Happy International Women's Day! Over the course of recent months we have been delighted to welcome more brilliant women into the DMW fold. In the second in our series of blogs where we meet the new faces of DMW, we speak to the inspiring Naya Giannakopoulou as she marks her six month milestone at the company and we all celebrate IWD2019.
Hi Naya! Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hello! I joined DMW after working in the FinTech industry where I was responsible for the implementation and on-going support of a variety of clients’ complex trading systems. My background is however different. I originally studied Physics in Greece where I took my B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Lasers and Photonics. I then moved to France for a short while before pursuing a Ph.D. in BioPhotonics in the Group of BioPhotonics and Quantum optoelectronics in Cardiff University. There, I held a Marie Curie Fellowship and benefited from secondments, workshops and training courses at some of the most prestigious universities and institutes in Europe. These years as mentally challenging or tiring as they might have been, they have been equally rewarding in life experiences and knowledge. They have shaped my mindset and approach to innovation and new ideas above all!
Wow, that’s some amazing experience! What made you decide to explore technology consulting?
I made up my mind over the last couple years of my PhD and it was a natural evolvement of my interests. In fact, my research work involved knowledge exchange and collaboration with industrial partners across Europe. The discussions I had with senior managers of these companies made me realise that my character is more suited to business-oriented applications. That made things easy...I just had to find the right company.
You’ve been with us for six months now – what are you enjoying about the world of technology consulting so far?
The most enjoyable part is the diversity and complexity of the projects that you are involved in, from cloud infrastructure to DevOps or even technical project delivery. I do not exaggerate when I say, no two days are the same. You may hear this a lot from consultants in our field, but it is true. At the same time, as a DMW consultant I can study for certifications in the latest technologies and their applications using my training budget. In such a fast-paced environment you need to be up-to date and well-equipped with the appropriate technical skills.
You are a woman with really strong STEM credentials – how do you feel the technology industry is doing in terms of supporting Women’s careers?
My feeling is that Tech industry is making significant efforts in the hiring part - with recent paradigm of tech giants, Facebook and Microsoft, who both increased the number of female employees by 84% over the past four years - but has a long way to go in retaining them. I recently read that 30% of women highlight that the low salaries and lack of opportunities to evolve in the professional field push them away from the Tech sector. Therefore, I firmly believe that we should focus on retaining the female talent in the field and promoting them so there are more role models for younger generations.
What do you think needs to happen to persuade more young women to explore STEM subjects and careers?
In my opinion, emphasis on STEM subjects needs to happen earlier for children, particularly girls. Society needs to move away from traditional gender stereotypes where girls play with Barbies and boys with computers. Therefore, family and school education are at the heart of this solution. The results of empowering young girls can be astonishing! Recent example? Trisha Prabhu, the 18-year-old founder of ReThink, credits a supportive environment at school as a key factor for her success! There are lot of initiatives in UK which we need to encourage and support. One of those is Stemettes- a social enterprise whose mission is to inspire girls to pursue a career in a STEM field. This is how I plan to use my charity days (part of DMW’s CSR policy) this year along with some of my colleagues.
Why was DMW appealing to you when you were exploring career options?
When considering a consulting career, I wanted to concentrate on small firms (compared to the big consulting giants) that put their employees at the heart of their business. I found through my research that DMW exceeded my expectations as I found a firm with top-notch, like-minded people (many of them women) working in complex technological projects. Not to mention my excitement when I found out that they had been selected as a ‘Great Place to Work®’ for consecutive years. When I got to meet with and chat to the people who are now my colleagues, I felt that all the pieces of the puzzle had come together.
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Balance for Better’ – what is your personal philosophy when it comes to finding balance in your life?
I love this theme as it reminds me the popular ancient Greek phrase "Pan Metron Ariston". The phrase translates as "Moderation in All Things" and summarises my belief that balance brings happiness and completion in life. It is not an easy task and one needs to practice it from a young age, so I am working on it! As for the IWD, we need to remember that everyone of us can play a part in it! It is not a women's issue or a gender race, it's a business issue! In the end of the day it is the working environment we want to build and work in, a way to find happiness in our workplace.