Q&A: Cracking the code

This week we chat with Elyse Maberley, founding director of Meeum, a business that provides on-site, face-to-face training for people wanting to learn coding and web development skills. Elyse recognised that these skills are becoming increasingly important for small-business operators, corporate workers and even at-home parents who want to keep up with their kids.

ISB: How did your love for coding come about?

EM: I started my professional career fresh out of uni with a sociology degree. I worked in the not-for-profit and social justice space where money is tight, and ideals are high. Back in the early 2000s I was the person in these small community organisations to take on website and digital projects (and entirely unqualified to do so!). This pushed me to want to learn more. I completed a Master of Creative Industries and it went from there.

ISB: What inspired to you to establish Meeum?

EM: I knew the world of coding education needed a shake-up. For too long, it’s been promoted as an elite domain. A “geekery-superiority” if you like. We wanted to change that. There are too many people excluded who can (and deserve to) gain so much from an education in coding. We make it clear how fun coding can be, how it can be rewarding. We want people to hit the ground running.

ISB: What was the biggest challenges you faced in making the shift from a consultancy business to this venture and how were you able to overcome it?

EM: In co-founding Meeum, I have stepped far outside my comfort zone. I have established and grown a consumer-facing business, when what I previously knew was B2B and Corporate environments. I have challenged myself, developed and prioritised my resilience and learnt how to re-define my work identity. I have been humbled by our achievements and those of our students and I have reflected on what meaningful work looks like.

My career prior to Meeum was traditionally achievement and ladder-climbing focused. In the last 12 months I have redefined what leadership and career progression means to me and used it to drive the ethos of my business.

ISB: How did you get the message about Meeum out to recruit potential coders, particularly women who haven’t traditionally have considered it as a career option?

EM: Perhaps surprisingly, we didn’t consciously set-out to recruit a predominantly female market. We just followed our values, which came through in our messaging and the audience followed. Women tell us they feel welcome, supported, and given every opportunity to learn. We are supporting women (and men) who have found themselves needing to up-skill or re-skill, and let’s face it, that’s all of us continually throughout our careers.

We don’t just support the female market who want a coding career, but also a wider market who know that coding skills are the ticket to greater professional and personal opportunities.

ISB: With a rapidly changing technological and economic landscape, how can coding provide opportunities to people outside the big cities?

EM: In a world that’s increasingly connected, you don’t need to be living and working in the inner city to be part of the digital economy. More and more women are starting their own businesses, and you can’t have a successful business without a website.

Knowing some code gives you the skills to build your own website or at least know what to look for when hiring others to do it for you. It is commonplace for remote or flexible roles to require HTML and CSS – the foundation languages of website development. Learning coding develops a way of thinking and problem solving that has infinite applications – you’ll approach problems in new ways and realise solutions you’d never thought of.

ISB: Finally, what is the #1 piece of advice you’d pass on to others who have a passion they’d like to turn into a business?

EM: I’ve got three pieces of advice:

  1. Believe in yourself.
  2. Take every opportunity that comes your way.
  3. Keep learning from those around you.
Feature image courtesy of Sophie Timothy, Sister Scout Studio (www.sisterscout.studio)