The Short Cut:
A quick fire chat about working life with Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE
The Short Cut designed to bring you a snapshot of our members’ working lives. Today we’re speaking to Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE co-founder of Stemettes,
At the heart of the Nurture Network is the power of sharing experiences. From breakthrough career moments, to best ever advice, how to deal with stress and the women that inspire them.
Tell us about your breakthrough career moment
Back in October 2012 I had been working in tech for a few years, and I attended this conference, called the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. I hadn’t thought much about it but once I got there and looked around at the 3000+ women in tech around me and I guess it finally hit me. It was an interesting experience or breakthrough experience, because I had never fully understood or taken on this idea that I was a woman in tech, I was in this minority. And being at that conference, I had never seen that many technical women in the same place.
And so I do call it my kind of road to Damascus moment. I saw I was one of many but I also realised just the fact that this conference is happening, and that there is a problem enough that we all needed to come together is a pretty big deal.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever had?
“People are messy.” I can be logical to a fault, I love processes, workflows, things that are repeatable, because there’s reliability and principles there. However, human beings, there aren’t really principles.
Everything’s an exception, everything’s emotional, things are up and down. I can say hello to the same person at the same time on two consecutive days and get two completely different responses. In business, in my career, whatever it is that you’re doing, you’re never working alone. By remembering that people are messy, it helps you keep your sanity, as the ups and downs of life happened to them, but also to yourself.
Have you ever felt held back as a women? How do you respond?
In the moment I don’t focus on being held back, I see it as another challenge. If I was being held back it took a while for me to gather the data to know that it wasn’t just me and it was due to another factor. It’s funny to look back at myself as a young, black, woman and work out which of the three it was that held me back, or if it was something else. Working with so many people in the industry I do see people that are held back from promotions, overlooked for being selected for roles and not paid properly. I have a policy for myself that I am going to work hard enough to work where I am celebrated, not tolerated. If certain opportunities don’t want me there because of who I am, I don’t want to be there either.
How do you protect your mental health in moments of pressure?
Perspective, especially when you are under pressure, having perspective. Seeing the pressure other people are under, you are under, what the meaning of the pressure is, also whose pressure is it. Another thing is knowing what I need to relieve that pressure. Whether that’s working out, or delegating, doing a different type of research, or reevaluating my situation. Other times it’s knowing pressure is going to be high but setting an end date. Powering through but knowing it is only for a limited time. You need to remember there are things you can control, and things you cannot. You can only do as much as you can
The woman who empowers me is…
My assistant! She makes sure I am where I need to be and helps me stay organised.
I feel empowered when…
When I see the change, when I see the impact.
The world would be a better place when…
We have a more balanced science and tech community.
The woman who everyone should know about it…
Gladys West. She is an American mathematician known for her work contributing to the development of the GPS. Not enough of us know that when we are following the blue dot we are following her.
Do you have any hobbies to keep you busy in your spare time?
Eating! I can eat pasta twice a day every day. I like watching TV, and sleeping! Based on the season, my hobbies vary.
Where is your favorite place in the world?
East coast of Kenya. They have amazing beaches, 4G+, mobile money via M-PESA so you don’t need to carry cash when you are out and about.
For more information about our Inaugural Annual Conference on 14th November visit our live Events’ page.