MotherBoard – feat. Sally Brogan, Product Director at Wazoku

We caught up with Sally Brogan, Product Director at Wazoku as part of our ‘MotherBoard’ content series.

Sally Brogan has over ten years’ experience, designing and building innovative, user-centric and data-led products. She has worked on establishing and developing cross-functional teams and contributing at a senior level to growing and developing start-ups/ scale-ups. Her experience covers both business and consumer SaaS products and she has a special interest in data and analytics as well as the role machine learning and artificial intelligence can play in enhancing software.

The purpose of the series is to highlight incredible working mums within tech & data, as well as businesses that are supportive and progressive within their approach to creating more inclusive tech & data teams for women.

Amber @ ADLIB: For some background information please can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Sally: Having worked in Product Management for start-ups and scale-ups for over ten years, I have a range of experience not only in Product Management but in the development and growth of small businesses including operations, change management, data security and HR. This has provided a great insight into what makes organisations tick and given me the firm belief that getting the right people and supporting and developing them is the key to an organisation’s success.

Amber @ ADLIB: How have you managed to build a successful career, whilst also embarking on motherhood and what challenges have you faced?

Sally: My experience of motherhood is relatively new as I’ve only recently had my little boy. Although it was planned, when I first became pregnant, I was a little nervous about how I would manage work alongside the challenges of pregnancy. I have been very fortunate to have a supportive employer who gave me space to manage my working time around my maternity appointments and scans. My role managing a team can be fairly intense, but I worked closely with the other senior leaders in the business to ensure a framework was in place for my absence. Now I’m starting to think about returning to work, finding childcare that I’m comfortable with and that is flexible and affordable is my current challenge.

Amber @ ADLIB: What do you think the government needs to do to support mums more to make it easier to balance a career and parenting? 

Sally: There is a lot of jargon surrounding parental leave, pay, benefits and rights and this information could be simplified to empower parents to make better decisions. When you become pregnant, there is a lot of healthcare support given by midwives, hospitals and other medical specialists, but there doesn’t seem to be anyone to help with more practical aspects such as finances, employment rights, benefits etc. It would be great to have schemes in place to parents in navigating these tricky areas.

Amber @ ADLIB: What do you think are the core benefits of having more mothers in tech & data teams?

Sally: My experience becoming a Mum has taught me many things – to keep a sense of perspective on issues, to juggle and prioritise a lot of tasks (in some cases one handed whilst breastfeeding!) and the power of a supportive partner and network. All of which are great transferable skills for the world of tech and data.

Amber @ ADLIB: What do you think companies need to do to assess and fix the gender pay gap?

Sally: I’ve been really fortunate to work in businesses where there are strong women in technical, senior and management positions, who have been supported and developed in their career. For me the key is to ensure barriers to work and women’s needs are understood and to put in place appropriate measures to match these such as good communication during leave, additional development and training, support with childcare and flexible working practices. These things will ensure women are able to continue to develop, grow and thrive in their roles, allowing them access to more senior level positions, which will in turn close the pay gap.

Amber @ ADLIB: As individuals what do you think needs to be our short term and long-term goals to reach a fair and equal workplace for everyone?

Sally: As senior leaders and managers we should be setting positive examples and creating working cultures that promote fairness and equality. We need to ensure that we manage and support  our teams to encourage and promote talented employees regardless of gender or any other characteristics.

Amber @ ADLIB: Is there anything specifically in tech that you think should be addressed?

Sally: In my experience tech roles tend to be full time positions and there is limited part time work available. This might pose issues in terms of return to work as it can be a big transition to go from full time carer back to employee. The industry could think about how roles, working practices and different tools and technologies can be used to make collaborative work easier with team members with varied work patterns. There may well be examples of this already happening but I haven’t come across this very often.

Amber @ ADLIB: What do you think is important for businesses to look out for so that future mums of tech can be fully supported?

Sally: I believe there needs to be more autonomy given to parents about how they want to manage pregnancy and parental leave. One thing I have learnt through speaking to lots of different parents is that no two families and babies are the same. Some have great pregnancies and feel real strong and others suffer more, similarly some babies are brilliant sleepers and establish a solid routine and others are more unpredictable or in a lot of cases it changes over time.

I would urge businesses to speak to Mums and understand what they need whether that’s during pregnancy, parental leave or for the return to work. They should have relevant information to hand on pay/ leave etc to help with decision making and put a clear plan in place that makes new parents feel they are still connected to the business, valued and supported. Finally businesses need to show parents they are ready to welcome them back with open arms when ready to return to the team with their new Mum and Dad superpowers!

Thank you again.

< MotherBoard is a community, content & meetup series and charter that has been created to drive positive change throughout the UK Technology and Data sectors. Creating environments that support the inclusion of working mothers offers a significant solution to the shortage of talent across the Technology and Data sectors. We’re here to educate, challenge and create that shift. We’re not here to berate, we’re here to connect, embrace and champion positive change-makers. >

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Amber Rowbottom