Women Talk Tech – Episode 4: Emma Rees, CEO at Deployed

By Héloïse Frantz - 24 March 2020

As part of our Women Talk Tech series, we reached out to leading female voices from different areas of the UK tech ecosystem and gathered their insights into tech trends, gender diversity and more. In this last episode, we speak to Emma Rees, co-founder of Deployed.

Emma Rees has built very different businesses throughout her life. She created Candy and Bloom 15 years ago, an on-demand salon service, at a time where on demand wasn’t even a phrase! With the same visionary spirit, she founded a few years later Blow Bar, an on-demand “fast beauty” service. She is now the CEO of Deployed, an exciting tech startup allowing people to work together faster and more efficiently.  

We had the chance to sit down with her at the occasion of our Women Talk Tech event, and gather her thoughts on gender parity in tech, her role model and more.

Deployed, a next-generation tool for contract automation

Deployed is a statement of work and contract automation tool. It provides a digital platform enabling businesses to take control of the scope and statement of work contracts. It also provides a guided process that explains all the work and legal clauses. The startup uses software, data and decision-making science to help business owners to scope work better.

A lot of noise around gender parity, but little change in the numbers

Despite the positive impact of the growing noise and publicity around gender parity, Rees deplores the fact that, in reality, the numbers are not growing as much as they could be. Female founders are still underrepresented, and they are still raising less funding compared to male entrepreneurs. But things are definitely moving forward, as we can see more and more venture funds popping up, with a real focus on female founders or mixed founding teams.

Business owners have a big role to play in achieving gender parity

According to Rees, every company has a role to play in achieving gender parity. Indeed, there are small actions every entrepreneur can take to accelerate the process. Talking about her own experience as a CEO of a tech startup, she explains she had to put extra effort and be proactive in building a diverse team.

Rees recalls: “When we were looking for developers, a large majority of the people who put their CVs through were male candidates. We went the extra mile looking for female candidates who potentially didn’t 100% match the skills that we required –so we looked at upskilling them to be able to take them into that position.”

Key ingredients for a successful cooperation

As Deployed is part of the Microsoft for Startups accelerator program, Emma Rees has had the chance to experience the (mostly) highs and lows of collaboration with other companies. She explains that a key ingredient is an open-minded attitude from both parties. Startups and corporates should try things and be prepared for potential failures, but also keep in mind that these failures could take them forward towards something successful. Defining clear KPIs and working together to achieve those is another key to success in her eyes.

When life gives you lemons…

When asked who her role model is, there is no hesitation for Rees: the British IT pioneer Dame Stephanie Steve Shirley is an “absolute idol” of hers. Indeed, she actually changed her name to Steve Shirley so she could get a job in informatics in the 60s and built a very successful career thanks to her tech savviness but also her bravery in facing a male-dominated industry. A perfect example of the great lemonade women can make with the lemons life gives them.

Thanks for reading this article. Be sure to also check out the other episodes in the Women Talk Tech Series with Adele Every (Capgemini), Sonal Lakhani (Barclays) and Veera Johnson (Circulor Limited).

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