Sam Simpson Oldale
Product Manager, Tribepad
Sam has been part of Tribepad for nearly three years, recently moving from Service Delivery Manager to become our Product Manager. We chat about how she’s finally started to break free from imposter syndrome, and her journey towards accepting herself as she is.
Hi Sam, thanks for making time to chat. How are you finding the new role?
Great, yes. I’m responsible for the direction of the talent acquisition platform – deciding what our development roadmap looks like, and so on.
The main priority is making sure we’re growing in a valuable direction for our clients. Even when we’re building specific functionality for one client, we’re always looking to make that scalable and valuable for everyone.
The role means taking a holistic view of product growth rather than working closely with individual clients, which is what I’ve done for years.
Pretty different from your previous roles then. How did you get here?
I’d always worked in customer-facing roles like service delivery and implementation in the tech space – including 13 years with Plusnet. Before Tribepad I then spent a handful of years with an international tech company but things started to sour.
There were some brilliant people there, but the culture started to change. The company stopped caring about people and started being more about making yourself look good, covering your ass, or stomping on colleagues. It just stopped being a nice place to work.
I knew about Tribepad because I’d worked with a few Tribepad folk before, so I interviewed for Service Delivery Manager and that was that.
And what made you decide to change tack, into product management?
I wasn’t going to apply! I knew I was interested but I didn’t think I was qualified. I had the drive, the will, the domain knowledge, and I absolutely love this company, but I thought I hadn’t got the right experience.
It’s like that stat – women only apply for roles when they’re nearly 100% qualified, compared to men who’ll apply if they’re 60% qualified. That certainly feels true for me. I’d have regretted it forever if I didn’t go for it.
I’d mentioned I might be interested when the job came up, and Neil [Neil Armstrong, our COO] and Dan [Dan Kirkland, our CTO and Co-founder] strongly encouraged me to apply. Dan even messaged me before my interview wishing me luck, and afterwards saying I’d done a great job.
I found the interviews and presentations extremely difficult though. I realised how uncomfortable I am bigging myself up.
Starting the job too – I love it, but it’s a learning curve. I was upset about a situation recently, and telling myself, you know, maybe they only hired me because I’m a gay woman of almost 50 and that’s great for diversity. Dan stepped in, and said “Sam, I know you and trust you. Now you have to trust me that you wouldn’t be in this role if you weren’t the right person.”
The support and reassurance from Tribepad has helped me recognise and be prouder of my strengths.
Has self-doubt affected you throughout your career?
Certainly as I’ve gotten more senior. In my early career I was one of the only women, but I was accepted as just ‘one of the guys’. Now it feels like senior people are often impressive, polished, smart men and that’s not me at all. I dress like a teenage boy!
But I’ve come to realise, just because I don’t look like the stereotypical woman of 50, doesn’t make me any less a woman. And just because I don’t fit the stereotypical mould for this job, doesn’t make me any less talented.
It sounds like Tribepad has been a big part of that journey?
Yes. Tribepad recently gave all women here the opportunity to attend a two-day Talented Women programme and that’s been the best course I’ve taken in my whole career.
I realised I’ve not been great at putting my ideas forwards, for example. Part of this new role is stepping up and being willing to share my voice, and the people around me have been so supportive and respectful.
I know it’s cliché, but Tribepad feels like a family. There’s a strong sense of everyone pulling together, to deliver amazing products that have a huge impact in the world.
The company could have better representation, especially in leadership – although Tribepad is better than any tech company I’ve worked with and improving constantly. But I feel there’s an absolute inclusivity at the heart of Tribepad. A real belief in people.
That’s why I’m here. Honestly, I couldn’t imagine a better place to work.
Thanks Sam. Enjoy the rest of your day!
Tribepad is a platform for better for everyone. At our core we believe the right job is life-changing – and we’re excited, and privileged, to be part of that. Come and change lives with us?