Kate Armitage is the Senior Director of Compliance and Sustainability for OneStream Software where she is responsible for and involved in a variety of governance, risk, and compliance-related initiatives such as enterprise risk management, internal and external audit, ESG and more recently AI.

Outside of work; Kate sits on multiple standards committees in the UK such as the CQI Standards Coordination Committee and BSI standards committee QS1 which focuses on quality management standards.

With a broad understanding of the technical and organisational controls required to implement, maintain and continually improve control frameworks ISO, NIST and SSAE 18, Kate is passionate about bringing a holistic approach to Information Security and Quality Management as well as highlighting the key roles Culture and Leadership have in the governance environment and OpEx.

Tell us about yourself, your background and your current role.

I’m Kate Armitage, Senior Director for Compliance and Sustainability at OneStream Software.

OneStream Software is a leading supplier of Corporate Performance Management (CPM) software, providing a unified platform that helps finance and operations teams collaborate. It does this by creating a single source of truth and user experience for planning, financial close and consolidation, reporting and analytics.

I have been involved and passionate in governance, risk, compliance, and quality throughout my career, previously working for regulated organisations like the NHS and within pharmaceuticals. OneStream is my first foray into the finance sector.

I enjoy the extreme variety of my day-to-day workload. This includes responsibilities like putting our control frameworks into place and continuously improving them, liaising with customers about our risk and compliance posture, analysing compliance and risk implications of new initiatives, and producing extra materials to support the constantly shifting regulatory environment that affects us – to mention just a few!

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No, my career has grown very organically. I studied psychology at university, and like many people, just wanted to earn money when I graduated. Which is how I ended up working as a medical claims assessor for a private healthcare company.

Fortunately, I was able to get involved with internal projects, which was a real lightbulb moment for me and ignited my passion for project management. I went on to work for many years as a project and programme manager for the NHS, delivering software solutions. My natural urge to be in charge and organised made project and programme management a great fit! I didn’t think of myself as a woman in the tech industry; it was just the field I worked in.

A few years later, I was involved in an ISO 9001 audit and by some miracle ended up owning that management system. The rest is history. That was the turning point in my career.

My tasks and responsibilities progressed as a result of the continued development of my knowledge and abilities in the management of standards and frameworks in fields like information security, risk, and quality, as well as more recently environmental, social, and governance (ESG). All of these events have led me to this point, and I genuinely couldn’t be happier.

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

Yes, haven’t we all!

One of my biggest challenges that remains to this day is suffering from imposter syndrome. Regardless of my success to date, my first reaction to new situations tends to be feeling like I am not good enough and someone will find me out or see through me. It’s madness and I know it is, but it is still a challenge to overcome.

I am very lucky that OneStream is a great and inclusive employer and supports my career development in its entirety. I recently presented at a Board meeting, and after the meeting sat down with two female colleagues where we reviewed each other’s presentation skills. It turns out that all of the nerves and self-doubt I was feeling didn’t come across to the room.

They reminded me that I was there for a reason, which was that I was a subject matter expert. Talking to and learning from my peers has helped me and listening to different perspectives is critical to success.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

For me, it’s more important to look at what has enabled me to achieve things in my career as opposed to the achievement itself. In my view, achievement is all about the team you have around you and the practice of continual improvement.

Take a control framework for example. Any person could write a document detailing the requirement, but it is not worth anything if you don’t have people around you building, implementing and supporting those requirements. Career success in business is about teamwork and partnership.

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

I have been very lucky in my career to have worked with some great colleagues, who I have learned a great deal from. You are never too old to learn and having a thirst for development and knowledge is so important. Continual improvement is key to success, learning from mistakes and aiming to just be that 1% better every day.

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

Be open to new opportunities and don’t limit your horizons. Throughout my career, I’ve always maintained the attitude of ‘yeah I’ll give that a go’. I may not know much about it now, but I can learn, and it’s this approach that has resulted in my role today.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and be interested in what other people are doing. Ask to shadow your colleagues and peers so you can get an understanding, not only of what they do but how your roles may interact. This can provide great insights not only into the other roles out there but also how you can contribute to the success of your role.

Look outside the box; become involved in professional organizations outside of your workplace. I love the work I do with the Chartered Quality Institute (CQI). It provides me with a great opportunity to talk to and learn from a variety of peers whom I would not come across in my day-to-day role. It also benefits both parties; I bring insights and new ideas back to OneStream from the CQI table, and I bring industry and customer experience with me to the CQI.

Do you believe there are still barriers to success for women working in tech?

Although it is getting better, I do think that barriers still exist. You just need to look at the female representation at senior levels to evidence this. Unfortunately, we still see things like gender bias, stereotyping and a gender pay gap. Although there is far more awareness of these issues; the barriers are still evident.

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

For me, it’s education and communication. I genuinely don’t think that young people know what occurs in a business on a day-to-day basis; they don’t know what roles are available because they are not exposed to those environments.

A great initiative that companies can undertake is an intern program, for example, inviting and encouraging young women into the workplace to demonstrate the wide variety of job functions that exist in a tech organisation.

The culture of an organisation is so critically important in addressing this balance. Demonstrating the significant benefits of having a diverse workforce is crucial in helping address the balance.

Breaking down barriers by encouraging female role models and mentorship is a further example of how companies can help build women’s careers. The ability to have time with successful female colleagues is empowering; it helps to learn first-hand about the successes and how to overcome challenges.

Currently, only 21% of those working in tech are women. 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?

We need to get in early, and start letting young women know about the wide range of job roles that are available in tech companies. Initiatives such as STEM are a great example of where education helps young people with potential career development.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech e.g. Podcasts, networking events, books, conferences, websites etc?

For me, my focus is more on self-growth and self-development; growing my skills as a professional female. Some great books include ‘The Personal MBA’ by John Kauffman, ‘Give and Take’ by Adam Grant and ‘On Metal Toughness’ which is one of HBRs 10 Must Reads.

In an ideal world, how would you improve gender diversity in tech?

In an ideal world, you wouldn’t have to improve gender diversity in tech – it would simply be the norm. In our current world, however, with the increased focus on corporate social responsibility, the tone should be set from the top and the diversity of the workforce encouraged throughout all layers of a company. Embedding diversity and inclusion into and ensuring its integration with the culture of the organisation is imperative.

Read more from our inspirational women here.