To celebrate International Women’s Day this year, we’re delighted to introduce some of the awesome and inspiring women we have working with us at Seisma Group. We hope you enjoy hearing about the work they do and their experiences as a woman working in tech.

In this post, we’d like to introduce you to Senior Consultant Sally-Anne Mitchell.

Tell us a bit about your role at Seisma Group.

I’m a Senior Consultant within the group’s Strategy and Advisory services, leveraging my 30+ years of consulting capabilities and experience to assist organisations with strategic identification, planning and development projects.

What first sparked your interest in the tech industry? How did you decide to go into working in your field?

In the late 1980s, I worked in the business before being seconded onto an Information Technology project to implement a mainframe software solution (yep, before PC based) to support business functions of word processing, calendar, etc. It was providing the basic work environment considered a given these days. It was an evolutionary time when computing was starting to be used broader than just “number crunching”. What excited me was considering how solutions can support the business, understand the organisation and stakeholders’ needs and introduce organisational change to help people with the transition.

What challenges have you faced as a woman working in a male-dominated industry and how did you deal with them?

Some challenges I experienced include:

  • Having the importance of being the voice of the business or stakeholders devalued. It was a broader challenge than simply being gender-based. Often early in my IT journey, I was the sole person championing the need to deliver value rather than implement some shiny tech because we can.
  • Assuming I will be the minute-taker of the meetings and not the discussion facilitator.
  • Assuming all females in the industry will have the same personal drivers of emulating males and seeking to climb corporate ladders. Thankfully, this is changing now as alternative leadership styles are being recognised.

Being in the industry for such a long time, I have honed my collaboration, diplomacy, and observational skills to know when to challenge the status quo head-on or be a disruptor by quietly putting in the extra effort to demonstrate options of the way forward.

How have things changed for women since you first joined the tech industry?

The tech industry will always need to evolve to rise to the demands of the current day. Hence, I see it growing and maturing with recognising the value and importance of women in the industry. Whilst it is getting better, there will always be laggards in the industry that need to step up to embrace societal changes of diversity and inclusiveness. I have experienced the following:

  • There is no longer a surprise that there are women in the industry and the likelihood that I am not the sole female on a project.
  • Organisations and projects acknowledge what I bring to my roles through skills, experience and capabilities.
  • Recognising that careers are not climbing a linear corporate ladder.
  • More importantly, I am starting to see in the industry recognition of an “authentic” leadership style as valuable.
What advice would you give women who are just starting their career in tech?

For anyone starting their tech career:

  • Work in areas that excite you, and be open to the fact that these may change over time.
  • Seek role models, mentors and coaches to assist your personal goals. Also, realise that it may not be one person that encapsulates all that you seek.
  • Expect your career to be something other than pre-defined for you. Define your own “career wall” by evaluating opportunities and personal growth on your terms in taking your next step.
  • Stay “true to you”.
Do you think enough is done to help women get into the tech industry? If not, what would you recommend?

I applaud the efforts through STEM to highlight and encourage women graduates into the tech industry. However, being a person who came to tech from a humanities background, there should be encouragement and recognition of the contributions that females can bring regardless of the educational route. The tech industry should also think broader by encouraging women:

  • Returning to work after career breaks.
  • Switching from other domains or industries.
  • With flexible working arrangements to remain in the industry.
What do you love about being a woman working in tech?

Exploring and discovering new ways to support organisations and stakeholders to deliver value and being challenged with the evolution and re-invention of technology to enable the organisation to achieve its goals keeps me in the tech industry.

Want to read more? Meet more of the talented women at Seisma Group here