Georgia Yexley is the Head of Growth at Beryl, a bike company dedicated to changing the way cities move. With 5 years in marketing and communications, she has been working with tech start-ups that are looking to grow globally. Georgia is a Londoner who spent a chunk of her life living and working in Beijing, China, and a recent runner-up for ‘Rising Star’ – Marketing Week Masters – Award. She is contributing to raising the volume of women of color in tech.
In a Nutshell: Tell us a bit about your job and what role technology plays in it?
I’ve recently changed roles within the same industry, from a Chinese born bike-share unicorn to a UK based cycle safety brand who have taken the dockless bike-share model and modified it to be better for communities. Bikeshare, as it’s manifested today, is at the intersection of travel, mobility, and tech. The product itself is tech with the bikes being IOT connected, unlocked through smartphone apps and collecting big data on the way we move through our cities.
My new role is focused on growth so this requires huge collaboration with every team and team member, touching tech through business intelligence, developers, product managers, marketers etc. On top of this, we operate as a tech company, fast-moving, focused on innovation and impact.
What is the greatest transformation in technology you’ve witnessed in your career?
It’s going to sound like I’ve drunk the koolade, but it’s by far micro-mobility. It is the fastest adopted new technology, ever. So if you look at 0-100million users of any tech innovation from mobile phones to atm’s, the widespread of bike-share beats it. That blows my mind all the time, especially when you factor in the environmental impact mass adoption of cycling, over other urban transportation, could have.
Women in the field of technology are definitely in the minority. What steps should be taken to attract more women to tech?
I wrote a short article on LinkedIn reflecting on this. There’s not a simple solution and I hope we’ll look at a number of ways we can encourage and build up more female (and female-identifying) leaders. I think this is an apt time to talk about visibility and taking up space. Platforms like this are doing the world of good for showcasing that we’re already here, we’re excited about tech and we’re great at our jobs! Raising our voices and taking up space allows others to do it too.
Recently I’ve also been thinking a lot about mentoring and offering each other support. Looking back on my personal experiences I’ve been lucky enough to work for two female-founded companies in the last 3 years as well as being blessed with female colleagues who have consistently built myself and others up for success. Supporting and encouraging each other is always the best way forward.
Which skills do you need for a career in tech (aside from the actual tech skills)?
Flexibility, versatility and a willingness to learn on the job are key. In any job it’s important to have a passion for the company you work for, their ‘product’ or better yet their mission.
Nonetheless, this is the question that often makes people feel they’re not cut out for tech. As odd as it sounds ‘tech’ isn’t all tech. Tech companies vary so dramatically, I’ve experienced that in my own career going from what I always describe as a very ‘techy, tech company’ in cloud computing, to travel and mobility-focused organizations.
There are jobs right across the board that are integral to a tech company’s success. I recently saw a video from Culture Trip’s head of content and head of product where they talked about needing people who could essentially ‘translate’ between and connect the two teams, what might be thought of as soft skills can sometimes be quite hard to come by in the tech world – you might hold a lot of value in those areas.
Who are your tech influencers and why?
This is a tough one as I think it’s constantly changing. I tend to look for inspiration as far and wide as possible so it wouldn’t only be people in ‘tech’. I’ve recently been reading Phil Knights “Shoe Dog” and that’s offered amazing insights into a mind very different than my own. I’ve been blown away by all the innovators in the micro-mobility field too, as much as I’m keeping an eye on competitors, I’m also admiring the leaps and bounds each company is making to further the cause of better, cleaner and more enjoyable cities.
Rather than seeking out influencers, I’d encourage women looking to enter the tech world to seek our mentors and friends who you can learn from and lean on.
What has been the greatest piece of advice you have received in your career so far?
A former boss of mine, as well as a close friend of mine, gave me this advice at various times in my career when I was teetering on the edges of burnout. To not tie your emotions and thereby wellbeing into your job. Having passion and drive are not the same as balancing your emotions on success at work. It’s necessary to be able to shut off from work when you get home and sometimes leave it firmly in the office. This can be really hard when you’re working in tech, but having boundaries and making time for yourself is essential to success.
If you could host a dinner party with 3 influential people in tech, who would you invite and why?
I’d start with Pony Ma, the CEO of Tencent. WeChat was pretty much the epicenter of all activities while I lived in Beijing, I used it to pay bills, do my taxes, instant message friends, order taxis and the list goes on. The process of creating a product/service that is its own ecosystem is fascinating and no-one has done this in a bigger way than Pony Ma.
I’ve heard he can be a little introverted though so to balance the room I’d invite Sheryl Sandberg, her career is so interesting and her Lean In circles have done wonders to create communities of women supporting and encouraging each other to take leaps and bounds in the business world.
Last but not least, Ben Horowitz, he’s got such a great storytelling style and we have the same taste in music, I think we’d have a lot to talk about! I also tweeted about his book the other day and he replied so brownie points for that.
Georgia Yexley is the Head of Growth at Beryl, a bike company dedicated to changing the way cities move. With 5 years in marketing and communications, she has been working with tech start-ups that are looking to grow globally and her professional interests cross over to her personal, through travel, marketing, branding, visual and written content, events and integrated campaigns. Georgia is a Londoner who spent a chunk of her life living and working in Beijing, China, and a recent runner-up for ‘Rising Star’ – Marketing Week Masters – Award. She is contributing to raising the volume of women of color in tech.