Turning lemons into lemonade to support the next generation of female technologists

Turning lemons into lemonade to support the next generation of female technologists

clock • 2 min read
Réka Boros, Vice President in End User Technology, Morgan Stanley
Image:

Réka Boros, Vice President in End User Technology, Morgan Stanley

When COVID struck, we were all faced with what felt like an impossible situation to overcome. For me personally, I was miles away from my loved ones, juggling to keep up with work as a newly-promoted Vice President, running the household, homeschooling my two bonus-kids (more commonly known as step-children); the list goes on.

The pandemic also impacted one of my personal projects which I've led since 2018, called Smartiz. Smartiz is a year-long free program for 16-year-old girls to encourage interest in STEM studies and careers. The program builds on three pillars: extra Math curriculum, Programming and Mentoring. Sessions on all elements were hosted at Morgan Stanley's office in Budapest to get the girls closer to a real workplace, work with their technical mentors on programming assignments, and to meet with senior mentors to talk about their dreams and careers.

Unfortunately, COVID changed everything. After several crisis meetings we figured out the way forward, including the right platform, and support model, revisited the deliverables and the scope. We decided to focus on complementing the school's educational materials (many institutions are not set up to continue a high-quality education in an online world), ensured the girls had proper development opportunities, and provided stronger psychological support from both professionals and through mentors to eliminate anxiety.

We had a successful closure with Smartiz2 and we didn't stop there. After several workshops we transformed Smartiz3 into a virtual program, maintaining the key pillars but tailoring the scope to a virtual experience. More importantly, we turned the program into a virtual opportunity for high-school girls available nationwide.

It was a huge effort to coordinate everything online especially selecting the right mentors and  conducting the candidate selection virtually  focusing on those most in-need. We managed to ensure that not only the girls were enjoying the program and learning a lot, but that the mentors were also benefitting from the experience while balancing work, family and personal duties. It was all worth every minute and so exciting to see the girls' successes. While Smartiz2 was a great upgrade of Smartiz1, Smartiz3 raised the bar even higher with its scope. This is a journey, and I am grateful to be involved in, as I am preparing for the kick-off of Smartiz 4.

Once you experience what it feels like to impact the next generation's thinking, you don't mind the lemons thrown at you, you just work out the best lemonade recipe ever - and you evolve it further every year.

You may also like
Technical myths shouldn't stop progress

Leadership

You can't stop progress...but you can control it

clock 07 November 2023 • 3 min read
Inspiring girls to pursue a tech career

Careers and Skills

Women in Tech Festival panel shares ideas and strategies to make girls and women aware of the possibilities of tech careers - at all ages

clock 02 November 2023 • 6 min read
Quotas are necessary but not sufficient to boost the proportion of women in tech

Leadership

Panel at Women in Tech Festival discusses how diversity quotas can be used to usher in positive and sustainable change in the composition of the tech workforce

clock 01 November 2023 • 5 min read
Most read
01

Intel splits in two, signs deal with Microsoft

22 February 2024 • 7 min read
03

Cambridge University hit by DDoS attack

20 February 2024 • 1 min read
04

Gemma: Google unveils open AI models

22 February 2024 • 3 min read

Sign up to our newsletter

The best news, stories, features and photos from the day in one perfectly formed email.

More on Leadership

Calling all innovators: Enter the IT Leaders 100 2024

Calling all innovators: Enter the IT Leaders 100 2024

The definitive list of the most influential and inspiring figures in UK IT

Tom Allen
clock 13 February 2024 • 2 min read
IT Essentials: It's time to admit that DEI has failed

IT Essentials: It's time to admit that DEI has failed

Until we acknowledge why, nothing changes.

Penny Horwood
clock 12 February 2024 • 5 min read
Wired for adventure: An interview with Scouting CDO Lara Burns

Wired for adventure: An interview with Scouting CDO Lara Burns

'We’re about skills for life'

Tom Allen
clock 08 February 2024 • 6 min read