By Ellen McKenney, Sales Engineering Manager at MariaDB

Having worked in the technology sector for a while now I still think there are some common misconceptions about what a career in the industry actually entails. Images of people sitting solo in front of a computer all day and night coding spring to mind as perhaps the most common!

But the reality is that while coding is of course a respected and highly skilled aspect of the sector a lot of roles are far removed from such a scene. There is a lot of relationship building, working closely with and advocating for yourself, your company, and your colleagues. Generally being part of a team is similar to most other industries.

There are also a variety of roles within tech that aren’t specific to coding or development – such as sales, marketing, engineering and customer success – many of which I sit across in my current role. I must admit that when I first started in the industry I thought it would require heavy coding or be only software-based, but over the years I’ve had jobs that I didn’t even know existed prior, including being a consultant to help customers with implementation.

Finding your niche

My current role as a sales engineer is all about ensuring our prospects and current customers are asking the right questions and helping them find the right solution before they start on any digital transformation or cloud migration-type project.

Today’s reality of working in technology is that there are a lot more roles, and certainly more variety. The important thing, I think, is to find your niche and what interests you the most in terms of what you can contribute to.

I definitely think there has been a shift in the last five to ten years with more women now working in the tech industry. But there still aren’t enough of us – and it’s certainly not the time to be complacent as so much more can be done to attract women into the tech sector.

However, things are definitely moving in the right direction, and I think that’s reflected in the fact that a higher percentage of women are studying now and there is more of an acceptance. It doesn’t have to be a male-dominated industry. The shift has been exponential in the last 10 years and certainly the last two to three years, in particular, with remote working opportunities.

The shift to the cloud

The tech landscape itself has also seen a real shift with more companies moving to the cloud. Companies are realising they don’t have to do everything themselves with teams of 50+ developers. They can instead employ more specialised individuals for specific tasks.

Things are now moving in the direction of a need for things that are repeatable such as daily operations – with an acknowledgement that you don’t always need to be the first or the fastest as long as you get it right the first time.

However, challenges of course still exist. One of the main ones I am seeing at present is that many businesses want to build something that will grow alongside them. No company wants to make decisions just for now; it’s about smart decisions for three or more years down the line.

Companies want to avoid vendor lock-in with legacy companies while remaining agile and flexible. It’s clear that the pandemic played a key role in opening people’s eyes to this and the possibilities that exist to achieve it.

Growing demand for hybrid cloud solutions

Specifically linked to this shift to the cloud, one of the biggest trends I’m seeing today in the technology industry is more and more companies moving to hybrid cloud solutions. This is an environment where any part of your infrastructure is in the cloud (e.g. your production may be on-prem and fail safe/recovery in the cloud).

A lot of companies now want this capability because of the flexibility offered. Particularly small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs), where having everything in the cloud doesn’t work for a lot of these companies. The ability to utilise both on-prem and cloud (and well) is really starting to become more attractive and more available to many companies.

In turn, this is resulting in the cloud ecosystem evolving to be more available with more locations to reduce data movement and latency, and at a lower point of entry. The hope of course is that this will be at a reasonable price where companies can start small and grow – as opposed to being on prem when you buy a server and are stuck with it!

There has definitely been an uptick in interest in the cloud among a lot of gaming companies (online gaming, RPG, gambling – the whole spectrum) and financial services (smaller banks and crypto shops) in particular due to its speed, security features and ease of use. This will ultimately translate to a lot of growth in the hybrid cloud market over the next five years.

Cloud opens up opportunities

I think that with this growth in the cloud market and demand for hybrid cloud solutions, we are going to see the creation of a lot of new jobs. In turn, this will create plenty of opportunities for women looking to explore a career in technology.

The industry needs people who are confident and able to talk about different products and solutions. So if women and young girls can learn about some of these areas in college or in their early career and take those learnings forward they can really set themselves up for success.

The cloud is only going to continue to open up more opportunities over the next 5-10 years. If we can encourage enough women to realise that then the cloud could be a really big starting point for a career within the technology industry with room for plenty of growth alongside it.

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