Episode 48: Compassion and Tech Maven Alcia Loach

Heather Newman:  Hello everyone. Here we are again for another episode of the Mavens Do It Better podcast where we interview extraordinary experts who bring a light to our world. And I couldn't be more excited to have a wonderful friend and colleague on today. Oh my God. Alcia, hello. How are you?

Alcia Loach:  Hi. Hi Heather, yeah, I'm really pleased to have been invited to talk with you. I listen to your podcast. I love the stories. So yeah, really excited to share my story.

Heather Newman:  Yes. I'm excited to have you on today. And I was, you know what, I think I was trying to think of if I've ever actually heard you pronounce your last name.

Alcia Loach:  No, oaky, so my last name is Loach. I get all sorts, I just tried to stay away from being the insect variety. It's actually a fish. The loach.

Heather Newman:  The Loach, Alcia Loach. Oh yeah, that's awesome. Okay, cool. Well, cause I was like, I, we had a chance to meet, um, in London. Gosh, was that last month or the month before maybe? My goodness. It's like time is flying by. On the speaker scene for SharePoint Saturday London. And, um, just, you know, we were up in the London Eye, thank you Seb Matthews and, uh, the folks that sponsored that and we just could not stop talking. So, um, I wanted to know have you on, and just connect again cause we started talking about all the cool things you're doing in the world and will you tell everybody a little bit about, you know, what you're doing today? Let's start with where you work and what you're doing there.

Alcia Loach:  Okay. Yeah. So, you know, I work at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, formerly known as HP. So, back when I joined HPE as we're now known, the company split into two. So we have HPI, they do the sort of desktops and servers and, and that kind of hardware stuff that everybody, you know, identifies with the HP name. But I work for the other half, which is HPE, which is Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and specifically, I work in the PointNext services division. So we are the people who, we do consultancy, we help to sort of enable digital transformation, large transformation programs. Yeah. One of our major programs that people might recognize is Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Which is in North London. Yeah. It's an amazing stadium. I've got some really cheesy pictures of me like before and after, you know, here's the stadium being built and then, Whoa, here's the stadium and it's complete 100% pervasive WIFI that works.

Heather Newman:  Oh Wow. That's unbelievable.

Alcia Loach:  Yeah, it's awesome. I know it works. Yeah. Yeah, it does all sorts of fantastic way finding that helps to give an experience, you know, like a wow factor. So you don't have to queue up too long to get your hot dog or your burger and that kind of stuff that you can really enjoy the game. Yeah. So that's why I do, I'm a technical consultant, technical consultant there. So I help to deliver the project. I'm one of those resources that gets dropped in and we make the magic happen.

Heather Newman:  You know what? That's a perfect job title for you. You know, making the magic happen. I think that's definitely who you are.

Alcia Loach:  Yes, definitely.

Heather Newman:  That's awesome. Yeah, and you know, you and I were talking about diversity in tech and diversity and inclusion in tech, and we had a cool, we've had, we had a couple of very cool conversations about that and I love visiting other places, you know, outside the US where I live and getting perspectives from people from all over the world and different geographies and you know, from different places and all of that. And I know you're really involved with those initiatives inside of HP and maybe you'd share what you're doing there with everybody, with our listeners.

Alcia Loach:  Yeah. So, basically, the views I share now aren't HPE specifically. But I can share with you the activities that I'm involved in. You know, disclaimer time, just in case anybody, you know, gets offended by something I say. Basically, HPE are a really inclusive employer. I kind of tick the boxes on that score. If anybody looks me up, you'll, you'll know exactly what I mean. You know, I'm female and there is a real issue in the sector, just basically tech that women are underrepresented in technical roles. So HPE within the company, they're working really, really proactively to address those issues. And as a part of that initiative I sort of stepped forward to help to lead in the tech woman program. So that's a Europe wide initiative, EMEA as we call it, to try to, to sort of sign post women and also for people like myself who work in a technical career path, job to share our experiences and to, to let other women know that actually, do you know what it might be 17% in the UK, that is the statistics, 17% of female representative technical roles to 83% men. But you know what, the 83% men, they're actually quite cool. They're actually quite welcoming and they're great to work with because personally I've worked in this space since I was a graduate. So I've always been the only girl on the team and I've never really thought of myself in a lot of instances as the only girl in the room. You sort of forget your gender. When the people you work with empower you and support you and enable you and you see yourself as just a part of the team, it doesn't matter to you if the person who's thrown the ball, I like to work with analogies because I love netball. If the person who's throwing the ball is a guy or a girl it doesn't matter. It's whether or not they threw the ball to me and I could catch it. Yeah. So with the tech women initiative, the thing I stress the most in the program is that it's not so much about me being a female. It's whether I'm confident and capable at what I do. And that's the message that we want to say that look, confident, capable females, the roles in tech are just too good to pass over. Yeah. The opportunities are just, you know, they're amazing. The flexible working opportunities. The technology is actually quite mature now. Things like Office 365, I know that you are like a SharePoint girl as well. I'm a SharePoint girl, I was cheerleading for SharePoint, you know, before the world realized what SharePoint was.

Heather Newman:  We’re you on the Tahoe skis as well, you know?

Alcia Loach:  Yeah, yeah, exactly, exactly. I knew exactly what you mean. So, so the, the whole point is that the maturity of the technology that can be implemented in the workplace enables a kind of flexible working and that kind of working from home which never existed back in the early 1990s. Yeah. Which enables females to really create that balance in their life. You know, you can have the baby on your knee, but you're still writing the project plan, you know? Or if it's not a baby on the knee, you can still like load the dishwasher and you're, you know, you're running the meeting. So I just think it's just too good to keep as a secret. I could keep quiet and just not share it with anybody else and say, Oh, you know what, it's really tough. It's really hard work. It is really hard work. But you know what, if you've got the right tools, yeah, you can work smart and it makes your life just so much more enjoyable. For instance, today we have this new initiative. It's totally awesome. I really should keep quiet, but I can't.

Heather Newman:  This will come out in a few weeks. So maybe you'll be all right.

Alcia Loach:  Yeah. So we have this, we, we've been given Wellness Friday, so every Friday we can take, we can basically log out three hours before the close of play for the day and then you are encouraged to just do something for you. So either, you know, exercise, spend time with friends and family, be mindful. So I decided to kind of combine everything. I went off to the pick your own and I picked some strawberries and then I went and I got a bottle of champagne and I called my friend up and I said, I've got my Wellness Friday, how about I come over?

Heather Newman:  Aww, that's awesome!

Alcia Loach:  Yes. I turned up with, you know, strawberries picked by me, a bit of champagne, I managed to read a really good heartwarming book before picking the strawberries. So I said, I'm all yours and we can just like, just feast. And I'm actually talking to you from her kitchen. So yeah, it's great. It's great to have those kind of initiatives and to be able to do that. You know, I just, I can't help but share it and hope that other women, you know, other smart, capable, confident women step forward and say, you know what? I want a piece of that too.

Heather Newman:  And other employers hear something like that and go, you know, maybe that's an interesting idea. What about a Wellness Friday? You know, there's a lot of places that don't do things like that. And I think that hearing about those initiatives, you know, I think people are looking for ways to keep us happy, you know, at work, you know, and to keep us productive. Right? And so I think, you know, yes, people stepping forward and saying yes, we need that, I think one. And then also, you know, an employer going, you know, HPE is huge, right? I mean, that's a big company. So kudos in many ways. Okay. I want to know what book you read.

Alcia Loach:  Oh Gosh. Oh yeah. So you'll probably get it. You've probably read this. I don't know if I was inspired by you. It's called Slay in your Lane. I think you told me about it on the London Eye.

Heather Newman:  Yes. Slay in Your Lane, yes, that's a good one. Awesome. Right on. That's great. It's so funny. I don't know. I mean, I guess I'm sort of, since I run my own businesses, I guess I'm giving myself my own Wellness Friday, if you will. Cause I just flew from Los Angeles. I'm in Sonoma County right now at a friend's house. She's working and I stopped at the Mac Boutique in Alaska Airlines at LAX and got her some, a little Mac travel sized makeup. And I'm going to, I'm going to meet her and go have champagne at my favorite place up here. Cause I used to live up here, we're going to go to Iron Horse and do some tasting. So yeah. So, I think we're on the same plane lady.

Alcia Loach:  It's all about achieving balance in life, isn't it? Happy people are productive people and I was saying to my friend that, you know, my boss can always ask me to do something extra. Yeah. Because, you know, they give extra. Yeah. And it swings in roundabouts, isn't it?

Heather Newman:  Yeah, no, absolutely. I think that's a huge thing. You know, it's like there's so much right now about I would say employee engagement and company culture and also diversity and inclusion. And I think, but it's, there's this, there's a larger, there's a, there's an umbrella that I think is, um, unfolding that's, you know, there's been a lot of rain, a lot of like, I don’t know, acid rain. So, if I'm using an analogy, an umbrella of thinking about mindfulness and I don’t know. So I was talking to somebody the other day and we were talking about balance and, another MVP friend Dux had said something about this and Brene Brown talks, there's a lot of people that sort of talk about work life balance and I'm Kind of the mind that, you know, we're on 24/7 now, you know, like I don't feel like we shut off. So work and life to me are so blended and I have so many friends that I work with and we're in each other's lives. And you know, it's like, I try to have conversations sometimes that are just about, I don’t know, like Salvador Dali or whatever, you know, but we do end up, you know, talking about work. And do you find that it's just a blend, you know, like,

Alcia Loach:  Yeah, yeah. Life gets a bit, yeah, it's because as you say, it's kind of like you're switched on. The Internet doesn't go down, does it? I mean, unless you live rurally. So, you're, you're always connected and also our brains, I don't know about you, but I really do have to practice mindfulness. To shut down my brain because it's on, you know? Thankfully cause I can breathe, so it's on. But it's on and it's sort of, you know, tallying lists of things to do. And my list of things to do, it's a blend, like you say, it's a blend of work, it's a blend of charity initiatives. It's a blend of, you know, just life happening. You've got to feed yourself, you've got to do the shopping, you've got to walk the dog, you know, you've got to push the hoover around. And, and yeah, my brain, even though my body wants to switch off cause my body's like I'm really tired brain, my brain can still keep going even when I'm like lying down in bed going, I want to sleep. So, yeah, you do need to find that, that separation or that moment where you just literally go and you switch it off. You know, I mean not saying that champagne switches it off but it helps.

Heather Newman:  It maybe turns it down a little.

Alcia Loach:  But you know, time with friends, time with family, time just, I love being by water. So time just stood looking over still water, stills me, as well. So yeah, you've got to find time for that.

Heather Newman:  I find when I don't, I try very, very hard to keep my morning practice of writing in my gratitude journal, of Meditating for a bit and not touching my phone until after I've eaten breakfast and done something physical and it's sooo hard. And I actually just got an alarm clock, a new alarm clock that isn't my phone. I have an Alexa as well.

Alcia Loach:  That's a good idea.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. Well, it just, it was like if you're touching, somebody said to me, if you're stroking or your phone as you get up and before you go to bed, that's the bad thing to be stroking. And I was like, oh my goodness. And I was like, good point. But anyway, uh, yeah, no, I think that, that there's a lot of things that we can be doing and, yeah. Are you a meditator? Do you meditate?

Alcia Loach:  Well that's the thing, I'm not, I'm not terribly good at meditation. Cause like, because I just said my brain just like to show off. So instead of I get those moments when I run. Because just the sheer pain of running.

Heather Newman:  That's a Zen moment.

Alcia Loach:  is a distraction.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. That's a Zen moment, for sure. Yeah.

Alcia Loach:  It's a distraction. So I, I tend to, I tend to run and because I can feel the pain in my legs, I can feel my heart beat, and I have to concentrate on my breathing, you know, and there's so much going on, I have no time to really start to think through the things I've got to do. My list disappears and instead it's just kind of like survival mode. The other activity I've recently taken up at past couple years, which does that as well, which is awesome, is diving.

Heather Newman:  Oh yeah. I love,

Alcia Loach:  Talk about survival mode.

Heather Newman:  I know. It's so awesome and so scary all at the same time. And I love it. Yes.

Alcia Loach:  Yeah. Because I tell you what, there's nothing, there's nothing like submerging yourself under like 18 meters of water. With just something in your mouth for you to breathe in and out of. And then all the other stuff going on, you know, flotation and all buoyancy and all rest of it going on. To really, um, you know, clear your head.

Heather Newman:  Yeah, agreed. We'll have to go diving somewhere. I would, I didn't know you were a diver. We'll have to do that. That'd be awesome.

Alcia Loach:  Oh yeah, that'd be a, so I'm going to go to Mexico next week. My daughter is in Belize and she said the diving was awesome. They had five nurse sharks follow them on their dive. So, she's gotten to see do gongs and, and all sorts. So yeah, definitely. That's a date.

Heather Newman:  All right. Yep. We'll, we'll take that offline and like, cause I love Mexico as well. So. Cool. Okay, fair enough. Um, I want to switch gears a little bit and talk about, you know, you not only, you're obviously working in technology and working for HPE and doing all these great things and initiatives and I know you have another initiative in the charitable world that's super cool. Your Pocket Angel app. I would love for you to tell our listeners about that cause it's so neat. And before you do that, where, where are you right now in the world?

Alcia Loach:  Oh, so at the moment I am, well based

Heather Newman:  Where do you live, I guess?

Alcia Loach:  Where do I live? Yes. Yeah. Cause I'm actually at my friend's house. So I live in the southeast of the United Kingdom. So the southeast of England. Near Gatwick airport. So, for those of you who fly into Gatwick, if you look out the window to the side and you see fields just as you're about to land, my house is in one of the little villages around the airport. And so I live sort of in a village south of Dorking, it's called Newdigate. When the kids were growing up I said all the nudies are in Newdigate. They're not. It's just a very quintessential English village with, you know, two pubs, a church and a village shop, yeah, and lots of fields. That's where I am.

Heather Newman:  Fantastic. Yeah. And so did Pocket Angel start there? Tell everybody about that because that's just so neat. So please.

Alcia Loach:  Yeah. So, yeah, so this is one of those blended moments. Yeah. So as a part of my new job with HPE, which takes me across United Kingdom because I'm in delivery, so I go to the customer site. I sort of started traveling across the United Kingdom and I guess a bit like most cities in the world, most places in the world now we have a growing number of homeless people. And we have rough sleepers. So those are the homeless people who are sort of visible. Who you see sat on the curb, you know, on the pavement, asking for help. Yeah. And so as a part of my visits to customer sites I started to notice the numbers of rough sleepers and say in year one, let's just say hypothetically, you know, I noticed that there were five people on the pavement in a certain area. The second year that number doubled. And you know, by the middle of the second year it looked like something's going wrong in society. So the analyst in me comes to the fore, and you sort , you start to pick up the newspaper and you see the articles and you listen to the news and you hear the news. But not only that, I started to have really personal close encounters with homeless people with rough sleepers. And I have to clarify, when I say rough sleepers, I'm talking about the people who are very visible. The ones that we see begging on the streets who physically are sat on the pavement. Yeah. Because homelessness has a wide range of people. We have hidden homeless as well. People who are sofa surfing, okay. So the people who impacted me at first were the ones I could see who would ask me for food or a hot drink. And in England, we've got a bit of a reputation for cold, drippy, gray weather. Which personally I don't, you know, I'm not very good at. So when I'm wrapped up in my coat with my scar and my hat and my gloves and you see me and I look like, you know, like I'm, you know, equipped for Siberia. And I see somebody else who's sat with very little on, you know, asking me for a cup of coffee, I can't help but to help to help them. And it actually, I felt at one point as if my heart was breaking. So I started putting aside an allowance for coffees, you know, so you just have to ask me, you got a coffee. That's it. I'd have to go and buy the coffee because personally and it is a personal choice for me, I don't give cash because I don't want the person spending the cash on, you know, on certain items that I wouldn't personally buy myself and I don't want to perpetuate a cycle of addiction. So I would feel compelled to join the queue at Costa or Starbucks or whatever other coffee brands are available to buy a cup of coffee. And then I had guilty moments where I couldn't because, you know, as I said, I'm doing this for work, so I'm going off on a client visit and I've got a time that I need to get to the client for. And if the queue is too long, then I can't get you the coffee. And because of my own principle of not giving cash, I faced a bit of a dilemma, you know, that moment of crisis where you go, well, if I could give you something that isn't cash, but be sure that you got the coffee, you know, that'd be great. So I then called up like some of the major charities and asked, you know, do you have a voucher? Could I just buy some vouchers so I can give out to these people? And they said no, they didn't have a system like that. And I was quite surprised that they didn't have system. I just thought it was a de facto thing because we're all used to getting gift cards, I mean I get gift cards all the time for Christmas. And I was thinking, well, it's just a gift card, you know, loaded with money. It's not that difficult because of course we are techie people aren't we? So you know, it's not that hard. Oh, I'll tell you how much. Yeah. How much was I to learn. So,

Heather Newman:  Always learning, always learning.

Alcia Loach:  Always learning life is a learning experience. So I then decided to draft a design of how I thought a voucher system should work, you know, wire frame, storyboard, you know, the usual stuff that we do to design the system. I put it in a nice little package and I emailed all the heads of major charities and said, you know, like a gift, you know, here is a system I think you guys could really benefit from developing, you know, if you need any help, please let me know. But kindest regards, Alcia, really looking forward to seeing it. And I waited a year and nothing turned up. And I was just like, I can't believe they haven't done it. So I went on Twitter and then started following a few of these people and kind of like plugging it and nobody bit. Then you know, you know, sometimes life has a wonderful way of giving you a cliché that you then actually learned the true meaning of the cliché when you're living it. When people say if not you then who and if not now, then when? Yeah. I had that moment like last year, summer 2018, so the summer of 2018 I watched a program, it wasn't even the summer, it was the winter of 2018 so it must be January or February. I watched a program on the nightly news. Yeah. Where a homeless man died in front of a Bedlin superstore and the image was of a police cordon and the person was there and he was had partly frozen to death because we'd had a bit for cold snap. Yeah. And in the window, we're duvets and pillows on a lovely bed, and sorry, I have to struggle not to cry, cause I'm a bit of a crier. And I just thought, not on my watch. It should not happen. You know, and it's, it's dark. Yeah. To think that in one of the richest countries of the world, this could happen. And so I got really angry. But it's that kind of righteous anger that you feel that you think, well, do you know what? I'm going to do something about this. And so, I took the same plans that I had and said, okay, fine, they're not going to do it. I'll do it. And I sort of reached out to resources to ask if they could develop the app. But obviously, you know, a lot of the resources I know they're all stuck doing like their paid job and they're like, oh, we'd love to help but, really busy. You can see how busy we are. So, call it the universe or whatever. Yeah. I literally just went, I really need somebody to help with this app. And my mobile phone rang, and it was an Indian company who were looking for work in the SharePoint space. And I said to them, I'm not a decision maker when it comes to the, you know, who my employer employs, but guess what guys, I've got a great opportunity for you. And they said, okay, explain what it is. And I told them and apparently it pulled on their heart strings and they said, okay, so what's your budget? And I kid you not. I stood there and thought, well okay, how much could I reasonably expect to crowd fund? So I just went, oh 5,000 pounds. And they said, oh, and what does it look like? So I sent them all, all the design things, cause I've had those already done. They called me back the next day and they said, okay, from what, from the design you've given us, you do realize it wouldn't cost 5,000 pounds. And I said, yeah, but that's all I could think that I could reasonably get from crowd funding in a short time. And they said, okay, we'll do it at a discounted price for you as goodwill because we can see that it's altruistic and all that. So, okay, great. So that's it. We started, we started work and a prototype was made, I hit the 5,000 pound limit that I'd set myself , target that is on, get this, I will never forget this, on December the 31st, 2018 at exactly midnight, I hit the target.

Heather Newman:  No way!

Alcia Loach:  Yeah, yeah. I get the target. It was the happiest New Year's present I've ever had from anybody. And it was, it was actually a young girl that I knew who said that she just had this feeling that she had to just make a donation and she donated, you know, the equivalent of a month's salary for herself. Yeah. To push us over the finish line. But the message it just sent to me was, you know, this is going to happen. Yeah. And you know, like, like I was being willed, pushed to just do it. So, so yeah. So since then, oh, I don't know how to describe the story now. It's just been one, one bit of serendipity after another. It's just been wonderful. So, I door stopped the UK managing director of HPE, great guy called Mark Waters. Sorry Mark, I'm giving you a shout out. You know, I don't want to embarrass you or anything. But I door stopped him and I, I'd been practicing my elevator pitch for about two months. And anybody who knows me knows that being succinct is not my strong suit. So to get an elevator pitch down to three minutes to win over Mark was going to be like, I don't, you know, an amazing accomplishment for me. I did it and he just said, email me, email me what you want, yeah, I'll see what I can do for you. And off the back of that he basically obsolete, just sent out emails asking other staff if they wanted to volunteer. Yeah. Pro Bono. It's all about volunteering. I got a really good response from global marketing team, a really good response from the global legal team. So, off the back of that, marketing helped to secure a team of really young people who have a really cool name, the Bright Young Things from Brighton University, you couldn't make it up. So I had this team, can you imagine that when I wake up to a team, a team of really young, enthusiastic people, yeah, want to help you and they're called the Bright Young Things and you just need to direct them. Great So I got the bright Young Things. So they're doing the marketing and all of the promotion and all the events planning for us to recruit our partners because we need service providers to accept the vouchers. And then legal, you know, I got two people from legal who said they'll help to set up Pocket Angel, you know, to be a charitable organization. So, you know, the, the whole formality of all the paperwork that you have to go through and all the hoops you have to jump through. That was suddenly taken away from me. So I got a really vibrant, amazing, awesome young lawyer called Yashin who is now a part of the Pocket Angel leadership team. And she is formalizing the structure for Pocket Angel, so that we can, you know, we can meet a public benefit. We can help to get ourselves some funding and just basically have the right sort of structure, you know, so that the benefit of Pocket Angel will be for the vulnerable people that it was designed to help. Yeah. So you know, when they say, what is it, you can only reach a height by standing on the shoulder of giants. Yeah. For me, my giant was actually my, I can't call him my colleague, but he's, you know, he's like the, at the very top here in the UK is my managing director. And for you to be able to say that about the place you work and the person who is in charge of you I think is an awesome thing. You know, that that person actually takes the time to listen, actively and to act. Yeah. So that was brilliant. And so where are we now with this? So, painting a picture I've got marketing team, I've got, you know, a team of trustees. Well we have to say trustees in quotation. And in that team of trustees, I also have another colleague who I work with in the SharePoint space, Andy Gin has done everything imaginable from website editing to, you know, pavement pounding in Brighton to talk to service providers. You know, to just basically putting up a cardboard city to make it look like a homeless, you know, a homeless shelter for us to put on a VR experience, which is an immersive video in a Google Oculus headset. That transports you to the level of the rough sleeper. Yeah. So, you feel as if you’re sat on the pavement and the world is walking past you. And that video footage, the VR video for footage, we've been kindly given permission to use it by another awesome charity called the Passage, who do some amazing work in the homeless sector. So it's just been, I don't know, Heather, you know, how to describe the journey it's been, oh, awesome. Yeah.

Heather Newman:  It's amazing. And the, in the app, so the app itself provides a voucher. It's a cash alternative. And then there's products from businesses who have signed up to be part of Pocket Angel. You can buy that voucher using the app. You give the code for the voucher to the rough sleeper and then they can present it and get certain things. Is that how that works?

Alcia Loach:  Yes. Brilliant. Yeah. You got it. So yeah, exactly. So the, the, the app helps you to buy that voucher, like you say. And on the voucher it's a six digit code. And that six digit code, so for the providers, the service providers, so the business who will give the person the hot drink or the meal. Yeah. They only need to be presented with that six digit code. They don't even need you to print out the voucher. They just want the six digit code. They've agreed that the person could ever come with it scribbled in their hand. Or they could take a picture of the voucher. So you have the voucher in your phone, they can take a picture of the voucher. A homeless guy who spoke at an event that we had, he said he would just put it in his phone as a telephone number, you know, or in the memo field. So people need worry that that six digit code is hard to understand. You know, people will be able to write it, take a picture of it, you know, do whatever they want because the businesses so far have just said it's okay if they come in and say Pocket Angel gave me a six digit code, we will give them the goods. Yeah. The important bit is they will only get what the code is valid for. So if it's a hot drink, they get hot drink, they don't get any change and they don't get any cash. So we're also keeping cash out of the system, you know, out of that transaction. And the benefit of that is that any change will be put into a pool, which will then be divided to help the other charities who are doing like awesome work when it comes to mental health services. You know, cause it's usually a lot of emotional breakdown and mental health issues that affect homeless people. So there's some really great charities who are doing work there and they have a funding gap. There are also charities who provide, you know, other services that we want to support. So, you know, you needn't worry that any single aspect of your donation will be wasted. Yeah. Everything will go into a pool and everything will be directed to the services that help to give that wrap around service to help people out of homelessness.

Heather Newman:  And is it, so the app will be available later this summer, is that right? Fall summer?

Alcia Loach:  So, we're going to go for autumn, which you guys in the states called the Fall. I say Fall as well. I've got to like adjust here as well. So, um, I will say Fall to some people and they're like, when's Fall? And I was like, Autumn. Oh yeah. So, yeah, so we're, we're aiming for the Autumn for the app to be available in the Apple store and in the Play store. And that will, that will be specific to only Brighton because we're sort of starting small. We're learning our lessons in Brighton and then we hope to move on to the next city and to expand. We had extraordinary contacts from people asking, you know, can the app come to my city? I mean literally worldwide Heather.

Heather Newman:  No, yeah, it will be that. And I can't wait for that. That's amazing. Wow. Wow.

Alcia Loach:  But for now, it's a land and expand from Brighton. So unfortunately it will only be available in Brighton, but if people want to support us, you know, please feel free to, to help in whatever way you can. We've got a GoFundMe because we, we will need some kind of financial backing to help us with the, you know, the maintenance of the app. To get, for instance, we're thinking of getting like a charity worker on the ground in Brighton to support the initiative, you know, so that when a rough sleeper goes to the business, you know, that community aspect of it, we need to make sure that we have a person there who would manage relationships and manage things for us. So, you know, as with everything there's always costs, a lot of time, a lot of transition.

Heather Newman:  Yup. That's wonderful. So, um, amazing. This is so cool. And you know, to sort of wrapping it back into sort of everything else, talk about, will you talk about a spark that sort of got you to where you are, like with doing this sort of work with the tech, it's a huge question. I know, you know, of what's, what's your guiding, what's, what, what guides you, you know?

Alcia Loach:  What guides me. Okay. So, yeah, so, my guiding force is I guess the force that created me. And so yeah, so there are all sorts of different, it doesn't matter to me, I'm very open minded. It doesn't matter to me what you call it. If you call it the universe, because some people have said you know, the universe asked and you answered, or universe beckons and you do. Or if you call it God or, my friend calls it the divine WIFI, which I think is, it's pretty awesome actually. So it's, it's as if there's this driving force that drives us to do good, to be good, to be light in the world. And that's why I think I had that synergy with you when we met. Because I could see the light in you and I think you could also see the light in me. And, it's that, how do you put it, it's that desire to do good and to be good. To do your personal best. Yeah. I'm in no way bigging up myself and saying, I'm this great person. Yeah. No, I'm, I'm striving like everybody else is striving, you know, to be a better person. To do my best, to live my best life. And I think with Pocket Angel, it definitely, that spark was there because when I looked at that person on the pavement, I didn't see any number of derogatory names that people have for those people. Instead, I saw a being who wasn't being their best self. They weren't given the opportunity to live their best life. Yeah. And, and, but, you know, some people say, but for the grace of God, you know, but for happenstance or circumstance, there go I, yeah. And so that heartbreak that you feel, or that I felt in that moment that sort of triggered that anger, I felt was, you know, how can I walk past this person to ignore their plight? You know, Michael Jackson, God rest his soul. He, you know, when he sang about looking the man, the man in the mirror, you know, and it's about seeing that suffering and not divorcing yourself from it, but actually feeling it, opening your heart to it and feeling it, and realizing that sometimes we fall, but we need someone else to lift us up. You know, we need somebody to give us a helping hand and not everybody has the same strength. So we kind of have to lend our strength to someone sometimes when they need a little bit of support, a little bit of kindness. So, Pocket Angel, separate and apart from the app, we now have a long-term vision. So we have a short term vision, which is to have this app assist. Yeah. Which is what I call the life support mode, where you are giving sustenance and you're not letting the person freeze and you're looking them in the eye and saying, I care for you. What do you want? And we're giving them choice as well because remember without giving them cash if you go and you buy the coffee, you don't know if they want a, you know, a flat white or a decaf or, you know? Or if they want a veggie burger or a beef burger, which I made the mistake I went and bought a beef burger for a vegetarian homeless guy, you know, because you're on the curb doesn't mean that you've completely changed who you are. So the first phase is the assist. The second phase we see as restore and that's where I'm totally excited and I can't wait to get there. And restore is where we can voucherize and sort of crowd fund the journey of that person through a training course. So we can provide all the meals that they need, all the drinks that they need, and then we can break the course down into so many vouchers so we could sell so many vouchers to send, you know, I don't know, let's use a really you know, generic name John, so we can send John through a vocational course or whatever course to get him back on its feet and back in a job. Yeah. And then the final stage of that is we want to have Pocket Angel Home where we have like a brick and mortar home, but not just any old home, like a home that I would live in, you know, and a home that's comfortable, a home that they can choose how to decorate their own rooms. But also a home that's like a family. So they have a mental health specialist on, you know, onsite, they've got all the services that they need to help them on that journey back into independent living. And then the whole wraparound of all the this is that we see our website, eventually when we get great website designer to volunteer, is we want to have Pocket Angel inform. And that's where we give the world, the community, the resources that they need to help them to learn how to treat these people, you know, in a human kind way. Yeah. We inform them as to what services there are near you. So, you know, using geolocation, you're standing here, you see the guy there, you can tell him, you know, go there or you see the girl there, you could tell them go there. Just mean having that useful information to inform yourself and to also inform the person on the curb. We are also going to start a schools program and literally we started the schools program straight away because, we found a really great volunteer who's got the right kind of personality for it. He's a great public speaker and he is going to go into the schools with the VR headset with a great power point slide deck and he's going to start straight off in the schools in the, in the surrounding area around Brighton. You know, so teaching the young yeah. From, you know, from, from a really tender age as to, you know, the issue, the complexity of the issues behind homelessness, but also enabling them to see Pocket Angel as a tool that they can use to make a difference in whatever way they can.

Heather Newman:  That's amazing. You're amazing. This is awesome. Wow!

Alcia Loach:  Oh, thank you.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. I'm so excited about this and everybody, we will put all of the information about how to connect with Alcia and also Pocket Angel. I'm sure that many of you will be interested in this and want to connect and want to figure out how you can bring it to your city and help. And so we'll make sure to connect all those dots for everyone. Um, goodness. Thank you for sharing all of that in your story. It's so great. I, there's so much I knew and so much I didn't, but that always happens. It's so cool. I love it.

Alcia Loach:  Oh, thank you. Thank you very much, Heather. It's been an absolute pleasure. Yeah, you know, you're great. Thank you so much for having me. I really, really look forward to your mavens episodes and I'll look forward to the next bit that I learn something on, so that would be great.

Heather Newman:  Absolutely. Well, wonderful. And keep on keeping on because you're doing good things and I saw your light, you know, and it just, it was, I was like, aww. So anyway, so I just want to thank you for being a guest and thank you for sharing and thank you for everything you're doing in the world. It's really lovely.

Alcia Loach:  Thank you, Heather. Thank you for everything you're doing.

New Speaker:   Thank you. Absolutely. Cheers and tears. We'll have to crack those bottles of champagne soon. So yay. All right, well cheers and thank you everybody. This has been another Mavens Do It Better podcast. You can find us on all the usual places, iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify on our website. And here's to another beautiful, happy Friday, big blue spinning day on this sphere. And thanks everybody. Have a great day.


Heather Newman

Heather Newman is an award-winning marketing maven, technology entrepreneur and an epic connector that brings many worlds together. She has extensive experience marketing products and services for Enterprise businesses, startups and emerging markets. Heather builds plans and processes that are nimble, human and different. She is an adept storyteller and is passionate about growth for both employees and the corporate bottom-line. Heather hails from the arts and the bulk of her career has been working with the largest technology companies in the world (Microsoft, Google, Amazon, NetApp, Hewlett Packard, and Dell). Her nineteen years of experience working at technology companies and building global high-tech marketing strategy has driven millions of dollars of revenue and multiple award-winning campaigns. She has led global marketing teams for many technology companies including AvePoint, IT Unity & KnowledgeLake. Heather was a part of the original Microsoft SharePoint Marketing team. During her tenure, she helped launch multiple versions of the product, build the SharePoint Partner Ecosystem and conceived of and produced the first three Microsoft SharePoint Conferences. Creative Maven has produced thousands of global marketing campaigns and events. Currently CM is focusing on go to market strategies for Microsoft and its partners as well as a new site sister site launching in 2015 called Marketingfixer.com. Heather also serves as Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Content Panda, an innovative technology startup looking to actively disrupt how content is delivered inside software.