Social media handle(s): @clare0young (Twitter)
A few words about me:
I am a Director at dxw, a leading employee owned digital agency. My job is about building high performing delivery teams, and setting up the right environment for them to thrive.
I am also Chair of the Board of Trustees of Local Welcome and I volunteer as an Appropriate Adult for Southwark Council Social Services.
I enjoy yoga and pilates - it helps me feel physically and mentally stronger. I also love cooking for friends and family and growing my recipe book collection - current favourites are Mezcla by Ixta Belfrage and East by Meera Sodha.
Are there any professional experiences you've had that are quite unexpected compared to what you do nowadays?
Not particularly, I have a generalist background.
Is your background more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) or non-STEM related?
Where did your professional journey start?
I fell into tech a bit by chance after a degree in geography and various internships in the third sector. After applying for the Civil Service Fast Stream as a Generalist, I was offered a place on the Technology in Business programme (since renamed to DDaT).
How did you get into tech and what motivated you?
My lightbulb moment happened on my placement at the newly formed Government Digital Service (GDS) where I saw the impact that user centred design thinking and accessible technology could have on public services. Since then I've worked in a few different government departments, a major charity and 5 years ago I joined dxw.
I'm motivated by seeing the positive impacts of technology on public services and people's lives. I also get energy from building high performing teams and seeing them deliver together.
"... just because we can move quickly doesn't mean we always have to - we need to find a sustainable balance to ensure wellbeing, make sure we're learning properly and to reduce the number of people left behind."
Have you experienced any 'career in tech' challenges / stereotypes?
A personal challenge for me is finding it difficult to talk about what I do. I have a habit of oversimplifying things or dismissing the importance of my work. It can feel uncomfortable to be proud and talk about your achievements, especially when there are assumptions or expectations at play. But the more of us that do that, the better for everyone. I love everything that Lauren Currie is doing about building confidence for women and non binary people. I completed the UPFRONT course in 2020 and I'm now part of the Global Bond.
What you wish you knew before getting started in tech...
There are so many roles and types of company out there. It can be a bit overwhelming but keep looking and you will find something that works for you.
What has been your biggest 'wow!' moment related to working in tech so far?
I loved helping to deliver Red Nose Day 2017. My team provided the tech that raised £78 million and withstood traffic peaks of upwards of 200 donations / second.
What do you like / not like about working in tech?
The pace of delivery is brilliant, but can also be a little stressful at times. It's great that we can prototype or iterate so quickly and easily - it helps us learn and move forward as individuals and as a sector. But just because we can move quickly doesn't mean we always have to - we need to find a sustainable balance to ensure wellbeing, make sure we're learning properly and to reduce the number of people left behind.
"I don’t think there’s a defined pathway, and I don’t think a degree is necessary for most roles."
What's been your favourite / most memorable / funniest 'career in tech' moment so far?
I’m very proud of my involvement in turning dxw into an Employee Owned Business. We’re one of the biggest employee owned tech agencies in the UK.
And sitting in a meeting with Lenny Henry when I worked at Comic Relief was pretty memorable!
And to wrap up, is there any advice you'd like to give to others interested in a career in tech?
I don’t think there’s a defined pathway, and I don’t think a degree is necessary for most roles.
Work out the kind of role you might want and then look into programmes that offer mentoring or ways to get experience (e.g. Code First Girls, Ada’s List or Makers Academy). Not only will the experience be useful, you will start to build a network. From here you can begin to ask people to tell you about their careers and career pathways, which will hopefully inspire and guide you on yours. Generally in my career I’ve found people are generous with their time, so do not be afraid to ask to pick someone’s brain or ask someone to introduce you to someone else.