March is Women’s History Month and with International Women’s day last week, we would like to shine a light on women in business who are in (often) male-dominated professions, below Cybertill Business Development Manager Elaine Scott shares her experiences and advice that she has for the younger generation of women wanting to get into her profession.
Can you give a brief overview of your job/role?
I am a Business Development Manager specialising within the charity sector, I have been working with the sector for 11 years and I help charities find solutions for their retail operations and fundraising activities by providing them with a function rich, scalable software solution which resolves pain points, streamlines processes, and generates revenues. I am passionate about creating and nurturing long-lasting relationships with customers and helping them to maximise the benefits and ultimately achieve a high return of investment so they can make a difference to their individual causes. Not only do I on board new charity customers, I am also their key account manager and I look after around 40 accounts which I thoroughly enjoy.
Can you give us a little background of how you got into your industry, and why you chose this profession?
After leaving school, I attended college and completed a A-Level course in Business Studies. Being honest, I never really enjoyed the academic side of things, I much preferred getting ‘real world’ experience. Having worked since I was 14, I developed a strong work ethic and really enjoyed gaining experience, independence and key skills to use in the workplace. It prepared me for full-time employment and I really enjoyed earning money, I was paying my mum housekeeping at the age of 15, whilst my friends were still living rent free! I never had the luxury of asking ‘Mum or Dad’ and I believe the life skills I learnt in my younger self has shaped the individual I am today who is motivated, driven, and hungry to succeed.
I joined the IT industry at the age of 18 as a sales executive who sold IT products and services to computer retail, resellers and IT maintenance companies including Blue chip organisations. I gained a lot of general knowledge and was lucky enough to attend the European Broker Meeting in Barcelona and really enjoyed networking and building strong long lasting client relationships.
Having gained some valuable experience in IT and Business Development as well as experience in sales and retail focused roles along the way, the opportunity came up at Cybertill and I will never forget my hiring manager back in 2010 who believed I had what it takes to be a success. I have had quite a journey over the last 11 years progressing from role to role and evolving as a woman in business. Having stepped into my Business Development role it has allowed me to evolve and learn even more about myself. I am confident and feel passionate about helping businesses and charities make a difference to their operations through technology.
What was your dream job when you were younger and why?
I always saw myself as a bit of a Lois Lane, I maybe watched too much Superman on a Saturday morning…I wanted to be a journalist and I enjoyed English at school and was always a good storyteller and my teachers used to say I didn’t ‘shut up’, some people may still agree with this statement. I didn’t make it to the New York Times after all.
What are some traits that you think great leaders possess?
There are many traits that make a good leader but personally I believe that it is important for them to create an environment in which people feel they can be their best. A great leader should be approachable, trust you to do the job, empathetic, a strong communicator, expresses appreciation, set clear goals and objectives, and challenges you to do bigger and better things.
What woman inspired you in business and why?
I have worked and come across many inspiring businesswomen, amongst my colleagues, peers, friends, and customers. Working within the charity sector has been particularly inspiring and uplifting to meet and engage with many successful, caring, selfless women who do so much for the charitable organisations they work for. I have to say the woman who has inspired me the most is my mum as she worked 4 jobs when I was growing up and her work ethic rubbed off on me, now that is a superwoman.
Are there many women in your profession? If not, why do you think this is?
If you had asked me this a few years ago, I would have said no but I do think women are closing the gender gap, that said statistics still show that there are more men in tech than women and more men in senior roles and male directors of tech companies. However, times are changing and the pandemic has taught us all that wellbeing and flexible working is more important than it has ever been before, there is no reason why we can’t be happy at home and raise families as well as being successful in business.
What are some strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organisations?
Being a successful woman in business means having the courage to own who you are and have self-belief, confidence is key, and you must speak up and ensure your voice is heard. Women should continue to help set the culture within organisations and continue to try and influence. Reach out to role models and mentors where possible and ask for advice and confide in people who you trust to get feedback and take it on board no matter how honest if it is delivered in the right way. We should celebrate successes and support each other.
What is one business lesson you’ve learned in your career?
Good communication can prevent or fix almost any problem and it is important to voice how you feel. There is nothing wrong with being a go getter, pushing to better yourself and fighting for more. It is important to set goals and have an eye on the future vision. If you do not ask you don’t get.
As a woman in business, what has been the most significant barrier in your career?
There has been a few along the way, I used to lack confidence and worry too much about what others thought of me which stood in the way of opportunities, as I had a fear of failure, but then realised everyone fails at some point and it is how you pick yourself back up and learn from it. Being in Business Development and in the technology industry I have worked with many successful men and women and learnt many skills and gained knowledge from others, it is important to make mistakes, learn and evolve, however I have always felt much more comfortable being myself and adopting my own style, rather than emulating others. At times I have lacked a career plan and it also took me some time to figure out what I enjoyed and what I did not and that’s ok.
What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
Push yourself past your comfort zone, good things never come from comfort zones. If you want success, you must get comfortable with being feeling uncomfortable. Do not worry what others think of you, you cannot be liked and understood by everyone and that is ok. Take some time to prepare for the future and what skills you need to perform in your current or future roles.
What advice would you share with young women entering a male-dominated profession?
“Have confidence, be yourself and remember that being you is what makes you unique and bringing different skills and talents to the table is what benefits you and the company you work for.”
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.