She established her first business in Brighton aged 17 and then spent nearly two decades in the software industry working for companies including IBM, Xansa, and Sage before going it alone to take advantage of the booming cloud technology sector.
Here, Carlene shares her top five tips for women in tech and those looking to pursue a career in the tech industry.
Don’t be put off by discrimination
If you are expecting discrimination then you will tend to encounter it. I wouldn’t say I have never encountered any, but I don’t feel that it’s really held me back. Women in tech should stay positive, move forward and, if occasionally you do bump into a troll, don’t allow it to slow your progress. Stand up and be a leader, I promise you’ll find that others will want to follow behind you.
Be a knowledge vulture
I found that, in business, people actually want to help. Asking for help or for someone to explain something to you is actually a pretty good way to learn things. Sometimes, women complain about ‘mansplaining’ and so on, but if somebody wants to reveal everything they know about a subject then I’m going to let them.
Get to know the inside track
Always be a listener, even if someone is holding forth. You can learn a great deal by being a listener and turn it to your advantage. Some men do like to talk a lot and, by doing so, they often reveal a lot about themselves, sometimes too much. I think they are more likely to tell a woman their secrets, or fears, than they are another man. Being trusted and confided is not a bad thing.
Ask for the pay you deserve
When women say they aren’t being paid fairly, I often ask them if they have actually asked for a pay rise. In business, nobody wants to give money away, and many bosses will happily pay you a lower rate if they think they can get away with it. So, be brave, and learn to negotiate and know your worth.
Remember that diversity is strength
Businesses need diversity to thrive, tech businesses in particular. By offering a different perspective, whether it’s through being a woman, an ethnic minority or being neurodiverse like me – I’m dyslexic – you’re helping to build a stronger business.