#womeninit

Nicole Covey


Nicole Covey

zSeries Software Support Specialist, IBM

I'll be honest, I didn't grow up wanting a career in technology. I actually grew up wanting to be a Police Officer, and when I was much younger I wanted to be a Superhero. But as it turns it out I am on a career path not too dissimilar, because like Police Officers and Superheroes, technology makes a difference. Technology shapes and changes the world we live in, and I love that every single day is different and I never know what's round the corner.

I currently work as a zSeries Software Support Specialist at IBM supporting our customers with any queries that they have with their z/OS software and the products that surround the operating system. zSeries are our big mainframe servers which many large businesses still use to run their whole enterprise.

I joined IBM as an apprentice in 2011 straight after college where I achieved A-Levels in English Literature and Language, Law and Psychology (evidence that technology wasn't always part of my plans). My path towards technology was created when I suffered a pretty nasty knee injury playing football (the key thing to remember here is that... It was a brilliant tackle) which meant that an active career in the Police Force drifted away from me. This meant I had to take a look at my life and decide what it was I wanted to do. I ruled out university at a young age; I'm one of those people who struggles to concentrate in a classroom environment and needs to be actively doing something to keep my focus. I'd always been interested in technology and whilst surfing the web looking for what to do next (frequently getting distracted by funny videos of cats) I stumbled across the IBM apprenticeship scheme. I applied with little optimism that I would get very far, I didn't know enough and had no experience so why would they pick me? However I made it through the application process unscathed and now here I am almost 4 years later.

As my first day drew closer my perception of the industry was floating around in my head. That I was walking into a heavily male orientated environment and maybe I wasn't going to be good enough or I would be treated differently. But this perception had all changed after my first few days. I have never been treated any differently and during my time here have worked hard to build up my knowledge and skill base, always with the support of my colleagues and management. I now feel that I have a good set of skills and technical knowledge and have earned the trust and respect of my colleagues and customers.

What I have noticed during my time here is that the number of women in the industry is increasing. I think the key to help drive this further is to change the younger generation's perception of tech. ICT in schools is also slowly changing for the better, they are starting to teach more practical skills like coding, which let's face it is a lot more fun than looking at a spreadsheet. We need to engage them in technology and make it interesting and appealing so that young people want to pursue careers in IT. We need to show people that technology is sexy, it's not all suits and coffee, it's life changing. Everywhere we look today we see evidence of the work technicians do... but no one really knows the people behind the work and that's where I think campaigns such as this make a big impact, showing people the faces behind the technology that we see every day.

Four years ago I was revising for my final exams, Last month I was standing at the top of the Gherkin looking over London at an event held by BCS to promote the Register of IT Technicians (RITTech) for which I am one of the first technical professionals registered. I also passed my apprenticeship last year and have received a Client Value Technical Achievement Award from IBM for developing a tool that looks to help us improve client satisfaction.

In short, choosing a career in technology is the best decision I have ever made, and if I could go back I'd do it all again!

Biography

I have been in the industry just under 4 years now. Joining IBM as an apprentice in August 2011 my first role was as a WebSphere Technical Support Specialist. This involved supporting our customers with any queries they had on their IBM WebSphere products.

In January 2014 I moved to my current role and became a zSeries Software Support specialist, where I now assist our customers with any queries they have on the z/OS operating system and the products that surround this. During this time I also studied for my Advanced Apprenticed In IT Qualification which I successfully achieved in September 2014.

Between 2012 and 2014 a colleague and I developed a tool in the programming language of REXX called 'The PMR Analyser Tool'. This tool aims to help us improve client satisfaction and I was awarded a Client Value Outstanding Technical Achievement Award by IBM for my work on this.

Earlier this year I became a member of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT and became one of the first technical professionals on the Register of IT Technicians (RITTech).


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