Catherine Mobray

In Her Shoes: Catherine Mowbray | Data Engineer, DWP Digital

Meet Catherine Mowbray, Data Engineer at DWP Digital

Catherine Mowbray

I joined the Data & Analytics team in DWP Digital in January this year as a data engineer. I work on the IRIS (Integrated Risk and Intelligence Service) team and I’ve really enjoyed my time working on this team. I’m excited to have the chance to share my experience so far!

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

At school, I was always interested in maths and science and had a great biology teacher at A-level. That convinced me to study Human Genetics at Newcastle University as an undergraduate. Part of that course involved a lab-based project in the third year which I thoroughly enjoyed, pointing me towards a career in science.

Through networking and word of mouth, I managed to secure a job as a research technician in the Mitochondrial Research Group at Newcastle University, where I stayed for about 18 months. During my time there I had extremely supportive colleagues who recommended I study for a PhD. I applied and started my PhD developing liver models for drug testing in 2007, graduating in 2011. From there I completed a series of Research Associate posts, for the last five years conducting research and testing in clinical trials looking into causes and treatments for recurrent urinary tract infections and alternatives to treatment with antibiotics.

However, during the start of the pandemic in 2020 the lab suddenly closed, and I was unable to conduct my usual work. As a result, I taught myself Bash/Shell scripting to analyse a large batch of bacterial sequencing data that we had collected but never started doing anything with. This allowed me to develop coding skills that were relevant to my current role, so when I was made redundant in August 2021 I began applying for more coding-based jobs. I spotted the vacancy for a Data Engineer role on Civil Service Jobs and decided to apply due to Bash/Shell scripting being listed as one of the criteria. I must admit, I was more than surprised when I was invited to interview!

I was ecstatic when I was informed that I had passed the interview and was offered the Data Engineer role. When I started in the department in January 2022, I knew I had a lot to learn and began training in Python and SQL with the support of team members. Now I’m working independently using my new skills, contributing to maintaining and building required features for ETL and database-querying services and delivering good-quality data to customers.

On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?

I typically get out of bed at the last possible moment and have a strong coffee to kick-start my brain – I am not a natural morning person! I double check my emails and calendar to mentally order my day, then look at my notes to pick up where I left off the day before. At the end of each day, I like to reach a natural finishing point in my code so I can pick it up easily – I think of it as reaching the end of a paragraph. I will then jot down where I am on my whiteboard and my thoughts on where to go next, followed by checking my calendar for the next day to make sure I know when meetings are. After signing out it’s time to walk my dog, then put my feet up and play a computer game or continue with my cross stitch for the evening.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I was always aware that this was something you definitely should do, but I can’t honestly say I did. I have tended to follow what I’ve enjoyed doing and have been lucky enough to enjoy most of my jobs. When I was made redundant from my scientific role, I did have a decision to make – do I continue with where I am or try something different? Due to the short-term, stressful nature of my previous roles, I decided to try and switch my focus to coding, which I found a refreshing change of direction during lockdown and aimed to have a career with more stability and new learning opportunities. Fortunately, I feel like this worked out well!

What do you love about working for Data and Analytics within DWP Digital?

There are two major things I enjoy about my job – the people and the work. Everyone I have met so far in DWP Digital has been so kind, supportive and generous with their time, it has made a rather daunting career change into a pleasant experience. I was involved in meetings and discussions from day one and was always encouraged to ask questions and offer opinions. Even though it’s a totally new area for me I have never felt silly, which I put down to the fantastic team I’ve joined. I also find the day-to-day work really rewarding. I’ve always enjoyed a good puzzle and identifying code that can be improved to match requirements, and then working out how to implement those changes is very motivating for me.

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you overcome these challenges?

I think my biggest challenge has always been having a lack of confidence in myself. It has improved as I’ve got older, but even when applying for this role I was pleasantly surprised at getting an interview, and even more so at being offered a post! Looking back, I don’t know why I doubted myself so much – I knew I could do this job (and others I’ve applied for in the past), but communicating my abilities to others in a confident manner has been something I’ve struggled with. I think this is partially an anxiety of mine about being seen as over-confident or boastful. When interviewing or taking part in meetings, I do have to periodically remind myself that being open and honest with my knowledge or opinions to help the team is what matters, not whether someone will see that as a knowledge gap or overstepping the mark.

Have you benefited from coaching, mentoring or the sponsorship of others?

I have never had formal mentoring, but over the years I have been supported in different aspects of my career by colleagues. My former boss was instrumental in teaching me how important “telling the story” is when communicating technical concepts to non-technical stakeholders or customers. Another of my former colleagues supported me in deciding to apply for coding roles, giving me the confidence to believe that I could be successful in changing my career path.

Do you believe in the power of networking? If so, where do you network?

In my previous role, networking was very much seen as attending big conferences or meetings and introducing yourself to people in order to increase visibility. I must admit, I was terrible at this – the thought of doing that was terrifying! I have since realised that networking doesn’t have to be such a big deal – just chatting with people you meet around the office or in a couple of minutes before a Teams meeting starts and there’s just the two of you in the call is also networking. Getting to know people and having a chat can open doors and make collaborations a lot easier than it would be if you remain more isolated.

What advice would you give to those who aspire to a career in tech?

It’s never too late to start! For the last few years it was always on my mind that if I’d gone to university now, I would have chosen something like a computer science degree. As the years went on a career in tech seemed further and further away. However, upon learning to code, build a pipeline and use data for analysis, I realised that it’s never too late. If you have a desire to change, make the time to learn some concepts, learn a bit of code and build something with it. Employers are keen to hear how you can use your learned concepts and coding skills, not just whether you have a certificate saying you can do it.

What does the future hold for you?

I am thoroughly enjoying my role and can’t see any reason for a change of scenery in the near future! Over the next few months I aim to build on the knowledge I have gained in this role and learn different parts of the job to be a complete team member. In the longer term, I aim to develop the skills to become a Senior Data Engineer and continue to learn about and implement new technologies within my role. The future is exciting!


Isabelle Freeman, Huawei

In Her Shoes: Isabelle Freeman | Cyber Security Executive, Huawei UK

Meet Isabelle Freeman, Cyber Security Executive at Huawei UK

Isabelle Freeman, Huawei

Isabelle is a Cyber Security Executive at Huawei UK. In this piece, we talk about a typical working day, her advice for those aspiring to a career in tech and what she loves about working at Huawei.

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

My journey with cyber security began when I began a Master’s in International Security and Risk after having studied Politics and IR as an undergraduate. I was drawn to the interdisciplinary approach between global politics, risk management and cyber security, and after starting quickly realised I wanted my future career to have a similarly dynamic remit.

In September 2020 I began working as a Cyber Security Executive at Huawei UK, a role that combined the two areas of most interest to me: politics and cyber security governance. Over the last two years, my responsibilities have expanded beyond just cyber security, but to also incorporate privacy and data protection.

On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?

There are three things I make sure I do every morning to get into the right frame of mind for the day ahead. First, I check emails in case there’s anything I need to attend to urgently. Second, I check the news in case there are any stories I’ll need to keep track of throughout the day. And third, is my planning ritual. For me, it’s essential to start my day by scheduling my main priorities and meetings, and making a note of all the tasks, big or small, that I need to get done. Anyone who sees me in the office will know that I have my planner on me at all times – it’s like a bible to me! At the end of the day, once I’ve ticked everything off on my list, I’ll then shut my laptop, go home, and head out for a run.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I had long considered the different types of careers that interested me, but truth be told I would have never expected to end up working in tech. It took some time to decide whether to take the plunge dive into this unfamiliar sector but once I did, it was definitely worth it.

What do you love about working for Huawei UK?

Every day’s a school day when you work at Huawei. On the one hand, the sheer scale of the company means there’s so much going on, but the fact it pioneers so much research means you feel really close to the technology that is transforming the way we live. There’s always something interesting to talk about, whether it’s hearing about the newest products being developed in R&D, the most recent regional strategy, or the latest negotiations with important stakeholders.

Within Huawei, cyber security is treated with the utmost importance, so being on the team has led me to work on a huge array of projects across the business. All these experiences have given me great insights into the industry and Huawei’s place within it, which I’ve found immensely gratifying.

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you overcome these challenges?

Beginning my career in the midst of a global pandemic brought a set of challenges I could never have imagined.  The virtual induction process was particularly challenging, and it was harder than usual to get a real sense of the company and its inner workings. Fortunately, all of my colleagues were super supportive, understanding and willing to answer any of my questions. I strongly believe in the importance of asking questions, especially when you are just starting out in your career when you can easily feel overwhelmed. But rest assured, asking for help and guidance whenever you need to will quickly make you far more confident in your role, whatever your company or industry.

Have you benefited from coaching, mentoring or the sponsorship of others?

Immensely! I am extremely grateful to work in a team where I have received invaluable mentoring and coaching. Especially as I am just starting out in my career, learning from colleagues with decades of experience has helped me develop a far more nuanced understanding of the tech landscape than I would otherwise have had access to. I am lucky enough to have great mentors, both technical and non-technical, who I work with on a daily basis.

What advice would you give to those who aspire to a career in tech?

I’d start off by emphasising that with such a rapidly-evolving industry, there is a vast array of careers out there. Don’t get bogged down by the technical knowledge, and instead remember the bigger picture: there will definitely be a place for you to shine. In terms of success, this is always going to look different from person to person, so focus on looking for fulfillment rather than a fancy title or loads of accolades. The best thing you can do in this industry is to have an open and inquisitive mindset, which will be sure to lead you down the right tech avenue.

What does the future hold for you?

Whilst I am only just beginning my career, I hope that my future roles are as interesting and challenging as my current one. With the tech sector moving at such a rapid pace, I particularly look forward to playing a part in developing key technologies that will shape the world for future generations.


Charisma Buxton

In Her Shoes: Charisma Buxton | Big Data Developer, Morgan Stanley

Charisma Buxton

Charisma Buxton joined Morgan Stanley in 2017 via the Technology Analyst Program in Glasgow, following completion of her Masters’ degree in Data Science from the University of Dundee.

In 2020, Charisma joined the Cybersecurity team as a Data Scientist. Charisma recently moved over to Legal, Compliance and Governance and is currently working as a Big Data developer in Legal and Compliances’ Resilience Team in London.

On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?

My typical workday starts with a mug of hot chocolate and reviewing emails. I check my Jira board to prioritise tasks for the day, then check my to-do list to see items from the previous day that need to be completed. From there it’s mostly meetings or working on my ongoing projects. The day ends with me updating my Jira boards and updating my to-do list.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Sort of; I knew I wanted to be in technology and a career that involves me working with computers. I also knew I wanted to build and innovate. What I didn’t know was where I would be working and which companies would allow me the space to build, innovate and grow my career, and that’s what I’ve been doing since joining Morgan Stanley.

What do you love about working for Morgan Stanley?

As a black woman, choosing a company to work for has to be a very careful process because an inclusive and diverse workplace is very important. Also, being able to give back and volunteer to my community is very important to me. These are part of the firm’s core values; it’s important to the Firm , which makes Morgan Stanley a good fit for me. The culture and working with smart, friendly and welcoming people has been vital to me and these are just some of the reasons why I love working here.

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you overcome these challenges?

Naturally, I have faced some challenges in my career. One of them being not having a lot of women working alongside me in technology and often being the only woman on the team. I decided to help combat this disparity by mentoring young women who want to get into technology and by helping with campus recruitment. Sometimes all it takes is for someone to see you and then realise they can also be standing there in the next two to three years. Like they say, representation matters.

Have you benefited from coaching, mentoring or the sponsorship of others?

I am really grateful for all the formal and informal coaching, mentoring and sponsorship I have received so far from senior figures at Morgan Stanley. It has been an important part of my career and these colleagues have been helping me improve my skills, develop my career, advocate for me and help demonstrate my skills.

Do you believe in the power of networking? If so, where do you network?

Networking is important when it comes to sharing ideas and finding out what others are working on that might interest you. Internally, I am a part of Women In Tech (WIT) and a number of other organisations. Externally, I attend WIT events and hackathons which are great spaces to meet people with shared interests.

What advice would you give to those who aspire to a career in tech?

You should definitely do it; even if you find that the area you start in doesn’t work for you, technology is huge, there are so many other exciting areas you can transition into. You just need the passion and the drive, and you’re set to go.

What does the future hold for you?

My teacher in primary school wrote in one of my reports that the sky is the limit and I’ve been living with that phrase when it comes to my career since then. I aim to keep developing my technical skills, growing my network and to keep building and innovating. Also, to keep giving back through mentoring and sharing my experiences and making sure other young women in Tech also know that sky is the limit.


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In Her Shoes: Steph Woodings | Technology Associate, Morgan Stanley

Steph Woodings

Steph joined Morgan Stanley in 2017 as a consultant kdb+ Developer after getting her MSc in Astrophysics from the University of Glasgow.

In 2019, she converted to become a permanent employee of Morgan Stanley and remained in the same team within Institutional Securities Technology until 2021, when Steph took the opportunity to move to a new system within the same division. She now works on an application for trading and analytics for Fixed Income and Commodities products.

Alongside her functional role Steph is also co-chair of the Glasgow Technology Associate Assembly, a shadow board to connect non-officer population and the management team. The goal is to leverage ideas and suggestions from the firm’s Associate population to develop a best in class work place experience for everyone in (and out of) the office.

On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?

My days begin with an early morning PT session. Then I come home, feed the cats, have a coffee, and get ready for work. Luckily, I don’t live very far away from the office, so I hop on the train to Glasgow city centre.

I always try to start the day by organising my to-do list so I can prioritise my time. Alongside my day-to-day role I usually take some time out of my day for my non-functional responsibilities. I am able dedicate around 10% of my time to my extra-curricular activities, it’s great to have some variety in my day.

After work I meet my partner at the station, and we get the train home together. I love to cook, so I will usually make dinner, then it is time to relax.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

As you can probably guess from my academic background, a career in Financial Technology wasn’t what I originally imagined myself doing. I always assumed I would get a PhD and have a career in academic research (I did complete one day of a PhD). Sometimes you immediately know when something doesn’t feel right, and I’m glad I was brave enough to listen to my gut and act upon it.

You could say I accidentally became a Software Developer; because of this, I am very open-minded about my career. I love working in Tech, and I have personal goals to achieve, but I don’t look too far ahead because you never know what opportunities may come along in the future.

What do you love about working for Morgan Stanley?

The main thing that comes to mind is the culture. There is a real community atmosphere. Joining five years ago as a Junior Developer I was welcomed by my colleagues who have continued to support me through both personal and professional development. I feel comfortable knocking on the door of our senior officers for a cup of coffee and a chat, something that you don’t get everywhere.

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you overcome these challenges?

The biggest challenge I have faced was really my lack of relevant experience, coming from an astrophysics background. Since joining Morgan Stanley, I have taken on tasks covering the entire tech stack of my projects to continuously develop my knowledge, understanding and experience of computer science and different programming languages. On-the-job learning has been a key part of my development, and the firm has provided me with all the required training and support to gain the knowledge needed to do the job.

Have you benefited from coaching, mentoring or the sponsorship of others?

Absolutely. I am surrounded by brilliant people every day. I learn so much from my colleagues, both junior and senior, and hope that they can also learn from me. I have taken part in development programmes for diverse individuals in the workplace which facilitated finding a mentor. My mentor is separate from my operational line so she can be impartial, it is so helpful to be able to lean on someone whose only intention is to help me develop my career.

Do you believe in the power of networking? If so, where do you network?

Having a diverse network can offer opportunities you might not come across in your day-to-day role. There is huge benefit of putting yourself in front of the right people and demonstrating your passion and skills so that your name pops into their head when these opportunities arise.

I network through the many committees we have in the Glasgow office and beyond into other locations. The Associate Assembly, which I mentioned earlier, purposefully consists of colleagues across Technology and requires me to reach out to senior leaders I wouldn’t usually get the chance to interact with. I have also met many people through the Women in Tech network within the office, leading talks on kdb+ and unusual routes into a career in Tech.

What advice would you give to those who aspire to a career in tech?

We live in a very technology dependent world, which continues to expand into every industry and environment you could think of. Working in tech is exciting, varied, fast paced and skilled problem solvers are in very high demand. The growth of Morgan Stanley Glasgow over the past two years has been immense, and positions continue to open up; my team is currently hiring for multiple junior positions. I am proof that you don’t need a degree in computer science to have a fulfilling career in Tech at a firm such as this. Many different backgrounds offer transferrable skills which can be applied to technology in some form, you might be surprised.

What does the future hold for you?

Technology within a global organisation like Morgan Stanley can offer many opportunities, and I hope to experience working in different environments and cultures. Finally, I am striving to develop my skills into other areas, other languages and aspects of technology. Continuous learning will make sure I’m ready for whatever comes my way next.


At Morgan Stanley, our rich history and culture of innovation helps the firm stay on the cutting-edge. Join our team of world-class technologists in solving complex client and business challenges—and make an impact every day.

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Diane Redall featured

In Her Shoes: Diane Redall | Associate QA Tester, DWP Digital

Diane Redall

I am an associate QA tester and a disabled person working within DWP Digital. I have a master level qualification in Sociology and have Advanced ISTQB in Software testing qualifications too.

I secured my first digital role as a system tester through a university placement, testing changes to the old payroll system at DWP.  My experience of working in a digital role hasn’t been a linear path, due to working in the temporary sector for a few years but it did give me a lot of sector knowledge in both the public and private sectors.

I’ve had several roles within DWP Digital such as software developer, live support, end-to-end delivery, project support and interim team leader of the Atos Origin Test Factory.  Some of the projects I’ve worked on for DWP Digital include Winter Fuel Tools and Debt Manager 11.  In 2018, I was awarded a place on the Northern Power Women Future Leader List for gender and disability inclusion activities, and I am a disability advocate outside of work. I also write blog posts on disability access of the events and venues I have attended.

On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?

My typical workday starts and ends with doing household tasks and managing carers as I am an unpaid carer for two disabled adults.  Once that has been arranged, I check my Outlook calendar for meetings I have that day and catch up with any unread emails. I carry out my testing activities and learning development around these agile team meetings. In the evening after work and all the household tasks have finished, to chill out I go onto Twitch, YouTube, Spotify or BBC Sounds to listen to music and to do chair exercises.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I am always looking to develop myself and add value to DWP Digital. I have one-to-one reviews with my manager and my mentor to help me prepare for new opportunities and I’m a member of several diversity groups which help develop my leadership and soft skills.

What do you love about working for DWP Digital?

What I love about working for DWP Digital is helping to put in place IT systems that can really help make a difference to the department’s customers.  I also like that there’s a wide range of job opportunities and available training to help me develop and that there are always people who are kind and helpful to assist me to go forward with my career development.

Another big plus is flexitime which helps me balance work, my disability, and my caring responsibilities.

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you overcome these challenges?

Being a mild mannered disabled shy person, I was subjected to workplace bullying on several occasions. I had to learn how to stand up for myself in an assertive way and define my boundaries. I applied for development opportunities and new roles to get out of the toxic environments.

Have you benefited from coaching, mentoring or the sponsorship of others?

In terms of coaching, mentoring or sponsorship by others, I have benefitted in two ways. As a mentee, I’ve had a mentor to help me develop my soft skills and my technical expertise.  I have also been a mentor, advising mentees on how to get into a digital career.

Do you believe in the power of networking? If so, where do you network?

Yes, I believe in the power of networking, I am an ambivert and networking at times can take me out of my comfort zone. I am ok talking in groups or in 1-2-1 settings, but I find it difficult to approach strangers. I often network at conferences and diversity events.

What advice would you give to those who aspire to a career in tech?

My advice to anyone wanting to pursue a digital role would be to research the roles to find a role that interests you and will challenge you in equal measures, find out what learning you need and apply for training opportunities. Be brave and be confident in your abilities to learn. Everybody is always learning.

What does the future hold for you?

I would love to complete a PhD and hopefully secure a senior leader role within the Civil Service. I would like to assist the Civil Service in exceeding customer expectations and to help normalise access for disabled people to physical and virtual venues.


In Her Shoes: Shivangi Das | Software Developer, DWP Digital

Shivangi DasI am a software developer at DWP Digital. I have a bachelor’s in computer science and achieved a masters in Machine Learning last year.

I started coding for a living in 2014 and have loved it since. Before DWP Digital, I have worked on a Wealth management app (where I developed an interest in investing) and video analytics using artificial intelligence. At my current position, I work on building and supporting applications used in DWP and by millions of people that need them.

On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?

My workday begins with checking my to-do list while eating breakfast and checking up on messages and mail before the stand-up meeting. I make to-dos at the end of the day to allow me to completely switch off thinking about work when I close my laptop. There’s lots of stretching and moving around involved before and during work, combined with snacks. I usually go for a walk or run right after work.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Yes! I do it quite often, always at the end of a project, towards the end of a year or half-year. I also find it helpful to discuss my development with managers and mentors. As an example, I have recently started thinking about whether I want to stay in a more developer-oriented position or look at managerial roles. When talking about it with my manager, they shared a lot of their personal experience and also directed me to useful resources.

What do you love about working for DWP Digital?

I joined DWP Digital recently and was impressed by the anonymous hiring process. This is evidenced by the diversity of my colleagues I get the opportunity to work with. DWP Digital is also doing a wonderful job of involving everyone in the conversation. I love getting to use the latest technologies, working with amazing and helpful colleagues and of course, the scale of impact is very humbling.

Plus, I get great appreciation for every piece of work.

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you overcome these challenges?

Being an introvert and sometimes being the only woman at the table has been a challenge in previous jobs. I had to learn to speak louder, learn to say, “I was speaking”, stop apologising for everything and put forth my ideas with conviction. I also had some amazing mentors that were very supportive.

Have you benefited from coaching, mentoring or the sponsorship of others?

Yes! I have so many mentors to thank for encouraging me to try new technologies, take up new opportunities and open gates for more. My masters last year was sponsored by the British Council India. I started my journey into AI because one of my mentors appreciated my side projects in AI. One of my coaches from my time in a month-long Developer Academy encouraged me to become more confident when speaking publicly.

Do you believe in the power of networking? If so, where do you network?

I do believe in the power of networking however as an introvert, casual networking does not work for me. I forge relationships with people I meet and like at tech events like women in tech, women developers academy, tech communities like TechLadies, Women in Digital (DWP) or am introduced to through other people.

What advice would you give to those who aspire to a career in tech?

Start before you think you’re ready because you’ll never be ready, and you don’t have to be. Learning on the job is a skill we already have and is all that is required in the beginning.

What does the future hold for you?

Currently, I’m enjoying my work a lot and working towards financial freedom in the next ten years. This means being very involved with my money- having a budget, investing, saving for emergencies, making clear goals for every half year. It is a little scary but also extremely satisfying.


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Sahydi Garcia

In Her Shoes: Sahydi Garcia | Vice President, Morgan Stanley

Sahydi GarciaSahydi Garcia is a Vice President of Morgan Stanley in Enterprise Technology and Services based in London.

Sahydi is responsible for driving the adoption and implementation of Agile & DevOps practices and principles for the Corporate Workplace Technology department. She also performs project management/business analyst roles to deliver business outcomes for stakeholders in Corporate Information Management. In January 2016, Sahydi was named Vice President and later that year she accepted a mobility opportunity to move from New York to Glasgow. In October 2018, she accepted a mobility opportunity to London.

Sahydi started her career in Technology at the Firm in 2011 as an IT Service Delivery Manager in End User Technology, supporting the delivery of technology services to end users in Wealth Management branches during the Morgan Stanley-Smith Barney joint venture. She joined Morgan Stanley in 2004 as an Associate in Reengineering and Expense Management based in New York, serving as a Sourcing Manager in Corporate Services.

On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?

My typical day starts before 6am, which is always followed by a bowl of porridge and cup of coffee. With lockdown easing and outdoor gyms opened, I have been getting in a workout before the workday starts. These days that means a spin or HIIT class. Then, I log on to quickly review emails from the prior evening and shift focus to the biggest priorities I have for the day. My typical workday ends in Zoom meetings with New York colleagues.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I never sat down and strategically planned my career. However, I do periodically stop to think about the next step. Early on, I assumed that I needed to have a grand vision for my life and have it all figured out at once. In actuality, life and careers are rarely linear. My journey has been guided by thinking one step ahead, and my willingness to be uncomfortable and enthusiastically accept new opportunities when presented.

What do you love about working for Morgan Stanley?

I most admire the professional integrity of the people I work with at Morgan Stanley. Our corporate culture is guided by the Firm’s five core values of Do the Right Thing, Put Clients First, Lead with Exceptional Ideas, Commit to Diversity and Inclusion, and Give Back. The work environment reflects those ideals and challenges us to strive for our personal best, regardless of role or position. This enables us to attract incredible people, and I am regularly impressed with the combination of talent and drive my colleagues possess. They make me want to show up and be better.

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you overcome these challenges?

Naturally, I have faced challenges in my career. I am surrounded by brilliant people, often with way more experience and knowledge than I have. That is not a comfortable position to be in, but I eventually came to realize that I had two choices. I can feel threatened by this, allow my imposter syndrome to emerge, and have it prevent me from asking questions and getting engaged. Or, I could be vulnerable and embrace that I will not know everything and ask for help. I now approach these situations as a learning opportunity rather than a judgement of my ability.

Have you benefited from coaching, mentoring or the sponsorship of others?

It’s impossible to have a meaningful career on your merit alone. I would not be where I am today without the generosity and support of coaches, mentors, and sponsors. A piece of advice I would give to my younger self is to invest in these types of relationships early on because they truly allow you to ascend. Coaches will help you to improve your skills, while mentors will help you to develop your career, and sponsors will advocate on your behalf when you are not in the room. You need them all, go find them, and don’t just take it from me, take it from Carla Harris!

Do you believe in the power of networking? If so, where do you network?

All my career opportunities have stemmed from the relationships I have built over time, so I firmly believe in the power of networking. Whether you are searching for a new home or shifting careers, your network can bring new opportunities and ideas to light. Personally, I lean heavily on the various professional networks we have at Morgan Stanley, like Women in Technology. We host various networking and knowledge sharing events intended to establish community and new connections across the Technology organization. Still, I look forward to the days where we can mix more casually in person, and we can make new connections casually chatting to the person standing next to you.

What advice would you give to those who aspire to a career in tech?

If you are passionate about problem solving, think creatively, have varied interests, and enjoy learning new things, you can have a fulfilling career in Technology. This does not mean you need to have a CS degree, be a coder, or engineer. Throughout the course of your career in tech, you can pick up different skills and hold different roles. My advice is to pursue what interests you, work hard at it, find ways to make your skills useful, and remain open to change.

What does the future hold for you?

The experience of the pandemic has made me re-evaluate a number of things including planning too far ahead or setting expectations around what the future holds. As a result, this is a difficult question for me to answer. The things I am striving towards this year include being more mindful of where I spend my time (goodbye Instagram, you are missed), questioning whether the time I invest adds value (to others and myself), and no longer postponing experiences, even if they are uncomfortable. Professionally, this has led me to slowly and reluctantly face my fear of presenting to large groups and like most things, it will require a tremendous amount of effort and energy to develop this skill. To answer the question boldly, which is not my natural inclination, in the future you will see me presenting at a TED Talk.

To learn more about Technology careers at Morgan Stanley, please click here

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In Her Shoes: Emily Beeney | Vice President, Morgan Stanley

Emily Beeney is a Vice President at Morgan Stanley, leading the Information Security Incident Management and Investigations analytics mission to detect potentially malicious Insiders within Morgan Stanley’s network. ​

As Co-Chair of Morgan Stanley Glasgow’s Women in Technology Network, Emily defines and delivers the Firm’s diversity strategy at a local level. ​

Read Emily's interview here
Emily Beeney
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TechWomen100

Nominations are now open

The TechWomen100 awards are the first of their kind to focus solely on the female tech talent pipeline and recognise the impact of champions, companies and networks that are leading the way. Nominations are now open until 10 September 2021.

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Chloe Williams featured

In Her Shoes: Chloe Williams | Software Engineer, DWP Digital

Chloe WilliamsMy name’s Chloe and I’m a Software Engineer at DWP Digital in Leeds. I joined the department in January of this year. Initially I was nervous about starting a new role remotely but the onboarding process was great and the team use a whole host of collaborative tools to keep us connected.

I’m what you would call a career switcher. My background is in marketing but 18 months ago I decided to make the leap into the world of tech. I’ve always worked closely with teams who have built digital products and when the opportunity arose to give coding a go myself, I jumped at the chance.

Now I’m the one that’s building digital products and services, most recently for the Restart Scheme (launching 28th June). The scheme is one of many government initiatives launched under the Plan for Jobs umbrella, focused on protecting, supporting and creating jobs across the country. It’s exciting to think that features that I have built will be used to help more than 1 million Universal Credit claimants who have been directly impacted by coronavirus.

On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?

Like most people, the typical workday has looked somewhat different over the last year. For one, my commute to the office is a lot shorter. I generally start my day with a cup of tea, give my cat a cuddle and then jump on MS Teams to dial into my team’s stand-up, a daily meeting to check-in and catch up on what we’re all working on.

At DWP Digital, we manage our own hours with flexi-time. This means that sometimes my day finishes at 4pm and others 6:30pm. Typically at the end of the day, I’ll make sure the coding I’ve done is ‘saved’ and then try and motivate myself to do some form of exercise, whether that’s going outside for a walk or playing netball.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Not really. When I was younger I wanted to be a PE teacher, but then when it came to choosing a university course I picked marketing. I’m not much of a planner, and as you get older and gain more life experience your interests and priorities naturally change. I think it’s important to get some form of satisfaction from your job. I’m not saying you have to enjoy every single hour you spend in the office, but if you don’t find your work interesting it’s probably a sign you should move on. That’s not to say everyone needs to switch careers. Even small internal moves or changes in responsibilities can make a big difference.

What do you love about working for DWP Digital?

There are many things I love about working at DWP Digital, but the thing that brings me the most joy is the fact that every day I’m reminded of stories where a feature I’ve helped build has helped someone find work.

I also feel empowered at DWP Digital. I’m involved in conversations with other areas of the business, and I can have my say on how a service should look and behave.

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you overcome these challenges?

A personal challenge I’m regularly dealing with is imposter syndrome. In each of the roles I’ve had, at some point I’ve suffered from the feeling – “I’m not good enough”. I cope with it because I know I’m not alone, and the more I speak about it, whether that’s with my manager or with friends, the easier it is to manage.  I also find it helpful to look back at my successes, even things I perceive to be small achievements.

Have you benefited from coaching, mentoring or the sponsorship of others?

I’ve worked with Code First Girls a couple of times to deliver their ‘Introduction to Web Development’ course. Even though I was relatively new to software development myself, I found that teaching the material helped cement my own knowledge. It also helped keep my imposter syndrome at bay as I gained more confidence.

If it’s available to you I’d recommend seeking the guidance of a mentor or coach. Even if it’s informal, it generally helps to speak to someone about their experiences, you never know what nuggets of wisdom you might pick up.

Do you believe in the power of networking? If so, where do you network?

Absolutely.  I think it’s important to speak to others and share experiences. In-person networking has been made more difficult because of the pandemic, I really miss speaking to people face-to-face.

That said, there are still plenty of online meetups and because they’re online they’re generally more accessible. Over the last year I’ve attended a couple of interesting ones run by Northern UX and Leeds JS. A quick Google search will return a whole bunch of tech meetups in your local area.

What advice would you give to those who aspire to have a career in tech?

Don’t be scared to dip your toe, there are so many great resources available, a lot of them free. Try out an online coding course like FreeCodeCamp, CodeFirstGirls or CodeAcademy to name a few.

Read blog posts from your favourite tech companies and learn about their ways of working. DWP Digital have a great one – https://dwpdigital.blog.gov.uk/ which I found really useful before I joined the company. And remember, you don’t need a computing degree to work in tech. Don’t let the jargon put you off, once you start to dive into it, you’ll soon see it’s not as scary as it seems.

What does the future hold for you?

Hopefully a holiday in a nice sunny country!

As I said before, I’m not really a planner, so I don’t like to look too far into the future. But what I do know is that I’d love to continue teaching others about software development. If I can help a few people on their path into tech, then I’ll be happy.

TechWomen100 2021 logo

TechWomen100

Nominations are now open

The TechWomen100 awards are the first of their kind to focus solely on the female tech talent pipeline and recognise the impact of champions, companies and networks that are leading the way. Nominations are now open until 10 September 2021.

CAST YOUR NOMINATIONS

Emily Beeney

In Her Shoes: Emily Beeney | Vice President, Morgan Stanley

Emily BeeneyEmily Beeney is a Vice President at Morgan Stanley, leading the Information Security Incident Management and Investigations analytics mission to detect potentially malicious Insiders within Morgan Stanley’s network. ​

As Co-Chair of Morgan Stanley Glasgow’s Women in Technology Network, Emily defines and delivers the Firm’s diversity strategy at a local level. ​

She is a passionate STEM ambassador, and through partnerships with local schools and universities, charities and government bodies she promotes STEM careers through multiple channels – from running code clubs to supporting teachers with curriculum changes.​ Emily is active in the Scottish Women in Technology ecosystem, founding the Women in Cyber Scotland meetups in 2020 and bringing the Ladies Hacking Society to Scotland in 2021 as chapter lead.

She started her career working for the Home Office Scientific Development Branch and moved into the private sector in 2011 when she joined Morgan Stanley’s Insider Threat team as a forensic investigator. ​

Emily has been externally recognised in the technology industry as 2019’s Outstanding Woman in Cyber at the Scottish Cyber awards, and as a 2020 TechWomen100 winner.

On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?

Since lockdown most days start the same way, whether that’s a workday or not! I get a rude awakening at about 6am by my two cats who demand breakfast every 5 minutes until I get up and feed them, and then take my lockdown puppy for a socially distanced walk with other owners in the estate. This has been a great way to get to know new people and has kept me sane during the pandemic. After heading back home, I check my emails, say good morning to my team and plan out what I need to get done for the day.

I am fortunate to have enough space in my house that I was able to set up a separate room as my office and when it’s time to logoff I can close the door to the office and take the puppy for a walk.  This has helped create a divide between work life and personal life and has helped with transitioning between the two over the last year.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

When I started my career, I had only one measure of success, and that was to work on interesting and innovative technologies which would enable me to keep learning and remain passionate about technology.  It wasn’t until the last couple of years that I started to think more about career goals and progression and plan a roadmap for how I would get there.  Having a plan has definitely made me more focused, and I wish I had done it sooner.

What do you love about working for Morgan Stanley?

The culture at Morgan Stanley is a key factor in keeping me here, along with the ability to work with cutting edge technologies on innovative projects.  Senior management actively encourage giving back and supporting community engagement projects. As co-chair of the Morgan Stanley Women in Technology network, gender diversity is a topic which I am passionate about, and I love that I am afforded the opportunity to work with local schools and youth groups to promote STEM careers and to encourage more young females to pursue technology.

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you overcome these challenges?

I think everyone experiences challenges and setbacks in their career, whether it is not getting the job offer or promotion you wanted or needing a second attempt at a certification.  My philosophy has always been to see these challenges as learning opportunities and to take away as many positives from the experience as I can. Sure, it is disappointing, but I embrace that I did my best with the knowledge and information I had at that time and take forward the experience to better inform future decisions and actions.

Have you benefited from coaching, mentoring or the sponsorship of others?

I have never formally had a mentor, coach or sponsor, but there are many people throughout my career who have filled these roles for me unofficially.  There is an interesting piece of research by TrustSphere I read recently which shows employees strongest internal relationships broken out by gender; and when compared to men, female employee networks comprise of significantly smaller number of more senior connections. This really highlighted the importance to me of making sure that I pay into those more senior relationships to ensure that the ones I do have are able to provide the sponsorship, mentorship and coaching roles when needed.

Do you believe in the power of networking? If so, where do you network?

Networking is such a powerful tool when it comes to progressing in your chosen field and embracing this can make a significant difference to your career trajectory.  When people first meet me they assume that I am an outgoing person who enjoys networking and speaking with new people, when in reality it is a skill that I have had to work really hard at and I still have to push myself outside my comfort zone regularly. Internally, at Morgan Stanley, I attend as many ‘meet the team’ and round table sessions as my calendar will allow and try to make time in my personal schedule for social work events. Externally, I attend, host and present at local meet ups and conferences (such as  the Ladies of Glasgow Hacking Society, Women in Cyber Scotland and Cyber Scotland Week) and dedicate time to maintaining my professional network through LinkedIn.

What advice would you give to those who aspire to a career in tech?

Do it! Traditionally, when we think about careers in technology, we automatically go to the developer stereotype – but this really isn’t the reality.  There are so many different roles within the technology industry that you don’t need to stay in one type of role indefinitely.  Many of the skills required to work in technology are transferable – if you embrace new opportunities which enable you to broaden your skills, you will quickly find yourself with a diverse and valuable skillset.

What does the future hold for you?

I am very excited to have just started a new role within Morgan Stanley focussing on the build out of a new function within the Information Security Incident Management and Investigations team. My new role provides me with the opportunity for cross-functional networking with new areas of the Firm, broadens my scope of responsibility and provides me with the platform to demonstrate and refine my management and leadership skills across a global team.  I am looking forward to pushing myself to develop and enhance my skills, and excited to see how I grow through this new opportunity and what doors will open to me in the future as a result of this experience.

To learn more about Technology careers at Morgan Stanley, please click here

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TechWomen100 Award’s Ceremony 2020: In Words

WeAreTechWomen celebrated the winners of the 2020 TechWomen100 Awards on Tuesday 8th December, via a virtual award’s ceremony.

Given the circumstances, the team at WeAreTechWomen had to do things a little differently with our awards this year.

Over the course of the night, our attendees were congratulated by our sponsors and special guests and we heard from inspirational speakers and entertainers, who all endeavoured to create a truly magically experience.

Read the full piece here
TechWomen100 Award's Ceremony