How did I end up here? Let me start right at the beginning. I was born and brought up in Swansea, one of eight children, and my first proper job was in accountancy. I’d love to be able to say that it was a well-thought out, strategic career decision but, to be honest, my main motivation was the fact that accountants were the only people I knew who had any money - and I hadn’t had any of that growing up!
After graduating in Business Studies and completing my accountancy training with, back then, a tiny start-up company called Vodafone, I moved into the nascent IT industry in the Thames Valley and I’ve never really looked back. I moved from finance into the male, testosterone driven, field of sales after a senior colleague tapped me on the should and said “why not come over to the dark side?” A move that had its challenges but the excitement and the explosive rate of change far outweighed them.
While other sectors at the time still seemed to be operating in an old-fashioned way, bound by gender and cultural stereotypes, the tech industry just didn’t care where you came from, what sex you were or what colour your skin was so long as you could deliver. Over the decades any gender career barriers there were quickly dissolved, allowing me to journey through a wide variety of companies from Hewlett Packard, to an international role at Kodak in emerging markets, to Oracle at the height of the dot com boom, and on to lead Sun Microsystems for the UK, to where I am today at Microsoft in Central & Eastern Europe.
I’ve had a great time along the way, I’ve worked with some excellent people and I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy a very satisfying and well-rewarded career. I want the same for other girls and women because this is an exciting industry: it can take you around the world; it is forever changing; it can help change people’s lives for the better; it is packed with all sorts of opportunity for those willing to reach out and take it.
The technology industry, like so many STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics)-related industries, is short of creative and skilled people. This is why we need to look to the whole range of talent available. I’m keen to encourage girls and females to seriously consider STEM careers for the reasons I mentioned above. And if you think that you don’t have the ability, think again! There is plenty of research out there that says that girls and women can and do very well in these subjects and careers - we just, sometimes, need a little encouragement and belief.
Are women any different from men? For sure, I’ve met a lot of women in my career who are good at collaboration and multi-tasking, essential skills for success, but then I’ve met a lot of men who are good at them too! I think it’s dangerous to indulge in stereotypes because it can end up creating unconscious bias and then you’re just back to square one.
We are passed that now, most careers today demand a wide range of skill, from technical awareness to being able to work in teams with a wide range of cultures and abilities. The technology sector is not about backroom geeks or hard-hats; ultimately it is about how we best serve the customer, meeting their broad and diverse needs including raising living standards and well-being.
My advice to anyone considering a career in technology: go for it! Believe in yourself, be true to yourself and enjoy the ride.
Trudy is a passionate, high achieving business leader with a breadth of experience in a range of high tech industries. Although her career was grounded in financial roles, she has taken on senior management roles that have been client-focused and have had substantial P&L responsibility. She is known as someone who can grow the business, through taking new strategic approaches, developing new routes to market and inspiring the teams she leads.
Trudy believes that the best way to succeed is by continually exceeding client expectations. Despite a determined and ambitious approach to business, she has always managed to balance this with a focus on the broader interests of all stakeholders, often at the lead in improving employee engagement or morale and embracing many issues related to broader corporate social responsibility.
Her career has been with BP, Racal/Vodafone, Digital/Compaq, Kodak, Oracle, Sun Microsystems, BT and Microsoft operating at Senior Vice President, President and Managing Director levels both within the UK and Internationally.
Externally, amongst other things, she has chaired the CBI Committee on Innovation, Science & Technology; Chairs, the UK’s Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering & Technology & WISE; Member, National Careers Council.