Celebrating Women in IT
This autumn sees the return of the annual CRN Women in Channel Awards as well as the Women in Tech Festival. These events will celebrate and recognise women from all areas and levels in the IT industry. We are happy to say that CPB UK embraces women as reflected by its management team, which is mostly female. As a company led by strong, dynamic, and successful women we thought it was time we put a spotlight on this and feature a few of the talented individuals who drive CPB forwards in a male dominated industry.
Every year, women in the workforce take on stronger, more empowering roles. They run their own businesses, take charge of the boardroom, and build upon last year’s successes. Their contributions to the economy cannot go unnoticed.
However, the gender gap is still ubiquitous and affects the IT industry as much as any other. The gender gap is the difference between the number of women and men that is reflected in social, political, cultural, or economic skills or attitudes. This causes problems in the technology industry such as women feeling like they are being overlooked in meetings, they aren’t taken seriously, and their ideas are being dismissed by their male counterparts. It may be a contributing factor as to why the resignation rate in technology is more than twice as high for women (47%) than it is for men (17%) Source: Women in Tech.
Who are the women that drive CPB UK forward?
CPB is proud to have Helen Pritchett as Managing Director, Polina Cook as Business Development Director, Carrie-Ann Mathers as Operations Director, Lucy Brennan as Head of Account Management and Vicki Farrell as Head of Internal Delivery. To celebrate our wonderful women in tech we decided to have a chat with them to find out more about their lives, their experiences, their roles, and their futures in IT.
Carrie Mathers Helen Pritchett Vicki Farrell Lucy Brennan Polina Cook
You are successful women in a leadership role in a technology business – how does being a woman impact the way you do your job?
HP: I was brought up to believe in yourself and what you can achieve regardless of your gender so have never really felt that being a woman has impacted what I can do.
CM: I don’t think that being male or female impacts the way that you carry out your job as such. I think the factors that have made me successful are that I am hard working and determined and these are traits that can be possessed by either sex.
VF: I think it is my strengths and qualities which impact how I do my job, rather than my gender. Maybe some of the qualities I possess are found more often in women, but I generally haven’t ever felt that being a woman has impacted what I do; it is my mindset and work ethic which does instead.
LB: I don’t believe gender impacts the way I do my job, for me any successes I have had in my working life are down to positive attitude, determination, and hard work.
PC: A human being can develop, grow, and become successful irrelevant of their gender and luckily, we live in an era where being female or male no longer limits our boundaries in the business world. I feel that my success has been down to hard work, dedication, and a desire to do well.
What is it like to work in an industry that is still predominantly male dominated?
HP: I treat people as I would like to be treated and believe that we are all equal, so male dominancy has never been an issue in any job I have done. Throughout my career I have always had male bosses and every one of them has been supportive, encouraging and wanted me to succeed.
CM: I don’t notice it so much now, but when I first started going to IT events (over ten years ago) I was regularly one of the only women in the room and, as a woman in her twenties, I was in the minority. I have always found men less intimidating than women so, to be honest if I was at an event to network and chat to people it often worked in my favour that I was one of the only females.
VF: I am lucky enough to have never felt that that is the case with CPB. I have always been surrounded by both male and female leaders, managers and Directors and opportunities have always been available to those who want them and work hard for them regardless of gender.
LB: When I started working in the technology industry it was male dominated, however nearly a decade later I work with more females than males in this space. It is refreshing to see how far this sector has come.
PC: If you were asking me this question in 2011 vs 2021, my answer would be very different. The male dominance of the IT industry is now a thing of the past, with gender equality now widespread throughout the IT world.
Have you experienced any obstacles in your career and has being a woman made these easier or more difficult to overcome?
HP: I am fortunate enough to have worked in a time where equality has been more prevalent in the workplace and male counterparts have always been accepting of female strengths and contribution to business.
CM: During the latter part of my career there is no denying that juggling motherhood with my professional responsibilities has been more challenging than in my days of being a single woman. However, motherhood also brings with it a new level of patience and resilience that has helped me in my role as a director.
VF: Balancing motherhood with a full-time role, is probably the biggest obstacle in my career, as someone who is career driven but a single parent too. I am dedicated to being present for my son whilst succeeding at work. Finding that balance to do both, whilst not letting one suffer, is something that I have had to learn to juggle, but both roles bring with them skills that help the other and make me good at what I do.
LB: I don’t believe the obstacles I have faced in my working life were any easier or harder to overcome based on my gender. I have faced many obstacles in my career, but I have overcome these with support from both male and female role models and co-workers. When faced with issues at work I turn to experts in that area or people that have had similar experiences regardless of gender.
PC: It’s only natural for an individual to come across obstacles and challenges in their jobs or careers whether males or female, after all, that’s what makes us even hungrier to overcome life’s little curveballs and to succeed. How we overcome obstacles isn’t down to gender but to hard work and a positive mind set.
What are the secrets of your success?
HP: Employ good people who share your values and commitment. Nurture, listen, learn, be empathetic, never expect anyone to do anything you wouldn’t do yourself and accept when you are wrong.
CM: Being hardworking, honest and being in the right place at the right time – it really is that simple!
VF: You are your only limit. If you want something, go and get it, because the only person to ever hold you back will be yourself. Believe in yourself, work hard and be kind along the way and the rest will fall into place.
LB: To stay humble and always remember “people do not care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” I genuinely want all the activities I manage to be a success and I believe that this is a huge reason why my customers trust me and seek my opinion and recommendations. I also feel the same when it comes to managing my team, I really do care about how well they are doing and how happy they are, I believe by trusting and believing in them they respect and listen to me and in turn everyone grows.
PC: I think there are 3 key remits that have got me to where I am today: 1) determination to prove to myself that I can do well and achieve success; 2) respect and belief in the company that I work for; and 3) inability to stand still. You must continue to push forward, innovate, grow, learn, and continue to improve personally and professionally.
In your opinion, what does the future hold for women in the IT industry, and beyond?
HP: I think companies are more open minded to equality and adopt the attitude of “the right person for the job” regardless of gender, this should see more females in higher positions.
CM: I think we are going to see more and more women progressing in the sector. There are more women out there now that are hungry for this kind of success and many tech companies are driving initiatives to bring more women into higher powered roles.
VF: I think we are now in a time where there is so much more flexibility on offer in the workplace thus resulting in more woman feeling supported to build careers alongside family life and are being encouraged to have both. The IT industry is one of the fastest growing industries which has something to offer for everyone from the ground up, meaning that anyone can get stuck in and progress.
LB: The IT industry continues to be a resilient, fast-growing, and developing, I believe the future is extremely exciting for all in within this sector.
PC: I believe that the future is positive. The IT industry has come a long way with gender equality. The amazing work from the likes of CRN Women in Channel Awards will continue to highlight this topic, which will likely evolve the subject of equality even further.
How do you maintain your work life balance?
HP: By having interests outside of the workplace that are just as dependant on me as my business is. A family and a horse that must be looked after and cared for. Both are complete escapism from the pressures of running a business and being at one with an animal in the great outdoors provides valuable head clearing and thinking time.
CM: I didn’t really used to have much of a work life balance, but motherhood forced me to reassess this. I now try not to take work calls or log onto my laptop during the day if I am on annual leave or over the weekend, obviously as a director there are times when work things do take precedence, but I try to make sure this is the exception now and not the norm.
VF: I have learnt over time, that making time for myself and switching off, makes me a much better person at my job. My son provides all the escapism I need from work, and spending quality time with him puts me in a much better headspace to tackle work challenges.
LB: For me it is important to ensure that I have me time. By logging off and distancing myself from work when I am not in, I am more refreshed and productive when I am at work.
PC: This can be tricky. Devices and apps are always connected, and we live in an always-on world so it can be difficult not to log in and action a request that’s landed in your mailbox well into the evening. However, with a baby on the way, I have improved at ensuring that I separate work time from ‘me time’ to relax at home and to take my dog Leo out for a walk. It’s amazing what being surrounded by nature and a fluffy companion can do for the soul!
How can you inspire other women?
HP: I don’t feel that I am inspirational and often look back and wonder how I got where I am today. I didn’t set out with a plan, and I was never overly ambitious. I made the best of the opportunities as they arose, and life happened and still does so today.
CM: I don’t really view myself as a particularly inspirational person, the key to being successful in anything you do is to believe that you CAN do it and have a plan on HOW you can do it, with that simple formula most things are achievable.
VF: If I can do it, anyone can. It is that simple.
LB: I believe the only way to inspire anyone is to practice what you preach and lead from the front.
PC: I don’t think that I can inspire women as such, but I do like to lead by example. Work hard, focus, and don’t stand still!
What are your top tips for other women looking to succeed in IT and in business in general?
HP: Be yourself, believe in yourself, recognise qualities in others and don’t be intimidated.
CM: Know what you want and have a rough idea of how you would like to get there – remain true to yourself and don’t try to be someone that you are not in order to make a success of your career.
VF: Know what you want to achieve and go for it. Be yourself and believe in what you have to offer. Finding the support of a good company, which presents you with good training, development, and career opportunities, is always a good place to start. Most importantly, don’t give up.
LB: Just keep going; every day may not be great but there will be something great in every day. It’s the small daily accomplishments that create the huge life experiences.
PC: Success is all about the mindset, hard work, dedication, and ambition to make something of yourself. Try to overcome the hurdles that life throws your way, focus, and remember, there’s only one way to keep moving and that’s forwards!
We would like to thank our fab five females for taking part in this interview.
If you’re a woman in business, now is the time to ask yourself what you can do to help raise the profile of yourself and the other fabulous women you work with and admire? Why not give them a shout out on social media and tell people about them – are they entrepreneurs, innovators, leaders, or creators? How have they impacted your career or how have you inspired others?
If you’re a woman who has chosen a business career path, share your experiences with others; demonstrate your successes to them and show them the way.
For additional guides and advice on how to manage your career as a woman in tech visit the Women in Tech website