Monica Silva is a Software Engineering Manager, with more than 8 years' experience in Technology and Software Development. Starting out in full stack development (front-end, back-end, and mobile), she worked her way up to management roles within B2B, B2C, Product Management and Project Development management functions. She was one of the founding pillars of a successful Development team at Stratajet and is now building a team of her own at Racing Post.
La Fosse Associates' Jen Burry, of the Digital and Development Recruitment team, sat down with Monica to hear her insights around building a high-quality development team, as well as the challenges faced by – and opportunities available to – female developers in today's market. It's an exciting time for developers everywhere as London’s tech sector continues to fuel the growth of the UK’s digital economy, with the capital’s tech firms raising a record £2.45 billion and accounting for around 80 percent of all UK venture capital tech funding in 2017.
You attract real talent with genuine career progression - not table-tennis
One of the biggest challenges of my job is hiring great people. The current market is incredibly competitive, and as a result, start-ups tend to offer all sorts of perks: everything from table football in the office to free snacks, paid lunches - and work trips in Barcelona or Dubai.
However, if hiring people is one of the biggest challenges of my job as a manager, the next biggest is keeping them. Retaining top talent in a company, and keeping people working happily - even if the business is going through a rough period - is challenging.
The sort of excitement you get from having table-tennis in your office lasts a year at most. Finding, hiring, and keeping high-quality staff is about a lot more than parties in castles. In today's market, things like communicating the vision of where the company is heading, clear career progression, a sense of purpose and value, flexible working, and maternity and paternity leave packages are far more important than free fruit.
What people actually want is a sense that they are doing something worthwhile, and that they're developing their career.
Beyoncé is one of the most successful CEOs out there
She is what I, as a manager, aspire to be. Admittedly our specialisms are different. But the essence of managing is the same whatever industry you are in.
Beyoncé runs her own company - her entourage, her bookings and her PR - and does so brilliantly. She cares deeply for both the people who work for her and her fans, always giving the best show possible. I have no doubt that her ability to do this simultaneously is a huge factor in her success. There is really no one to match her.
Fifty years ago, coding was seen as 'women’s work'
One of the biggest challenges I face in hiring top talent is that these days coding is seen as a “male industry."
However, many forget that in Bletchley Park, Britain’s codebreaking centre in the Second World War, most of the workers were women, and involved in the mechanical work of breaking codes. Then in the seventies and eighties, a more male, “geeky” culture started to appear, and the stereotype around coding shifted and became more male-centric.
Emotional intelligence is essential in the tech industry
When you think of a coder you think of someone with a high IQ, but emotional intelligence is equally, if not more valuable as it helps businesses to flourish.
This can be difficult to find, which is why a big part of my current role focusses on developing people, as well as ensuring projects run smoothly.
Which is why the software industry needs more women...
When I went to university to study computer science I was one of six women on my course. There were 90 men. There is no reason why computing should be so male. Women can be as good engineers as men.
To get more women into the industry, we need to change the pre-conceived mentality that it is a "male-oriented" industry, and that's up to every parent and educator.
….And needs more men
The current hiring market for software talent is highly competitive, which suggests there is a lack of development of talent within the industry. As an industry, we can improve this if we work to train, mentor, and develop new people.
I want to inspire more people to work in tech - both male and female.
Jen Burry is a part of our Contingent Permanent Recruitment team, focussing on placing high-quality development professionals across the south of the UK. She has worked with organisations such as: Gousto, Collinson Group, Bookatable & Racing Post recruiting Software Engineering and Agile Delivery leaders through to technical specialists across the UK.
For more information, please get in touch with David Edwards at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where to next?
Search for digital and development jobs here.
Blog no.2 of this series - Women in Dev #2: CTOs, Software and Sherlock Holmes