Precisely Winshuttle – Helen Coulson, Senior Consultant – Professional Services

We interviewed Helen Coulson, Senior Consultant – Professional Services at Winshuttle – Precisely on her experience and thoughts on women in tech.

1. What does your job role involve?

I deliver bespoke form solutions utilising Precisely Evolve. I work closely with customers who are looking to improve their data management and processes around SAP, developing solutions to achieve their goals that are user friendly.


2. What made you choose a career in technology?

I did not initially choose a career in technology. Over 30 years ago I was in the right place at the right time and thrived behind the wheel of technology making my way through different technology and management roles as more opportunities arose.


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

Computers were very, very basic when I started my working life. My first childhood game console had 1 game with 2 modes and a square ball! I did not attend University. It wasn’t really a thing people did from my area unless you were super brainy.


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

My career in technology started in a finance department where there was one mainframe terminal per floor and you had to book timeslots to use it. After a few months, I was issued a PC for my desk, I was lucky to be one of the first to get one and very proud of it . After a few years, I became the Manager of the financial systems department and a few years after that SAP came into the picture. I made a choice to move cities and into the team responsible for its implementation, becoming a SAP consultant before moving to Winshuttle/Precisely.


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

I do, but I don’t know why. I’ve been privileged to work with and for many women during my career and within most of the companies it’s not been an issue for women to be whatever they want. I don’t feel I’ve been held back, although I did feel that I had to return to work quickly after having children so that I didn’t get forgotten or miss opportunities during a very exciting time. I can’t be sure if that was just my perception or a reality


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

Yes and no. I don’t feel my family, friends or peers ever thought it was a strange choice for a woman. I hope that with tech (mobiles, tablets, game consoles) so readily available for most young people it will be even more normal. I actually had a role in a non-tech company and felt more stereotyped there, but that was in the early 90’s!


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

More choice at school. In the UK subjects are generally parcelled up and you end up having to choose subjects you don’t want in order to do the ones you do. I think young women would choose STEM subjects if they could mix it up a bit.


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

I don’t think there are any specific barriers in tech anymore. The culture is still male dominated and will be until more women start choosing IT and tech careers. It’s never been an issue for me even when I have been the only woman.


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

Explain to young women that working in tech isn’t sitting in a room with nerds tapping away on a keyboard non-stop. There is so much scope, listing IT and tech career types with the path you could take to achieve that career would be encouraging. A career in tech can be very flexible, easily working from home and options for reduced hours, this all helps towards a good work-life balance. Women already in tech can help too, by calling out behaviour towards women that doesn’t seem fair, talking about it and working towards changing it.


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

Be confident, you can do whatever you want if you set your mind to it. Admit your mistakes, highlight your successes, and learn from them both. Women are great in tech jobs and there is such a variety to choose from. A career in tech is never dull, always something new and constantly evolving. Go for it!