I have worked in tech professionally since 1996. Thank goodness for the typing class I took while in high school. Otherwise young women weren’t associated with software development and computing, in spite of the history and legacy of women in tech. However, I got lucky with growing up next to a Tandy.

My fascination with computing grew out of necessity. After I moved out of my parent’s home, I wanted a computer at home and couldn’t afford to buy one. So I started building my own computers… my first one was a 386.

Everyone knew I was a bit nerdy about computers because I couldn’t stop talking about them. That helped thrust my career from temping on contract as “that girl who knew a thing or two about how to navigate a computer”, to someone who’s sole responsibility was understanding computer hardware. That’s when I started work for Siemens PLM Software, responsible for global procurement of both developer workstations and datacenter servers.

While at Siemens, I learned about computer programming, databases, etc., because I was also tasked with automating our capital planning and procurement processes, to elevate it from a fax-of-a-fax paperwork nightmare. My first programming language love was PHP. Stop laughing. It worked. On a zero $ budget, I delivered a “Web Tool” (we didn’t call them ‘Apps’ at the time).

By around 2008, I moved to England and quickly landed a job at a local health food store who had an ecommerce startup where they were selling vitamins on eBay and wanted to improve there. I took a look at how Amazon did their delivery and mimic’d it. It revolutionised that business. Before, it was dependent on the brick & mortar store to support it. Following year, during the 2008 recession, we achieved over £2m in sales, with the website integrated with internal processes that I delivered.

I took a break from my career to focus on family. My maternity leave ended up being longer than I wanted. My son was diagnosed with Autism at age 5. His little sister was diagnosed with cancer at age 3. Both are doing great today. My son is thriving at high school, even after I homeschooled him until he was 7! My daughter is about to turn 11 and she continues to be a force to be reckoned with.

When trying to get back to work, of course I wanted it to be in tech and I got lucky with learning about the #TechUpWomen initiative. During that time, I upskilled my experience. Then more locally within Manchester, I earned a spot on the #TechReturners program, to hone my software programming skills and to look at landing a job that was closer to home.

#TechReturners put me in touch with CTS and supported me through the interviewing process there. So that now, that’s all history what with both #TechUpWomen and #TechReturners as legends in helping me get over a 10-year career gap.