Jacqueline de Rojas, CBE
Excited to announce this week’s inspirational woman in business is Jacqueline de Rojas CBE. Not only is Jacqueline the President of techUK, but also the President of Digital Leaders, as well as holding three NED roles with Rightmove, Costain and ao.com. She was awarded a CBE for Services to international Trade in Technology last year, and has previously been voted the Most Influential Woman in IT.
1. What excites you most about the future of your industry?
That diversity has found its voice. And in so many different ways: Industry leaders have understood that if machines powered by algorithms are going to be making decisions about whether you get a place at university or that job interview, or your application for a loan is accepted, they need to have diverse teams designing, testing and implementing the technology. In a world where machine dependency is increasing, soft skills matter more. In cyber we know that neuro diversity can help to see trends and patterns across vast amounts of data and help keep the nation safe. Authors like Caroline Criado-Perez in her new book, invisible women lay bare the in-built bias in our world built for men with examples like your phone is too big for your hand...given that we take 2.3 times longer to pee, isn’t it odd that women always have to queue? So, I am excited that the conversation is finally on the table and that it is becoming socially unacceptable not to embrace diversity - not just because it is the right thing to do but because it creates better business outcomes.
2. Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
I believe that we are all role models whether we choose to be or not. Our behaviour (Good or bad) is watched and emulated - you only have to mutter a single swear word under your breath in front of a small child to realise how that works! So, my inspiration comes from so many places: Our daughter, Stephanie, inspires me endlessly with her resilience and her values, our sons who are just so smart and loving. Of course, I am inspired by incredible humans who have become the best versions of themselves and demonstrate humbling generosity of spirit: Michelle Obama is one of them for sure, as is Malala and my very creative and accomplished husband, Roger. But I also take strength and learning from role models in my life who have not always been positive or supportive. I choose to forgive and to find positive intention - Ultimately, I believe there is always a miracle if you look hard enough.
3. Best piece of advice you’ve been given?
In a debate the Dalai Lama led about change, he reminded us that the cavalry’s not coming. If you want change start with yourself. His words: “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito in the room!”
4. Worst piece of advice you’ve been given?
“Eat everything on your plate....” #Cursed! #Parents!
5. What would you tell your younger self?
That you do not have to be a man to make it. The technology industry that I entered 30 years ago was so male dominated that they told me they ‘simply didn’t put women on the leadership team’. So, I spent my early career emulating what the men did, being a scary boss lady, metaphorically ‘eating razor-blades’ for breakfast and being a terrifying alpha female. And to be honest it worked to a certain level! I was successful but I was not fulfilled. It took me ten years to realise that I was always going to be disappointed, always going to be an angry feminist banging my head against the glass ceiling and raging against the machine. Not because I was a woman in a man’s world but that I was a woman trying to be a man in a man’s world. My own self-limiting belief was that you had to be a man to make it. And that is simply not true... SO, I would tell my younger self to find your values, honour your authentic-self. Realise that nobody else but you can make the shift from a mindset of not worthy to worth it, from management to leadership and from being the kind of woman that makes other women want to up their game.