Clare SudberyClare is the Academy Lead at public sector technology experts Made Tech. She curates and delivers the company’s academy training programme, which is designed to introduce a diverse range of candidates to agile software delivery and careers in technology.

Clare is a maths graduate with 21 years of software engineering experience and has particular interests in teaching and mentoring, encouraging more women into IT, and banishing imposter syndrome. She is a published novelist and also producer and host of Made Tech’s acclaimed fortnightly podcast ‘Making Tech Better’.

How did you get into a career in technology?

I never originally considered a career in technology. I thought I wanted to be a maths teacher and graduated university with a degree in mathematics. But that idea appealed less and less to me and I ended up working as a housing officer.

At the time, I had a boyfriend who was a games programmer and the more I saw what he was doing, the more I thought ‘why am I not doing that?’. So I went back to university and did a conversion course in computing, and graduated with a masters. While on the course I was offered a programming job at a careers fair and that was my first official step into a career in tech.

My time working in technology has not always been plain sailing. After 12 years in the industry I was offered voluntary redundancy, which I took. I left the industry to become a freelance writer and a high school maths teacher. I soon realised that this wasn’t for me and after four years away ended up returning to tech, getting an entry level job as a software engineer. I have been in the industry ever since and in January 2020, joined Made Tech as a lead engineer, recently becoming Academy Lead.

Where did your passion for encouraging women into technology careers come from?

My drive for more diversity in the sector comes from personal experience. I’ve had several jobs, prior to my role with Made Tech, where I’ve been the only female engineer, even in teams of 50 to 60 people!

Around five years ago, this industry-wide issue really came to the fore and I had the realisation then that I had stopped thinking about it as a problem because it was just the norm. This drove me to really focus on  helping other women who have been in similar situations as me in other organisations.

How are you helping women develop careers in the sector?

Despite not pursuing a career in education, I’ve always loved teaching and mentoring and when the opportunity to be Academy Lead came up, I knew it was something I wanted to take on.

My role now sees me curating and delivering the academy programme. A big part of this is increasing diversity. Through working with the academy to encourage people from different backgrounds – including women – to join, we had a 50/50 gender split last year and this is definitely something we want to continue.

I’ve also worked to develop informal and formal mentoring relationships with women at Made Tech. These allow me to share my experience and knowledge with female colleagues to help them to progress their careers and navigate any challenges they are facing. At Made Tech, we want to encourage more women into senior roles and this mentoring gives me the opportunity to help women in the company develop and push for these positions.

What other work are you doing to help women in the sector?

As someone currently going through perimenopause, I’ve experienced how it can make it harder to focus and complete tasks, yet many are unaware of the effects it has on women. So recently, one of my big passions and initiatives is raising awareness of perimenopause and its impact on working women.

I’m working with our People team to look at how we can support female colleagues going through perimenopause and to remove the taboo associated with what is a natural process that affects all women.

What top tips would you give to someone who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

Have confidence in yourself and your abilities. I have worked with, and trained, so many talented women who don’t have the confidence to speak up or push for that promotion when they have the skills and ability to do so.

Imposter syndrome is a real issue for women in what is a male-dominated industry, so finding the right colleagues and organisation that nurtures and develops your confidence and belief in your own abilities will go a long way to helping you achieve your goals.