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“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” – An interview with Michelle Brideau.

I first met Michelle 6 months ago when she was looking for a new role in Tech! Michelle has been a software developer for 4 years although wanted to take a step back from coding and try out a new challenge, but still staying within the tech industry which hasn’t come as easy as riding a bike. She is a great example of empowering women in tech and also has a passion for cycling where she promotes women in the sport too. Together we’ve explored a few options and we are really close to finding her dream role! Here’s her story and thoughts on the tech industry.

Michelle, you were a Web Developer for Sky for almost 5 years.. Tell us about your time there?

I started at Sky working on different areas of the website, including things like Broadband Shield Settings and the PayPerView events page which was interesting when there was a major boxing event causing significant spikes in traffic. The company decided to move that department to Leeds in a money-saving exercise, and I was then assigned to the new NowTV team responsible for rebuilding the web apps for the launch of a new product. We had the fun of deciding the full tech stack from the start as a team. We decided on using ReactJS which meant I went from being a Ruby developer to a Javascript developer. I enjoyed my time at Sky, I worked on enthusiastic teams with positive attitudes.

What made you get into software development?

I quit a job that was not working out how I’d envisioned and was considering various options when I saw an ad for Makers Academy, a 10 week coding bootcamp. I’ve always enjoyed computers, there was always one in my house even before that was the norm, but I was under the impression that software development wasn’t for me, perhaps it was the 2000 page C++, .net or Java reference books I’d seen. So when I saw the ad for the bootcamp I thought, if they think they can teach me to code in 10 weeks it can’t be as hard as I thought and after only 10 weeks I would have a good idea if I liked it as well.

You were part of Cycling’s UK’s 100 Women in Cycling 2018 – how do you encourage and inspire women to take part in cycling?

My way of inspiring other women to give cycling a try is to be an example, someone who isn’t an athlete getting out there and enjoying it. Hopefully being relatable will make someone think that they should give it a go. I also try to show it doesn’t have to be complicated, we women have enough complications in our lives and cycling should be fun! In future, I hope to tell stories of other women who cycle. I’ve met so many inspiring women who have challenged (and surprised) themselves with what they can do on a bike.

Where do you see yourself in a year?

I recently relocated to Bristol from London, I’m currently looking for a role with a company doing something that excites me. If all goes to plan, I’ll be working with a great team on something I feel passionate about enjoying Bristol and the laidback South West lifestyle.

Why do you think there’s a lack of female talent across the tech space?

I think the reason is similar to why there is a lack of women in cycling. Women don’t see it as an option for them because they don’t see other others they can relate to doing it, so they don’t see it as an option for themselves. I also feel there’s a misconception about what the work is like. I found it to be much more about creative problem solving than I realised. It would also be great to see the tech space do more to address the work-life balance issues which would attract and keep more women and prevent the burn out that you see developers face after years of coding.

What’s one piece of advice for someone who is interested in getting into tech?

There’s a lot to know, and it changes quickly. You will never know it all, learn where and how to find help and get yourself unstuck, that’s a skill that will serve you well.

Who’s your role model?

Annie Londonderry, the first woman to cycle around the world (in 1894). She was married with 3 children and only learned to ride a few days before she set off. I love the thought of her handing the children to her husband and riding away. Her bike was super heavy, the clothes women wore at the time weren’t exactly cycling friendly, and she carried a pearl-handled pistol. She was a very determined women not afraid of a challenge and some logistics – No Excuses for her, which is a mantra I try to live by.

What is the one app on your phone you couldn’t live without?

Not an easy one to answer! I’d have to say Dashlane, it’s my password, ID, credit card, secure note keeper app. I’d be lost trying to remember all my passwords. It also tells me when a website has been breached so I can change that password.

Thank you Michelle, you rock!


A voice of diversity in tech.

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