Collider Talks #8 | Spotlight on Ruth McDavitt

Whether you’re new to Wellington’s tech scene or you’ve been around for awhile, you will have heard of Summer of Tech and the superhuman that is Ruth McDavitt.

Collider is all about making smart connections amongst Wellingtonians and the businesses they build, and Ruth is a top connector. 

By day, Ruth is the CEO of Summer of Tech, a non-profit programme where she has spent the last 11 years finding, growing and matching New Zealand’s tech talent with awesome job opportunities in the Wellington area. By night she supports local tech events and is one of the organisers of the inspirational Women Founders Meetup, sponsored through the Collider programme.

Ruth has been a valuable member of the Wellington BizDojo community for over a year now, and in that time she’s helped its Residents evolve their teams by connecting them with fresh tech talent.

An example of her fine work can be seen in the ever expanding, Properly. Properly is a management tool for people who have rental properties, and when they decided to move to Wellington from San Francisco, they knew they were going to need to hire local talent to grow their team.

Before we arrived in Wellington I called a bunch of CTOs from some big tech companies in the city and asked what was the best way to locate tech talent. They all told me to talk to Ruth.
— Stefan Raffeiner |Product and Engineering Lead
Sid Bardiya (Designer) & Hyojin Jung (Web Developer) Joined Properly through SoT

Sid Bardiya (Designer) & Hyojin Jung (Web Developer) Joined Properly through SoT

Properly moved their team of three into the Wellington BizDojo and through the Summer of Tech programme they hired six full-time team members to fill their design, IOS, web and test positions.

Stefan said that the whole hiring process was so easy, Properly will definitely be doing it again this year.

Firstly Ruth, what attracted you to join Summer of Tech (SoT)?
I was drawn to SoT by the passion and drive from the tech industry determined to help tech students and graduates find work. Back then, there was a core group of dedicated volunteers working on the programme, and they all had this no-nonsense ‘just get it done’ attitude. I also loved that businesses in Wellington were working together to fix a problem and were keen and willing to hire recent graduates.

How important is it to have SoT on Wellington’s tech scene?
Very. For one it helps our valuable Graduates stay in the city as they have high visibility of what their opportunities are after study. A big problem for students while they’re studying is seeing where they fit into the job market. SoT connects them with some really cool local companies that they might not normally hear about.

What advice would you give to graduates looking for tech work in the city?
Getting a job as a newbie can appear hard and I recommend to not get disheartened. Check out local events and get your network on, it will be harder if you’re a natural introvert. Also if you’re looking to re-train to get more industry relevant skills I highly recommend checking out the Wellington ICT Graduate School and Enspiral Dev Academy.

What’s on the horizon for SoT?
Two things - they’re really exciting!

The first sees us going beyond Summer, opening the programme beyond our traditional summer holiday period. It benefits students looking for part-time work throughout the year while they’re studying, or for students who graduate mid-year.

The second is going beyond Tech, with Summer of Biz.  This is just like Summer of Tech but for Marketing and Human Resources students and graduates. We’re working with industry leaders to help students and grads get the right skills and find summer work.

The Women Founders Meetup (formerly Female Founders) was established in 2012 and has built up a vibrant and committed community of Women in Wellington, who are all keen to share and learn start-up and leadership lessons. The Meetup has seen both local and international speakers share their wisdom on topics ranging from building a personal brand to international patents. While the group is focussed on Women, the Meetup is open for men to attend as well.

Ruth is one of the founding members of the Meetup, and along with Zheng Li, Mandy Simpson and Vicky Upton, organise the monthly Meetup at the BizDojo.

What is the main objective of the Women Founders meetup?
The whole point of Women Founders is to connect with each other. The Meetup provides a space for Women who have founded companies to share and support each other.

What advice would you give women looking to start a business?
Find a good mentor. It helps a lot to talk to people who have been there done that as you can always learn from others.

Well, there’s no doubt, Ruth, that you’re a busy lady. What drives you to work so hard?
To be honest, I thrive on helping people and being connected. I love making these mutually beneficial connections where both the student and employer are happy…

...I also get pretty big FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)

Caitlin Mackay is the MarComms person for BizDojo Wellington and ColliderWgtn. Before she started her job here she heard from many people "Oh Ruth McDavitt works there!", and now Caitlin aspires to be as connected as Ruth... it might take some time.