I often meet inspiring women in wearable tech because of my passion for advocating them. They are not only my industry colleagues, they are my motivators, friends and inspire me to keep going because we share the same challenges, the same highs and the same lows. We also work in a challenging industry where we strive to build meaningful tech products while simultaneously striving to make a difference and impact for the next generation.
In 2017, I co-founded an organisation called Women of Wearables. It was the first global community organisation for women in wearable tech, IoT and AR/VR. What started in London turned into a global community with now more than 20,000 followers.
It was when I was building Women of Wearables that I met the most inspiring woman in wearable tech since I started my own company, Made With Glove. Hadeel Ayoub is the founder and CEO of Brightsign Glove, an AI glove that turns sign language into speech.
Hadeel was one of the first women I interviewed for Women of Wearables after sharing the start up exhibition zone with her at the Wearable Tech Show 2017. Hadeel quickly became one of our Women of Wearables’ pioneer community members and our biggest advocate, speaking at our events and being one of our most inspirational WoW women building a very meaningful wearable, AI tech product for good.
Hadeel was also completing her Phd at Goldsmith University in London while raising her 4 children with her husband. Hadeel was the woman who seemed to do it all!
Since I have known Hadeel over the years, she has made significant progress on Brightsign Glove, from obtaining investment to winning numerous competitions and international awards, to speaking at events about her work to contributing significantly to not only the UK tech sector but in her home country, Saudi Arabia too.
I have had the privilege to hear Hadeel speak, not once, not twice but numerous times, and each time, felt like the first. Hadeel’s purpose, mission and motivation for Brightsign Glove is to give those a voice who cannot speak. I moderated a panel inviting Hadeel in Manchester at the IoT Champions event at Softwire Technology where she demonstrated her AI assisted glove. We also attended the Booking.com Technology Playmaker Women in Tech Awards in London where Hadeel won €15,000 and the coveted prize of the 2018 Technology Playmaker of the Year!
Over the years, I encouraged Hadeel to apply for the Global Talent Visa in Digital Technologies #TechNationVisa and each time, Hadeel wasn’t ready. And that was ok because the process of obtaining all the documents is time consuming. Hadeel was also completing her Phd thesis and applicants have likened this process to a Phd thesis of your career. Doing one Phd thesis is enough let alone 2!
So, it is no wonder Hadeel was endorsed with exceptional talent when she finally applied for endorsement for the #TechNationVisa. Before Hadeel applied, like most women, her confidence and what seemed like a rigorous process nearly stopped her from applying. Tech Nation’s statistics show that only 30% of women apply for endorsement, and 27% actually receive it. While the application numbers for women are low, the success rate when women apply is quite high. Overall, there is a 50-60% endorsement rate so I can only draw the conclusion that if more women apply, more women could be endorsed?
So, after Hadeel completed and submitted her thesis, she spent just 3 days during the Covid-19 lockdown in London gathering all her documents and letters of recommendation and within a week, she received notification from Tech Nation that she was endorsed with Exceptional Talent!
I was so happy for Hadeel when she told me the good news – I was also surprised, not because she was endorsed with exceptional talent, but because after all this time, Hadeel just did it! And then she got it within a week of applying …. during the Covid-19 Lockdown!
If you’re interested in learning how Hadeel did it, watch my Inspirational How We Did It! webinar where I interviewed Hadeel about her experience and what documents she submitted to become successful in the Global Talent Visa endorsement process. Having also been through the process myself, it is comforting to know that I wasn’t the only one who felt this process is challenging and forces you to put your best work and self forward. I am also looking forward to sharing my own experience and comparing it with Hadeel’s so you can be as prepared as possible when you go through your own application!
Hadeel’s key takeaways were:
- Ask for help because this process made me doubt myself at every step so having someone to support me would have been very helpful;
- Having a second eye to fix the things I needed to fix because I was too involved in the process; and
- There are others going through the process too so reach out to them so you know you aren’t alone.
If you would like guidance and help on the Stage 1 Global Talent Visa Endorsement process or appeals, I help highly skilled tech entrepreneurs and talent increase their chances for a successful application for endorsement for exceptional promise or exceptional talent. For all my packages of support for the Stage 1 UK Global Talent Visa, click here.
This blog was written by Michelle Hua, Consultant, Speaker, CEO & Founder of Made With Glove. In 2016, Michelle was the recipient of the Exceptional Talent Visa (now called Global Talent Visa) and is the former #TechNationVisa Ambassador. Michelle consults for highly skilled tech entrepreneurs and people working in digital technologies on how they can receive the endorsement for exceptional talent or exceptional promise. Read Michelle’s other blogs on the #TechNationVisa here and Michelle’s own journey here.