Vittoria Millan, Winner of the TechWomen100 award!
“Don’t be afraid to speak up and be yourself. Keep believing in yourself because if you don’t, nobody else will”
Tell me about the industry you’re in. What role do you play?
I’m currently working as Marketing Manager for a Fintech company which specialises in payments. In my spare time, I work together with large corporates to support their women in tech programmes and I also mentor students helping them get a foothold on the ladder of a technology career.
You’ve recently won the TechWomen100 award! What did it mean to you?
Being among the winners of the TechWomen100 award helped me understand that I needed to work on my self-confidence, which is something I’ve struggled with my whole life: being proud of myself.
Growing up I’ve always been that kind of person that once something has been achieved, moved onto the next project. However, enjoying the moment and recognising how far you’ve come is so important too.
In comparison to the people I talk to daily, I’m relatively young and usually, they’re 10 or 20 years older than me. The topics of awards had been broached to me many times before, but I simply never thought that I was at that stage of my career yet. However, I was nominated by 4 people, and they didn’t tell me! I was utterly shocked. I remember thinking, ‘people think I deserve that? WOW.’
For me, that was the moment where everything changed. It was August 2020, a very tough time both in my professional and personal life, so it was truly the lift I needed to regain the perspective of why I do what I do. When I learned I was nominated, I didn’t even care about winning—just the fact that someone thought I was making an impact, and that I should have been recognised for that, it was enough. It made me understand how much I can achieve when I believe in myself.
Winning the TechWomen100 award also pushed me to keep working hard for what I love the most: helping other people. Since I was a teenager, I’ve done several volunteering activities for kids who come from slums – an amazing opportunity for me to give back to those that weren’t as lucky as I was, and be more appreciative.
Today, I try my best to make a positive impact on my society and to support the younger generation (especially young women). In this regard, I recently launched a new educational blog series on my LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/vittoriamillan), giving detailed career advice to students, graduates and those who fancy starting a new path every fortnight.
Why do you think awards like TechWomen100 are so important?
They are super important both personally or professionally – they give you plenty of new opportunities as well as to be surrounded by an incredible group of women you can learn and take inspiration from. The winning wasn’t even something I cared about; it was the nomination that just amazed me. It gives you a boost of confidence, that’s the best part of it.
Attending the event, despite being online, was exciting, very inspiring and we had so much fun.
I truly appreciate who runs these kinds of awards because they enable people to build a network full of women that know you, understand what and why you’re doing what you’re doing, and will do all they can to help become more successful. They mean it, and it shows. I found that once I started talking to the other winners, there was this energy and positivity around, and that was just so genuine and beautiful.
Do you think people have any misconceptions about women in Tech?
This is an interesting question. I would say today less than before but people still have a lot of misconceptions. One of my biggest concerns is about those industry influencers or business owners who publicly say that they care about creating a more inclusive workplace environment, but they DON’T. That’s worse, for me, than the misconception.
From a Millennial’s perspective, talking about equality in 2021 shouldn’t even be happening – I find it so wrong. I often wonder whether we should be focusing more on normalising rather than putting the emphasis on it? How can I change the story and let’s normalise it? Why is this still happening? Let’s make it a common place, as it should be.
What challenges have you faced, if any, in your career?
The biggest challenge I faced was when I finished University. I had no idea about what I wanted to pursue professionally speaking, and I probably didn’t inform myself enough. I used to be very impatient, which have undoubtedly led to various bad experiences. Though, on the other hand, I’m grateful because they taught me how to become resilient, who I am, what I like and what to focus on, and more importantly the ‘Vittoria I’d like to become’.
However, those were very challenging experiences as they happened very quickly and just at the beginning of my career. The first two years were arguably traumatic and I’m so grateful to have had a support group who helped me untold amounts. This is why I’m so passionate about trying to help people, especially the younger generation. There are so many things I wish I knew when I finished my studies but found out later (and too late). I wish for their sake that they never meet some of the people that I met because when you meet people whose only aim is to bring you down, they’ll make you feel worthless.
What do you think would encourage more women to work in the tech industry?
Learning about the amazing opportunities the technology sector has to offer, especially for women:
- Being one of the highest paid sectors.
- Creating something makes a valuable difference in many people’s lives on a daily basis.
- Work-culture is highly flexible.
- Working in an exciting and fast-changing industry.
- Women have more chances to start and progress a career in tech quickly than other sectors, even without specific qualifications.
For example, when I left Uni, I was obsessed with make-up and skincare and I wanted to work in marketing for one of the leading beauty company. I didn’t even consider the technology and/or finance sectors among my alternatives. Instead, I randomly ended up getting an internship for a fintech start-up, and now I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else or being in any other industry.
When most people think about the technology industry roles available, they assume it is only about software developers or engineers, but there’s so much more to it. You can do any type of job: working in sales, marketing or product. Name a department – you have it.
When we attend school, unfortunately though, nobody tells you this. I proudly support the Tech She Can charter, a ‘women in tech’ programme designed by PwC to educate 10–to 13-year-olds students about all the different sides of technology and its opportunities. Research shows that 10–13-year-olds is the last chance you have to make kids change their mind about what career to pursue, after that they’ll go to high school and it might be too late. The team at Tech She Can charter work tirelessly to inform, show and educate pupils with all the possible opportunities that the technology sector has to offer.
What advice would you give to other women looking to begin or further their career in the industry?
First of all, look on Google at the ‘top tech companies’. Try to learn more about them, their products, what you think you can do there and how you can contribute to make that company better. Look at the company culture too —to me, that’s the most valuable thing. There are also so many companies that support women in tech, so make sure you do your research.
Then, do a first-time analysis of who you are. What would like to do? Where would you like to be? What are the type of people you would like to be surrounded by?
I’m sure you will find a tech company that will allow you to do that.
Another suggestion would be to look at a larger company first… I think that was my first big mistake. I’m very creative and I like to be able to work on something that has an immediate impact, so assumed an early stage start-up environment would be the ideal fit for me. However, in these small realities, the cultural and social side of things can be minimal. Not because they are not good, but simply because they don’t have the time and money to spend on culture and mental health, and it is totally understandable. Though, when you’re young and just starting out, being in an environment that will look after you first, and then teach the job is fundamental for your professional and personal growth.
If you could go back in time, what piece of advice would you give yourself at the start of your career?
Good question! What I would say to my younger self is to give myself some time, to wait and be a bit more patient. When you work hard, things will come. Sometimes it’s about being at the right place at the right time, having a growth mindset and trust your gut feeling. Stop putting yourself under pressure with what’s coming next. Just wait, there’s no rush. Give yourself the time to learn… And don’t forget to find a good mentor and sponsor along the way!
To conclude I would also say: “Don’t be afraid to speak up and be yourself. Keep believing in yourself because if you don’t, nobody else will. People will learn to value you and your work.”
Looking for your next tech role?
Speak to our friendly team today on 0113 468 9230 or visit our job page here.
You can feature!
We would love to hear from you, about your experience working in tech. Would you like to feature in our series of interviews? Do you want to share your advice to others in the industry? Contact Harriet at [email protected] to register your interest.