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The TechLadies Bootcamp is a 10-week part-time accelerated learning program designed to help women with some basic programming background become professional programmers. Participants are guided by industry experts, creating products for non-profit organizations. 9 ladies were chosen for the first batch of the TechLadies Bootcamp. In this blog series, we will be sharing more about the background and learning journey of these ladies. Hopefully that’ll inspire you to start learning how to code too!

If you could tell a story about yourself in a few sentences, what would it be?

My short story about myself would have to be that I am admittedly a nerd, with an insatiable appetite for learning new things.

What are you currently working on?

I work as an independent strategy consultant in the mining and resources industry. I previously worked at Rio Tinto for five years, managing sales agreements and working on strategy projects for the iron ore marketing division.

After that, I joined The Boston Consulting Group and worked there for 2.5 years. I went into consulting because I was interested in developing strong commercial skills set that would be transferable across several industries, this stems from my strong belief that a skill learnt, one that is meant for a specific field, doesn’t mean it can only be used in that particular field.

After leaving the firm, I found that combining my specialised industry knowledge within the consulting toolkit would be the best way for me to add value to my work as a consultant. I mainly work with clients in the mining industry as I am deeply familiar with the industry and its history. After having worked in mining for several years, I find my clients directly through my own network. I work with my clients to develop and implement strategic initiatives to best position themselves over a 5-10 year timeframe.

At times I also delve into a few other industries because I believe that learning about developments in other industries provides me with a fresher, broader perspective, expanding my view on the strategies, capabilities, and ability to execute work with far greater insight for current projects, and the projects looking forward. There are a number of companies that help to connect ex-management consultants to freelance projects so they have made it possible for me to engage in tech-related projects.

What made you interested in coding?

What first attracted me to coding was the love I have for solving logical problems. I found that learning a coding language required me to tap into this part of my brain, and hence, learning how to code drew my attention. I felt that it would give me greater analytical skills and enhance my problem-solving skills.

I am really excited by how technology is rapidly changing the world we live in. It’s amazing to think about how intertwined our daily lives us with technology. We now rely on applications and smartphones to shop, connect, research, eat, exercise – the list goes on. However, a lot of us don’t understand anything about what goes on “behind the scenes”. I wanted a glimpse into this world, to feed my curiosity, and to benefit from it in every way possible.

Also, I often work with website developers, and sometimes found it hard to understand the jargon – it feels like a whole new language. This experience with learning how to code has really made me better appreciate what goes into developing a website, and the costs and time required to complete tasks.

There are a lot of industries women don’t consider simply because they are not traditionally considered “feminine” and it is a great shame because this thinking can close a lot of potentially promising and enjoyable paths.

What was your first thought or reaction when you heard of TechLadies?

I think it is an excellent initiative to encourage people like myself to take the leap forward with courage. I hold a lot of respect for everyone who has given their time and energy to make this happen. Looking forward, I hope that TechLadies would be engaging in dialogues and collaborate with other initiatives to encourage women to explore non-traditional paths.

I work in mining & resources and management consulting – two areas I have thoroughly enjoyed. However, like coding, both areas are very male dominated. I ended up working in mining because I was in the right place at the right time. I was returning to Perth in 2006 at the beginning of the largest mining boom in history and my background in law and Chinese placed me in a strong position to manage the sales agreements for Rio Tinto. If it hadn’t been for this fortunate set of events I wouldn’t have considered entering the industry. There are a lot of industries girls don’t consider simply because they are not traditionally considered “feminine” and it is a great shame because this thinking can close a lot of potentially promising and enjoyable paths. After my time at Rio Tinto I spent a bit of time working in retail, thinking that as a female I would enjoy it more. What I found was that the retail space was very reactive and fast paced and that my personality was unexpectedly more suited to mining. At the end, perceptions of which industries were more feminine and masculine had absolutely nothing to do with what suited me better – and I’m sure that women who give programming a chance would be able to resonate with this.

Every industry offers boundless of knowledge and experience for both men and women to gain and benefit from. I just know that when all industries leave themselves more open being inclusive and diverse, the perspectives, discussions and solutions made would benefit everyone.

Why did you want to apply to the TechLadies Coding Programme?

I love learning new things. I think we should never stop learning. The tech scene is such a vibrant and exciting one and everyone is so welcoming and friendly so it was also a great chance to meet new and inspiring people who are doing great things.

I also strongly believe that learning how to program would not only open more doors of opportunity for me, but it would also improve my abilities in both my career and life. This fed my drive to applying for the TechLadies’ flagship 8-week coding program that I was fortunately accepted into. I’ve never regretted it since.

What do you hope to gain out of the TechLadies Coding Programme?

I started learning python in my spare time and want to understand what else it could be used for. I feel somewhat like somebody who’s just learnt a new language, who’s looking out for someone to practice it with so that we will both benefit from it.

After working with TechLadies, I found myself spending more time understanding Django, a Python framework, and I’m proud to admit that I can now see how Python can be used to create a website.

This process and discovery have opened my eyes to understand that the applicability of coding languages is exceptionally broad. Python can be used to develop websites, games, and conduct predictive data analytics. The possibilities are seemingly endless, and that’s what excites me and I believe, excites other programmers as well.

Describe the TechLadies project you’re working on and what parts you’re building on now.

We’re developing an online platform for people in the Asian Film Archives (AFA) to submit to have their films archived. I’ve been working on the contact form, which will allow people to contact Asian Film Archives directly with the queries they may have.

How do you see yourself using your coding skills?

With this new set of skills, I can not only develop basic web applications, but I may also use it to better communicate with web developers, which is a huge bonus for me, seeing as I am required to speak with them fairly often.

Looking forward, I’d love to work on creating platforms to help teams work more efficiently and effectively in the workplaces of different industries and fields.