We need more women in tech. Not for the sake of numbers but for a different perspective, for innovation and to show more girls that they can too. I hope my journey into tech inspires young women to take a leap too. As a now 54 year old woman, tech hasn’t always been a part of my journey. In fact, my journey as a women in tech started off in quite an unconventional manner. I was actually a tech virgin before I became a tech entrepreneur. Here’s my story.
Pre-Internet and Pre-Digital
I began my career back in the analogue days; pre-internet, pre-mobile and pre-digital. I was creating content as an independent producer for the cable network, Optus Vision. As part of their cable launch, they had to provide a community channel where people, like me, could have the opportunity to produce content they would air. I had no idea what I was doing. I was pre-computer and was a virgin in this space in so many ways. But I did have gumption, passion and a desire to make it happen regardless of my lack of knowledge-
I produced three TV shows, one of which was called TV.com. That was back in the late 90’s. I was talking about technology on TV back then!
Sponsored by Apple and Optus
Optus gave me the use of an outside broadcast van, which included a full production kit.. I created a hands-on video production workshop called ‘Media Minds’ that my team and I ended up running in over 300 schools in Adelaide, Brisbane and Melbourne. I initially advertised the program via a ten page fax and then found a more sophisticated process – mail-outs! The program was sponsored by Apple and Optus. I like to think I had something to do with Apple’s entry into the education system:) I was now an educator in media and shortly after was hired by the education department to run professional development workshops for teachers of media. Not bad for a kid who left school at 15!
ANALOGUE TO DIGITAL
My love of technology at this time required me to understand how to convert analogue to digital. This fusion of analogue and digital was why I became fascinated with technology and the capabilities it provides us. As digital came in and analogue weaned out, our media program was no longer viable, yet it was one of the most revolutionary outsourced programs in Australian schools at the time.
THE INTERNET AND THE BRICK
At the time my husband got his first mobile phone, was approximately the same time that the internet was creeping into our lives. Neither were adopted quickly (not by today’s standards) nor was the transition a simple one. The technology available at the time was costly, slow and only available to an elite few.
World Wide Web
When the internet became accessible to households the world wide web became a phenomenon. I began to see the world open up right before my eyes. In 2006 I started The Red Tent Woman, a national women’s business network that brought women together for intimate dinners and an open forum to discuss business challenges and get the support they needed. I was able to grow it from a local idea to a national organisation through digital campaigns instead of relying on faxes and mail-outs. The website created a portal for people to connect directly and in as little as two years we were hosting events in five states in Australia.
Podcasting helped me survive cancer
In 2010, at the age of 44, I was diagnosed with a 14cm renal cell carcinoma on my left kidney. While I was recovering from a radical nephrectomy, I recall asking myself ‘what can I do to keep my business brand alive that doesn’t require me to look good, feel good or go anywhere?’ I decided to produce a podcast show as it was something I could do from bed and no-one would be the wiser. Little did I know at the time that I would go on to become one of the pioneers of podcasting in the B2B market in Australia and create a global reputation for myself from my bedroom! I even produced a podcast training program called ‘The Podcast Masterclass’ and produced a podcast show to help other people podcast called ‘How to Podcast Like a Pro!
Published my first book on tech
The following year, after my second surgery, I wrote a book called ‘It’s That Easy – Online Marketing 3.0’. The following year on the day of my third surgery, my book was being launched globally in digital and print. It showed me that although I might have physical challenges, with technology I could continue to create and connect.
THE ROOM XCHANGE
In 2017 I launched a peer to peer platform called ‘The Room Xchange’. We connect busy households with a spare bedroom with guests who provide an agreed amount of help in Xchange for accommodation.
The guest helps out around the house and the host provides a place to call home. It’s a social enterprise that’s addressing multiple societal issues, utilising resources that already exist and it’s changing the way we live. I lived this way for over four years and because of technology, its enabled me to create a platform that directly connects both hosts and guests, from all over the world at the click of a button. No middle person is required, or middle management. It’s peer to peer. It’s a vast change from my first venture over 25 years ago.
Tech affords us many privileges
Technology is a tool that affords us many privileges. I have experienced the difference first hand. The journey from analogue to digital has given me a great sense of appreciation for what we can now do. It opens up a plethora of opportunities for anyone who has access to a laptop and the internet. We have so much freedom today because of tech. It’s such a great resource. Embrace it, use it and allow it to turn your dreams into reality so you too can change the way you live.
I’m available to speak on Women in Tech at your next event, panel or interview.