women working on code

I am not someone who ever set out with an ambition to work in the tech sector, and I think like many arts and humanities graduates I had initially thought it wasn’t necessarily the place for me.

Now after a few years of working in tech I am convinced that not only is it the place for me, it is a sector that I can’t imagine leaving.

I studied English Literature at University and quickly moved into a competitive graduate scheme in financial services, but I craved a more diverse workplace with a progressive outlook. I moved into the third sector working for a charity which supports disadvantaged young people in London and  discovered my passion for leadership, teamwork, and making a real change in peoples’ lives. I was then keen for a new challenge where I could apply my business and operational experience, but still feel rewarded. It was through the good luck of having friends in tech that I was able to explore and understand just how diverse the digital sector is, and the need for more women like me to move into it.

Our business isn’t all coding and programming, there is a huge amount of people leadership, change management, and business development that require transferable skills and diverse skills. Therefore, like so many women, I found out there were great opportunities in tech- but was it the right fit for me, and me for it? I soon realised it was.

As a Squad Lead at AND Digital, I head up a team who work with our clients to both accelerate the build of their digital products whilst also equipping them with the capabilities they need to succeed in the long term. A significant part of our role is guiding people through change, be it culture, ways of working, technology, and being able to coach people through that process is hugely important. Those skills, often described as ‘softer,’ are crucial for a thriving digital workforce.

For me, working in tech has opened doors and led to fast progression and career development in a relatively short span of time.

In my life I’ve learned to look for workplaces that value and implement flexibility because, as a diabetic person, a major consideration of any job I have is my work-life balance. Alongside my career, I have to find time to do the job of a human organ – checking my blood sugar, maintaining steady insulin levels, and managing my health. For any woman reading this who lives with a visible or invisible difference, you will know how daunting a high pressure workplace can be, and how stressful it is to worry about the biases we face. Being diabetic is a 24/7 responsibility in my life, and I just wasn’t sure if the fast-paced ever changing tech sector was suited to someone like me. It was a chance conversation with a friend who worked for AND Digital that got me interested in the company and thinking that maybe with the right fit, tech could be my next big adventure.

I’m careful not to sell an entire sector to women, as often industries need us more than we need them, and no one wants to just be a tick-box statistic sitting in an office – we deserve careers that are fulfilling and progressive, not just jobs that look good. So I myself was curious about finding a tech workplace where diversity and inclusion weren’t just buzzwords, but part of its core values and mission.

Alongside my work as a Squad Lead at AND Digital, I am working on a Diploma in Transformational Coaching, as it is something very close to my heart. I have had a passion for since my time working in the third sector, where I supported disadvantaged young people, many of whom had experiences being in gangs, and needed help to get onto a better life track. It has become a passion of mine, and good role models and support networks are needed in all industries.

I take job recommendations and career advice very seriously, and wanted to share my experience of working in tech to encourage other women that this really is a brilliant sector to be working in, but it is crucial to shop around for a company that is the right fit for you.

Tech companies can be at the cutting edge of innovation, but they must cultivate an environment of inclusion, flexibility, and support to attract talented people, including talented women. For me, working in tech has opened doors and led to fast progression and career development in a relatively short span of time. This is truly a field that more women should feel comfortable entering into, but also taking a side step or career change into. Take the time to find a company with an ethos that works for you, because I truly believe there is a role in tech for all of us.

Rebecca ButterworthAbout the author

Rebecca Butterworth is a Squad Lead at AND Digital, in its Club Somerville club in Edinburgh. Originally from Nottinghamshire, Rebecca graduated from the University of Manchester, and began her career in financial services in London. Rebecca has a passion for transformational coaching, and commits time to encouraging individuals to grow and develop towards significant change and transformation in their lives. Rebecca is a fitness enthusiast, and regularly attends a female owned women’s bootcamp in Edinburgh.