Episode #5 - From medieval history to a tech marketer, Bethan Vincent discusses hiring processes, women in tech, and her podcast The Brave

Origin stories of a tech marketer, women in tech, hiring processes and The Brave Podcast.

In this Episode

For episode 5, we have Bethan Vincent, a fellow podcaster from The Brave. On this fifth episode Bethan and I discuss a range of topics including her winding career path, women in tech, the hiring process, and her very own podcast, The Brave.

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Resources

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You can find out more about me, Rob Kendal, on my personal website, or follow me on Twitter.

Transcript

Part 1

Rob 0:00 Bethan Hello. techie marketer podcaster. Writer. Welcome,

Bethan 0:04
welcome. I don't know why I'm saying welcome. Thanks so much for having me, Rob. Sorry. I think I'm used to being on the other side too much now. So

Rob 0:12
welcome to the safe space.

Bethan 0:13
Yeah, no, thanks so much for having me. It's really exciting to be here.

Rob 0:17
I'm gonna point out to people listening that we've I've committed the rookie error full stop of just not actually recording the first, I don't know, five minutes of our chat. So if any of this seems a bit weird, that's probably why when we get back into the non weird territory, that's where we would have gone.

Bethan 0:30
It's good, it adds flavour, add's character.

Rob 0:34
How's it? How's it all going?

Bethan 0:35 Yes, good. Yeah. We're obviously see, I think it's the 16th of March today. And we're in the middle of kind of Corona panic, I would say here in the UK, so that that's made for an interesting day. Lots of plans been changed. But apart from that, pretty good. How are you Rob?

Rob 0:50
No bad. We're sort of a bit isolated from it because I'm a fully remote developer, our kind of company's pretty much all remote so, that doesn't exclude from getting coronavirus, but it probably limits us, all this self isolating and we kind of, that that's just our nine to five to be honest with. How are you finding it in the world of marketing with this Corona because I've had some interesting marketing campaigns targeted at me they're a bit kind of Corona related and straightaway you just kind of feel a bit ooo, no.

Bethan 1:17
yeah, I mean I personally both at work and kind of in my out of work marketing I do I've completely stayed away from it. I think it's all too easy to think, you know, oh, this is a trend I can kind of jump on the back of and hijack and do news jacking is a big thing and kind of marketing pr at the moment, but at the end of the day is people's lives are at risk and it can be easy to lose sight of that if it's not affecting you directly. So if you're considering doing it, maybe don't is my advice.

Rob 1:46
Yeah, so if you're listening and you are just aren't because I mean speaking as a as a marketing director like Bethan and I normie like me a non-marketing person

Bethan 1:53
I like that distinction.

Rob 1:56
Let's Let's not say we did. One of the things I like to talk about is k ind of origin stories and I always bring this up the mine was very kind of boring but very linear. I used to build computers and now I programme them. And I still do that. But you've had quite a varied career. You start out with a degree in medical literature, medical history, one of one of those.

Bethan 2:14
Medieval history, yeah. So right in the past before tech was the thing. I think printing presses were all the rage.

Rob 2:22
And how do you get from that into the role of (Bethan's a marketing director at Netsells, company or technology company in York) I mean, how did you get from that to medieval history degree into kind of marketing director? I mean, marketing probably existed in medieval times, but it was more like how can I growth hack sword selling our just plain shouting from the edge of a market stall? Right?

Bethan 2:42
Yeah, I think it was a lot of shouting at the edge of the market store and printing little leaflets and sending them to people. I think they had the concept of direct mail. Maybe. Not too sure. And yeah, it's an interesting question, and there's not really kind of a straight answer to it, I guess. I'd say by accident, and a bunch of luck thrown in there as well. So I went to University of York studied history, specified myself in the medieval realm. And that was very exciting for me personally, and intellectually stimulating, but I kind of knew there wouldn't be a job out there. I didn't want to be an academic. And that's really, if you want to follow history, that's one of the main routes you can take. And I'd actually worked for English Heritage before my degree. So I knew what it was like to work in the heritage industry and didn't want to do that. Yeah, while I was at university, I actually started writing a blog. Back in the days, I don't know if anyone remembers when blogger was kind of the popular platform. I think it's owned by Google Now, and they've shut it down. It was also the days it wasn't quite my space days, but it was just after that. And so I'd learned a bit of HTML from trying to put like sporting stars on my MySpace profile, because I'm so cool. And kind of building this blog on blogger introduced me to a little bit of I guess code? I didn't really think of it as that at the time as that it was more just copy and pasting stuff. I found on the internet and seeing if it worked. But yeah, that kind of got me interested in technology and building websites. And then I graduated from university and had no literally no idea what I wanted to do. I knew I didn't want to go and work in London for the big four like a lot of my friends. So I set up a couple of businesses, some worked some really didn't work. Because I was a student doing everything completely bootstrapped. I had to learn how to market these businesses, you know, literally from scratch because I couldn't pay anyone to do it for me. So my I always say I'm not, I guess I'm got a marketing degree. I haven't got the qualification. I'm a self taught marketer. And then from there, I just, I really love technology. I love playing around with things and I call it tinkering, like just trying stuff out and normally breaking stuff. So I did a bit of my own business for a while, got I guess good at marketing and did some marketing consultancy freelance work and then did a bit of consultancy for a company called Bytemark which is actually where I met you Rob and they offered me a permanent role and I kind of thought well this full time employment steady paycheck thing is kind of nice not really had that or since before University.

Rob 5:09
it's pretty cool

Bethan 5:10
yes it's pretty life changing you can you know afford to do things like pay tax and from there you know, kind of went to Bytemark for two years and then got the opportunity and Netsells which was you know, a step up for me in my career. And I've always been someone who said yes to things sometimes to my detriment, but luckily this was a good yes. So been at Netsells for over a year, a year and a couple of months time has flown by but um, it's you know, leading kind of the more strategic level of marketing go from that kind of tactical focus to strategy has been really interesting, and I've really enjoyed it.

Rob 5:47
Wow, yeah, I can't believe it's been a year I know a suspicious amount of people from like, weird previous employments where we weren't actually employed at the same time the first guest I had on on, Sam Beckham, he he was kind of me when I took over his role, but not I didn't force him out, he kind of left and it was vacant. And then I took it. It's like we kind of got friendly that way. It's the same with you. I kind of we came into each other's radars about the same time we kind of almost worked there together. You know, I think I came around for a bit of a Hey, how's it going? before? I like that you mentioned the MySpace thing, because again, Sam mentioned that I did a first dabble into website development through MySpace, and it's brilliant. These sites existed where you could just essentially dick about with kind of the code and now everything's kind of locked away. But there was MySpace, there was geo cities and some kind of thing was like some kind of penguin thing as well. These like, kids'll never know anyone. Anyone got into it about the same age as I was kind of the kids will never have these days that they don't have these cool things to tinker around with. I liked what you said as well about just being open to opportunities and saying yes, and again, one of the things I hope to kind of cover a bit is kind of careers because I get in touch with a lot of kind of junior developers or aspiring ones who seem to struggle the most with just getting into the industry. And I think that would be a bit of advice I would give them is kind of look, listen out for opportunities, and don't be afraid to kind of say yes and explore them. So you think that served you pretty well in your career to date?

Bethan 7:09
Yeah, definitely. And also being self taught, I always had a portfolio of work, even if it wasn't commercial, it was always kind of something I could show an employee and be like, Look, I haven't got the rubber stamp of approval from whatever qualification body, but I've actually got real experience. And I know from at Netsells when we recruit developers, and that's one of the things we look for, we don't really care if you've got, you know, a degree or whatever, but as long as you demonstrate you can do the work. And that's always more impressive to me as a hiring manager than someone saying, oh, I've been on this course not to say the courses are bad, but I think you've got to have something you can showcase to people.

Rob 7:49
Yeah, cuz I mean, again, I mentioned this, on the the previous episode, I was talking to kind of recruiters and they said the exact same thing, you know, get a portfolio of some nature. And so you can you can showcase it off. Now, I struggled with that for quite a while because I was working at a time where it wasn't as easy to have some kind of suite of code to show people and I work with a lot of proprietary code. So I couldn't kind of show any open source things I couldn't sort of, go, hey, look, this is what I've been working on. It's like it's all intellectually copyrighted and things. So to be able to build that up, I think is great that you have got that kind of showcase, especially if you're on the earlier ladder in your the earlier rungs of your career ladder where you maybe don't have the experience to talk about stuff which I had in place of like actual portfolio to show that I could talk about stuff if you can't do that. definitely get a portfolio.

Bethan 8:36
So just to say that as you become more advanced in your career, and I'd say, I do know, it's really hard to talk about where I am in my career. I'm kind of mid level, I guess. I've still got years and years to work, thanks to the raise in state pension age, but I still have a portfolio now and it's something I actively try and add to even though you know, you could argue that I have the work experience behind me to back me up but I just say If you want to stand out as a candidate use everything you can,

Rob 9:03
you know, you talked about personal brand a lot, it doesn't necessarily have to be something directly related, like, you know, you have to have a GitHub account if you're a developer, but things like like this podcast or some kind of like a blog or something where you can go, look, this is something that's more of an extension of me. Which is a kind of little segue into the brave, which is a podcast that you run out, which is, I must admit it's a great, it's a great Listen, and we'll plug it a lot on the show, but it's called the brave. It's about resilience. It's a great listen, and it inspired me to start this very podcast. Because it's one of them, you think about doing it, you know, I don't know. So you've got to put yourself out there and then you've got to, you know, just know from doing marketing the past, it's a content schedule that kills you, right? It's not necessarily the physical recording. And yeah, and I just thought, Well, that sounds like a really backhanded compliment, but I thought if Bethan can do it, I could do it.

Bethan 9:54
Totally! That's made my day like hearing that someone else has done that off the back of what I've done, you know, That's why people do stuff right to kind of, you know, influence other people and help them so that's great.

Rob 10:07
That's awesome and yeah and i think that you know does give you that extension of your personal branding gives people who potentially looking to hire you as well something, you know apart from the other merits of doing it gives people something else to kind of get a sense of you. So I mean, tell us a little bit about that. What is it all about? Why did you start it?

Bethan 10:23
Yeah, I'll start at the beginning. So I had just accepted the offer to go to Netsells. And that seemed like a really exciting new chapter. And I guess I was kind of quite scared about it. You know, it's a big thing to move a job no matter what situation you're in. And I was having a shower on I think it was New Year's Eve, I'd gone away with some friends and I was having a shower and you know, when you have one of those really long showers that just go on forever, because you've got time and wasting water probably. And, and you know, you're just thinking about stuff and I was like, I really want to expand my knowledge of marketing. You know, I've done the same type of Marketing for a couple of years at Bytemark, and everyone seems to be talking about podcasts. And I have no idea what it takes to produce and record a podcast. You know, I've done a bit of YouTube, I've done a bit. I've done blogging for years. So it was another new frontier for me. I was also kind of thinking about it and I'm really scared about starting this new job and a bit nervous. and resilience was kind of a theme that came up in my mind. And it's been, it's been a big, big thing throughout my career, I've often had situations, especially running your own business that are less than ideal. And you have to push through and have self belief and have that resilience piece. And so I thought, this is something that I don't think we talk about enough. We talk about hustle, and you know, hustle culture and just keep on going and, you know, to the expense of everything else I want to talk about, okay, you know, how do we make sure we can operate for the long term and be robust and be adaptable and you know, the world is changing; this week is a really good example of the world changing at you know, the drop of a pin. How do we keep on going and that so that's kind of where it came from. And also, to be honest, you know that there was a bit of I knew it'd be a way of talking and picking the brains of great people like you, Rob, because I'd had Rob on the show, I think that your episode number three or four, if anyone wants to go back and listen. And it was a way of connecting with people and hearing their stories as well.

Rob 12:18
That brings us sort of nicely, I suppose on to, you know, I wanted to ask about women in tech because being yourself a woman in tech, what is your experience of being a female in the tech industry?

Bethan 12:31
Yeah, it's been interesting. There's been a lot of very empty bathrooms and no queuing. So that's been, I guess, a positive. Yeah, it's been problematic. I try and not identify myself as a woman, if that makes sense in that, that's a big defining thing about me. But obviously, when you're in a situation when that is a characteristic, everyone is kind of seeing it's very hard to escape it. So you know, I've gone from working in heritage which was a lot of a lot of women, and that industry to this very male dominated environment. And I think it is that resilience piece, I've kind of had to learn how to, I guess be be a bit more assertive. And that can be a real double edged sword for women, as numerous studies have proven to you, they're seen as that kind of like, I guess a bitch (if I'm allowed to swear on this podcast), or you're seeing as kind of weak, and you can't really, you know, either you're not effective, and you're seen as kind of playing this stereotypical female role, or you're seen as assertive and get your job done, but you're also a bitch, so it's been a bit, you kind of have to come up with a thick skin around that and really understand that it's something that you can't control other people's perception of you, but you can control how well you do a job. I think it is changing though. Definitely in the past couple of years. I am seeing a lot more women enter into this industry and a lot more diversity in a general sense, which is really nice to see. You know, I no longer go to conferences and I think like Oh god, this is really awkward. I'm like the only non white man here. And that's going to be a funny thing. But you know, on the flip side, sexism obviously still exists. And I've had experiences at events and conferences that have been either sexist or just plain kind of harassing. It's, I don't want to I don't want to say it's absolutely perfect, and everything's fine. Because it's obviously not, but I don't want to put people off coming into this industry either. You know, there is a lot more happening, there's a little more awareness. So if you're a woman looking to enter into tech, please don't be put off there are people here advocating for you? And you know, people like me, who I'm, you know, fairly lucky to be in a senior position in a company and I am very always like, you know, we've got to look after everyone and we've got to do things right by everyone. But also, you know, you're going to encounter issues that that's just probably going to happen, unfortunately, statistically,

Rob 14:54
yes, that's covered a lot on my questions around, you know, it's good to be around the kind of challenges you've had, you know, either sort of personally of secondhand things, and it's nice to hear that there is at least a bit of a positive skew going on that you've either seen, I mean, I think from my experience, you know, as a male in a male dominated kind of environment, it is quite a shame. I mean, the vast majority of my career has been spent with like, just like you said, a lot of very pale white dudes, you know, and then (and at work as well), and it's quite a shame. You know, the females at these companies I've worked at, I've always been segregated to the kind of other roles that are non technical and it's nothing to do with the competence or the what the role entails just they're not what you classify as the technical roles, like developments and things like that. They're always in like accounting or HR and things. And it is a shame and I've always tried to explore why that is, is it kind of, because it's very off putting having just a group of, you know, a group of men is like an intimidation thing, is it because they just don't feel like the opportunities are there or is it just, you know, that kind of, it's very male and ego kind of driven. I mean, our industry I think is worse for that kind of very gatekeeping a very guarded and very like 'um actually'. And I think it's doubly worse for a female because 'oh, what would you know you're a female', which is stupid, you know absolutely is but at the same time, that is the kind of uphill thing that you're battling against.

Bethan 16:14
Yeah. And it's interesting for me. So marketing sits in this really weird place where you're definitely not a developer. So you're not seen as technical, you know, in air quotes, but also, you, you generally do have some technical knowledge as well. So you'll be on the periphery of the code. So you might be almost leading what features what what new things are happening on a website, yet, you're not seen as technical and that's always been a bit of tension for me. And I think that's actually partly fueling the rise of a lot of these low code, no code tools, because I know as a marketer, in certain situations, I've got really frustrated with the development team and go 'fine, I'll just do it myself!'. You know, cuz either like, they've been like, Oh, we don't understand why we're doing that. And You know, maybe that's a something on me to explain it better, or they just won't do it. And I'm there like, literally my job is to sell more stuff to keep us all in jobs. You know, I'm not doing this for no reason. So that's why I kind of taught taught myself a bit more code. And I'm not very good. I'm not gonna lie, but I know enough to break stuff. And then annoy the developers even more. But you know, that's where I think low code, no code really comes in. because firstly, I'm not going to development team asking them to do annoying changes are very small, and I appreciate are annoying. Also, I'm able to kind of control what needs to be done and be able to ship it quite quickly as well.

Rob 17:40
I think some of that's just trying to, you know, think outside your box a little bit as well, because, you know, I think it's a very specifically with tech as well, especially development within tech. It's a very kind of siloed you know, we exist in these little kind of vacuums. I think that it's like 'woah, this marketer is coming to me and asking me things' and it happens with designers as well, you know, design is kind of, certainly in front end, which this is about, design is kind of like the other side of that development coin. You know, they're they're making the the design of the user interface and you're implementing them usually. And I think, you know, it's very much 'uh It's just in the way' and 'it's what are you doing?'. Well, yeah, the marketing department and sales, they keep you in a job to be able to do the stuff that you like, yeah, maybe you don't like it. That's why you're quite grumpy about it. And I think, you know, I've learned a hell of a lot. And I'm like a, I'm not a designer by any stretch of the imagination. But I've learned an awful lot by by working with some really skilled designers and kind of leeching information from them and trying to work with them and understand why does that need to be exactly 10 pixels further south, rather than just throwing the teddy's out the pram

Part 2

Rob 0:02 I would I try to tilt the scales a little bit in the other way. And I follow a lot of kind of very prominent female developers and things on Twitter, and in my kind of sphere of influence, and try and share that a lot to hopefully, you know, widen people's horizons a bit, I'll share out that kind of knowledge and hopefully maybe reach some people who like to get into tech or maybe are off put. Do you have any kind of advice for females looking to break into it or thinking about career in development or, you know, tech, things like that?

Bethan 0:30
Yeah, totally. I think one of the things and this is something I wish I'd done is get a mentor, almost like a sponsor. And I don't mean someone paying for anything. I mean, more a sponsor of you professionally, who is willing to be a bit of a sounding board, when you might hit some problems, or you might want to just kind of vent and be frustrated at the situation. And ideally, if you're a woman looking to go into tech, if you could get another woman who's already kind of established in tech, and have that kind of connection, that's really helpful. I think secondly, as you say, try and follow people who are doing these jobs in the industry who are people you can admire and look up to. That's, that's always really encouraging to me when I follow a lot of very senior kind of female marketers who, you know, like the CMO of Unilever, and stuff like that, and they are incredible. And I've seen them speak. And that just makes me realise that, you know, I can do this, there are people out there who've done this, who are similar to me, and they've managed to do it, which is really inspiring. And I think also in York, we have something called women in tech York, which is a really great networking event series of women in tech, but it's not just women, you know, anyone can come and and be part of the events. And that's just a really great support network and they cover a lot of topics around that might affect people minorities in tech, so they do stuff like around burnout imposter syndrome, negotiating pay rises, that was a really interesting session which, again that's just arming yourself with the knowledge and the support network and just being around people like you. And I'm not saying we should always just be around people like us. But if you are underrepresented, sometimes that is important to have that representation and feel like you can be yourself. But really a good employer will allow you to be yourself whoever you are. So again, that's another thing if you're looking to go into tech, as the kind of job route, be really picky about who you will work with.

Rob 2:29
Just one of the things that I absolutely loved about Bytemark for the brief five weeks that I existed at that company, I'm not terrible developer, I was made redundant, it's okay. It was just the, the baseline that it set where it was very kind of it was very diverse and it was very inclusive, you know, we had we had males, we had females we had people who identified you know, non specific genders or non binary genders and, and kind of it was all just normalised. You know, there wasn't any kind of fuss about it, and I kind of think that was a good benchmark, I think for how it should just be you know, it's like you what you want to be whatever crack on. I mean, that's generally my attitude towards it, you know, people get really bent out of shape about things like gender fluidity when you like will really just get on with it. It's not really anything to do with you just be a nice person. And that's pretty much all anyone's ever asking of, you know, and it's quite simple. The rules there are none just be nice.

Bethan 3:20
Yeah, and that was one of the things when I joined Netsells and and when I joined Bytemark, I kind of went into the office to like, see what the environment was like, and understand what the dynamic was like, and what almost I was getting myself into, and if I felt I couldn't walk into that building, and be myself. I knew it wasn't for me, and I've had interviews like that where I've gone in and, you know, it's been people in suits, and I'm not particularly corporate, I can do corporate when I really need to and I need to impress and whatever but it's not something I want to do everyday is wear a suit and you I just knew I wouldn't be accepted and welcomed there. But to walk into somewhere where you're like, Ah, okay, I think Can't be myself hear that that's somewhere to kind of aim for and to be.

Rob 4:04
Yeah, absolutely. Which, again, gets us into this talking about the hiring processes. And now it's a subject I think you have been quite passionate about. And you've kind of had a hand in pioneering different types of hiring processes. And again, we're going to go back to bytemark because, again, when I, when I applied through Bytemark was quite different approach than the standard CV interview, telephone, you know, tech test, something like that, you know, you helped to change the way that they hired, and to kind of anonymize it, which was ultimately what it came down to, we kind of anonymized the vast majority of the process until you actually had to turn up at the interview. And I did ask him if he could turn up in some kind of costume or something. And they were kind of no, no, just come as you are and I was 'awww'. Tell me more about that and your feelings on kind of recruitment and kind of hiring for for those roles.

Bethan 4:50
So just to be clear I didn't actually pioneer that a Bytemark. It was really Matthew, who was one of the co founders, he really kind of set that up and pushed for it, but I think it was a really interesting and good thing to do as a company. I, personally that there were some kind of downsides to it, which we were aware of. And we were kind of trying to fix, you know, stuff like, it's really hard to know if you can be yourself, you know, just what I was saying about walk in somewhere and know you can be yourself through ano, anoon, I can't say it now an anonymous process, you know, if both sides are pretty anonymized, how can you express yourself and know that is going to be accepted, if that makes sense. But there's definitely something that needs to be done in hiring and I think that anonymization is part of the solution to this problem. And you know, most companies just hire the same type of people and then wonder why they don't have new ideas or new ways of thinking within the company and you look around, you're like, well, everyone is a carbon copy of everyone else here. And and you know, that's a big barrier to diversity obviously, and inclusion as as well as having that representation pulled in and the process is a blocker to that. I think one of things, yeah, is anonymization. But it's also candidate pipeline in the first place. So, if you even if your process is perfect if you don't have people applying for the roles and coming through the process, that's going to be a major issue. So my opinion is that companies need to do a bit more to sell themselves to candidates, you know, it's a two side of the equation, you know, both sides need to be happy to make jobs work. And again, sorry, I'm talking about Netsells a lot. But obviously, it's kind of my day to day at the moment. That's something I'm really keen on hiring at the moment at Netsells and you know, I say or talk to the candidates, you know, ask some questions like, do you know tell me your concerns because I want to sell to you and make sure you're comfortable with this. But you know, most job ads are so like, we want you to be able to do this these million like skills and techniques and what will you get out of it, you'll get a less than average market salary that's just not going to cover anymore. Your perks are um, I saw one the other day was like your perks are standard hours. It made it sound like they were saying like your perks or you have a 30 or 40 hour week as a perk and it was like, I think, I think they put it in the wrong section to be honest. But he did read that way and you're like, Okay, this isn't going to be a great advert.

Rob 7:18
I've seen that where they feel like they're really scraping the barrel. They're 'ooo, the perks are, there's there's parking at this place'. And yeah, I well, I mean, that's kind of I suppose appealing, if you work in Leeds where it costs like, you've got to sell a kidney to park your car, but at the same time, you're not going to get much job satisfaction out of that, you know, when you're sat there your computer going, 'yeah, I packed my car for free, like get in!'. And it's interesting that recruiters who spoke to on episode four said a very similar thing in that, you know, the job market especially in tech is very weighted towards the candidate. They're far more jobs than there are kind of candidates for and that shouldn't mean that you as a candidate should be pretty blaise like 'ahh I'll just walk into this job'. But I think it does mean that they have more choice and if you're like me and by the sounds of it, you, you're drawn very much to that kind of culture and you're like, I'm going to spend a lot of time here. I want to work somewhere that's, that's pretty good. And that doesn't mean you know, ping pong tables and beer do not equal culture. But I think is that, you know, how you conduct the work and kind of how do people get on, you know, is there opportunity for that kind of collaboration? Is it a diverse environment, you know, those those kind of things. And I'm always drawn to those personally.

Bethan 8:22
Yeah. And I think for me, as well, part of what whenever I work somewhere and really enjoyed it, it's because I've been working with an amazing team. And the team is so much a part of your day in any job. And there's something so wonderful about working people, working with people who are at the top of their game, you know, who are like smashing it who are just incredible at what they do, and that's so inspirational. And that's something I always look forward to work with the best people. And actually, lots of studies have shown that the best way to attract high quality candidates is to have high quality people in your business and I know that's a bit chicken and egg, but I think companies, you know, if you want the talent, you've got to invest in it. And the best will follow the best.

Rob 9:06
Yeah, I've always said that I've always attributed to Steve Jobs, this quote, and I'm not quite sure if that's right, but we'll go with it for now. Is that like, if you're the smartest person in the room, you know, you're in the wrong room. And I've always kind of, as well as being very open to opportunities and saying, yes, I've always kind of thought, yeah, if I'm becoming the bigger fish in this pond, as good as that feels for a while, it gets a bit stale. I think you need to be challenged a bit. And sometimes the challenge is not how am I going to build this API, the challenge is, I want to be challenged by my peers, if you like, and work with these people who are really kind of going to pull me on a bit. And I think that's how you kind of learn and you grow when you step away from kind of more formal learning and, and university courses and things like this, where you're not challenged in that way, it's you're going to be your peers, and their kind of attitudes and the way they conduct themselves is going to pull you up a lot. I think yeah, you're right: more companies should have a bit more of a kind of chilled interview process. You know, they should have been places where it's three or four people sitting in a big panel, and it's very scary, rather than just sort of having a nice coffee and having a chat. But you know, it's obviously going to include your experiences and talk about the job in hand. But you know, it is a bit more, let's have a tour. Do you want to work here? Because, you know, we'd quite like you at this point. Did you like us? You know, it's kind of it's a bit like dating but for a job.

Bethan 10:19
Yeah. And I do. I will say one thing on that, I think you've got to be really careful around hiring for in quotes, culture fit, you know, and using that kind of informality as an excuse to be almost like, would I enjoy socialising with this person? Well, you're not employing them to socialise with them, you know, they're there to do a job and it's okay if you're, you don't want to go out for a drink with them at the end of the day. So you've just got to be a bit careful with that and not not make it into something that it isn't or relationship that it isn't going to be.

Rob 10:50
No, no, is a fine line. You know, it's kind of it doesn't have to be this, you know, this formal stuffy, kind of like, we pay you for this and you do this work and that's like become a robot for the, between the hours of this and this but yeah, you're right. It's not about like hanging out with your mates and getting paid for it. Which was that would be awesome is Yeah, you're right is I kind of line in the middle.

Bethan 11:10
Yeah you'd get no work done. You know, if I was with my friends oh my god just be drinking Prosecco and chatting, which sounds great but I don't know wouldn't be that fulfilling in the long run.

Rob 11:21
Maybe that's what it's like as a remote developer. We just, like no one would know.

Bethan 11:26
Drink the Prosecco and do the code and then you're like, an hour into this, the code quality has drastically improved.

Rob 11:32
So no, I wasn't talking about drinking, it's Prosecco.js, of course.

Bethan 11:34
Ah of course, the newest framework, light and bubbly.

Rob 11:39
I liked I like the stuff you've been putting out recently about your personal brand and kind of building one of those. You did an episode on The Brave about it. And I think you talked about it on one of your conferences, but it's something you do a lot of in large part I think by being very active on places like social media and you go and do plenty of talks which granted, this isn't just a hobby. Bethan, she does do it as part of a job. It's kind of selling the company without selling the company kind of thing. But you go and do talks and events and conference and things. Do you have any tips for people looking to kind of improve their personal brand? Or maybe get into kind of conference speaking and why that's, that's helpful.

Bethan 12:15
Yeah, I mean, so I think you need platforms to express your personal brand on. That's, that's kind of a start. So I would always advise everyone to maybe if they, I mean, I would advise people to have a personal website, and I'm saying maybe if you want to, but if, if you're really serious, especially about stuff like that, you know, marketing, web development, having that platform that you own, that you can showcase your work is really, really important, in my opinion. And it's not particularly onerous to do you know, hosting can cost you 10 pounds a year. And then you could build something free on GitHub Pages, for example, but you've got to put yourself out there also, you've got to know what you stand for and maybe what you stand against, so I'm very clear, you know, what I sounds like, you know, really big headed but what I will and I won't do and what I will and I won't talk about and endorse. And most the time, I never have to actually do anything about that. But I know kind of personally where my lines in the sand are. And then with the conference speaking, I mean I started out doing it in like pubs, you know, pub events full of 10 people really low level, you know, started from the bottom. And that was a great way of building my confidence, getting a bit of kind of a reputation because that's really important. If you want to go and book a massive conference, you know, 1500 people and speak in front of them, that they're probably not going to book you unless you can demonstrate you for some prior experience. It's so much risk on the side of the event organisers. So if you've got some videos for previous events or testimonials, that that just helps. And this is kind of the marketer in me speaking by always, you always leverage the last thing I've done to get the next thing I want. If If I want to you know, one of my big things this year was to speak at Turing Fest. I don't think it's going to happen. And they've already announced a load of speakers and not contacted me back. So probably won't happen. But you know, I could talk about the fact that I've done something very similar, that was in a very the lead developer, so I could kind of say, like, look, I've done a very similar event to this. This is why I think I'd be great for you. And it's just building that confidence and that, that having that kind of trust mark. Anyone can do it. It's I say, anyone can do it. Anyone who wants to do it can do it. It's just putting yourself out there is difficult, but the rewards are, they're kind of incalculable, because they're not doing it for the money. If I was, it'd be a stupid thing to do. Because you don't generally get paid for conferences until you reach a certain level anyway, I just do it because it's a great way of sharing my expertise, obviously, getting my kind of brand and next I'll stand in front of people. And I just really like going to conferences as well. So it's a way of kind of going to these conferences without necessarily having to pay for the travel which I wouldn't be able to afford, you know, personally. So there's there's loads of benefits for people.

Rob 14:52
Yeah, conferences, even if you don't speak of them are just great because I think again, it just gets you out of that silo and that kind of vacuum that you work in. You get some other ideas that might be nothing to do with what you're currently doing, but they give you that they give you a bit of thought generation go that don't see someone else's ideas and other perspectives. And yeah, it's quite good for that. So I'd always recommend going to them for all I don't get to loads myself, especially maybe don't start going to them now with all this Corona stuff.

Bethan 15:17
I was saying that I was like, maybe there won't be so many to go to. But I think what will happen over the next couple of months will be more, there'll be more kind of niche slack groups. So I am a member of subgroups, like women in tech, SEO, and stuff like that, which is a great community. And, you know, you can kind of put your own ideas out there as similar as you would in a conference talk. And maybe we'll have digital video platforms will kind of take off more. You never know. I think tech is poised to fill this gap to be honest.

Rob 15:44
Yeah, it really is. So the last thing I ask of everyone is since you're here with an audience of currently 10s of people, but we are growing. Would you have anything you'd like to plug anything you'd like to talk about specifically?

Bethan 15:56
Yeah, I mean, I people want to listen to another podcast, The Brave, that would be great if they popped over and gave it a listen and just maybe let me know what they think about it. I'm kind of changing the format a little bit at the moment and trying out some new ideas. So the good to hear what people think about that. And I do a lot of writing online. So if you want to head to bethanvincent.com. Yes, I have a vanity domain. And I do you know, there's loads of information about my work. The podcast is on there. And my speaking as well. And if you've got any questions about anything I've talked about, and want to hear about it in more detail one on one, I'm always happy for people to email me. It's just bethan@bethanvincent.com.

Rob 16:35
Cool. And I will put our, I'll ask Bethan, when we're done recording I'll ask her to send me over bunches of links to everything and I'll make sure that's all in the show notes. And we can refer to them there. So yeah, if you want to follow Bethan and she's @bethanvincent on Twitter. And I think The Brave is that just, yeah @thebravelisten, and that's well worth it. She's got great guests like me on there. And it covers it covers a wide range of stuff. You know, it's not it's not all about kind of just mental health there's a range of topics about kind of resilience, but I think it's very important subjects and there's something for everyone. So definitely worth a listen. Thank you very much for coming on the show. It's been great having you. Thank you very much.

Bethan 17:12
Thank you so much, Rob. It's been an absolute pleasure speaking to you


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About The Front End

The Front End Podcast explores the in's and out's of life as a developer. Covering topics such as modern-day development, learning and professional growth, frameworks, tools, techniques, UX/UI, and careers.

Created by Rob Kendal, a UI developer from Yorkshire.