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News > Alumnae Interviews > 10 Questions With ... Kirstin Duffield

10 Questions With ... Kirstin Duffield

Kirstin talks about her memories of sport at Roedean, and what it is like as CEO of a software company.
27 Jun 2022
Alumnae Interviews

What is your favourite memory of Roedean?

My favourite memory was the sport, I played lacrosse before I started at Roedean which was unusual, so I had more than 4 years’ experience on day one. I remember Miss Chandler being thrilled a new player was on the pitch and I never looked back. In the summer it was athletics, and throughout my 5 years it was the team spirit that always what cut through any house or class politics teenaged girls would devise!

What was the best piece of advice you were given whilst at School?

Mmm not sure I was probably good at listening to advice, if truth were told. Probably in needlework, “measure twice - cut once”, something my father resonated with and reminds me of even today.

When you were at Roedean, what did you want to be when you ‘grew-up’?

Marketing Executive, I think, but I went through various stages along the way, Chartered Surveyor, Graphic designer, Electrical engineer and Computer programmer. I went to university to study Micro electronics and changed twice in the first year before landing on Cartography. Graduating in Cartography and Computer Science (the only girl in my cohort), I started as a Marketing Assistant in a software house, my next role was an IT trainer, just as Microsoft and Apple were becoming defector home and office solutions to everything. So I pretty well covered all bases.

What are you now you’ve grown up?

I am the CEO of a modest sized software house, a position I have had for over 25 years. I love what I do and now have opportunities to be seconded as a subject matter expert (SME) to various other parties in the London Insurance and Reinsurance market. The latest of these is the Technical SME advisor to the Chair of the Lloyd’s and London Market Data Council.

What does your job involve?

Designing solutions for clients. The Product is largely there but as compliance and regulatory requirements evolve our clients face changing challenges to account for their business in different ways. Combining these with the ever growing data landscape we exist in, I work to drive down the “click-rate” looking to see what data can be augmented from other data within the user journey. Things we all take for granted when we use websites these days, and we only notice a bad experience when its badly designed. Along with this there is a strong educational piece not just the handing over of skills to my own team but also local schools. In a recent interview I was quoted “there is a lot of talent that lives within one mile of the one square mile that doesn’t work in the one square mile!”. Now it is including educating market colleagues on opportunities and considerations around their Data Strategy. Something that touches almost every industry. I also encourage girls to look at careers in IT. I have travelled to amazing countries, dined with princes and statesmen in 24 countries, lectured in halls of 400+ people – and still wondered what I was doing there!

What have you done that you are most proud of?

Keeping my company growing, well keeping it a float is a primary achievement. 25 years on we may not be the bigger software house in the world, our market is very niche, but we have grown from 4 to 28 people, trebled our revenue in 6 years and provide a stable, inclusive, supporting working environment to those 28 people.

What are the three objects you would take with you to a desert island?

My Samsung Fold with a 5G sim, sorry deserted or not, those satellite receivers are a must!

Audible subscription

My cat, a 2 year old Bengal called Gizmo – not technically an object.

What books have had a significant influence on you and why?

Complete works of Agatha Christie, sadly no political profound insight, thought provocation or intellectually challenging plots (after you have read the first 3 or 4), but clever twists, insights into people in all sorts of English setting, that the enduring positivity of Miss Maple and Hercule Poirot in the face of an alarming attraction for crime and death, or “challenges” and the predictability of the outcome. And the opportunity for some quiet escapism.

What is on your bucket list?

I am living it, after you have cancer you have a new perspective. Nothing should be on a to do list, just enjoy each day and when you want to do something, find a way to do it.

If you had one year and unlimited funds, what would you do?

Exactly what I do now, but be able to design more cool stuff with a bigger team.

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