Mini BiswasMini Biswas is currently a Pre-Sales Manager at Node4.

After starting her career in a sales role at an IT services provider, she joined the embryonic Sales Enablement Team at Node4 and progressed from a Solutions Specialist to Senior Presales Consultant and now she’s currently managing a team.

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

I actually had quite a difficult childhood. My mother passed away when I was going through my GCSEs and I took on the role of bringing up my three-year-old brother whilst still getting myself through school. Those years were tough, but they moulded me into who I’ve become today.

I joined the embryonic Sales Enablement Team at Node4 in 2016, and have spent the last five years working my way through the company. I soon progressed from a Solutions Specialist to Senior Presales Consultant, and now I’m managing my own team.

At Node4, we work closely with companies to help accelerate their digital transformation efforts. Over the last year, we’ve been supporting organisations in their transition to remote working in response to the fallout of the pandemic. A year on from the outbreak, we’re now helping our customers to build long-term hybrid working models that offer flexibility between the office and home.

Outside of work I’m a real foodie. Cooking is something that came from those years of taking care of my brother, but I still really enjoy it – you can see some of my creations on my Instagram account @efficient_lifestyle_is_the_way. I also did some professional dancing while at school. We travelled around the UK getting paid to perform and it’s still a big part of my life.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I never actually sat down and questioned where I would be in ten years. I had no key role models in my life and grew up in an area where very little was expected of people. I did once attempt a quick win and landed myself on Deal or No Deal. It didn’t end well, though – I left the studio with an extra 10p to my name.

I eventually decided I wanted to be a police officer. I studied and graduated with a degree in Criminology and at the time all the pieces were moving for that to become a reality. As was the case for many, though, those original plans were halted by the recession in 2008. Cuts to public sector jobs put an end to that ambition.

Instead, I took up a sales role at an IT services provider, learned the industry on the job and ten years on I haven’t looked back once.

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

Many mothers experience awkwardness and anxiety around returning to work after maternity leave. It adds stress and various obstacles, and was an initial worry for me. But working at Node4, my experience has been the complete opposite. Since returning I’ve managed to achieve some amazing personal and professional development goals.

The support was right there. People’s primary focus in those interactions was on how I was coping with everything. It was extremely comforting. Not many people have those close working relationships, especially with managers. In fact it’s usually the opposite. It’s one of the best things about working at Node4.

Since returning, I’ve managed to achieve some things I’m really proud of: leading enterprise bid commercials and supporting, coaching and mentoring my team to help develop their own careers. I’ve even finished a Level 3 Diploma in Principles of Management and Leadership with a Distinction.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Navigating the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown whilst working, caring for a one-year-old and attempting to finish my leadership course. I managed to juggle all of that having recently returned from maternity leave at the time. It was tough at the beginning, but things have become a lot more stable now that I have finished my course, daycare is back open, and we’re all finally adjusting to the new way of doing things.

The business really helped me during that period. I was offered flexible hours that have helped to create the right balance for my family, and the open lines of communication made that transition easier.

Becoming a manager and leading the way on enterprise complex deals is my biggest achievement so far.

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

I think my drive has been one of the biggest things that has gotten me to where I am now. It’s one thing to dream of something, but it’s another to see it through.

You have to have that dream, write it into existence, plan everything out and start making steps towards it. That’s been the biggest factor – believing in myself and driving for it.

That attitude has come from my background and childhood. At that point I had no one to believe in me and motivate me, it all had to come from inside. People need to find that within themselves if they want to succeed. It takes planning and organisation – as well as a hint of luck. Things might work out well for someone, but if they don’t grab opportunities with both hands, nothing is going to happen.

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

Communication, transparency and having a flexible plan is the key, especially in the current environment. You can always find a way to work things out and you need to be prepared for anything.

The statistics show that there aren’t that many women in tech, but there is a stigma behind the industry: people think they have to be technical to be at a tech company. The truth is you don’t.

The tech industry is booming and anyone not joining is missing out. It’s the ideal place to come for people who want to boost their career opportunities. But it’s not purely technical – you could be in sales, you could be a secretary, an office manager, or even train into technical roles.

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

Culturally, there are still significant barriers that need to be broken. Globally it is a huge problem. It’s something deeply ingrained into people. For example, I’m a woman from an Asian background; my full name is Mininder Kaur Biswas, given to stamp my Indian identity, and it was just expected of me to teach, cook and get married.

There are family pressures and stigmas that people need to break through, but women need to find something that promotes self worth and self belief. Businesses like Node4 are looking at equal opportunities regardless of age, race and gender. While that may be standard practice now, 20 years ago it was completely different. Yet there’s still a lot of work to be done.

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

I think a lot of positive change can come through job ads. If a tech company was to offer a role that specifically says it’s open to men and women – be it full time, part time or flexible hours – you would have more success in attracting women to apply. The same goes for inviting people from different backgrounds. Businesses need to be more inclusive and if they can show flexibility people will become much more engaged.

There’s also a huge stigma around postnatal depression. I was fortunate enough to avoid it because I had such amazing support coming from all angles, but if that wasn’t there I could’ve easily fallen into it. My manager, in this case, played a vital role in that and he was hugely supportive. If companies have that emotional intelligence, and they can work to be more supportive, it will provide a huge boost to women within the industry.

There is 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?

If there is going to be success in bringing more women into tech, businesses need to be more inclusive.

They need to actively promote these roles, and make it clear that they are open to all ethnicities and all genders. That needs more work – a lot of women will still look at a tech job description and naturally assume it’s not right for them.

The other thing we need to do is start sooner – in the early years, in schools and in families. Getting the support from role models is crucial. STEM needs to be encouraged from a young age.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

The power of social media is incredible. While it’s more popular for people to follow celebrities on Instagram and Twitter, by adding in a few more inspirational women to their timeline it can have a big impact on people’s mindsets. Women like Saron Yitbarek (@Saronyitbarek) and Lilly Singh (@lilly) are often sharing their experiences and knowledge to their followers and it can be extremely motivating.

WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here