Inspirational Woman: Jessica McGoverne | Director of Policy and Corporate Affairs, Sedex

Meet Jessica McGoverne, Director of Policy and Corporate Affairs, Sedex

Jessica McGoverne

Jessica joined Sedex in January 2018 and is responsible for Sedex’s corporate communications, public relations and public policy.

Jessica has over 10 years’ experience working in public affairs, crisis communications and stakeholder engagement. She has led a number of development campaigns for multinational companies, and implemented stakeholder consultation strategies on behalf of the Australian Government around land rights and land use.

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

After starting my career in communications, I went on to gain a Master’s degree in International Studies from the University of Sydney. Over the past 15 years, I have worked in roles leading a number of campaigns and strategies for multinational companies, not-for-profit organisations and government, around social and environmental development and sustainability. Around 6 years ago, I relocated from Australia to the UK, which I now call home.

Currently, I work at Sedex, a technology company that provides tools and data to enable businesses to improve their sustainability practices, where I am the Director of Policy and Corporate Affairs. Here I am responsible for leading communications, public relations and policy in ethical trade, and am able to leverage my expertise working in the technology sector. I’m passionate about enabling businesses to use the power of technology and data to advance their sustainability goals. Sedex enables companies to do this every day, making sustainable change more accessible to businesses globally.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I have always aimed for a purpose-driven career that supports positive change at a global scale. I believe education is a fundamental foundation for this, and once I completed my Master’s degree, I wanted to continue developing my skills and knowledge within the area of sustainability. So, I worked hard to make doors open and said yes to every opportunity.

 The pace of change in technology means that careers evolve at such a rapid speed – this offers the opportunity for new careers, and for roles to constantly be evolving. Success for me comes from identifying what your passions are and combining these with your strengths, rather than focusing on specific job roles. Staying flexible and open to change has enabled me to find a place of work which fits my values, and where I can continue to grow.

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

Like many women, there have been moments when I have struggled to be heard over louder voices in the workplace or lean into discussions.

My advice to anyone else struggling to do this is simple: believe that what you have to say, no matter your perspective, is a valid contribution. The most progressive businesses value a wide range of perspectives and people with diverse backgrounds, experiences and skills in the workplace. It’s essential to back yourself and believe that your opinion matters. I aim to lead my team in this way, encouraging everyone to share their thoughts on different topics.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

The ability to establish a career in multiple countries and lead a number of teams has been incredibly rewarding. It’s difficult to boil my whole career into one big achievement, as I think that you learn and develop in every role. During my time at Sedex I have thrived through the opportunity to work in such a global and diverse business, one that has the ability to have impact at scale.  I’m really proud of myself and my team for the way that we have developed, and constantly taken learnings to evolve. I look forward to seeing what comes in the future.

Level Up Summit 2022

Don’t miss our Level Up Summit on 06 December, where we’re tackling the barriers for women in tech head on. Join us for keynotes, panels, Q&A’s & breakout sessions on finance, people management, negotiation, influencing skills, confidence building, building internal networks, maximising the power of mentorship, and much more. 

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

For me, it’s all about the people who have support me during my career and surrounding myself with people and colleagues who want to see me succeed, and vice versa. This ethos is incredibly important when it comes to achieving what you want to and being able to support others in my team to grow in their career is incredibly rewarding.

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

Always bring an open-minded attitude to learning. Technology and knowledge are ever-evolving and making time to continually upskill yourself is key!

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

I think women have come such a long way in achieving equality in business but, given the gender pay gap continues, we still have a long way to come. Currently, men’s median hourly pay is 16% higher than that of women in the technology sector. This puts the tech industry above the national average of 11.6% and shows the gap we have. At this point, it’s no longer the elephant in the room, it’s being openly discussed, yet still continues to occur.

These barriers can be overcome by ensuring we are investing in opportunities for women to enter technology roles and be promoted within them. I wish I heard about more female CTOs and I look forward to seeing more in the future.

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

Businesses need to provide career pathways for all people in their business where possible and ensure they are consistently promoting equal opportunities for both men and women and supporting them to develop. This includes allowing both men and women to equally move into management positions.

It’s also important that young women have visible female role models in leadership roles, technology and more. Promoting successful women and female leaders in schools from a young age will help to inspire young women to take certain career paths. In the way that the recent UK women’s Euro win has changed the game for female football players, we need the same shift for women in technology by educating young women and making technology pathways more accessible.

There are currently only 21% 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?

Provide and promote clear career pathways, development support and education to support more women to choose technology and make it more attractive.

Alongside this, we can highlight and support less traditional routes towards a technology role. Not everyone needs to know how to code or comes from a school where this is taught to a high standard – my own background is in communications and sustainability. We need to go out to women of all different backgrounds, find them where they are and show the many different pathways they can walk within the technology industry.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I love Sheryl Sandberg’s book ‘Lean In’, and highly recommend reading or listening to the audiobook. She was the COO of Facebook and is truly inspiring leader. Her Ted Talks are also a must-watch.

‘The Female Lead’ also serves as an inspiration to me, as they so openly advertise so many strong women. Allbright, which is a networking hub for women at work, is a great way to meet others and be part of some very open discussions about the struggles women may face at work.

In terms of podcasts, I really like Blinkist, as it gives quick 15-minute audio explainers that you can listen to on the go.  It’s great for building your knowledge amid a busy schedule!