Taps Mtutu

Just 19% of UK tech workforce are women and at the current pace of change, a 50/50 gender split in the industry is unlikely to be achieved before 2060.

This is why Taps Mtutu, senior programme manager, technology, at SEO London, has dedicated her career to strengthening the pipeline of talented women and underrepresented people coming in to the industry.

How did you get into the tech industry?

I began my career in recruitment, helping university graduates with computer science, engineering or other tech related degrees to find jobs and take their first steps onto the career ladder in the IT sector.

A move into the NHS followed, where I recruited a team of tech graduates to work on a major IT upgrade project. After a spell in fintech, I started to recognise a disconnect between what students learnt in the classroom and what they needed to succeed in the tech industry.

To help bridge this gap, I designed and launched the very first graduate software development programme in the UK to enhance students’ knowledge and skills and I’ve been involved in preparing young people for careers in tech ever since.

Throughout my 17-years in the industry, whether I have been recruiting students for major tech projects or designing training programmes, I have always been conscious of the need to rebalance the lack of diversity in the sector. This is what inspired me to take up my current role as the senior technology programme manager at SEO London, a UK-based charity which works directly with organisations across sectors including tech, finance and asset management to improve diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI).

What does a typical day look like in your current role?

Our key aim is to help firms across the technology sector to improve the diversity of their workforce, to bring in more talented women and those from different ethnic or socio-economic backgrounds who are still so underrepresented in the industry.

So my day might begin with a review of the education and training courses we’ve got coming up in our technology programme to make sure the latest information on the systems and solutions students will come across in their early careers are reflected in the content.

A significant part of what I do is helping students to prepare for the complex interview process they will go through to clinch an internship or full time role in the sector. These are highly technical interviews and very competitive so I might set up a role-play scenario to give students the closest possible experience of what they will face when the time comes to secure their first tech role.

I might set up a technical challenge where students have to work as part of a team to solve a real-world problem too, or run a session to help them understand how to network effectively. It’s my job to make sure we’ve got it all covered. Many of our students come to us with little awareness of the broad spectrum of roles available in tech and don’t have the industry connections their more privileged peers might have to help them rise up the career ladder so it’s important to get the balance right between the technical training and development of the so-called softer skills young people need to succeed.

Do you get involved directly with any tech firms in your role?

Yes, the technology programme at SEO London is still relatively new but it has already attracted great interest from big names in the sector who want to get involved in what we are doing and open up more job opportunities for women and minority groups in tech.

As part of my role, I work closely with organisations such as Google, Spotify and Amazon to create internships and job opportunities and match them up with students coming through our programme. This work is vital for getting more talented women and minority groups into the industry and helping organisations retain them to improve workforce diversity for the long-term.

We’re always looking for firms to support the work we do to build a strong pipeline of talented women and young people for the future.

What is the most rewarding part of your role?

When I’m not designing course content or working with employers, you can often find me in the classroom as I do a lot of teaching myself too, which I really enjoy.

There’s nothing more satisfying for me than talking to young women about the fast paced and exciting world of tech and watching their eyes light up when they hear about the range of opportunities available they may not have been aware of or even considered before. Spending time with students and the tech firms leading the way in improving DEI helps me continue to ensure our programme meets the needs of students and the wider sector.

I am always so thrilled to hear that a student who has come through our programme has been successful in securing a role in the tech industry. Of our last cohort, every single student has either found a job or is currently going through the interview process for a position in a tech firm. That’s something I’m really proud of.

SEO London is a UK-registered charity committed to preparing talented students from underserved and underrepresented backgrounds for career success. Contact [email protected] to find out how you or your organisation can support its work.