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Building a culture of diversity by fueling curiosity, and mentoring

In a conversation with Dena Tahmasebi, TalkTalk's Jen Mossop Scott shares her experiences of curiosity driven growth, mentorship and why young girls should look at a career in tech

Highlights

  • “When you have important people in your life fueling curiosity, you end up with extra motivation.” – Jen Mossop Scott
  • “The more we can foster and create those affirming, positive, safe - and constructively, almost skill and confidence building - spaces in a business, or in a community, the better.”
  • “A mentoring relationship is not one way. The imparting of deep wisdom and lived experience to a young tutee is, absolutely, a bi-directional thing.”

Following curiosity led Jen Mossop Scott to get two degrees in neuroscience, including a doctorate from Oxford University.

“I'm someone who asks a lot of questions and wants to understand how things work, understand how the world works, understand how people work and interact together,” says Scott, who is currently the Technology Director of TalkTalk.

In a discussion with Infosys’ Dena Tahmasebi, Jen discussed her thoughts on her life experiences, learnings on the way, and the value and importance of mentoring, among other things.

Looking back at her journey, Scott emphasizes that neither her work, nor her academic endeavors have been a straight path. She focuses on the importance of mentors and how a particularly inspiring professor of hers perked her interest and led her to do her first honors thesis.

Here she focuses on the importance of mentors and how her particularly inspiring professor perked her interest and led her to do her first honors thesis.

“When you have important people in your life fueling curiosity, you end up with extra motivation,” says Scott, adding that over the years she has also learned to speak her mind.

Having had some great mentors in her lifetime, she indicates is an important element of her life as a mentor, where she continuously supports and promotes diversity.

“Careers (in tech) can be as varied as really creative and customer-facing at the UX end of the spectrum. Or, if you're fascinated as many girls are with sort of logical problem solving, and math, you can be writing neat algorithms deep in a database,” says Scott.

Having had some great mentors in her life, being one herself is important to her, and she continuously supports and promotes diversity.

“I try to educate people around me encourage lots of conversation about diversity within my own teams, even with short sessions, just to feel like they can be themselves,” she says, emphasizing that TalkTalk values such discussions and has built support networks such as a women’s network, a neurodiversity community, and an empower network to address topics of race.

“The more we can foster and create those affirming, positive, safe - and constructively, almost skill and confidence building - spaces in a business, or in a community, the better,” she says.

According to Scott, enlightened companies go out of their way to invest to bring along a diverse pipeline of talent without compromising on fairness.

“Part of that is creating additional support, whether that's formal mentoring, networks and communities, and endeavors to make that safe space for talent to grow,” notes Scott.

And, as a leader, she believes that one must help people.

“You have to reflect as a leader yourself, ‘I'm in a position of power, I have to go and help people and pay that forward’ and, just bring people up with you,” says Scott.

“Don’t be afraid to ask if you spot someone, in your community, or your business - high up, beside you, underneath, wherever, in the in the pantheon of connections,” says Scott.

Scott also emphasizes that a tech career is not one size fits all and has a scope for creative thinkers, as well as for those driven by logic.

“Careers (in tech) can be as varied as really creative and customer-facing at the UX end of the spectrum. Or, if you're fascinated as many girls are with sort of logical problem solving, and math, you can be writing neat algorithms deep in a database,” says Scott.

To grow, however, Scott feels that seeking out mentors is important.

“Don’t be afraid to ask if you spot someone in your community, or your business - high up, beside you, underneath, wherever, in the in the pantheon of connections,” she says, adding, “People love being asked for help, and people love to help other people.”

Secondly, she says, one doesn’t always have to look to be mentored by or to interact with other women. Having had an opportunity to work with enlightened men in positions of power has certainly helped her grow as a leader.

“There are hundreds, and zillions of enlightened, brilliant, skilled and inspiring men,” she says, adding that she has herself had mentors of both genders.

And finally, she emphasizes that one might also have things to offer to mentors.

“A mentoring relationship is not one way. The imparting of deep wisdom and lived experience to a young tutee is, absolutely, a bi-directional thing,” she says.

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