By @SimonCocking

Interview with Pauline Sargent owner Social Zavvy .  Founder of @DigiWomenIRL  a social connector and educator. Likes to live life locally.

DigiWomen the 1 min pitch for it? Is it still needed? 

DigiWomen started in 2012. It is for female makers and users of tech. And yes it is very much still needed. In 2011, only 7 female led projects were supported by Enterprise Ireland.  In 2014, the number was up to 23. An improvement but not exactly earth shattering.

We believe you cannot be what you don’t see and to combat this we operate under four pillars Advocacy, Tech Education, Networking and Business. The purpose of DigiWomen is to encourage men and women to play an active role in getting women in tech to be more visible and more vocal about their tech endeavours.

Your background, how did you end up doing what do you now?

After 2o years working in the travel industry it was time to change careers. I decided to go back to college and get a degree in business management.. That was ten years ago now and I can still remember the first day. It was extremely daunting and I really felt I had no place amongst the professional students on the programme.

During that time I also became interested in my local area Drimnagh and promoting it positively online. So I set up a hyperlocal blog called Drimnagh is Good in 2010. Hyperlocal media is all about online news or content services pertaining to a town, village or other small geographical defined community.

Running the blog gave me great insight into the power of online communication and what it could do to make changes in how people think. I started helping businesses with their online marketing needs and Social Zavvy my digital communications business was started in 2011. I now do a mixture of training and consultancy work.

I also lecture for Dublin Business School and have taught hundreds of students in digital education over the last three years. I really love working with them and seeing how they develop over the course. From personal experience and from working with students has shown me how much people hold themselves back. Self doubt and a lack of belief in our abilities is such a waste of time and energy. We need to be kinder to ourselves and focus on getting things done instead of worrying about all sorts of things that may never happen.

You’ve got a lot of interests! How do divide your time between them all?

Lol….I do. And everyday is different. I like that. It is exciting and I get to meet great people from all types of backgrounds. Managing time and commitment levels to each project is a constant work in progress. I use digital tools like Trello and Slack to keep projects on track and help with real time communication.

Family time is also very important to me and is a daily reminder about what matters most in life. As far as exercise is concerned one week I am great at it and another not so good. So my aim is to get more consistent at making exercise a daily and essential part of life.

How was last 12 months, what went well?

The last 12 months for DigiWomen have been very exciting. We exhibited at the Dublin Web Summit for three days and got a great response to our #SheDidIt campaign.

The DigiWomen annual unConference was a great success. As were our Be Better At events where we had Twitter and LinkedIn come in and do workshops with our members. DigiWomen operates out of the Guinness Enterprise Centre in Dublin 8 and the team there have been an enormous support to helping us grow.

We recently won a small start up grant from the Dublin Startup Community Fund, which was great. More of these small grants are needed to help businesses understand funding processes and help them achieve small wins.

Anything you’d do differently?

There is plenty I would do differently. Here’s a quick list. Earn money from day one. Make decisions faster. Have less self-doubt. Believe in your product. Go to less startup networking events. Do less free work. Keep track of billable versus non-billable hours. Focus on paying customers and cash flow EVERYDAY. Be consistent. Get things done instead of trying to be perfect.

Plans for the future?

We have lots of interesting things happening over the next few months to help DigiWomen grow nationally and globally. We have an exciting new partner on board. And a great line up of events in the coming months.

You are active on twitter, how has it helped you?

Twitter has played a huge role in how I promote what I do and lets people understand more about me. It has been a great icebreaker and opened many doors to people I would normally not get to speak with.

It has got us articles in national newspapers, invites to speak at events and access to super global women in tech audiences.

I love how you get to see a different side to people and when you follow someone for a long time you get to know them. You also gain an understanding and respect for the hard work some people do to fight causes and make a real difference in their part of the world.

Blogging, who do you follow / like?

I follow many different types of bloggers, too many to name all here.

For hyperlocal media and news I follow the likes of Podnosh, Talk About Local and Neighbourhoods. And I love what John Handelaar does with Kildare Street and keeping people informed of what our politicians are saying in the Dáil.

Irish Bloggers I like to keep up with are Athena Media, Damien Mulley, Inside Ireland, Wolfgang Digital and Brightspark Consulting.

Congregation in Cong, Mayo, how would you explain to a newbie what it is, and why it’s of value?

Congregation is magical. The location and the people who attend are spellbinding. It is easy going with lots of small chats and big chats about all types of social and tech topics. You come back from it positively revived and refreshed with your head buzzing from all types of conversations. The value is in having the time to discuss topics in small groups.

The fact that you have to contribute a post to gain entry to the event makes it special as well. Everyone is there on an equal footing and you get a taste of the conversations before you attend which all adds to the event.

Being a big user of social media, how do you manage life / work, and online / offline balance?

I try to be disciplined with my usage of social media. Especially around my children. I took a 5 week break in the Summer and found it liberating. On a practical level I missed Facebook for keeping up with family and friends. I missed Twitter for keeping up with business. And from a fun and creative point I missed Instagram the most. It would be my desert island must have app.

Anything else to add / we should have asked you?

Yes. What one thing can people do tomorrow to change the ratio of women in tech?

Do not ignore gender imbalance. It is a societal issue and needs men and women working on eliminating it actively everyday. Call it out when you see it. Question the organisers (firmly but nicely). Say no to all male panels. Actively support a woman in your life or work and encourage them to succeed. Help them to say yes to a speaking event, to start their business, to go for promotion. Say you are a feminist without hesitation whether you are a man or woman.

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