Interviewing Women in Agile: Karen Elliott
05 March 2020
Posted by: Abi Walker
To Celebrate International Women's Day, which was on Sunday 8 March, throughout the month of March, the Consortium are interviewing key women in the Agile Community.
In this interview, we have Dr Karen Elliott. Karen is a Senior Lecturer at Newcastle University Business School and is passionate about ‘FinTech’. As a ‘pracademic’ (mixture of theory, practice and agility) she draws on industry and academic insights, starting at Durham University. Karen’s current £1.2m EPSRC grant with computer science/Atom Bank examines trust, ethics and agility in FinTech/AI.
Karen, can you tell us a bit about what you do?
As a ‘pracademic’ I create a synergy between theory and practice within the classroom (setting live challenges with FinTech firms to be assessed in the course) to ensure that the students are equipped with ‘industry-ready’ skills including providing access to coding/programming courses to encourage the uptake of STEM subjects. In addition, as my background is behavioural psychology/sociology promote an agile mindset as key to navigating the business world. I am also part of the NE FinTech Ecosystem working with industry to promote the NE and opportunities for talent in technology whilst providing knowledge exchange.
Do you have a female role model who has inspired you over your career?
Katherine Johnson, first black female NASA mathematician for her continual curiosity with numbers to solve complex issues and to fight the bias in the systems for females and ethnicity in STEM. More recently, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon, CEO Stemettes for her work to enable and empower females to follow in her footsteps in STEM/technology.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone starting in your industry?
The only thing to fear is lack of ambition.
What is the worst piece of advice you have ever received?
“You don’t look like an academic, if you were male it would be fine to be so confident – try another occupation”.
What is one thing that has mattered the most in your career?
As Katherine – I am a ‘curious creature’ and learn something new everyday via exploration, adaptation, networking and collaboration to make things happen and importantly, share knowledge.
What is the biggest mistake you have made at work?
Listening to a manager at the start of my career who took credit for my ideas.
How do you empower other women?
Let students know that they are more powerful than they realise as a female, connect them with role models, industries or subjects that they are interested in or enrolling for training (coding/programming), sharing knowledge so they don’t make the mistakes I have whether that is in business or academia. Importantly, that you never lose, you win or you learn…failing is an opportunity to learn – have a positive, agile mindset and see what emerges.
Would you like to be interviewed by the Agile Business Consortium? Email our Head of Content, Abi Walker, to find out how you can get your message out to our community - Abi@agilebusiness.org