What an amazing first event! We were so excited about this in the lead-up (and nervous as hell!) but we needn’t have worried – it was a huge success. We received so much positive feedback, it was clear The F Factor was a hit. By the end of the night, we were elated and exhausted in pretty much equal measure.
Our generous hosts Optiver pulled out all the stops, with an endless flow of champagne and strawberries, and our launch party took on a relaxed vibe in the Optiver loft with cool beats and tray upon tray of mouth-watering vegetarian canapés prepared by their own ridiculously talented chef.
Project F founder and CEO, Emma Jones welcomed guests and introduced The F Factor. Then the first special guest, Aubrey Blanche, Global Head of Diversity & Belonging at Atlassian, gave a wonderfully impassioned talk entitled “thank u, next”, a reference to Ariana Grande, of whom Aubrey’s a huge fan.
Aubrey evangelised the importance of balanced teams and described how she has embedded a number of processes and philosophies at Atlassian to drive outcomes. Importantly, she shared that they have raised female representation in tech teams from 10% to 18% in a mere four years – that’s a serious uplift right there! Aubrey also disclosed an ongoing battle she has with her boss on her job title. She hates the word “diversity” and wants to swap it out of her title for the word “balance”. Her boss believes people don’t get it in the same way, so Aubrey’s out to prove her wrong and appeals to all of us to take on this word in place of diversity from now on to support her! Pretty sure we’ll be doing that! Our last big takeaway also comes from Aubrey’s job title. Formerly known as Head of Diversity & “Inclusion”, Aubrey has swapped Inclusion for “Belonging”, stating, “F*** being “included”, I want to belong!”. She explained that being included is like being asked to a party because someone else dropped out. So in truth, we don’t want to have to make people feel included at all, we want everyone to feel like they belong right? Totally makes sense when you think about it.
After Aubrey’s talk, she was joined for a panel Q&A by Inga Latham, Chief Product Officer and sole female on an all-male leadership team at Siteminder and Jenni Barnett, Executive Director of Telstra Digital. Inga and Jenni met when they worked together in the team that created Commbank’s pivotal Digital Channel from the ground up, under the leadership of transformative executive, Lisa Frazier.
As we talked, we got some great insights into what it takes to make it to leadership and not just to make it but to thrive there. Inga spoke of her life-saving “posse” of friends and mentors who she has been able to call on for support. She believes it’s critical to have this tribe, your advocates, your sounding boards, your fans, your supporters and your critics. And not to be afraid to lean on them. Jenni spoke also of the myth of ‘having it all’, in that there’s no doubt there are compromises and sacrifices that have to be made along the way, but acknowledging and accepting this makes it easier to manage and isn’t this the case with anything that’s worth having?
An added bonus for the event was a giveaway of a signed copy of the jaw-dropping book “Daring To Drive” by Manal Al Sharif, the Saudi woman who famously went to prison for daring to film herself driving and post it on Youtube. Her incredible campaigns for women’s rights saw the driving ban for women eventually lifted in 2017 and numerous other advancements for women oppressed by the guardianship system of this middle eastern kingdom. Congratulations to Sarah Atkinson!
We launched our “Help-A-Girl-Out” Mentoring program and had an overwhelming response from our attendees who signed up to be mentors or mentored (and many both – always more learning to be had!). We’re now working hard to make great matches. It’s clearly answering a need so we’re anticipating this will be the start of something big! We are still taking sign-ups on our website if you missed out.
All in all, it was an uplifting evening that balanced inspiration and insight with networking and celebration. The celebratory vibe was absolutely intentional. We celebrate all women who are working in technology careers today as it is so very important to shaping the future of the world’s technology and inspiring the next generation of women to have a voice and influence. At Project F we care about seeding the next generation of tech women and for this reason, all profits from ticket sales are being donated to Robogals!
Thank you to everyone who attended our launch party.
You can sign up to join our next event featuring Tanya Reilly (password available to F Factor members only) and join a supportive community of tech women (here).
Also, if you’re an Insta fan why not follow Project F on Instagram for some regular hits of inspo’?