Board Intelligence – Product Manager – Millie McCormack

BI_MillieMcCormack_Square (002)We interviewed Millie McCormack, Product Manager for Board Intelligence on her thoughts on Women in Tech.

  1. What does your job role involve?

My job covers a little bit of everything – which is partly down to the multifaceted nature of a career in tech but it’s also one of the benefits of working for a small but fast-growing company.

While I’m a Product Manager, owning projects and seeing them through from prioritisation to client release, I specialise in the Release Phase of the project lifecycle; I run our Product Success function. Product Success is a new initiative we’ve created to ensure and measure the success of our product.

  1. What made you choose a career in technology?

My first role at Board Intelligence was in our Customer Success team. Through onboarding and supporting our clients I gained expert knowledge on our product and began spending more and more time with our tech team, getting to know how they work.

Watching Product Managers making strategic decisions over which features we need to build and then seeing those features through the development cycle and into the hands of our clients (and hearing their feedback!) – was what really excited me and sparked my initial interest.

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

No – I studied Geography at university and my A levels were Geography, Economics, Maths and Physics.

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

No –  I recognised the importance of technology but didn’t develop a significant interest until I joined a SaaS business.

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

I think stereotypes aren’t necessarily the most helpful way to think about the challenge of getting more women in tech: whilst many consider tech to be stereotypically male (and often white, middle class, wears shorts and likes to sit in the dark), if you unpack the actual job, the skills required in tech are often those considered to be stereotypically ‘female’ (like problem solving and good organisation).

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

I think one of the biggest barriers is that women find it challenging, and probably quite intimidating, to join teams with a lack of diversity (e.g. a male dominated team). This creates a vicious cycle where the dominant social group maintains tenure. To me, it’s the responsibility of the organisation to break this barrier. They need to create a culture that invites and accommodates a diverse workforce (importantly, diversity of thought, not just gender).

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

A lot of work is being done to encourage women to start careers in tech – I believe one of the channels through which we can make the biggest change is the STEM projects run in schools (projects to encourage students to consider careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

Within that, we shouldn’t underestimate the importance of the media. We often build our image and understanding of careers through the media, and the big tech icons of the last few decades have been mainly men. Namely Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. There are many female tech icons and they need to be celebrated, for example Megan Smith (CTO under President Obama) and Cheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook).