AGP Ep 18: Sarah Smith—Leading from the front, coding games and building high performing teams
Sarah Smith is the Founder and lead software engineer for Smithsoft, who make educational games for young people. She also Founded the Brisbane chapter of Women Who Code. We talk about her leadership and entrepreneurial journey, her achievements and challenges.
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- Sarah’s links
- Women Who Code—Meetup for women in tech
- Sarah’s tips for women in technology
- The ability to work in deeply technical and leadership roles is not gender-specific.
- The more deeply technical you get, the more rewards there are.
- The importance of professional development. Invest in yourself.
- Paying it forwards to other women. Become a mentor to others.
- Staying part of the conversation. Be a champion for women in technology. Make yourself heard. But also know that it’s ok to then pass on the baton and let others lead the charge.
- Books for technical leaders
- The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
- The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity by Alan Cooper
- Peopleware by Tom DeMarco
- Game Changers by Dan Golding and Leena van Deventer
- “Building capability is more important than building products. At least initially”—Peter Laurie
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- Music by David Cutter
- The resistance women can face in technical environments.
- Transitioning from technical into leadership roles.
- Leading staff from the front rather than commanding and controlling from the back.
- Managing distributed teams.
- Building capacity is more important than building product, at least initially.
- 0:29 How do you think about yourself these days?
- 2:19 Do you see yourself as an entrepreneur? Or a leader? Or a social entrepreneur? Or a software engineer?
- 5:19 Can you tell us more about how you were drawn to IT?
- 8:16 Did you find it was a really active resistance of your female presence? Or was it more subtle and cliquey?
- 10:40 Do you think it’s changed over time? Do you think it’s easier for young women now?
- 12:14 What do you think we need to do to change that unwelcoming attitude towards females in deeply technical environments?
- 20:10 What drew you to leadership?
- 23:55 What were some of the challenges you faced as you transitioned into leadership roles?
- 26:15 So how do you motivate staff and partners other than by command and control approach?
- 30:10 Tell us a bit more about you manage your distributed team?
- 37:33 How do you manage your input vs the input of your customers?
- 41:30 It is more important to build capability than product, at least initially. Tell us more about that?
- 9:04 “You look around and there is nobody like you, and everyone seems so much better at it, which is because of the stuff that are put in your hands at school”—Sarah Smith
- 14:34 “The ability to work in tech is not something that comes with gender, it comes with experience, aptitude, determination, and intellect”—Sarah Smith
- 23:38 “So much of leadership is influence, and so much of influence is communication”—Andrew Ramsden
- 24:58 “Leading is about demonstrating by your actions that we are moving and it’s up to you to come with us”—Sarah Smith
- 38:44 “As a leader, your team don’t have to worry about the stuff you have to worry about”—Sarah Smith
- 46:26 “Listen to your own intuition: not that you act on every impulse, but that you don’t discount it”—Sarah Smith