Julie Moulsdale is managing director of communications consultancy, Perceptive Partners Communications. Julie works with several technology clients, including Cisco, Thus, ICT trade body, ScotlandIS and Scotland Women in Technology which encourages more women and young people into the technology sector.
Previously Julie worked in several communications roles on the client side at RBS Group, PricewaterhouseCoopers and IBM. Julie is a member of the Fundraising and Marketing committee for Yorkhill Children’s Foundation at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow, is on the committee for Scotland Women in Technology and is on the board of Byte Night, an event which involves the IT and business community raising money for Action for Children to help prevent youth homelessness.
Julie Moulsdale founded Perceptive Partners Communications in 2006 after spotting a gap in the market for strategic communications advice delivered by experts. Perceptive Partners has grown significantly since then and also specialises in property, professional services and economic development. Clients include City Legacy, the consortium which is building the Athletes’ Village for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, PwC, Anderson Strathern and Forth Valley Chamber of Commerce.
i)How did you decide upon a career in technology? Did you study science subjects at school/college?
I loved chemistry and physics in first and second year. But I fell out of love with them in third and fourth year. I think this was probably more about a change in my interests and my mature attitude to the fact that they weren’t the coolest subjects for girls at the time!
ii)What was the attitude towards technology as a career choice for women from school/college careers advisors?
Technology was never suggested as a career option – but it was quite a few years ago!
iii)Have you experienced any discrimination/barriers to progress or would you consider being a woman in a male dominated environment to be an advantage?
Most of the sectors we work in are male dominated but I see that as advantage. Good communication is fundamental to the success of any sector and my male and female colleagues have a great skill in being able to cut through all the noise to highlight the important points. It is important to highlight that many of my male clients are very good at this too – probably why they are so successful.
I think it is interesting that there are so many competent women at middle manager level, yet so few at the top. It would be great to have more role models like Maggie Morrison of HP and Linda O’Donoghue of IBM, both of whom are the most senior women in their organisations in Scotland.
iv)Do you think that there are any differences in attitudes/opportunity for girls choosing a career in technology now compared to when you made your career choices?
Yes, when I was leaving school most computers were the size of a house and if you were lucky, you might have had a ZX spectrum to play games on. Now technology is everywhere and massive part of teenage girls’ lives from checking Facebook first thing in the morning to watching their favourite TV programme on several screens when we would usually just watch one.
v)What, if anything, does your organisation do to encourage more women into the sector?
I am on the committee for Scotland Women in Technology which was founded by Silka Patel of Cisco. This is all about encouraging more women and young people into technology as it offers such great opportunities to work flexibly, internationally and across a range of different roles. You don’t have to be a techie to have a fantastic career in this sector. Scotland Women in Technology is also about encouraging the careers of women who are already in the sector, so helping to avoid losing this important talent pool.
We have been working with both ScotlandIS, the trade body for the digital technology sector and Cisco to highlight the great opportunities available in this lucrative sector through media coverage.
vi)What do you think could be/needs to be done to increase the number of women entering technology businesses?
Technology is now cool. It would be good to show case more role models who have sexy jobs in technology. I think this needs to be done at an early age. With two daughters age 3 and 5, I’m very aware of trying to interest them in science and technology. And it’s not difficult – they are much better with my iphone than me!
It is also important to highlight what career options exist – the range of roles, opportunities to work for international organisations, the exciting challenges available and the flexible working culture that in my experience doesn’t exist to the same extent in any other sector.
vii)What do you think can be done to encourage women to stay in technology businesses and to advance to senior/board level positions?
The activities like those undertaken by Scotland Women in Technology have a huge part to play to encourage women’s development in technology. Many of the skills required at a senior level are assumed to have been acquired along the way but many of our clients and contacts say this can be difficult. For example, we just ran a face to face and online networking workshop with Scotland Women in Technology. The attendees found it incredibly useful but said that otherwise it can be difficult to acquire such skills.
viii)Do you think that the increased use of social media/internet technologies make technology in general more acceptable to women/girls?
Absolutely. Technology is such an engrained part of all our lives so it is no longer such a big leap to highlight that this sector might be a good career option too.
ix)Is there anything else you would like to add?
I may need to get out more, but I find it really interesting how technology plays a huge part in how we consume media nowadays. News stories break over Twitter and Facebook and people share stories in a way that we only dreamed of years ago. With newsrooms posting new stories online around the clock, the media really is ‘always on’ thanks to social media and advances in technology. This provides a fantastic opportunity to get clients’ messages out to a much wider audience, as soon as it happens. On the flip side, it is also a key consideration for any clients in a crisis but we often find this is overlooked or just an afterthought – never a good idea when you are in the eye of a media storm.