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Talking returning to work, career advice & getting more women into the tech space with a tech recruiter

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Ascent Group is home to six diverse recruitment brands that all specialise in their own field, whilst providing top talent to the tech industry.

Starting with TechNET IT in 2001, Ascent Group teams have been expanding ever since, with the sharpest, most knowledgeable specialist recruiters in the tech industry.

Ascent Group take pride in looking after their staff, and offer incredible flexible working initiatives, family-friendly policies and extensive training and development to the team.

In this article, we get an insight from Ascent Group and get their views on getting women and girls into the tech space, returning to work after having a baby; and advice to their younger selves.

Let’s meet Emily, Head of Search & Senior Appointments at TechNET CxO.

Meet Emily, Head of Search & Senior Appointments, TechNET CxO

Emily is Head of Search & Senior Appointments at TechNET CxO – a home-grown Executive Search agency and sister brand within the Ascent Group. She built CxO from the ground up in 2019, after joining TechNET six years prior.

After starting out at TechNET, Emily decided that her passion lay with Senior Appointments, which is when she made the decision to head to London for a year to gain further experience in Executive Search.

Emily is now a Player Coach, managing a team of eight consultants, whilst still aiming to be top biller herself.

Emily, Ascent Group

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

When thinking about my career plan, I didn’t think I would ever end up in tech recruitment. I originally wanted to be a teacher, and I suppose you could say there are aspects of teaching in my current role, but I decided to head in a different direction and began manifesting my big financial goals. This led me into choosing a more business-focused route.

I started my career working for my mum’s business. I gained direct experience of business growth, franchising, and the inner workings of running a business which really sparked my love for business growth.

I was looking for a career path that I could use the skills that co-running a business gave me, and tech recruitment looked like a good option. I, to this day, absolutely love helping and interacting with others, and have always aspired to work my way up to a senior position, and tech recruitment made this vision a reality for me.

Any opportunities/challenges you’ve faced & overcome?

Having a baby was probably the most difficult, yet wonderful challenge I have faced so far.

Before I went on maternity leave, I was getting started on my management track, my team was building nicely, and revenue was very good. However, once I had taken a step back, I no longer had control of which direction my team was heading in.

This pushed me to return to work pretty quickly – after only three months in fact. In hindsight, my return was rushed, but I was keen to continue navigating my tech career and get back to my team. Whilst only working half days to fit around my little one, I immediately received a promotion and took on a larger team, which was a big transition process.

Balancing work and being a mum proved very tricky, and because I was working part time, I was giving my full self to my daughter or work – I have always been my toughest critic. When you become a mum, your priorities definitely change, and it is common that a woman’s career can become lost. It was crucial for me to have both – the family and the career.

Do you have any career tips?

My main career tip, specifically for women, is to quieten the voice in your head that tells you that you can’t do something, or that it won’t happen for you. So many women in business feel that they’re not good enough – but when that voice is quiet, the possibilities are endless. I would be a completely different person if I had listened to that voice.

How can we encourage more women and girls into the tech industry?

It is important to remember that a lot of steps have been taken already, and we are seeing more and more businesswomen in the tech space – especially here at Ascent Group. The entirety of our senior management team are women, and we have seen so much internal growth across all six of our brands.

However, I think that encouraging girls at school and university to study STEM subjects should continue to be a priority.

I think it is essential to continue providing young women and girls with influential role models too, to lead the way for the future generation of women in tech!

Any tips on those returning to work after a career break?

From my experience, it is really important to have a support system in place that you’re comfortable with, when returning to work. Those around you, whether they are family or friends, need to be on board and understand how important work is for you – which in my case, it was.

Accepting your new way of living is going to help you get used to the new dynamic, and you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself if it doesn’t feel right or doesn’t come together straight away. It can take time to develop a new routine or a new norm. Always remember that you’re allowed to have a career and be a mum – just because others may be doing things differently, doesn’t mean you should feel disheartened.

Finally, I advise that you set clear boundaries with your employers from the beginning. Your company need to understand that there may be times where you have to leave to fit around your child and working at Ascent Group has given me and many others in the business, childcare flexibility, and support to continue thriving.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

If I could go back, I would have taken my time when deciding on my career route out of school. I felt that I went to university for the wrong reasons and perhaps wouldn’t have rushed into it if there wasn’t so much pressure on young people to decide quickly. I feel like you should do what is right for you, not what society tells you to do.