4-5 June 2024

Manchester Central

From Comms to Coding: Meet Adrienne Galloway

From Comms to Coding: Meet Adrienne Galloway

15th March 2024

Featured Image: Adrienne Galloway

Last year, we launched a scholarship programme in collaboration with Coding Black Females to offer six free places on our course for their members. Adrienne Galloway was one of those scholars.

We caught up with her to hear more about what prompted her into the tech industry, useful resources for aspiring software developers and what she enjoyed the most about the Makers course.

What were you doing before Makers?

I was working at PR and communications agencies. Finsbury Glover Hering was my first comms job. It’s a strategic communications and public affairs consultancy that works with big companies like FTSE 100s and FTSE 250s on things like corporate reputation, comms strategy, executive profiling and crisis management. We spoke to the media to try to achieve positive press coverage, but also managed press coverage around important events in their financial calendars.

Then I moved to R.Agency, then called Rebecca Abigail. The agency was relatively small, and I worked with mainly lifestyle and tech startups which were largely London-based, sometimes European. We did the same thing, but as the clients were less well known, they looked to us to get their companies heard and understood. It was more creative as we were trying to get journalists to write about them and tell their interesting stories that would introduce them to the public and help people understand what their businesses are about.

What prompted you to change your career?

At the last agency I worked with, we dealt with a lot of exciting tech startups. Hinge, the dating app, is a good example. During the pandemic, they were constantly trying to make things better for their users. They introduced features like in-app video calling to encourage people to date from home. Working with interesting tech companies, I’d see what the engineering teams were rolling out, then I’d have to help them tell the story about its positive impact for their users.

You get to understand the reasoning behind why their tech works the way it does, and so I started to become really interested in that. As a Politics and History graduate I never thought of coding as a career. It was this career that I was curious about for a long time, because it was very far from me and from anything that I would ever do. But then I looked into it, I started joining a few communities, attending events and following a few people on Instagram (like @tobitobetoby and @thetechcornr).

From what I’d found, it looked like software engineering could be something for me. I wanted to be able to play more of a central role — beforehand, I was telling the stories of all this tech that was rolling out from these startups, but now I would potentially be more involved in the process of delivering these features.

What was it about the tech industry that appealed to you?

I wanted to be on the cutting edge of making and improving tech. Even now, in my new role I won’t be focused on front end development, but I’ll still be involved in ultimately trying to solve problems for people. Oftentimes my end users are likely to be other developers or internal peers.

Working as a software engineer, you have the freedom to learn a lot and just keep on learning. It comes with the territory, to learn as much as you want. You can branch out into other things. You can learn stuff on the side. You’re just constantly developing and growing. As someone who enjoys that very much, it seemed like a very wise career option for me.

Image: Photo by Christina Morillo

What was the most positive thing about your experiences at Makers?

One thing I found really good was the attention to the emotional intelligence curriculum. If you’re pair programming, your brain is working all day. It’s important to learn things like work-life balance, how not to get stressed, how to communicate effectively with people and how to set boundaries. I really enjoyed learning more about the emotional side of things that are beneficial for any career, and generally for life.

I found things like meditation useful to break up the learning and put my mind at ease. Doing a whole career change can be pretty stressful as you’re constantly thinking ‘I need to get a job’ — but doing things like meditation helps alleviate some stress.

Image: Makers Chief Joy Officer Dana leads Makers’ EQ curriculum

What surprised you the most about learning with Makers?

The self-led study environment which has come so handy, especially now that I’ve started a job. I didn’t realise how important it would be to be able to take charge of your own time and to do self-teaching and make sure you’re learning things. Self-led learning is really valuable for when you actually get the first job as it gives you a better understanding of how to approach the unknown.

Has there ever been a time when you noticed a lack of gender equality in the tech industry?

I know that is something that does exist because of my comms experience from working with startup tech companies — when we were doing executive profiling, I could see that the CEOs are often male, the CTOs are often male, anyone in a very powerful position is usually a man. The exceptions are the Head of Comms or the Head of People, who are usually women. At the same time, there were some women founders that I’m so pleased I got to work with. So while I’m pretty new to software engineering, I know that women in tech are unfortunately accustomed to a lack of representation in leadership. More generally, there is no question women are in the minority in the tech industry.

Which women role models in the tech industry inspire you?

I find Sharmadean Reid MBE, who started The Stack World, really inspirational. She’s just extremely business savvy and has been doing things for women for a long time. Outside of that she seems like a cool person. I also like the content that The Stack World publishes and the fact it’s helping women build meaningful connections with other women.

Image: @sharmadeanreid

Another one is Josephine Philips, the founder of Sojo, the Deliveroo for clothing repairs. She’s been profiled a lot recently in some of the lifestyle press and I think what she’s doing is important for increasing consumer consciousness.

If you had to nominate anyone for the Women in Software Power List, who would it be and why?

I was thinking of a few organisations, like Black Girls in Tech. They have a really good team and are fostering a community of black women who are in technology at all levels. They provide a real sense of sisterhood. Not forgetting Coding Black Females who have been really impactful and supportive in my journey so far.

There’s also Amina Aweis, who I’ve been following on social media ever since I started coding. She does great videos on topics like how to get into software engineering. She also uses her platforms to discuss the importance of accessibility and diversity in tech. She’s near the start of her journey, but what she’s doing is already so informative and educational.

The Women in Software Awards are an annual event that honours the women who are making an impact in today’s software industry. We urge you to participate in the industry’s transition, and by nominating, you’ll be helping to reduce the need for future events like this. Winners will be invited to an awards ceremony in London Tech Week at a beautiful central London location. You can nominate as many times as you want and even put yourself forward!

Click here to nominate.

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