Social media handle(s): LinkedIn
A few words about me:
I grew up in the Scottish countryside but have now spent almost half my life living in Yorkshire, which I consider my second home. I currently work as an Associate Delivery Lead at dxw, supporting multidisciplinary teams that design, build and iterate websites for government and not for profit organisations.
Outside of work, I’ve recently enjoyed learning the craft of improv (as someone who dreaded drama at school, this isn’t a sentence I thought I’d ever write) and have participated in a couple of shows. I also love being outside and walking, baking, learning to throw pottery, and eating asian food in all its forms - Thai and Burmese are particular favourites.
Are there any professional experiences you've had that are quite unexpected compared to what you do nowadays?
I once worked at a bespoke family tailor where I fitted suits for people in the City and for weddings. It was quite a fascinating role with my time split between traditional Yorkshire tailors and cloth merchants where the clothing came together, and barrister chambers and glass skyscrapers where I’d meet, measure and fit my clients.
Is your background more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) or non-STEM related?
Mostly non-STEM. Whilst I really enjoyed Maths at school and took it as an Advanced Higher (A level equivalent), my University degrees are both non-STEM.
Where did your professional journey start?
I studied Law at University although decided early on that I didn’t want to pursue it as a career path. I then worked three jobs (as a customer service advisor at Morrisons, a waitress in a restaurant and an assistant in an independent clothes shop) whilst figuring out how to get my foot in the door of the advertising industry. My time at the family tailoring business came next and is where I feel my professional journey really began. After almost two years there, I got my first job in an advertising agency working in a digital brand team. Shortly after I moved to an agency specialising in mobile. I had a lot of fun and met some wonderful people, but my experience in the industry wasn’t as fulfilling as I’d hoped.
Due to a number of circumstances, I then decided to study further and completed an MA degree in Product & Furniture Design. It was shortly after this that I moved into the tech industry joining dxw as an Account Manager in our client services team and recently, I became an Associate Delivery Lead in the GovPress team. In GovPress, we design, build, host and support websites for government and charities. As a delivery person, I’m responsible for supporting our teams that deliver new website builds or iterations, and can often be involved in multiple projects at any one time.
How did you get into tech and what motivated you?
My move into tech came as I searched for a role that would enable me to do some good for others. It was dxw’s mission, their interesting work in digital public services and company culture that drew me in more than anything, so I think it’s fair to say that I fell into having a job in tech. As mentioned above, my first role at dxw was in account management, and the job spec asked for a number of skills that were transferable from my time in advertising. Overall, joining dxw seemed like a good sideways move to a different industry.
Have you experienced any 'career in tech' challenges / stereotypes?
I’m fortunate not to have faced many challenges or stereotypes and that’s likely because my workplace, dxw, and the people that make it what it is, are fantastic in this regard. From the sidelines, I can however think of a couple of examples where female tech leaders haven’t been taken as seriously as their male counterparts whilst working with clients operating in more hierarchical and traditional ways.
"People are often most interested in what your unique experience can bring and sometimes have the ability to hire outside of the standard roles they offer."
What you wish you knew before getting started in tech...
That there are lots of roles and spaces where you don’t have to have a strong technical background and understanding. Whilst being at dxw, I’ve seen the variety of roles in practice, and have experienced two already as an Account Manager and Associate Delivery Lead.
What has been your biggest 'wow!' moment related to working in tech so far?
A wide eyed wow moment for me was when I first joined a complex digital project dxw delivered for the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. I was fascinated to see how big and complex a digital public service can be, especially from the user need perspective and the technical side.
Since starting my delivery role, I’ve found that every launch of a new or iterated site creates its own special moment that I hope I never tire of. It’s a combination of satisfaction of having ‘completed’ something, alongside wonder and respect for the team and the work we’ve done together.
What do you like / not like about working in tech?
I like that there are lots of opportunities to work on projects that positively impact people’s lives, and with others who really care about these things. This was a big driver for me when I was looking for the job that led me into the industry.
What I like less, is my understandable, but still annoying, discomfort around my lack of technical knowledge. Whilst I’m grateful that I don’t need a tech background to flourish in my role, I can still feel like I’m always playing catch-up. Projects can vary widely, as can the coding languages and technical roles involved. I find it’s important to remind myself that it’s okay for it to be challenging, that these experiences will help me stretch and grow, and that I can always lean on the great team I have around me for support. The aim is to be comfortable with the discomfort!
"... I think it’s fair to say that I fell into having a job in tech".
What's been your favourite / most memorable / funniest 'career in tech' moment so far?
Having joined dxw (and therefore tech) after it became a remote first organisation, my favourite moments are when we can get together in person. Our teams are spread all over the UK which adds an extra challenge but also means these times are even more special.
I’m also a big fan of workshop icebreakers and energy boosters - they’re commonplace in agile tech but were a new workplace experience for me. A recent example that sticks in my mind is when we were asked to draw a picture of the person next to us without looking at the piece of paper but into the eyes of the person you were drawing. It was definitely a quick way to get comfortable with each other and had us all laughing at the results.
And to wrap up, is there any advice you'd like to give to others interested in a career in tech?
I’d recommend looking for companies that share your values and to reach out to someone who works there, even if they don’t have any roles advertised. People are often most interested in what your unique experience can bring and sometimes have the ability to hire outside of the standard roles they offer.