Co-CEO, Altada Technology Solutions
Women across Ireland are being encouraged to ‘follow their passion’ and have the self-belief to start their own businesses.
Niamh Parker has run businesses for more than two decades but remains concerned there are still very few women in leadership roles.
As co-CEO of Altada Technology Solutions, an artificial intelligence company that helps organisations better understand their data, she wants more women to have the self-belief to follow their passion and start a business venture or take up senior posts.
She also wants men to be more accountable for gender balance within their organisations.
Now 43, Parker began her entrepreneurial career in the sports science industry when she was 21, ran a Thai food business for seven years and then returned to college to study law before working in the tech sector.
Having joined Cork-based Altada in 2019 as chief legal officer, she recognises how she can make a difference as a role model for other female entrepreneurs.
“A big issue for women is a lack of confidence in themselves, so having role models to show that they can do it and have the courage to start something is important,” says Parker.
Women bring empathy, more flexibility and communication into the workplace, which has benefits for employees and companies.
Changing the narrative
A recent survey by Mastercard showed that just a fifth of Ireland’s entrepreneurs are women, and only 10% feel motivated to launch their own businesses.
Reasons behind this, she suggests, range from mindset to lack of self-belief and poor support. But with women accounting for less than 10% of Ireland’s CEOs, Parker warns that female-only programmes, grants and networking are not the answer.
“If we are going to change the narrative for women in Ireland, this needs to be everybody’s conversation. Segregation is not the answer,” she adds.
“Gender balance,” she continues, “leads to improved diversity and better products and solutions. Women bring empathy, more flexibility and communication into the workplace, which has benefits for employees and companies.”
She also urges women to take the bold step to start a company if they have a potential product they are excited about and “just go for it.”