Tag Archives: tech work and roles

Ada Scotland Festival 2023

Ada Scotland Festival 2023: ENU events

Four events from SCEBE and Equate Scotland:

ENUSEC presents: Capture the Flag Competition


Test your cyberskills in ENUSEC’s annual Ada Scotland CTF. The competition is open to school students (S3-S6), college and uni students and runs throughout the Festival (2-13th October, 2023).

Equate Scotland presents: Journeys into Data Science

Equate Scotland Journeys into Data Science

Equate Scotland Journeys into Data Science

Thursday 5th October 2023, 12:30 to 13:30.

Join Equate Scotland online to explore opportunities for women and non-binary to come into a career in data science later in life.

Edinburgh Napier University presents: S2 Girls into STEM

4th year Civil Engineering Student

4th year Civil Engineering Student

Merchiston Campus,
Tuesday 10th October 2023, 11:00 to 15:00.
On Ada Lovelace Day, we’re welcoming S2 girls and non-binary students into our the School of Computing, Engineering, and the Built Environment (SCEBE) at Merchiston, for STEM inspiration, challenges and fun.
To register a group please email outreach@napier.ac.uk

Napier STEM presents: Women and gender minorities in STEM careers event

Napier STEM Ada Scotland Careers Event

Napier STEM Ada Scotland Careers Event

G04, Merchiston Campus, Wednesday 11th October 2023, 14:00 to 16:00.
Career-themed get together at Merchiston.
Women and gender minority students in Computing and Engineering (especially SCEBE students) are invited to come and listen to short career talks from professionals, ask questions, and meet other people, especially our Napier STEM society, and eat ice cream.

Lots more Ada Scotland Festival events

Lots more events on the Ada.Scot website and more being added daily.

If you want to chat about any of these events or get involved, please contact Ella Taylor-Smith.

Celia Igreja

“If you are curious and you are open to continually challenge your current knowledge, a role in technology is for you.”

photo of Celia IgrejaTell us a little about your work

I work for Forestry and Land Scotland as a Geographical Information Systems Development Manager. My role involves identifying the best technology to meet the requirements of the business processes, to decide how we collect and manage our data.

What I love about my job is that I am constantly learning and developing new skills. We have to work with a number of different  applications, which are constantly changing and upgrading. Being on top of the changes helps me identify how the technology can best benefit the business needs.

On the other hand, I need to have a good insight of the business and its processes in order to marry the best tool to the process. This requires working with a wide range of topics and this makes the job varied and exciting, as every day is different. I enjoy working with other people and help them finding the best solutions for their needs/problems.

How did you find your way into tech?

During my graduate studies I developed a particular interest in GIS technology and its applications to environmental science. What I find fascinating about working in GIS technology is how it can help day-to-day processes/workflows as well as answering wider questions of any discipline.

What interests you about it?

The most fascinating thing is how, in one undertaking, you can tackle inefficiencies (automating processes), gather large amounts of data and analyse/prepare different outcomes that help shape people’s views and perceptions that aid more informed decision-making.

What advice would you offer?

If you are curious, enjoy working with other people to help them find technical solutions for their needs / problems, and you are open to continually challenge your current knowledge, a role in technology is for you.

Amanda Kelly

“My advice for anyone who isn’t sure if a STEM career is for them, or if they can do it is to give it a try.  Accept any help and learn from experts around you. ”

photo of Amanda KellyHow did you find your way into tech?

My post-school career started in a contact centre, from where I moved to a marketing role and was lucky enough to complete a professional certificate in management which helped me fall back in love with study.

My course tutor suggested I look into a 6Sigma qualification and that is where my love of data began.  I have always been interested in ‘why’ things happen and understanding that data was a great way to get to the root cause made me want to learn to pull my own data, I learned to code and from there my interest in coding, data warehousing, and databases was born.

Building a strong data culture is a gateway to making meaningful change to help improve any organisation and it starts with a tiny piece of code.

Tell us a little about your work

I guess you could call me an unlikely analyst.  I always thought my career would be focused on languages and books; when I was little I wanted to be a librarian and have always been happiest when surrounded by books.

In high school my grades weren’t high enough to allow me to sit Higher Maths – which I now find funny because it’s something that forms a key part of my role every day.

I studied English at university and my careers officer at school had pointed me towards nursing and teaching as potential professions, which maybe says more about the bias or opinions back then than it does about me.

What advice would you offer?

My advice for anyone who isn’t sure if a STEM career is for them, or if they can do it, is to give it a try.  Accept any help and learn from experts around you.

Never let anyone tell you can’t do it, with enough effort and hard work, you can do anything.

I suffer frequently from imposter syndrome, but then I remember they (teachers) told me I wasn’t smart enough to do maths, and I proved them wrong.  So can you.

Megan Reutin

“Every single role is technology-related in some way, shape or form whether: you’re reliant upon technology to support your role; or you’re pioneering the creation of technology itself“

photo of Megan ReutinHow did you find your way into tech?

I have always been passionate about a variety of different things, each of these not necessarily tech-related – and that’s an important thing to remember – these interests, when combined together, led me to where I am today:

  • A desire to learn, in general, using technology from a young age (e.g. French games on the PC to learn phrases to help me when on holiday, designing CD covers in high school using limited drawing packages
  • An interest in learning how things work in general
  • A loathing of bad customer experience, bad user design, and rotten customer journeys
  • A bit of a creative streak and a love of designing things (from clothes to interior decoration)
  • An eye for detail, whether through selecting an ideal landscape position for a photo shot or noticing that digital visuals were just a little off-centre / too high / not the right shade
  • And a yearning to fight the norm

Interestingly, to combine all of these I fell firstly into website design / game design & creation, then application design & building (think Matrix / CSI swipe touch screens), then I stumbled upon the beginnings of what was to become the Social Media wave, landing firmly in the exciting realm of data, analytics & insights, handling strategically every type of data you can imagine!

What does your role involve?

I’m the Global Head of Data Science & Strategy for Grünenthal, a pharmaceutical company focusing on pain management and related diseases.

The role itself ranges from the definition of business strategy to the implementation of everything that entails: initiative roadmap creation, process definition, platform technology, the governance of it all, but most importantly is the exciting possibility of using Data Science to get the data to talk, ensuring that our business is truly data-driven in all decisions made.

As well as having a business-facing focus, there is also a market-facing focus, meaning that it’s my responsibility to keep up with the latest trends, understand what’s happening across industries in terms of data, and keep my ear to the floor for exciting developments as well as looking at potential opportunities for partnerships.

My previous role involved testing out bleeding-edge technologies so I love to find new ways in which we can innovate, whilst also combatting things like data bias, ensuring that solutions are built responsibly – ethical / responsible AI is a huge interest of mine and it’s imperative that everyone plays a role in ensuring technology is responsibly built to ensure existing stereotypes & bias are quashed and not emphasised further through technology.

What advice would you offer?

Create your own path forward – there are so many exciting roles to choose from, some which won’t even exist today: my role didn’t exist when I was in school, or even in University!

Also, do not be put off by stereotypes – I think I’ve came up against (and thrown out!) every stereotype humanly possible!

Every single role is technology-related in some way, shape or form, whether you’re reliant upon technology to support your role, or you’re pioneering the creation of technology itself.

What did you enjoy about your education?

I absolutely loved being able to explore things and get creative whilst learning. It’s opened the doors to many possibilities.

Don’t be afraid to throw yourself into any opportunities that arise, even if completely outwith your comfort zone – one of the best early opportunities I had (despite it being a bit scary!) was the possibility to extend the council’s employee portal as part of my Master’s degree – such a great experience and I’m still, to this day, in contact with the person who was my boss back then!

Celin Reilly

“Not everyone learns in the same way so explore every avenue to find what works for you!”

photo of Celin ReillyHow did you find your way into tech?

I originally studied at the University of Stirling for a Diploma of Higher Education in Mathematics and its applications, where I was introduced to some of the technology and techniques found in data science and statistical study. This piqued my interest in a way that other branches of Mathematics did not.

From there I followed articles and had a curiosity for how the statistics we are shown are created. While living in France, a close friend informed me that there was an opening for a Graduate Apprentice in Data Science at Caledonia Housing Association and encouraged me to apply. Following the application and interview process, I find myself on an excellent course and work with wonderful people who have a passion for data and technology.

What does your work involve?

My role currently involves assisting the Strategy and Improvement team at Caledonia HA by using and applying the skills I develop both in class, and through experience and work with the Business Analyst. This could be anything from uploading and collecting the results of an online survey, to helping gather and cleanse data requested from a Neighbourhood Officer.

It is a varied role, with a lot of room for growth and support, with great emphasis on improvement for the team, staff, tenants, and the business overall. I am encouraged to use my classwork to improve processes, systems, and reports that we already have in place.

What do you enjoy about your work?

I truly enjoy the ability to work and learn with an amazing group of people in a variety of fields with a common objective. I have become very good friends with everyone on my course and this allows me to bounce ideas between them and solve problems with new points of view. I also love how I am given freedom to apply the lessons we are taught in class to my work and vice-versa. This allows me to develop my own knowledge with the ability to see exactly how the things we learn in class are acted upon in a real world setting.

What advice would you offer?

Be curious, and seek to explore how the statistics we are shown are actually created. It can be a difficult route at times, but hugely rewarding. I have found excellent friends on my course and I work with an incredible group of women who share my passion for data. Do not allow others to discourage you from personal development, and take every feasible opportunity to explore and develop your skills. Not everyone learns in the same way so explore every avenue to find what works for you!

Kris Plum

”…. there’s no better feeling than seeing your code work or learning new avenues of technology”

photo of Kris PlumHow did you find your way into tech?

I have recently been hired as a data analytics and visualisation consultant. I started my undergraduate studies in Literature, German and French. A year later I dropped out and travelled for two and half years. I then went back and completed my undergraduate degree in English Literature. Thereafter, I worked my way from a temporary worker in a digital marketing company to being a full-time Media Strategist and then worked my way into a social media marketing/search engine marketing position. It was in this role that I developed a love of technology and data. This role introduced me to the world of technology, specifically web development. I had only known of web development as hardcore coding, but it was through understanding how a web page ranked and the importance of how a website was developed for google ranking that I began to be aware of the simplicity and creativity of web development.

In this time, I had also made a female friend who was a software engineer. I remember asking her how she got into such a role. She told me she had an undergraduate degree in dance and was previously a ballet dancer and that her dad was the one who taught her code. She then told me how anyone could code and that she was trying to get into UX design. It was then that I decided that the intricate world of tech would be for me but not then as I decided to go and travel abroad for another 3 years.

I went and travelled, found my now partner and decided to pursue a career in tech. I searched for a university that would offer a master’s in computing but one that would provide training in web development and UX. The university that I found was Edinburgh Napier University which offered the diverse program I was looking for and had the permaculture Lionsgate. I was extremely intrigued by the Lionsgate project as I had spent years while travelling working on organic permaculture farms. The permaculture Lionsgate is a project that combines sustainability and technology. The Lionsgate sounded like an absolute dream as my sole reason for getting involved in technology is it has the biggest potential for assisting the climate emergency and reversing global warming.

What does your role involve?

From what I’ve understood of the job duties and through my discussion with my future managers, it seems that the role will involve a lot of data analysis. What I’m most looking forward to is working on big projects that will influence stakeholders to make important infrastructure decisions. I’ve also been informed that I will learn how to calculate carbon emissions for each infrastructure project. Thereby, being able to help influence stakeholders to make positive decisions based on the data.

Essentially this role involves the use of data to encourage positive infrastructural growth..

What advice would you offer?

I think you should try a diverse range of tech courses as you would be surprised as to what aspects of technology you find interesting. Computing is an extremely rewarding degree and there’s no better feeling than seeing your code work or learning new avenues of technology.

In terms of gender imbalance on the course I personally didn’t have this experience on my course as my program was very international, which I absolutely loved. Although any of the boys that I worked with on my course seemed just as lost as I was, which made me feel much better as it put this stereotype of boys being more tech savvy to bed as I clearly saw that it wasn’t true. I feel that even if it had been more male than female, I think you would be surprised to learn that everyone is learning together.

Amelia Olsson Robbie

“The most exciting thing for me is the challenge. Nothing stands still.”

photo of Amelia Olsson RobbieWhat 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.

Louise Drumm

”…[Tech] has also been an area with lots of change, so there are always new platforms and developments to make things interesting”

photo of Louise DrummHow did you find your way into tech?

My brother is 10 years older than me and when he got interested in computing and studied it at university it meant there was a computer in the house and I started to type out the Basic programmes printed in magazines. It was a slow business, but I got a real satisfaction from it, even though I must only have been about 7 or 8. Years went and I did a degree in English Literature. I went on to work in theatre as a technician and director. I wanted to return to study something and I was torn between computing and music technology. In the end I did a MSc in IT Software and Systems, because I really wanted a broad knowledge. I had no clear idea where it would take me. Though very challenging, I enjoyed the course and discovered the creativity involved in coding. My dissertation project related back to my undergraduate degree as I built an e-learning package for Old English. This is how I moved into the area of learning technology and I’ve worked in a number of universities since. I have done software development, but mostly it has been as a learning technologist and more recently as a lecturer.

What does your role involve?

What I really enjoyed about being a learning technologist was that it involved both technical and the interpersonal skills. I would work closely with an academic to help them realise their ideas for how they wanted to teach online. This would require training them in the use of some tools or platforms, but also in depth conversations about how their students learn, how they teach their subject and what technologies can bring to these activities. Other times I would be trouble-shooting issues with the systems, or more commonly, user mistakes.

There were opportunities to develop my skills in certain areas, such as design or multimedia. It has also been an area with lots of change, so there are always new platforms and developments to make things interesting. When I moved into a lecturing role, I could bring a lot of that on-the-job knowledge to my research and teaching, as I now run the MSc in Blended and Online Education. I really like working in a university as I get to meet and work with people who work in lots of different areas and there are opportunities for continuing professional development.

What advice would you offer?

The market for learning technologists is very competitive since the pandemic and there are now more opportunities to specialise or move into management roles. It’s good to keep an open mind about where you might go and where development opportunities might lead you to. It is also good to feel connected and true to what is important to you. I know that as an undergraduate student I was not as engaged or successful as I could have been, so I’m always mindful that the work I do might be helping other under confident learners be reach their potential.

Jen Campbell

Product Owner in the Scottish Government’s Digital Transformation Division

photo of Jen CampbellWhat does your current role involve?

I’m a Product Manager, sometimes referred to as a Product Owner, in the Scottish Government’s Digital Transformation Division. My role is to understand the users’ and the business needs and set the direction for what we’re developing. It’s quite a common role in the private sector, in terms of things like developing apps. In Government, we tend to focus our work around services, so we’re thinking about the service that’s being delivered to the end user. My team are working on a service for outbound payments to people, whether that’s benefit payments or grants or pension payments. We’re still very much in a development stage, so my role day-to-day involves things like interpreting what’s come out of user research, understanding business needs, such as rules around payments, and using that to determine the priorities around what we need to build and deliver. I work closely with everybody across the team — delivery manager, business analyst, user researcher, service design, developers and technical architects — lots of different roles.

What do you enjoy about your role?

I like being in the middle of things. I like the fact that I need to look all around, I need to be interacting with the development teams, I need to know what they’re doing. I need to have enough of an understanding that I can have conversations with them and give direction in some areas, without being too deep in the technical detail. I’m also interacting with people in the financial processes side, as well as potential users in some scenarios as well. I’ve got a 360 degree view of what’s going on and I need to be at the centre, being the person that can make sense of all those different bits and pull it all together. I’m a Big Picture type of person so I like having that wider viewpoint and trying to see the connections between things, seeing where we could make things better. And I really enjoy learning new things, for example I’m learning a lot about Cyber Security at the moment — because of the nature of what we’re doing, it’s really important I’ve been able to spend quite a lot of time with experts learning about it. Similarly, things like Cloud Architecture were quite new to me, but I’ve had the opportunity to start upskilling myself and I’ve really enjoyed that as well.

How did you get into tech?

While studying Politics and French at uni, I did an internship in an HR department of a big insurance company in the US and spent quite a lot of my time on a digital project, looking for a new provider for part of their recruitment process. I spent a lot of time gathering requirements and spending time with their technical teams — stuff that is similar to what I do now and I really enjoyed that. After uni, I went into a graduate scheme with Accenture. That was quite an accelerated period of development, doing loads of different stuff and learning lots — business analysis work, some change stuff, some project management, really  getting exposure to the breadth of what you can do by working in digital projects.

Then I joined the Scottish Government as a (digital) Transformation Manager. That was a great opportunity, because it brought together two areas that I was interested in career-wise, combining an interest in government and current affairs with digital. Initially I worked on the Social Security programme which felt like an opportunity to really make a difference. They were building this up from scratch and taking a user-centred approach — putting people at the heart of it — and I saw a really big digital opportunity there. I was working on what’s now the Child Disability Payment and I found that really rewarding, because we were trying to develop a service that worked well for people who are often in a really difficult circumstance, and focusing on making the service as straightforward and supportive as it could be. Since then my role has evolved and I’m now a Product Manager and also head of our Product Community of Practice.

What would be useful to support women in tech?

I think it can be difficult at times to know whether you have the right skills to do a certain job, so there’s something about understanding career paths and what you can do with different skillsets — how you can evolve them and move, whether it’s sideways or upwards, whatever gets you to where you want to go. A lot of stuff in the tech world, that we work with day-to-day, is really new. So while people can have years of experience in IT, they probably don’t have years of experience in every brand new technology that comes out. As things are opening up and changing, there are opportunities: you can learn about new technologies, and you can be as much of an expert as anybody else in it, because it’s new.

And encouraging girls to consider careers in tech?

It’s a wider set of careers than you might initially think. Tech is everywhere, so it opens doors. It can be a way to have a real impact in probably anything you can think of that you’d like to make a difference in. I was always interested in politics and government, and I’m able to make a difference in that field through a technology role. Think about what you’re interested in, be flexible, and be open to the new opportunities that can come with the development of new tech in the future.

In a lot of tech jobs, what you’re doing is developing something for people, so a lot of your job can end up being around understanding people. I’ve always worked in teams that work very collaboratively, so you’ve always got that opportunity to build those relationships and have a great working experience with your team.

Laura Anderson

Cyber Security Analyst and final year Graduate Apprentice

photo of Laura AndersonWhat does your current role involve?

I’m a Cyber Security Analyst, working in the Cyber Operations Team. So we’re looking at the alerts that are coming in from our different applications and tools, and we look at the vulnerabilities we have across Social Security Scotland. I’ve been in this role for a couple of months now. I’m still at university as well, doing the Graduate Apprenticeship scheme, at Edinburgh Napier. It’s really good having the on job experience as well as having the university side of it. I feel like I can bring in some of the skills that I learn in university into my current job role, which is beneficial for me and for the team as well.

What do you enjoy about your role?

There’s always something new every day. Every day is a learning day, because tech is ever-changing and there’s always something new. Sometimes it can be quite challenging, but the challenge is always good. There’s always something new going on that you have to try and develop more and work with your team. I think we’ve got a really good team as well, there’s so much support here.

How did you get into tech?

I started working with the Chief Digital Office about four and half years ago, as an admin assistant, doing a Modern Apprenticeship. Once I completed that, I then had to decide: Ok, what am I going to do now? The opportunity had came up for a Graduate Apprenticeship in the Security Team and I thought that’s such an interesting job, there’s so much to do. Security is so wide, there’s so many different aspects that you can go down, so many different roles. So I thought that will be such a great opportunity.

I worried that I didn’t have a great technical background, coming from retail. I didn’t have coding skills, I’d never looked at it before. But I took the opportunity and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made. I found the support from my colleagues, from line managers, from mentors, has just been incredible. I feel like no question is a stupid question, like line managers and mentors are always keen for you to ask questions, no matter how small. I’m now in my fourth year of the Cyber Security Graduate Apprenticeship, doing my honours project, and a couple of months ago I was promoted to Cyber Security Analyst. I love doing what I’m doing now.