In this interview, we hear from three leading ladies at three very different stages of their careers at CloudShift. Olivia – Business Analyst Intern, shares her advice for young girls wanting to pursue a career within a male-dominated industry. Marcelle – Customer Solutions Lead, dispels some of the common myths and stereotypes surrounding tech professionals. And Emma – Non-Executive Director, tells us why authenticity is key to becoming a strong female leader.
Olivia Goodall – Business Analyst Intern
What first drew you to the tech sector?
It was mainly how rapidly the tech sector grows and changes. I saw this as an industry I wanted to get experience in during my placement year, and with Salesforce being the No.1 CRM platform, I knew how invaluable the experience would be, regardless of where my career leads.
What is your role here at CloudShift?
I joined CloudShift as a business analyst intern as part of my year in industry for my university course. I started out with very little experience in the tech industry, so to begin with I worked closely with the Operations team, pitching in on Salesforce admin tasks. I have had great exposure in my role so far, I’ve learnt a lot about Salesforce, so I am now able to use this new knowledge to work with the Solutions team to get a closer look at how the platform is used to meet customer needs.
Women only make up 17% of the tech sector in the UK. Why do you think this is?
I think from personal experience I never had a very wide exposure to the option of tech as a career path throughout school. I deemed my skills set to not be a very technical one, thinking tech was mainly all about complicated coding that I would never understand! I do think exposure has started to get better for girls at a younger age in this country, but a wider understanding of the tech industry needs to be shared within schools. If I had better knowledge of which skills are valuable and the types of careers that are available within tech, I definitely would have looked at this sector earlier on.
What advice would you give to any girls thinking of pursuing a career in tech?
You don’t have to be technical to start with! I think I disregarded a career in tech because I felt I didn’t know the ins and out well enough to ever find the right role for me. You soon realise everyone is always learning within the tech industry and it’s a very collaborative and exciting sector to work in. I would say if you are considering pursuing a career – give it a go! You won’t lose out trying even if you don’t end up in the tech sector in the future – all the skills you learn will be beneficial anywhere you go.
Marcelle Braithwaite– Customer Solutions Lead
How did you get into the tech industry?
So I haven’t always worked in tech – to many people’s surprise I actually started out working as a hairdresser! I then moved into administrative roles in training organisations and mining companies. After a few years, I started to feel under-challenged and was looking for something new, and so I chose tech.
A lot of companies nowadays will take you on without prior experience and train you up. However, I wanted to invest in myself before asking a company to take a chance on me. I decided to bite the bullet and fly myself to Sydney to take the ADM 201 course and get certified.
Have you ever had a career mentor?
In one of my earlier roles, I had a manager who really took me under her wing. She demonstrated how to be a respected professional woman in a male-dominated industry and challenged me to drive myself to learn and continuously grow.
What advice would you give to women and girls wanting to pursue a career in tech?
Back yourself and give it a go. Even if you haven’t got much experience, you can bring soft skills and get trained up on the technical stuff once you’re there. I actually think having different backgrounds and different perspectives would be advantageous to a business.
I would also say forget that misconception of tech being “geeky”. It’s not all greenscreens and coding. There are so many different aspects to the tech industry nowadays, especially within the Salesforce ecosystem. Tech is a lot more nuanced than it used to be, and there’s a job suited for many different skills sets and personality types.
Emma Turner – Non-Executive Director
Could you give us a bit of information about your background?
I’m an executive coach and have worked across many industries for over 26 years. With a background in psychology, I started off as a therapist, and then in 1994, I wrote a positive thinking course, which I started to run for companies like Panasonic, Oracle and Allianz. I now work in many tech organisations including Salesforce, Oracle, Sage, ServiceNow and Slack.
What I notice about tech companies is that the pace, energy and rate of change, demands a workforce who are thoroughly resilient, flexible and energised. This was the catalyst to me setting up my wellbeing company Zenergos.
Why do you think tech has always been a male-dominated environment?
I think it is starting to change, however, there will be so many reasons that women only make up 17% of the tech sector. Historically for example ‘technology’ itself has had a gender bias through education towards males. We need to make technology attractive to females from an early age.
What advice would you give to aspiring female leaders?
My advice to females would be to be authentic and value the difference that being female brings to an organisation. I have seen too many women believing they need to ‘act’ in a particular way in order to succeed. Actually, you just need to bring your best self, with all your natural strengths and attributes to work.