Diane Redall

I am an associate QA tester and a disabled person working within DWP Digital. I have a master level qualification in Sociology and have Advanced ISTQB in Software testing qualifications too.

I secured my first digital role as a system tester through a university placement, testing changes to the old payroll system at DWP.  My experience of working in a digital role hasn’t been a linear path, due to working in the temporary sector for a few years but it did give me a lot of sector knowledge in both the public and private sectors.

I’ve had several roles within DWP Digital such as software developer, live support, end-to-end delivery, project support and interim team leader of the Atos Origin Test Factory.  Some of the projects I’ve worked on for DWP Digital include Winter Fuel Tools and Debt Manager 11.  In 2018, I was awarded a place on the Northern Power Women Future Leader List for gender and disability inclusion activities, and I am a disability advocate outside of work. I also write blog posts on disability access of the events and venues I have attended.

On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?

My typical workday starts and ends with doing household tasks and managing carers as I am an unpaid carer for two disabled adults.  Once that has been arranged, I check my Outlook calendar for meetings I have that day and catch up with any unread emails. I carry out my testing activities and learning development around these agile team meetings. In the evening after work and all the household tasks have finished, to chill out I go onto Twitch, YouTube, Spotify or BBC Sounds to listen to music and to do chair exercises.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I am always looking to develop myself and add value to DWP Digital. I have one-to-one reviews with my manager and my mentor to help me prepare for new opportunities and I’m a member of several diversity groups which help develop my leadership and soft skills.

What do you love about working for DWP Digital?

What I love about working for DWP Digital is helping to put in place IT systems that can really help make a difference to the department’s customers.  I also like that there’s a wide range of job opportunities and available training to help me develop and that there are always people who are kind and helpful to assist me to go forward with my career development.

Another big plus is flexitime which helps me balance work, my disability, and my caring responsibilities.

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you overcome these challenges?

Being a mild mannered disabled shy person, I was subjected to workplace bullying on several occasions. I had to learn how to stand up for myself in an assertive way and define my boundaries. I applied for development opportunities and new roles to get out of the toxic environments.

Have you benefited from coaching, mentoring or the sponsorship of others?

In terms of coaching, mentoring or sponsorship by others, I have benefitted in two ways. As a mentee, I’ve had a mentor to help me develop my soft skills and my technical expertise.  I have also been a mentor, advising mentees on how to get into a digital career.

Do you believe in the power of networking? If so, where do you network?

Yes, I believe in the power of networking, I am an ambivert and networking at times can take me out of my comfort zone. I am ok talking in groups or in 1-2-1 settings, but I find it difficult to approach strangers. I often network at conferences and diversity events.

What advice would you give to those who aspire to a career in tech?

My advice to anyone wanting to pursue a digital role would be to research the roles to find a role that interests you and will challenge you in equal measures, find out what learning you need and apply for training opportunities. Be brave and be confident in your abilities to learn. Everybody is always learning.

What does the future hold for you?

I would love to complete a PhD and hopefully secure a senior leader role within the Civil Service. I would like to assist the Civil Service in exceeding customer expectations and to help normalise access for disabled people to physical and virtual venues.