We can do it - Women in Tech

Women in tech series: it’s about a balance

In the last post of the women in tech series, I speak to Coull’s compliance manager, Nicola, and demand side account manager, Laura.

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This is the last post in our women in tech series, but it’s just the beginning of the conversation.

In this post, I speak to Coull’s compliance manager, Nicola Woodford, and demand side account manager, Laura Matthews.

We’ve already covered the issue of education and the steps that need to be taken to encourage more women in tech. This time, we’re going to talk about the work/life balance. This is a real concern for many women and something companies need to support.

Both Nicola and Laura have made a significant contribution to Coull’s business strengths. They both have very specialist skills, unique to the industry and unique to Coull. I was eager to find out how the work/family balance is managed in a male-dominated industry.

Nicola Woodford – Coull Compliance Manager

Nicola, Coull compliance manager - Women in tech

Nicola is Coull’s compliance manager, a role created specifically around her skill set. She helps ensure Coull’s inventory is valid and viewable traffic, that’s brand safe, human and trustworthy. Some cybersecurity vendors use machine learning and algorithms to detect fraudulent or non-viewable traffic. Whereas Nicola combines specific technologies and her own eyes to spot invalid traffic before it even enters the market.

How did you get started working in programmatic ad tech?

Before working at Coull, programmatic ad tech wasn’t something I knew existed. I noticed the ads on the websites, but it wasn’t something I’d really considered. After university, I gained an internship at Coull, which really opened my eyes to online advertising. Throughout my time at Coull, and with help from the people here, I’ve gained extensive knowledge in the industry.

Do you think there is enough emphasis on developing the kind of skills needed to keep digital advertising clean?

Over the last year, in particular, there have been some really positive moves forward pushing the digital advertising industry to be cleaner. With the increased use of ad-blockers, I think the importance of ensuring clean, non-intrusive advertising is becoming more apparent.

Do you think there’s a gender bias when it comes to women in ad tech?

There does seem to be a gender bias. There are more males in senior roles within the industry than women, however, in recent years that’s slowly changing. It’s only fairly recently that women have been encouraged to pursue these types of roles and that starts with education. For example, I was discouraged from taking electronics as a GCSE as it was seen as a boy’s subject (luckily, I’m extremely stubborn so I completely ignored them). I’m now 28 and those attitudes haven’t changed much. It will take some time, but I like to think the bias is changing.

You have a young family, do you feel there’s a good level of support for you to keep a work/family balance?

I’m very lucky that Coull allows me flexibility. I know many friends who aren’t so lucky in that respect. With the rising cost of childcare and living expenses, for some women, it’s just not possible to return to work after maternity – whether they’d like to or not. Unfortunately, this means we’re losing many skilled women from the workplace. My hope is that women have more support and encouragement to return to work.

Do you think working in tech allows you to manage work and family life? This could be a positive drawcard, especially for mums.

As mentioned, I’m very lucky to have flexible working and this seems to be something that’s more prevalent in the tech and emerging media industries. Flexible working is possible due to the nature of the industry being online.

Compliance teams in programmatic are a fairly new idea. Do you find partners value your input and what you’re doing to ensure the industry works better for everyone?

Most partners value the input. Many are not aware that certain inventory is invalid and don’t see the importance of using third-party verification. Often, it’s possible to tell the validity of a partner by how they react to the compliance emails. I aim to educate partners in understanding and spotting invalid traffic rather than being accusatory. That way, we can work more efficiently as partners and I hope, make the industry cleaner and more transparent.

How do you explain your job to your family?

I have sort of given up trying to explain it to them. After extensive explanations, people usually come to the conclusion that I work in IT. Though recently, I was at a family get together and I heard my partner explaining to his brother that my job was to look at porn sites! (That is not what I do!)

Laura Matthews – Senior Account Manager (Demand)

Laura, Coull account manager - Women in tech

Laura is one of the youngest in Coull’s adops team, yet, also one of the most experienced in managing demand relationships.

What is the most enjoyable part of your day to day work?

I’d have to say the people I work with make my job very enjoyable. Coull has a great team and I can honestly say that they’re all my friends. We’re able to get all the work done but also have a laugh and help each other out. I also get to speak to a wide range of people in the industry, which is really great. I can talk for England, so being able to use that skill is awesome.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

The most difficult part of my job is when you find yourself spending a lot of time getting an account or campaign up and running and it doesn’t quite create the results you were expecting.

In your experience as an account manager, do you find you often speak with a mixture of men and women or is it skewed one way?

I would say, in the past four years I have worked at Coull, there’s definitely been an increase in women working in the industry. The balance is still not 50/50, however, I’m being introduced to more female account managers every month so it’s great to see that number growing.

What sort of skills have you learned from working in tech?

I studied for a history and politics degree so my technical knowledge was very limited. My strength when I joined Coull was my people skills, rather than technical ones. However, I’ve picked up so many technical skills over the past couple of years including creating VAST/VPAID tags, production releases within our SSP and putting demand campaigns live. Don’t get me wrong, I often don’t understand what our dev team are talking about when it comes to coding but I’m hoping I’ll get there one day.

Are any clients surprised to find their account manager is a female?

No, I don’t think I have found this with any of the accounts I’ve worked with.

Working regular office hours when some of your clients are in different time zones must be difficult. Is it hard not to take work home with you?

Absolutely. I went through a period of being online from 7 am in the morning to 11 pm at night, which makes it very difficult to have time to yourself. I’ve learned that most emails you receive after you leave work can be dealt with in the morning.

Do you feel there is enough support for young women in tech roles or do you think more could be done?

The digital industry is changing constantly so we often have to be quick on our feet to pick new things up. I do believe it would benefit a lot of people if there was more training groups for these emerging trends in order to keep up.

Would you normally describe yourself as a techie or is this something that’s developed because of the nature of your job?

I wouldn’t describe myself as a techie, that part of me has definitely grown during my time at Coull. Luckily my role mainly focuses on relationship building, speaking to different people each day and analysing reports, which are my favourite things to do. I’m lucky enough to have a great technical team around me who can assist with any setups.


This brings our women in tech series to a close. We hope these insights into real women, in a variety of tech roles, will encourage more discussion and more interest in employment.

The gender gap is wide and women in tech sometimes find they’re not taken as seriously as their male counterparts. However, the trend is slowly changing, as reflected by the women I’ve spoken with. And hopefully, putting more women in the centre of tech will encourage young women to adopt an interest and a passion for tech industries.

#womenintech

If you enjoyed this blog, read the rest of our women in tech series here:

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Posted by simonholliday