Women in technology

Posted on Jul 5 2018 - 9:50am by Editorial Content
RATING

The number of working women in technology is significantly lower than most other UK work sectors. According to www.womenintech.co.uk, just 17 per cent of those working in technology in the UK are female. Here, PrintIT Reseller profiles some of the women with stellar careers in our industry

Sara Diggle,
Head of Reseller Sales,
Brother UK
www.brother.co.uk

Sara Diggle

Sara Diggle

October this year will mark 20 years since I left my position as a full-time mum, alongside some part-time retail work, to take up a role in Brother UK’s technical support department. Since then, I’ve progressed through marketing and commercial focused roles, into the position I hold now as Head of Reseller Sales. Here, I’m developing and implementing Brother UK’s reseller strategies with my excellent team of ten.

Thinking back to when I started, I was so motivated to build a career, which pushed me to take all the chances to learn more about the business. Volunteering to be an internal auditor really helped me to get a head start, and the experience gave me an insight into how different departments operated. It also gave me opportunities to network with other colleagues, to build solid relationships and ultimately to show how committed I was to making a difference at Brother UK. My progression as recognised last year when I was honoured with a We are the City Rising Star in Sales 2017 award, something which I’m really proud of.

But, I haven’t stopped taking chances to learn. It’s important for me to keep abreast of what is happening in the channel. So, getting away from my laptop to manage dealer groups or to meet with resellers at events is something I’m particularly keen on.

As I’ve moved up through my career, I’ve been motivated by seeing how my colleagues develop and grow too. A priority of mine is to support my team to be the next generation of managers in the business. It’s also important to me that my team enjoy their jobs, have a healthy work life balance and that they have the opportunities that I had to learn.

Out of hours, I love to go on holiday and must take six or seven short breaks a year. I’ve also been really into my fitness and nutrition lately, so I can often be found in the gym after work. I’ve lived in Dukinfield, Greater Manchester, for most of my life and have two daughters, Natalie and Tania, who have moved into their own homes. My eldest is even getting married in May, which shows just how much has happened since resigning as full-time mum!

What’s the best thing about your job?

The people and culture at Brother UK are what I enjoy most about my job. The company invests heavily in employee learning and development. This in turn creates a fun place to work where staff are motivated and have the means to deliver the best service for our customers.

What would make your life easier at work?

Less traffic! I love how my job takes me all over the country to meet different people. But, busy roads sometimes delay me from doing what I enjoy most both in and out of work.

Debbie Callaghan,
Marketing Manager,
RISO UK
www.riso.co.uk

Debbie Callaghan

Debbie Callaghan

 

I consider myself a self-motivated brand and marketing professional with extensive experience of working in international markets. My strong customer liaison skills, and experience at taking products to market through multiple sales channels using both traditional and electronic media, have meant that my roles have all had a business focus.

These are ideal attributes for someone working in marketing at technology-focused companies.

Whilst I wouldn’t say I am particularly a technology-minded person, innovative technology and how it can be used has always been a fascination for me and it has been a theme of my career thus far.

I have previously worked for a number of companies, including a global leader in security systems, where innovation has been key. Unique products demand unique approaches, but being able to make them stand out, often in crowded marketplaces, is where my marketing skills come in.

What’s the best thing about your job?

And that’s one of the best things of working at RISO. With close co-operation with the senior management team, I am able to direct the marketing and public relations accordingly.

I think it is vital for any company, whatever the size to understand the key role marketing plays in helping position the company and in helping drive product sales.

And that is why I joined RISO. It understands the place that marketing has when it comes to overall business success and that’s why marketing has such a strategic importance at the company. I see the sales and customer reports so I know what is working and what might need tweaking.

This is not the case at all companies, where marketing is sometimes seen as a nice “add on”. It actually plays a critical role in day to day operations at RISO and, for me that is how it should be.

We have a great team at RISO, where people are employed or promoted because of merit, not because of any quota or gender. A good person shines through, whether male or female.

Again, this may not be the case everywhere, perhaps even in the print industry.

What would make your life easier at work?

I’m not sure anything in particular would make my work easier at RISO – I already have great colleagues, supportive senior management and products that are a marketer’s dream. Although saying that I wouldn’t say no to a holiday in the Maldives right now!

Amanda Harrington,
Head of Commercial Technology,
Commercial’s office technology and
hardware business
www.commercial.co.uk

Amanda Harrington

Amanda Harrington

 

Having spent my entire career in IT, selling consumables before progressing to hardware sales, I would say networking and relationship building are the key to success. I was recruited to head up Commercial’s newly established technology division 12 months ago, and my goal is to hit a £1m divisional turnover by the end of 2018.

In my previous role I catapulted my department’s turnover from £0 to £4.9m in two-and-a-half years, so there’s a good chance I’ll achieve it.

I have seen the pace of change accelerate in the sector as the digital age gets into full swing. In such a variable environment, I believe it’s important to have a strong network of trusted contacts that can offer guidance and advice in niche areas. No one can be an expert in everything, but business customers prefer to gravitate to one source of expertise. To satisfy this demand efficiently and effectively, you need to know where to turn for the latest insights and kit recommendations, as well as attending industry events and conferences.

One of the most important lessons I have learnt in my career is to work with suppliers and customers that share the same ethos. I believe it’s the best route to mutually beneficial, productive relationships. And I would highlight Brother UK as a supplier that ticks all the right boxes.

Commercial won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Sustainable Development this year, and it was no surprise at all when I learnt that Brother UK had received one as well. When you consider that only eight were awarded in the whole of the UK, across all business sectors, that’s pretty amazing. But I already knew that Commercial and Brother had great synergy – especially when they jumped at the chance to take part in our CSR Day in June.

I acknowledge that the IT industry is still largely dominated by men, and am often outnumbered ten-to-one at events. But I would urge women entering the industry not to feel disheartened by this. My advice is to know your skills, and not be afraid to put yourself forward. When I go to conferences, it would be so easy to sit in the shadows, but I always make a point of sitting up front and engaging with the people around me. Women have just as much to offer as men – you just have to believe in yourself.

What’s the best thing about your job?

The variety – there’s no chance of getting bored in this game! Just look at how the industry has transformed, I began my career selling fax rolls and now it’s all about facilitating agile working.

What would make your life easier at work?

More hours in the day – and a self-cleaning house!

Adrienne Topping,
Group Marketing Manager,
Midshire
www.midshire.co.uk

Adrienne Topping

Adrienne Topping

 

I started my career as a Junior Graphic Designer at a small advertising agency based in Warrington. Here I learnt basic advertising principles, that despite the changing landscape of marketing communications remain just as important, if not more so today than they did 13 years ago!

After being promoted and working as Studio Manager at the ad agency, I was taken on by one of their commercial printers to help them set-up an agency in Manchester and at this point I was ready for a new challenge. We provided a full service, offering branding, design, print and websites and had clients including: Manchester City Council, EEF and the NHS. Here I learned so much about commercial print, the sales pitch, and met many contacts that have remained my network of suppliers and friends to this date.

Julian Stafford, Managing Director of Midshire approached me back in 2012 when he knew I was unhappy and ready for a change. Having delivered a number of design, print and web projects for him, he knew what I was capable of and invited me for an interview.

I can’t really thank Julian enough for taking a chance on me. Midshire had no marketing function at that time, and I’ve since established myself, marketing as an integral department, and grown my team to four people and six across the Group. I’ve learned so much, and developed exponentially as a person.

The pace of change and the journey we’ve been on as a business over the last six years has been very exciting and we have achieved a great deal, culminating in the acquisition of the business by Sharp last year.

Being the catalyst for such change was not always easy, firstly as a young female coming in to a very male-dominated industry, and then secondly having to ask the most senior people within the business to open their minds to change. These were Directors who had built successful businesses in their own right and had proven strategies in place.

Despite the many challenges and frustrations, the real enjoyment has been seeing how far we have come and knowing the part I’ve played in it all. I feel I have more than proved myself and gained the respect of those leaders and that means a great deal to me.

Career highlights include winning Marketing Business Woman of The Year at the Technology Media Telecoms (TMT) Awards 2017, being nominated Young Marketing & Media Professional at the North West Insider Young Professionals Awards 2016 alongside securing a highly commended as Marketing Professional of the Year at the Made in Manchester Awards 2016 and being nominated for the Young Business Person of the Year at the Stockport Business Awards 2015.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Working with my team, passing on my experience and knowledge is something I get great pleasure out of these days. This not only strengthens our team, but ultimately allows us to deliver more, and at a better quality for the business.

I also really enjoy the fast paced nature of both the tech sector and marketing communications. Every day is different and the work and projects are diverse, the challenges are many and the stakes are high to be leading the way.

What would make your life easier at work?

The adoption of video conferencing for more of my meetings, both internally as a business and with external suppliers would save me a lot of time travelling. Face-to-face is still very important for developing relationships and creating loyalty, but for the less important stuff, this approach would allow me to better invest my time, help increase business productivity and us to be more flexible.

Margaret Reilly,
Director of Technology Services,
Integra Business Solutions
www.integra-business.co.uk

Margaret Reilly

Margaret Reilly

 

I have been working in the industry for over 25 years. I originally worked in the wholesale environment, implementing wholesaler back-office systems before moving into dealer computer services and support, installing link software and subsequent developing technologies.

Since joining Integra, I have held a variety of roles within the business before being appointed Director of Technology Services in November 2011. My current responsibilities include the management of the internal IT infrastructure and development of solutions to support the business and the membership.

I am a strategic planner, problem solver and persuasive leader with demonstrable success in business analysis, project management and supply chain with expertise in developing systems, processes and procedures to increase productivity, efficiency and minimise costs.

I am currently overseeing the management of a number of group initiatives including the development of Integra’s Workwear web solution to support diversification and a new membership website.

I represent the group and members and am an avid contributor to the BOSS Synergy Committee, driving initiatives to support the dealer channel.

I have been instrumental in the creation of the Catalyst program which provides managed technology to partners, and am committed to the development of solutions and processes to take cost out of dealer businesses, whilst also supporting partners with diversification strategies to grow their business.

I believe technological advances have seen the traditional OP market declining and the development of additional sectors such as education, healthcare and workwear as important to the development of dealer business.

I have been instrumental in the creation of the Catalyst program which provides managed technology to partners, and am committed to the development of solutions and processes to take cost out of dealer businesses, whilst also supporting partners with diversification strategies to grow their business.

What’s the best thing about your job?

The diversity of the role. Technologies are changing and updating all the time. Diversification and expansion into new industries sectors presents challenges for dealers. My focus is on developing solutions and services to support the changing business models of our members and to eliminate the complexity by providing robust data and support to give them time to devote to sales and growing their business. I’m fortunate in that Integra is a great company to work for and supports the development of its staff. I also have an incredibly supportive team who go the extra mile.

My work with the Boss Synergy Committee is also rewarding, the establishment of industry standards are vital to the support of the dealer channel. Initiatives such as the Uniform for product set-up and the development of the Boss Attribute Standards maintained by Fusion data have been paramount in the development of robust data to support the dealer community.

What would make your life easier at work?

More hours in the day!

Tracey Rawling Church,
Independent Sustainability Specialist
www.csr.guru

Tracey Rawling Church

Tracey Rawling Church

I’ve recently left corporate life after almost 25 years, to become an independent consultant and non-executive director specialising in corporate social and environmental responsibility. I didn’t set out to have a career in technology – I applied to Kyocera because I was excited by the opportunity to work on the first sustainable B2B product I had ever seen: its Ecosys printer range which launched in 1992. I joined as PR manager and one of my proudest moments was when our campaign beat the Windows 95 launch to the Best Technology Campaign of the year at the PR Week awards. We were also the first Kyocera division worldwide to have a website, although it was shockingly rudimentary by today’s standards.

Progressing through several roles in marketing, I retained a strong focus on environmental and social responsibility and it became woven into culture and strategy. My team launched the first green business network in 2000 and later the first green channel partner programme. The advent of managed document solutions provided the opportunity to work with customers on embedding sustainable document practice in their organisations alongside the technology.

As the sustainability agenda matured, my role at Kyocera gravitated towards it; the marketing element of my job was gradually subsumed by CSR and environmental matters and I was eventually appointed Head of CSR. Through partnerships with Green Alliance, Forum for the Future and Responsible100 I had the opportunity to study best practice from sustainability leaders both within and outside the tech industry and to work on innovative and inspiring projects.

What’s the best thing about your job?

The best thing about my current job is that ‘aha’ moment when a client realises that embedding environmental and social responsibility into strategy will reduce costs and enhance competitiveness. Technology has much to offer when it comes to doing business in a more resource efficient fashion, and the knowledge I gained from working in the industry is extremely helpful when helping clients optimise their infrastructure and business processes from an energy and waste perspective.

What would make your life easier at work?

Now I work from a home office, I rely heavily on technology and it’s remarkable how little difference there is between the corporate and home office environment. However, I’ve yet to find a 100 per cent reliable super-fast home internet provider – now that would certainly make my life easier.