Q&A with Louisa Veidelis, Delivery Coach 9Now

Louisa is a part of our Women In Tech initative at Nine, this Q&A is from a discussion with Fatima Kanji and Louisa. This article was written by Fatima & Sanaz Bassiri.

Can you share a little bit about what it is that you do and what a typical day for you is like?

I am an Agile Delivery Coach for streaming teams at Nine. A typical day for me is varied. I enjoy juggling multiple tasks and communicating with stakeholders. I love coordinating tech projects and making sure that projects are completed on time. It’s so satisfying to work with teams of engineers, designers, and other stakeholders to bring a product to life. One of the great things about working in Agile software development is being able to deliver new features to our users, whether it’s a new widget on the Sydney Morning Herald website, or an enhanced way to watch programs on the 9Now TV streaming app, and then iterate on the features based on how users respond.

Did you always know that working in technology was what you wanted to do? How did you decide to go into tech?

Actually no, working in tech was never something I planned while I was at school or uni! I studied Journalism at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) with the intention of becoming a journalist. After starting my first job in a small publishing start-up, I knew that  journalism was not for me. Fortunately, working at a start-up also allowed me to try different types of work, and this is where I developed an interest in working on tech projects.

Pretty much on my first day, the engineering manager said “We’re going to stand up now” and I said “what, why are we standing up?” So I didn’t know what he was talking about.

And I’ve been learning most of my skills on the job ever since. I’ve taken classes, received training and certification in Agile Delivery. I think because I love working in a fast-paced, collaborative environment and also adapting to change, it’s made Agile Delivery a perfect fit for me.

Do you notice a lack of women in technology? If so, why do you think that’s the case?

When I first started, I could tell that it was highly male-dominated. And I didn’t quite know why, but it did feel sort of like a male industry. When I started working at Fairfax Media [which merged with Nine in late 2018], I met Felicity Yan who shared these concerns about the fact that we would be the only women in the room. A lot of the time and why aren’t there more women getting into this great industry?

This motivated me to form the ‘Women in Tech’ initiative with Felicity Yan at Nine, providing a supportive space for women to share experiences and advance their careers.

I really feel like the Women in Tech initiative has gained a lot of momentum in the last couple of years. Two things I’ll call out. One of them is the Her Story initiative, which you can read about on our website. So, that’s been led by Fatima Kanji with many others supporting and as a result of that, what we have seen is that when we’ve shared these interviews within the Nine wider business. Other women working in tech have come and approached us and said, “I read your story, I want to get involved, what can I do?” and I think it’s created more of a sense of community. In the most lovely way people feel, that’s my tribe, that’s my community. We’ve made more connections.

And the other thing I’d call out is the mentoring program, which has been led by Gunjan Aurora and with an amazing crew of people helping her to kick off a mentoring program at Nine for WIT who are looking for some guidance. The pilot program this year includes 10 mentee/mentor matches. I can personally speak from experience because I have a mentor in the program and I’m gaining a lot from the program.

I believe that gender diversity in tech and leadership positions is critical and that coaching, mentoring, and sponsorship are essential for closing the gender gap. Creating an inclusive workplace culture, supporting work-life balance, providing leadership training and development, and implementing succession planning are important steps towards creating a diverse and inclusive leadership pipeline.

The Women in Tech initiative has been making waves at Nine, inspiring others and showing the need for such initiatives. I hope that this momentum continues and that progress is made towards gender diversity and equality in the tech industry.

I acknowledge that despite progress being made, there are still relatively few women working in the technology sector. Although universities are seeing more gender parity in STEM programs, this is not translating into the workplace. There are still too few female applicants for many tech roles, and she believes this is partly due to the language used in job postings, which can be unintentionally gender-biassed.

We’ve had a lot of success from internship programs with the universities we’ve had. We aim for a 50-50, gender split without interns. And we found a lot of our female interns have chosen to stay on with us full time, which has been really wonderful. It just worked out like that.”

We’ve done a bit of that by going and speaking to schools and universities like one of the things that we did that I think was really helpful. We did a job interview workshop with a bunch of students from UNSW women in tech society. We did mock interviews with the students then we gave them feedback on their responses and guided them and like they learned a lot that day. because you know, using lockdown had really taken away their confidence and we reminded them what employers are expecting and what they like.

What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in the tech industry? What do you wish you had known?

One thing I’ve learned in my time in the tech industry, is that you do not necessarily have to be technical to work in tech. The industry offers a wide range of job roles that require different skill sets and backgrounds. Although technical skills are essential for some positions, there are many other roles where skills such as project management, product design, and quality assurance are highly valued. Communication skills, problem-solving abilities, creativity, adaptability, and a willingness to learn and grow are also highly valued in the industry.

I encourage anyone interested in taking up a job in tech by saying that it’s fun, dynamic, and that you’ll meet amazing people and work on exciting projects. I also stress that the tech industry offers job security, and every company needs tech professionals, making it possible to work in any industry.

Here at Nine, we have also recently started a Gender Equity Community, which crosses the whole organisation – broader than just tech. I’m looking forward to the high-impact diversity and inclusion initiatives we’ll be working on with the group, as a chair alongside Felicity Yan and Kerri Elstub.

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