Tag Archives: growth

"TLA engages with audiences when they're at the point of consideration, providing a wealth of information and knowledge via their content and websites, to help the consumer navigate the uncertainty and disruption within the car industry."

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background and how you came to be at Performics.

I’m originally from Sweden, I grew up and went to university there. After working in Sweden for a year post-university, I decided I wanted to live abroad and try something new. I packed a bag and moved to London to try it out, 10 years later, here I am.

I joined Performics in 2016, starting out as an account manager. Now, I lead the affiliate team at Performics and look after activations, such as affiliates, influencers, and lead generation activity. That’s how I came into contact with TLA, I’ve had a relationship with them pretty much from the start.

How did you come to work with TLA?

When I first started, we had just onboarded the FCA Group as a new client. I had recently transitioned to an account director role and was overseeing a smaller team. The FCA Group fell under one of the account managers that was reporting to me, which initiated conversations with our main automotive providers, TLA being one of them.

It also helped that our previous head of team had a great working relationship with Anton, which meant I was quickly introduced to him and involved with TLA. We got along well, and I believed in the product.

What products and projects do you work on with TLA on day-to-day stuff?

Pre-Ukraine war and pre-chip shortage, and all the other fun stuff we’ve been dealing with throughout 2021 – 2022, our focus was very much on test drive activity. Essentially getting leads passed on to dealers to follow up and conduct test drives, with the ultimate aim to sell more vehicles.

Recently, there’s also been a bit of a shift relating to the challenges that the industry is facing, where test drives aren’t necessarily the main KPI that clients are looking to engage in. It’s also unlocked a lot of other challenges, whether that’s budget uncertainty, or even the reduced production of cars, which has naturally taken the industry down a path of more used versus new cars, which again can be quite challenging from a marketing perspective.

The channel is quite misunderstood, affiliate or lead generation, sometimes isn’t as appreciated as it should be, in my opinion. TLA engages with audiences when they’re at the point of consideration, providing a wealth of information and knowledge via their content and websites, to help the consumer navigate the uncertainty and disruption within the car industry. I see this playing out in a way where these types of publishers are playing a bigger role and have increased presence within clients’ media budgets, as impartial advice becomes more crucial to determine what vehicle to purchase.

10 years ago, the decision-making process was a lot simpler, where the main consideration was centred around which car to buy. Whereas in the future, there are more variables to consider – particularly as the industry shifts towards electrification and EVs. For instance, there’s a lot of range anxiety amongst consumers when considering an electric vehicle and independent third parties are better placed to help consumers navigate this, compared to manufacturers.

Is your relationship typical of a client-supplier relationship?

I would like to think that I am quite a personal individual. This is what I enjoy about affiliate marketing, it’s quite a personal media channel, where you’re not just inserting numbers into a Google or Facebook bidding platform with minimal personal input, you’re building a relationship and a partnership. This is how you unlock the biggest benefit for your clients, for yourself, and also, for the partner.

There’s very much a symbiotic relationship that takes place with the relationship at the centre of it, but I would also say that, as you engage in manners more personally, you do end up crossing paths with people that you might connect with more in other areas. That’s where I would categorise Anton and his team. They’re very open in terms of engaging their partners in different ways. I took part in the recent London to Brighton cycle, and a few years back, I took part in a charity game, where we went up to Liverpool to play at Anfield stadium.

So, I wouldn’t say typical, because they do go above and beyond in terms of creating positivity in the industry and give back, whilst creating a forum to bring people together from different walks of life and different areas within the industry to listen, but more importantly, keep strong relationships with whoever they’re working with.

Has there been a big evolution in the way you work over the past couple of years?

The pandemic and challenges experienced throughout the industry since then have changed how we operate. It’s mainly manifested in our attempt to help our clients navigate the uncertainty that we’re all experiencing, whilst realising that no one has all the answers and no crystal ball to see what the future holds. We’ve been able to come together and look at what we can see across our partners, publishers, and clients, to get a broader understanding of the market and determine how to tackle what might lay ahead. I don’t necessarily believe that our role has changed, but conversations have certainly shifted to cover larger, structural issues within the industry, rather than focusing on campaign optimisations and how to best position our clients in front of consumers.

What opportunities or challenges do you see over the next 12 months?

It’s clear that there’s a huge emphasis on EVs and a shift towards green energy. Particularly as legislation is also starting to point the industry in that direction, to the point that that’s now a given, in my opinion. Instead, I believe the challenges for the industry are more centred around tightening the macroeconomic landscape, urbanisation, and declining rates of car ownership overall. Even though consumers will still want to own a car, and will continue to do so to various degrees, dampened wage growth, in real terms, could prohibit the ability of car ownership – particularly for younger demographics. I envision this causing a move towards subscription-based services and OEMs trying to penetrate the sharing economy, causing car-sharing services to eat a larger chunk of the pie, at the expense of individual car ownership.

Urbanisation could also decrease the need for individual car ownership and cause an uplift in micro-transportation services such as e-scooters rental schemes, as consumers need to travel shorter distances and where a car would be more inconvenient than other forms of transportation. I could envision this being another shift taking place in the coming five to ten years, which will challenge the industry but also create some opportunities.

My Design Internship with TLA – Adam Hodkinson

Over the past six months, we were delighted to be joined by Adam Hodkinson on a design internship. Here’s what he had to say about his experience and learnings from TLA.

What made you apply for TLA?

After graduating from The University of Salford I struggled to break into the industry, so I decided to reach out to several businesses about potential internships. This is when I came across the opportunity here at TLA.

I was hoping for an internship which would allow me to develop my skills, knowledge and improve on my portfolio. TLA has turned out to be the best possible place for me to end up – giving me the opportunity to explore a potential career path and get a feel for what the industry is like.

What was the most interesting piece of work you had done?

Now that I’ve come to the end of my internship, I’ve gathered several portfolio pieces where I’ve really outdone myself! If I had to choose one, it would be the future leaders programme. You can find more about my work in my full Portfolio here.

Key things you have learnt in your six months here?

Over the past 6 months, I’ve gathered so much knowledge and improved on my skills around branding and identity, graphics, logo design, print, typography and illustration with additional experience in UI Design.

How have you developed personally during your internship?

My core strengths: work ethic, keen eye for detail, communication, creativity and time management have improved massively. I’ve met some amazing people, I’ve gained amazing experience and I have a top notch portfolio – I hold TLA and the design team responsible for relighting my passion for design.

So what’s next?

I hope to move onto a similar role or maybe experiment with different pathways, however UI Design is my number one priority.

If you’ve got a question for the team or want to know more about an internship here at TLA, why not get in touch?

TLA Book Club: Andreas Antonopolous – Mastering Bitcoin

The latest in our series of summaries from the TLA Book Club is in. Thank you to TLA developer and Dot Net Liverpool founder Joshua Duxbury, who has shared his thoughts on Mastering Bitcoin.

Our growing collection in the TLA Book Club has been introduced as part of our ongoing commitment to support and encourage self-improvement throughout the business. Find out Joshua’s take on ‘Mastering Bitcoin’ below.

1.What have you been reading?

Just finished Mastering Bitcoin by Andreas Antonopoulos

2.What was the book about?

An in depth look at how bitcoin works internally and how everything from encryption to consensus rules work on a decentralized network.

3. What were the key takeaways/learnings?

Understanding what elliptic curve cryptography is. How bitcoin auto manages and configures the difficulty of blocks being mined

And why the blockchain is so secure and the potential risks of attacks on the network.

4. Who would enjoy reading it?

Anyone with an interest in decentralised networks and overcoming issues. IT users who want to start mining bitcoins and want to understand where to begin. Intermediates who want that next level understanding of how the blockchain fundamentally works

And programmers who want to create DAPPS and smart contracts on an immutable network.

What have you read lately? Let us know what has inspired you and we’ll add it to the TLA library.

Five minutes with… TLA Head of Quality and Compliance Kathy Fleming

Following on from our Celebrating Women in Tech and Marketing round-table, we sat down with head of quality and compliance Kathy Fleming for a quick-fire Q&A session.

What’s your role and the role of your department at TLA?

Head of Quality & Compliance (including responsibility as the Data Protection Officer). The department is responsible for call monitoring and coaching. I have overall responsibility for FCA Compliance and one of the leads for the ISO27001 certification.

What do you believe has been the most important change to this industry over the last 5 years and why?

The new data protection law has undoubtedly had an impact on how consumer data is handled. Working with high profile clients puts us in a position of trust and it’s our responsibility to demonstrate our commitment to GDPR compliance. We must be able to demonstrate transparency and integrity in what we do, putting customers information rights at the heart of the service we are providing.

What changes do you think we’ll see in the next 5 years and what long-term impact will they have?

Better use of intelligent data (tracking data) which will help inform us and provide insights into consumer behaviour. Whilst this data will be valuable, there are certainly some compliance considerations that must be at the forefront of this activity.

What excites you most about the industry?

The development of systems to enhance what we already do – in particular the way in which TLA can evolve to become more diverse.

What aspect of your work or profession are you particularly passionate about?

Making sure that we operate with integrity in all of our interactions with customers – a DPO should act as the conscience of the organisation.

Where do you go for inspiration or to learn?

I attend a quarterly data protection networking meetings which is a great forum for sharing good practice with people in similar roles across different sectors.

Which entrepreneurs do you admire and why?

Our CEO Anton Hanley – because of his passion and tenacity.

What advice can you offer the next generation of women considering their future career?

Believe in yourself, have confidence in your ability and use every opportunity to improve and gain experience.

If you’ve got a question for the TLA team or want to know more about what makes us tick, why not get in touch?

TLA Book Club: Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

Welcome back to The Lead Agency’s Book Club! As part of our series of five-minute book reviews, head of data insights Antony Neill looks at Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future.

Our growing collection of titles on business, leadership, tech, marketing and more has been introduced to help people learn and grow both in and outside of their roles as part of our ongoing commitment to support and encourage self-improvement throughout the business.

1. What was the book about?

It is a biography of technology entrepreneur Elon Musk, covering his childhood in South Africa all the way to up to his current standing as owner of three of the world’s most forward-facing, innovative companies – Tesla Motors, SpaceX and SolarCity. It delves, in some detail, into the various legal and political battles that Musk has had in driving his ventures to become what they are today, including his fight for control of PayPal (of which he was also a founder) and a number of scrapes with bankruptcy at both Tesla and SpaceX.

The book paints Musk as a ruthless visionary that will do anything it takes to deliver what he thinks is important – in this case, the sustainability of the human race, delivered through clean energy and space exploration. His ultimate goal is for humans to colonise Mars, which he recognises may come after his time on the planet, yet is committed to doing everything he can to make it happen anyway.

2. What were the key takeaways/learnings?

The way that Musk runs his businesses is both inspiring and a little terrifying. Both Tesla and SpaceX entered their respective industries as very small fish in very big ponds; Tesla faced competition from established automotive brands with global presence, while SpaceX sought to compete directly with Lockheed Martin, Boeing and even NASA itself. Despite the odds being stacked against them, Musk insisted that each company should do 90% of their manufacturing in the USA and drive cost efficiencies from home. As a result of a constant drive to do things faster and cheaper, using an MVP approach on a very large scale, Tesla was able to produce revolutionary battery technology at volume, and SpaceX was able to manufacture a space-faring rocket for the ISS at 10% of the cost of its competitors! The main learning here is: conventional wisdom is not always correct, and pushing in the right areas can deliver amazing results. Cost and quality don’t have to be trade-offs.

3. Who would enjoy reading it?

Anybody with an active interest in technology, the technology business, silicon valley politics or the future of the human race!

What have you read lately? Let us know what has inspired you and we’ll add it to the TLA library.

Celebrating women in tech and marketing (part four)

Here’s part four of our round-table discussion with some of the female members of the TLA team. (Read parts one, two and three if you missed out).

We close off with the advice our group have for other women who are interested in being part of the tech or marketing industry.

Abigail Hanson, senior quality and compliance executive: “Just go for it. Whatever ‘it’ might be. Don’t let anyone hold you back and only surround yourself with positive, supportive people.”

Alison Eustace, senior quality and compliance executive: “Don’t be intimidated in any way just because you’re part of a largely male dominated field.”

Kathy Fleming, head of quality and compliance: “Believe in yourself, have confidence in your ability and use every opportunity to improve and gain experience.”

Amy Smith, account manager: “Don’t panic if you don’t have a career plan!”

Amara Molloy, graduate PPC executive: “Just go for it! I don’t believe in just settling for something you think you deserve; push yourself beyond that even if you have to work twice as hard or make sacrifices for long-term success it’s worth it. Also, don’t doubt yourself, not everyone knows everything, but it can be easily learned. My Irish side is coming out here but… what’s for you won’t pass you!”

Danielle Smith, developer: “Just go for it. If you have a passion and interest in tech, follow it through. Just have confidence in yourself and be eager to learn. I never thought I’d be a developer; I always thought I’d be a teacher or something. But I’ve always had an interest in IT, so if you’ve got a passion for something then make it happen.”

Emily Abbey, junior project manager: “What I always tell my children – “a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle”. Don’t be afraid to build yourself and others up, but remember to be genuine, gracious and generous as you work your way towards your goals. And, once you’re part of the industry, find a girl gang!”

Shania Corbishley, student placement (developer): “Although still quite male dominant, the industry is becoming more diverse. There are a lot of female devs in the industry. Stick to your dreams. If you want to be involved in tech then do it and don’t let people try put you off.”

Miki Parr, performance analyst: “If you are passionate about something, do it no matter what it is. Use that passion to encourage and enthuse others. It only takes one person to change the status quo… so why not you?”

Rachel Hellon, marketing executive: “Because the industry is so fast-paced, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you first start. My advice would be to get stuck in, don’t panic about keeping up because you’ll get used to the pace and never doubt yourself.”

Shannon Miller, developer: “Speak up when you have an opinion and challenge people on their ideas, try not to feel too intimidated, be open to learning from others in the team and don’t doubt yourself if it’s the job you know you enjoy and want to do and learn then stick with it.”

Irina Ashakhanova, account manager: “Pursue your true passion regardless of the demographics and feel empowered by being the only girl in the room – it is an opportunity to bring something new to the table, rather than a shortcoming.”

It can be daunting starting any new industry, let alone one that has a reputation for being bias towards a certain gender. But there are more and more businesses making big commitments to address that bias or simply create cultures that women can thrive in. To borrow a phrase mentioned a few times above, if it’s what you want, just go for it.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this four-part article and found some value in the advice offered above. Keep your eyes peeled for more articles from TLA in the coming weeks celebrating women in tech and marketing. Follow us on LinkedIn to keep tabs on what’s on our mind.

Celebrating women in tech and marketing (part three)

Our latest addition to the Celebrating Women in Tech and Marketing content series explores what TLA’s female stars are passionate about regarding their work and where they go to get inspired and learn.

The tech and marketing industry is well-known for being fast-paced and that’s certainly true of life at TLA. When hiring, we look for people who embrace the changes and opportunities that come with the territory, regardless of the role they’re in.

Work passions

When we asked what our group was most passionate about, senior quality and compliance executive Abigail Hanson was first to comment on “the constant growth in the company,” highlighting that the role she’s been promoted into didn’t exist two months ago and that she’s excited about what “opportunities could present themselves in the future”.

Kathy Fleming, who heads up the quality and compliance team, elaborated on that growth, adding: “I’m excited about the development of systems to enhance what we already do – in particular the way in which we can evolve to become more diverse and provide a service that clients want and that add value.”

While it’s great to hear that the company’s growth matters to them, we decided to dig deeper into things they love about their respective roles. “I’m most passionate about ad analysis,” said Amara Molloy, who joined TLA earlier this summer as a graduate PPC executive.

“I enjoy comparing ad types and determining which ads worked and which didn’t,” she added. “I find it extremely interesting to look and try to understand how the audiences mind works allowing our department to produce more effective campaigns.”

Miki Parr, another recent arrival at TLA, this time in the data insights team, said: “I love reporting. I know that sounds sad, but I get a kick out of seeing the numbers line up. It’s interesting to spot trends and patterns within the data that you may not have spotted if it hadn’t been investigated. The other aspect of my job that I am passionate about is investigative analysis. Having spotted something in the data that doesn’t look quite right, and then delving into the root cause of this.

“Data is the currency of the world now,” she added. “Everyone uses it and uses it differently. Within my profession no two days are ever the same.”

For our placement student Shania Corbishley, who is part of our technical development team, passion comes with “learning new things every day due to the fact that tech is always changing”. She added: “I enjoy problem-solving and pushing myself to improve.”

Fellow developer Danielle Smith, who joined TLA in 2014, said: “I enjoy helping people. It’s rewarding when someone has an issue, or you make a change to a system, that is going to benefit and help their job easier.”

Shannon Miller, another of our long-serving technical developers cited that her passion comes in the form of “contributing to the design and development of new systems, learning how to use new skills and technologies, and creating something that is useful to other people and the company.”

Sources of inspiration and learning

Learning and growth are a big part of our culture. So, where do our group go to seek inspiration and fuel their passions?

For Shania, it’s “seeing other people in the tech industry create amazing things. When I see something mind-blowing it inspires me!”

Amy Smith, one of TLA’s account managers, looks closer to home: “Within the TLA there are people with a wealth of knowledge and amazing skill sets.  If I have a question or need help, I have always found people willing to take the time to share their knowledge.” And that sentiment is echoed by Danielle: “I always like speaking to the other devs in our team. There’s a lot of knowledge within the team and I can learn a lot from them.”

For developers, there are a wide variety of online sources that provide information to help you develop your knowledge and solve a multitude of challenges. For example, Danielle uses Feedly to follow .net blogs and other professional blogs.

Another great source of inspiration and learning are events – including but not limited to Dot Net Liverpool, which was formed by Joshua Duxbury, a member of the TLA technical development team.

Outside of tech, Emily Abbey finds inspiration in a women’s networking group called AllBright. “Being able to connect with other women who ‘get it’ in terms of balancing the many demands on us between work and home life, and who are also brilliant role models and can offer pearls of wisdom has been a lifesaver!”

Kathy, meanwhile, said: “I attend a quarterly data protection networking meetings which is a great forum for sharing good practice with people in similar roles across different sectors.”

If you have a question about anything that’s been discussed as part of our Celebrating Women in Tech and Marketing series, including the events our team attend, please get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.

Celebrating women in tech and marketing (part two)

Picking up from part one, in which we discussed preconceptions of the tech and marketing industry and the women who provide inspirational, we turn our attention to the roles our group play at TLA and the routes they took to get here.

Our groups’ time at TLA ranges from a few months to nine years, with various entry points and roles spanning marketing, development, quality control, account management and project delivery.

One of the longest-serving at the round-table was marketing executive Rachel Hellon, who joined on an apprenticeship five years ago. “I was kept on after my apprenticeship and now look after our content teams, covering written content as well as video for our automotive brand Car Keys. The marketing team is fast-paced and results-orientated. Everyone has a clear idea of our respective areas of expertise and work well together to achieve success.”

That first break in any industry can be like standing at the foot of an impossible mountain, but it’s something we feel passionately about helping people secure at TLA. As well as apprenticeships, we provide three- and six-month internships, work with local universities to provide placements and offer graduate and junior roles.

Opportunity to explore and use new tech

“I’ve been with TLA for five years,” said Shannon Miller, who joined shortly after Rachel and became the company’s first female developer. “I started as a placement while at university and came back after my final year as a junior. I’ve since moved up to a mid-level developer, working predominantly on our internal systems.”

One of Shannon’s standout achievements to date has been building the company’s call centre system, which plays a critical role in the way we function as a business. “There’s plenty of opportunity to explore and use new tech, which is a great part of working here. Plus, I like to learn from other people within the company and there’s a lot of intelligence in the room! It’s great to learn from their experiences and ways of working, so that I can keep progressing.”

Danielle Smith has enjoyed a similar journey, having joined as a junior and move through to mid-level as a support developer. In her own words, her role is to “take the pressure off the project team. Any bugs or support from the contact centre, any smaller projects that support the way we work, I help to ensure they run smoothly.”

She added: “The devs at TLA are always helpful. If you ever need support, they’ll come over and offer advice to help you in your role.”

From left to right: Shannon, Kathy, Alison, Danielle, Emily, Abi, Laurie, Amy, Rachel, Amara, Miki and Shania. Not pictured: Irina and Zoe from our London office.

Building a career

Away from development, Amy Smith joined the business nine years ago as a customer service operative, or ‘CSO’ as the role is more commonly referred to within the business. “I eventually moved from the CSO role into the QC team before moving into my position as account manager. That opportunity to move across departments has allowed me to build my career within the business, rather than moving elsewhere.”

Amy ensures the campaigns we bring on from clients are set up correctly in the CRM and coordinates with the development team to make sure the necessary tech work is completed.

Alongside tech and the contact centre, the QC department is one of the biggest functions within the business. They work alongside other departments to ensure the data we process and send to clients is of the highest possible quality to maximise conversion rates. Simply put, if the quality isn’t there, it doesn’t get sent.

Alison Eustace has recently been promoted into the role of senior quality and compliance executive after three years with the business along with fellow QC teammate Abigail Hanson, who has been with us for 18 months.

Commenting on her new role, Alison said: “Our focus is on improving quality from the ground up. All sorts of tasks are involved, from analysing calls to find a quality level to identifying potential issues that need to be addressed. We’re also working with the tech team to trial a new system for how we process data, which will have a positive impact on the way the QC team works.”

Abigail added: “We are currently going through all of our training documents to ensure everything is up to date and putting together a new coaching plan for the CSOs to help them, as well as call scoring and processing leads.”

Embracing change and opportunity

Changes like the ones Alison refers to are part-and-parcel of a tech-led organisation like ours. It’s even reflected in one of our core values – to embrace change and opportunity and as quality manager Laurie Bloor attests, “there’s been a lot of change during my five years with the business, particularly with the way different departments have embraced new technologies”.

But while technology impacts every role and department within the business, there is lots of variety with the types of roles available. QCs and CSOs aren’t tech roles but they have a huge part to play in making a tech company successful – and the same can be said for other functions within the business, including finance and sales.

Our account managers Zoe Hamilton and Irina Ashakhanova, who’ve been with the business for one and two years, respectively, are also from a non-tech background. The point being that you don’t have to be a marketer or coder to build a successful career within the marketing or tech industry.

As junior project manager Emily Abbey concludes: “The industry is changing so rapidly that we don’t really know what technology we’ll be living and working with in our day-to-day lives in the future, being a part of a technology-led business is very exciting.”

Look out for more content as part of our Celebrating Women in Tech and Marketing series over the coming weeks by following TLA on LinkedIn.

Celebrating women in tech and marketing (part one)

Women remain underrepresented in the UK tech industry. But what does that mean for those already there or starting their career?

There are small signs of progress with the topic becoming front-and-centre for some of the sectors’ biggest companies and an increasing number of female founders and directors being highlighted across business and social media. But it remains an industry that could do more – and needs to do more – to attract, welcome, retrain and progress female professionals.

At TLA, we proudly have a female-to-male split that is above the industry average. But we recognise there is a long way to go to achieve true balance across the business – particularly at a senior level. One of the ways we want to do this is to celebrate the women who work at TLA via our blog and social media channels.

We believe their journeys are worth sharing, particularly with women who might be considering a role or career in the tech or marketing industry. That’s why we arranged an all-female, all-TLA roundtable this month to better understand their experiences.

Taking part in the discussion were marketers Rachel Hellon and Amara Molloy; developers Danielle Smith and Shannon Miller; Miki Parr from the data insights team; account managers Amy Smith, Irina Ashakanova and Zoe Hamilton; project manager Emily Abbey; and Kathy Fleming, Laurie Bloor, Alison Eustace and Abigail Hanson from the quality and compliance department. Their time with TLA and, indeed within the tech industry, ranges from a few months to more than a decade.

Industry preconceptions

We started by asking what preconceptions they each held prior to joining the industry. The overriding and unsurprising view was that it was “male-dominated,” with Danielle highlighting that she was one of only five women on her university course out of 200 people.

Likewise, Shannon and Rachel highlighted that they were the first and only women in their department for a year before others joined. Rachel said: “In IT at high school, you would be one of only a few girls in the class. But you don’t get a true read on the industry until you join it.”

Emily had a similar view. But reassuringly added that she “hadn’t appreciated how strongly the industry is now advocating the empowerment of women”. Meanwhile, Miki admitted that preconceptions of male dominance led to concerns over whether she could make her mark in the industry but added that “once I decided it was what I wanted to do, I wasn’t going to let that stop me.”

Dominance may have been the word chosen to encapsulate preconceptions, but it may not be the right word. The numbers undoubtedly show men outnumber women, but as Amara pointed out, “the women at TLA more than hold their own” within the workplace and play an crucial role in the success we achieve.

Female role models in tech

It’s often cited that one of the challenges for the industry is the lack of profile for female business leaders, and therefore role models, for young women about to embark on careers in tech and marketing.

Not everyone in our group could name a female business leader, for example, but among those mentioned were Jacqueline De Rocas of Tech UK (Alison), information commissioner Elizabeth Denham (Kathy) and Thrive Global’s Arianna Huffington (Emily).

It was Miki’s response, however, that offered the most comprehensive example, highlighting the inspiration and legacy of Grace Hopper.

“Grace was born in New York in 1906 and from a young age was interested in how things work. She got her PhD from Yale in Mathematics and was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer. She popularised the term “debugging” when a moth got stuck in a relay within the computer and she commented on getting the thing out. (Fun fact: You can actually see that moth in a museum in America!)

“She also came up with the computer language COBOL. When she coined the idea, her male counterparts told her it wouldn’t work because “…computers can’t speak English…”. She proved them wrong!

USS Hopper

Miki continued: “During WWII, Grace Hopper tried to join the Navy but was rejected because she was too small. But later joined the Navy Reserves and worked her way through the ranks to Rear Admiral.

“She retired from the Navy when she was 60 but was frequently invited to return. She officially stopped all her Naval responsibilities when she was 79, making her the oldest person to ever be in the Navy. She even has a Naval ship named after her – USS Hopper!

She is a true inspiration and one of the reasons I studied Mathematics at university.”

We’ll bring you more insight and, hopefully, inspiration in the next instalment of our women in tech series over the coming weeks. Follow our LinkedIn page for the latest updates.

Five minutes with… TLA Strategy Director of Property and Financial Services Paul Earnden

Next up in our Q&A series we have Paul Earnden, who joined team TLA four months ago as Strategy Director of Property and Financial Services.

Following on from his recent move at Prodo, a digital transformation and growth agency based in Chester, we talk to Paul about his role here at TLA below.

What have been your first impressions of TLA and its culture?

I was pleasantly surprised with the approach to technology and data. Our platform is an incredible piece of technology which is going to help us achieve great things in connecting in-market consumers to brands. Like any tech-based organisation, things have to be fast paced. But this is fast paced with real purpose, structure and driven by data. So much progress is made on a daily basis.

Finally, I’ve been really impressed with the entire approach to onboarding, our culture code and the effort made to ensure that everybody in the business lives and breathes “The TLA Way” and genuinely, I feel they all do!

You took part in our London to Brighton cycle in aid of NABS. What was the experience like?

The cycle was great…but very difficult! It was a great opportunity to meet so many companies, agencies and tech providers in a completely different environment: no big offices, no shirts and ties – just helmets and lycra..! I learnt a lot about NABS, our charity of choice, and now look forward to being part of further fundraising activity for them.

What is your role and the role of your department at TLA?

The role of my department is to grow TLA’s Property and Financial Services vertical into a major arm of our business. I’m working directly with mortgage brokers, lenders, estate agents and other financial services organisations to deliver incremental revenue with our technology. The role is a real mix of product development, customer acquisition and operations, it’s great fun!

What can you tell us about Movewell?

Movewell is a new consumer website we’ve developed that is designed to guide homeowners, or soon-to-be homeowners, through the tricky process of buying a home, moving home, remortgaging or selling their home. In its current form, it’s contains useful content, guides, checklists and calculators which assist consumers through the process. These consumers can then opt to utilise our broker matching service and, based on their circumstances, we will place them with a broker who will hold their hand through the application process.

How has the property industry evolved over the last 12 months?

The last 12 months have been interesting. I’ve been involved in the housing and property space for around six years now and, in that time, most change has been driven by technology and digital transformation.

Such steep advances in technology have allowed for some fantastic products and services to be created, but at the same time some businesses have gone all-in on this technology before it’s really matured. There’s a big wish in organisations to be using things like blockchain, machine learning, artificial intelligence, augmented reality and more – but sometimes without purpose or a real use-case.

Due to the access to technology, we’re seeing proptech startups get large amounts of VC backing and one major development has been a sharp increase in the amount of online estate agents, which has been an incredibly turbulent sector with major ups and downs over the last 12 months. I fundamentally believe that online estate agents have a place in the market, but it will take a while to get consumer buy-in and for people to drop their guards around selling a property online. The younger demographics will likely opt for this type of service, but they’re not necessarily the ones buying or selling houses right now.

What do you anticipate the next 12 months will look like for the industry?

I guess the biggest changes in the industry are probably going to be as a result of what happens within the political environment, and I don’t think anybody really knows what’s going to happen or how this could change the industry. Staying with the theme of digital transformation and technology, I think we’re going to see further utilisation of technology in order to build some great products. I’m a big fan of fintech, and the use of technology within the financial services industry. The mortgage industry has seen some great products from the likes of Mojo, Habito and Trussle, offering an almost end-to-end digital experience, allowing people to apply for a mortgage from their phone.

In the last year, I feel we’ve seen the beginning of the traditional, large organisations who’ve been challenged by the so-called challenger brands react. This will likely result in banks, lenders, brokers, and estate agents etc. building innovative tech products to challenge the challengers. The digital experience from some more traditional banks has started to slowly rival the likes of Monzo, Starting and Revolut and I think we’ll see a similar trend in estate agency and mortgaging.

Finally, I’d like to think that the creation and adoption of open banking will enable mortgage lenders and brokers to shorten the application to completion timeframe and, as a whole, increase the customer experience within the sector.

What role can Movewell play in helping the industry?

Movewell exists to give unbiased guidance to those in the middle of quite a complex buyer journey. These consumers are looking for the best product for their needs, and we can match those needs to a brand (such as a broker, lender, or estate agent) who are looking to deliver further, incremental revenue.

If you’ve got a question for the TLA team or want to know more about what makes us tick, why not get in touch?