Sim Local – Julie Gibb, Chief Technology Officer

We interviewed Julie Gibb, Chief Technology Officer at Sim Local on her thoughts and experiences about women in tech.

1. What does your job role involve?

I joined Sim Local in 2017 as CTO at a pivotal point in the company’s tech journey, which has been an extremely exciting and rewarding journey to be a part of. My current role involves leading a team responsible for the technology services that underpin Sim Local’s retail business and retail channels across the globe. What I enjoy most is that leading technology innovation and being successful all depends on everyone in the team working together, which I believe we do extremely well at Sim Local!

2. What made you choose a career in technology?

As a child, we had an early model Apple computer at home and I used to spend hours typing in programming code, just to see a little stick man run across the screen and throw a javelin when I hit the enter button. The anticipation of the magic the computer screen was going to deliver to me was more thrilling than the actual result, but I loved it and think this is what inspired my interest in technology from a young age. Later, when it came to researching degree courses, I found myself always drawn to technology orientated degrees and that is where I ended up!

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

I studied at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland and graduated in 1995 with a B.A (Mod) in Management Science and Industrial Systems Studies. Several years later, I decided I wanted to further my studies and decided to go to night school to complete an MBA from University College Dublin Smurfit School of Business.

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

I’ve been working in technology since I came out of university, so have experienced various roles and jobs within the industry. After I graduated, I worked as a Project Manager at Nortel Networks in 1995, where I was responsible for the phased expansion of International Operators fixed-line networks across Europe, which was a challenge as there was a lot to learn, and quickly. However, as my first job out of university, the graduate role was a great introduction to the world of working within a multinational company and taught me a lot about working with multi-cultural teams across geographies.

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

Although there has been significant progress in advancing women’s careers in IT and technology, I believe there is still a way to go to ensure women have an equal seat at the table, especially in more senior roles.

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

Although the technology sector has long been a male dominated industry, we are seeing more and more women joining the ranks and having extremely successful careers in IT & technology. Change is steadily happening and I have seen huge changes particularly over the last 10 years. It has been great to be able to show women that there are a plethora of roles waiting for them, offering both rewarding and fulfilling careers in the sector.

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

Women who have been publicly successful in the technology and IT industry will inspire and entice the younger generation of women to study technology related courses. Seeing such role models goes a long way to helping them consider these roles for themselves.

I believe that girls need to be motivated from a young age to follow a path in STEM. From showcasing the successful women in the industry, to promoting endless career opportunities available to them, schools, colleges and universities need to do more to encourage the younger generation to develop an interest in STEM and to help shape the female leaders of tomorrow.

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

When women decide to take a break from their career in order to start a family and raise children, they are often stumped when re-entering the workforce. Companies need to respect those who decide to take that path and help support them to get back into their roles.

Both companies and the Government have a part to play in offering re-skilling or retraining initiatives. Technology is a great option because it is always evolving, and constant development is necessary for anyone working in the industry.

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

I have always been encouraged simply by seeing other women in technology leadership roles and would say that is the first step for showing what a great sector it is. I also believe we need to encourage young students in schools, colleges, universities to see how rewarding a career in tech is, and the opportunities that are available to them, as these are not always widely known.

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

Mostly to be agile and embrace change. Technology is constantly evolving and bringing new challenges to our ways of working, therefore you need to be able to try new things and not be afraid to make mistakes – welcome and learn from them!