BCS is a registered charity: No 292786
"I actually yearned to be a professional BCS member some years before I was eligible to be one!" reveals Sarah Winmill.
Sarah, 39, from South London, is responsible for setting the V&A's IT strategy and directing its implementation by her 21-strong staff. After studying Music at the Royal College of Music, she decided to go into IT after getting a front-of-house job at the Royal Albert Hall, where she became involved with ticket sales and retail systems. She has also worked at the Royal Academy of Arts, and the Historic Royal Palaces (including HM Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace). She shares her thoughts on various aspects of her job, career, achieving CITP status, and the importance of being seen as an IT professional.
"As head of department, I'm in charge of general management and strategies, larger procurements and general decision-making. I am the leader for this and I hand over assignments for the team to implement. But I also do a fair amount of networking and a bit of conference-speaking from time-to-time, when I evangelise about making technology appropriate for our environment. I have a real bee in my bonnet about technology being user-friendly. Technology is in essence the tool, not the task itself."
"I took over a team where morale was low and it was seen to be failing. One of the first things I did was take out professional membership for them. They felt hugely valued in belonging to a professional body. In team meetings, I always make staff aware of BCS events they may wish to attend. We've also been making use of some BCS ISEB exams and everyone has done their ITIL® exams and we've also had managers passing their exams, so lots of rejoicing! This is a really nice thing and it underlines they are professionals. Membership is seen as a great benefit."
"I have stood up at several meetings and told other staff that we are a professional department, that we do belong to a professional organisation, and that we are as professional as, say, the accountants. Being chartered does give extra weight. If you want to be seen as professional you have to be prepared to start by taking the professional qualifications. If we don't bother getting them, then we have nobody but ourselves to blame if we are not seen as a profession.
"As IT progresses, we are more and more being seen as leaders and we have to wake up to that potential by going in and make suggestions that people don’t even dream of. We see the entire business process, we have to prioritise, set them in the right direction. We have far more holistic views."
"I decided to go for CITP about two or three years ago, now. I was just coming up to 10 years working in the industry and I started filling in the forms, but I never got around to sending them off. Putting together a CV from scratch was quite difficult because I work in the public sector and every job I have applied for has been a written application form! Then, last year I got up the motivation to fill in the forms and in September I was told that I had achieved chartered status.
"I was thrilled (to be awarded chartered status). It really does make a difference. It's not about having the letters after your name; working in a place like the V&A everybody has letters after their name. It's about being up-to-date with the latest technology, and understanding the broader issues of the profession. It's about being recognised as a professional. It's the gold standard I wanted to achieve."
Who do you most admire in IT?: "I would have to say Professor Wendy Hall, CBE, former BCS President and current Professor of Computer Science at Southampton University. She is an inspiration to women working in technology."
Career to date: