Kristin Alumni: Empowering Storyteller
Adele Barlow graduated from Kristin in 2003. Seventeen years later, she’s led marketing for some of Europe’s top tech start-ups and started the UK’s first Women in Software Power List. She is also the author of several non-fiction books and her first fiction novel launched in May. We caught up with Adele, who is based in London, to find out more about her path since Kristin.
Tell us a little about your path since Kristin
After Kristin, I went to the University of Melbourne. During my Honours year, I co-founded social enterprise yMedia with Pamela Minett, who also went to Kristin (in fact, at Kristin she and I launched a student newspaper, The Octagon). I moved to London 11 years ago and have worked on a huge range of marketing projects. They’ve taken me to the United Nations HQ in Manhattan to film Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; to 10 Downing Street to meet Prime Minister David Cameron; and to Virgin HQ to collaborate with the Global Marketing Director of Virgin. These days, I lead communications for Makers, a software engineering bootcamp in London.
The United Nations, Downing Street and Virgin sounds fascinating! What was that like?
I went to the United Nations HQ in Manhattan to assist with the production of a video interview with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon – it was conducted by a peace organisation I was doing digital marketing work with. It was pretty surreal. I met Prime Minister David Cameron at an event I attended at 10 Downing Street, with an entrepreneur organisation I produced content for. I worked on marketing management with a start-up within Virgin – that led me to Virgin HQ to collaborate with their Global Marketing Director on creating brand guidelines. In all cases, I was very aware that all the leaders I was meeting were men – and it made me more passionate about promoting women in business and seeking out workplaces that elevated women.
Can you explain what Makers is all about? What’s a software engineering bootcamp?
Makers trains people who want to change careers and become software developers - as well as helping companies who need to recruit a diverse range of junior software developers. We teach people how to code in 12 weeks and set them up with the skills needed to become a developer. We’ve turned a whole range of people who want to change their careers – lawyers, accountants, painters - into software developers, and we’ve helped companies like Deloitte, Accenture and Google to diversify their tech teams.
When you were at Kristin, what were some of your dreams and aspirations – have they changed much since then?
As a teenager I was interested in storytelling, building businesses that made a difference and seeing the world. To be honest, not much has changed! My career has been all about amplifying the stories of progressive organisations, and my boyfriend and I travel a lot. I am especially interested in amplifying women’s stories, because the world needs more of them. I got to take part in a debate at Cambridge University about ‘leaning in’, which only reminded me how much more complicated things are these days. Through working with Makers, I started the UK’s first Women in Software Power List, to recognise rising stars in the coding community. For years I wrote for the Huffington Post, which evolved into writing several non-fiction books on the future of work. Lately I’ve been working on a fiction book about dating. It was published in May this year and is called The Almost Girlfriend.
Who have been some of your greatest influences?
My father’s discipline inspires me - he’s from a small town in the Waikato and has built a successful law practice in Hong Kong. My mother’s kindness has kept me going through tough times. And my brother makes sure that I never take myself (or anything) too seriously. When I was at Kristin, I was guided by Mrs Rood, Mr Clague and Mrs Taylor. They often pushed me to set big scary goals and to believe in myself even when I felt out of my depth. Also, two of my closest friends to this day - Lexie Sandano and Pamela Minett - are friends I made at Kristin, and still inspire and influence me.