Your weekly mega-dose of motivation – from the leaders and trailblazers inspiring those around them.
This week, and in a brand-new series, SHEmazing! chats with Noelle O'Reilly, CEO of the Dublin Tech Summit.
Publishing; events; one of the world’s biggest social media sites… and now the inaugural Dublin Tech Summit: to date, Noelle O’Reilly’s career has been anything but conventional.
Never mind that she’s still just 30. Nor that she’s a mum-of-one – with a three-legged Puggle called Charlie and a cat called Bella – to occupy her time too.
“I also cook as much as possible and I travel constantly,” she adds with a smile while in conversation recently with SHEmazing!
“Next on my list is Bali and then the Northern Lights.”
Noelle’s success is nothing short of standout – and behind her drive is a single simple trait that she says continues to fuel her now: curiosity.
“I love to learn!” Noelle laughs. “I taught myself how to code; how to build websites; how to play guitar; how to solve a Rubik's Cube.
“I never let anyone tell me that I couldn’t do something.”
It’s an important sentiment considering that Ms O’Reilly is so immersed in the world of tech – an industry which traditionally hasn’t presented as many opportunities for women.
“The number of women working within the technology industry is growing,” she highlights, “yet women still only make up 30 percent of the 7million people working in Europe’s digital sector. And when considering only tech-related roles they are even more underrepresented.
“Apple has the highest proportion of female employees in tech roles, but this figure is still only 20 percent. At Twitter, only 10 percent of tech positions are filled by women.
“Women hold just a quarter of Fortune 500 board seats, and only 4 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are female.
“Young women need to be encouraged to explore their interests in technology from a very young age.
“At the Dublin Tech Summit, we are trying to do our bit too – so we allocated €200,000 worth of complimentary tickets to our women in technology initiative.”
The buzz around the DTS is definitely already humming. Taking place on February 15 and 16 in the Convention Centre, some 10,000 attendees will engage in talks and workshops centring on topics relating to fashion and FinTech, to marketing and big data.
Gary Vaynerchuk, best-selling author and entrepreneur, is already confirmed as being among the illustrious speaking line-up.
Certainly, there can be no doubt that this is an event willing and able to fill the gap left when Paddy Cosgrove’s Web Summit left for Lisbon.
“I wanted to grow something from the ground up,” Noelle – a former director of IMAGE publications who also did a stint with Twitter at the social media giant’s Dublin office – says now of her involvement as CEO.
“That’s what really excites me about what we’re doing at the Dublin Tech Summit. To be a part of setting the tone and direction for years to come is really what motivates our team.”
Naturally, Noelle is drawing now from her past career milestones, lending her unique skills to what amounts to nothing short of a colossal undertaking.
“I knew my experience from fashion to tech and then events would give it the edge that it needed,” she explains.
“I knew I had the drive to focus on the end goal and deliver results. DTS is not just for businesses and tech heads though; we have a stage for visionary leaders and a stage dedicated to fashion, for example.
"The fact that there are eight themes, means that the participants will be from a wider range of backgrounds and I think that makes for a more dynamic experience.”
She continues: “It’s also building something for the city to be really proud of. This is year one; we will learn a lot this year and we want people to join us and let us know what they want for year two. This isn't about us as a company, it’s about Dublin having another string to its bow.
As for the future, in addition to the DTS, Noelle says she will set up her own business consultancy.
“I’ll help other companies take their first steps into the market,” she explains. “The main focus for me is productivity: teaching companies how to be more productive using technology. After that, their market strategy and activation. I am a real believer in simplicity hence my Twitter bio: 'I create. I produce. I simplify.'
Unsurprisingly for someone who has achieved an awful lot at an early age, Ms O’Reilly has weathered her fair share of professional storms.
“When I was younger, maybe in my mid-20s, I felt like my gender held me back a bit. But now, I know my value and my worth so it’s just not an issue anymore.
“I just wish I knew back then what I was capable of. My manager a few years back called me aggressive. I was genuinely hurt by this.
“I remember questioning myself and wondering what I could do to change that. I hated thinking that people found me aggressive.
“Looking back, if I was a man, I would have been called determined, not aggressive. I would have been applauded.
“So my advice to any woman who feels held back in any way is to chase jobs and opportunities when they arise.
"Never presume that you won’t get it! Challenge yourself, learn new skills, and most of all, be confident. You’re better than you think.
For the next round of Women In Tech tickets apply here.