The IT industry is in need of an image change, says Erin Lockwood, the first female managing director of Silicon Valley Bank’s (SVB) UK branch, who recently spoke to Computer Weekly about diversity and innovation.
SVB, a subsidiary of SVB Financial Group, opened its first UK branch in June 2012 when it started its hunt for UK customers in the technology, life science, private equity and venture capital sectors. It has since lent hundreds of millions of pounds to expanding businesses in the UK, with individual loans ranging from £300,000 to £30m.
SVB claims over half of all venture capital-backed technology and life science companies bank with the group. In 2012, the bank claimed it made $7bn in loans in the US alone.
In her role as managing director of the UK branch of SVB, US-born Lockwood looks after the profit and loss of the entire commercial banking division, making her responsible for contracts totalling more than $200m.
Her role is to help the US bank work with young technology companies from their early stages, to help them innovate and grow.
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Lockwood has worked at SVB for 10 years and moved to London seven years ago. Her previous role at the UK branch was deal team leader, where she managed a team dedicated to providing financial services to early-growth technology companies throughout Europe. This specifically involved debt financing.
She also played a role in developing the company’s European Life Sciences practice.
She says she has noticed from accelerator early-stage clients that there are very few female CEOs. She believes this will begin to change as the image of IT changes too.
“A career in IT doesn't mean you're going to go and sit at a desk in a dark room and code. It means you can work for an innovative, fast-paced company,” says Lockwood.
“There’s a pace of creativity and a pace of change in the industry – and that’s what’s drawing in the young. In order to grow, innovation has to be there. A career in innovation can mean so many different things,” she adds.
According to Lockwood, diversity among companies will start to increase as office culture in the UK starts to change.
A career in IT doesn't mean you sit at a desk in a dark room and code. It means you can work for an innovative, fast-paced company
Erin Lockwood, Silicon Valley Bank
“More stay-at-home Dads will soon become normal. It’s about the shadow you cast as a leader, so if male leaders are leaving the office early to get home to their family and are back online later in the evening, then that will be seen as normal,” she says.
Lockwood began her career in SVB’s Boston office after completing a BA degree in business management and entrepreneurial studies at Babson College in Massachusetts.
As an undergraduate, she says she planned her degree around wanting to start her own business.
“I wanted to understand the types of capital, for when I started my own business. I still haven’t got there yet,” she says.
“I’ve stayed at SVB for 10 years as the company has given me the opportunity to try new things. I’ve really got to create a wide reach of contacts, so now my focus on the sector is deeper.
“I had overwhelming support in my career to help me be successful in this sector, but we do need to up our game in female mentors and do more to highlight each other’s successes.”