Dawn ScevityI’m currently a Marketing Manager at Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD). I live in Reading with my partner and our cat Lionel. Outside of work, I love doing anything fitness related, such as paddle boarding. 

From the age of 14, I knew I wanted to get into marketing and was lucky enough to do my work experience at Leo Burnett Advertising. After completing my degree in Music Industry Management and Marketing, I discovered the industry wasn’t as glamorous as the fairy tale and found myself at a boutique tech PR firm.

After 17 years working in various B2B marketing tech roles, I saw a job posting with BD, I knew the brand from my diabetic needles. The role was for its automated dispensing solutions and while it fitted with my tech background, I told myself I would never get it as I had no experience in healthcare. Two months later I got the job!  Moral of the story, always believe in yourself.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I knew I wanted a career in marketing since school. When I started university, one of the tutors asked us to write down what we wanted to do, stating that we will revisit it at the end of the three years, and guaranteed that we will have a completely different idea of what we wanted to do. He was wrong! The part I didn’t necessarily plan was which sector or industry I wanted to work in.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

There was a point in my career where I didn’t want to do marketing anymore, and decided I wanted to become a wedding planner. I took a week off work, went to a wedding fair, started writing a business plan, and thought about ways I can put my marketing skills to good use to start this new career path. I spoke with a wedding planner who said that this is a great industry to work in if you can make it, but otherwise it’s years of working a thankless job.

This was a wake-up call for me and helped me realise that marketing was still the path for me. Rather than running away from it, I wrote down my personal goals and knew I wanted to work to change lives, albeit still in marketing. Sometimes you have to go through a low point in your career to make the positive change you need.

Another challenge I’ve found is being a good manager. In my career I’ve come across managers who really punish team members for their mistakes. Once I assumed more of a managerial position, I realised that if I handled my teams’ mistakes better, it not only helps my team learn and grow, but also makes me a better manager.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

When I was working in tech PR, I was particularly proud of the creative campaigns that I helped come up with to drive sales. For example, when I worked for Sennheiser, we did a collaboration event with HMV that doubled the sale of the headphones in just one day alone! At my current role in BD, one of my achievements was working closely with the Clinical Pharmacy Congress last year to run the first ever virtual event for pharmacists in the UK and Ireland, which also went on to win an award. This is an incredible milestone because we were able to keep pharmacists informed on latest developments in a safe environment. I’m also proud to be part of a healthcare company that is supporting the NHS with their needs during the pandemic.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Working hard and pushing outside of my comfort zone. I’m always finding ways to further educate myself, whether that be training courses or attending events. Networking has also been invaluable – knowing who people are, and making sure they know you, can get you far in your career!

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

  • Take the rough with the smooth – You’re going to have good and bad days. You’ll have your work critiqued, but you’ll also have big successes. You’ll often learn your biggest lessons from your mistakes, so take those lessons and use them to create your next triumph.
  • Always look for opportunities to educate yourself – Go to trade shows, stay on top of industry developments, learn what the new tools are, and what other people in similar industries are saying and doing.
  • Be yourself – You don’t necessarily have to be outspoken; intelligence and hard work speak loud volumes.
  • Remember to always have fun!

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Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

I think many of us face barriers every day, from battling with stereotypes to juggling childcare and stigmas around things like dyslexia or mental health. Although I have been fortunate enough to mostly work for companies where women are in power, the boardroom is still dominated by men. I also still hear descriptors such as ‘feisty’ about women in power, but I never hear that when describing a man. This perception must change, and we need to be seen as equal on ability and personality types.

However, a lot of progress has been made for women working in tech. Women are becoming more tenacious, and men are also changing their attitudes towards us. I’m proud to be working for a company that is a champion of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. BD is one of the organisations I’ve worked for where I feel truly equal.

When coming across issues and barriers, remember to be true to yourself and if you’re not comfortable about speaking out then talk to someone who can give you advise. It doesn’t always have to be your boss or even someone within your business. Back to my earlier point, I have been described as ‘feisty’, and now I see it as a compliment and say thank you! It’s important for us, as women, to indeed see ourselves as equal to men and not hold back in seeking as many opportunities as possible to advance our careers. Just because you don’t tick all the boxes for a job or project, doesn’t mean you won’t get it or that you’re not worthy of having it.

What do you think companies can do to support and progress the careers of women working in technology?

There are a number of ways companies can support career development. This includes offering training and educational programmes and creating an open environment where different opinions and voices are welcome. The tone for change has to come from the top. Equal opportunities should be one of the core values of any company, not just for women, but also the LGTBQ+ community and people from different cultures and backgrounds.

There are currently only 17 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

Meaningful and effective initiatives can champion change. For instance, the equal pay initiative in the UK is raising awareness around the issue and is holding companies accountable in a very public way. Another thing would be having more female role models to help inspire the next generation. These role models will be key in encouraging more women to pursue careers in technology and dispel the notion that it is a male-dominated sector.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

  • Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook – She provides great advice and talks about her experience in fighting for change around women-related issues.
  • Networking – Go to industry events, find forums and networks to help stay on top of developments and further your learning.
  • Training – Always look for ways to improve your skills or learn new ones, whether that is attending courses or listening to podcasts.
  • Mentors – if you find an inspiring female leader, don’t be afraid to ask if they have 30 minutes a month to mentor you or even a one off coffee. We need to support each other and what do you have to lose? It’s a compliment after all!
  • Don’t be afraid to Google! We don’t have to know everything, and we don’t need to pretend to either. If you’re ever unsure, ask questions but also be proactive in looking for resources yourself.