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Influencing and inspiring future female technologists

I’m not a STEM subject graduate or technology certified professional. I’m a Business Management graduate who is passionate about tech. For 12 years, I worked as a Senior Project Consultant across the world in the Financial Services industry – I’d just never found a place where I wanted to settle. That was until I met a few Barclays colleagues at a Women in Technology road show last year. They were friendly, down-to-earth and gave me real insight into what it meant to be a woman in the Technology team at Barclays. I was particularly inspired by the Scottish female leaders, especially the Technology talk by Jacqui McDonald – Group Finance Chief Information Officer RFT.

I wanted to know more, so I connected with her on LinkedIn and asked if we could speak again. I told her about my experience and explained that although I had a job, it didn’t feel like my career. She encouraged me to explore opportunities with Barclays, think about my long-term goals, and advised me to prioritise my ambitions, goals and personal wellbeing. So, that’s exactly what I did. Now, I’m a Vice President and Senior Project Manager for Data Management, Technology and Platform Engineering, and I couldn’t be happier.

A supportive, inclusive team

Two years ago, if you’d told me I’d be working as a permanent Data Management employee within Technology, I wouldn’t have believed you. It’s been a steep learning curve adapting to a new specialty and new ways of working, but the Barclays team put their faith in me, and I’m so glad they did. That’s what makes Barclays a standout employer – the business fosters a supportive, inclusive culture; one where you’re encouraged to think big and use your transferable skills to achieve your goals. Both Jacqui and my manager, Henrietta, constantly encouraged me to believe in myself and helped me deliver the desired output.

I’m based in our Glasgow office and my team sits across the world – in London, India and the US – but I can honestly say I’ve always felt included. I genuinely feel like I belong at Barclays, both in the office and when working from home. The business has gone out of its way this year to celebrate all colleagues while we’ve been apart – from celebrating successes to recognising cultural events. No matter where we're currently based, there’s a clear focus on ensuring everyone feels supported, encouraged and included. My team is one of the best examples of an inclusive culture as we have good proportion of people from diverse backgrounds in regards to gender and ethnicity across locations.

Making my mark in Scotland

After I’d settled into my new role, I wanted to start creating impact outside of my day-to-day. The diversity and inclusion agenda has always been close to my heart, so I took charge of revamping the Women in Technology network for the Scottish business. Back then, we weren’t a fully functioning group, so I knew we’d need to make a statement that would put us in the spotlight. I’m not a gamer, but in our virtual world I thought what better way to reach colleagues across Scotland than with a digital game?

So, I approached the Barclays in-house Digital team – Code Playground – and shared my idea to build an online game that would encourage women to learn how to code. The game would teach you from the bottom up, so no tech experience would be needed to give it a go. We worked together on delivering virtual sessions to our non-technology colleagues and ‘Code Your Career’ was a hit. This was how we took the Women in Technology network into the foreground – we made a statement and got our colleagues’ attention. Our message? If you’re passionate about tech, we’ll help you level up. Ashley Grandison who leads the Gender Committee is another Senior Barclays Colleague who thoroughly encourages myself and the WIT team to support the Scotland Community by sharing insights and lessons learnt from years of leading various Diversity initiatives.

Championing diversity

From the top down, Barclays are committed to bringing greater diversity into our business. There’s a distinct lack of female role models and mentors for younger colleagues to look up to in our industry, but we’re tackling this head on. Our senior leaders are committed to promoting gender equality throughout the business, and I wanted to play my part too. So, I took the responsibility for helping to review our recruitment process, as well as our early career support for female graduates and colleagues who want to develop their career in technology. By analysing these processes through a diversity and inclusion lens, we’re supporting and encouraging diverse talent to join us.

We're also committed to upskilling internally. Barclays are dedicated to helping colleagues craft their talent and learn new skills, like they did for me. I’m a consultant turned aspiring future Barclays leader. Here, I’ve found an environment where I can focus on my development, while impacting and inspiring others. Tech careers are for everyone, and we won’t stop sharing this message. Some people join us having studied or worked in tech for their whole life, but others have found their passion on our team. I work with a colleague who used to run a transport network in a different country. Now, he’s an excellent technologist here at Barclays. Across the business, I’m fortunate to work alongside such wonderful colleagues who’re showing that where you start doesn’t dictate where you’re going to go. Together, we’re driving the diversity talent pool forward.

Impacting our community

We’re working on influencing women outside of our business too. The Women in Technology network has partnered with our Early Careers team to empower those who are still in education. For 2021, we’re looking at how we can go into both universities, colleges and schools to motivate the next generation of female technologists. It’s our responsibility to introduce the possibilities of tech careers to young women right from the start. So, we’re committed to giving them the role models they need; powerful women in tech who they can relate to.

We won’t be stopping there – we’re also focusing on introducing tech careers to those returning from career breaks, as well as women and male allies who might not have the experience but are interested in exploring the possibilities in technology. I know this is just the start, and I can’t wait to see how we’ll continue impacting our colleagues and communities in the years to come. For me, this will be centred on living up to the Barclays values and committing myself to carving a better future for the Technology talent in Scotland.

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