watching a virtual conference on a laptop, zoom call, video call

Being a woman in STEM and working on the frontline during the pandemic

watching a virtual conference on a laptop, zoom call, video callHere, Antonia Purdie, ICT Project Manager at Glide, reflects on her experience around being a woman in STEM and working on the frontline during the pandemic.

How long have you been at Glide for and what is your role?

“I have been at Glide for just over two years now as an ICT Project Manager. Prior to joining Glide, I served in the British Army for six years within the Royal Corp of Signals, where I carried out three tours of Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Would you please be able to talk us through some of the different network projects you managed during lockdown? 

“One of the projects I worked on throughout lockdown is replacing BT fibre with our own dark fibre in Coventry. This has been really successful to date. I have also been working at the University of Worcester on a new managed service project which is quite a big project for Glide, as well as a number of other student accommodation projects across the Midlands.”

How was your experience of working on the frontline to deliver connectivity during the pandemic?

“It was definitely a different experience. It was challenging in terms of there being a lot of delays on site due to COVID-19 restrictions and numerous building works being halted. Once the sites were deemed COVID-secure we were allowed back on site, where we had the two-metre social distancing restrictions to adhere to as well as all of our health and safety documentations that had to be updated. It was also a priority to manage our customers’ expectations with projects being delayed.”

What was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?

“It hasn’t been as bad as I envisioned it to be, as everyone is aware of what’s been happening and have been very understanding. The delays haven’t really been on our side because we have been waiting for building contractor. Therefore we can only go in and do the install once the building has achieved PC (Project Completed) status. In that respect, the pressure has been taken off of us slightly. I am currently doing some work where we are undertaking a migration from a previous provider to our network. This has been quite challenging with tight timescales and a backlog of work.

How has your past network engineering experience enabled you to work effectively during lockdown?

“I think my past experience of being a Field Engineer working for Thales France out in Afghanistan has helped me work effectively. It is quite restrictive over there and working with the military is obviously very vigilant, with a key focus on ‘expect the unexpected’. You don’t see any family or friends and it is very isolating, so in that respect, it is similar to the restrictions during the height of lockdown. Continuing working through this lockdown has also helped to keep my mind occupied and has certainly helped to keep a sense of normality during this time.”

Do you have any advice for other women pursuing a career in engineering or in the fibre connectivity field?

“Just to follow your dreams, if that is something you’re passionate about, then go for it. There are so many more opportunities now for women within this sector. When I first joined Glide there were not many female project managers, so I was one of the first in some time and now we have numerous females. This isn’t just a man's world, there are now equal opportunities across the board.”

Antonia PurdieAbout Antonia

Antonia Purdie is a Project Manager with over 12 years of experience, working as part of a project delivery team within Glide. Antonia specialises in project end to end delivery of I.T Managed Services for student, residential and business customers across the Midlands region. Antonia is a highly motivated and enthusiastic Project Manager with an international working background, who demonstrates project and leadership skills throughout a highly successful and challenging career. In her free time, Antonia likes to hike with friends and spend quality time with her 6yr old daughter.

 

 


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Women on the frontline of security

When you think of a ‘bouncer’ or a security guard, you may think of a large male, but women are ideal for frontline security services, as Joy Darch, security officer at VIP Security Services explains…

Being a good security officer isn’t just about how to have the physical strength to defend someone or something, for the majority bearing in mind we have to “do the job” when it comes to it, it’s more about communication, attention to detail, multi-tasking and empathy.

On a day-to-day basis we work alongside our male colleagues and deal with all incidents on equal terms. Many male security guards have quite a physical presence, which can help ward off threats, but not all of us ladies are built in the same way. We may not be the same size or have the same physical strength, but women on the frontline can be more adept at reacting to situations and dealing with potential problems professionally without the need for physical intervention.

It’s tricky to generalise, but like in life, women are usually better than men at dealing with males in heated situations. We’re good mediators and we’re able to get guys to see another side of the argument and to just ‘quieten down’ take some time out, which in many incidents is enough to quell a situation.It’s also ideal for women to see female security guards, as sometimes they may feel more able to talk or reach out to a woman than a man. For example: if a female is in a nightclub and she fears that her partner has given her cause for concern, it’s much easier for her to walk up to a female security guard and ask for help, than one of my male counterparts.

Women are great at empathising with people and able to show compassion. Security officers who work in large retail outlets are often called upon to find lost children. Whilst searching for a lost child it’s also vital to calm down fraught parents. Here it seems females find it easier to step into someone else’s shoes, understand how they feel and give support at a time of need.

It’s often been said that women are great at attention to detail and multi-tasking, it’s true, which also makes us ideal for surveillance or cyber work. Here we’re strong at analysing a situation, watching hours of filmed data whilst also managing other duties at the same time and working as part of a team.

Women are also great communicators and that’s a key skill for frontline security services. Strong communication is ideal on the ground to ensure all team members know exactly what they’re doing, any change of duties. Communication is also ideal to create great working relationships with clients and their customers. The majority of situations can be diffused quickly and efficiently by excellent interpersonal skills and keeping a flow of communication to large groups in queues is also ideal in keeping everyone safe and secure.

We’re also essential onsite at airports and venues where ‘pat-down’ searches need to be conducted; because there is physical contact these ‘frisk’ searches must be carried out by a searcher of the same sex as the person being searched to comply with legislation.

Most women still face a lot of prejudice when they tell others that they work as a security guard as so many people still stereotype. But the world is changing, and the security industry is a great place for women to display their key strengths and nurture a fulfilling and very worthwhile career.

To discover more, visit www.vipsecurityservices.co.uk

Joy DarchAbout the author

Joy has spent the past five years at VIP Security Services working in various security roles, she is currently a team leader. Joys spends the majority of her time front-of-house in licensed properties and acting as the ‘eyes and ears’ at large events. Joy is also a carer to her retired husband, mother and grandmother, with little time for anything else!