5 ways I've been inspired 6 months into Ada.
I joined Ada through the On Purpose Associate Programme, a year-long development programme for professionals looking to transition into careers that use business for good. I’ve spent six months helping the College think about how it will grow its impact over the next 5-10 years. That time has flown by and now, at the end of my placement, I find myself reflecting on what the college has inspired in me:
1. Upping my own digital skills. Before I worked at Ada I knew I wasn’t the most digitally-savvy person on the planet. Six months later I’m now hyper-aware, having realised how far I have to go to even reach ‘base camp’ level of digital skills, let alone the summit (and yes I would liken it to the challenge of climbing Everest). Ada combined with my On Purpose year have reawakened my love for learning, and I’m on a mission. I can’t work at Ada and not up my game, so I’m determined to take every opportunity the College offers (and there are many) to achieve my goal. It’s “base camp or bust” for me!
2. Being a more proactive advocate on gender equality. I’m very fortunate. I have rarely if ever felt discriminated against because I’m a woman. Before I joined Ada I didn’t know there was such a gender disparity in the tech sector (women currently make up somewhere between 17-27% of the digital workforce depending what you read), and I certainly didn’t understand what this means for the rest of us. Ada is focussed on eliminating that disparity, and as technology increasingly underpins every aspect of our lives, it is essential that the best – and most diverse – brains focus on developing it. Otherwise we’ll find ourselves in situations like the Chinese iPhone owner who found that all of her female colleagues could unlock her phone with face recognition. The impact of this disparity motivates me to reflect more deeply on my own role in supporting gender equality and how I can influence the roles of others.
3. Getting stuck in. Prior to Ada I had a hunch that I would like to work in an organisation that works directly with the people it is trying to help, in our case our amazing students. In my career to date I’ve done mostly office-based work, sometimes several times removed from the people who the work was meant to benefit. My highlights at Ada have all been direct interaction with the students, like the time I volunteered to be sponsor for one the #AdaKing project teams. Over two days I saw their brilliant idea for a card game go from concept to reality and was awed by their professional-looking video trailer! In return I tried to give some useful nuggets of project management advice to help smooth the team’s journey. I’ve seen first-hand the benefits of getting stuck in and I plan to do much more of it in future.
4. Harnessing the power of a mutual partnership. Having previously worked at one of Ada’s founding partners (Deloitte) and now at the College, I’ve seen the myriad benefits that such a partnership can deliver for both sides. If I was slightly cynical before I’m an evangelist now. Seeing it work in action as I have done with our coaching programme – matching our awesome industry coaches to support our students on a one to one basis - makes me want to find new organisations and individuals that could benefit from working together. I also want to maximise all the different ways that Ada and its existing partners can help each other.
5. And finally…sticking to your guns. Time and again I’ve seen how easy it would have been for Mark and Tom to give up on their idea for the College, there have been a lot of hurdles to overcome and there will be many more in the future. Their tenacity is inspiring. As Ada grows it would be easy to lose focus but, in fact, we have a clear mission that drives everything we do. That clarity of purpose is a real motivating force for me and, I imagine, for our founders, staff and students alike.
Fortunately, the end of my six month placement is not the end of my time with Ada. I’m excited to continue working for the College in a different but related capacity, managing the delivery of a key component of the next phase of our growth – our brand new Ashley Road campus.