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Joanna tong

Business development, Paddle

 

And - ex-Facebooker; ex-Microsoftie; co-founder Playrcart. Recognised - The Drum's 50 under 30 Women in Digital UK

It didn't take too long for me to realise that if I worked hard and did well, my gender was not a hindrance but a huge benefit.

What do you do?

I manage the business development team at Paddle who are responsible for being the face of the company to our customers, understanding whether we are a good fit for them and delighting them with our product. We have a goal to be the platform that all software companies use to run and grow their business and the business development team is integral to help us get there.

Why did you choose this field?

"[My gender] would differentiate me from the thousands of other applicants looking for jobs in STEM."

Even since school I was super interested in the way the world was changing due to technology (I remember begging my mom to get me a mobile phone which at the time, aged 12 was strictly to only EVER be used for emergencies).

 

Towards the time when considering universities I think I took a pretty brave decision in opting for Computer Science and ended up getting into UCL. What I didn't realise was that a huge proportion of the students on that course had been programming for some years by then (which I hadn't) and it was overwhelmingly dominated by men. It didn't take too long for me to realise that if I worked hard and did well, my gender was not a hindrance but a huge benefit.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

This year I got included in The Drum's 50 under 30 Women in Digital UK list. It was a secret ambition of mine to make a list like that but I never thought it was possible. Maybe if I'd known back then it was going to happen I would have made the goal to get there even earlier!

Why do you love working in STEM?

"I'm not one of those people that enjoy a humdrum work life."

I love the pace at which things move in STEM, particularly in the world of technology which I operate in on a day-to-day basis. I like variety, challenges and learning new things. Tech offers all of these. Also, the people I work with are really top notch - I think it's important to work somewhere where you can actually learn from the people around you and they motivate you to do your job even better.

Best advice for the next generation

Don't be afraid to join clubs to learn how to code or go to events that encourage young women into STEM. If you have an interest, start early. Later down the line don't be afraid to just go for jobs/roles/opportunities even if you don't meet the requirements 100%.

Fun fact

I spent most of my childhood in a Chinese takeaway which taught me a bunch of lessons about the value of hard work and effort/reward.