Women in Tech: Claire Stead

Claire Stead - Women in Tech



Tell us everyting we need to know about you Claire.

I’m a 27 year old woman, currently working as Head of Marketing at Smoothwall. I live in Leeds with my fiancé, Paddy, and our cat, Harry. We’ve been renovating houses for the past four years and currently we are in the process of turning round our existing house and planning a wedding. I’m an animal lover and a vegetarian, and I promote cruelty free living wherever possible. I run my own cruelty free beauty blog called Your Skin Not Theirs and I also blog for So You’re Getting Married. I love my job and I’m a workaholic, I’ve launched several of my own business ventures including a vintage clothing label and a club night, but when I take time off work I love to travel.


What were you doing before you decided to join Smoothwall?

I’ve been steadily working my way up the marketing career ladder, and have worked in several industries including manufacturing, security and sport. I got into tech at my last role, working as Head of Marketing for a Google partner company.


Getting involved in Tech is still a new thing for women, what was the motivation for you?

To be honest, it was completely accidental, but it was a brilliant accident. I was hunting for progression which landed me my previous job, and I figured out how much I enjoyed working in tech. I’m big on change and enjoy a new challenge, and with the tech industry constantly evolving it gives me everything I need to feel challenged, as there is always something new. I love working in an industry that constantly revolves around innovation.


How have you found your journey so far and what has been your greatest accomplishment?

I’ve worked hard to get to where I am today, but it hasn’t always been easy. Being a woman in business can be difficult, there’s an extra pressure sometimes both from the employer and also from yourself to prove your worth, but I’ve always been big on self-confidence so I’ve survived so far. I believe my hard work and the experiences I’ve encountered along the way have shaped me to be who I am today, and my biggest accomplishment to date is that recently I was nominated by my team for Business Role Model of the Year at the Women in IT Awards.



What has been the most challenging thing so far?

Learning to accept your mistakes. I’m at a point now where I know I can acknowledge my mistakes, admit to them, critique them and move on. I really struggled when starting out at being able to own my mistakes and just saw them as a negative, but now I know learning from your mistakes is one of the most powerful things you can do, and I teach this regularly to my team (my all female team – I might add).


Do you think more women should get involved in Tech and why?

Yes definitely. I know a lot of ambitious women and if you want a challenge, you’ll certainly get it working in tech. Technology is collaborative, it’s immersive, it’s experiential, and I can’t think of anyone who’d say they wouldn’t be excited about working in that environment. The ever-evolving nature of the industry make learning a constant element of your role, and I love that.


What advice would you give to young female entrepreneurs who are stuck on an idea?

Take a break, reset, and look at it from a new angle. I predominantly work from my computer, but when I get stuck on something I find a new surrounding and work on paper and pen, and everything soon falls into place. You also have to have a strong network of people around you who are keen to see you succeed and will give you open and honest advice.


What does it mean to be a female tech entrepreneur?

I can’t speak from experience, but a lot of the female tech entrepreneurs I follow and admire are fearless, tackle change and innovation head on, and are not afraid of making mistakes. It’s the passion and commitment from female tech entrepreneurs that is really inspiring, and I suggest if you’re thinking of becoming one, find a mentor, or follow women who inspire you, and you’ll easily find the motivation to take that leap.


Overview of how Smoothwall works:

Smoothwall is an internet security company that pioneered content aware web filtering. Our web filter scans the content of a page to stop unsavoury content getting into the wrong hands, and we are a major contributor to the Education sector, helping to keep children safe online. Our web filter is also used by many in the public and private sectors, and recently we launched a new monitoring solution that is able to scan all text input via a keyboard, which is then passed to moderators to analyse risk against safeguarding concerns such as radicalisation or mental health.


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