Phoenix Group – Louise Taylor, Agile Delivery Lead

We interviewed Louise Taylor, Agile Delivery Lead at Phoenix Group on her experience and thoughts on women in tech.


  1. What does your job role involve?

I’m very lucky to have a varied role which covers lots of different tasks! At a high level, I look after the secure digital solutions that are in place for the ReAssure book of business, which is part of the Phoenix Group. Day to day, this means I ensure that the systems are working the way that they should by resolving live customer impacting issues, monitoring how our customers are using the system to drive new improvements, prioritise technology upgrades and promote our digital solutions to colleagues.


  1. What made you choose a career in technology?

If I’m honest I can’t say that I consciously chose a career in technology. Most of my career was spent in Customer Services, and I was fortunate to be asked to lead a new team that was set up to support customers using our new secure portal. Through being involved with this I was able to see the opportunity that digital presents for customers and realised that I enjoyed having input into more technical design discussions for new features. This meant that when an opportunity arose to be part of the team driving those discussions, I jumped at it.


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

No, I’m of an age where IT and technology wasn’t really taught, and I left school only able to do the basics in Microsoft Word. As I was looking for an office-based job, I realised I needed to improve my computer literacy so signed up for an RSA Computer Literacy and Information Technology class in the evenings to help me improve. This was incredibly useful to me as not only did I develop new skills, but I also realised that I loved creating formulas in Microsoft Excel and analysing data. I was able to use that knowledge to further my career to the point I am now.


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

Most of my previous roles were in Customer Services but I was able to develop my analytical and problem solving skills through certain projects I had worked on, including supporting data migrations as companies were acquired. This gave me useful background and contacts and again showed me that technology was an area of interest. I also learnt from some of my colleagues that the business knowledge I bring adds value and a different perspective to others.

I have also been able to do ‘on the job’ training that has provided me with recognised industry level qualifications that have been fully supported by Phoenix Group. Some of these were before I moved into my current role, and others have been completed whilst in role. We’re really lucky that Phoenix Group supports us in continuing to develop.


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

Yes, but I do think this is improving. Within Phoenix Group, there are specific networks to support women in IT, and it’s incredibly positive that the company has signed up to the wider Women In Tech initiative, whilst also improving the recruitment process so that job adverts are written in a way that is engaging to women.


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

IT and Technology were definitely seen as more male dominated previously, and when I first joined the business 25 years ago, everyone I spoke to about anything technical was male. It’s so positive now to see the diversity across the department and talk with other women who have moved into a technical role.


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

I think it is important to understand the variety of careers that are available within technology, and the benefits that the different roles and perspectives can bring to defining a solution. Some roles and courses can appear intimidating, and it’s important to demystify them by showing day to day tasks or experiences that may lead someone towards a technology based course. For example, a person who enjoys doing puzzles would have good problem solving skills meaning they could get involved in coding in the future.


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

I don’t think barriers have been put in place deliberately, but there has been reluctance from women to move into technology. For me, this was something I had never considered as I thought you needed to be a technical person who could do coding, but actually what I have learnt is that there is so much more to working in Tech and more variety in roles than I had thought.


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

We need to create more awareness of the roles available in technology and the impact they can have. This starts with encouraging young women to consider technology when in school. I’m very fortunate that Phoenix Group provides volunteering time that allows me to do this by attending schools to talk about careers in technology and capturing their imagination by asking the pupils to design an app. This is something I care passionately about and it’s so rewarding to see the girls’ eyes light up as they get excited about their app idea.

Once women are in the workplace it’s important that the technology teams are not seen as intimidating, as this can put women (and in some instances, men) off. Representation matters, so it is good to have women working at a senior level within Tech who are visible to colleagues. Regardless of gender, people within Tech need to be allies, championing the cause, and looking for opportunities to support women in moving to technology.


  1. What advice would you give to young women at the start of their career?

There’s two key pieces of advice I would give. Firstly, I would encourage young women to be open to possibilities and opportunities, whether they are in technology or not.

My second piece of advice is linked and is ‘don’t give in to the fear’. New opportunities can be scary, but it’s important to give them a try. The first couple of days or weeks are difficult as you can feel outside of your comfort zone and as a result you start to wonder whether it’s really what you want to do. Usually within a couple of weeks you will start to feel more comfortable and confident, so I’d encourage anyone to stick with the opportunity for a while if you can to see if this will work for you.

I certainly experienced this when I moved into Tech from a role where I felt fully confident, and at the end of the first week I actually spoke with my previous manager about moving back. That took a couple of weeks to arrange, by which time I felt more comfortable in my new role and could see the opportunities I was being presented with and how I could fit in. I’m in no doubt now that if I had moved back to my old role, I would have been missing out, and I did the right thing in deciding to stay. Never have I been so relieved for paperwork to take a little while to progress!