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Katrina Young: from Venture Consultant to Chief Technology Officer

Social media handle(s): @katrinayoungconsulting

A few words about me:

Katrina Young standing holding an Alexa wearing a coral dress

I'm Katrina Young, passionately nurturing the seeds of digital innovation and championing tech accessibility. Away from pioneering transformative technological advancements, my commitment to well-being mirrors my professional ethos - blending perseverance.

I am a Chief Technology Officer and my work spans through various sectors, including consulting, running an agency, and mentoring, alongside strong partnerships with industry leaders such as AWS, IBM, & Microsoft.

With a keen interest in continuous learning and staying abreast of current trends, alongside a dedication to precision, I forge a realm where inventive flair converges with coding prowess, illuminating the rich, dynamic panorama of my existence within tech. I am a fervent gardener of digital innovation and a crusader for tech inclusivity.

When I'm not architecting the next wave of technological change, you might find me immersed in wellbeing and self-care. My penchant for wellbeing and for my professional journey reflects endurance combined with the constant pursuit of excellence. Balancing a penchant for studying, keeping up to date with trends and algorithmic precision.

Are there any professional experiences you've had that are quite unexpected compared to what you do nowadays?

With my career predominantly focused on technology and innovation, all roles I've undertaken have contributed to my growth in this sector. However, one might consider my experiences across diverse sectors as somewhat unexpected for a traditional Technologist or Chief Technology Officer. While my mainstay has been technological advancements and empowering companies with innovative solutions, I've delved into sectors beyond the conventional technology landscape.

For instance, my involvement in construction, healthcare, luxury, and education sectors provide a distinctive edge to my professional portfolio. In these roles, I've helped integrate technology with mainstream operations, making it pivotal to drive future progress. This broad-spectrum experience has not only enriched my perspectives but has also catapulted me to being a dynamic and versatile tech leader, capable of spearheading innovation in different industries.

However, the connecting thread in all these roles has been a focus on technology and innovation, highlighting that unexpected roles can often be the cornerstone of unique expertise and learning.

Is your background more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) or non-STEM related?

My expertise, both professional and educational, is strongly rooted in technology. As a passionate technology enthusiast and leader, my journey concentrates heavily on generating and nurturing technological advancements. As a Chief Technology Officer and a Strategic Business Venture Consultant, my profession is a melding of cutting-edge technology and forward-thinking strategies.

My focus around AWS, IBM, & Microsoft platforms have significantly deepened my relationship with the technology industry. Every undertaking, whether educational or professional, firmly gravitates towards technology, making it not just a part of my career, but an integral part of my lifestyle.

Where did your professional journey start?

My professional journey began with a keen interest in technology that translated into a solid education in the field. It was during my formative years in academia where I truly embraced the world of technology, immersing myself in studies that covered software development and computer science principles.

The early stage of my career was marked by a hands-on role where I dipped my toes into the practical aspects of technology. Starting as a Project Manager that would eventually build the robust systems and applications we relied on. This foundational role not only honed my technical skills but also paved the way for my evolution into strategic positions where technology meets business growth. It was here, at the confluence of innovation and execution, that my professional path truly began to take shape, leading me to the CTO position and consulting realms I navigate today.

How did you get into tech and what motivated you?

From the very beginning, I've been captivated by the intricate dance of problem-solving. As a child with an insatiable appetite for learning, I discovered the joy of fixing, building, and understanding - this was more than a pastime; it was a calling. Every puzzle solved, every question answered, led to a deeper understanding of the world around me.

As I grew, my interests began to evolve. I was not just fascinated by problems but also by the narratives behind them. I realised that every product, every service, every brand has a story - a series of problems they're attempting to solve. This revelation is what drew me to the dynamic sphere of Marketing and Advertising.

In my studies, I plunged into a world where creative storytelling and strategic thinking were paramount. Marketing and Advertising were, I discovered, about identifying and solving problems on a grand scale. Whether it was understanding consumer behaviour, crafting compelling campaigns, or navigating the digital landscape, there was always a challenge to be tackled - and I thrived on that.

Armed with my problem-solving mindset, I dived into dissecting case studies and analysing market trends, always looking for the 'why' behind every successful campaign. My educational journey became one of blending logic with creativity - applying rigorous analytical skills to marketing strategies and using insights to fuel original advertising ideas. This then lead onto my passion for Digital and Emerging Technology.

Have you experienced any 'career in tech' challenges / stereotypes?

Navigating the tech industry can come with its own set of unique challenges and stereotypes. One of the most pervasive stereotypes is the notion that you must fit a specific mould to succeed in tech - this can mean coming from a certain educational background, possessing a specific type of personality, or even looking a certain way. This stereotype can be quite discouraging, especially for those who bring diverse perspectives and skill sets that are invaluable to innovation.

Gender Stereotypes

For women, and indeed anyone who doesn’t fit the traditional tech archetype, gender stereotypes can be a significant barrier. There's a preconceived notion about what a programmer looks like, and unfortunately, it tends to favour men. This stereotype not only affects hiring and promotion opportunities but can also impact daily interactions, where expertise and contributions might be undervalued based on gender biases.


Another challenge is ageism. The tech industry is often portrayed as a young person's game, with stereotypes suggesting that older individuals can't keep up with new technologies or the fast pace of the industry. This can be demotivating for skilled professionals who bring years of invaluable experience and a wealth of knowledge to their roles.

The Myth of the "Lone Genius"

The stereotype of the "lone genius" coder who works in isolation and magically comes up with solutions also sets an unrealistic benchmark. It overlooks the collaborative and communicative nature of tech jobs, where teamwork and the ability to share ideas openly are crucial for success. This myth can contribute to a toxic culture of overwork and the undervaluing of collaborative skills.

Impostor Syndrome

Partially fuelled by the above stereotypes, Impostor Syndrome is a common challenge. Many talented individuals in tech constantly feel like they're not good enough, that they've somehow 'tricked' their way into their positions, and that sooner or later, they'll be exposed as frauds. This syndrome can be debilitating, affecting individuals' mental health and hindering their career progress.

Navigating the Ever-evolving Tech Landscape

Lastly, the rapid pace of technological advancements presents its own challenge. Keeping up with the latest technologies, tools, and methodologies can be overwhelming. There’s a constant pressure to learn and adapt, which can lead to burnout if not managed well.

While these challenges and stereotypes can present significant hurdles, many in the tech industry are actively working to address and dismantle them. Efforts to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion; mentorship programs; and a growing recognition of the value of soft skills and varied backgrounds in fostering innovation are all positive strides toward a more inclusive and supportive tech community.

"The tech industry is vast, with numerous paths to explore. Spend time identifying what you're passionate about ..."

What you wish you knew before getting started in tech...

If there's something I wish I knew before joining the tech world, it would be the importance of soft skills alongside technical proficiency. When I first entered the tech industry, my focus was almost entirely on honing my coding skills, learning new programming languages, and understanding the latest technologies and frameworks. While these are undoubtedly crucial for a career in tech, I quickly realised that soft skills are equally vital.

Communication is Key

The ability to clearly articulate ideas, explain complex technical concepts to non-technical stakeholders, and collaborate effectively with team members is invaluable. Communication is the bridge between an idea and its execution, and without effective communication, even the best ideas can falter.

Adaptability and Continuous Learning

The tech field evolves at a breakneck pace. New technologies, languages, and methodologies emerge all the time. While staying technically up-to-date is essential, so is the ability to adapt. The willingness to learn and the ability to pivot when necessary are crucial qualities in this ever-changing landscape.

Problem-solving Beyond Code

Early in my career, I equated problem-solving strictly with coding challenges. However, I've come to appreciate that problem-solving is a broader skill. It encompasses understanding user needs, brainstorming solutions, and sometimes even identifying problems that others haven’t noticed yet. It’s about thinking big-picture as well as paying attention to the minutiae.

Teamwork and Collaboration

Tech projects are rarely solo endeavours. They require collaboration across different teams and disciplines. Understanding how to work effectively in a team, respecting diverse viewpoints, and contributing positively to a group dynamic are all skills that play a significant role in your professional success.

Emotional Intelligence

The tech world can be challenging and stressful. Projects can face unexpected roadblocks, and the pressure to deliver can be intense. Emotional intelligence - the ability to manage your emotions and understand and influence the feelings of others - can help navigate these challenges more smoothly and maintain a healthy work environment.

In hindsight, while I focused on mastering technical skills before joining the tech world, appreciating the value of soft skills early on would have given me a more well-rounded approach to my career. It’s not just about what you can do technically but also about how you work, communicate, learn, and adapt in a fast-paced, collaborative environment.

What has been your biggest 'wow!' moment related to working in tech so far?

If I were to choose one 'wow' moment in my tech journey, it would undeniably be the first time I saw an RPA robot I helped program come to life. I was part of a team working on developing an RPA robot for a research project. This specific robot was designed to navigate independently and perform certain tasks.

After months of coding, testing, detecting bugs, and correcting them, the day finally arrived to put the robot in action in a real-world test environment. Watching the robot turn on was fascinating enough. But the real 'wow' moment came when it began navigating, to understand the environment, making decisions, and continuing its course - all based on the code we had input.

The feeling of seeing physical embodiment of our code functioning autonomously, interacting with the world and solving real-life problems was profoundly exciting and satisfying. It hit me then just how far technology has come and the fantastic potential it holds for the future. That remains one of the most memorable moments of my life in tech and a remarkable reminder of why I chose this career path.

What do you like / not like about working in tech?

There's a lot to love about working in tech. Here are a few things I especially enjoy:

1. Innovation: Technology is ever-evolving and exciting. There's always a new challenge and an opportunity to innovate.

2. Impact: The work we do in technology often has a palpable, immediate impact, whether it affects a single user, a company, or society at large.

3. Learning Opportunities: Due to the fast-paced nature of the industry, there's a constant need for learning and upskilling, which I find intellectually stimulating.

4. Flexibility: Many tech roles offer flexible work options, including remote working, which can lead to a favourable work-life balance.

5. Community: The tech community can be incredibly collaborative and supportive. There’s a great sense of camaraderie amongst those who love tackling complex problems.

As for what I don't like, every field has its challenges, and tech is no different:

1. Burnout: The tech industry is high-stakes and fast-paced, which can lead to stress and burnout if not managed well.

2. Keeping Up with Tech Trends: The same rapid evolution that makes tech exciting can also be overwhelming when trying to keep up with every new trend and technology.

3. Lack of Diversity: Despite progress, the tech field still struggles with diversity and inclusion. It's important that this continues to get addressed.

4. Imposter Syndrome: Given the vastness of the tech realm and the constant drive to learn and improve, it's easy to fall prey to imposter syndrome. However, it's important to acknowledge this as a common feeling and not indicative of one's actual skills or accomplishments.

5. Work-Life Balance: Although flexible work hours can be a boon, they can also blur the lines between personal and professional life, particularly for remote workers, leading to challenges in maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Everyone's experiences and perspectives will differ, but these are some things I've observed during my journey in the tech industry.

"In essence, a career in tech is a journey of continuous growth and learning. Embrace the challenges that come your way, and always strive to push the boundaries of what's possible with technology."

What's been your favourite / most memorable / funniest 'career in tech' moment so far?

One of my favourite and most memorable moments in my tech career actually revolves around a seemingly insurmountable challenge that turned into a hilarious situation. Early on, I was part of a team working on a crucial project with a tight deadline. As is often the case in tech, what could go wrong, did go wrong. We were facing a particularly stubborn bug that was halting our progress, and despite countless hours of troubleshooting, we couldn't crack it.

Exhausted and running on caffeine, our team decided to call it a night, except for me and another colleague. Fuelled by sheer stubbornness (and perhaps too much coffee), we vowed not to leave until we fixed the issue. As the night dragged on, our conversation shifted from technical theories to absurd solutions, including the idea that the bug was due to "cosmic rays" affecting our servers - clearly a joke to lighten the mood.

As dawn approached, a moment of clarity struck through our sleep-deprived brains. Revisiting one of our earlier discarded theories, we found a minor oversight - a tiny piece of code that was misplaced. Fixing it resolved the issue instantly. The sheer relief and laughter that followed were immense. We couldn't stop joking about how it wasn't the cosmic rays after all.

This incident, while funny in hindsight, taught me important lessons: the value of perseverance, the importance of teamwork, and the need to sometimes step back and approach problems with a fresh perspective (and a sense of humour). It remains a cherished memory in my tech career, reminding me that behind every challenge lies an opportunity for growth - and possibly a good laugh.

And to wrap up, is there any advice you'd like to give to others interested in a career in tech?

Stepping into the tech industry is both exhilarating and challenging. Here's some advice based on my own journey in technology:

1. Stay Curious: The tech field evolves at an exponential rate. Maintain an insatiable curiosity about new technologies, methodologies, and industry trends. This mindset will not only keep you informed but also inspire innovative thinking.

2. Embrace Continuous Learning: Never let your education stop at your degree or certifications. The tech landscape is constantly changing, and ongoing education is key to staying relevant. Engage in self-learning, online courses, workshops, and conferences to enhance your skills and knowledge.

3. Develop a Problem-Solving Attitude: Technology, at its core, is about solving problems. Cultivate the ability to think critically and devise efficient solutions. This skill is invaluable and will distinguish you in your career.

4. Work on Projects: Theory is important, but practice is paramount. Dive into projects, whether personal, academic, or professional. Hands-on experience solidifies your understanding of concepts and technologies, and it adds valuable entries to your portfolio.

5. Network: The tech community is vibrant and supportive. Connect with peers, mentors, and professionals through social media, forums, and tech meetups. Networking can open doors to opportunities, provide insights into your career trajectory, and offer guidance through challenges.

6. Be Resilient: The path in tech is not always linear or smooth. You may encounter setbacks, challenging projects, and rapid changes in technology. Resilience in the face of these challenges is key to long-term success.

7. Foster Soft Skills: While technical skills are crucial, don't underestimate the power of soft skills like communication, teamwork, and empathy. The ability to work well with others and articulate your ideas clearly can accelerate your career growth.

8. Find Your Niche: The tech industry is vast, with numerous paths to explore. Spend time identifying what you're passionate about - whether it's software development, data science, cybersecurity, or another domain. Excelling in a niche can make you highly sought after.

In essence, a career in tech is a journey of continuous growth and learning. Embrace the challenges that come your way, and always strive to push the boundaries of what's possible with technology.


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