After starting my blogs on how I received my UK Tech Nation Exceptional Talent Visa, I have been inspired by helping people around the world wanting to also make the move to the UK. I have also bumped into people in the UK who recognise me through my blogs. It is a surreal experience when I am recognised but it also warms my heart when we form an instant connection because we have been through one of the most stressful experiences of our lives.
One particular person is Susan Fowler. I was speaking on a panel at the Wonder Women Tech conference in London when Susan (who is American) and I started talking passionately about being in the tech industry in the UK. And then she suddenly blurted out “visa!” I started to laugh because while I knew exactly what she meant, those around us probably thought why are 2 American and Australian women speaking about visas at a women in tech conference?
Susan had read my blogs and while I hadn’t met Susan before, she applied for and successfully received her visa. After she told me she is an exceptional talent visa recipient, we immediately became friends by discussing our experience.
Susan pointed out that for her, it was a challenge to decipher if her experience and skills aligned closely enough with the visa criteria. From the way it is written, the visa criteria makes it sound like you had to be at the level of an Elon Musk or Steve Jobs to qualify. As a result, she worked very hard to build her digital skills and experience and while it was still a big investment in terms of time and money to consider gambling on, Susan says the opportunity in applying for the visa was worth it!
Coming back to the women in tech issue, there is a statistic that says women only apply for a job if they believe they are 90% qualified while men apply if they believe they are 40% qualified. As such, we pondered if this is the reason why only one third of tech nation visa holders are women.
Despite that statistic, Susan and I agreed that you just have to give it a go because you may find that you are more qualified than you think. While this is great advice for all women in digital and technology, it applies to everyone thinking of applying.
I learned that Susan’s background isn’t a typical tech background but one that has a tech related and digital field. Her experience includes creating guest experience quality standards for all Ritz-Carlton hotel properties as a corporate guest relations advisory board member and Guest Relations Manager at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Cleveland Ohio. She managed multiple brands worth over £53MM annually and launched over 50 new high tech products for General Electric’s LED lighting startup division.
In San Francisco, Susan started her own consulting firm Fowler James that focused on helping digital tech startups lay out their business and strategy to successfully launch new products and expand adoption of current products. To help display her incredible work, she submitted several published customer case studies from prominent clients such as a Wal-Mart and a high profile startup from the American tv show Shark Tank. She also submitted multiple magazine articles that she was quoted in as an industry expert.
The application for endorsement also requires 2 letters of recommendations from experts in your field. This criteria can be challenging because as an applicant, Susan says there is always a voice inside your head that asks “am I good enough to apply for this visa?” Suddenly, it turns to “are my experts good enough to write my letter of recommendation?”
Susan chose both her mentors to write her letters of recommendation. The first person was a mentor in her entrepreneur incubator who founded a multimillion dollar data science company and the other, from a mentor who was a senior executive for transformation in digital tech in two fortune 500 corporations.
To further convince Tech Nation that she deserved the endorsement, she included certificates from recent courses she had taken in data science from John Hopkins University and a startup launch strategy through the Wharton School. She also highlighted her achievement of graduating first in her class when earning her MBA in entrepreneurship and organizational behavior.
In meeting Susan, she did not display any air of immodesty from all her achievements. Instead, she displayed what any intelligent, extremely talented, hard working and passionate entrepreneur would display. A humble, genuine and very approachable person who is so friendly that you just want to soak all her positivity into your life.
*This is not a sponsored blog post. Susan and Michelle are recipients of the Tech Nation Exceptional Talent Visa and maintain a genuine professional relationship and advocates for women in tech.