Head of Operations / Code Camp
Don’t be fooled by her glamorous demeanour, Hayley Markham is one super shiny change agent. In her role as Head of Operations at Code Camp, Hayley and her team promote futures in tech, and teach code, to students all over the country.
It seems that the future of tech is oh-so bright. Digital jobs are among the fastest growing in the world, but girls are being left behind. Can you believe that? Studies have shown that while interest in computer science dissolves over time, the biggest drop off happens between the ages of 13-17, crazy right? Enter today’s interview. In our mind the work Camp Code do is to intrinsically important for girls everywhere.
On paper, Hayley’s #careerstory may seem like a hot pot of random jobs, a journey without direction, but we couldn’t disagree more. Don’t let her happy-go-lucky agenda, or bright beaming smile fool you, Hayley is a risk taker and a strategic thinker. A COO tasked with the massive job of introducing code and computational thinking to as many kids as possible. 100,000 students in over the next 2 years to be exact.
In this interview we discovered that Hayley is a babe with foresight and vision, a babe who is brave enough to try and move, reflect and react… and quickly. From her Uni days in Sydney to her jobs in Greece, France and Dubai, todays #careerstory has it all. We dare you not to feel excited about the future of tech after meeting Hayley.
Girls, lets run this world!
We are beyond excited to have you here today. Can you start be telling us a little about yourself, where you grew up and how that influenced your career choice?
I grew up in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs and still live there today. As a self confessed wild child I frequented a few schools during my teen years, however having awesome support from a close knit family ensured that I always stayed (relatively) on track.
My dad was an old school entrepreneur / businessman and was always looking for opportunities to grow his travel businesses. Ultimately it was my Mum and Dad’s love for their industry, company and job, that really made me believe that you could love your work. It was that realisation that pushed me to keep on striving to find something I loved doing. Joining the tech industry was a definite surprise for me but doing an ops focused position definitely wasn’t. I absolutely love what I do. Being a part of company that has introduced 13,000 kids in the past few years to coding and technology is an amazing feeling.
It so good to meet people who just love what they do. It is the best feeling in the world. So, where did you go to High School and how was that experience for you?
I started High School at St Catherine’s in Waverley and then had a brief stint at boarding school in Armidale (NEGS). After I convinced my parents that country living wasn’t for me I finished high school at SCEGGS Darlinghurst. I had a lot of passionate teacher’s throughout my school years and I credit them with helping me to enjoy my school days (as much as an outgoing teen could). My mum in particular was also very present throughout my schooling and ensured that I really put effort into everything that I did. Without the extra support from my mum I am certain I wouldn’t have pushed myself as hard. A lot of the work ethic I have today is because of my mum.
We have so many girls worried about moving around from school to school, especially in their later high school years, but it seemed to not bother you too much. Did your high school play an important role in helping you choose your further education and future career?
It is strange to think that my school years probably didn’t influence where I’ve ended up in my career. I do think teenagers need greater guidance in regards to the opportunities that are available to them after school. Deciding what degrees I wanted to apply for at University was a case of sitting down with a huge UAC book and highlighting anything that sounded remotely interesting. I had so many totally different courses down it was astounding. I am not sure I picked any of them based on what my best skills were. I definitely wasn’t a tech kid growing up and I really love that I have ended up in the tech space. It is such a booming area and a really exciting industry to be in. The other super cool thing about my job is that I am inadvertently introducing a huge number of girls to this cool space that I didn’t really realise even existed in this format till a few years ago.
Hayley, did you go to College, University, Tafe or another equivalent? What did you study?
I completed a Bachelor of Management at University of Technology Sydney. It was broad course, and I quickly realised that the Accounting and Statistics subjects were not for me. I did enjoy the policy and law based subjects which surprised me. I chose the Management degree initially because I really had no idea what I really wanted to do and it seemed like it touched on a lot of different areas which worked with my non committal approach at the time.
We love that your interest in the tech world didn’t start at school, it’s like you morphed into that arena after school and Uni – which is so often the case. When you were at school, or Uni did you complete any internships or work experience placements?
I did work experience at a large travel company for a couple of weeks. I moved between departments and did get some great insight into the various areas. Marketing stood out as an area that I enjoyed due to the creativeness.
Ok, so lets get into your career. Hayley can you tell us about your career journey so far. Who you have worked for, and explain any highlights.
After I finished uni I headed off overseas for the next 2.5 years. While travelling I had a number of jobs which included working on a bungee jump in Greece and working as a Nanny in the French ski fields. Once I settled in London, I worked at AMEX as a Marketing Exec. Upon arriving home I joined Air Canada as their Marketing Exec. While I like marketing in some respects it was becoming clear that I didn’t love it. I especially didn’t enjoy being the only member of a Marketing Team and it was then that I felt as though I was never really going to love any job I did. After leaving that job and moving to Dubai it was there that I became a Senior Operations Manager of a team of 40 staff. I realised very quickly that I loved being a manager and dealing with staff and high level issues. Problem solving and being able to relate to people are two areas I have always excelled at but I had never put any effort into thinking about how I could use those natural abilities. I stayed in Dubai for a few years and then moved back to Sydney to have my first daughter and it was while I was pregnant with my third daughter that I joined Code Camp. Code Camp was running at one location and was at the beginning of its (so far) super exciting growth journey.
Wow, Hayley… You have accomplished so much. What a great career trajectory. So, how did you get into the job that you are in now?
One of the Code Camp co-founders, Pete is a childhood friend who I was still in close contact with. It was his idea to introduce me to Ben, the other co-founder and bring me into the mix as the third partner. I was there to help in every way shape and form. It was clear in order to get Code Camp growing we needed to work hard in all areas. We were (and still are) a fast growing business. We started expanding to more locations, I moved into the logistics and ops side as well as dealing with customer service. In the early days we certainly worked hard, but not always as efficiently as we could have. As the months turn into years it is awesome to see how much more efficient we have become and how that impacts positively on the growth of the business!
These Summer holidays we had 141 Camps spread over 70+ locations. We are really trying our hardest to introduce coding and computational thinking to as many kids as possible – a number we talk about is reaching 100,000 students over the next 2 years! It is so exciting to watch kids learning while also having a really fun time.
100,000 students in 2 years! Well if any industry can do it, it would be tech! What does a day a typical business day look like for you at Camp Code?
A typical day would be arrive at my desk and have a quick look at my email subject lines – make sure nothing is jumping out as super urgent and then head to my Slack Account (internal communication) and make sure I have answered anyone’s questions regarding a huge range of areas (I am constantly on my phone chatting / messaging staff so my day really starts at 6.30am when I wake up). I then try to do a quick verbal check-in with everyone in the office to make sure everyone is good to go for the day. After that it is meetings, meetings and more meetings. I have phone meetings with each state as well as meeting with our Development Team and the three other Code Camp Executives. I will also have meetings with our Partners, Sponsors, Schools as well as meetings to discuss growth, marketing, budgets, staff, processes, new products and a million other things. Luckily I have an amazing Assistant / Customer Service genius who reminds me throughout the day of things I need to do, and who also takes a lot of smaller tasks off my plate.
We love the sound of your job, it sounds so multi-faceted, but their must be hard parts as well! What is the hardest part?
There are a few aspects i don’t particularly enjoy. The hardest part is actually making sure I give all my staff the time, energy and answers they need in order to succeed at their job. As we are in a growth stage we have a lot of new staff and i need to ensure they feel supported at all times. It can be hard to fit everyone in sometimes.
What advice would you give girls who are interested in a career in Operations or even Tech?
I would tell girls to have confidence. As Sheryl Sandberg loves to say Lean In, don’t sideline yourself before the race even starts because of your own doubts or worries. You may not be the smartest, most qualified or loudest person in the room but that doesn’t matter. You simply need to be confident, organised and listen to what others are saying and express your opinions clearly and with reason. The tech industry especially is crying out for women, there are a lot of opportunities to join exciting, groundbreaking and world first businesses around the world. The tech industry isn’t all about programming, it covers all facets of business and it doesn’t matter what area you want to get into the tech industry will most likely have a place for you.
We absolutely love that advice, and we also love Sheryl Sandberg, she is one of our hero’s. Talking about Hero’s, who has been your greatest inspiration growing up and why?
Growing up I have always aspired to quite simply be a nice person who is a good friend and who listens to people while adding a bit of happiness/ craziness / fun to their day. I would say my Mum has those qualities and that her attitude is an inspiration to me.
List your most valuable resources that you turn to constantly for inspiration in your profession?
- Favourite Blogs or Websites: Business Insider, Startup Digest.
- Instagram Account or Snapchat that you can’t go a day without checking: Beyonce.
- Books: Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg.
- Others: I love being a part of the LMBDW Facebook page which has a constant stream of questions regarding every facet of business.