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British Transport Police – Sandy Morrissey, IT Business Support Manager

We interviewed Sandy Morrissey, IT Business Support Manager at British Transport Police on her experience and thoughts on women in tech.

Sandy Photo

  1. What does your job role involve?

I’m the Business Support Manager for the Technology Department and I’m based at FHQ, Camden. I have been in this role for 2 years, and I really like my job, the senior management team I work with. I also act as the Personal Assistant for the CIO who is the Head of the Technology Department.

We currently have over 110 staff members, the majority are here at Force Head Quarters and the rest are spread right around the UK to cover IT support and maintenance across the whole business.

My role involves full business support and managerial services for the CIO and the senior management team.  I deal with all the correspondence, actions and requests from all our key stakeholders like BTPA, DfT, TfL, GDS, GIAA, NPCC, The Home office, and many other government agencies. I also help to maintain our working relationships with other Police Forces like the MET, Surrey Police, Kent Police and The Scottish Police Service.

As well as arranging meetings and diary planning for the SMT, I also write and proof read technology reports and I take minutes and actions for many of our different Board Meetings.

I look after many areas of business for our Technology department such as helping staff with HR and Health and Safety.

I  also book travel for the whole department, I maintain and updating the IT Risk Register, I order our stationery, I ensure that staff complete their training on NCALT. I look after our Conference Call Accounts, eProc, New Starters, Leavers, I updating the notice boards,  I approve time sheets; the list could go on and on.

I currently line manage 1 staff member which is good experience for me. I find it really rewarding when you see the coaching and career advice you give followed through by the staff member.  Last year I had a team of 3 that I had to line manager, and each one of them got promoted and move up on their career path.

 

  1. What made you choose a career in technology?

I started with BTP Technology over 5 years ago as a volunteer on the Vodafone contract renewal team. I worked with the project team until the audit was completed and the new contract was negotiated and signed.  I was then offered a part- time job, looking after the new contract and the BTP mobile phone estate.  I joined the communications teams in technology as a communication support specialist after a short time I moved from 3 days a week to a full time staff member of the communications team.   In March 2016 I saw a position that I was interested in on the BTP internal vacancies page, I was interviewed by the CIO at the time, and I was successfully promoted to Business Support Manager.

 

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

I original trained as a Financial Advisors and worked in the Financial Services Industry for a long time.  I left school at 16 and started working while going to college.  I completed all my Financial Services exams and was promoted from senior office clerk to office manager to area sales manager and then finally a Financial Advisor.  As a Financial Services Advisors I worked with many of the large investment and accountancy firms in central London. I really enjoyed my time as a Financial Advisor as I spent most of my time on the road selling investment options. I was in the Financial Services Industry for over 20 years, until I stopped work to take time out to raise my family.

 

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

Well I would have to say NO to this question.  I did not have much work experience in IT before I started working at BTP.  The only IT experience I had was what I learnt myself  my using different technology. I have always been very interested in new technology, the growth of the internet, social media and how things work together.

 

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

Yes I do, to an extent.  In our IT department we have about 25 female staff member’s which is roughly less than 22% of the total IT establishment.  I have recently been visiting universities with my 18 year old daughter who has taken my advice and will be studying for a career in technology.  All of the universities we visited seem to be trying as hard as they could to increase the ratio of girls studying technology degrees.  I’m sure this will improve as the years go on and we let go of the stereotypical view that jobs in IT are men type jobs.

 

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

Yes I do.  Most of these IT type jobs are normally filled by males; which in the pass was the norm. But now we know better, and it’s clear that technology needs more women. Gender diversity benefits all companies in many different ways. Having a diverse team within an IT department is crucial and helps to balance the workforce.  Here in our IT department there is at least 1 female on each of our teams. I have noticed that this helps balance our teams and improves ideas sharing, leadership, creativity and problem solving.

 

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

I think what could help to inspires girls to study subject in technology is more women IT role models.  I am lucky to work for Sarah Winmill who is the current CIO/Head of the IT Department, and a female.  In fact Sarah is the first female Head of Technology ever to work in BTP (I think).  She is enthusiastic, very knowledgeable, and highly technical, with years of experience in the IT industry.  She has regenerated the IT department, with her innovative ideas and you can see that moral in the department is finally up.   Sarah is a keen mentor, and a career advisor.  She has worked wonders since taking over as CIO, and to me this shows that things are changing. This is why I encouraged my 18 year old daughter to study a subject in Technology at university as I believe that this would be the best career path with the best future.

 

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

I think that the “barriers” are our own stereotype basic barriers that are still hanging around the industry, like these are “jobs for the boys” and “Boys being better at science and maths”.  All of which is out of date and also incorrect. As time goes on I do think things will get better, but we will need to start in the schools and universities, with agendas and courses geared toward improving the ratio of girls in those key IT subjects.

 

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

I think that schools should encourage girls at GCSE levels to take subjects like Computer Studies, Computer Science and ICT.  This may well encourage girls to then move on to take A levels in technology  subjects and then enrol on IT courses at University.

More women in Technology can’t be a bad thing, can it?