To celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day, managed print service provider Apogee Corporation asked three of its employees about their experiences of the tech industry. Here, are some of the answers given by Laura Bradley, Director of Insider Sales; Sarah Carter, VP of Business Management; and Sarah Uddin, Director of MSOC, Apogee’s UK-based Service Operations Centre. To see their comments in full, please visit www.manageditmag.co.uk
Q. How do you react to the statement that ‘only 5% of leadership positions in the technology sector are held by women’?
Sarah Carter: I react by choosing to challenge.
Laura Bradley: I react by saying there’s a hell of a lot of companies missing out! I think this stat is shocking, but unfortunately it’s the result of a far bigger issue. There’s a distinct lack of advice in schools on technology careers, which has left/is leaving girls and young women with little understanding of what working in technology involves. Women are going to continue to be absent in tech leadership positions until the UK addresses the lack of women in the pipeline.
Sarah Uddin: It’s a sobering statistic and, more importantly, a missed opportunity for women but also for businesses. Having a more diverse workforce, including an equal gender balance, is key to the success of a business. The IT sector is heading in the right direction and there are loads of initiatives such as the Women in Tech group, which champions women, offering graduate opportunities, forums and training. Check it out at:
Q. What influenced you to pursue a career in Technology?
Sarah Carter: It is an exciting, fast paced and ever changing industry, full of inspiring people who have a creative vision for the future. It never stands still, and I thrive on continually moving forward.
Laura Bradley: In my previous role, working for Local World, I managed our digital marketing product portfolio, so I had a strong interest in all things ‘tech’. I love anything that can make our increasingly busy lives a bit easier, and that’s exactly what technology offers us.
Sarah Uddin: I fell ito the technology sector by chance, but I’m so glad I did. Technology continually evolves and I was enticed by the opportunity to be part of the progression of the business, in a sector that continues to move forward and push boundaries. I knew that I’d be challenged to keep ahead of the curve and continually improve.
Q. What do you think is the biggest issue facing women within the tech industry?
Laura Bradley: Tech is still a male dominated industry and women are under-represented at all levels. We need to make sure that women not only have the opportunity and support within companies to grow organically through their organisation but also that they are employed in roles at senior management level, from within our own industry and other sectors.
Sarah Uddin: It’s the ‘glass ceiling’ – being considered for roles in higher management and then the barriers that stop women from progressing. I’m fortunate that with Apogee I have been given the opportunity to progress my career and the support to continue to do so. However, that’s not the same for all companies. It’s great that businesses like Apogee, HP, IBM, YouTube are championing women in leading roles.
Q. In your opinion, why is it important that more women take up powerful & successful roles?
Sarah Carter: Having women in what are traditionally viewed as powerful roles usually means within senior leadership. At this level, having a diverse group of people brings different views and new ways of thinking – a different way to approach problem-solving and negotiations, which only leads to a better and balanced leadership team with clear direction and ultimately a more profitable business.
Laura Bradley: I believe that women belong in all places where decisions are being made. From boardrooms to team meetings, women bring too much to the party to be missing from these places. We bring value, we bring problem-solving and we bring a more collaborative leadership style, amongst many other benefits.
Sarah Uddin: Why not! Gender shouldn’t be a factor in whether or not a person can be a great leader — a person’s leadership abilities should depend on their individual strengths and personality traits.
Q. On International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?
Sarah Carter: There is nothing that you cannot do or achieve, literally nothing. If things don’t plan out how you thought they would, don’t be afraid to change direction. It doesn’t matter if you are just starting out or years into a career that’s not working for you, there is always choice.
Laura Bradley: Be confident, know your worth and don’t give up. A career path is a long and winding road filled with many ups and downs, but your confidence and resilience will see you rise above the rest!
Sarah Uddin: Be open to opportunities. Be yourself and be self-aware. We don’t grow unless we can recognise our weaknesses and improve them.