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Emma Heap is the CEO and co-founder of Sudor (“Sweat” in Spanish), a platform that offers workouts from over 50 of the top trainers in SA and the UK, from Pilates and barre to cardio and high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

Through Sudor, trainers easily upload their workouts and share them. Sudor takes a small platform fee, and the rest of the subscription belongs to the instructor. Win-win.

Here, she chats to writer Ondela Mlandu about the life lessons she’s learnt along the way…

You can get into tech… without being “techie”

Many people can be intimidated by tech companies, believing you have to be an engineer or “techie” type to get a job. Nope. More than half the jobs in tech are not technical at all. You see, tech companies are just another type of business and all the usual roles are there: sales, marketing, finance, operations, design, etc.

Sudor is also committed to hiring the best people for every role, regardless of gender. This is something companies must proactively address – as there can be subconscious biases at play that we need to proactively counteract. “On a personal note, I’m committed to being the best colleague, mentor and friend for the people around me. As a female founder, this is my way of paying forward the opportunities I’ve had to hopefully inspire the next generation of women,” says Emma.

This might just be the best way to overcome a challenge…

“The hardest (and best) challenge I ever experienced was an internship in a job I hated. [But] I wouldn’t change that experience for the world – it taught me how important it is to work out what’s important to you and prioritise that,” says Emma.

Ultimately you’re much more likely to succeed if you’re doing a job you’re passionate about, even if in the beginning it requires significant sacrifice (whether that’s time or money).

READ MORE: Yes, You Can Do It All – Lessons From A “Serial Entrepreneur”

“If you’re in a job you don’t like/doesn’t excite you, work out why, then find something that’s better suited for you. It’s never too late to change and life is too short to do something you don’t love. You have to start with why. Understand what is the cause of the challenges, then start working out how to overcome them,” she says.

It can be tough to do this alone, though… So find a mentor you can talk to. “I was very lucky in that my first boss in tech, Richard, has been a great mentor to me throughout my career – but if your boss is not the right person, look for senior colleagues, peers in other firms or even alumni from your university,” she says.

Life lessons and critical skills Emma’s learnt along the way

1/ Take charge of your own destiny!

In a perfect world, there would be equal opportunities for men and women, but sadly that’s still not the case. That doesn’t mean it’s not possible for women to be as successful as men – it just means you have to fight a little bit harder for it. Don’t be scared of that. As Sheryl Sandberg says, lean in and take your seat at the table.

2/ When you do succeed, don’t forget to pay it forward.

Be a mentor to new women in your industry, and ensure your company puts proactive equality measures in place. If you have time, volunteer at an organisation that’s driving change. “In Cape Town, I was part of an organisation called Great Girls, which was committed to upskilling girls with leadership potential in underprivileged areas. I can’t recommend doing something like this enough,” adds Emma.

READ MORE: “You Are Wildly Capable Of Achieving Everything You Want. Here’s How…”

3/ Have high standards

“I believe it’s important to have high standards, to communicate these clearly, and ensure you apply them equally. This means being acutely and proactively aware of any subconscious biases you may have,” says Emma.

4/ Work with people’s strengths

“I’m also a big believer in working with people’s strengths and making sure the right people are in the right roles. Remember that everyone is different, with different motivators, and you can’t expect to manage everyone in the same way – it just won’t work.”

A book every woman should read

“My friend Abadesi Osunsade wrote a great book called Dream Big, Hustle Hard. In the book, she outlines how she navigated the tech industry with zero coding skills and won roles at major tech players, including Amazon and Groupon. Each chapter contains anecdotes, activities and frameworks which will give ambitious individuals the motivation and tools they need to maximise their potential in a competitive career landscape. I’ve bought copies for women I’ve mentored and wish I’d had this book when I was starting my career,” she says.

Connect with Emma

Find Emma on LinkedIn (Emma Heap) or Instagram

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