Tell us a bit about yourself
I left school at 16 and started an engineering apprenticeship at a local aerospace firm. This gave me the opportunity to experience a variety of aspects of engineering, including electronics and software.
After five years in this industry I enrolled at Warwick University to study computer science full-time, before returning to a role in aviation software. During my career in aviation, I gradually progressed from a hands-on engineer role to one in management.
24 years later, I decided a new adventure was needed and came across a modern, people-oriented company advertising a role for a development manager. This company was GBG. Making a move to a different industry after so long was slightly unnerving, but it proved to be an exciting and fun-filled journey with lots of variety, opportunity and learning.
Describe a typical day in your job as development manager
I am exceptionally fortunate to have a role that doesn’t have a typical day. I usually start the day with several gatherings that help set the priority for the day and check whether anything critical has been raised by our support team that needs swift attention.
After this, the variety begins. I can find myself in customer discussions, determining best methods to deliver an important part of a project. Or I might be coaching my team to be the best they can be, involved in a technical session, and even getting hands-on and directly supporting requests myself. Ultimately my primary role is to enable my team to succeed.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
The best parts of my role are the variety, the constant opportunities to learn, and working with people who are so beautifully passionate. I am a people person and believe great people are at the centre of every successful company so engaging with and supporting the development of amazing people is massively rewarding. Seeing people succeed is the best feeling ever.
What’s it like to be a woman in the tech industry?
Being a woman in the tech industry is great. Yes, I do often find myself in meetings where I’m the only female. But it’s never been an issue because I am not just a female in a meeting – I am Sandra. And wherever I have worked, I have been recognised for the content and value I bring to the meeting, not my physical characteristics.
Sometimes it can even be quite handy – I tend to be remembered more easily. Though I do try to ensure it’s for good reasons and not because I ate the last biscuit! I often find myself bringing a different viewpoint to the table too. It’s that variety that forward-thinking companies are looking for, as variety enables the hardest of problems to be solved.
What advice would you give to other women looking to start a career in the tech industry?
Do it, do it, do it. Tech is so exciting, fun and engaging. The problems are always changing, your brain will never stop learning and the opportunity to have adventures truly never stops. The tech I do today was the sci-fi dreams of a few years ago – and there is still so much more ahead of us.
How do you think we can encourage more women to work in tech?
Tech is about solving problems. And that feeling when you solve a problem is addictive. In my opinion, technology and associated problem solving is not something that is very strong in primary schools.
When kids find something difficult, they tend to stop doing it. But a regular dose of problem solving, combined with the right support and guidance, will keep that tech-spark lit in kids long enough for them to keep it as a career consideration.