Interview with Vicki Jakes, Online Marketing and Website Optimisation Consultant at Hey Vicki Jakes

Vicki, tell us a bit more about your journey. What did life look like in the run up to starting your own business, Hey Vicki Jakes?

I spent several years making websites in my spare time at home. It was all I did in the evenings and I would use my new skills to get in with the bands I went to see.

What a journey! Let’s go back a little further, what sparked your interest in websites in the first place?

I had always been around computers since a young age, playing around and reading the manuals, collecting magazines with disk and then CD-ROMs but I actually wanted to work in the film industry, but I couldn’t get a paid job. You had to volunteer your time as a “runner” making tea and serving lunches (all unpaid) and that wasn’t really appealing!

Gender diversity at board-level is still lagging, despite the industry being much more gender-balanced than others. What’s your experience been?

Despite being a board member at the healthcare agency, I still had trouble being taken seriously in meetings. I also encountered elitism from developers that I worked with for the first time, who assumed I didn’t know anything about the tech because I was “just” a project manager. I was able to have conversations with them about their approach to architecting a project and I always felt I had to “prove” my knowledge first — it wasn’t implicit.

Ouch — what advice would you give to employers to stop others experiencing what you have, and to encourage more gender diversity?

Having some sort of “starter” program for developers where they can join and learn on the job is a great way to encourage more diversity in roles because you’re able to supply the training and supportive environment to grow. I’ve seen some great female developers come out of such programs.

Talking about advice, if you could give your younger-self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Don’t work so hard to prove yourself. You always knew enough, be confident in that knowledge. I’d then give her a big hug as she probably needed it.

And finally, what do you get up to when you’re not running your own business?

I love my two daughters more than anything and you can often find me playing LOL Surprise dolls with them or helping them serve up lunch from their garden playhouse “kitchen”. They keep everything real and I love them for that.

#ChoosetoChallenge

For International Women’s Day 2021, we’re celebrating those in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. You can read our other interviews here.

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