I started my career in Retail Sales before moving to European Sales Operations and Marketing roles for software manufacturer Aldus Corporation. I then spent 10 years as European Human Resources Manager for Adobe Systems (formerly Aldus Corporation). This diverse role involved: acquisitions and mergers; recruitment; training and development; compensation and benefits and employee relations. In 2001 I co-founded and launched Tidalfire. Tidalfire is a technology company specialising in electronic document solutions for business (see: www.eformsfactory.com) and delivering training and consulting services in Adobe software applications – Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Flash etc. Tidalfire is an Adobe Technology Partner company – the only one in Scotland.
I was awarded Regional Winner of the 2004 Enterprising New Business Award by ESBC (East of Scotland Businesswoman’s Club) and Tidalfire achieved Investors In People (IIP) recognition in October 2005.
Tidalfire specilaises in developing electronic document and eForms solutions for clients globally and
provides training in Adobe applications and technologies used for print, web and mobile devices. Formed in 2001, Tidalfire is headquartered in Edinburgh, UK and provides services internationally. Tidalfire is an Adobe Consulting Solutions Partner; an Adobe Authorised Training Centre and manages the Scottish Acrobat User Group. It’s consultants are involved in day-to-day businesses with ‘real-world’ experience in implementing eForms solutions. Electronic forms, customised to clients’ requirements, provide a wide range of efficiencies including: data accuracy, accessibility, validation and significant cost and time savings. Tidalfire’s client base consists of leading companies in the following sectors: Government; Oil & Gas; Print & Publishing; Finance; IT; Legal; Design; Health; Education; Utilities; Manufacturing; Leisure and Retail. Tidalfire’s Digital books project for Oxford University Press was nominated ‘Finalist’ in the heraldscotland.com Digital Business Awards in October 2010.
i)How did you decide upon a career in technology? Did you study science subjects at school/college?
The subjects I studied at school did not necessarily steer me towards a career in technology; it was more ‘right time-right place’. I was looking for a new job (in 1987) and was fortunate to be introduced to an American-owned software company that was recruiting in Edinburgh. The software and technology was in a particularly exciting space at the time with the emergency of the Macintosh and ‘desktop publishing’ software. Once I’d entered the software and technology arena I knew it was where I wanted to focus my career.
ii)What was the attitude towards technology as a career choice for women from school/college careers advisors?
I don’t remember any careers advice that was significantly memorable or influential. I do remember being ‘advised’ to seek a career in the Civil Service (as the pension benefits would be good and it offered ‘job security’) or in Nursing. Neither of these paths appealed to me. I can see, with hindsight, that I have always been single-minded and focused and these characteristics were obviously at work even as a 17-year old school leaver. I didn’t particularly want to continue in education preferring to learn a ‘trade’ through working instead of academic channels. I did however secure a place at a local college should I not be successful in gaining employment.
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?
I have not experienced, or recognised, any discrimination or barriers to progress. Whilst working for the American-owned software company I was regularly in communication with colleagues in the USA and also throughout Europe. My observations from that time are of total equality with respect to gender balance. I really do believe they hired the right person for the job, regardless of gender or nationality.
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, there are differences as technology is now a defined sector with Diploma and Degree graduates, or school leavers, recognising it as a distinct sector. I do not think this was not the case 25 – 30 years ago. There is a clearer career path and jobs in technology are open to girls as well as boys. I also think careers advisers and recruiters are completely open to the prospect of jobs in technology being filled by females as readily as they may be filled by male candidates.
v)What, if anything, does your organisation do to encourage more women into the sector?
We don’t conduct any specific activities that are aimed at women but our ethos and character is to treat everyone equally. Having been involved in technology training for over a decade I can honestly say that we have trained as many women in this sector as we have men.
vi)What do you think could be/needs to be done to increase the number of women entering technology businesses?
If women are not finding jobs in technology appealing, for whatever reason, and the sector is looking to achieve a better gender balance then I think organisations in the sector need to demonstrate, by example that attractive, equal opportunities exist. Perhaps a PR exercise or specific attention at job fairs could make a difference.
vii)What do you think can be done to encourage women to stay in technology businesses and to advance to senior/board level positions?
As in any sector all job roles at all levels in the organisation need to be equally available to men and women. I think women will be encouraged to stay in technology businesses if they see that there is a career path to the most senior positions and if there are role models that have proved senior and board level positions can be attained. I believe we already have role models and many organisations do operate by the principle of hiring or promoting the best person for the job, regardless of gender. Perhaps those organisations deserve to have a positive spotlight shone on them.
viii)Do you think that the increased use of social media/internet technologies make technology in general more acceptable to women/girls?
I am not aware that technology is not presently acceptable to women or girls; it’s not something I have experienced or observed. However the proliferation of the internet, social media and the strength of games development, particularly in Dundee, can only help encourage women into this fast-moving and exciting sector which offers tremendous opportunities to anyone who is willing to apply themselves.