Workday: Female senior execs speak out on women in technology

The role of women and gender diversity in technology is an important topic. Although the issue is gaining greater attention, the challenge of workplace bias remains.

The following stats, from the National Center for Women & Information Technology, are telling. In the US workforce in 2016…

  • 57 percent of professional occupations were held by women
  • 26 percent of professional computing occupations were held by women
  • 20 percent of Fortune 100 CIO positions were held by women
  • 26 percent of computing workforce were women
  • 3 percent of computing workforce were African-American women
  • 5 percent of computing workforce were Asian women
  • 2 percent of computing workforce were Hispanic women

The problem is deep-rooted and hard to solve, but there are solutions and bright spots. Forward-thinking technology companies now recognize the value and importance of diversity in all its forms, including gender diversity. Large organizations such as Accenture and Salesforce are among those that have made real strides.

Read more about female C-level execs:

HCM and financials software-as-a-service vendor, Workday, offers an instructive example of gender diversity. The company includes four women among the ranks of its C-level executives:

I invited all four of these C-level execs together on an episode of the CXOTALK series of conversations with innovators. As you can see from the video embedded above, it was an extraordinary discussion.

The conversation covered topics ranging from collaboration and setting boundaries to practical strategies and advice for women to achieve recognition and success in male-dominated fields. Importantly, these executives shared specific recommendations for organizations to improve their gender diversity.

Read the entire transcript at the CXOTALK site and check out the edited and abridged version below.

What is your role at Workday?

Ashley Goldsmith:

Some people would call my job “human resources,” but at Workday, we characterize it as people, purpose, and places, which means I have responsibility for the traditional HR things like compensations and employee development. But also, areas like employee communications, philanthropy, and our workplace facilities. My focus is all about the employee experience, making sure that we are creating a great experience so that we innovate and provide perfect customer service.

Christine Cefalo:

I’m the Chief Marketing Officer. My job is to generate awareness and build demand for Workday’s products all around the world. And, just as important, of course, is to hire and develop great talent to bring our marketing organization into the future.

Robynne Sisco:

I was a customer of Workday’s and enamored by the Workday technology, and so ended up coming here five years ago as Chief Accounting Officer and was fortunate enough to be appointed CFO. I’m responsible for all the financial functions of Workday, which includes running all of our financial systems within Workday as well.

Diana McKenzie:

I have responsibility for all core IT systems at Workday. We also have a team that we call “WOW,” stands for “Workday on Workday,” and their mission is to help Workday be our first and best customer of our products, and I have responsibility for that team as well. And lastly, I have responsibility for the security that we provide to our company around corporate security as well as for our platform.

How can we encourage women in technology?

[Question asked by Gus Bekdash on Twitter.]

Robynne Sisco:

I think that it comes down to the culture of the company and whether that culture is one of hiring and promoting the right people for the job, regardless of gender or diversity and background or anything else. And once you have shown that you are that type of company, then you’re going to start attracting more women.

We’re in our roles here because we were the best people for the job. Not because we’re women but because we were the most qualified. People looking from the outside in can say, “Well, I know that I can have a successful career there as a woman because Workday has proven that they promote on ability and don’t have a gender bias, and other types of biases.”

It can be difficult. Over my career, I’ve certainly worked for companies where I did not feel like I had the opportunities that I wanted. And, that’s a hard battle to fight: one person trying to change a company culture.

I do think sometimes you need to leave your company to find the opportunities for which you are you ae looking. That was certainly the path that I ended up having to take a few times in my career.

Ashley Goldsmith:

The pool may be smaller, but we can still have a lot more women in the workforce.

And regarding advice to women, there’s data that’s shown the power of your network. The people that have a broad network and deep network across their organization or their industry have far greater success. They will move up more quickly; they will ultimately be more successful in their career.

When you find yourself in the minority in the organization, whether female or otherwise, you could find yourself with a much smaller network just naturally happening. We can take it upon ourselves to proactively build that network by forming relationships, reaching out, and being more intentional with our network. And not just up. I think it’s a natural assumption to think I need to get to know the people above me so that they will be sponsoring me. Yes, there’s certainly no harm in that. But, peers. Even that newest intern; you never know who will play an important role in your professional life over time. So, I think network expansion is something important.

Diana McKenzie:

We can all help each other. In several forums that I attend, I’m one of two or three women in a group of thirty, forty CIOs. And, one of the things that we’ve all started to do more is to proactively seek out other women that we know that would be great for that forum, and work hard to extend the invitation so that there is more diversity around the table.

When there’s more diversity around the table, the conversation changes and the opportunity for inclusion becomes greater.

Workday has four female C-level executives. Was this by design or did it happen organically?

Ashley Goldsmith:

Workday’s culture and values set the stage for us to have a very diverse group of executives. We didn’t set out with a goal like we’re going to have a certain percentage of women on our executive team. But, it is a priority for us to create a sense of belonging for every single person.

We’re a company that emphasizes contribution wildly over a person’s gender, or their race, or any other characteristic. When you have that fundamental, then you are more likely to select whoever is the right person for the job.

Diana McKenzie:

I can build on that. When I came to Workday for the first set of conversations, the very first person I met was Ashley. And I was so taken wither her. Then, I had the opportunity then to connect with Robynne, and she was so energetic and positive about the company and its values.

I knew that the company was ranked very well in the Fortune-100 from a diversity perspective.

How important is mentorship?

[Question asked by Gabriella Angiolillo on Twitter.]

Ashley Goldsmith:

Mentorship can be incredibly important in any person’s career. A big piece of it is understanding what you are seeking in your mentor relationship. What are the areas that you want to develop or places you want to get advice? Then, target somebody who you think will meet those needs and can help.

You may not know who it is. You may need to ask your boss, a colleague, peer, but zero in on who are a few people who you think would help you with the areas that you want to develop, and then just ask. I think people would be wildly surprised how often you will get a “yes,” even for people quite senior in your organization – that you’ll get a “yes” to a mentoring relationship. I think we all do want to help. We all want to see other people grow and succeed. So, I would say just reach out.

Christine Cefalo:

Absolutely! And I have several mentor relationships with people at Workday that I meet with them on a regular basis and answer questions. They may or may not be on my team.

I want to highlight Gabriella [Angiolillo] for a second. Gabriella, I hope you don’t mind, but Gabriella was on the marketing team, and now, she’s moved into building products for Workday. And, Gabriella was kind enough to come back to the marketing team and participate in a panel that we hosted on people who have made internal mobility moves.

I just think it’s great that someone who moved from marketing, and is now building product for Workday, came back to talk about [it].

There are relatively few female CIOs, so what about IT?

Diana McKenzie:

This is a focus area for me. Statistics show that quite a few number of women are choosing to major in the field of science and technology. They emerge from the university and join the ranks but there’s a point where they decide not to continue. There’s an opportunity to catch some of the women at that stage of their career and make sure they get access to the best mentors and the best sponsors to make the right decisions.

Within my organization specifically, we have sponsored a book review of The Confidence Code. It’s a very good read, research-based, on how women sometimes don’t put themselves forward for that next position because of fear they may not bring everything to it; that they may not have all the experience that they need to take on that position.

How do we help each other build the confidence that we need to take that leap to say “yes” when you’re asked to do something that you think you may not be completely prepared for? That’s the way you’re going to stretch and grow the most. And if you fail, you’ll learn from it, and you’ll pick yourself up and keep moving.

So, I think there’s some element of helping women to think differently about how they can push themselves further in this career that will help us to build the ranks and the pool of future leaders and CIOs.

What advice do you have for women?

Robynne Sisco:

If we’re looking at promoting somebody, maybe into a role we just got promoted out of, we tend to look for people who will do the job the same way that we did, because that’s our comfort level. The awareness of that bias is important for leaders and managers to think about because maybe the best person for the job is someone who’s going to do things completely different from how you did them. That diversity of thought can be really, really important.

Think about how you look at the candidates for a job, whether it’s an external hire or an internal promotion. Do I have an unconscious bias to find somebody who’s like me or would the company benefit from somebody who’s quite different? Open your mind to opportunities for people.

Maybe it’s somebody who’s never done that role before. Certainly, all of us had to break through the ranks of the CXO job, and that’s not an easy thing to do. But somewhere along the line, someone gave us the opportunity to do a role that we had never done before.

If we can get managers and leaders to think a little differently and realize that the best person for the role may not be somebody who has already done it before.

Christine Cefalo:

I thought the same thing, which is, “Ask, ask, ask.” Speak up! Have confidence, like you’re amazing! Find a mentor, find a sponsor. I look at those as slightly different, but sometimes, it’s the same. But I’ve had great mentors and great sponsors. I guess we all have.

Those are all things that you can do. And they’re very hard, too. To speak up sometimes is hard. To be confident is hard. Remember that and have that confidence.

How can organizations increase diversity?

Ashley Goldsmith:

I think most companies want diversity in their organization but don’t necessarily know exactly how to get there; it’s certainly something that we all face.

Having good data is one of the most important things because it goes beyond just knowing what your percentages are and hoping that you can raise those, but being intentional with your data.

For instance, the four of us talked about questions we need to answer about diversity at Workday; how do we have that data ready? So, we have diversity dashboards that speak to the common questions. [What data] can get into the heart of where you might be losing your diversity? [For example,] what are your promotion rates? Where does attrition vary within your organization? How does pay parity look? Where are you losing people in the attraction funnel? Are you getting enough people at the top and are they falling out during the interview phase?

If you know where you have an issue, you can target your efforts. That’s where you can look at whether you need to block bias that may inadvertently exist somewhere or look at better attraction programs.

Once you have the data, then it becomes a lot easier to be intentional.

What is the value of developing a diverse organization?

Robynne Sisco:

When you get different points of view and perspectives, and people with different backgrounds in a room together, you’re going to end up with the best answer you can generate. You won’t have groupthink. With diverse perspectives on a problem, you can then apply your core values like what’s right for Workday, what’s right for the customer, what’s right for the employees. [This leads] to the best solution to a problem that likely nobody would come to by themselves.

That diversity of thought, that diversity of experience, and the diversity of background helps bring the different perspectives together. You end up with the best decisions and best creativity, which is important particularly in a technology company.

Diana McKenzie:

Our customers are all very diverse. Having that diversity at the leadership table within our organization helps us better connect with them. To make sure we’re truly listening to their needs and their wants and reflecting those in our products and communications as we reach out to them about what our products can do.

Ashley Goldsmith:

The demographics. If you just take the US, the demographics of the US are shifting dramatically. So quickly. We will be a country where the minority is the majority in just a matter of years. Companies that don’t get this right are going to struggle to have the talent that they need because diversity is part of who we are.

Christine Cefalo:

I have nothing to add because of these … I’m so proud to be a part of this team, and they said it perfectly! So, I have nothing to add. Thank you, Michael!

CXOTALK brings you the world’s most innovative business leaders, authors, and analysts for in-depth discussion unavailable anywhere else. Thank you to Livestream for underwriting this episode.

(Cross-posted @ ZDNet | Beyond IT Failure)

The Clover-Leaf Talent Economy

In analyzing factoids from the recent listing of the Fortune 500, I came up with a startling data point. The F500 have a combined total revenue of $12.1 trillion equal to 65% of the US GDP.  Yet they only employ 28.2 million people worldwide. Assuming 60% of those are in the US, that is only about 10% of the US civilian workforce. What’s going on here? We have become a clover-leaf labor economy. Let me explain.

Management philosopher Charles Handy was prescient when he wrote in his 1989 book The Age of Unreason about the “Shamrock Organization.” With Handy’s Irish roots, the shamrock seemed fitting as the organization he described also had three “leaves”:

  • The first leaf of the shamrock was made up of key executives and professionals who possessed the skills that reflect the organization’s core competence.
  • The next leaf was made up of project specialists who are hired on contract and paid in fees for results rather than in wages or employee benefits.
  • The third leaf comprised the contingent work force for short periods of engagement, usually paid by the hour or day, often through temp agencies.

You could argue that if Handy had written the book today he would consider a four-leaf clover as his defining metaphor, with the fourth leaf covering machines, robots, and other automation as an increasing another source of the “talent”.

Actually, clovers can have many more than 4 leaves. The Guinness World Recordssays one was found with 56 leaves (see photo below). If you look at all the ways organizations utilize talent these days, they have clover-leaf talent models, most enabled by advances in technology.

Apple has several thousand employees on its payroll who develop products which are then sold in its retail stores. But those employees are just a small fraction of its talent base. Its contract manufacturer, Foxconn, employs thousands of employees and robots in its manufacturing plants in China. Those plants also have interns and other staff hired through third-party recruitment firms. Apple’s third-party logistics providers like Fedex have a similar mix of man and machine. Apple uses plenty of digital agencies, law firms, systems integrators, and architects. There are also millions of associated jobs around the apps, music, movies, books, and other items in the Apple ecosystem. Just around apps, Apple claims to support a broad community: “Nearly three-quarters of those jobs—over 1.4 million—are attributable to the community of app creators, software engineers and entrepreneurs building apps for iOS, as well as non-IT jobs supported directly and indirectly through the app economy.” Apple says its global developer community has earned over $70 billion since the App Store launched in 2008. Not peanuts.

Amazon has communities of authors who publish using its Kindle Direct tools, couriers who are part of its Flex delivery ecosystem, “providers” who complete tasks in its Mechanical Turk service, and a vast range of third-party merchants who utilize its fulfillment capabilities. (According to estimates, as much as 90% of certain product categories such as patio furniture sold on Amazon come from third parties.)

Uber calls its drivers “partners”—spread across 400 cities around the world. Airbnb has “hosts” who manage over 1.5 million properties that it lists. The partners and hosts are not employees. Rather, they use the technology platforms of these companies to connect with millions of users who use their apps for commutes and lodgings.

Then there is the franchise model, which has come a long way since Ray Kroc built the McDonald’s empire starting in the 1950s with his phrase, “In business for yourself, but not by yourself.” Franchises of every flavor – from Ace Hardware to UPS Stores – account for nearly nine million U.S. employees.

Even more mainstream companies use various flavors of outsourcing. Companies use contract manufacturers, third-party logistics providers, digital agencies, product-design firms, law firms, IT providers, and business process outsourcing services that are “off balance sheet”

Most enterprises have been experimenting with customer self service via ATM machines and other kiosks, interactive voice response, mobile apps, and other technologies. It is a version of “the customer as worker”—helping them help themselves rather than depending on an employee for specific services.

Finally, there is the government sector and plenty of small businesses/professional firms which do not interact much at all with the Fortune 500. Think of alternate healthcare providers (acupuncturists, chiropractors etc.) or ethnic grocers or local traffic or divorce focused attorneys or CPAs.

So, what does this mean for talent managers and talent watchers?

– Our systems are too focused on hiring and managing full-time employees. This when our talent base may be 80% to 90% outside our organizations and we may have little understanding of or quality control over that talent.

– There are lots of career choices available to our employees. We should be thinking about recruiting and retention policies with this broader landscape in mind.

– Academic institutions (and their students) have tended to prioritize Fortune 500 brands in their placement activities. They may start to play the probability game and start focusing more on the labor economy surrounding the F500.

– Economists have not been tracking the “surround” economy well – they glibly combine all these talent sources and call it the “gig” economy and even more glibly just talk of all this as the “Uber economy”. From that you get the toxic “the middle class is dead” talk. They don’t bother to check why Costco and Southwest Airline and GM dealer aisles are full. It’s not the 1% ers or the F500 employees. It is the vibrant surround talent economy.

It is highly unlikely the F500 will reverse the trend and start bringing this talent back in. They like the flexibility of this clover-leaf model. They need to be nimble. Only 10% of those on the F500 list 60 years ago still make the list this year. They cannot afford life time employment models and related pensions and other benefits when their average life is under 20 years.

But it does mean our talent management principles need to evolve quite a bit to better understand the other leaves of our clover-leaf organizations. And we need to also focus on what accelerating automation and smarter machines will do to these talent models.


(Cross-posted @ Deal Architect)

IBM partners with Automation Anywhere: Great for AA, but IBM’s cognitive automation strategy just got more confusing

If you’ve been covering the legacy world of Business Process Management (BPM) software and the emergence of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) software for the past two decades, it’s fascinating to see the two solutions to mesh together, as customers need the full gamut of automation help:  the digitization of manual work, the scripting, and integration of static data that provide the foundation for the automation of the digital processes.

Then you can get to the really exciting stuff of recognizing data patterns, taking advantage of machine learning to make systems self-remediating, and, ultimately, the injection of intelligence to make them absorb everything around them to become predictive and human-like in the way they operate. This is why we’re seeing the likes of Pega peering into the RPA space, Blue Prism partnering with Appian and AutomationAnywhere now partnering with IBM’s BPM software solution.  We’re also seeing some novel approaches, such as intelligent automation provider WorkFusion donate free RPA software to the world to bridge the divide between the manual and the digital quandary.

Yes, people, there appears to be a fair bit of life left in the HfS Intelligent Automation Continuum. Despite some critics who believe RPA is a very separate solution than digital autonomics, machine learning, cognitive and AI, the fundamental thought-process behind the HfS Continuum model still rings true: all the approaches illustrated are both overlapping and interdependent:


Notwithstanding all the feverish excitement on RPA and Cognitive, we still need to include all the less exciting – but critical – activities, like runbooks and scripting, and how these approaches must be integrated into broader digital process workflows. True Digital OneOffice only works when all breakpoints and silos are effectively automated.  If you truly want all touchpoints and processes across your organization focused on executing your vision of customer experiences and building foundational capabilities that support this entire philosophy, you have to address the entire Intelligent Automation Continuum if you want a data backbone that operates in synch across your customers, partners, and employees.


This is the context in which the announcement of IBM’s partnership with AutomationAnywhere comes in.

As part of the agreement, the two companies plan to integrate Automation Anywhere’s RPA platform with IBM’s portfolio of digital process automation software. The main focus will be on integrating Automation Anywhere with IBM’s Business Process Manager and Operational Decision Manager. Crucially, integration is meant to be on code level and therefore goes beyond more loosely integrated partnerships between BPM and RPA players. These enhanced products will be part of IBM’s software catalog. And lastly, both companies plan to build out a Center of Excellence around Automation Anywhere’s RPA capabilities. Condensed and in plain English, this means that IBM is planning to expand its BPM offering through RPA capabilities. Thus, it is a defensive move against Pega’s acquisition of OpenSpan that has seen the integration of BPM, RDA (Robotic Desktop Automation) and RPA. At the same time, we’re seeing the rise of more loosely integrated partnerships such as Blue Prism and Appian.

IBM needs to develop a corporate view on RPA

While the partnership makes a lot of sense for IBM, from a narrow BPM angle, from a corporate and market facing point of view this announcement raises many questions. As part of its Cognitive Process Automation strategy, the GBS side of IBM has a focused and strong relationship with Blue Prism. It is unlikely that executives at Blue Prism are overly pleased with these developments as it could curtail their mindshare among stakeholders. If anything, in contrast to most of its peers, GBS had chosen a single partner in order to scale its RPA deployments. Almost all of IBM’s peers have moved to a portfolio approach on RPA by offering and integrating a broad set of tool providers. In our discussions with IBM executives there appeared to be a lack of understanding as to the different RPA strategies of the various business units, let alone a nuanced understanding as to how RPA is being discussed in the broader market. In a nascent market with blurred market communications this could add to the reluctance of buyers to engage on a larger scale and a more holistic approach around RPA.

For those already engaged in RPA activities, questions begin to crop up about the firm’s current RPA engagements. Can clients expect to continue on their journey with BluePrism or should they anticipate a migration over to Automation Anywhere solution in the long-term? Of course, this is dependent on the level of exclusivity surrounding the partnership alongside other factors. In recent engagements with HfS analysts, the firm has championed its vendor and IP agnosticism, offering customers the opportunity to broker a broad range of solutions and services through them to find the best fit for the client business. We will continue to monitor this space to see if this partnership also signals a move away from this philosophy. If there’s one thing for certain, the deal may make commercial sense to IBM, but it opens them up to a lot of questions about current and future engagements for RPA, alongside broader IBM services.

And where does this really leave Watson?  While the rest of IBM grapples with the digital underbelly of pulling the pieces together in a way that makes sense for the process wonks, the engine that is Watson, with all its cognitive analytics grunt, is nowhere to be seen in this story.  Surely IBM needs to pull together all these internal factions (and within the Watson group itself) to develop an integrated data orchestration story that the industry can actually understands.

For Automation Anywhere it is all about scale

The RPA market is still lacking scale. Most deployments are client specific and on sub-process level. In a nascent market that might not be surprising, but more fundamentally there is a lack of education as to how to get to scale with deployments. Against this background Automation Anywhere could leverage IBM’s know-how and IP to understand better how data is being transported and what the critical bottlenecks are. This could provide a critical differentiation in a nascent market that lacks an understanding how those innovative toolsets are impacting process chains and workflows. The talent with such an understanding is extremely scarce and is difficult to keep in an organization. However, for Automation Anywhere scale is also important from another angle. The main strategic objective is still moving toward an IPO. Therefore, the leverage of IBM’s sales channel could conceivably reach many new customers which in turn would enhance Automation Anywhere’s valuation by financial stakeholders. To achieve that goal, Automation Anywhere needs to mitigate any potential negative reaction by its other main partners. Suffice it to say one could argue, that Blue Prism’s close relationship with IBM has not harmed its potential, yet with more scale and consequently value, the balancing of partner interests could become more intricate. Having said all that, should the partnership prove successful, M&A rather than an IPO might be on the cards.

The broader market is likely to get more confused in the short term

In a market blighted by smoke and mirrors as well as the mis-selling of RPA, without a focused and clearly articulated marketing push, this announcement is in danger of confusing the market at least in the short term. Many stakeholders don’t understand the differences between RPA and RDA, how cognitive is coming into play or even how RPA could be integrated into BPM toolsets. By adding BPM as another starting point to the RPA discussions on top of the front-office centric RDA approaches and the more back-office focused RPA engagements, further confusion is likely. Suffice it to say IBM has the marketing muscle to act as (a long overdue) educator. IBM’s BPM team should urgently leverage the robust insights and capabilities from its peers in GBS.

Bottom-line: The proof will be in the pudding, but the move could give Automation Anywhere real industrial scale

IBM urgently needs to develop buyer stories that demonstrate to the broader market the success of its strategy. A critical component in those narratives needs to be the depiction of how BPM and RPA work together. As it is sold as a product rather than a service, it could follow the many failed RPA projects that neglected a more consultative approach leveraging the specialist capabilities of organizations like the RPA pure plays such as Symphony Ventures, VirtualOperations or Mindfields. Automation Anywhere has less to lose yet more to gain. The understanding of how to scale deployments while simultaneously broadening its client reach is as tantalizing as it could be value enhancing. As the proof will be in the pudding, HfS will follow those developments with great interest.

The big questions marks with the likes of AA and other RPA solutions are whether these products will hold up in situations of industrial stress where they have to cope with very high throughput, high-intensive processing. If AA can prove it can delivery both the RDA and RPA grunt to power the broader IBM BPM solutions, then the firm will be in a strong position to increase its valuation as a bonafide enterprise class solution.  Perhaps even IBM itself wants to have an up-close and personal experience of the AA software in these intensive client environments, before making its own acquisitive move… the future is unraveling, and this is just another piece of a much larger automation jigsaw that is quickly coming together…

(Cross-posted @ Horses for Sources)

Kickstarters are like buses: supporting our friends

Kickstarters are like buses. You wait ages for your friends to do one, then two come along at once. Worst. Intro. Ever. That said, it is kind of surprising that two companies that are platinum friends of RedMonk both announced kickstarters today.

The first is Beasts of Balance, which is pretty much the most fun you can have stacking animals and elements – with some aspects of Jenga, but also fun digital/tabletop intertwingled gameplay, where a phone or tablet reflects what’s happening in the physical world. Alex Fleetwood, the founder of Sensible Objects, the company behind the game, has been a fixture at RedMonk events for a couple of years. We like to have fun evening social events, and introducing people to games is a great to do just that. Beasts of Balance is really hard, but not so hard that kids don’t love it. It’s just as good for families as it is conference attendees. We have found it goes well with curry… Anyway – so the new kickstarter will fund delightful new animals to play with, but also a new BATTLE mode, where deities of earth, air, and water compete. Competitive gameplay is the basis of almost all games, so it’s an obvious move for the platform. There can be only one! Alex is almost comically ambitious behind his cuddly British exterior, so the company is definitely worth following and encouraging. So about the kickstarter… Obviously one reason I am writing this post is I wanted to help the company reach its funding target. Well that’s redundant, because the company hit 50k within about six hours. Apparently I am not the only one to like the game. But stretch goals are sure to be interesting. I highly recommend you back them now, so that you can get the new game as one less Christmas present to worry about for your kids, significant other, or anyone else that likes great games.

But life isn’t just about play. It’s also about hops. Company Drinks is such a great community idea. It brings people together from all walks of life, of all ages, to pick hops and or forage for fruit, which it then makes into drinks. It’s a cooperatively run company, and has found a great location for community bottling operation – Barking Pavilion. Kathrin Bohm, the founder, is an artist and a powerhouse of ideas and positivity – she also runs regular workshops teaching people to harvest hay with scythes. The hop-picking story is particularly touching. It used to be common for Londoners before and between the wars to head to Kent for a “holiday” to pick hops. Get out of the pollution of the East end, enjoy freedom with the sun on your back, maybe even have an assignation under the stars if you’re lucky. Why touching? Because Kathrin has found older people that used do this, and introduced them to a new generation of interested people, that want to pick hops and make beer. There aren’t enough good inter-generational activities out there. Company Drinks really is a grassroots community project worth supporting. It won’t just make beer though – also sodas that are healthier than your usual colas and lemonades.

While I am talking up Friend of RedMonk kickstarters I should also mention that our friend Joanna Montgomery will shortly be shipping Pillow Talk, which she presented at Thingmonk 2015, and is now going into production. It’s a sweet idea for the Internet of empathy – being able to feel the heartbeat of your loved one over distance.



(Read this and other great posts  @ RedMonk)