Gallagher – Mary-Ann Atkin, Junior Storage and Backup Engineer

We interviewed Mary-Ann Atkin, Junior Storage and Backup Engineer at Gallagher on her thoughts and experience on women in tech.

1. What does your job role involve?

My main day-to-day responsibilities include checking backups for failures and troubleshooting any that arise in a timely manner so that a resolution can be put in place as quick as possible. I complete tape changes every week to ensure we have enough media for backups to be written and then ensure they are sent to our secure vault, as well as reporting on capacity within our environments. I provide accounts of backups and perform regular tests for application backups for external auditor purposes. Another key aspect of my role is to liaise regularly with other teams both in IT and across our 5,000-colleague business as I am running a project to decommission an old file server and migrate the data over to a new storage platform. My role also involves occasional travel to our data centre to cable in new hardware. 

2. What made you choose a career in technology?

I chose a career in technology as there is always something more to learn and technology is always going to be needed.

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

I completed a level 3 NVQ apprenticeship and following that, I worked in a call centre doing Tech Support for TVs/ laptops/ DVD players etc. I gained good experience but moved to a new employer to be a Service Desk Analyst as I wanted to use the qualifications I had worked so hard for. Following redundancy, I found myself with Gallagher, starting as Service Desk Support before moving to a 3-month secondment in the storage team. I’ve since had the opportunity to develop my knowledge by working as a Senior Analyst as well as my current role within the Storage team.

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

A little, but I do feel that it is changing. I have had previously, customers get through to me only to say that they don’t trust women with technology and ask to speak to someone else without even saying hello but those calls are rare and it is nice when I can support them and they are happy with the outcome.

5. What would entice women to study technology-related courses?

More information about the different kinds of technology available at all levels would be helpful; it’s not just about the common ‘turn it off and on again’ there are so many different aspects of IT / Technology that aren’t necessarily known.

One thing that swayed me was at a careers fair at college and seeing a large sign saying ‘we need more women in IT’. I instantly went over and learnt about job prospects, how technology was key in business and that drove me into this path – everyone wants to know their field of work is future proof.

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

I do not feel there are any barriers when it comes to interviewing/applying for a role when getting into tech – as long as you have your experience or qualifications needed just like everyone else, then women should apply.

I believe the attitude to women in tech is still somewhat of a barrier, just like it can be in other fields of work. I found when starting out back in 2011 that the attitudes ranged from supportive to sexist and that could have been a huge knockback for some people when starting a career when you have options and can change courses easily. Thankfully, things have changed and generally, the industry is much more accepting.

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

Showcase successful women in IT (as well as men), show everyone that it doesn’t matter your gender. It’s 2020, not 1920! Who cares what gender you are? Can you do your job? Yes? Then be proud and tell the world about it.

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

It’s ok not to have been hiding in your mums’ cellar building servers since the age of 10 and letting everyone and their dog know about it.  There’s so much to learn, no one knows everything there is to know in tech. Learn from mistakes, communicate with your team – you’re all equal. Know that if you ever are uncomfortable or are made to feel less than worthy that it’s perfectly ok to say that. Focus on you and study hard.