MyPeople Meets is a series of articles featuring influential business people answering questions about what motivates them, their views on organisational values and high performance cultures along with personal insights on why they do what they do. This month, we meet Angie Vaux, Founder and CEO of Women in Tech, a coaching and networking forum that helps women to accelerate their careers in this fast-moving sector. She is also Founder of OutsideIN Performance, which offers tailored corporate mindfulness programmes to enhance employee well-being and productivity.
Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do…
I’m Angie Vaux and a mother of two beautiful children. I’ve always enjoyed mentoring women and am passionate about helping them to unlock their full potential. Having worked in the tech sector around the world for over 20 years, I felt I could make a difference by setting up a business to focus on helping women accelerate their careers in this market whilst helping them improve their mental health, wellbeing and performance at work.
In 2019, I founded two companies – OutsideIN Performance, a corporate mindfulness business and Women in Tech, a coaching and networking forum to help women accelerate their career in this sector.
What were the main drivers that have contributed to your career journey?
I’ve always been excited about technology and can remember my very first Atari computer and learning to programme at the age of 8. I had an early desire for learning and understanding, how technology helps transform organisations and industries. After leaving university, I started my first role with L’Oréal, where I realised very quickly I’m more of a B2B than B2C person. It was at this point I moved into technology and the rest, as they say, is history.
One of the things I loved about working with large tech companies is the interactions with customers and helping their organisations to become more efficient through the use of tech. It was then my desire to really make an impact and support women in their careers. I’ve done a great deal of coaching and mentoring in previous sales leadership roles, which I really enjoyed. I quickly discovered that coaching/mentoring is a two way process, where you are continuously learning yourself.
It has been very humbling to see how quickly Women in Tech has evolved in such a short space of time, I’m still very grateful to have worked with the likes of SAP, Oracle, Facebook and LinkedIn, it’s been a fantastic journey and one that spurs me on to do more.
What has been your biggest achievement?
Whilst I’ve had many successes in my corporate career, I think my biggest achievement has been founding the Women in Tech forum. This was something I dreamt of doing but didn’t think I’d actually achieve. The support I have received from the industry and community at large has been fantastic, which has been a key enabler in the growth of our business. I’m really proud of that and believe that it’s just the beginning of greater things to come.
What challenges have you faced over the course of your career?
Being a woman in the technology industry. When I started out in the late 90’s, I was often the only woman in the room. It was particularly challenging to have a voice with people listening to me in meetings, particularly when working in Asia which had the added dimensions of different cultures and a very patriarchal environment. To really stand out and make and an impact I had to make more effort as woman. It was certainly a challenge but the rewards were fantastic.
Are you more productive at night or in the morning and do you think it’s possible to change and get used to another schedule?
Great question! I have always been a night owl and am often at my most creative last thing at night. But it is possible to change. I’m currently trying to get up at 5am in the morning to meditate and then to have some focused time for strategic work. Whilst I don’t do this every day, I do see the difference it makes to my productivity during the day.
Previously, you’ve experienced various different organisational cultures – What is it that makes an organisation’s culture stand out for you?
Creating a positive work environment and culture is really important, not just for the success of the company but for the wellbeing of employees.
When people are aligned to a company’s vision and values, and when they find meaning in their work and feel valued, they perform at their best. Happy and healthy teams, diversity of cultures and thought, and giving back to the community are key ingredients of a positive work culture.
Organisational culture is so important in building high performing and happy teams and customers. When employees are aligned to an organisation’s mission and values and when they find purpose in their work, they are more engaged, more productive and happier.
What does high performance culture mean for you?
For me, a high performance culture starts with having a clear vision and strong values coupled with leadership that inspires and engages people. Organisations that have a culture of innovation that challenges the status quo and encourages diversity of thinking are often the ones that outperform. I also believe that companies should actively support the wellbeing and mental health of their teams. When people are happy and healthy, they are able to performance at their best.
How do you celebrate success within your organisation?
Celebrating success is really important it’s good to acknowledge achievements, no matter how big or small. One thing I’ve learnt is that everyone has their own way of celebrating success so it is important to know your team and how they like to be appreciated. For example, extroverts love to have their name in flashing lights whereas others prefer a more modest personal approach.
What would you say impacts women’s careers the most in terms of progression?
‘How Women Rise’, a book by Sally Helgesen, is a very interesting read as it discusses the twelve behaviours that hold back women in their careers. One of these is expecting others to automatically notice and reward our contributions. As women, we are extremely focused on doing a good job, getting things done and keeping everyone happy, yet our achievements often appear to be overlooked. My advice would be to really showcase the work you are doing and your achievements, even if you think people have already noticed. A bit of self-promotion will really help you stand out and allow others to recognise your contributions. This links into putting job before career at the expense of building deeper relationships and broadening your networks. As women, we really need to step outside of our comfort zones and be more assertive in terms of the value we bring into the workplace.
What advice would you give to women who aspire to progress into leadership?
It’s really important to have a mentor and a coach who can provide guidance and support in helping you develop in your career. It’s also beneficial to find an internal sponsor, someone who holds a senior position within the business, who champions your career development and can highlight career opportunities which you may not be aware of.
Most influential person you’d like to meet and why?
I would love to meet Sir Richard Branson. I really admire his success as a leader and as an entrepreneur. He has inspired me throughout my career showing the importance of building a business by listening to what people want, finding gaps in the market and delivering an excellent customer service. He values people and has a great sense of humility. He actively encourages new ideas and empowers people to deliver on them. He also understands the importance of having a good work life balance and working to live and not the other way around.
Who is your biggest sporting hero and why?
Sir Roger Bannister, who broke the record and became the first person to run a mile in under four minutes in 1954. After setting himself a goal to break this time, regardless of being told it was physically unfeasible. He studied the human body and the optimum conditions required to achieve this. His training programme, which was organised around his medical career, included dietary changes and rest periods. His philosophy, approach and mind-set showed the importance of self-belief and the ability to achieve anything if you put your mind to it.
What’s your favourite quote?
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right” by Henry Ford. Having that mind-set and believing you can achieve things will help you to progress in your career and life.
To download a PDF of this interview click here
To visit Women in Tech Forum click here