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A Q&A WITH TANJA LICHTENSTEIGER OF SKY BETTING & GAMING

Thursday 5th July 2018

In this Q&A we hear from Tanja Lichtensteiger, Engineering Manager at Sky Betting and Gaming in Leeds!

Tanja started coding at 8 years old and now, over two decades on, works as Engineering Manager for Sky Betting & Gaming, managing and leading Software Development squads.

With 17 years’ experience of building systems under her belt, she believes in Tech’s positive impact on people’s lives and our futures. She has also been presented the Team Leader Award at the 2018 FDM Everywoman in Technology Awards and has been added to the Northern Power Women Future List 2018. As a mixed-race woman, Tanja is passionate about addressing the lack of women and ethnic minorities in Tech and leadership roles.

Here she tells us more about her career journey, being a leader and advocate for women in tech, achievements, challenges and provides some advice for aspiring tech professionals.


What initially prompted you to pursue a career in technology?
I accidentally found myself playing around with Q-Basic in computing class when I was 8 years old and then started coding Lego Robots using C when I was 11. I didn’t look back. 

What opportunities were available to you as a young aspiring tech professional?
I was living in Switzerland and couldn’t speak French, although I spoke German and English, so the only opportunity available to me when I first started out was the apprenticeship pathway as I couldn’t go to Uni. 



How do these differ to what are available today for young people?

Most of the pathways that exist now, existed then, but you had to work doubly harder at it to find the right opportunity. These days it’s more accepting to be working in tech without a degree or by being self-taught and you aren’t easily dismissed.

As a female leader in technology, what key advice from your experience would you give to someone looking to become a successful software professional?
A very good quote once shared to me was “We are all smart here. Differentiate yourself by being kind.” I believe this holds true in our industry, don’t overlook your softer skills when you’re so focused on your technical skills. I prefer to hire good human beings.

Throughout your career journey, what have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
As a mixed-race woman I had to deal with racism and sexism very early on in my career 17 years ago. Downright stubbornness and self-belief in my ability and that I belonged in tech made me resilient and I persisted.

What has been your biggest achievement in your career to date?
I can’t think of one, I’m just proud that when I look back on my journey I can see how people in my teams have grown to be good human beings as well as excellent technology professionals. Yes, we delivered some amazing solutions, but it really is all about the people and my contribution in shaping them as teams and individuals. 

You’re an advocate for Women In Technology and work hard in both your work and spare time to raise the profile of Women in Tech. Are there any initiatives in particular at the moment you find most inspiring, that you feel are making a real difference for Women in Tech?
I believe programmes such as Code First: Girls are absolutely vital. It gets girls, not just in to Computer Science degrees, to get hands on experience coding while being mentored by experienced and passionate techies, who are all volunteers and supporting this during their spare time. They finish the programmes with new technical skills and a fantastic supportive network. I have seen a positive impact from this activity in our local tech communities and long may it prosper!  

You’re based in Leeds. Leeds seems to be booming with activity when it comes to tech. What do you think differentiates Leeds from other tech hubs?
I love Leeds. We have a thriving tech scene, which is supported by some passionate individuals, and it  just keeps growing as the talent decides to stay here after they graduate from the three Universities. Leeds and Yorkshire are wonderful places to live and I believe people are beginning to realise that there is more to life than hunting for the biggest salary. We have a better work life balance, a booming tech hub and a beautiful countryside to go with it. How can people not want to join us and be part of our story.

What advancements in technology are you most excited about?
I am very much looking forward to seeing where machine learning takes us. I have always had an interest in data. The information we have accumulated about ourselves as human beings and our behaviours is fascinating and how it can be used to power AI is thrilling. Scary at times, but still thrilling. 

Catch more from Tanja by following her on Twitter here.

Read more of our Q&A's here.
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