Women in Technology – Ros Donaldson

Having worked within the Legal, Finance, IT and Leisure industries I have gained a great understanding of people working within these sectors, assisting me further when studying my PG Diploma in Coaching. Most inspiring is to have had the opportunity to work with great leaders who have developed fantastic businesses and people, including myself. I started my career in Hotel and Leisure Industry. I travelled and worked in Europe and then returned to London and worked with Forte in Front of House roles. On relocating to Edinburgh I joined software company Adobe Systems (formerly Aldus Corporation). In 2001 I was a co-founding member of the team to the start-up Tidalfire Ltd.

Outside of any business projects and coaching I enjoy the role of Mother to my son and the fun we have when cycling, mucking about or even cooking risotto, which is a favourite for us both.

Company Profile:
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?
On re-locating from London to Edinburgh in 1992 without a job I started a temporary position with American based company Aldus Europe. After a short gap due to redundancies I then returned to employment with Adobe System Europe Ltd. I continued with the company until they moved their HQ from Edinburgh in 2000. It was not a conscious decision to enter into the Technology sector it was more a requirement due to relocation.

ii)What was the attitude towards technology as a career choice for women from school/college careers advisors?
When looking forward with my careers advisor the emphasis was on seeking the best in maths and chemistry, neither of which were my particular strengths. It was more I was being ‘told’ what to do rather than encouraged to utilise the skills I had within me. This style of teaching was not one which I aspired to and chose to leave education and take up opportunities which I created independently. A theme was beginning.

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 barriers to progress and nor do I feel it is an advantage to be a female. I believe if you have the correct skills which the employer is looking for then you will be successful in gaining the appropriate role.

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?

I sense there is certainly more ‘open mindedness’ within the technology sector now but believe this to be as much about educating the younger generations now.

v)What, if anything, does your organisation do to encourage more women into the sector?
If there are opportunities within the business Tidalfire has always encouraged and promoted, both men and women within the business.

vi)What do you think could be/needs to be done to increase the number of women entering technology businesses?
I feel very passionate about the education system and believe more could be done to assist our young people to help make decisions about what they wish to study and allow their potential to flourish, not be stifled by what the government and education system want the figures to look like.

vii)What do you think can be done to encourage women to stay in technology businesses and to advance to senior/board level positions?
A healthy mentoring/leadership program within an organisation can be of great value, encouraging a platform of ideas to be shared, tried and possibly tested which allows leaders to identify creativity and skill sets within the organisation.

viii)Do you think that the increased use of social media/internet technologies make technology in general more acceptable to women/girls?
I do not feel the use of social media/internet technologies has made it more acceptable to women. It might have encouraged more women to speak a little more freely and to express more than they previously have but I would actively encourage getting involved in these technologies should this be a career path they are considering.

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