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Women in F-Tech: Celebrating the Female Talent in FARFETCH Technology Roles

By Anna Kennedy
Anna Kennedy
Vintage collector with a weakness for pre-owned maxi dresses.
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Women in F-Tech: Celebrating the Female Talent in FARFETCH Technology Roles
There is a whole spectrum of technology-related roles that are shaking off traditional gender stereotypes and this is a progression we want to celebrate this Women’s history month in collaboration with the FARFETCH Women in Business Network. 

If you’ve wondered what roles exist within the Technology arm of our business or how Farfetchers originally found the opportunities that led to where they are today, this feature aims to provide insight and answers to some of these key questions. 

Finding an opportunity in technology 

If you know technology is the vocation for you, there are clear paths and entry points through specific higher education programmes or corporate initiatives, however, there are also many non-linear routes to finding a role in this field. Laura Sartor, Chief Product Officer for Stadium Goods, commented: 

"Successful Product Owners can come from all walks of life. Engineering, Design, Business, Economics, are just a few examples of great foundations for the role. 
It’s all about the soft skills that you bring -- are you resourceful enough to learn everything you can about your product and its users, can you bring people together to build consensus, and do you have the humility to continuously question yourself and the decisions you are making along the way? These sorts of skills will make you stand out and succeed in the role. The advice I would give to those interested in a career in Product is, just go for it!”

Cláudia Conceição is a Software Engineer in our Front End Experimentation team who transitioned to programming after starting her career in design:  

"I've always wanted to do something creative that could impact someone's daily life, but I didn't know exactly what. My studies allowed me to learn various topics from design to programming, so I started my career with design. But I was missing logical thinking and maths, and I really wanted to turn my designs into real products. So, after work, I would focus on coding and finally became a frontend developer. It's still a challenge because I don't have a software engineering background. By contrast, it's absolutely fantastic to see the impact that my previous experiences have on my daily job and my role within the team. So, don't think you are starting from scratch, because your background and experiences are always key and make you unique.”

Cláudia’s advice about not underestimating your past experience and transferable skills is a central tenant for the FARFETCH Plug-In program, which provides entry opportunities for early careers and career changes - including an internship, traineeship and a career conversion scheme. Joana Rodrigues is a former Plug-In graduate who is an iOS Engineer. Reflecting on her experience, Joana added: 

"...the Plug-In program was essential to getting into the world of technology. I had the opportunity to learn with great professionals, and I’ve had all the tools at my disposal to be part of the team and to feel that there isn’t really a difference between me and the informatics engineers.” 

Outside of our company-led schemes, we partner with external organisations that provide additional sources of insight and support to close the gender gap, such as SheCanCode who share resources and tools to empower diverse talent to pursue digital careers. Engaging with the communities that are local to you or accessible via online events is a brilliant way to explore what’s out there and start the search that could lead to your future career. 

Establishing your specialism 

As is often said by professionals in their field, it’s only once you’ve entered an industry that you start to see the many roles available within it! So when your eyes are opened to the types of career paths available to you, how can you navigate this space and establish the niche that suits you best? 

Our female leads in the Product and Engineering teams provided insight and advice from their personal experiences. Anita Grummels is the Senior Principal Product Manager for Sustainability Products, who has embraced the unknown with her leading mantra: 

"Lean into your uniqueness. You can work on your weaknesses and become average or exacerbate your strengths and be exceptional. 

To find this place, make sure you seek out feedback from your peers and carve out time to proactively consider your passion, your mission, your vocation, and your profession. I believe it is at the intersection of these four pillars, that your uniqueness will shine through and your career path should lie."
From our Shanghai team, Juno Xu is a Lead Test Engineer, where she determines the process that will best test a product to ensure it meets required specifications. On establishing this niche in an Engineering environment, Juno commented:  

"To become a qualified test engineer, besides the accumulation of your technique, skills and industry knowledge, it’s always important to keep in mind the vital role that a test engineer can play in the team. Apart from your usual duties, try to think from a  "global” perspective - from the end user, dependencies, the process, project management angles and so on - raising your contributions to the team in these key areas will make you go further.” 

Learning continuously

Technology is dynamic and with the pace of development and speed of change in mind we sought advice from our colleagues on how to keep up with the latest innovations.
Jinjin Zhang is a Lead Data Scientist in our New York team who champions continuous learning and self belief to thrive in change, on this topic she advised:  

"The average lifespan of a tech skill is shorter and shorter now. Continuously investing in your own learning and keeping a growth mindset has become more and more important. This also sets a very important foundation for women's confidence in the tech area. Sometimes women could suffer from a reality distortion when it comes to accepting their accomplishments and this holds them back from raising their hand for more challenging projects.”

In addition to what you can drive forward for yourself, Joana Rodrigues, added that a supportive culture and seeking advice from colleagues helps to challenge you to move out of your comfort zone: 

"Being an iOS developer at FARFETCH was my first and only job, I started here, as a part of the Plug-In program, right after my masters in Bioengineering. I learnt most of what I know here, with my colleagues, and I am still learning every day. Even though our team is mainly men, I never felt there was really a difference, I was always included, pushed to learn more and to never settle for what I know and always try to know more.” 

It has been thought-provoking to gather these insights from across the Product, Data and Engineering teams and I hope they have given you an opportunity to reflect on your own experiences and any lessons you’ve carried forward in your professional journey to date. A key theme from each Farfetcher’s story is the power of curiosity to drive us to explore new paths, skills and experiences. Although a sense of doubt can often shadow a new scenario, the examples from our women in technology demonstrate that when we choose to challenge ourselves, we achieve new personal records and drive progression forward one milestone at a time. 
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