We interviewed Rebecca Ganchi, DevOps Engineer at DWP Digital on her experience and thoughts on women in tech.
I’m a DevOps Engineer at DWP Digital, working within the benefit payment systems technical support group. I work on systems such as the Job Seeker Allowance payment system, Housing Benefit, and the Disability Living Allowance computer system.
These core benefit systems are the backbone of DWP Digital’s case maintenance and benefit payment capability. They need to be maintained and improved to continue to deliver payments of approximately £150 billion a year to over 15 million citizens that need financial support.
My role involves building new instances, maintaining current instances, and applying new solutions. I also apply updated and new code to the development and production environments for all the core benefit systems. These systems are hosted in Amazon Web Services (AWS) and on-premises hosting (OPH).
My daily DevOps engineer role requires me to build and update windows instances and workspaces and update current environments using modern tools such as Gitlab, CI/CD and Linux.
I’m also currently working as part of an implementation team which involves moving pre-production environments from one tool to another. This move is major as it will unlock significant business value and allows us to create a truly automated business delivery pipeline.
I didn’t set out to have a career in technology I’ve kind of fallen into it. But loving that I have. I feel like a Mandalorian… “this is the way”.
Definitely not. The nearest was studying Business and Information Studies at GCSE level. IT was far from my radar, leaving school I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do.
Therefore, I ended up on a secretarial course doing touch typing and shorthand. This led to me joining DWP as a typist on the Income Support Computer System on a casual basis typing up the quality documents which were required at the time. I then progressed within DWP from there.
After a year doing clerical work, I was encouraged by my line manager to do a 6-week COBOL programming course which I loved. What a surprise I was the only woman on the course!
After the course, I went on to be a software engineer on the Income Support Computer system using COBOL and I began learning new languages.
This led to me joining the development, build and support team which supported all the core legacy benefit systems. Within this team, I expanded my knowledge and skills by learning SQL, IDMSX and other software engineering tools which we used on the virtual machine environment mainframes (VME). VME then became extinct and replaced with AWS and OPH.
I continued developing my skills through a combination of self-learning and shadowing my colleagues, learning more modern, quicker, slicker, supported tools.
Yes. Even nowadays it appears to be a man’s world. It is definitely more noticeable in some roles than others such as mine as a DevOps engineer. I would love to encourage more women into the industry.
Technology can come across as a male dominated industry, there is the stereotype that the area is very technical, that you need to be a coder and you’ve got to have a degree. I don’t have a degree; I learnt a lot working on the job.
If we can go from only using gas ovens to now being able to cook using air fryers, then look at it in the same way… move with the times, keep up with technology, embrace it. Don’t just be the one using technology but be the one that helps create the new solution.
You don’t have to be a coder, just have the right mind set that you can also jump on the wagon and learn.
Not really, I think it’s very much a mind over matter. You don’t have to have a degree or be great at maths and science, it’s the willingness to learn that counts.
I think more advertisement at schools, colleges, and open days to encourage the younger generation.
DWP Digital are great at encouraging learning and development, there are lots of opportunities for shadowing colleagues and gaining access to mentors to learn the skills you need. Working in tech, not all roles are technical so if you are interested in the industry have a look at the different roles available.
At DWP Digital, extensive training is provided so you will soon get the skills required. Also, with our hybrid working policy and the technology of screen share you can learn anywhere and from anyone, you don’t have to be in the same location.
DWP Digital apprenticeships are available, and I’d encourage people outside of the department to have a look. Apprentices are getting paid a good wage while learning and working on real projects on the job, with no need for big university debts and there is a job at the end of it.
Every day is a learning day! Don’t be scared, be yourself. Ask as many questions as you want, no matter how daft the question is I can guarantee that someone else will be thinking the same thing.
Help and support will always be available you’ve just got to ask for it, so, step out of your comfort zone and take some risks. It’s better to try and give it a go then have that feeling of “I wish I had”.
I’m turning 50 in a few months, but all this new learning makes me feel like I’m still in my 30’s.
Yep, I’m woman, nearly 50, and even a blonde one at that, and I’m a DevOps engineer. If I can do it, so can you!