Angie Vaux, you’re the founder of the Women in Tech Forum. How did it come into being? What led you there?
It started out as a hobby and a desire to give back to the next generation of women in tech, and to provide them with an opportunity to connect with other women in the industry and meet senior female role models.
Your tagline is “come together, help women excel and break the glass ceiling.” Are you helping women break the glass ceiling?
In the UK, just 5% of women in the tech industry hold a leadership position. Globally, that’s probably somewhere between 10 and 15%. When we consider that women are 52% of tech consumers we need to make sure that the sort of technology apps and things that we’re designing are inclusive. What really inspired me for this is when I held senior leadership positions, I found it very difficult to build a gender balanced leadership team. When I interviewed women and men, there was quite a difference in how men and women approached the interview process. I really wanted to equip women with the skills, the confidence, the networks, the coaching, so that they can go for those leadership positions and also feel that they deserve them.
I’m always curious to ask female founders and entrepreneurs about the money. Where did the funding for the Women in Tech Forum come from?
From the bank of Angie Vaux. That’s the beauty of having a successful career, you’re able to plan for eventualities. For me, that was holidays and properties. I actually decided to use it instead to set up my own business.
We are at an inflection point now where we are going for funding. We have some amazing, multinational tech clients, as well as rapidly growing scale-ups. To continue to service our clients and continue the growth, it would be helpful to fund the next level of growth for us.
Speaking of clients, tell me about the business model and how you work with those multinationals and scale-ups.
We have three core service offerings for our clients.
– The first one is the annual membership to Women in Tech Forums. That’s a subscription-based business on a per user basis. We sell corporate subscriptions as well as individual membership.
-We also have an executive coaching program. We coach primarily women in the tech industry.
-The third one is a series of workshops and master classes that are tailored to companies.
You’ve said ‘we’ a couple of times, do you have employees already or a team?
Yes, I do. As part of the government’s rescue package during the pandemic, they launched a program called Kickstart, which is aimed at giving unemployed 18 to 24 year olds a six months paid role with a British business. We’re very lucky to hire six people through that program initially. That ended at the end of August but we’ve since hired some of the people that went through that, on a full-time basis. And then we’ve got web administrators as well. So, so we have a team right now, and that will grow exponentially with the funding.
Based on everything you know now about building a business, what advice would you have for others who are thinking about embarking on this journey towards entrepreneurialism?
I think it’s one of the most rewarding things that you can ever do. When you align your passion, your purpose, your skills with your experience, it’s incredibly rewarding.
I don’t think anyone can really prepare you fully for what you’re going into.
You have to prioritize as well and really focused on what’s important, what matters. And it’s a continuous learning journey.
Expect the unexpected be brave, don’t be afraid to make mistakes and, you know, just pat yourself on the back as well as also nobody else. Well, so, you know, celebrate your achievements every day and use that to propel you forward.
Do you have advisors or anyone you can speak to, other visionaries, other strategists, who can say “Angie, not a great idea, Angie brilliant idea”?
I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by my own board of advisors and my mentors who who’ve really been quite instrumental in encouraging me to set up my own business and giving me the confidence to do that, and also advising on how to handle different sorts of situations (like how to handle press inquires without a PR team). It’s really important because it can be quite lonely.
What do you stand for and what do you want your legacy to be?
I want to really drive positive change in the industry and drive a workplace that’s inclusive, where people thrive, where women have the skills and the confidence to get promotions and equal pay and stand up for their rights. I want to impact at least 25,000 people and help them have a better career, optimise their potential and inspire them to live the life of their dreams.
Tell me about some of the public figures or world leaders you admire either for their approach to inclusion or social media?
I admire Jacinda Ardern, who is the New Zealand Prime Minister. The way she led New Zealand through the pandemic, particularly in the very early phases, was very admirable. That kindness, that compassion, that inclusivity I really admire, and historically in business, particularly in the tech industry, those qualities were seen as being a sign of weakness, poor leadership.
I know that you’ve mentioned mentors and coaches and even business sponsors along the way. Tell me about some of the people who’ve shaped your success.
For me, particularly at SAP, I had sponsors throughout most of my career. That enabled me to have access to opportunities which I wouldn’t have otherwise had access to or gone for myself. So a lot of the opportunities I had, I didn’t necessarily think I had the skills to go and run a P&L when I was coming straight out of marketing or lead a big team when I’d only ever managed a couple of people.
Having a sponsor to advocate on your behalf is really important. And then having a mentor who you trust and admire is really important because they can give you that trusted advice, guidance, feedback in a safe space.
Having a coach is great because it helps you really think about what you want to achieve, whether that’s work or personal, how to get there and to put measurable steps in place to help you get there. I’ve been very fortunate throughout my career to have access to all three groups. And I think for anyone who doesn’t have a mentor, go and find yourself one.
Through the Women in Tech Forum, for example?
Absolutely. In fact, we ran an event on mentorship last week and we’ve got another day for mentor matching coming up, but also we have a slack workspace as well. So you can go in and chat to other women and post if you want to find a mentor as well.