What did you want to be when you grew up and what was your first job?
When I was in the first half of secondary school I wanted to be an architect. I ended up doing some work experience at an Architect practice and used CAD software; that was when I realised that computers could really help and was hooked from then on. Amusingly, in technology I am in the architecture profession!
My first job was as a shop assistant in a Spar in my teens, where I worked my socks off. My first real job in technology was at IBM, working in a project office where I managed resource forecasts for the huge programme of work we were undertaking. It wasn’t quite the programming role I had envisioned, but gave me super access to a network of influential people, and from there I headed into technical architecture.
Who was the biggest influence in your career?
It’s hard to pick just one person. My Computer Studies teacher at secondary school, Mr Petrie, was marvellous. It’s hard to explain why, he just was! One of my previous mentors at IBM, Chris Winter, was always supporting me behind the scenes - so often I found out after the event - and that sponsorship opened opportunities to me, and gave me challenges that allowed me to grow and shaped who I am today professionally.
Who do you admire and why?
My mum. She’s not had an easy life, which is understating it, and yet she perseveres, and is a huge moral support for me, even though her illness means she usually can’t be there in person. I know it’s usually accepted that an answer will include some sort of visionary, a president, and so on, but having been up close and personal to my mum’s situation I can’t think of anyone I admire more. And I think some of her resiliency has rubbed off on me.
What do you think are the best skills that you bring to your job?
Problem solving and critical thinking are definitely up there. Leading others, facilitating others are also valuable. I’m not sure curiosity, tenacity and being approachable are skills, but they are characteristics that are incredibly important in what I do. Perhaps I should have saved those for the three words question...
What do you value most about being a BCS member?
The access to a network of incredible people. I’ve met some people who are hugely influential in changing our futures, especially within BCSWomen; people such as Margaret Ross MBE, Gillian Arnold and Sue Black OBE.
Name three words that you describe you.
“Engineering a difference”
What are you happiest doing, when you’re not working?
Spending time with my friends and family, reading fiction, singing in a choir (I’m a second sop for those in the know). I’m passionate about women in tech and get quite involved in that - it’s sort of work and sort of not!
What would be your personal motto?
May I borrow one from Grace Hopper? “It is easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to get permission”. It does need to be used with an element of care, but I don’t think we do it nearly enough.