Can you tell us a little about your background and career to date? What attracted you to the STEM sector and what do you think makes it a good place for women?
Like many I fell into IT/Digital accidently on a summer job post-university on a big IT programme. From there I found my feet in project management. The early part of my career has focussed on delivery of digital change initiatives and large digital transformation programmes. In my current role I support and lead additional functions of cyber and service operations. I thrive in the change environment and love the digital sectors pace and contribution it brings to the wider business.
Has there been anyone who has positively influenced your decision to pursue a career in STEM?
I’ve worked with some inspiring people over my career in different industries who have developed me and indeed shaped my approach to leadership. A particular mention to two key leaders and mentors John Brown and Gordon Durnan who still point me in the right direction today. They have shaped and, in many respects, empowered me to succeed. Both men who showed me what good looked like. Big influencers leading and inspiring my thinking both excelling in the qualities of leadership.
Is there a clear difference in your experience of being a woman in the sector at the beginning of your career and now?
For me it’s who you work with and where you work that influences your direct experiences. I’ve always felt supported in my roles to develop and never found gender a boundary. I’ve succeeded in leadership roles whilst having a young family adopting flexible working to do so in recent years always feeling supported by my employer.
Have you faced any obstacles in your leadership journey as a result of being a woman?
It’s our duty as leaders irrespective of gender to lead with empathy and compassion. Be responsible and continue to support our team. I’ve always felt supported to lead in this manner with all the organisations I’ve worked with. Valuing your team, celebrating success and indeed empowering for me needs to be at the heart of all we do.
What would you say to women considering a career in the STEM sector?
Grab the opportunity. Digital transformation is fast paced, energetic and ever changing. Technologists never stay still, it’s a very exciting journey to be on. Be ready to continue to learn and develop daily.
If you were with a group of peers this evening and talking openly about this topic, what would be the key issues discussed?
How do we encourage and share STEM at an early stage and continue to see the importance of nurturing talent. We need to demonstrate and continue to demonstrate there are no boundaries.
Who do you think are the most inspiring women in STEM?
Rosemary McGuiness Chief People Officer at Weir Group stands out for me. Rosemary is an inspiring leader who through her career has always highlighted the importance of driving the right company culture. I was lucky to work with her at William Grants. She still leads as a key STEM ambassador at Weir. Her ethos, energy and leadership were always inspiring to me in my early career.
Are there any initiatives you would like to highlight as being particularly progressive around this topic?
We have various initiatives at Arnold Clark ‘Girls with Skills’ being one of them. I think its important to continue to share what opportunities are available and break down the barriers of the myths of what jobs are for ‘boys’ and ‘girls’. You Career is yours to take forward in any sector you have an interest if you apply yourself work hard and have the right attitude.
What can the STEM sector do to help achieve greater gender balance?
Continue to raise awareness and have key ambassadors encouraging our youth that you can achieve in any sector regardless of gender.
There has been lots of media coverage as of late around a number of organisations requiring staff to return to the office and the potential impact this may have on caregivers (predominantly women).
Do you have any views on this and the resulting impact on attracting and retaining women in the STEM sector?
Flexible working is for me a core ethos all companies should continue to endorse. I know many caregivers that are male with the same challenges. We should have focus on that for all our employees moving forward regardless of gender. Where possible you really can reap the benefits of providing flexible approaches to the working day. The digital sector is a 24hr 7 days a week operation we need to ensure we can continue to provide opportunity to attract and retain talent as leaders, flexible working is a key factor in retention of talent.