To mark International Women’s Day, we had the pleasure of sitting down with PorterShed member and entrepreneur Norma Carty to discuss her story in the tech world to date, her experience as a leader, and some of the lessons she has learned throughout her fascinating journey so far.
Norma achieved great success with PerfectCard as their CTO – working alongside CEO, Nikki Evans – and she is undoubtedly a pioneer in her field. She has since moved on from this venture, and today she is heavily involved with an innovative company that is introducing sustainably-charged NFTs.
Newly formed Atogail Forests is a start-up founded by a team of industry experts that have created the world’s first environment-focused NFT collection. They are an impact-driven, social enterprise that aims to rebuild natural habitats in order to restore biodiversity, reduce carbon, and reconnect humanity. Comprising a group of professionals with varied backgrounds, they aim to combine NFTs with real-world carbon credits.
Indeed, Atogail Forests (www.atogailforests.com) are currently seeking to expand their innovative team, and they are looking for IT professionals with an interest in the crypto space to join their eco-friendly mission.
Norma brings her expertise with leading a tech team as well as her insight into blockchain to the fore of Atogail Forests, and her experience to date means that she has amassed a wealth of knowledge that anybody looking to start their own company would be wise to replicate. And when asked to share, she dives straight in with a golden nugget of wisdom.
“Don’t try to reinvent the wheel,” Norma says.
“If there’s already software out there that’s doing a particular task, try and integrate with it, if it’s in the market, it’s been tried and tested, and it’s used by a lot of people. You can jump on the bandwagon of successful products and release your offering direct into their marketplaces, guaranteeing an active sales channel.”
“I would say deploy often. Be very iterative and keep it simple. The customer doesn’t need to have all of the features in one go. Give them the minimum viable product – give them enough that’s going to hook them in and keep getting the feedback from them. Constantly talk to your customers about what’s working for them and what’s not.”
“Many founders may look to have all the bells and whistles straight away, but it’s rare that this can be the case as there are so many changes that will need to be made over time. I’ve also had the joy of spending a lot of time over-engineering a product where only half the features were ever used. You learn!”
Females are still a minority in the tech sphere – but that picture is slowly starting to change as an increasing number of females are getting involved in the industry, being tech leaders, and sharing their knowledge with others. By way of example, female founders are traditionally underrepresented in Ireland, but that number is increasing – as is the financial impact they are having. Only last year, Irish female founders raised over €100m for the first time, and it’s something many are hoping will be a permanent trend.
So, what are Norma’s thoughts about being a female in tech?
“What I’ve learned recently is that you need both the feminine and the masculine energy within any company,” she says.
“A female energy can bring something different than the male energy.
“I think the optimum is both men and women working together as a team as they are always going to contribute something different – after all, at the end of the day, your customer is both, so it’s about how you can work together.
“I know people have had very different experiences. I’ve worked in a very male-dominated environment in IT and I’ve only ever been supported, but I think you have to take your place in that, too. You do have to stand up and have your voice heard, it’s a two-way thing to earn and give respect to your work colleagues.”
Indeed, Norma has really put herself out there, and she has continued to think big in all kinds of impressive ways.
For many people, achieving great success in the past may have been enough of an excuse to start resting on their laurels, but Norma has refused to do so and has instead continued innovating, exploring new ideas, and championing worthwhile ventures. Much of it, as she explains, has to do with her innate curiosity and creativity.
“I’ve always had a huge curiosity, ever since I was a child, so I always want to know everything about everything, and I love technology – I’m big into crypto and blockchain – and have been for the last number of years,” she explains.
“I can’t leave technology behind me because I’m someone who comes up with a lot of ideas and I have to be creating, and I think that’s the bit I missed when I moved into management. I’m loving that I have the opportunity to learn more as we build out this new project, Atogail Forests.
“I’m always trying to stay with the leading edge of what’s happening in the tech space, and I can’t see that changing any time soon, no matter what else I do.”
By Trevor Murray