I manage a global team, with staff located across Australia, NZ and in the Philippines.
Technology has always been of interest to me. At university, in my undergraduate degree, I completed a double major in Accounting and Finance and Economics, and a sub major in computing science. I realised early on in my career, the importance of technology in streamlining workflows and improving outcomes. Although I originally worked in other industries, I was always an early adopter of technology wherever possible, and often had responsibility for IT systems as part of my role.
My first role in a technology company was with a high tech start up, which was spun out of a CSIRO project. While I loved using technology, I soon realised how little I knew. My previous years of accounting experience set me up to be able to manage the finance side of things, but to be useful, I needed to understand both startups and technology companies in more depth. I was extremely lucky to have a couple of amazing mentors to help me in this regard.
I was appointed as Company Secretary, was one of 2 females on the board and had the opportunity to contribute to strategic direction.
It is important to remember that a successful business should be appointing the best candidate for a role, regardless of gender. But to do this, the pool of candidates they are accessing must also be diverse.
Since then, I have worked for technology companies in various industries including professional services, software development and now Managed Services. All these industries are male dominated, but each company has recognised the importance of the female perspective and I have had a seat on the either the Executive Team or on the board as Company Secretary in each of these roles.
A lot of work has gone into changing the way businesses view female employees through campaigns and hard work such as #genderdiversity, and #equalopportunity, but more still needs to be done. It is important to remember that a successful business should be appointing the best candidate for a role, regardless of gender. But to do this, the pool of candidates they are accessing must also be diverse.
Diversity in any form is good for business – it promotes ideas and innovation, especially in an environment of change and disruption.
Schools are doing a great job of promoting STEM subjects to young girls, encouraging their interest in Science and Technology subjects, and more importantly, encouraging them to apply for careers in these industries. It is a positive step in the right direction, but is only the beginning of the journey. We need to acknowledge the contribution of women in science and tech more and make this a norm so young girls are not discouraged.
My advice for women looking for tech positions would be to remember that when you are looking for a role within the technology industry (or any other industry), remember that you are evaluating the business as much as they are evaluating you.
I recently read an article by Adam Bryant, interviewing Christa Quarles, a director at Kimberly-Clark and Affirm. The headline caught my eye, which was “A board with no women is a sign that you are not making good decisions”. Diversity in any form is good for business – it promotes ideas and innovation, especially in an environment of change and disruption. This is a major positive. Do your research and look for companies that support and value women and diversity, and actively promote their internal values. Women on the board or the executive/leadership team is always a good indicator. First Focus for example, now has 8 people on the executive team, with 3 of these positions being women.
Also remember that sometimes you need to ask for help. I have been extremely lucky to have one or two mentors at each of the technology companies I’ve worked for, both male and female, and I am truly grateful to each of them for the time, support and advice each of them gave me. Live the values you want to see in others and lead by example. It is important to me to give back to others and provide mentorship, encouragement and support to the next level of aspiring managers.