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International Women in Engineering Day takes place annually on 23rd June and celebrates the achievements of women engineers throughout the world.
At Automated Intelligence we have many women working in engineering roles across Product and Professional Services.
In this blog, we shine the spotlight on Naomi McLaughlin, our Product Delivery Manager, about why she decided to follow a career in I.T, how she has progressed to her management role, and what she thinks has changed since she started out.
Naomi, tell us about your role at Automated Intelligence?
I am Product Delivery Manager which involves overseeing the implementation of day-to-day processes so teams can focus on delivering high-quality software to Production. I also coach the Product teams to overcome obstacles and blockers in their work so they can concentrate on what they enjoy. I work with customers alongside the Head of Engineering to ensure we are fulfilling their requirements and expectations.
What did you study at university?
I studied Computing and Information Technology at Queen’s University. Funny enough, when I was at school I wanted to be an accountant! But I also had a real interest in computers. When picking university courses, I decided I wanted to go into some form of computing, but I didn’t know what the industry had to offer. I felt that, back then, no-one really told me what roles there were within I.T. Ultimately, my degree was a bit of everything- support, maintenance, coding, testing. You got to learn a wide variety of skills which was really helpful.
And, how did you start out at Automated Intelligence?
When I was at university, I thought I would like a career in Automation but after my placement, I realised that this wasn’t for me. I then got a job in AI as a Manual Tester which I did for three years and knew that this is what I wanted to do. I just loved the process that you worked through to understand and explore a new piece of functionality within the software.
And, how have you progressed to Product Delivery Manager?
After the three years, I moved to a Senior QA. I then became a Lead Operations Engineer, which involved doing more DevOps, and that gave me a great insight into the roles of the team before I took on the Product Delivery position. I now understand the pressures and problems people incur every day. Within the team now, it is less about QA and Dev, and more about everyone working together as one Product Team. I think everyone should understand each other’s role and purpose and be respectful of one another. Over the past seven years, I’ve had great mentors and I think if you’re able to take the help and learn from people, then you gain so much.
Do you think your school encouraged you into a career in I.T back then? Was it the norm?
I got an ‘A’ in I.T so it was obvious that that was where my passion lay. A few other people in my year went into the same degree so there was support there. I didn’t care what other people were doing, or “the norm”- I had it in my head that I wanted to come out of uni with a definitive career. I think nowadays there is much more of a focus towards a career in I.T, but I’d say I was encouraged.
Yes, there’s a real drive for more Women in STEM nowadays. Did your university course have more men than women on it?
It was probably about 75% male, but this was 2008, so, 11 years ago now. To be honest, there were about 300 people on the course, so there were more women than I expected! I think if you’re a strong member of the team, it doesn’t matter what your gender is!
What do you think has changed since you studied I.T at school?
Things like coding just weren’t a part of the curriculum – it was just basic I.T, based around applications such as Microsoft Access, rather than “computing.” I think there are more opportunities for younger people, not just at school, but in society in general too, such as games like Minecraft and ‘Coding for Kids’ classes. People see cool tech things like self-driving cars and are interested to know more. There is so much growth in the tech industry compared to any other industry – and that’s really appealing.
Finally, why would you encourage people into a career in Engineering?
The term engineering is so broad and there are so many different roles and opportunities. If you love learning and trying to fill voids or solve problems, then this is a career for you. In the exciting tech world, every day is a learning day!