Verity ChinneryVerity Chinnery has had a passion for tech for as long as she can remember.

Despite reading biology at university, she joined PwC as a Technology Risk Associate following her successful application to the company’s world-renowned graduate scheme. Today, just seven years into her career in tech, Verity is the Senior Director of GRC Implementation at SureCloud, and she’s agreed to join us to share details about her journey in the industry  and her wider thoughts about women in technology.

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

I’ve been working with SureCloud for over 3 years now. I’m responsible for the Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) implementations function, so when a customer buys a SureCloud GRC software solution, it’s up to my team to ensure that our customers have a smooth implementation experience and their business outcomes are met. I currently manage 11 excellent consultants, and our team is growing fast with a further graduate intake occurring later this year. My main responsibilities include leading the GRC service delivery strategy, overseeing the teams activities and providing coaching as well as supporting other parts of the business such as sales, presales and product.

Before I joined SureCloud, I worked at PwC as a Technology Risk Senior Associate where I was an SME for the GRC Practice, responsible for the technical implementation of industry leading enterprise GRC platforms. I studied biology at university so didn’t have a tech-focussed degree, but that didn’t prevent me from applying to the grad scheme and eventually finding success with it. It’s surprising how many routes into tech there actually are these days, and so many skills you pick up at university are directly transferable.

What kind of challenges did you face getting into tech? 

I actually failed at my first attempt at the PwC grad scheme, which they run annually. Like a lot of other grad schemes, they ran assessment centers where graduates had to compete and put their cases forward. At the time, I lacked confidence and wasn’t very assertive with my views, something that echoed in their feedback at the time. I really wanted to get onto the grad scheme, so instead of giving up, I decided to take a year out and really work on improving those skills. I came back a year later, more confident with more life experience, and was successful.

Were tech roles popular among women when you were at university? 

At university it wasn’t really a common path for women to take, at least not among my cohort, which was a shame. My barriers to getting into the tech world had nothing to do with the fact that I was a woman, but I can see how easy it could be to miss out on certain opportunities because they’re simply not readily accessible – in many instances, you have to go out of your way to find these great schemes and initiatives.  When I finally got onto the grad scheme at PwC, there seemed to be a relatively even split between male and female candidates, which is obviously great!

What needs to change to get more women into tech? 

To say it was a level playing field would perhaps be overstepping, but it certainly seems much better than it was. There are some amazing schemes out there – and not just grad schemes. I recently learned of an amazing organization called CodeFirstGirls which provides free coding courses for women in the UK. Their messaging around helping women to “rewrite their future” is inspiring, and we could definitely do with more schemes and initiatives like this – and they certainly need to be shouted about.

I’m proud to be leading on a refresh of the women’s forum at SureCloud that will aim to encourage strong support networks, provide resources to empower women and boost self esteem, create mentoring opportunities and develop greater awareness of the female career challenge in the organisation.

Tell us about your approach to leadership and your management philosophy

I believe in a fairly hands-off approach to management with appropriate coaching measures in place. I think individuals should be afforded the space and freedom to prove themselves and establish unique ways of doing things which also encourages innovation. If mistakes are made, we learn from them as a whole team and I prioritise coaching my team not only on how to develop as implementations consultants but also career progression within SureCloud and beyond.

What’s your proudest achievement? 

That’s a really good question. Here at SureCloud, I have established a successful grad scheme which got up and running in record time and is now on its fifth graduate intake. I love the idea of putting a ladder down whenever success is earned to help others climb up, and I feel that’s what we’re helping to achieve with our grad scheme. It feels very rewarding to see its success, having benefited from one myself at the start of my career. It also provides invaluable experience for our more senior consultants who are encouraged to contribute.

One piece of advice for those looking to get into tech? 

I’ll go one better and give your readers two bits of advice. First, always persevere. Resilience is so key in this industry, particularly as those that shout loudest often get the most attention. Believe in yourself and keep trying if you don’t succeed. Second, get a support system around you of work colleagues or university peers that won’t mind you sound-boarding ideas with them. Thinking aloud about potential career options and getting their honest feedback is a great way to figure out the early steps of your career.

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