“The most exciting thing for me is the challenge. Nothing stands still.”
What does your current role involve?
I’m the Asset and Configuration Manager for the Chief Digital Office in the Scottish Government, looking after all the assets — hardware and software — within Social Security Scotland. It’s a new post, we’re creating all the policy documents and profiles of what we’re going to be doing, from development to hosting.
What do you enjoy about your role?
The most exciting thing for me is the challenge. Nothing stands still. There’s a lot of plate-spinning. But you’re always learning about what happens here and what happens there and about what each team is using something for and how that all fits together. It’s like a sort of giant jigsaw puzzle, really. And as soon as you think you’ve done the jigsaw, because you’re working in tech, there’s something new and something changes and the whole landscape shifts. It’s always: How can we make things better? How can we use this? I’ve got very clear things that I’m meant to be trying to achieve, but it’s never going to be the same day twice, which is good.
I’ve had so much support from my line manager, from my team, the people around me, to be able to learn more and develop in a way that I want to, the things that I find interesting. I’ve been able to develop a couple of avenues that I want to pursue, which has been really helpful.
What would be useful to support women in tech?
I had a baby last year and everything around the maternity leave and coming back to work, and making sure that situation was comfortable for me, was really, really supportive. When you’re coming back from time away, especially in an atmosphere like tech where everyday is a learning day and everything changes, you feel like you’ve been out of the loop for so long, and it’s quite challenging, quite fast-paced, and you get nervous. But we had a discussion about what would work best for everyone, rather than me having to feel like I was making difficult adjustments, and now I work compressed hours and get an extra day off to be able to spend time with my daughter. They were really keen to let me know that they were welcoming me back; they were really keen for me to come back and there was lots for me to do and lots of opportunities. So that was critical for me.
Also, having an atmosphere where you can get additional support and training — because if you have taken time out, you’re concerned about your performance. I think it is a slightly more female trait to not necessarily have the same level of confidence and to want to make sure that you are absolutely nailing every thing that you’re given and you can prove you’re doing just as well as everybody else. I have been really encouraged to seek promotion opportunities. I’ve been encouraged to push myself, to write up everything that I’m doing and realise how much I’ve achieved. My manager is great at helping me consider what more I can actually do and thinking about where I want to go. I think having an atmosphere that feels more encouraging, rather than driven, has really helped.
And encourage girls to consider careers in tech?
I think that the way we consider Tech can be quite off-putting. Tech can seem like a monolith, even just what that word encompasses, so I would try to break it down a bit — think about how you use technology and what it can do for you. And just be curious, try to find out a little bit more about it, because there’s so much you can do with it, it’s fascinating. There will be something out there, in technology, that can either massively support you or it can be something that’s really, really exciting. There’s actually something really creative about it, in some ways.
How did you get into tech?
I was working for an education consultancy and the company underwent a refresh. They were looking into technical applications to support them in what they were doing. And I got heavily involved in that and started to do a lot more project management and technical project management. And then transferred over to doing project coordination for the Scottish Government. So, my technical background was initially self-taught and taught on the job. My degree was in French and Spanish: coding, technology, it’s a language. It’s all about systems and how things get put together.