Tuesday 31 October 2017

Women in IT excellence awards

Women in IT excellence awards

I’ve worked for Information Services for nearly ten years and one thing we’ve always said we need to improve on is celebrating our own success. So this blog is the start of a series of blogs from us celebrating our “Women in IT” and we’ve got a pretty good reason to do so.

This week we’ll be travelling to London in support of Heidi Fraser-Krauss, Director of Information Services, who has been shortlisted for not one but two Women in IT excellence awards; CIO of the Year and Role Model of the Year (SME). The awards aim to celebrate the “groundbreaking work being done by women in the industry every day”.

Although the awards are a celebration they also highlight the low number of women working in technology. The current statistics show that the proportion of women working in STEM jobs in the UK is only 17%. The awards want “to inspire the next generation” and “to show them the remarkable footsteps they're following in”.

Following on this theme we’d like to showcase, through a series of blogs, some of our female staff and share their stories of working in IT so that we might inspire others. Starting with Heidi:

Heidi Fraser-Krauss, Director of Information Services

“To be a good role model to other women in business it is important to be visible at both a junior and senior level within the workplace as well as in the wider IT industry. I have done this through adopting the Sheryl Sandberg principle of “leaning in’. For example, I took on the role of chairing the Russell Group IT Directors Group, which is male dominated, have given numerous presentations at events both inside and outside my organisation and am currently organising my industry’s major leadership conference for 2018, UCISA18.

Visibility has provided me with the platform to inspire other women to apply for jobs in IT and take a proactive role in encouraging more women to think differently about the IT industry. I have mentored women from other Universities about how to progress their careers, being open and honest about the challenges I have faced. I have found it helpful, when mentoring, to share my family circumstances (I have three children) and have been honest about how I have juggled home and work life. As often, it’s practical issues that hold careers back. I have stressed that IT is a great career if you have a family because it's flexible and can be done from home.

My top tip for women looking to start a career in IT is to not be afraid of the technology. The common assumption is that you must have the technical ability to solve problems with hardware or software to succeed – this is not the case. I came into IT via business analysis, and have found that my broad understanding of the business and my ability to manage people is what has enabled my career to progress.

The biggest lesson I have learnt in my career is to overcome my squeamishness at promoting my skills and abilities. Putting myself forward for this award was really outside my comfort zone. I really hate ‘blowing my own trumpet’ and find it deeply embarrassing to do so, but, I have learnt that if I don’t, I will be passed over in favour of those who have no hesitation about extolling their own virtues!”

To make Heidi squirm a bit more, here’s why we supported her nomination for the awards:

  • From the minute you meet Heidi you can tell that she is passionate and committed to her role at the University”
  • Despite running a large department she makes time to listen to all staff making sure that everyone has an equal voice. Through this she has fostered an environment of collaboration and cooperation. This has really put IT at the forefront of everything that is done at the University.”
  • “Having a CIO that is both approachable and makes you feel valued is extremely important and Heidi excels at both these things.”
  • “As a woman working in a technical role within IT, it is very encouraging for me to see a female role model in a senior position.”

The awards take place on Wednesday 1 November and we’ll be live tweeting from the event so follow us on Twitter for updates @UOYitservices

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