Sadly, our board member Marike Carsten who supported us for more than 1.5 years is leaving by the end of this year. Marike, your open mind was always a delight and your ability to tackle and get things done was and is pretty amazing – thank you for the time you spent with us and thank you for your good-bye blogpost with the wonderful title «one for all – all for one».
It’s a good question… Basel might not be your first thought when thinking about the most digitally forward cities of the world, Europe, or even Switzerland! However, you might be surprised. Basel has many forward thinking companies such as Adobe, our great host for the evening, and many exciting MedTech, FinTech, BioTech, Life Sciences start ups, in addition to social organizations such as Impact Hub. Times are changing, and thanks to WE SHAPE TECH, we’re determined to make it happen even faster.
WE SHAPE TECH is for people who are fascinated about tech and innovation, who want to be part of a community in this field, broaden their knowledge and skills, and exchange with people sharing the same passion and interests.
In addition, we aim to support women in gaining various skills in networking, communications, leadership and more.
Your WST Basel Team – Who Are We?!
WSTBasel was founded by three women who all have a personal connection to Basel and are related to tech and innovation in different ways.
Elaine Skapetis – “We are able to do and be everything we want, it needs passion and patience”
A warm, super-intelligent Brazilian that speaks an incredible six languages, Elaine has worked and lived in Brazil, Germany, Mexico, Greece – where she has her own Startup, and most recently, Switzerland – where she is now a Front End Developer and Diversity Ambassador for Adobe Basel. Gaining experience in multiple fields before pursuing her programming career, Elaine truly is a role model, motivated by fostering and engagement women in tech and innovation.
Melanie Kovacs – “Making code literacy the new normal”
For Mel, it’s all about the people she meets and the things they create together. Mel co-founded the non-profit Aspire to bring more diversity into tech. Since then, she’s facilitated several educational programs (Startup Weekend, Aspire Accelerator & Mentorship Program, TEDxZurich). When starting to learn to code she realized tech education needed to change. Her company, Master21 teaches people to code.
Aileen Zumstein – “Basel deserves a community in tech and innovation”
Aileen grew up in Basel and founded her communications consulting company, she frequently works with startups and other innovative companies. She portrays entrepreneurs to give them a platform to speak about their vision and passion. She believes that we all need take responsibility to be able to understand the meaning of digital transformation and be able to be part of it. Following code week and co-founding a software company, her focus is connecting people interested in tech and innovation and offering them with WST a community where they can learn, personally grow, exchange and get inspired.
Gen Ashley – “You cannot be what you can not see” In London, Gen is the Director of Women Who Code, and leads organisations such as Google WomenTechMakers, Google Developer Group, Twitter Developer London Community, and NASA Space Apps Challenge.. Pretty impressive huh?!
Gen flew all the way from London and discussed the importance of needing more (women) role models in leadership positions. To make this happen, we all need to inspire the young girls of today to pursue a career in STEM.
If you are thinking about a career in the tech industry but worried you don’t have the skills or confidence, Gen explained how you don’t need a computer science degree to get into tech. Instead, be your authentic self. For example, if you like dresses – go for it! Don’t feel that you have to change the way you are just because you’re in a techie environment.
Désirée Mettraux – “I want to encourage women who have a conflict between choosing a family or a career, to choose both”
CEO of Creadi AG and co-founder of myCamper. Désirée, also has two very important people in her life – her twin girls. Encouraging women to choose both a family and career, she shared with us some key strategies for managing these two priorities, as well as overcoming challenges as a CEO:
Desiree’s departing words of advice:
Stay as you are! – Always follow your way, be authentic, and pursue it persistently.
The show must go on! – Every day it starts again – never give up – carry on.
Surround yourself with the right people! – Network is key. Do not waste your time with the wrong people just to be nice. You do not always have to be nice.
Find out more about Creadi AG here, and myCamper here.
Strong Networks are Fundamental for Success
We all know that having a great network is fundamental for personal success. Therefore, a key part of what we want to support and nurture at WST Basel is providing a space for exactly that to happen.
We put together six ‘speed networking’ questions for you to get to know your peers just that little bit better.
PS. Although the evening is over, try asking these to colleagues at work, at other events, socials – you might just be surprised what you hear in response and find some new likeminded people 🙂
When was the last time you laughed, and why?
When was the last time you swore, and why?
If you had the chance to change something(s) immediately, what would it be (private life & business/work)?
When you are at networking event, what is the first thing you do? What is your strategy to get to know someone?
When was the last time you treated yourself? What was it/ what did you do?
If you could define yourself, what would be your personal hashtag, and why?
We finished off the wonderful evening with an apero, networking, and delicious food.
A huge thanks again to all of those who came and joined us for the evening, we hope to see you all again very soon!
Coming Up…. February 28th, 2018
Be sure to keep an eye on your inbox, our website, and social media for news on our next event here in Basel – just a couple of months away on February 28th 2018.
We wish you all a wonderful Christmas and will look forward to seeing you in the New Year!
How to Contact Us
If February is too far away, if you have ideas you’d like to share with us, or feedback on our first event, we’d love to hear from you. Feel free to contact us on any of our social channels or via email MAIL@WESHAPE.TECH
Last but not least, thank you again to our fantastic sponsor, Adobe Basel, for making this great event possible.
Concrete, glass, container and colourful light greet me, as I arrive at the newly opened Kraftwerk for the Coding Evening with We Shape Tech. The turnout is big. 75 participants, a lively mix of women in the majority and equally interested men, all gathered after what must have been a full day of work for most of them. The room is filled with a keen energy of curiosity, concentration and learning while the atmosphere is engaged, concentrated and focused at the same time. I think back to my first coding seminar at university years ago and wonder if my basic knowledge will hold up or if it has been outrun by the pace of technology.
Infrastructure definitely has made a leap. This evening, tables with power cords are set up, everyone has showed up with their laptop and all it takes to be connected is a wireless connection. Participants are able to download their very first html editor with the help of a weblink and they are set to take their first steps. I giggle thinking back to my first coding seminar in university. I had to pick up an access code at the library first, then had to show up weekly in a sticky and small, but at the time modern room at university and sit down behind a huge desktop with clunky screen and a huge keyboard. Coding at home was a challenge, my computer wasn’t well enough equipped and I ended up spending extra curricular time at the lab and with my older brother who was a computer science major. The glass, concrete, steel architecture surrounding me and the small and elegant laptops make me realise that I have arrived in the future.
After a warm welcome by the hosts, Janie Fuchs from We Shape Tech and Melanie Kovacs from Master21, the instructor Chanel Greco, beaming with joy and clarity, is taking the floor to lead 75 people through their first steps in coding. Her instructions are straight forward, well thought through and everyone in the room can feel that her passion and interest for coding are real. From the simple to the complex, she explains what an html file is, how it is structured, what it contains, what a header and a body are and into what depths of the internet we have to dive to find more tricky pieces of code. Checking back in with the crowd and asking questions, produces first shy answers by the participants that grow more confident during the evening. The mood at my table is collaborative. A group of 5 women, among them a mother and her daughter in her early twenties are following first instructions, asking each other questions and getting help from the 14 coaches who buzz around the room to help participants through their first steps: from downloading the html editor to writing and adjusting their first pieces of code.
After the first 10 minutes I feel myself relax. My concerns about my perhaps outdated coding knowledge are vanishing. Like with any other language, the vocabulary might change, words may be used in a different context, there are certainly new trends and styles, but the grammar is still the same. I might not know my coding alphabet by heart, but I can still navigate a piece of code and make sense out of the pieces that were not familiar yet. What I do find surprising however, is that in the end basic coding still isn’t considered common knowledge yet. Coding according to the organisers is just as important a language now than English. Considering how much time we all spend in front of the screen, being surrounded by technology all day, the statement makes sense. That the education system still hasn’t integrated basic coding into curriculums and that people still need to get out of their way to learn a 21st Century skill and spend money out of their own pocket to update their knowledge seems surprising. I am starting to sense what immense opportunity there might lie in closing the digital divide by providing people of all ages with the basic knowledge to understand how coding works. I don’t think everyone needs to be able to code their own programs, but having the basics to join conversations and have a sense of what might be possible would be a good foundation for people to collaborate across sectors and cultures.
At the end of the evening, every participant has programmed their very own landing page. Participants had the chance to apply their own styles which provides each page with an individual touch. What is even more important, that each participant leaves with a landing page that doesn’t just look pretty, but now could be used to test demand for a product or service. Coding, as so many things in life, becomes more interesting with an immediate and obvious application at hand.
WHY LEARN TO CODE? Stoilka Krasteva is a psychologist. In her day job she is working on user experience research and testing. She participated because she likes doing one different or new thing every day. Learning to code for her was really helpful, especially in understanding what is going on «behind the scenes» of a program.
WHY LEARN TO CODE? Nicolas Hebting collaborates with two programmers on his team at 2324.ch and wants to be able to understand what the two are talking about. His organisation is building an online community and the design of the platform is a vital part of their work. He really enjoyed the evening, had fun trying to code and and is leaving with confidence of having reached his goal.
WHY LEARN TO CODE? Laura Zumstein works for the Kaufmännischer Verband Zürich. She would like to enable members of the Arbeitnehmerverband to learn basic coding as a 21st century skill and support them to develop an interest and appetite for more. Her main target group for future training are apprentices. Her intention for joining the evening was to check out Melanie’s workshop. She walks away with an experience that she thought that was great.
WHY LEARN TO CODE? Anita thought coding to her was a real technical knowledge gap. She is working with programmers at work every day and wanted to have a basic understanding, so she can join and understand conversations about programming. Out of her private interest, she would like to be able to code her own website.