Cultivating Careers and Diversity in Tech with Gry Stene (#49)

We talk about Gry's journey to computing, being an IT Girl, and building an ecosystem that cultivates and nurtures careers in tech for women.

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Gry Stene loves to share her observations from her 30+ years as an “IT Girl” aka Woman in Tech.

When it came to choosing a career, Gry only had a couple of criteria…

Firstly, she wanted to help people solve problems and create a better world. Secondly, she wanted to prove that girls were as capable as boys. Given her proficiency in maths and science, information technology (IT) was a very real option, and when she realised that IT was likely to be a key component and foundation for solving pervasive problems across industries globally, the choice was easy. She started her career with a BSc(Hon) of Computation in Manchester, England in the late eighties and has built on that ever since.

Through her career, Gry has had the opportunity to design and deliver solutions across many industries, creating the right mix of people, systems, processes and culture. She has been fortunate to work across all continents and is as at home in early stage startups as she is in global conglomerates.

Often the only woman in the room, she has a unique perspective on IT, the people in IT, and what we need to do to create diverse and inclusive cultures where people feel they belong. She is driven to ensure that we create meaningful technology and are ethical in our considerations.

Gry loves the expression “same same but different”, and lives to engage, empower and inspire people to find their place in a digital world.

As an original “IT Girl” from the 80s who studied Computer Science and started out as programmer at a time when there were 35-40% women in key roles, she has loved working across continents in customer obsessed roles, and is equally at home in conceptual stage startups as she is in global conglomerates. She is deeply concerned with the downward trend of women in tech, especially as tech creators and inventors, and is on a mission to encourage, enable, empower and inspire more women, girls and other underrepresented people to step into IT! The IT Girls Rock community is part of that mission, as are the projects and initiatives across education, corporate and technology that she designs, develops and delivers through her social enterprise STEAM Engine Global.

In our conversation, we talk about Gry’s journey to computing, being an IT Girl, and building an ecosystem that cultivates and nurtures careers in tech for women.

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Show Notes

[00:01:11] Gry’s worldly early years.
[00:02:33] Academic proficiency leading towards mathematics and sciences.
[00:03:45] Pursuing sciences further in high school.
[00:05:20] Returning and readjusting back to Norway.
[00:06:05] Choosing a career path.
[00:09:30] Applying ‘ikigai’ and f inding your purpose.
[00:10:05] Gry’s motivations for pursuing computation.
[00:11:37] Entering the workforce and growing her understanding of the scope of technical work.
[00:13:31] Learning you can’t be a dev in isolation.
[00:15:22] Dame Stephanie Shirley.
[00:16:18] #DevThings Segue: Technical Debt.
[00:18:24] The need to cultivate diversity in teams.
[00:22:46] Observations about gravitating towards roles which accommodate our other aspects.
[00:26:49] Prioritisation habits of high performing women.
[00:31:29] Standards.
[00:35:06] Finding a place for everyone’s unique skillsets.
[00:36:58] Solving the right problems.
[00:40:25] Expanding your thinking about what others’ experiences are.
[00:58:23] STEAM Engine Global.
[00:58:31] Cultivating spaces in the pipeline for creating belonging and nurturing talent.
[01:06:15] Following her north star.
[01:08:14] Bonus Question 1: What hobby or interest do you have that is most unrelated to your field of work?
[01:13:24] Bonus Question 2: Which childhood book holds the strongest memories for you
[01:14:27] Bonus Question 3: What advice you would give someone who wants to do what you do? Or what advice should they ignore?

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