Women of Silicon Roundabout 2018

Unashamedly be yourself.

That’s the main point I took from the WoSR conference this week.
Being yourself is the most important thing and that we should view our vulnerabilities as strengths, not weaknesses.

The conference lasted two days, and when I arrived on the first day I don’t think I realised how much the talks would resonate with me and would give me a new outlook on my career, and myself.

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Team Sky!


The Conference

WoSR was held at the ExCeL centre in London and wow what a venue. The conference was held over three floors with a huge auditorium for the main keynotes!

Breaking Conventionalism

This was one of the first keynotes of the convention and the talk was by Damien Hooper-Campbell, Chief Diversity Officer at eBay.
He came on the stage with so much enthusiasm and when he talked you could tell his story had a lot meaning to him as he seemed to tear up at many points.

He talked about the importance of being a convention breaker, and how it can aid the world around you.
If everyone acted the same, our progress would be minimal. To prove this to us, he used four examples of people who were convention breakers. Rosa Parks, his mum, his grandad and his aunt.
He told each’s story and conveyed how each of them breaking convention has benefitted each individual and the world around them.

He then got us to turn to the person next to us and tell them who the convention breaker in our lives is, and why we look up to them.
We had a large circle of trust going on and it was an amazing way to kick off the conference.

Vulnerability is a Strength, not a Weakness

This talk was one of the most liberating for me. The workshop was run by Anusha Nirmalananthan, who is the Head of Growth at Just Eat. In her talk she told us about her invisible illness and how it has affected her career, and how an individual should react when someone works up the courage to tell them something personal.

She ran an excercise where we had to reveal three things about ourselves:

  1. Something everyone knows about you.
  2. Something only close friends/family/work colleagues know.
  3. Something you’ve never told anyone before.

When you were revealing these things to the person next to you, they could not talk, they could only convey emotion through facial expressions and body language. This was to prove to everyone that sometimes we just have to stay silent until that person has finished talking and not try to turn the conversation on ourselves.
Afterwards we were asked how we felt, and my partner volunteered to tell the group how she felt listening to me talk. She said it was difficult because she is facing the same things I am, and it was hard not to sympathise with me and give advice.
This exercise will help me in all areas of life, and I’m so happy I attended the workshop.

If my partner is reading this, it will get better, we will get better. ❤️

‘Mind Hygiene’: Taking Care of your Brain in the Age of Digital Distractions

Hands up if you are a self-confessed phone addict? 🙋🏻
Well this talk, ran by Dr Anastasia Dedyukhina, founder of Consciously Digital, was about how we can train ourselves to not gravitate towards our phones as often as we do.
Firstly she asked us how many times on average an adult checks their mobile phone during the day. The answer? In the high 40s and 50s.
That is an insane number, especially as most of us remember life before mobile phones really blew up in the late 00s.

She told us how we can reduce our addiction:

  1. Turn off notifications.
  2. Give yourself a set time you can be on you phone.
  3. Read one page of a book everyday – get lost in something that isn’t pixels.
  4. If you don’t turn off notifications, when you see one appear on your screen, start leaving it 2 minutes before you pick it up, and then slowly increase this time to be longer and longer until you no longer feel like you need to view notifications as soon as they come through.

It was a super interesting talk, and there is no way I could ever do justice to it in this blog, so if you’re interested in unplugging yourself she has a book called Homo Distractus which will teach you these methods.

How to Grow a Skin of Iron and be Totally Confident: A Guide for Introverts and Extroverts

This talk was about how introverts and extroverts can receive feedback in a positive way, as we all dread 360 feedback.

I found this talk by Cat Wildman and Carol Johnson from The Telegraph super interesting because as much as I don’t like to admit it, I’m a very introverted person, and when I receive negative feedback as much as I try not to take it to heart it does upset me.
Listening to them talk about how to turn this all around and view it as an opportunity to improve myself made me a lot more confident to hear the results of my next 360 feedback.
I wrote down all Carol’s introvert tips and I can’t wait to put them into practice!

The Swag

Swag is the free things you receive from companies.

Anyone who has attended any conference ever will know that the one thing everyone looks forward to seeing is the swag that is on offer, and at WoSR the swag was insane!
The most desired pieces of swag during this conference seemed to be:

  1. Monzo t-shirt (these things were like gold dust at the event but we all managed to leave with one!)
  2. A cuddly Google android
  3. Two Sigma thermos style water bottle

My favourite thing to hear at the conference was ‘who actually needs these free bags and t-shirts’.
The reason I decide to get these things are because the t-shirts given at conferences are the comfiest t-shirts around, which means they are perfect to sleep in (this also means it doesn’t matter if I don’t manage to get a small), and I keep the bags in the back of my car so that I know I’ll never not have a bag when I go shopping – especially as shopping bags are 10p-20p a pop!


The Hotel

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While I was in London I stayed at The Good Hotel which floats on Royal Victoria Dock.
One of the reasons I choose to stay at this hotel was not only because of the location and the gorgeous roof terrace, but because of the actual good (allow me to be cheesy!) that it does!
The hotel has an employee training programme for those that have been unemployed for a long time, as it helps them back into the workplace.

Not only this, but for however long you stay at The Good Hotel, £5 per night of your room rate will be donated to homeless charities in London!

It is a totally beautiful hotel and I would recommend staying there, but sleeping on water totally freaked me out and had me spooked throughout my entire stay!


Main Take Aways

  • I’m so lucky to work for a company that sends their employees to conferences.
  • There are far too many awesome talks that take place to be able to attend all of them, so really do your research into each talk so you end up going to the ones you want to attend most.
  • Supporting colleagues that attend and speak at the conference is so important, I’m so happy I got to see Natasha Sayce-Zelem on the Moving the Needles on Diversity panel!
  • Women of Silicon Roundabout is the most badass conference around!
  • Try the local cuisine, we ate at some lovely local restaurants and had such a laugh over dinner and wine!

Did you attend? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the conference!

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