Wednesday, March 8th, is International Women’s Day, with the theme this year ‘Be Bold for Change’.
To highlight the importance of equality and celebrate the diversity we have in hipages, we have decided to dedicate the week to understanding more about gender equality issues and showcasing some of the wonderful and bold women we have in the team. Whilst we do have gender equality overall as a company (48% women, 52% male) which is something we are proud of and is rare in the technology industry, women are still underrepresented in some of our teams, in management roles and on our Board – so we have work to do.
One of the ways we improve our understanding of issues and help pave the way for others is to share stories of successful women and their experience. We will post the stories of a few of the many wonderful bold women in hipages each day this week.
Please meet Adelaine Ho
Adelaine Ho (known as Adz) is the Head of Diversity Inclusion & Technical Lead has worked at hipages for just under 8 years, joining initially as a junior developer. Adz has found the hipages environment core to her being successful, particularly the encouragement to ‘think big’ , ‘have a go’ and ‘learn from your mistakes’. Adz describes hipages as her ‘second home & family’ and appreciates the company’s transparency, believing this enables alignment.
Adz says that having strong role models, mentors and building a network has helped and continues to be important in supporting her ongoing development. Facing her fears and challenging herself (both mentally and physically) has also helped Adz in her life and work. Examples include speaking at conferences and meetups and tackling enduring physical challenges like a 100km trek through the Blue Mountains.
Adz leaves us with advice for others seeking to ‘be bold for change’ : “With passion and determination, you can pursue anything in life. Have faith and confidence. Don’t hold back and don’t be shy. If you want something, speak up and go for it!”
Here is what Paolo Ragone, Adz’s manager has to say:
“Saying that Adz is bold is an understatement. Her contribution to the team goes well beyond the code that she writes. It’s about how she’s a constant guardian of the culture on the team, making herself available to all, and by showing a genuine care for the wellbeing of all the team members. The other way in which she’s bold is by showing herself as vulnerable and admitting errors: this is a trait of all great leaders. Her behaviour is a great example for others to follow.”
Read the full interview here:
How did you get to where you are today in your career?
Believing that “anything is possible”, a concept that both David Vitek and David Deng taught me when I first joined hipages. By having an open mind and passion to learn and grow. I’ve also learnt a lot through failing and making mistakes; a wise man once told me it’s about ‘accepting your mistakes, learning from them and then move on’. Most importantly, I was extremely lucky to have mentors and role models along the way to help guide me.
How has being ‘bold’ made a difference to your life and career?
My first breakthrough was when I spoke at networking events and shared my journey through blog posts with the community. It was very well received which helped boost my confidence.
The second breakthrough was when I took a leap of faith into the unknown; applying for an internal promotion to become Technical Lead. I never considered myself as a technical leader but thought I could give it a go. Although I’ve had some struggles and many learnings on the job, I’ve been loving the challenge and strive to become better everyday.
When I attended the World Women Changers Summit last year, under the encouragement of Jodette (our Chief People Officer), I decided to go up to Ming Long, my idol in the Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) space, and boldly asked if she could be my mentor. Although she kindly declined because she was mentoring two other executives, she referred me to another mentor, Dai Le who has been phenomenal and opened up a lot of opportunities and networking possibilities. This just shows, you never know what might happen if you don’t ask.
The final bold action I want to share is an interesting one but one I would truly recommend to anyone; training hard physically, pushing myself out of my comfort zone and taking on physical challenges. For example, a gruelling 100km trek in the Blue Mountains, crawling through mud at obstacle races, abseiling down a 50 metre waterfall, scuba diving and whitewater rafting to name a few. This has definitely helped make me become mentally tougher and more resilient to stressful situations.
Tell us what you do and why you bring your passion to hipages?
For 4 days a week, I am the Technical Lead for the acquisition team, also known as the User Growth team and 1 day a week, I get to dive into the area of D&I, being appointed Head of Diversity and Inclusion in July 2016.
Taking on the Head of Diversity and Inclusion role 6 months ago has meant a lot to me. I saw this as a chance to give back to the company.
In 2009, I was hired as a junior designer/developer and a joined a team of 3 other developers at hipages, including David himself! I am one of the lucky ones who was able to see the company transition and grow from 50 employees when I joined to where we are now (280 staff) and advertising on billboards, newspapers and television across the nation. It’s been quite a journey and being a part of this experience has been exhilarating and eye opening. hipages has become my second home and family. I am extremely grateful that the company has invested in my growth and development through the years. How can one not be passionate towards their family? 😉
Another reason why I bring passion to hipages is because I truly believe in the company’s purpose: ‘making life easier’. It means a lot to be part of something meaningful. I also believe that passion is the key to life. I put passion in everything I do.
Are you are comfortable to achieve want you want to at hipages?
I feel heard, valued and trusted by my peers and the leaders of the organisation. A massive part of why I can be my true authentic self when I come into work everyday is because I am surrounded by genuine colleagues. I love our company values. I hear people say “there’s no such thing as silly questions here” all the time; this just gives you a sense of our culture here! :
Do you think hipages has an environment that enables you to be bold for change?
Yes, I believe hipages has unleashed my full potential by making me feel included and part of the team. We are constantly evolving and changing with the times and technology. Although I sometimes like to be a creature of habit and some changes may be challenging at times. However I believe if we do not adapt to change, how will we improve? This is what hipages does well. Through the years, I can see our business model evolve and adapt. I feel the transparency in keeping employees in the loop of the direction of where the business is going also helps.
Throughout your career how have you been bold for change?
I haven’t been shy to ask for what I want and am constantly challenging the way we do things, more so in the last 2 years, taking on more responsibility as Head of Diversity and Inclusion/Technical Lead. This was a drastic change for my career development, not just working with code on a daily basis but also learning about people and personalities, gaining soft skills along the way.
I’ve also started writing blog posts to increase awareness on topics and create change by getting involved in the D&I community and thinking of ways hipages could be a change agent in this area.
Do you have any words of wisdom/advice to others who may have been stopped in their tracks in being ‘be bold for change’?
My motto in life is “passion is key”. With passion and determination, you can pursue anything in life. ‘Have faith and confidence’, although I sometimes struggle with this myself but I do try my best to this. Don’t hold back and don’t be shy. If you want something, speak up and go for it!
Did being a woman and becoming a Tech Lead impact the way you were viewed?
To be honest, no. I think it was more so how I viewed myself internally. Having the confidence to back myself etc.
Did anyone ever try and stop you from entering the Tech Space as it is highly dominated by men?
I was my own worst critic/enemy. I tend to have doubts in my own ability because I did not graduate from Computer Science. My father was very encouraging and supportive after I graduated from Bachelor of Digital Media in UNSW. But prior to that, when I had to choose my GCSE subjects in high school, my father didn’t want me to take Economics but I was allowed to study Design whereas my brother was not allowed to study Design.
When you have attended external events have you ever felt dismissed about your opinion or your expertise being a woman?
No, the community has been very welcoming. Everyone who I have spoken to is friendly, helpful and always want to share and exchange experiences.
Coming from an Asian background was it ever frowned upon that you were going to explore/work in a technical field which may not be the norm in some Asian cultures?
Not really, my parents have always taught my brother and I that as long as we can earn a living and support ourselves, we could be in whatever industry we like. I used to think one of my uncles thought I wasn’t bright; he didn’t speak to me until my academic results came out but this could just be my mind storytelling. We are our own worst critic, especially when we lack confidence!
Find out more about International Women’s Day here – https://www.internationalwomen