We interviewed Siobhan Pearson, Head of Application Maintenance at IAG GBS on her experience and thoughts on women in tech.
I manage a department that provides technical support for applications used by British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, IAG GBS, IAG Loyalty, IAG Cargo, IAG and their worldwide users. This technical support is provided as managed services by our third-party suppliers and service providers. I work closely with these service providers to ensure the services are delivered to agreed SLAs (Service Level Agreements) and continuously improve to ensure value for money for IAG.
When I was leaving high school, IT felt like an area that was growing and evolving and therefore would be able to offer me a career rather than just a job. I’d always preferred Maths and Science rather than English or creative subjects, which I think lent itself to IT.
At school I completed a GCSE in Information Technology and at University a BA Business Computing degree.
I did one week work experience at IBM during high school. I left school after GCSEs and undertook an apprenticeship at a local small software firm, who then supported me through my degree. At this software firm, I was involved in the end-to-end lifecycle of IT activities (e.g. designing, building, testing, implementation, and support of systems) for a variety of customers, which gave me a broad hands-on experience of many aspects of IT. I believe this experience benefitted me greatly in my future career and successes. I then joined British Airways as an IT Support Analyst and have progressed to various service manager roles and then to head of the department (which is now within IAG GBS).
I noticed at university that the females on the course were in the minority (about 15%). During my career, I’ve always worked with other females in similar IT roles and it hasn’t felt like there is a disparity.
I’d suggest ensuring people understand that IT is not just the very technical aspects (e.g. hardware, coding) but also has other aspects that can appeal to a wider audience, such as business analysis, project and service management.
Ensure that content shared with schools has pictures showing both men and women and advertises the broad number of roles and career paths that relate to IT, rather than just the stereotypical of deep technical.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions to seek understanding – it’s the quickest and easiest way, but often resisted as felt to be a weakness. Typically, people appreciate being asked and will want to help and clarify – they don’t want you to fail.