#InterviewSeries | Rachel McConnell
The #InterviewSeries is a collection of intimate discussions with womxn in the technical & digital spaces. They are entrepreneurs, developers, students, cyber-security experts, managers, designers and social media queens. The aim of the series is to increase the visibility of womxn in tech, to prove that no womxn's journey is linear & to celebrate their successes. Whatever your passion or skill or gender, there's something out there for you and these womxn prove that.
November's Cyber Woman is the delightful Rachel McConnell 👋Rachel works as a designer at Deliveroo AND has written a whole book 😍😍😍😍Read all about her journey, the highs & lows and her favourite learning resources below.
Tell us a little bit about yourself I’m a content designer at Deliveroo, working on the rider app. So the 35,000 riders we have around the world get to read my copy every day!
Tell us a little bit about your journey into your role. How much time do you have?! The short version is that I went from journalism training into advertising agencies...had a career crisis and took a diversion into brand and marketing. From there I moved into social media and digital content, and finally into content design! It’s been an interesting couple of decades.
How do you personally use technology in your day to day? I’m an iPhone addict - Twitter is my go-to news feed. I also use Instagram as my photo diary. I’m in quite a few Slack groups too for content and design, and I use Medium all the time. At home I only use Netflix for TV via my Apple box. I haven’t succumbed to any home assistants yet.
How do you use technology in your role? We don’t really use email much as a company but I have to keep up with a LOT of Slack channels. As I work remotely sometimes, collaborative design tools such as whimsical and Figma are a godsend, as are Google hangouts! We’re also encouraged to do deliveries using the rider app so I’ve done that a couple of times and dip in and out of the app for research.
What have been the best learning resources for you? Aside from books, workshops, conferences and blog posts, the best resources have been other people. Collaborating with designers and researchers has taught me so much, as has spending time observing user behaviour.
As a woman, do you think you have faced any challenges that a man would not face in your position? Absolutely. Taking two career breaks (mat leave) to have kids has definitely put me behind my peers. I worked part time for a couple of years when my kids were younger and I always felt I was the last to know what was going on in the office. Even now as a single parent I have to juggle childcare and work and often feel like I don’t have enough time to do everything properly. Over the years I’ve also noticed as a woman in business meetings that I often have to say something a few times before anyone really takes it in, yet a guy could say the same thing once and be listened to. I’ve even had my ideas passed off as theirs. It often seems as if women need to be more assertive and bullish to succeed, and that’s not always a comfortable space for all of us.
What has been your biggest challenge to date? Five or six years ago I was doing a shitty job I’d taken just to avoid redundancy. I was going through a divorce and couldn’t afford to be jobless. I applied for a digital content lead role and got it, then proceeded to build the team up from 1 (me) to 8 people. I started out working across 5 scrum teams trying to prove the value of content until I had buy-in to recruit. So that was hard. Finding the right people for the right roles was also hard and took me 3 years. At times I felt like giving up, but I just had to keep going. By the time I left that company I’d managed to turn my situation around completely which made all the tough times worthwhile.
Writing my new book was also a challenge in a different way. Finding time to write and edit while working meant it took a lot longer than planned but I’m glad it’s finally done and out there! Why you need a content team and how to build one is out now!
With regards to technology/ digital, what do you think will be our biggest barrier to success in the
future? With the introduction of voice UI and advances in chatbots, the biggest barrier to succeed will be not having content experts in place. Stripped back UI and voice UI relies almost purely on the content, and companies that don’t get themselves set up with content designers now will really suffer later on.
Who makes up your support squad? My biggest support and cheerleader is my partner who’s also a design lead. He’s my career advisor, proofreader and shoulder to cry on! I also have ex content colleagues that I catch up with regularly and we sometimes host meet-ups. My childcare team’s made up of parents, school clubs and childminders!
What’s your favorite piece of advice to offer entrepreneurial/ techy/ digital women? I guess realising you have as much right to a voice as anyone else, I think ‘taking up more space’ expresses this perfectly. It’s taken me a long time to find my voice again after jobs and bosses that knocked my confidence. We need to put ourselves out there by speaking at conferences and shouting about our successes to change the status quo. I also really buy into the advice of doing one thing every day that moves you towards where you want to be. Even the smallest things soon add up.