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Eliiza’s Natalie Rouse Ganderton on principles, diversity and ethical algorithms

Looks to boost Eliiza’s gender balance in new role
Natalie Rouse Ganderton (Eliiza)

Natalie Rouse Ganderton (Eliiza)

The new Sydney head of Eliiza has vowed to make gender re-balancing a top priority as the Amazon Web Services (AWS) partner looks to scale across Australia and New Zealand.  

Auckland-based Natalie Rouse Ganderton joined the company to lead its new Sydney division at the end of last year and will be now entirely focused on recruiting new talent for upcoming months. 

Speaking to ARN, Rouse Ganderton revealed Eliiza Sydney will have roughly 10 team members by the end of this financial year — though not all based in Sydney.  

“We have hired one person from Brisbane and another from Adelaide, who will move to Sydney. But we have held interviews in New Zealand, India, across Australia," she said. "Working from home has meant we're a little less geographically constrained with who works on what projects for our customers.” 

Rouse Ganderton herself is likely to remain based in New Zealand, as Eliiza’s parent company, Mantel Group, has set up five new ‘hubs’, including a work space on Queensland’s Magnetic Island and Queenstown, New Zealand to allow employees to — in theory — enjoy a better work-life balance. 

Other hubs will include Canberra, Brisbane, Auckland, as well as Melbourne and Sydney, in order to allow employees of Mantel's companies — DigIO, Eliiza, CMD Solutions and Kasna — to full embrace hybrid working lifestyles. 

“Previously, it was important to have consultants in the office on a client site, demonstrating their output,” said Rouse Ganderton. “But we've been able to show that our people are really productive and delivering high quality work, even when you can't see them.” 

Now, as Rouse Ganderton “goes hard” with the recruitment, building a strong gender balance at Eliiza is high on her agenda. Of her recent technology hires, two out of six are women, a number she hopes to improve on still.  

“We've wanted to get up and running really quickly and we've done our best,” she said. “We've made sure that we had really strong diversity across candidate pools.”  

As well as giving Eliiza a diverse pool of talent internally, Rouse Ganderton hopes a strong gender balance will give the company a strong brand image for women technologists seeking employment.  

“At Eliiza we have data scientists, data, data engineers, machine learning engineers and data consultants across modern technology stacks,” she said. 

“What's really important to us as a cultural fit. Mantel Group is a very principles-driven organisation, and more so than anything that I've encountered in the past.” 

In terms of technology, Eliiza’s key focus from an opportunities perspective will be those to address the changing of Australia’s internal dispute resolution law — or RG 271. 

Another area of key interest to Rouse Ganderton is adding a layer of ethics when it comes to algorithms and customers’ uses of them. 

“When we think about the last year, a lot of people will have experienced unusual financial, social hardship due to the pandemic and the really localised and total impact on certain industries," she said.

“We might see that with increased risks that organisations could be perpetuating algorithmic bias and unfairness. 

“I just want to help organisations to make sure that they're using data points in the right way.”