Invisible Mentor: Maggie Berry
Company Name: Women in Technology
Avil Beckford: Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Maggie Berry: I run an organization called Women in Technology based inLondon and our strategic aim is to increase the number of women who are working and achieving in the UK’s technology profession.
Avil Beckford: How do you integrate your personal and professional life?
Maggie Berry: I keep them quite separate. I spend a lot of time on work, but I keep my connections separate. But some of the ladies I’ve met, and have grown to know over the last few years are beginning to become more like friends, and it’s just a fantastic feeling.
Avil Beckford: When you have some down time, how do you spend it?
Maggie Berry: With my boyfriend, with my friends, with my family. I like traveling, going away at weekends and I like history. I read the BBC History Magazine and I love it. I read it cover to cover every month. I read a lot of historical novels – I like imagining how we lived, understanding all the things that got us to where we are now in society.
Avil Beckford: What are five life lessons that you have learned so far?
- Network, network, network.
- Have a mentor.
- When offered a job, negotiate the salary. Men negotiate and I don’t believe that it comes as naturally to women.
- Life is short and time runs away with you so make time for friends and family.
- You spend a lot of time at work so you have to do work that you enjoy and that gives you satisfaction. If the role you’re in doesn’t offer enough scope for that, get involved in other things – volunteer on committees and charities and find satisfaction from other things if your job isn’t able to offer that. Not every job can give you satisfaction on a day-to-day basis but there are other ways to get a sense of getting involved and giving back.
Avil Beckford: What process do you use to generate great ideas?
Maggie Berry: I get ideas from everything that comes at me. I read a lot and if I see things that look good, I wonder how we might be able to replicate them. I share ideas, get ideas from the team, from other activities that are going on all over the place and I jot them down and email them to myself and then we work out how we might be able to develop them into something – something more concrete.
Avil Beckford: What’s your favourite quotation and why?
Maggie Berry: One I hear a lot that I like is Madeline Albright’s quote that “there is a special place in hell reserved for women who don’t help other women.”
Avil Beckford: How do you define success? And in your opinion what’s the formula for success?
Maggie Berry: Success is different for everyone. There is so much discussion now about increasing the number of women on boards and in senior roles, which is brilliant but the fact is, only a very small percentage of anyone (men and women) are going to reach board level because there just aren’t that many board level positions available generally. So I believe that we need to make sure we’re providing for the women who are working at all levels – we need to provide resources and support for everyone because success is different for everyone.
For me personally, success is taking pride in the brand we have developed at Women in Technology and the activities that we deliver and making sure that everything that we do is of really good quality. So when people come along to our events, even if they’re free, it’s important to give great value to them.
Avil Beckford: What are the steps you took to succeed in your field?
Maggie Berry: I have worked for the same organization since 2000 – it’s a really great firm and when they offered me the Women in Technology project, I grabbed that opportunity with both hands. I also always try to approach work as positively as possible to make sure that I get as much from it personally as the business gets from it. I acted on the opportunity to manage Women in Technology – a few years ago when this was quite young, this was a huge opportunity and I still think this is a huge opportunity. We still have so much more to do and I’m looking forward to that because it’s exciting!
Avil Beckford: What advice do you have for someone just starting out in your field?
Maggie Berry: Accept that there is a lot to learn all of the time. There are people sitting around you who will have a lot of skills and experience that you can learn from. Get involved so, for example, if you work in a large organization and they’ve got a women’s network, get involved, check it out, see if it will work for you. If you get the opportunity to move forward with different projects, be nominated for an award or speak at an event, don’t play things down, go for it and take advantage of all the opportunities that come up.
And remember that the career you’re in at 21, won’t necessarily be the job that you’re doing when you are 31 or 41. We have accept that we’re probably going to be working until our mid to late sixties so I potentially have another 30 years to work, and I can do loads of things during that time. So just remember that none of the decisions that you make are binding and everything can be changed.
Avil Beckford: If trusted friends could introduce you to five people that you’ve always wanted to meet, who would you choose? And what would you say to them?
- Queen Elizabeth I: I would like to get an understanding of how she operated in that very male Tudor environment and how it was to be one of the first female leaders whose reign lasted a very long time. We’d had a female queen before her but Elizabeth had an amazing reign and I would like to know what her tips for success were.
- Marie Antoinette: From her childhood inAustria to coming into the French court and just what it must have been like to have lived atVersailles. What was her life really like? I’d be interested to know if she had any insight into what was coming with the French Revolution.
- Mary Queen of Scots: I’d love to know what she was thinking. She is an interesting character because she was going to be the Queen of France but then the Dauphin died unexpectedly and the whole life that she’d been groomed for changed and she was just a teenager.
- Catherine of Aragon: I would like to find out if she did actually consummate her relationship with Prince Arthur as that was the whole question that precipitated the creation of the Church of England and the breakup from the Catholic Church which was a huge schism in English society. I’m sure she wouldn’t tell me because she wouldn’t tell anyone but it would be amazing to know whether that happened or not because obviously it had a huge impact on British life.
- Queen Victoria:
I am interested in strong women in history. These women were doing amazing things. These women were famous during their time but there were also loads of other normal women doing amazing things as well.
Avil Beckford: Which one book had a profound impact on your life? What was it about this book that impacted you so deeply?
Maggie Berry: I have read lots of historical novels because they are so interesting to me – it relates back to my love of history and understanding how we live. I loved Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray and I happened to read a very old copy of it which was about 100 years old. It was very small with very thin pages and I’d just moved to London and the book is set in London at the time of the Napoleonic War and here was me, in 21st centuryLondon, reading aboutLondon in 1815, and learning about all the things that happened on the streets where I was, and I absolutely devoured it. It was amazing and I really enjoyed it. I honestly don’t have one favourite book, but that would be among my Top 10.
Avil Beckford: You are one of the 10 finalists on the reality show, So, How Would You Spend Your Time? Each finalist is placed on separate deserted islands for two years. You have a basic hut on the island and all the tools for survival; you just have to be imaginative and inventive when using them. You are allowed to take five books, one movie and one music CD, and whatever else you take has to fit in one suitcase and a travel on case. What would you take with you and how would you spend the two years? T he prize is worth your while and at this stage in the game there really aren’t any losers among the 10 finalists, since each are guaranteed at least $2 million?
- The Bible
- War and Peace (Oxford World’s Classics)
- In Search of Lost Time: Proust 6-pack (Proust Complete)
(only because it’s one of the longest books written so that would take up some)
- Note book for writing in
- Scrap book that I can keep anything interesting in.
Film: My favourite film when I was young was Pretty in Pink with Molly Ringwald so I’d probably take that as I can’t think of anything else!
Pretty In Pink (1986) – Trailer
If you cannot view the video, click here.
Music CD: I’d probably choose something that’s rousing that I could play at full volume to give me a bit of a buzz.
How I’d Spend My Two Years: In my suitcase, I’d have a laptop, electricity generator and some thing that could give me access to WIFI and I’d spend the time looking up ‘stuff’ that’s interesting to me – so probably about the history of peoples all around the world.
Avil Beckford: What excites you about life?
Maggie Berry: All the possibilities, thinking about all the stuff that we don’t even know yet and meeting people.
Avil Beckford: How do you nurture your soul?
Maggie Berry: Friends and family, keeping grounded.
Avil Beckford: If you had a personal genie and she gave you one wish, what would you wish for?
Maggie Berry: I’d like to remove war from the world. There are many wars between religions and I’d like religions to live happily together. We can have our own beliefs, one belief isn’t better than another, and consequently there’d be no “you don’t believe what I believe so I’m going to kill you”. The death and destruction of war is awful.
Avil Beckford: Complete the following, I am happy when…..
Maggie Berry: When I’m at home chilling out and relaxing. I’m happy when I’m at the end of an event that we delivered that was great. I’m happy when I’m with friends and family. And I’m happy when I’m beside the seaside.
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Video Credit: Uploaded by OldSchoolTrailers on Nov 6, 2010