atwal - Back End Developer
"In the tech sector you can see the results of what you’re doing in the real world. This could be anything from increased engagement with a reporting system or higher sales on an e-commerce site, to a successful information campaign to the public. I think at Zoocha we have a good mix of people with different backgrounds and the team is really key to Zoocha’s success. I feel that I’m able to make my mark and contribute to how things are done." - Kimberley Massey - Back End Developer
"Working in tech is something I always aspired to. It means being able to actively contribute in a field where there is so much room for learning and growth. Working at Zoocha has given me so much opportunity to build on my basic skills and technical know-how and nurture my creativity." - Jenny Wilson - Back End Developer
"Working in tech means I am constantly learning and often contributing to the delivery of services that have a positive impact on the wider community. Working at Zoocha reflects these positives and more, as there is a genuine focus on growth that has massively exceeded my initial expectations. Zoocha really values diverse opinions and perspectives which has been an encouraging factor since day one." - Hannah O’Leary - Business Development Manager
"For me it means working in a company that puts its employees first, that has an amazing culture that makes me proud of being part of its family. It also means that I can design products, especially in the public and educational sector, where we can actually make a difference in the lives of people, by creating accessible and design products that improve people's lives. Moreover, it is a company that always looks at the best way of doing things, that looks into new solutions and always provides tech training for its teams. For me it means that I can be developing my potential in a company that has my back and believes in my skills and that doesn’t consider me less, professionally, for being a woman or a mother." - Alessandra Ferragina - UX/UI Designer
Has the tech sector ever surprised you in the sense that it ‘broke’ a misconstrued idea you had about it?
"I thought it would be a pretty rough man's world. But not at all. I know I'm lucky with Zoocha, but I've never felt that being a woman has limited me." - Sandra Diaz Ridura - Front End Developer
"I think a commonly misconstrued idea in tech is that it’s just a group of young men behind screens, which is not entirely true. Working in technology is a very collaborative industry not only internally but externally too. I also thought in order to break in or understand the tech sector you needed to have years of experience. In the age of high performing tech sometimes it feels ‘too late’ if you don’t have a degree in computer science, maths or something technology related. I think this assumption is often wrong, there are many many transferable skills you need as well as those hard skills of coding and technical abilities. Those hard skills can also be learnt and this is a great attribute of Zoocha as they offer on the job training and support." - Nadia Atwal - Front End Developer
"It’s not as geeky as TV would have you believe!" - Kimberley Massey - Back End Developer
"One of the biggest misconceptions that was broken was that you had to be “tech-y”. With the wide range of roles you can have in the tech sector, all you need is the interest and a willingness to learn!" - Jenny Wilson - Back End Developer
"The preconceptions I had about the tech industry largely focused around it being a highly technical environment that would be unwelcoming to those who did not have a strictly technical background, where people with different interests or talents could be considered as lesser. This has been dramatically proven to be untrue at Zoocha due to the large array of backgrounds and disciplines that people represent, and with everyone recognising the value that exists in a multidisciplinary team and feel supported in asking questions where there is an opportunity to learn." - Hannah O’Leary - Business Development Manager
"Yes, there is a common misconception that there are virtually no women in tech. While there’s no getting around the fact that the sector is male-dominated and there’s still a long way to go to ensure gender equality, I’ve been lucky enough to work with lots of fantastic, supportive female colleagues and clients in the industry. It would be great to see this misconception smashed even further in the future!" - Alice Minett - Delivery Manager
"I think that I have always been lucky enough to work in well-balanced environments. I must say that I have seen far more women in tech at Zoocha than I have seen in any other company so far, especially in coding and design teams. I would say that the tech sector surprises me constantly in seeing how the focus shift and the roles change and develop in new ones. I am amazed with how the tech industry changes itself by the year. Ten years ago the term “interaction design” sounded a bit like a stretch in the design field and today is an essential part of it." - Alessandra Ferragina - UX/UI Designer
A final word from our Head of People & Culture...
"With the evolution of women in the workplace, it’s now possible for women to occupy positions that for a long time were considered only for men. It is undeniable that there have been advances in recent decades, but some challenges are still very present when it comes to the role of women in the workplace, in any area.
I have worked in many companies in different industries but being part of a technology company was never part of my plans. I always thought this would not be a place for me, coming from a totally different background and with zero experience in the IT area. I believed it wasn't a place where I had anything to contribute but I was wrong! I had amazing opportunities and a spectacular team that have taught me and made me feel very welcome. I feel that I am able to share my knowledge and learn without prejudice considering I have never been part of this world that is so different from the one I was used to. I feel very welcomed, heard and respected by everyone.
I am part of Zoocha's HR team and having a leadership role I am very committed to caring for and helping our people and the company to build a better place for everyone to work. I feel really happy to see companies like Zoocha, opening spaces for diversity and creating more actions that open democratic spaces for everyone. I feel happy to see the progression. Today at Zoocha more than 45% of our team is made up of women who work in different departments and many of these women hold leadership positions. This may be a distant reality for many other tech companies so I am very proud to be part of this achievement.
At Zoocha we have the opportunity to be ourselves and together we seek the best of everyone’s potential. I am proud of my profession and for being in a role where I can combine technology with people management."