Ahead of this spring's Reframe: Women in Tech and Womenhack conferences in the UK, Spektrix engineers reflect on the benefits of a flexible and caring workplace.
Lexi Messenger (she/her)
Senior Software Engineer (Monolith Team)
I was soaking up the sun in Corfu last year when I saw a message from yet another recruiter. I sighed, expecting to see yet another job in ‘finance’, based miles away, with four mandatory in-person days a week, a tech stack that didn't interest me and a culture fresh out of the early 1990s - nothing to prize me away from the comfortable and varied software engineering job that I'd held for 10 years.
Then I scanned the message properly and thrust the phone at my partner. "Look! A Senior Software Engineering role in the arts! Theaters! I love theaters! It's a B-Corp! My tech stack! Yes, it's London and we live in Southampton, but I only need to go in 10-20% of the time - hybrid contract! Paid volunteering days! Birthday off! AND LOOK AT THE SALARY BANDS, which, you'll notice, they have disclosed up front."
Unfortunately, I wasn’t perfectly well-versed in all of the listed technology requirements. I was about to close the page and forget it, when I happened to read in the Equal Opportunities section of the Spektrix hiring page:
"Studies show that women do not apply for roles unless they meet 100% of the requirements, whereas men apply when they meet at least 60% of the requirements"
The hiring process proved to me that Spektrix was a place in which I wanted to work. Questions and activities were sent in advance, so that I didn't have to think up anecdotes on the spot, or risk forgetting my words. I could schedule each interview stage at a time that suited me, rather than taking too much time out of work. After my final interview, I was offered a chance to chat with a female engineering manager, as the time slots I'd picked meant I had only spoken to male colleagues thus far. It meant a lot to me that a business would make this effort, and I felt far more comfortable asking another woman about her experiences at the company and future considerations such as maternity leave.
I’m now five months into my time at Spektrix. I’m a valued member of the team, and have had opportunities to support hiring, conferences and mentoring. I’ve been really impressed by the company’s commitment to deliver great features that improve the lives of our customers, and also to modernize and improve the quality of the codebase, improving the lives of developers and futureproofing the system for growth.
I could also wax lyrical about how great all my colleagues are, but instead I'll let you meet a few of them...
Find out more about sector-facing and support roles at the Spektrix US office - all supporting hybrid working with a base in New York.
Retraining, trust and support through pregnancy
Lauren Stylianou, Senior Software Engineer (she/her)
Spektrix put me through the Makers Apprenticeship, investing in me to retrain as a software developer and move from a client-facing role. The apprenticeship is a brilliant way to diversify the industry by encouraging career changers into engineering. Coming back to Spektrix after training, I was met with a brilliant group of mentors who spent time helping me learn and grow as a developer, and guided me to a promotion way earlier than I could have imagined.
At one stage of my training I had a difficult time, as I believed I was discriminated against by an external body because of my gender.
I received nothing but support from people at all levels of the business, who encouraged and assisted me to challenge certain decisions. It's invaluable to work for a company where you feel believed, supported and safe.
I’m now pregnant, and Spektrix have remained very supportive throughout. I've been able to make flexible arrangements when I’ve needed to, such as travelling outside of peak hours for in-person days. I had a particularly tough first trimester and was supported to make adjustments such as pairing less regularly than usual, which really helped with morning sickness; having my camera off in meetings, so that I could lie down; working from bed on particularly bad days; and encouraging me to take sick days when I needed them. This made me feel I was still a valuable member of the team, even when working at a slightly lower capacity than normal - and it was great not to suffer in silence!
Generosity, patience and freedom to learn
Liz Hainsworth, Engineering Department Coordinator, Mental Health First Aider & Wellbeing Champion (she/her)
My first impression of Spektrix was of a warm, welcoming company - that radiated from my interviewers, and later from all of my team members.
Having previously worked across theater, arts and charity sectors, I never imagined I could work for a software company, interacting with engineers and delivery managers on a daily basis. I imagined ‘agile delivery’ being a contemporary dance company!
Onboarding was challenging at times. There was a barrage of new terminology, working practices and context to absorb. But rather than judging, the team encouraged me to learn at my own pace and assured me that my transferable skills would be invaluable.
I couldn’t have imagined the generosity or patience I’ve experienced, or that I’d be able to engage with business-wide initiatives like the Mental Health First Aider role within weeks of joining. But that’s exactly what happened. I feel heard, respected and trusted.
We have a strong sense of team, we celebrate one another and succeed together. Everyone I work with - not only the other women - are both great colleagues and strong allies. In just over six months I’ve made great friends, been supported to expand my responsibilities, and smiled so much.
A mission-driven, inclusive space
Rana Alqrenawi, Senior Product Owner (she/her)
I spent ten years developing innovative software products and working as an outsource software engineer in the Middle East, as well as founding several companies. That inspired me to help develop gender-diverse teams and create an inclusive ecosystem to bring more women to tech in the Middle East.
My joy is to bring tech and business knowledge to any team I work with and create a cross-functional culture where everyone can share their ideas and thoughts. The fact that Spektrix combines cloud-based technology with expert support and training consultancy, helping clients grow their audiences and increase revenue, motivated me to join the team.
Spektrix also focuses its mission on building communities, and this helped assure me that it's aligned with the mission at my startup, AspireHer, to help enhance diversity and inclusion and bring more women of minority backgrounds into tech.
I recently joined the team as a Senior Product Owner and am working on building a reporting team, helping our users build data-driven growth plans. My experience has been fabulous so far. I enjoyed the warm welcome at the Manchester office and had a smooth yet rich onboarding process with my line manager. I highly appreciate the flexibility around childcare, Ramadan as the Holy month for Muslims, and the space for self-management to learn more about the product, the business, and the teams.
Work-life balance, a diverse team and lived company values
Davina Waterton, Engineering Manager (she/her)
Spektrix is a people-first company, valuing its people as its most important asset. Those company values were clear to me from the very beginning of the interview process, and played a key part in my decision to apply. One of the things that particularly stands out is the flexibility I've been allowed to balance work with looking after my children.
When I met my team I was both surprised and happy to see the diversity. There were already more women engineers than I expected, and we’re on a mission to continue hiring an increasingly diverse range of candidates.
Hybrid working is a big plus for me. We’re set up to work remotely most of the time, and it works well. When we do meet up we really value that time and use it for activities that work best face-to-face. I have a better work life balance than ever before and more time to spend with my family without sacrificing my career.
Transparency, flexibility and time off for sickness
Sarah Lascelles, Compliance Lead (she/her)
Every piece of information I could possibly want before applying was provided up front - job description, salary bands, information on company and values - everything was right there. That continued through the interview process, in which questions were sent in advance - this allowed me to marshal my thoughts, present myself well, and not worry about summoning every detail from memory. Remote interviews with casually-dressed people are a massive improvement on previous experiences of getting all suited and booted, working out routes and estimating likely delays, and sitting the other side of a table from people who might ask you anything.
My background is with much larger corporations, and I have definitely noticed the difference in company culture.
Lots of companies say they are ‘open’, ‘trusting’ or ‘flexible’ - Spektrix actually is. I’m able to do my job without unnecessary red tape, and I’m trusted to be a subject matter expert in my field.
When I have needed support with particular aspects of my role, I’ve received it - one area of responsibility was something I had no previous experience with, and I had training approved without fuss or delay.
I have experienced some health problems recently, and have been well supported - no judgement for cancelling in-office days, and encouragement to take more time off if needed. At Spektrix, I feel that I’m valued as a human being as well as a job title.
Caring responsibilities, inclusion and wellbeing
Reb Willis, Engineering Delivery Lead, Mental Health First Aider & Wellbeing Champion (she/her)
The Spektrix company values were what appealed to me initially - based on my previous experience I wanted to work for a company whose values match my own, as that’s key to wellbeing in the workplace. The job description focused on people, and on creating an environment where it’s safe to experiment and even fail.
Spektrix is fully supportive of parenting and other responsibilities people have in their personal lives. I have a child with a complex medical condition. I have always felt supported, and never felt uncomfortable taking days off for medical appointments. Everyone’s encouraged to be open about their home lives and to block out commitments in diaries.
Teams take school runs into account when planning meetings, and even departmental update meetings were moved to ensure they didn’t clash with school collection times. This is a real contrast with other companies where people have felt the need to hide things - that just creates stress.
During lockdown I found myself suddenly homeschooling two children who were struggling with the changes. Although I managed two teams, I had no hesitation in asking for help - and I received it. A colleague took over the management of one of my teams, and I dropped to three days a week. We encourage an environment of psychological safety - whether you’re a carer, have a chronic illness or any other need, we encourage people to share their experiences so we can support each other.
We’ve also changed our hiring practices to encourage diversity - we want different perspectives and experiences and the creativity they bring. We had unconscious bias and inclusivity training. All candidates are asked the same questions and receive these in advance - we wanted to make sure that no candidate was at a disadvantage. These changes have helped us to recruit an excellent and increasingly diverse team, and we’ve received good feedback even from unsuccessful candidates.
Find out more about sector-facing and support roles at the Spektrix US office - all supporting hybrid working with a base in New York
Lexi Messenger is Senior Software Engineer (Monolith Team) at Spektrix