Exceptional Female Role Models Interview

I sat down for an open and honest chat with Richard Pickard (CEO of Inclusive Search, Champion of Women in Business) for the Exceptional Female Role Models series, about my journey into the technology industry, diversity in tech advocacy, and the lack of representation of underrepresented group in tech, and my hopes for the future.

Check out the interview here https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/exceptional-female-role-models-dionne-richard-pickard

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So this happened earlier this month… On 12th April I got promoted to be an Agile Development Lead, after 13 years and 10 months as a Senior Developer at TfL. Better late than never I guess :-). Apparently Agile Development Lead (ADL) is equivalent to an Engineering Manager externally, as ADL role is not a common description for this type of role in the outside tech world.

Stepping up to Lead

Over the last 2.5 years I’ve had the pleasure of developing on the first mobile app I’ve ever developed on, and one of the most interesting Android apps out there, TfL Go (a travel planning app with heavy focus on accessibility). I’ll now be stepping up from Android development (although currently juggling both Senior Dev and ADL roles for the time being), to now lead the same talented Android and iOS developers that have got the TfL Go app to where it is today, into the hands of the users and hopefully helping to make planning travel across London that little bit easier.

Apparently, it’s important I step up into a tech related leadership role. With only 20% of people in tech being women, and a ridiculously low 0.7% being black women in tech, apparently I need to step up as a role model in tech leadership, to be effective at encouraging a new generation of women and black people to get into tech (both currently very underrepresented groups in tech).

My sponsor rightly pointed out that if I’m not even willing to step up, how do I expect anyone who looks like me to see themselves in a leadership role. I cursed him, but damn, why does he have to be right all the time lol.

It’s going to require a total mindset change, and one that I’m currently battling with. Luckily I inadvertently started developing leadership skills a few years ago, through the ‘extra curricular’ activities I’ve been doing in the tech community (although I didn’t realise I was developing those skills at the time).

Active Listening, Coaching, Negotiating, Public Speaking, Presenting, Sharing Authentic Experiences, Recognising and Nurturing Talent, Being Supporting, Giving Praise, and Being Direct (to be fair I’ve alway been like this lol), apparently are all skills required to be an effective leader. Yet I have so so much to learn, and I’m not 100% sure an official Leadership position is for me (it feels different and less scary when your doing things on a voluntary basis).

Giving up what you love to do day in day out for a greater cause is damn hard. I’m not going to lie, I’ve been an emotional wreck for the last 2 weeks, once I realised I am not going to be coding every day. Gonna have to come up with a plan to satisfy my coding hunger another way, because I don’t think I’ll ever fully accept that one.

But I’m give this a shot. If me stepping up as an Agile Development Lead will encourage even one more person from an underrepresented group to get into tech, and eventually step into a leadership role themselves, then it will be all worth it. If I can do it so can you :-).







References for the stats:

British Computer Society – Record numbers of women in IT – but black women still under-represented, https://www.bcs.org/more/about-us/press-office/press-releases/record-numbers-of-women-in-it-but-black-women-still-under-represented-new-research-finds/

Diversity and inclusion | BCS BIMA Diversity and Inclusion report https://bima.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/BIMA-Tech-Inclusion-and-Diversity-Report-2019.pdf Tech Nation Diversity report https://technation.io/report2020/

The Edge Foundation Skills Shortage report June 2020 https://www.edge.co.uk/sites/default/files/documents/skills_shortage_bulletin_7_web-final.pdf

The Edge Foundation Skills Shortage report Jan 2021 https://www.edge.co.uk/sites/default/files/documents/edge_-_ssb-8_web-1c.pdf

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Actions On Google Workshop Codelab Issues

So yesterday I attended the Build Actions for Your Community (Actions on Google) Workshop. It was an opportunity to learn how to develop Actions for Google Assistant (the voice assistant available for users of Google Home, or Google Assistant in a Mobile device).  The workshop was  brilliant and I learnt a lot, and there were plenty of mentors on hand to help guide you and keep you motivated.

I managed to complete CodeLab Level 1 last night and attempted to start CodeLab level 2, but was hitting an issue when trying to install the required Firebase tools on my laptop.

The issue was around npm not being able to find the module ‘internal/util/types’ when trying to install the firebase tools with the command npm -g install firebase-tools


Darwin 17.5.0
npm ERR! argv “/usr/local/Cellar/node/10.7.0/bin/node” “/usr/local/bin/npm” “i” “-g” “npm”
npm ERR! node v10.7.0
npm ERR! npm v2.14.7

npm ERR! Cannot find module ‘internal/util/types’
npm ERR!
npm ERR! If you need help, you may report this error at:
npm ERR! <https://github.com/npm/npm/issues>

npm ERR! Please include the following file with any support request:

After spending hours of faffing around trying to work out a solution, today I finally fixed it with the following:

sudo rm -rf /usr/local/lib/node_modules

brew update node

I then ran the firebase tools install command again:

npm -g install firebase-tools

Which produced the following output:

/usr/local/bin/firebase -> /usr/local/lib/node_modules/firebase-tools/bin/firebase

> @google-cloud/functions-emulator@1.0.0-beta.5 postinstall /usr/local/lib/node_modules/firebase-tools/node_modules/@google-cloud/functions-emulator

> node scripts/upgrade-warning

If you’re using the Emulator via the Firebase CLI, you can

disregard this message.

If you’re upgrading @google-cloud/functions-emulator, these

are the recommended upgrade steps:

1.  Stop the currently running emulator, if any:

        functions stop

2.  Uninstall the current emulator, if any:

        npm uninstall -g @google-cloud/functions-emulator

3.  Install the new version of the emulator:

        npm install -g @google-cloud/functions-emulator

If you have trouble after upgrading, try deleting the config

directory found in:


Then restart the emulator. You can also check for any renegade

Node.js emulator processes that may need to be killed:

    ps aux | grep node

+ firebase-tools@4.0.2

added 547 packages from 274 contributors in 16.264s

It worked 🙂

Thank the lord!

Looking forward to completing Codelab Level 2 now.

Good luck everyone 🙂

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