Interview: Judy Pridmore, Digital Strategist
As a part of our #WomenInTech competition blog series, we had the pleasure of catching up with digital strategist Judy Pridmore. Judy will be sitting as a judge on the #WomenInTech panel, alongside Michelle Redfern and Naima Elle.
Judy is a digital and technology industry leader with over 20 years of experience as a C-suite executive and consultant. She has an impressive track record of building B2C and B2B marketplace startups through driving digital business transformation. Judy currently runs her own digital consultancy business, as well as working as a strategic advisor, coach and mentor to startups and female founders.
Find out more about Judy’s accomplishments in our interview with her, where we discuss the challenges women can face in the business and tech world.
Tell me about your current role.
I’m running my own digital consultancy business, which I started about eighteen months ago. I work with clients on developing their business strategy and improving their customer experience through to implementing digital transformation through their organisation. I have a range of clients from startups through to Tennis Australia.
I guess you took that initial interest in digital and made it into something you specialise in over time.
Yeah, so I’ve run – goodness – probably over ten different businesses in digital. At HarperCollins I started a publicly-listed wine business with the founders of Australian wine, James Halliday and Len Evans. I then headed up CareerOne. I started Truelocal for News Limited. I was the CEO of GolfLink, the golf handicapping system. I’ve done all sorts of things, ‘cause with business the skills are transferable.
Did you complete a university course related to your current field?
No. There were no digital courses back then. I actually helped work on the first syllabuses for “digital” courses in places like The University of Technology in Sydney.
What did you study at university?
I went into teaching. My first posting was to Brunswick East High School in Melbourne. I was an English and PE teacher, and interestingly I ended up writing textbooks for VCE PE. Then I went into publishing at HarperCollins Publishers.
What is your view on the current landscape for women in business?
I would’ve thought we’d have progressed further. In my 20 years in senior, C-suite roles, often I was one of the only women at that level. At somewhere like News Limited, there were very few [women]. I was the only [woman] head of any of the digital businesses.
Still, I do not see enough women leading these businesses. I’ve seen a lot more in the last few years in the startup space, which is great, but we need to get more women into executive roles in bigger businesses; we’ve got more work to do.
What do you believe to be the main obstacles women face in business?
Two things: probably self-belief and opportunity.
I’m very conscious that I didn’t really have any women mentors, so I’ve spent a lot of time mentoring women colleagues and staff. I think it’s really important to have other women around you that ‘have your back’ and you can talk to.
In the technology space, we’ve got to crash through the ‘stereotyping’ of roles (like technical development, data and analytics) and make it more accessible for women to go into.
What change do you think can be implemented to assist women succeeding in business?
Being an old school teacher, I would say the foundation is very much right from the grassroots of education through to university and supporting women’s networks.
And really helping support women as they develop through their career, challenging them and having role models to be able to show them what’s possible.
That’s one of the reasons I do what I do. I’ve had great opportunities throughout my career and I want to be able to give back and mentor others to know what’s possible.
On that note, what’s been one of the proudest moments of your career?
I think my first startup, which was [when I was at] HarperCollins. I did a wine business called Winepros.
James Halliday was one of my authors at HarperCollins and I pitched to him. We publicly listed our business and raised $25m in a day on the stock exchange. It was my business idea, I wrote the prospectus, and I was 34 or 35. It was backed by some of the greatest names in wine in Australia. I’m really proud of that, and for a lot of the women I work with that’s a great thing to see. I can empathise with them trying to do a startup and what’s involved with that.
If you could give your younger self a piece of advice knowing what you know now, what would it be?
Back yourself. When we did that wine startup they asked me to be the managing director. I was the general manager. I said, “Let me run building the business and the content, but I don’t know how to run a publicly-listed business”. Really, later my learnings were that actually, I could’ve run it. I should’ve just backed myself to do it, and I think that’s a really big lesson. Back your gut feeling.