What challenges did you have to overcome to get your foot on a career path in technology?
Being an HR business partner means that you play an integral role in shaping the business for future success. You need to understand the business plan, the direction of travel, and enough of the detail associated with technical roles and requirements. I’ve found that it’s important to build relationships, to find people who are great tech translators, to be organised and clear about the things you’re a specialist in.
In your experience, does being a woman in your profession come with extra challenges that you have had to overcome?
As the primary carer for 2 girls, I’ve become incredibly good at juggling everything at work and at home. It’s often felt frustrating (how to split myself in two) but that’s been the springboard for me to work differently. Whether that’s been about creating clear boundaries between home and work time, making time for reflection or recognising when decisions need to be made quickly, prioritising actions and activities, and promoting knowledge sharing and collaborative working. These aren’t universal approaches either to working in technology or to women, but they’re absolutely critical to thriving within a fast-moving business environment.
What’s been the single thing that has helped you with your career in technology?
Creating trust can’t be underestimated, it enables collaborative working and sharing and gets to better business outcomes, together. And that starts with honing your listening skills, prioritising and carving out time for people to talk, to talk through anything that might be getting in the way, and to take positive action early on.
What changes have you seen in the sector since you started working in technology?
Well I remember playing some great games of table tennis on my Atari station with my brother and the days of doing business on the move before mobile phones (really showing my age here!) Advances in technology have created so much flexibility and capacity. They’ve also driven the ability to produce huge amounts of information, perhaps so much that it has the potential to be overwhelming in its volume. Understanding what’s important to you in that sea of data is a great starting place, and I love being part of a team creating clarity in this space.
What would your advice be to any woman wanting to start her career in the technology industry?
Don’t be put off by your experience or lack of experience. If there’s a role that’s particularly interesting to you, find out more about it, talk to people working in similar environments, and really test whether it’s something that you’d want to invest your own time in. Talk to your current manager, if they’re good, they’ll help you to find opportunities to grow and make the contribution that you want. Try and get some relevant placements (perhaps ask to work on a different project or a short secondment to a different team) and go for it – life’s too short! If you get the chance to work with a different project team, grasp it with both hands – you’ll definitely learn something from the experience.
Do you think it’s important for more women to find career paths within the technology sector?
Absolutely, we all have a responsibility to optimise diversity within teams, and by doing this, and by making sure that we’re doing this in an inclusive way, we’ll achieve the benefits of different views and perspectives.
Do you think enough is done to help women get into the technology industry? If not, what would you recommend?
It’s important that there are better links between business and education, from an early point. Children of all ages are proverbial sponges; the more opportunity they have to understand the variety and diversity of roles that are present and continually emerging, will drive positive curiosity and engagement.