Read-up with RED.

#InspireHER: a Q&A session with Karine Gould

27th March 2024


We are excited to share our interview with Karine Gould, a seasoned professional who transitioned from sales and business development in the tech sector to tech recruitment. Currently a senior sales consultant at Red Global, Karine offers valuable insights into diversity and inclusion within the tech industry. She discusses the progress made, the challenges women face, and strategies to encourage more women to pursue tech careers. Karine's experience highlights the importance of fostering an inclusive culture and promoting gender diversity in tech.


1. Can you share with us your journey into the tech industry, particularly your transition from sales and business development to recruitment?


Initially, tech wasn't in my career plans. I wasn’t naturally inclined to this. My background’s in law, specialising in business law. After graduation, I delved into internal audits, exploring tax-saving strategies for a company. However, fate led me to Perinfo, a tech company focused on software for transportation and tourism. Initially hired for audits, they offered me a role in sales. It was a steep learning curve, especially as I navigated being the only woman in the team – twenty years ago. I embraced the challenge and eventually became a sales manager. In my next role for another tech company, also as Sales Manager, I was promoted to a leadership role where I actively hired women, and what I noticed was women’s remarkable organisation, conscientiousness and resilience.

Amid personal milestones like having children, I found myself in a remote work setup in London, just before COVID-19 hit. But working from home provided the flexibility I needed as a mother of two young children. It allowed me to thrive professionally while being present for my family. A call from a recruitment agency offered a new opportunity: transitioning from software sales to IT recruitment — a pivot I embraced wholeheartedly. This shift led me to my current role as a senior sales consultant at RED Global, where I appreciate the balance of remote and office work and resonate deeply with the company's culture.


2. What inspired or motivated you to move into a role focused on recruitment within the tech sector?


Transitioning to the recruitment sector was a natural step for me, driven by a couple of key reasons. Firstly, I craved a slight shift in my career — not a complete overhaul, but a change of scenery within the same professional domain. Sales has always been my strength, but I wanted a change. Recruitment, with its emphasis on interpersonal connections and understanding people's motivations, felt like a perfect fit. Having previously engaged in hiring and managing teams, I found the psychological aspects of recruitment, such as empathy and rapport-building, to be very appealing.


3. As someone who has worked in both sales and recruitment within the tech industry, what differences do you notice in terms of diversity and inclusion challenges?


When I first stepped into the tech sales arena 20 years ago, it was predominantly male-dominated. However, times have changed, and today, the landscape looks much different. Even five years ago, the presence of women in the industry was sparse, but in the realm of recruitment there are a lot more women.

Interestingly, in the IT software sector, the gender balance tends to skew more towards men. Perhaps this is because of the technical nature of IT roles. However, in recruitment, I've noticed that women excel in communication-centric tasks, such as engaging with candidates over the phone. 

I've witnessed a significant shift over the years. While there were fewer women involved in selling software or IT products 15 years ago, the situation has improved considerably. I've had the pleasure of hiring and collaborating with talented women during my career, and it's evident that progress has been made in fostering diversity and inclusion within the tech sales industry.


4. In your experience, what are some of the main barriers women face when entering or advancing in the tech industry, and how can these barriers be addressed? What initiatives or strategies could organisations implement to encourage more women to pursue careers in tech?


For women, there are different kinds of barriers: some in their personal lives and others within the industry itself. Women still often bear the brunt of childcare responsibilities, which can sometimes limit their professional opportunities. Some companies still expect women, like men, to be on-site full-time or four days a week. But I’m happy to align with any schedule because my career means a lot to me. Yet I believe management needs to embrace more flexibility to address modern life.

On a professional level within the industry, there's a prevalent "bloke culture" or masculine work environment that persists in the IT industry. This culture often excludes women, and it's something that needs to change. Currently, in the IT industry, there's only one woman for every six or seven managers, highlighting the urgent need for improvement.

We should focus on training and supporting more women to become future leaders in tech, and I believe it's achievable. One way to encourage this is by hiring more female candidates. By giving more women opportunities in the recruitment and IT industries, we cannot only hire more women but also inspire and encourage them to become leaders.


5. Could you share any personal challenges you've encountered in your career as a woman in tech and how you overcame them?


When I started, I was the only woman in the sales team, which was predominantly composed of men from presale teams, engineers, sales, and R&D, with men making up 99% of the workforce. No one took me seriously or believed I could engage with C-suite executives to sell software in the transportation industry. Initially, I noticed reluctance from the sales team when I sought their help. However, I persevered and worked diligently to prove that I could perform just as effectively as my male colleagues. Eventually, I earned their respect.  While I regret that my journey wasn't as straightforward as it was for my male counterparts, it did have a positive side: it built resilience and assertiveness in me.


6. How do you see the role of women in driving inclusive cultures within tech companies, and what impact does this have on innovation and productivity?


The role of women in driving inclusive cultures within tech companies is crucial, as women bring different thoughts and perspectives to the table. Both men and women can combine their unique expertise and creativity. By considering these diverse views, it can lead to better outcomes and solutions.


7. Can you share any insights or lessons learned from your experience navigating male-dominated spaces within the tech industry?


As I mentioned earlier, at the start of my career in tech, I felt reluctance and suspicion from my male colleagues. This experience certainly built my assertiveness, tenacity, and resilience. But today, I no longer see myself as different from my male colleagues. Moreover, I believe we shouldn't emphasise the differences between men and women, but rather focus on what each individual can bring to the table.


8. Have you observed any trends or shifts in attitudes towards diversity and inclusion within the tech industry in recent years? If so, what are they?


Yes, there have been noticeable trends and shifts towards diversity and inclusion within the tech industry in recent years. Almost every major organisation now feels accountable for its diversity efforts, as evidenced by companies sharing metrics about the number of women employed, particularly in managerial positions, on their websites. Many companies have established "Inclusion & Diversity groups" that organise roundtable discussions on hiring practices, increasing retention of skilled tech women, and promoting them as leaders.

It's important to note that diversity and inclusion extend beyond gender equality; they also encompass neurodiversity and support for the LGBTQ community.


9. What advice would you give to other women looking to pursue a career in tech, particularly in roles like sales, business development, or recruitment?


I would like to give the same advice I would give to a man: Be persistent and push forward your goals through:

• Developing and training on the technical skills for your role.

• Being tenacious

• Being confident! Believe in yourself and your abilities.

• Embracing challenges: don’t be scared to get out of your comfort zone especially in the fast-paced tech industry, you have to be adaptable.

• And of course, promoting and supporting diverse and inclusive initiatives.


10. Lastly, what do you hope to see in terms of progress towards greater diversity and inclusion in the tech industry in the coming years?


I hope to see more diversity, equality and inclusion in businesses, particularly in providing equitable opportunities for management positions. There's a need for initiatives that foster diversity and inclusion starting from education. While there are successful programs encouraging women to study STEM and focus on engineering, we need more of them.

Some companies are implementing plans to advance social mobility, leading to increased collaboration among tech companies and educational institutions. External programs are also emerging, focusing on community development to help individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds develop skills.

Personally, I think tech recruitment agencies should aim to send 50% female candidates to their clients. Additionally, efforts should be made to facilitate the hiring of neurodivergent talent, which can bring unique expertise in niche areas.

Overall, I genuinely hope that one day the tech industry will be welcoming to all individuals.

Die große Frage: SAP Custom oder Standard?


Die Frage nach einer standardmäßigen oder maßgeschneiderten Lösung stellt sich bei jeder SAP-Implementierung. Und das aus gutem Grund. Beide Ansätze haben ihre Vor- und Nachteile und können weitreichende Auswirkungen auf Ihr Unternehmen haben.

Doch wie gut haben maßgeschneiderte Systeme in der Pandemie abgeschnitten, wenn man bedenkt, wie schnell sich Unternehmen an die vollkommen neue Situation anpassen mussten? Wir haben unsere Kunden gefragt, ob die maßgeschneiderte oder die standardmäßige Lösung die bessere Wahl war.