Updated: Feb 17, 2019
I met with Sheree on Twitter and I absolutely love her activities in the areas of Women in Tech and Diversity and Inclusion. This strong woman, An Award Winning Global Ambassador for Women Who Code, has been going from strength to strength. Have you listened to her Inspirefest talk? Or did I tell you that she has been named in the 100 Inspiring Women in the UK? Or did you know that she has recently become a Forbes Contributor? Now I will stop and she will tell her inspiring story...
FK: Can you please tell us about yourself, where you work, what you do ? How is your typical day?
SA: Listed as one of the UK's Top Most Influential Women in Tech (by Computer Weekly) & one of NI's 40under40 '18, I am a 27 year old, working as Technology Respect & Inclusion Manager; Founder in Deloitte UK, I Am Lanka; Board-Appointed Global Ambassador, Women Who Code. My days are spent working on IT strategies with Deloitte, Diversity and Inclusion leadership with Women Who Code and ultimately, pushing the tech industry of tomorrow to be as diverse as possible. FK: How did you get interested in technology? Any inspirational story or particular person or role model who influenced you in your childhood ?
SA: I have always been interested in computing. My cousin is a leading software engineer for NYSE and this always intrigued me. My brother and I have always had the latest gaming consoles, which we were very lucky to have, so we always had an interest in gaming, which led (for me) to an interest in having a career in that industry.
I had an amazing teacher in secondary school who encouraged and knew I had a genuine interest. From there, I decided to study Computer Science at Queen’s University Belfast.
FK: We see your contributions to Women Who Code started very early in your career. Why do you think women in tech is important ?
We cannot progress with any industry if we do not listen to all of the population – everyone is important. No less, it makes business sense. Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity outperform competitors by 15% and those in the top quartile for gender diversity outperform by 35%!
SA: I think every person in tech is important. Each person is unique with defining thoughts. That in itself makes women and all Underrepresented Minorities an asset to the industry. We cannot progress with any industry if we do not listen to all of the population – everyone is important. No less, it makes business sense. Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity outperform competitors by 15% and those in the top quartile for gender diversity outperform by 35%! FK: You are also an active speaker on diversity, women in tech, women in leadership subjects. Can you tell us about those events, your awards received? When/How did you decide to be a women in tech ambassador?
SA: I speak at conferences all over the world about the business of diversity and the need for everyone to embrace it. This year I have been in Cannes, San Francisco, Bulgaria, London, Dublin, Brussels, Bucharest and will be in London/Dublin again before the end of the year.
Women Who Code is the world's largest non-profit globally dedicated to women excelling in tech careers. I launched and led our award-winning UK expansion, taking us from 0 to almost 8,000 members. With this comes a sense of responsibility, and through this, I have continued to push for more diversity in tech through creating sponsorship networks, getting more women in leadership positions and creating as many opportunities as possible for Underrepresented Minorities. I'm honoured my work has been recognised and saw me listed as one of the UK's most influential women in technology and an Northern Ireland 40 under 40 - very proud.
FK: In your opinion, what should organisations/leaders do to support diversity in tech leadership ?
Listen. Change. Become an ally.
SA: Listen. Change. Become an ally.
Listen to what Underrepresented Minorities are saying that doesn't work - You won't know but you will hold a lot of power in decisions which will ultimately change where we are today. Change what we're doing - It will take time but be a force for good. Commit to something bigger. Become an ally - Use your voice to amplify others and give credit where it's due. Your words will be incredibly impactful to more junior/mid-tier people and you should embrace that in the most positive way.
Would you like to be a Diversein Contributor? See how