Direct Line Group – Carlie Bussey, Service Introduction Manager

We interviewed Carlie Bussey, Service Introduction Manager at Direct Line Group on her thoughts and experiences on women in tech.

1. What does your job role involve?

I work within Service Architecture as a Service Introduction / Transition Manager at Direct Line Group (DLG), most recently leading the Service workstreams on two of our most complex Technology transformations. My role effectively bridges the gap between Project and Support and ensures consistent, scalable, reliable and cost-effective transition from today’s IT services to future services, with the objective of ensuring those services are able to be run, maintained and supported in accordance with agreed service levels and within agreed cost and risk profiles.

Every project is different and presents its own unique set of challenges, but keeping our customers and business at heart really helps me to stay focused on what is important and transition services in to live, minimising service outage and disruption.

I’ve worked for DLG for the past 22 years and I am a keen mentor and advocate of promoting Social Mobility and Women in IT.

2. What made you choose a career in technology?

Since joining DLG aged 18, on what was meant to be a gap year, I fell in love with DLG and its culture. I stayed through the organisations many transformations, working my way up from the call-centre to various Project and then Technology/Service based roles, managing over the years three of DLG’s largest 24×7 Technology teams before taking a break during maternity leave and returning most recently to manage the Service workstream of 2 of DLGs most complex Technology transformations.

I’ve also lead the transformation of the global Business Continuity function across DLG, setting up a new team, consolidating processes and supporting DLG through one of its biggest Mainframe migrations. My team and I were recognised by the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) at the National ‘Transformation of the Year’ awards at the time.

So I say Technology chose me and DLG certainly empowered me/opened the door and I haven’t looked back since! I am extremely proud of the journey we’ve been on and our technical heritage.

3. Did you study an IT or technology related subject at A-Level or University?

I came from relatively humble beginnings with lots of love but very little in terms of financial support or working female role models. Most women in my family were stay at home mums which was pretty traditional of the time. I knew I had to fund my own degree myself and so left college with little more than an Advanced GNVQ in Health & Social Care before joining DLG to earn my degree. I worked full time days and Birkbeck college in the evenings for 4 years until I qualified and I never looked back. I utilised the fantastic support available to progress my education whilst still working and further studied Prince2, ITIL and various other Technology/Service based qualifications whilst progressing my career at DLG. Learning on the job, whilst studying, really gave me a thirst to want to develop more and financially it also gave me motivation to want to do more.

4. Did you get any work experience in IT or technology before this role?

Besides working for a local supermarket aged 16, joining DLG was my first job. I have been fortunate to have worked at DLG my entire career so far and did not have any technical experience or any technical qualifications prior to this, as I say I joined to work in the call centre and worked my way up from there, putting myself forward for internal learning opportunities, secondments and training along the way.

5. Do you think there is a lack of females in the IT and tech sector?

This is always a difficult question to answer as there are so many good people working generally in Technology that it seems unfair to distinguish by gender. Historically there has definitely been under-representation of women in Tech overall, or Women in Tech in more administrative roles, but thankfully I have not seen that directly at DLG and I’ve not felt I’ve had to work harder because of my gender. DLG is an extremely inclusive employer where anything is possible (look at my story!), but I do appreciate this is not the same everywhere and more work needs to be done generally across the industry to ensure other companies share the same inclusive and diverse values. I am hugely supportive of Women in IT and Social Mobility and I support as many initiatives as I can so that hopefully one day we no longer need to ask ourselves this question.

6. Do you find there is a stereotype that a career in IT or technology is just for men?

Early on in my career and certainly working within Technology within Insurance, I would say yes certain stereotypes did exist back then generally in society, but so much has changed and moved on since I joined in 2018, its refreshing to see just how attitudes have changed. I’ve never experienced this at DLG, but attitudes generally have evolved with focus on inclusion and diversity like never before – must ensure to keep momentum.

7. What would entice women to study technology related courses?

Realising how diverse the Technology industry is, there are so many roles and points of interest to explore. Technology underpins almost every part of our lives! How exciting is it that we can help to shape and develop our future. Technology never stands still, its fast evolving, fast changing especially with new Agile methodologies and practices which means we can deliver change much more quickly and iteratively. Seeing the value Technology can bring and what that translates to in terms of customer journey and ease of use/impact on our day to day lives is truly inspirational and I am very proud to be part of it.

8. Are there barriers when it comes to women getting into tech?

Being such a fast paced and constantly evolving industry, Technology does generally face a skills-gap, so it’s important we continue to encourage young people to join and dispel some of the more traditional perceptions of Technology. The only physical barriers I see based upon my experience are within ourselves and having a ‘I can do anything’ mindset is really important. Mentoring others and learning from others is essential.

Improving access and making education more accessible is also something we need to continue to develop, as is encouraging more Women and those from less privileged backgrounds to take an interest. Traditional stereotypes are changing and more people are more interested in Technology, we need to harness this and continue to keep driving down the stereotype.

Here at DLG we constantly strive to identify and remove barriers to careers and actively support progression for everyone, including Women in IT and people from a disadvantaged or lower socio-economic backgrounds. We encourage inclusion and everyone to reach their full potential and we actively raise awareness. We are proud to encourage everyone to bring all of themselves to work. We are active in our local communities to help where we can for example visiting local schools when able to encourage interest and promote careers in Tech.

9. How could we encourage more women to start a career in tech?

As I mentioned, I am a strong advocate of Women in IT and Social Mobility and try to be a role model in everything I do. I’ve proven you can make a career in Tech if you are keen to learn and work hard. I’ve also taken a break to have children and returned to some pretty challenging leading roles. Anything is possible if you work hard and educate yourself, having strong role models and sharing our knowledge and support will hopefully encourage more young women see a career for themselves in Technology.

10. What advice would you give young women today at the start of their career?

Anything is possible if you set your heart and mind on it. Read lots and be curious – never stop asking questions or challenging if there is a better way to do things. Some of my biggest lessons have come from work experience not directly related to Technology, but have given me transferable skills. Think of everything you do as a ‘project’ and break things down in to bite size chunks. Constantly strive to be better.

Never give up and if one company turns you down, try another – I applied 3 times before I was given an interview at DLG all those years ago and I didn’t give up. Never stop learning and network/surround yourself with good role models and mentors. In time, pass that learning on to others and be proud of who you are and what you have achieved. You will always want to do better, you will sometimes wish you had done things differently, but you are on a journey and mistakes are part of that – test, learn and develop as you go. Make time for yourself and do not listen to distractors. Believe in yourself because anything you set your mind to is possible.