Tech, Tech Trailblazers

“A career in technology doesn’t mean you have to be a coder”: Tech entrepreneur Jacqui Bull on how she launched her startup career

Women's Agenda /

Jacqui Bull had “zero exposure” to careers in technology, right up until her final years of university.

But attending a speech by a tech founder in her third year of a commerce degree offered her an introduction to tech businesses, and changed her world view.

Bull is now the co-founder of Sidekicker, an HR website that allows entrepreneurs and employers to access temporary staff within hours. Working with clients like Uber, Airbnb and Sofitel, the platform has more than 3000 ‘sidekicks’, works on more than 1500 projects a month, and recently received more than $1 million in investment from Seek.

She’s seriously killing it in the tech recruitment space, but may not be where she is today if she didn’t hear that speech.

As such, she’s a passionate advocate for driving greater awareness of careers in tech from primary school on.

Below we ask Bull how she started as a tech entrepreneur, and what she believes needs to change to get more women involved

Has your tech career been planned or did it just happen?

It was really just luck that led me into a career in tech. I had always wanted to own my own business but it wasn’t until my cofounder and I started working on the idea for Sidekicker, and connecting businesses with on-demand staff, that I discovered the world of startups and technology, mainly from working in coworking spaces, reading and talking to other founders.

What qualifications (if any) do you have that support you in this role?

I have a Bachelor of Commerce with a major in Accounting and Marketing. Although not tech related, having a foundation in business has certainly been helpful in starting a company. However when starting a company I think learning on the job and from experience is vital.

Do you know any coding languages, is this relevant to your career?

I don’t know any coding languages, which hasn’t been a problem thus far!

What’s your proudest achievement so far in tech?

My proudest moment was probably when the first version of the Sidekicker website and app was launched. It’s functionality was limited, all you could do was post a job, and then the workers or ‘Sidekicks’ could accept the job. There were no Sidekick profiles or choice for the client but being able to facilitate this through technology was so exciting and opened my eyes to what could be done!

Why is diversity so important in the tech sector?

Diversity in any sector is extremely important. With diversity comes different perspectives and encourages everyone in the workplace to look at problems in ways they might not have thought of, resulting in better decision making. I also believe it leads to greater respect among colleagues in most cases, results in the employee makeup of a company being a better representation of the company’s customers.

What do you want all girls and young women to know about careers in tech?

I want girls and young women to realise that a career in technology doesn’t mean you have to be a coder! There are so many areas within the tech industry that women can excel at such as product management, UX design, digital marketing or working in operations and growth within a technology company. A career in tech really just means you need to have a mindset of innovation and use technology to improve existing services or procedures by making them faster, more affordable or easier. That’s the beauty of tech.

What do you personally do to raise your profile and voice as a woman in tech?

I often attend or speak at industry events and say yes to every opportunity I get offered to speak, be a panelist or present at events. It’s a great way to share your experiences and hopefully inspire others to choose a careers in startups, and as a bonus I get to build the awareness of Sidekicker. I also use Twitter to share interesting articles, news or amazing new businesses with my followers.

How can we get more women speaking at technology-related events?

This needs to be driven from both the technology event organisers by being proactive and inviting female tech role models to speak at their events, and also from the women in tech themselves by really putting themselves forward for speaking events. I think it’s important that women working in tech use their experience to educate the younger generation on the amazing career options available.

Can you run us through an average day in your life?

An average day in my life usually involves getting up early to get to the gym or go for a run, then getting into work by about 8am. At Sidekicker we have a weekly standup where every team outlines the key projects they’re working on for the week and their goals, which is a great way to keep everyone up to date and motivated. The day usually involves checking in with staff, working on marketplace improvements and any meetings that are scheduled, as well as one or two coffees! What time I finish up really depends on how much we have on, so it will be sometime after 6:30pm. Then home for dinner with the housemates or out for dinner with friends or family, and maybe a check in with work later on.

What more would you like to see the tech industry doing to better support women in the field?

I think the key to getting more women involved in tech is starting from the ground level. For me, from primary school right up until my last year of university I had zero exposure to a career in technology or in startups. My first exposure to technology driven businesses was when I attended a speech by the founder of Crowd Mass in third year university. Driving greater awareness and education at the high school and University level of career options in tech, from product management and coding to operations within a tech company, will help normalise these jobs and throw them in the ring as mainstream career option.

Finally, who are your tech-related role models?

I am a big fan of Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, and I would love to see her answering these questions.

This story was originally published on Women’s Agenda.

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