WebSummit | My thoughts
WebSummit 2018 was exhilarating, empowering and exhausting all at the same time. A lot like the tech industry itself. It was 72+ hours of pure madness. There were roughly 70,000 people there, from all corners of the globe, coming together to learn, celebrate and invest in our industry.
What were you doing there?
A friend of mine from work asked me if I’d like to join her, as she had a spare Women in Tech ticket. She thought I’d benefit from attending the event and she was so right! I couldn’t believe her generosity and it reminded me how compassionate people can be here in London. She found out about my blog, and pushed me to go for a media pass, which would enable me to interview and have access to some phenomenal women for the #InterviewSeries. I thought that would be way beyond my scope, but Chiezda helped me realise my potential. And she was right, I more than deserved to be in the room with those people and I was just as capable as anyone else.
Once I received confirmation that I would be attending the event on a media pass I started researching women who would be there in Lisbon. This was probably my best chance to speak with some of the industry experts of our time, and share their journeys with my readers. I got confirmation that several of the people I requested actually wanted to speak to me, many of them saying they’d already seen some of my work. I was completely awestruck and humbled. I also started receiving requests for meet-ups on the app from women wanting to show me their products or ask me for advice. I couldn’t believe it, this was a dream I never thought I would fulfil, but I was, I was doing it. I truly never thought when I set up CyberWomen a year and a half ago it would be kicking off like this.
Who did you speak to?
Gemma Mortensen, cofounder of More in Common
Mariéme Jamme, founder of iamtheCODE
Chi Onwurah, Labour MP for Newcastle Central & Shadow Minister for Industrial Strategy, Science & Innovation
Charlotte Summers, COO Diabetes DigitalMedia Ltd
Dominnique & Dr Mafe of Get Mine
& I also met up with the wonderful Ida and Megan
I'm so looking forward to sharing these wonderful interviews with you, they will be published in the coming months.
What did you think of the event?
I had a wonderful time. Every conversation I had left me feeling excited. The interviews filled me with hope about the future of minorities in tech, so much so that I started to think, “with all these people working on making things better, maybe I’ve overestimated the problem here”. But then on the last day I overheard a really shitty conversation, “it’s much easier for a woman to get a job in tech than a man, because it’s good PR for the company so they’ll hire her even if she’s not very good”. Oh yeah, that’s why we do this.
I attended a couple of talks, I had planned to attend loads but found myself getting caught up in delightful conversation, so they took the back seat. I was a little let down by some of the talks I attended. It felt like they were ego boosts for either WebSummit or the person speaking. They just didn’t seem to go into the depth they promised and more often than not seemed to divert from the supposed topic of conversation.
By and large that app was great. But as a user researcher I noticed a lot of things wrong with it. The app also went down a couple of times during the summit, which was slightly alarming. The same thing goes for the organisation, by and large it was fine but there were a couple of flaws. As journalists, we were allowed to book interview booths, but on a number of occasions my guests weren’t allowed to enter the booth because they didn’t have the right kind of pass. This seemed silly, why let us book booths with guests and then not let the guests in? It meant I nearly missed out on a couple of interviews. It also taught me to have back up plans and then back up plans for those plans, which I guess is a lesson well worth learning. Silver linings?
Overall, WebSummit left me feeling like I really can achieve all my goals, anything’s possible, and I’m very much deserving of my place at the table. I feel more confident than ever and I feel that some of the things I did at WebSummit will be turning points in my career. For the first time in years I’m excited for the future. Maybe next year I’ll be speaking at the summit?! 🤷♀️