If you are a woman seeking a technical role or interested in joining our development team, Sarah Reed, one of the UC Services Engineers at Symity, kindly offers invaluable insights and advice.
What first sparked your interest in working in the tech industry?
Since I can remember I’ve always been interested in tech in one way or another. My older brother would bring home gaming consoles and PCs. I found myself interested in how the consoles/PCs worked and broke multiple family PCs tinkering about! A few years later my brother ran a business building and selling PCs. At weekends he would teach me how to build the PCs and load the OS/software onto them.
My career in tech started when I got a job as a conference operator in a telephone conference company. After a few years, the company introduced WebEx and Skype for Business services for customers. I was drawn to the technical support roles those products opened up, which has led me to the role I am in today
What challenges have you faced as a woman in the tech arena and how did you deal with them?
It was very challenging when I first started in the technical support role around 7 years ago, as there didn’t exist much of a habit of guiding new starters or documenting complex problems and their solutions. I also had the impression that people thought women weren’t very suited for this type of job.
After doing the basic tasks for a couple of months, though, I was able to resolve the more difficult tickets due to self-teaching and keeping on trying to resolve issues that seemed un-resolvable at first. And after a while, I even became the go to person for certain cases. As team members left and new ones joined, I would train them, show them what I had learnt, work on cases together with them. As we did this, the team’s knowledge grew together and so did the knowledge base. It then became more of a process to guide and teach new starters.
How much do you think the industry has changed since you joined?
It is definitely headed in the right direction! I think it’s much more common now that the person gets the job based on their ability, experience, approach, work ethic and how good a fit they are for the company culture rather than their gender. And there’s definitely a process of mentoring and teaching implemented in the industry nowadays. I am sure there are still instances of that happening, but I think we have all improved at how we confront unacceptable workplace behaviour nowadays in general, rather than sitting back and watch it happen/join in for acceptance from the established clique.
Do you think it’s important for more women to join the tech industry – and why?
I think it’s very important that everyone has the opportunity to join the industry that interests them, and to be able to see different people’s perspective as we can learn a lot from each other.
Having the right person in the right job and having a mixture of different people can bring better results for the people, and the industry.
What advice would you give yourself just starting out?
The advice I would give to myself starting out is not to be afraid to speak and ask for training or guidance. It was also a very valuable learning experience to try and figure things out myself first, as this helps one become more knowledgeable and understanding of the complexities and more independent and self-sufficient.
Would you recommend other women to work in the tech industry?
I would definitely encourage other women to work in the tech industry if that is what they are interested and passionate about! It’s fast paced and always evolving so you’ll never get tired of it!