Inspirational Woman: Ami Abbott | Scrum Master, Fruugo

Ami AbbottI am a 31-year-old Scrum Master who was born, and still currently living in South Wales. I joined Fruugo in February this year.

Working within the Retailer Management team I communicate, coordinate, and facilitate, to help the team deliver the work we have committed too and reaching our sprint goal. For the Retailer Team, our main goal is to ensure the retailers are given the best experience possible when using our website. Prior to working in Fruugo I spent over 10 years working in Admiral Insurance. In my free time I enjoy travelling, kickboxing and pretty much anything food related!

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

I recently joined Fruugo last February as a scrum master, which involves overseeing and coordinating the work of the software and engineering scrum team made up of product owners, software developers, testers, etc. to ensure we provide our sellers with the greatest experience possible to help them grow their business.

I originally began my career in 2011, taking on my first job as a sales executive at a UK-based insurance company, before moving into the role of a claims handler. I gained experience in various tech roles during my time there, including work as a test manager and a scrum master. I enjoyed my time as a scrum master so much that when I saw the position available at Fruugo I could not turn it down.

It has been very interesting to see the shift in my role from the insurance sector to retail. At Fruugo, our main aim is to effectively and efficiently build actionable intelligence for sellers on our platform. As we are a global marketplace, we sell a variety of goods in different countries, and so a lot of the job requires translating our work into alternative languages and currencies, to ensure all our sellers are being supported.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I always knew I wanted to kickstart my career early, which is why I decided not to go to university. I was motivated to take on a new challenge and gain work experience as soon as I left education to enhance my career opportunities. However, I never actually sat down and planned what career path I wanted to take.

When I started my first position as a sales executive, I saw it as a way to get my foot in the door. I did not initially have an interest within the tech sector, but by gaining valuable in-work experience, I was inspired to try other roles within the industry. This shows that you do not need your life set out by the age of 18 – there are multiple roads available to take down the line!

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

I would say my biggest challenge so far has been starting my career in the tech industry itself. When I applied for my first tech role in 2017, the industry was a lot more male dominated. As I was yet to have prior experience in the tech sector, I was worried that I would not be qualified enough to be successful in my application, especially with female recruitment being relatively low compared to male.

My work at the insurance company massively helped me overcome this challenge. Over the years I really applied myself to my role. I showcased my eagerness to learn, and willingness to take on new challenges. I believe this really supported my application, and luckily, I was successful.

As time has gone on, I have certainly seen a lot more female recruitment, and whilst there are still roles with a male majority, I am also seeing more female recruitment in managerial roles such as product owners, which has been really positive to see. Fruugo has a very inclusive company culture and my colleagues have always treated me fairly.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I wouldn’t say there is one defining moment in my career I consider my biggest achievement, more so how much I have grown within the tech industry, and the progress I have made.

From starting as a sales executive, with no background in tech, to becoming a Scrum Master within the space of 10 years, is what I consider a huge achievement, and I am really proud of the journey along the way. I have been lucky enough to get involved in many new and exciting projects, both big and small, taking on the challenge from the start all the way up to final production, as well as helping mould and improve agile and scrum processes. I see all these projects as achievements which collectively form part of my wider goal.

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

I think having the opportunity to train on the job was a key reason why I applied for a role in technology and has also been a key reason why I have progressed so quickly throughout my career. For those eager to learn, in-job training can offer insight you would not be able to get elsewhere. It taught me how to learn from my mistakes and face challenging situations. I also think it really helps create a communal feel in the workplace, as you can grow your careers together.

I also believe the businesses I have worked for in my career have played an important part in my growth. Fruugo, alongside my previous companies, have given me opportunities to progress by taking on project leads and running project meetings. I have taken such pride in my work by taking on this extra responsibility and it has added a sense of enjoyment to the projects I have ran.

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

I think the first tip I would offer is to just go for it! The tech sector is continuously growing and is playing a more important part of our lives, with new advances being made every day. It makes it a really exciting career to pursue.

There are now more opportunities for young women to educate themselves about technology, learn more about the sector, and find more career opportunities. Online training courses are much more accessible and social media channels, such as LinkedIn, are beneficial for networking with other women and viewing paths of success, which may inspire other women to follow a similar route. I would advise all those looking to excel in their career to try out new courses, and network with fellow tech workers, which can really enhance their future opportunities.

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

Whilst there are certainly barriers to overcome for women who are looking to excel in the tech industry, I do believe that these barriers are lowering. Organisations such as Fruugo are more aware of the importance of diversity, inclusion and flexibility and are making more efforts to overcome unconscious biases they may have previously had. I also believe the new way of remote or hybrid working now allows women who care-giving duties at home, or who live in more remote locations to consider more roles in tech and advance in their careers, as they have more flexibility in their set-up than before.

Away from the workplace itself, I believe one big barrier still to overcome is actually enticing the younger generation into joining the tech industry. Take myself, for example – although I was eager to start my career early, I had never considered a role in tech prior, and now it is the only sector I look for! I do believe that as tech continues to dominate, this barrier can be overcome, as the variety of tech roles becomes better known, however I believe one way this could be done is by improving the educational aspect in secondary schools, and showcasing the importance of technology, which will certainly play a key part in their lives.

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

From my experience, the benefit of having in-job training was vitally important. I think it is essential that organisations give guidance, support, and offer training to new recruits. Having the opportunity to train on the job was a key reason why I applied for a role in technology, and I do not believe I would be where I am today without it.

This does not just apply to new recruits, but existing colleagues as well. As highlighted before, there is still a divide between male and female managers, and so providing regular support and training throughout their career is important when it comes to retaining female talent and enabling them to progress.

There are currently only 21 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?

The main reason I love the tech sector is the variety. As I have previously highlighted, I moved from the insurance industry to retail, and have seen such a shift in differences of work and gained valuable experience in the process – and these are only two industries out of many!

Tech is the future, and plays a crucial role in every industry, especially with social media now being a dominating presence, and the shift to ecommerce only continuing to grow.

So, if there is one thing I would love to do, it would be to showcase to every woman out there just how expansive and interesting the sector is and can be. The beauty of tech is that there are so many different avenues to go down that match different strengths. I would love to see the younger generation look to explore the many roles that are available and to not hold themselves back by doubting their ability.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I have spoken quite a bit about social media, so it would be silly of me not to recommend it! With it now part of our everyday lives, it can be used as a great way not only to network, but to learn as well. LinkedIn is fantastic for meeting fellow industry workers, learning about new events, courses, industry trends, but is also valuable for progressing your career, and showcasing your success to businesses.

It is not just limited to LinkedIn, even more informal social media channels such as TikTok can often provide mini tutorials and help with advice, and the same goes for Instagram and Twitter – the resources are limitless.