Women Leading Tech: Foxtel’s Cora Spear Shines A Light On Gender Disparities In The Tech Industry

Women Leading Tech: Foxtel’s Cora Spear Shines A Light On Gender Disparities In The Tech Industry
B&T Magazine
Edited by B&T Magazine

New tech-savvy women with a couple of decades in the industry who are passionate about gender diversity in the workplace are coming to the fore in Australian tech.

One leading light is Cora Spear, Foxtel’s group director of streaming operations.

Spear has an enormous wealth of experience in the tech industry. She kickstarted her career in London, before making the journey down south to Aus, working in digital, advertising, and broadcasting with some of the biggest companies in media.

She knows the growing world of tech inside-out and uses it to her advantage. Spear has started her own business, moved countries, won a UN Award, launched world-first products and overseen Kayo hit 1 million subscribers, Binge hit 1 million subscribers and helped WatchAFL launch two weeks early to include the inaugural Women’s competition.

But it’s not just her past achievements that makes Spear such a gamechanger for women in the tech industry. She’s always encouraging employers to hire more women, advising women to say ‘yes’ more and not be afraid to voice their opinions in the workplace.

Check out our interview for her hot takes and golden insights on approaching work with a sales-like mentality, networking, gender balance in the workplace and more!

B&T: For you, why is it so important to support Women Leading Tech (WLT)?

For me, it’s two-fold. First, we know that companies with better gender diversity are more successful – better at collaboration, better at generating new ideas, better at attracting and retaining great talent, and better at generating profits. Working towards having a healthy gender balance means we all have a better place to work and a better bottom line. Secondly, the industry I’m in, Media, has been at the forefront of adapting to the effects of digital disruption and innovation due to technology. To stay ahead, or even just keep up, there needs to be a heavy focus and understanding of the technologies driving that change. Bring these ideas together and it’s easy to understand the reasons why we need to encourage, attract, and develop female team members in technology-led businesses. We know gender balance in the technology sector needs to be dramatically improved, and Women Leading Tech gives us a platform where we can showcase great outcomes, tell our stories, connect, and share knowledge on how/why the benefits of actively making a change to improve diversity is so important.

B&T: The theme of this year’s WLT event is “Be the change you seek,” on this note what steps are you and your business taking to ensure greater inclusiveness and equality in the industry?

I’m fortunate to work for a business that has a well-developed D&I program with a clear focus on bettering the female experience at work, especially in developing targeted learning opportunities to address leadership gaps for females across the business. One example, on International Women’s Day this year we announced the Women in Media Graduate program, and as a lead executive sponsor I’ll be developing the Technology & Operations Program for this program and mentoring the new team members.

B&T: Can you tell us about your work history and current role and what some of the biggest challenges/obstacles you’ve faced are?  

After studying TV & Film production, I started my career in London, working in a pioneering post-production and special effects business, then moved to Australia. I’ve worked in digital, advertising and broadcasting with some outstanding companies and leadership teams including Yahoo, Fox Sports, Seven and Foxtel Group. I’ve been fortunate to have worked in businesses where there has been an appetite to implement cutting-edge technologies and test and scale new business models. Print to digital, retail to e-commerce, broadcasting to streaming, these industries have undergone significant change in a relatively short time. Fundamentally, that’s the ever-present challenge that comes with the territory, to create the disruption that develops pathways for the organisation to survive and thrive. There are highs and lows as with anything, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

B&T: What is your most-career defining moment? How has this changed you? 

Well, we are all a work-in-progress! For me, it hasn’t been about one significant moment – it would be multiple moments. Starting my own business, moving countries, winning a UN Award, launching world-first products, most recent moments include Kayo hitting 1 million subscribers, Binge hitting 1 million subscribers, launching WatchAFL two weeks early to include the inaugural Women’s competition…I’ve been grateful to have been involved in a lot of “firsts” in my career so far and many of them supporting, hiring, and working with great women. My instinct has always been to challenge the status quo, and that’s generated breakthroughs and career-defining moments. 

B&T: What advice would you give to young women hoping to become leaders in a statistically male-dominated technology space? 

Say Yes more.

Say Yes and put your hand up, ask to be part of that new team, project, working group. 

Say Yes to being on a panel, showcase, feedback session.

Say Yes to sharing, presenting, showcasing what you’ve done or been part of.

Volunteer and get involved in activities outside your role. 

Connect, start a conversation, ask a question.

Ask more questions, ask for feedback.

And when you ask, don’t excuse yourself for asking.

Never start with “I’m sorry to ask, but…”

B&T: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

May sound strange, but honestly the best piece of advice I was given was “Cora, we’re all in Sales.” Approach your job, role, whatever you’re doing with the idea that the aim is to produce something people will want. Understand that the part you play, affects the result.

B&T: Being in a management position, what have you discovered to be the best way to promote and nurture women’s careers? 

Hire them. There is quite a lot of built-in orthodoxy and inertia in the talent acquisition supply chain and much of that does not help women. Sometimes you need to go several extra miles to uncover great female talent, especially in tech – so when you’re recruiting, apply your own quotas to bring about change. Work closely with and challenge the HR Recruitment team to ask for a diversified short list. Think laterally on the skill set and experience that’s really needed for the role, could a parallel career track be applied to what you need?

B&T: On the same token, how can we empower and encourage more young girls to consider a career in tech? 

Think of the saying “Can’t be what you can’t see.” To push the change young girls need to see it, to be it. The more women we hire, the harder we work to achieve the balance, the more women we showcase provides more opportunity for the younger generations to observe. Encourage your female staff to become visible, get them to present and talk about their work and working experiences, both internally and externally. Encourage their bosses and managers to acknowledge their achievements, both personally and publicly. 

B&T: Which women have inspired you and played a role in becoming the leader you are? 

There are too many to mention, and I don’t really have ‘favourites’. My list could go on forever! Rather than focus on well-known figures, it’s more useful to say I often find inspiration closer to home with the women around me. Their accomplishments may not make headlines in the AFR but are often more visible and relatable.

B&T: Can you outline the best ways women can support other women in their organisations? 

Network! Create or support opportunities to engage but base them on giving and receiving tangible advice and support that boosts women’s opportunities. Take time to find the place where your efforts are based on the goals you have set and find your voice. Remember, you will get out what you put in.

Find out more about the Women Leading Tech Awards HERE.

Tickets to the awards are now on sale HERE.

As an initiative created to support gender parity and representation across the tech industry, Women Leading Tech is an event inclusive of non-binary and gender diverse members of the tech industry, as well as any individual identifying as a woman.

Thank you to our Women Leading Tech sponsors:

Please login with linkedin to comment

Cora Spear Foxtel women leading tech

Latest News