2016 Leading Women Summit – Jeanette Theu

It was such an honour for me to be invited and to be given the opportunity to speak at the 2016 Leading Women Summit, although nerve wrecking at the beginning I have to admit that I had a great time being on stage and speaking. We met amazing people who are changing the the world.

Here is my speech from the event. 🙂

“Millennials,” “Generation Y,” “The Boomerang Generation,” “The Peter Pan Generation,” “Generation WE and sometimes Generation ME,” We have been called many names, we are the ones born between 1980 and 2000.

When it comes to characterising the millennials there seems to be very opposing opinions. Time Magazine in 2013 called us the Me, me me generation and went on to characterise us as lazy, entitled, self-obsessed and a little bit delusional, while other studies painted a brighter picture by calling us open-minded, self-expressive, upbeat and a little over the top when it comes to empowerment.

me me meAs Leighton Buchan writes in Meet the Millennials one of the characteristics of millennials besides the fact that they are masters of digital communication is that they are primed to do well by doing good. Almost 70 percent say that giving back and being civically engaged are their highest priorities.

I personally think we as millennials have more of the positive characteristics.

This is where my story begins.

Hello everyone my name is Jeanette Theu a 25-year-old Marketing professional at Dimension Data. Like most people when you are studying you are told to work hard and aim to get a good job. After 3 years in University I got my degree and found myself a good job, but then what?

I worked and grew in my career as a marketing professional but I wanted more out of life and not only that I wanted to help people. I made a decision last year that I wanted to make a difference, the millennial in me took over, she wanted to empower.

GirlCode and the Cortex Hub although completely different from each other in terms of what we do, they both have one thing in common. They offer opportunities to change people’s lives through technology.

Let me take a step back. What is GirlCode? What is the Cortex Hub? And what do they have to do with me?

I am the Director of Marketing at The Cortex Hub, we are a start-up incubator and accelerator aimed at empowering young individuals to start technology-based businesses.  The Cortex Hub is run by 8 Directors who all have day jobs, therefore we have to work as a remote team. We use technology to manage and run the Cortex Hub and encourage the entrepreneurs with the Hub to do the same. We encourage them to think globally and to use the digital communication tools offered to expand and grow their businesses.

The businesses could range from an app that could revolutionise the way we do things like Sweep South or a game-changing technology like drones.  Technology has changed the way the millennial thinks about life and what is expected of you. We have bigger dreams than the previous generations and we want to achieve those dreams in a shorter period of time.  “I want to be a millionaire before I’m 30” rings loudly amongst our generation. This type of dreaming and ambition is what we encourage and look for ages the Cortex Hub. We want to help our entrepreneurs create revolutionary tech.

The National Youth Policy says that Young people are a major human resource for development, often acting as key agents for social change, economic expansion and innovation. Their imagination, ideals, energy and vision are essential for the continuous development of society. We need to empower our youth to be amazing and GirlCode is aimed at giving young girl the platform to do that.

After attending Hackathon were the demographics were mainly white males we start our very own female only annual hackathon so that they could code, meet new people and have fun while gaining valuable skills. We realised that they were female programmers but they were not confident in their skills and on top of that the gap between male and female programmers in the industry is high.

So me and my friends decided that we had to do something, the do good characteristics of our millennial told use we had to help bridge the gap and one of our ways is through the GirlCode program that teaches young underprivileged girls programming skills so that they can become confident enough to choose a computer science degree at university.

We live in a connected world. Like most millennials I’m  always on twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, Tumblr, Youtube this allows me to be globally connected. Many people see this interconnectedness as a distraction but I see it as an opportunity as it allows companies to connect with customers directly and gives us opportunities to share and teach each other through technology.

When it comes to empowerment we need to start at a young age.  Here is a quick video on how your speech can change us. We need to inspire our youth, mostly our female youth.

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