In December last year, I read a post on
Computing at School ‘Girls in Computing’ thread about a competition
called Technovation Challenge.
I researched the competition and
decided to enter a team of 5 girls from school. I have always been an advocate for encouraging girls into male dominated industries and this seemed a great challenge for them to be involved in. We worked through the first few tasks without the required female mentor in industry, just because we could not find one. They liked the idea, but were struggling.
On the 11th February 2013, I had a follow request on Twitter from Silvia from Cisco California and I cheekily asked her what she did at Cisco. She replied that she was on the services team and linked me to her blog; I followed up with a request to be our mentor. She asked for further details and jumped at the chance of being our ‘virtual’ mentor. The very next morning I received an email from her stating that she had found us a London based mentor called Heidi who also worked from Cisco, and then the ball was rolling!
During our very first WebEx conference with both Heidi and Silvia, the girls were very reserved and I think stunned into silence. After the conference, I rang Heidi to discuss what we wanted from her and what she could offer them. With her boundless enthusiasm she offered to come to the school (we are based in the NW of England) for a day of business planning and for the girls to spend the day at Cisco HQ in London. Heidi arrived at school on the 5th of March to work with the girls and at 2.30pm we had a ‘breakfast meeting’ with Silvia (6.30am in the US) to share our ideas. It was great to see the girls become more confident and their explanations about the product and business model were exceptional. It was a great day and the girls were full of ideas for the challenge.
We had arranged more WebEx conferences over the following 2 weeks and at 2pm on the following Monday I took a call from Heidi to say she was in the area and was it ok for her to pop in! What a great surprise – our virtual meeting had become an actual meeting! The difference in the girls was indescribable – what a great experience for them all.
Since then they have been working on designs, completing market research and pitching their ideas to local businesses. We have had some great feedback. We have since had more web conferences and booked our train tickets to London for the 25th and 26th March 2013. We have a packed day arranged by Heidi at Cisco – the girls are really looking forward to the events. Heidi and Silvia’s support of the girls have been outstanding and the impact on the girls is immeasurable. Heidi has arranged an amazing day for the girls and without her time and effort; this project would not have been possible. She has spent hours on resource collecting and idea generation. All this in less than 37 days! We have since been contacting businesses, big and small for feedback on our idea and potential sponsorship to take the girls to the US if we are fortunate enough to get through to the finals (we think our idea is great!)
If anybody would be interested in sponsoring the girls if they get through to the finals, however small a donation, please click on the link http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/technovation-challenge-final-in-usa/x/2953510?c=home
I will add more another post when we get back from London ………… Watch this space ………..
Feel free to comment!!