Day One: Girls in Tech Catalyst Conference

Today was certainly a great way to kickstart the 3 day conference for Girls in Tech! Whilst we will be posting more detailed summaries on some topics post-conference, I wanted to keep you guys up to date with the first glance of what’s to come.

The day top and tailed with some incredible talent. Kara Swisher (@karaswisher) opened the day, moderated by Kym McNicholas (@kymbee), who set the tone for the day. Kara’s communication style was so authentic and unapologetic, she had the audience from the word go. Kara referenced an interview she did with Mark Zuckerberg, and talked about how in the face of gender disqualification, you can either be offended, or do something about it. That resonated strongly with me – we can’t expect change to happen if we don’t actively try to be that change in our actions.

Kym McNicholas interviewing Kara Swisher

Kym McNicholas interviewing Kara Swisher. Image credit @kymbee

One of the things I liked the most about Kara was her unapologetic nature, and how she focusses on building relationships before she needs them. If someone contacts her and wants to talk about their career direction and what next, she said she’ll always take that meeting. That willingness is what sets her apart from other journos. When it comes to journalism and getting the scoop before others, she gets it because she builds relationships and has catch ups with people with no agenda. “A lot of reporters are transactional and I spent a lot of time before that, building relationships,” she wasn’t just asking for information. When push comes to shove, she’s the person who’s call they’ll return or talk to about a story.

My final biggest take away from Kara (and honestly, there were too many to name!), was that the biggest piece of advice she gives, is to ask women what they want. Not just to go for what ‘incoming’ and what’s on offer, but to really understand what it is that you want and go for it. Once you do what you want and you define it…it changes everything.

Mind. Blown. And that’s just the first speaker!

Mary B. Kranston was another speaker that resonated strongly with me, and I’ll give you her top 5 patterns to success in male dominated career scenarios. She had some wonderful insights into her own career trajectory, limiting beliefs and talked about the gender bias research and how gender roles and gender perceptions are set pre-verbally which is why it’s been hard to push for change as it’s unconscious.

Mary B Kranston

  1. Develop an authentic vision for yourself. It needs to be specific to you and don’t worry, it can change over time.
  2. “Innergising” – which is about the strategic ‘no’ and consciously saying no to things that you don’t want to do, which gives you more energy to the do the things that you want to do.
  3. Reframing – this is the cognitive intervention and observing our thoughts to decide if they make sense and reduce the downward drag.
  4. Broad networking – women who get to the top typically have larger groups that they call on for support and help.
  5. Speaking up and taking risks. Mary believes that this one is the most important and that risk takers are intrinsically higher on the happiness scale.

Mary’s summary was that if you can focus on these 5 things, as you get into the inner limits and understand the things that you didn’t even realise were stopping you, you start to create a new mindset that powerfully shapes and drives your success.

Tania Katan (@taniakatan) rounded out the afternoon on a high, and was an incredibly engaging and inspiring speaker. Tania works for Axosoft and last year created viral sensation – #itwasneveradress.



One of Tania’s key pieces of advice was to find the human element in technology. Connecting with people is one of the things that Tania feels gives her the power to ask questions and to learn.

Parting lesson that I took from Tania was “we are all deeply cross-functional, so find out what other people’s secret talents are and bring them into your projects.” We see it every day in the inspirational women we meet – everyone’s got at least dual careers happening, and can offer so much insight from their personal passion into their professional day-to-day.

Our homework from Tania was to research Howard Zinn… so now it’s yours too! Get googling!

A parting quote from Howard via Tania:

“The power of a bold idea uttered publicly in defiance of dominant opinion cannot be easily measured. Those special people who speak out in such a way as to shake up not only the self-assurance of their enemies, but the complacency of their friends, are precious catalysts for change.” – Howard Zinn.

Tania Katan with Steph Webster & Andrea Clarke

Tania Katan with Steph Webster & Andrea Clarke

A huge thankyou to Adriana for her hospitality and for putting on such a fabulous conference for us all!

Girls in Tech Founder, Adriana Gascoigne & Miss Collective co-founder Steph Webster

Girls in Tech Founder, Adriana Gascoigne & Miss Collective co-founder Steph Webster


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