#MyTechJourney speaks to women in technology about their backgrounds and routes into their current career plus they share the best bits of their role and practical advice for those wanting to get into tech. In this edition, we speak to Catherine Trotter, Director of Technology (Travel & Core) at Moneysupermarketgroup.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I grew up in Lymm in Cheshire, went to University in Liverpool and have ended up living back in Knutsford, I’m turning 40 next year and so am about to embrace the mid-life crisis!
What did you want to do when you grew up?
I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do when I grew up and it started to bother me when I was about fifteen years old and all my friends knew what they wanted to do and I didn’t. I went to see a careers advisor who had me fill in a questionnaire and said the results showed I obviously cared about people and that I liked to get things done and so the job for me was social work, that was it, no other option just social work.
What was your first role?
My first role was on the graduate scheme at Marconi, I started out in bid management did that for a while then I moved into finance and then HR and every bit of my job I was trying to run away from the fact I knew about tech but in every role I did tech seemed to become a thing for me.
What sparked your interest in technology?
My Dad was into technology he was an electronic engineer and was forever bringing home gadgets and things for us to try, we had circuit boards knocking around our house from when I was 4 years old so I think my Dad is really responsible for my interest in technology and he was the one who encouraged me to study technology at university when I didn’t get the grades to do the course I wanted!
What was your first tech role?
The first time I officially worked in tech was a good five years into my career but really tech had always been drawing me in, in every role I’d done people had realised I knew things about tech and whilst I don’t consider myself to be very technical I fast realised I knew quite a bit more than the people around me and so tech has been a theme, pretty much since I left university
What do you do now?
I’m a technology director which technically means I manage teams of software developers and product engineers but what I really do is a whole spectrum of things, I’m a Mum to some of the team, I play a coach role, I give feedback they probably don’t always want to hear!, I praise them for stuff when they’re doing really well, a whole variety of things but my role is really about unblocking things that get in the way of my teams being really high performing and productive.
What are the best bits of your role?
There are so many good bits of my role! The favourite bit is seeing my team in complete flow when they all understand each other they know the task in hand and everyone loves what they’re doing and is in that place where it’s just working and coming together. Other things I love are seeing people grow, giving people an opportunity and encouraging them to be better at what they do. I’m all about people and the team side of things but I also love when we create slick customer experiences that we can be really proud of and say ‘ hey, we did that!’
Advice for anyone wanting to get into the tech industry?
The tech industry is changing at a huge pace and every day there are different thoughts about how you approach things or how you get into the head of a consumer so knowing that and knowing the rate tech is evolving I would say don’t rule yourself out of working in digital just because you don’t write code. There are so many roles in digital these days and so many different skills are required to make excellent delightful products for people, so never think that the skills you have don’t fit in the digital world, just grab any opportunity because technology is everywhere these days.
What are your hopes for the future of the tech industry?
The industry still struggles from a diversity perspective, particularly gender diversity we’re doing some work as a business with a local girls’ high school trying to encourage the girls to consider careers in technology, but we need to consider diversity across our teams as well. Products are now worldwide and as such consumers come from anywhere in the world, different backgrounds and walks of life and you’re never going to create a really great product unless you have that mix in your teams of people who understand the needs of all those people from different communities so for me the big thing that needs to keep moving is creating greater diversity in the tech environment.