Making a mark: Women in Tech part 2

Date posted
6 June 2019
Reading time
37 Minutes
Rachel McGrath

Making a mark: Women in Tech part 2

You've read part 1 now here's part 2 of our feature on some of the amazing women working right here at Kainos, how they got into technology, and the burning question: what's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

 /><figcaption>Bernie and the team from Kainos celebrating at The Sunday Times Top 100 Best Companies to Work For list.</figcaption></figure>

<h2><strong>Bernadette McVeigh, Organisational Development Manager</strong></h2>

<p><strong>What takes up your time outside work?</strong></p>

<blockquote ><p>I love reading - mostly fiction and something to give me a laugh, but also watching very serious TV shows, like RuPaul's Drag Race. </p></blockquote>

<p><strong>What got you into tech, what has your career path been to date? </strong></p>

<blockquote ><p>I did my placement year from university in our People Team (traditionally known as the HR team!)  and I have had a wide range of roles here ever since. I've specialised in HR, project management, leading the introduction of new systems and software, shaping processes and policies, delivering training and my most recent role is focusing on helping the People Team set up and scale for future success.  I have had innumerable development opportunities where even though I haven't always known the answer I have been trusted and given the space and support to continually learn   I can't imagine where else I would have got this experience.</p></blockquote>

<p><strong>What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given? </strong></p>

<blockquote ><p>Be open to feedback to help with your development. Always ask for feedback to help build your self-awareness. </p></blockquote>

<p><strong>In turn what would you say to aspiring women in tech? </strong></p>

<blockquote ><p>Say yes to as many opportunities as you can even if they appear scary. My experience is that I have never been expected to know all of the answers and being in a safe environment allows me learn. You can use these opportunities to grow, learn and build new relationships which you will be able to draw on in the future. </p></blockquote>

<figure ><img src=Lin Manuel Miranda's Hamilton is my most recent obsession but Sondheim will always be my favourite.

What got you into tech, what has your career path been to date?

I started my marketing career working in healthcare, but I've always been interested in tech. In fact I did some freelance web design when I was at university to earn a bit of partying money! When a role came up at Kainos it was a natural fit. I'm surrounded every day by amazing, inspiring people who are using technology to make the world a better place so it's an incredible environment to work in.

One of your proudest professional moments?

I ran the marketing campaign for the biggest ever Kainos CodeCamp a free two-week event designed to get young people into technology and looking round the room to see 200 students who were going to get their first taste of the power of coding at an event I'd helped to make happen was a really special experience. I love working on it every year.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

I've been lucky enough to have had some amazing mentors throughout my career and their advice and example has been instrumental in shaping the way I work. My first manager in a marketing role, Sarah, taught me how important it is to build relationships with your colleagues get to know them really well and be appreciative of their unique skills and experience. You can then always identify the best person to help you in any situation which means things get done faster and better!

In turn what would you say to aspiring women in tech?

I'd say that if you have an interest in tech there are lots of ways to work in the industry, even if your qualifications and experience aren't directly in technology. The women I work with at Kainos have incredibly diverse skillsets, from technical skills like coding and programming to non-technical skills like sales and people management, and everyone's contribution is equally important and valued.

 /><figcaption>Jo presenting at Product Tank,  Mac Belfast, 2018</figcaption></figure>

<h2><strong>Jo Farr, User Research Consultant, Digital Services </strong></h2>

<p><strong>What takes up your time outside work?</strong></p>

<blockquote ><p>I love to cook for my friends and family, and to counterbalance the cooking, thankfully I also enjoy walking and going to the gym.  </p></blockquote>

<p><strong>What got you into tech, what has your career path been to date?</strong></p>

<blockquote ><p>Like many people, especially women, I always say that I fell into technology. My first degree was in Sociology and when I left University I wasn't really sure what to do next, as the current economic climate meant there was limited opportunities for social researchers. After several years working as a Personal Assistant at a retail insolvency company I decided I would go back to University, part-time to pursue a degree in Digital Sociology. I wasn't sure what this would lead to.  </p></blockquote>

<blockquote ><p>My Masters degree opened up a whole new world, which I never thought I would be a part of   previously, I considered myself a bit of a technophobe. I need a placement at a Design Research company and volunteered to work at Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference (EPIC), this helped me understand how I could apply the skills I had learn in my Masters to a practical job. I was then very fortunate to get a paid internship at GDS, which was very intense but helped build a very solid base of what user research should be. I have been at Kainos for just over three years, and feel that it brings together all the skills I have learnt not just from my time as a researcher, but also the skills I gained from working in business. </p></blockquote>

<p><strong>Share one of your proudest professional moments? </strong></p>

<blockquote ><p>I think working on the Digital Customer Service for the Passport Office has been a highlight. Knowing that the research I have planned, conducted and delivered has made an impact to so many people's lives is just an amazing feeling. More so being able to create a journey that is inclusive of some marginalised groups, that means they feel more included in society. </p></blockquote>

<p><strong>What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?</strong></p>

<blockquote ><p>I routinely advise people to not worry about being perfect, which is often a curse for people who work in Research and Design. But probably the best advice I have given to other researchers is; in most cases you will be the expert in your field, so own it and be confident in what you say. </p></blockquote>

<p><strong>In turn what would you say to aspiring women in tech?</strong></p>

<blockquote ><p>It's tough, and don't be afraid to call out sexism and micro-aggressions. If the company you work for have a problem with this, then they shouldn't be a company you work for. In summary; <strong>BE BOLD</strong>. </p></blockquote>

<blockquote ><p>On a more positive note, there is so much more to working in tech than being a developer, and regardless of what role you have the impact on what gets developed is impacted by having a more diverse work force. </p></blockquote>

<figure ><img src= look them up!) a but this one got me. This chain of events eventually led me here, to Kainos.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

If you want it to be a good day, it'll be a good day.

Also, every sentence in The Alchemist?�� seriously, read it.

What piece of advice would you like to pass on to any aspiring women in tech?

Tech isn't a ?�?boys only' club anymore. Be part of the conversation and ask the questions. We're in, now to make it the norm.

Meet our team at Women of Silicon Roundabout this June 25-26th.

Want to join our team? Find out more here.

About the author

Rachel McGrath