Women in Tech: Lorraine Scroope, Co-Founder of The Hire Lab
Lorraine Scroope is Co-Founder of The Hire Lab – a forward-thinking recruitment technology firm that gives clients the freedom to automate and streamline their full hiring process, right from application to onboarding.
We caught up with Lorraine to capture some of her hard-earned wisdom.
How did you become a tech leader?
It happened organically. I wanted to do something I was interested in and passionate about. And I wanted a challenge. I studied for an art degree, then quickly realised I needed to get a job. So I trained in digital media, on the creative side. Front end stuff.
Soon my career was in motion, and I was working on innovative, user-first products. But then the company I was working for went into liquidation while we were mid-way through a project. The client asked us to finish the project we were working on, so we did!
I was young and suddenly found myself freelance. It was amazing. I was my own boss, I loved the freedom, and was confronted with the ultimate opportunity – a steep learning curve that forced me to gain a huge amount of experience, fast.
Working for myself was difficult and stressful at times, especially while so young. Sometimes I’d crave the security of a more traditional job. I often felt out of my depth and was aware that my day-to-day responsibilities were wildly different from those of all my friends. But I stuck it out, and I’m so pleased I did. It was incredible to be doing my own thing, developing my creative skills and working on new, innovative tech. I had small overheads and big ideas – a thrilling combination.
What inspired you to set up The Hire Lab?
I wanted to find a way to draw on my consultancy experience in the marketing and customer loyalty space. My previous business was focused on helping retail clients develop relationships with customers, harnessing the power of tech and mobile to build loyalty. As the company grew, I experienced the challenge of recruiting at volume. I was also shocked to see how poor the candidate experience was. The recruitment technologies on the market at the time just weren’t offering a relationship.
Meanwhile, my sister was fresh out of university and hunting for her first job. I supported her through the process and was, quite simply, appalled at how she was treated.
All in all, it was a matter of timing. Both those experiences came together and inspired me to find a better way, and make a change. The Hire Lab was born.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
I’ve learnt how important it is to stay motivated through challenging times – to be committed and see things through. That goes for mundane, day-to-day tasks, as well as the exciting stuff. You’ve got to take care of the details. To make a business successful, you must have bucketloads of discipline.
Managing cash flow is a challenge you must master. It’s great to network with new people, attend events and conferences and have bold, fresh ideas, but if you can’t bill someone, it’s not going to work.
What’s been your biggest achievement?
Professionally? Running a start-up that won an eight year, £4.5m contract from the Irish government. That was a real high. On a personal level, I’m immensely proud of moving to London aged 37 to grow a business, when everyone around me was doing the opposite.
What advice would you give a female entrepreneur entering the start-up world?
First up, choose your team wisely. And trust your team. Fill in any skills gaps carefully, and do your research.
Confidence is key. Don’t be afraid to fake it ‘till you make it. Get out there and don’t hold back. Find a strong female mentor in your industry and forge a bond with them – their advice and perspectives will prove invaluable. Oh, and relax now and then. It’s good for your wellbeing and great for business.
When you remove yourself from the goldfish bowl, you get a helicopter view that unlocks strategic thinking like nothing else.
What does the future look like for women in tech?
It’s great to hear open conversations about women’s pay, and I’d like to hear more of them. I’ve been lucky enough to set my own salary, but most don’t have that freedom. The stats on the pay gap are shocking. I used to disagree with quotas and targets, but now I get it. We need visibility if we’re all going to rally together, set goals and achieve them.
No doubt about it, it’s tougher for women in tech start-ups. And it’s not simply a question of pay. There’s plenty more that needs to be addressed, like child care and flexible working. I wish we didn’t have to have this conversation, but if we take action now, we can make equality happen and future generations won’t have to fight as hard. We have the opportunity to create our own environment. Let’s do it.