International Women’s Day has long been celebrating the achievements of women across the world and spreading the message of gender equality. This year’s theme aspires to #BreakTheBias and smash stereotypes for a more diverse, equitable and inclusive world.
For women working in industries like technology, those stereotypes are all too familiar. The tech industry continues to be dominated by men - statistics show that despite women being more openly encouraged to pursue STEM-related education and career paths, the proportion of women to men in tech roles has declined over the past 35 years, dropping from 35% in 1984 to 32% in 2019.
At Thrive.App, our brilliant team is made up of a diverse range of skills and personalities, male and female, and every employee plays a key part in growing our product and our company. To celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day, we thought we’d #BreakTheBias by shining a light on the women in Team Thrive and sharing their experiences of working in IT, why they chose the industry and what advice they have for anyone considering a career in technology.
Women in Technology: Introducing the Thrive Team
Alison Beattie, Software Tester
In my role as a Software Tester for Thrive.App, I am responsible for the quality of the software released by the company. I am a qualified accountant with a degree in Electronics and Electronic Engineering. My early jobs had all been in accounting with the responsibility for IT within the company, but over time I became more interested in the software side of the job, and so I now concentrate solely on testing software.
My favourite subjects at school were maths and science. When it came to choosing a course for university, I thought that anything involving computers would offer a lot of opportunities, which I’ve thankfully found to be the case.
I would strongly recommend a career in IT to anyone who is considering it. The roles within the sector are varied and it is a very good base with lots of great opportunities. It is exciting because technology is always moving forward, and I have certainly found a very interesting, challenging and rewarding job in joining Thrive.App.
Rachel Cunningham, Graphic Designer
In my role as Graphic Designer for Thrive.App, my key responsibilities are to create marketing assets such as graphics, videos, and case study PDFs for social media, the Thrive website and blog posts; and content for clients, including app demo images for potential new clients, app logos for branded client apps and informative posters explaining app download instructions. Before joining the team at Thrive I worked in further and higher education, where I created content to assist students and staff members with teaching and learning online.
My passion for IT and creative media stems from my love of art and the creativity it allows me to have. I have always been a creative person, so I always knew I wanted a career in this industry. Graphic design has enabled me to take my skills in art and design and create content digitally.
The technology industry is huge, and you don’t need to have a background in IT to be part of it. Find which area interests you the most and build a portfolio of work which shows the best of your skills to help you stand out.
Caron McLaughlin, Customer Success Executive
As a Customer Success Executive for Thrive.App, I manage the expectations of all current customers in terms of any questions or queries they have relating to their Content Management System (CMS), App, and future features. I train them on how to use the CMS and how to improve their app; I keep their apps builds and certificates up to date with the latest features we have to offer; and I make sure all user files are updated at a timely and efficient manner.
After completing my Degree in Interactive Multimedia Design, I moved to Toronto, Canada in 2014 and started working in office admin in a variety of companies, including a diamond company, giftware company and even their local authority offices. I gained a range of diverse skills over the years and always incorporated my degree. Since moving back to the UK I stayed within office admin but also took an opportunity to get a lot of experience in internal communications - tying the two together has now got me in my dream role at Thrive.App.
To be honest, I chose to go into IT as a last resort when I didn’t get my spot in university and all my friends were still moving up to Belfast. I chose Interactive Media Design in Belfast Metropolitan College, and it was the best decision I ever made - I didn’t realise how much I would love it!
For anyone thinking of pursuing a career in IT, I say take the risk - it might seem intimidating now but once you are in it and realise what you are capable of, there will be endless opportunities for you to try out different things and find what you enjoy the most in it.
Grainne Elliott, Chief Marketing Officer
As Thrive.App’s Chief Marketing Officer, I’m responsible for heading up the Marketing Team and part of the Senior Leadership Team to drive growth for the company. After completing my degree in Economics and Business Economics, I started my marketing career in a software company that created Lone Worker Support applications for employees who worked away from the office and were alone throughout their working day. Most of my career over the past 13 years has been working in innovative tech companies, which have now led me to where I am today with Thrive.App.
I’ve always been fascinated by technology and how it evolves, which is why I got into the tech industry. I love the fast-paced environment, flexibility, and openness to try new things. When I first started in tech, I didn’t have much technical knowledge, but I LOVE learning. The more I started learning, the more I loved it. It’s an exciting industry to be part of, combining innovation, creativity, and super-talented teams to solve problems.
At the heart of technology is people, and I love that all the innovations and services are focused on making people’s lives easier and better. It’s something I personally have a huge interest in as I love getting the best from people and ensuring everyone is feeling positive and happy.
If you’re thinking of a career in technology, GO FOR IT! Be confident and find an area that interests you the most. The tech industry has come a long way in terms of the balance between men and women, network with other women in tech and find experts in your field to connect with and learn from. Learn, learn, learn! The industry is ever evolving, so staying up to date with the latest advances within your field will build your confidence and help you along the way. Take time to reflect and prepare. In a fast-paced, ever-changing industry (you can get carried away in the speed of change), be deliberate about your focus and take time to evaluate what is working and what isn’t working. If you know what works, don’t be afraid to speak up! As women, we tend to shy away from speaking up, even when we do well. Be proud and share your successes and speak up for what you believe in.
Laura Ard, Digital Marketing Specialist
I’m the Digital Marketing Specialist for Thrive.App, responsible for all things digital from SEO and content development to social media and email marketing, and working with the Marketing Team on all other marketing-related activities. Marketing is something I’ve always enjoyed working in as it combines some of the things I love, like creativity, planning, writing, and communicating through content, and is used in every company across every industry, so the opportunity to specialise in a particular area and learn something new is unlimited.
The earlier years of my career varied across different sectors and didn’t include the technology industry, but I made the leap to tech when I decided to progress in my career, and I haven’t looked back – it’s an exciting industry to be part of as it’s constantly innovating and evolving and is part of everyday life for most people.
Technology is a huge industry - the career options are endless, and you don’t have to come from an IT-related role, degree, or background to be a part of the tech space. Find what works for you, what areas or skills you enjoy or feel you’re good at and take it from there. No matter what, just get started - you can always change your mind, but you won’t know until you give it a try!