EVERYDAY SUPERSTARS

Celebrating women who have a passion for technology and digital, inspiring the next generation to dream bigger.

Imaginify was a ... Tech diversity advocate and CEO

Debbie Forster MBE is CEO of Tech Talent Charter, a UK government-backed initiative to increase diversity in tech, that counts Cisco, Sage, PwC, Deloitte and HP amongst its backers. She was WISE campaign's 2016 Woman of the Year, and has been listed in Computer Weekly's 20 most influential women in IT for the past four years.

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FACTFILE

1

I have a level 2 in wine tasting - the best exam I ever had to study for!

2

I find it weirdly easy to read upside down writing - never think I can't read what you're writing if you are sitting opposite me.

3

I am the very proud mother of a pink-haired daughter who loves to travel the world.

WHAT DO YOU DO?

I work with companies and organisations who want to make a difference in gender diversity in tech. My job is very different every day  -sometimes I'm speaking at events, meeting with companies in person or online or setting up our CRM or signing off what our website looks like. I'm someone who can get bored easily, so I love the sheer variety of it all.

What made you decide to do this?

I love solving problems and trying to make a difference, it's something that has driven every job choice I've made. I didn't "choose" tech or digital, I kind of tripped and (gratefully) fell into it. I didn't love tech for it's own sake, I just love what it could do and what doors it opened for people.

How long have you been doing it?

I've worked with TTC for about 18 months, but tech has been a bit part of my jobs since for about 15 years.

Do you have a mentor or anyone who supports you?

I've had a range of mentors over the years, some I speak to every few weeks, some once or twice a year. They're a range of people, men and women in different jobs; some who are or have done the job I'm doing now and some who are in very different roles. They offer advice, feedback, act as sounding boards and cheerleaders when I'm lacking confidence or facing a particularly daunting challenge!

WHO INSPIRES YOU?

Oooh, such a long list. And many of them people who aren't in the limelight and can be younger or older than me. I'm most inspired by women (of all ages) who face challenges or seem "fearless"

Like most women, I fight the "imposter syndrome" and low self-confidence. Seeing women conquer the challenges and their own demons always inspires me and helps me "buck up" and get on with it!

What do you wish you'd known 10 years ago? What difference would knowing that have made?

I wish I knew that there is no "right" or "perfect" way to have a career. For a lot of us, it isn't linear, the next step isn't clear and it only makes sense when you look back on it. "Following your gut" is the only way forward, and sometimes it will tell you to take that chance and other times it will tell you to slow down, and have a life. But there is no wrong answer, it's a journey not a destination.

What are the best things about being a woman in an industry dominated by men?

There is a chance to shine, to stand out, to make a difference. Things ARE changing and it is a great time to be part of that change.

What advice do you have for girls or women considering a tech role?

Do it! There are so many companies crying out for women and there are great chances to be creative, to make/do/create amazing things. Tech is now everywhere, there isn't a career out there that can't have tech in it. Get in there!

What is your favourite quote?

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead