To mark this year’s International Women’s Day, we thought it appropriate to speak with our MD, Lindsay Lucas about the things that have influenced and inspired her and how they’ve affected her as an MD in a tech company.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I was a huge fan of cars and spent a lot of time going to races, events and fell in love with the world of formula 1, so really wanted to be a racing driver or a formula 1 engineer. I also loved animals, so thought about a career as a vet, but I changed my mind when I realised it wasn’t just all about making animals better. I also always had a burning desire to start a business and be an entrepreneur as the idea of being able to create something of my own always really appealed.
What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
Quite simple really. Don’t let others make you doubt yourself. Back yourself and be confident in your own abilities
What three tips or pieces of advice would you offer to young females starting out in their careers?
- Back yourself and go for it and if you find you don’t like something, its ok to acknowledge it and change, just make sure you try to give it a year before you do (or your CV will look less appealing to employers).
- Find a great network of like minded people to support you and if you really admire someone, don’t be afraid to ask for their time over coffee to chat about how they got to where they are and ask their advice.
- Connect on LinkedIn with everyone you meet through your career. You’ll be amazed where your school friends and university friends end up and how your network will help you in your career.
Who are your role models? Why?
I always find this a hard one to answer, as there is no-one I really idolise, that’s just not my style. I’ve always been someone who looks to the top of the company or at successful people to see what they are doing, how they act, the things they look at, the perspectives they bring and the results they achieve. The people I enjoy working with are the ones that challenge me to think differently and bring that diversity and perspective. I love spending time with people who have more experience than me when they are willing to impart information that will help me grow as a leader or allow me to share challenges and who offer support and sound advice.
What are the biggest challenges to being a female MD in the tech sphere? (or is industry irrelevant?)
I actually don’t see it as a challenge at all to be honest and I’m meeting more and more female MDs in the tech space which is great. On the whole I think the tech space is pretty inclusive and open to diversity, so they tend to focus more on capability than gender from what I can see. Don’t get me wrong, I still come across the odd misogynist who would prefer to talk to my male colleagues, but they are few and far between these days (a dying breed you might say!).
Can you provide one piece of advice for juggling a work and life balance ?
Haha, well anyone that has known me for a while will know the lines between work time and home time have been regularly blurred over the years. However, since my son came along I’ve been a lot better at being able to find the right blend between home and work. I’ve become more disciplined with my day and make sure I never miss a chance to read a bedtime story to him. I think I realised that you can’t have your time again and when you miss those moments, they are gone forever. Children grow so quickly and change so much and are a great reminder to stay present and not be defined by a role, you are a person, not a job title. A couple of things I’ve changed are, I leave my work phone turned off when I’m on holiday. I keep work email off my personal phone and I don’t check email in the evening (well unless I know the team need my support on something they are still online for). It’s like anything, the more time you give to something, the more time it fills, but if you give too much your “cup is empty” when it comes to everything else, so make sure you get a little time to yourself, time to recharge even if its just a 10 minute walk and try and plan out your week and stick to it (including the time you finish work which can be much harder when working from home).
Are you able to share a women’s empowerment moment that inspired you?
I think the woman who has inspired me most in my life is my mum. I know that sounds like a huge cliché, but just let me explain. My mum got her first symptoms of her multiple sclerosis when I was 3 and my brother was a newborn. I can’t imagine how scary that must have been at a time when you’re at your most vulnerable as a mother. She made sure we had a really normal, very active and outdoorsy childhood despite her own battles going on. When I became a teenager, I became more aware of her challenges, especially when people would stare at us when she walked as if she was drunk. They had no idea, but they still felt they could judge her. She rose above it all, carried on regardless and stayed positive, determined and driven. The thought of everything mum went through and continues to go through drives me to take a positive outlook, value people and push through adversity. Her true grit is inspiring and yet she stays humble, cheerful and loving. She’s an inspiration.
This year’s theme for International Womens Day is “inequality”, it’s interesting that one of Software Solved’s values is ‘Inclusivity’ what inspired you to incorporate this value?
I think Inclusivity is hugely important to building a growing business full of new ideas and drawing on different people’s experiences to challenge your perspective and really root out the ideas that are going to drive the business forwards. I want everyone to feel like they can have a say and that’s why we have our Employee Forum who can bring challenges and questions directly from the team to the leadership team. We have a really transparent culture and look to nurture and grow people and I think as a result we attract the right people for the role irrespective of anything else.
What are you goals for Software Solved under your watch?
I want to create a business that offers people a fantastic career that gives balance, belonging and purpose.
I want to grow the business to three times its current size and help others to grow their businesses at the same time.
You were probably expecting something here about wanting to get x number of customers generating x revenue in a certain vertical or creating a global brand, but I genuinely believe that if you build something based on people, relationships and doing what you say you will do, the rest all follows.
How would you call out inequality, including pay within a workplace? What do you think needs to change?
I think this has been on the agenda for a long time now and a lot has been done to address it, but I think its wider than just the gender point, I still believe it’s the right person for the job and that senior leaders need to be comfortable surrounding themselves with great people no matter of the gender. I get a bit frustrated when I see PR around appointing a senior leader focusing on the fact that person is a woman. Its not about gender, its about capability and the reward should match the skills. I would encourage women to not be afraid to ask for a pay-rise as I do think that generally speaking, that’s where men are much bolder and some women can tend to just work hard and expect the rewards to come, when that’s not always the case.
What’s your International Women’s Day message for 2021?
Don’t let someone else define your future. Be clear on what you want (or try enough things to work it out organically) and then seek out the people you admire in that space and strike up a conversation with them. Keep building your network and never stop learning and growing yourself – that investment ALWAYS pays back.