Louisa Hodges Louisa Hodges is Business Relationship Manager at Companies House, the register of limited companies in the UK.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

My current role is Business Relationship Manager at Companies House. I provide a link between IT Services and the business, particularly our customer facing teams. Prior to this I was the Release Manager and have spent the last 16 years working in various IT Support teams.

Companies House takes a very forward-thinking approach to how we design and deliver our services. It’s about focusing on the outcome our users need – to be able to register and operate their businesses in compliance with the law as easily as possible. Whatever we can do to make that happen is important and as a digital function, we’re empowered to challenge the way things are done and to use our knowledge and skills to change things for the better – for us and for our customers.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No, I left school after my GCSEs and became a Youth Training Scheme (YTS) apprentice at Cardiff Job Centre. My first role in tech was at the age of 18 as a trainee developer for Principality Building Society. I stayed there for three years then took a year out to travel. After returning home (and various temporary admin jobs) I found myself working as a document examiner at Companies House. 12 months later there was an opportunity to apply for a trainee post in IT Support, I got the job and my career has progressed from there.

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

The biggest challenge I’ve faced throughout my career has been my lack of confidence and self-belief. It’s getting better, but it’s something I have to work on to keep pushing myself forward. Fortunately, Companies House employs some great women in senior positions who help other team members to navigate ‘imposter syndrome’. We’re encouraged to embrace failure which helps to remove the stigma around it.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Each time I’ve been promoted I’ve felt a huge sense of achievement. My most recent promotion has made me part of the senior leadership team in my area. As currently the only woman in a team of 10 I feel proud that I’m in some way readdressing the gender balance and hopefully proving to other women that they can do the same. Diversity within teams is something that Companies House is actively promoting. Across the business, over 50% of senior roles are held by women, and we always make sure we employ people based on their skills, not gender. We’re also always looking at ways to address the balance, and how we can support this kind of work.

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

Five years ago my circumstances changed and I found myself as a single mum with two young children and limited family support. From that point being successful in work mattered even more, I needed to prove to my children that a woman didn’t need a man to succeed either at work or at home. It gave me the drive and determination to be the best I could be, to enable my progression and be a role model for my boys. I’ve also been lucky enough to work for and with colleagues who have supported and encouraged me at each stage in my career.

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

Do what you enjoy and find where your strengths lie. A career in technology isn’t just about coding, it’s about the people, problem solving and creative thinking. Explore as many areas as you can to find which is the best fit for you and where you can excel.

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

I’m sure there are, although I’m fortunate enough not to have come across any in my own career at Companies House. For women that do face these barriers, look to other women for support and mentorship, believe in yourself and aim high.

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

Normalise part time working and make more senior roles available as part time or a job share. Companies need to accept that women often have other commitments outside of the office but that doesn’t mean they are any less capable of carrying out their job.

There is currently only 17% 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?

You need to see something to believe it. If there are very few women working in an area, particularly at higher grades, it’s hard to imagine yourself in that position. Companies need to have a strategy in place for encouraging more women to apply for roles within IT, for keeping hold of those individuals and helping them develop their careers which in turn encourages other women to do the same. At Companies House 30% of our digital team is female – this is a great step towards supporting change in the industry, and something that we’re truly passionate about.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Attend conferences and networking events, it’s inspiring to listen to the stories of other women in the industry, the challenges they’ve faced and how they’ve overcome them. Also take advantage of any mentoring schemes that your company may offer. If nothing formal is in place approach a colleague you admire and ask if you can set up some informal mentoring.