Reading time: About 5 minutes
What is your job role?
I am the Chief Operating Officer at Automated Intelligence, responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations and ensuring that the company runs smoothly and efficiently. Along with the other members of the Senior Leadership Team, I establish and communicate the business objectives across the organisation, ensuring alignment for successful achieving our collective goals.
Can you tell us of your leadership journey so far?
My journey with the company began 12 years ago when I joined as the QA Manager with the goal of setting up the Quality Assurance function of the business in its formative years. I helped to establish a world class, quality-focused engineering team that has produced some truly innovative solutions to our customer problems using cutting edge technology.
In 2018, I progressed to a business-wide leadership role as the Operations Director, charged with bringing the quality engineering mindset to the overall operation of the company.
I was promoted to the position of Chief Operating Officer in 2020, becoming the first female to hold a leadership position at this level of the business. I am proud to have played a key role in shaping the company’s growth and success, and look forward to continuing to lead with purpose, passion, and a strong commitment to innovation and excellence.
What measures have been implemented to cultivate an inclusive work environment at AI?
At our workplace, we understand that diversity is a key factor in building high-performing teams and driving innovation. That’s why we place great importance on fostering a culture of inclusion in our work environment.
To support our employees in this effort, we have created a comprehensive online learning platform that offers diversity and inclusion learning paths. We also communicate our D&I commitments in our policies and job descriptions, with the full support of our business leaders. This includes promoting diversity recruitment practices to ensure a diverse workforce.
At the heart of our approach is open communication. We strive to create a supportive culture where employees feel comfortable sharing their ideas, perspectives, and feedback. We believe that this feedback is essential for continuously improving our efforts and fostering an inclusive work environment.
In terms of the current landscape of the tech sector, do you think there has been major strides in terms of opportunities for women?
There is no denying that there has been major strides in terms of opportunities for women in tech, but you don’t have to do much digging to uncover there is a way to go before we see true equality in terms of things like the gender pay gap and the lack of female representation in technical roles. Everyone has heard about ChatGPT at this stage but have you heard that the CTO of ChatGPT (Mira Murati) is female? Unfortunately these leaderships roles are so underrepresented as highlighted by some really interesting stats in the report by Tech Nation: Diversity and inclusion in UK tech – Tech Nation:
- Only 3% of Chief Technology Officers (CTO’s) or Technical Director roles are held by women;
- 6% of Chief Operating and 0.4% of Chief Financial Officer roles are held by women.
We all have a part to play in ensuring these stats improve, there is a lot of work still to be done!
What guidance would you give to the next generation of female leaders who are starting their career in the NI tech sector?
To the next generation of female leaders starting their career in the NI tech sector, my advice is to jump right in! The startup culture in Northern Ireland is thriving, making it an ideal environment to learn about all aspects of business and IT.
In a small company, you will have the opportunity to observe and learn from people at all levels of the organisation, which can help you develop a broad set of skills. You can also explore a range of roles and responsibilities, which will give you the chance to find your passion and build on your skill set. You will have a close-knit team, providing more opportunities to network, build relationships, and create a sense of community.
Small companies often prioritise their company culture to attract and retain staff against larger organisations, so you will benefit from flexibility in working patterns, hybrid working models, and employee benefits geared towards providing a better work-life balance.
In a small company, you will have direct impact on the success of the business, and your role will be more visible. Before long, you may find yourself contributing to decision-making and influencing the direction of the business.
My main piece of advice is always to figure out what you love to do. When you are passionate about your work like the team around you, you’ll find that work doesn’t feel like work at all. So, my advice is to jump in, learn as much as you can, explore different roles, and find your passion!