What is your career story?
I landed in tech somewhat by chance. After school I completed a Bachelor of Economics, but ended up getting a temp job in London working in the network services group of an engineering consultancy (Arup). I continued along that path when I moved back to Sydney, getting a job with Reuters news service in their Sydney data centre, which was mostly network services planning but also learning some hands-on skills like router config and network service monitoring, which was fun.
After that I worked in various project & business intelligence roles in Vodafone NZ and Foodstuffs (NZ supermarket chain). From there, I landed in the SaaS world, working in an early stage tech start up for the commercial construction industry, starting in implementation, and moving into product management.
What does international women’s day mean to you?
I think it is a valuable opportunity to highlight the contributions of women to society in general, to consider what has been achieved so far with respect to equality and equity, but also to consider what issues should be focused on in the future. I personally love reading stories of women in tech, for solidarity, and also to highlight the roles and experiences of other women.
What is it like working in the technology industry and what are some of the challenges you have experienced?
I love the dynamic nature of tech and I’ve been fortunate to work with and learn from some seriously smart, amazing people. There is always something to learn, and I love that nothing ever stays the same (although sometimes I wish the world would stop turning for a few days while we catch up)! I have found that (in my experience) there has been a lack of role models and mentors of successful, senior women in tech. The companies I have worked for, especially early on, had very few women in tech roles (and often, I was the only one).
The quote from Marian Wright Edelman, “you can’t be what you can’t see”, rings very true to me. In my career, I have moved through a number of different roles through trial and error, and building on different experiences. I wouldn’t change that, and I think it makes me a stronger product manager. However, it would have been useful to have some more role models or north stars to follow, and I may have taken a more strategic approach to my career.
Are there any assumptions about women in the workplace that you want to challenge or change?
Nothing springs to mind currently!
Has anything in your personal life impacted/challenged or changed your working life?
I feel like we still have a way to go in building gender equity for working families, so that there are opportunities for both parents to contribute. There have been changes in recent years to provide paternity leave, but I’d like to see it become a social norm to access that, and for women to have more flexibility in working around family commitments.
My experience of having kids was to take lower paid, more flexible roles that catered for family life. This is one of the key issues that contributes to the gender pay gap (in Australia women are estimated to retire with 22-38% less Superannuation than men). In future, this should be an anomaly rather than the norm.