Gender equality in the workplace is something that businesses have been striving to accomplish for decades. A 2019 study found that only 19% of the tech workforce are women. Here at Cybertill we are proud that 50% of our senior management roles are occupied by women and we have many women who work in often male-dominated professions or roles. So, we would like to use this year’s International Women’s Day (8th March 2021) to shine a light on our women in tech, and bring you a series of Q&A’s with women from Cybertill, so that they can share their experiences and any advice that they may have for the younger generation wanting to get into their profession.
First up, we have Fauzia, a Product Owner at Cybertill who has been in the industry for 32 years.
Can you give us a little background of how you got into your industry, and why you chose this profession?
I had spent 2 weeks at university enrolling on a degree I wasn’t really interested in and had seen an advert in the paper for trainee managers for a large retail organisation. I convinced my father to take me to Loughborough for the interview (he didn’t want me to leave university but I somehow managed to talk him round). I got the job and had the choice to continue with my studies, gain my degree or walk away and enter the working world. I chose the latter.
I joined the Retail IT industry as a Trainee Manager. After stacking shelves for 3 months solid, I went in to the warehouse for beans and came out with toilet paper. It was official, my brain had switched off and I wasn’t prepared to accept that anymore, I knew I wasn’t making the most of myself, I had to change what I was doing. I managed to secure a full time position in the world of non-retail and at the point of redundancy, I took a punt and reached out to an ex-manager of the same organisation asking for a chance to join the IT Systems Support team. I’m so grateful for that opportunity and for him believing in me. The rest is history; I progressed from role to role, learning, growing, adapting as I needed to. My employment background has moulded me in to who I am today, a strong, confident, no BS woman, not afraid to challenge, to be heard, to be respected, to be valued.
Can you give a brief overview of your job/role?
I’m a customer centric Product Owner working with very male dominated DevOps, Technical, eCommerce and QA Teams responsible for helping to determine the organisation’s vision and strategy and ensure that is delivered by the means of value product which returns on investment. I work extensively with internal teams and collaborate heavily with external customers, delivering value product using an Agile/Scrum methodology/framework.
What was your dream job when you were younger and why?
I dreamed of becoming a pilot, soaring through the sky, in control of the ton of metal, fascinated by how it managed to get off the ground with every man and his dog on board! Needless to say I kept waking up!
What woman inspired you in business and why?
There’s no one woman that has inspired me, I’m more so inspired by independent female business owners taking their careers in to their own hands whilst managing the challenges of caring, nurturing and providing for her family at the same time.
Are there many women in your profession? If not, why do you think this is?
I feel women are much better represented in my type of role at this time.
What are some strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organisations?
To actively change the culture of an organisation to believe in, listen to, encourage and respect women in the workplace supporting them and considering them for opportunities.
What is one business lesson you’ve learned in your career?
Not to give up, if you want change, (whatever change means/looks like for you), you’ve got to make it happen. No one is going to hand anything to you on a plate.
As a woman in business, what has been the most significant barrier in your career?
Many years ago when I entered what was then a very male dominated IT industry, there was just an expectation that I knew everything about IT. I didn’t, there was no formal training, no one explained or helped me, I simply had to get on and learn on the job. I truly felt that hindered my progression/career path in the early days.
What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
Stand up for what you believe, speak with conviction, challenge where you think otherwise. It’s easy to fade in to the background but you need to be heard, you need to be considered but above all you need to be respected and valued.
What advice would you share with young women entering a male-dominated profession?
“Look out for other women; be that support, mentor, confidante and believe you are just as capable as your male counterpart.”
Rachel is passionate about retail and the ever-changing retail technology environment, with a keen eye for upcoming retail trends that are set to shake up the sector. She started her career as an intern at a national charity and has progressed rapidly into her current role with Cybertill.
Rachel has a Masters Degree in Digital Marketing from Liverpool John Moores University. I think it’s fair to say she knows her stuff!