After starting as a graduate from Aberystwyth University, back in the 1980s, I’ve a number of different technical roles within ICL and now Fujitsu.
My biggest role and challenge was leading a team of storage architects on one of our major accounts. This gave me an insight into service delivery, commercial, project management and working closely with suppliers. All this, as well as running a team of around 12 architects who would be working across 30 to 40 designs at any one time
I now work within the CTO team in our Product Business, ensuring that the work we do is developing our capabilities to make us relevant in a world that is becoming more digital, more diverse, and more consultative.
On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?
One of the reasons I still enjoy my work, is I can honestly say no one day is the same as another. I always have a long list of things that I need to achieve for myself or for someone else. My day job obviously takes priority, and I have taught myself to work efficiently and to prioritise how I complete everything I need to do.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
I did and I didn’t. From a very young age I knew I was going to get a degree and then I was going to get a job. I didn’t know it was going to be a Computer Science degree (as they were still very new) in the 70’s. At the start of my career, the organization was very structured and hierarchical, and I knew roughly what I had to achieve to be promoted.
But by around 1990, it became clear that to carry on in a technical role I had to become a manager, which I didn’t really think I’d be any good at; I did later find out that I was a pretty good people manager.
I looked around the organization and decided that what I wanted to find out more about was how we sell the products I’d developed, so I moved into marketing and business development. This then became my approach to planning my career. I’d analyse what I enjoyed about my role, what I wanted to add to it, then I’d use my network of contacts to see what opportunities there were that would use and enhance my current skill set and add another skill or knowledge and then make my move. Most of them have worked out, and I’ve achieved job satisfaction in what I do.
What do you love about working for Fujitsu?
The variety of work available and the people I work with.
One of the most innovative programmes within Fujitsu is the Distinguished Engineer Scheme. This scheme recognises and rewards technical excellence and provides role model behaviour to the technical workforce. It also facilitates cross-company exchange of knowledge and best practice.
Entrance to the scheme is by nominations only, and in September 2016 I received the ultimate recognition by becoming Fujitsu’s first female Fellow, which are the leaders of the scheme.
Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you overcome these challenges?
Because I’m a pretty analytical person, each time I’ve come across a challenge, I’ve analysed the situation, looked for different solutions, worked out the pros and cons of each, and how to achieve the outcome I want, and then planned how I achieve the outcome. That all sounds quite clinical and organized, but most of it time it’s been event driven with a little bit of guiding and I’ve got better at it over time.
How have you benefited from coaching, mentoring or the sponsorship of others?
I’ve developed a really wide network of people and amongst those that I count on to give me advice. They understand how I think and work and help me think through what I want from my job. They also warn me against foolish ideas, that although look good from a superficial point of view, when you ask questions, they do not stack up against my strengths,
Do you believe in the power of networking? If so, where do you network?
Absolutely. I used to say I hate networking and put me in situation where I don’t know anyone, I still hate it, but having reflected on this recently and got feedback I am really good at it and can actually help others network
I network mainly from a position of safety. I prefer to already know someone, or to be in at an event where I know we all have something in common, that I can strike up a conversation.
What advice can you give to our members about raising their profiles either inside or outside their own organisations?
Be yourself, have an opinion. If you do want to raise your profile, as a woman you already standout, but if you also have a unique aspect to your portfolio, then this will help. Do seek out mentors right from the start, and don’t be afraid to change them or have more than one, as things change, and you do have different requirements depending on what your goals are and where you are in your career.
What advice would you give to those who aspire to a career in consultancy?
Teach yourself how to remember people’s names. Listen and give constructive feedback. Be positive, but don’t overpromise.
What does the future hold for you?
At this point my career, in addition to delivering what’s in my day job, I see a large part of my role as a Fujitsu Fellow is in supporting, mentoring and ensuring that our female technical talent are developed and given the platform to shine.