“Don’t consider it, just go for it!” – An Interview With Carly Britton
Women in IT Awards Advocate of the Year 2020, TechWomen100 Awards 2019 Winner, Venus Awards 2019 Finalist – Inspirational Woman in STEMM – How about that for an intro …. 🙂
Carly has worked in IT for 14 years and have spent the last 8 years specialising in video technology. She has worked with clients on a global scale, across a range of different industries to include: Broadcasters, Sports, Governments, Media & Entertainment, OTT Service Providers and Telecoms & Operators.
A strong advocate for encouraging girls and women to consider careers in technology. An active STEM Ambassador and founder of #GIRLCODE – Free coding for girls aged 8-14 in Plymouth & Bath.
I first connected with Carly after seeing a post on Ada’s list where she asked ”Each time I need a new employee I actively push the role out to as many of the female tech channels that I know of but have very little interest from women applicants. I run an all-male team that are in desperate need of women to shake the team up a bit and give some different perspective on things. One of my teams is a Network Operations Centre and the guys on my team seem to think that women are put off by working night shift lone working in the office.”
I saw it and had to chat to her about this and well we have a lot in common and she is now one of my fav females in the industry. She is absolutely bossing it and just has great advice to share, here is here story it’s a banger!
CAN YOU SHARE A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WHAT IT IS THAT YOU DO AND WHAT A TYPICAL DAY FOR YOU IS LIKE?
There definitely isn’t a ‘typical’ day. Every day is completely different and I think that’s what makes my job so enjoyable. I am Head of Client Services at VUALTO and we build video streaming solutions for major broadcasters across the world. The Client Services function encompasses four technical teams and we look after everything post-delivery, which includes account management, quality assurance, technical support and monitoring.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO TECHNOLOGY?
I got the bug for tech when I was around 10 or 11. I absolutely loved Back to the Future 2 and dreamed that one day I would own a hoverboard – it’s still on my bucket list. In the early 90s my parents brought home our first computer, an Amstrad PC. It felt like it took a day to load a game and made a horrible screeching sound in the process, but I was absolutely hooked. My main passions early on were film and tech.
As a teenager I presented my own show on hospital radio. I was heavily into theatre, music and production. Following this passion, I went on to Uni and studied Media Studies with Computing. I found the mix of broadcast and technology awesome.
YOU HAVE A HUGE PASSION FOR THE NEXT GENERATION WHICH I LOVE AS A STEM AMBASSADOR BUT ALSO #GIRLCODE. COULD YOU TELL US A BIT MORE ABOUT WHAT YOU DO FOR OUR NEXT GENERATION OF TECH GIRLS?
One of my main frustrations in my career was the lack of women in the industry. I would talk to my female friends about my job and I would always receive the same response; ‘I don’t understand what you do, I am not technical’. The women I spoke to almost had this nervous intimidation type feeling at the thought of tech. Which I found crazy because I was so passionate about my career and technology really excited me. I felt like I was having this awesome career in an amazing industry and women were simply missing out.
A few years ago, was probably my lightbulb moment where I thought right, I need to actively do something to change this. I got together with a few female colleagues and we starting to brainstorm how we could help close the gender gap in the technology space. We knew we needed to target girls early enough before they make their GCSE choices and sparking some sort of interest so that they consider a career in technology. That’s when #GIRLCODE was born.
Having female role models is key to changing girls’ perceptions on the stereotypes so being a female talking about my career is as important as actually teaching them to code. I relocated to Bath last year and now run #GIRLCODE in both Plymouth and Bath.
Obviously due to Covid I had to rethink how I could still teach coding. I had a bunch of micro:bits and I decided to pivot and create ‘Coding with Carly’ for both girls and boys. I hand delivered the micro:bits ahead of the sessions to the students and then taught the sessions remotely using Zoom. It has been a huge success, challenging, but amazing.
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE BEST PART OF BEING A WOMAN IN THE TECH INDUSTRY AND ESPECIALLY AS A LEADER?
Opportunities that I can offer others.
I say this because, when I was starting out, I was completely clueless on how to get my foot in the door and I didn’t know any women working in computing. I just didn’t know where to start. There has never been a better time for women to start a career in tech. Good companies want to be more diverse and inclusive and offer training programs and apprenticeships for women and returning mums. The female leaders that I work with or talk to want to share their knowledge and stories and help other women. I think working in tech is so much fun. Most women tend to have that passion and excitement that they want to share with others. That’s how I feel. I feel this career is so awesome, I need to let other women know that this is a really good career option. It is secure and flexible, especially if you have a good employer.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A WOMAN CONSIDERING A CAREER IN THE TECH INDUSTRY?
Don’t consider it, just go for it!
There are so many jobs in the tech industry so you will surely find one that suits you. I think sometimes women can feel that a route such as becoming a coder is the obvious choice but working in tech is so much more than that. You don’t have to be a coder, but if you want to, then that’s amazing. Women make totally awesome coders! You can work in technical support, cyber security, marketing, social media, designing, sales, there’s just so many options. Find something that you are interested in and just go for it. Careers pivot with industry changes so you will never have to be stuck doing the same role and most companies will be happy with you changing routes if you are a good employee and want to try something different.
YOU RUN AN ALL-MALE TEAM AND WE HAVE DISCUSSED THE FACT THAT AS A HIRING MANAGER YOU DO EVERYTHING YOU CAN TO ATTRACT A MORE DIVERSE POOL OF CANDIDATES. DO YOU THINK WOMEN ARE PUT OFF WORKING NIGHT SHIFTS OR ALONE IN THE OFFICE?
I work in Bristol but my team are in Plymouth and I find it particularly hard in the Southwest to hire women. They just don’t apply. However, over the past year I have really started reviewing my job ads and my latest ad I had 4 female applicants. It’s still very low numbers but going from 0 female applicants this is an amazing achievement. I run a Network Operations Centre and the team work on shifts which run through nights, weekends and there is some lone working. When I was starting out on my career journey these hours would not have been desirable to me, but I would have done them to get my foot in the door with an organisation.
DO YOU THINK COVID-19 WILL HAVE AN IMPACT ON DIVERSITY HIRING?
Yes, I do, I think as more companies choose remote, flexible working then this is a great opportunity for women to start their careers in tech.
ANY ADVICE ON WHAT COMPANIES CAN DO TO ATTRACT A DIVERSE MIX OF PEOPLE TO APPLY FOR THEIR POSITIONS?
This is a great question and there is so much that can be done to attract a diverse mix of people to apply for jobs within your organisation.
- Look at the pictures and language that you use on your website, jobs ads and social media. Would working for you be attractive to all candidates? If I am applying for a job at your organisation, I want to see diversity represented; different genders, race, sexualities, ages and disabilities. Avoid using masculine-oriented words like Ambitious, Dominant, Ninja and Rock Star. Check out my latest blog here which looks at language in job ads:
- Network at local tech meetups and offer career talks at the local Universities and colleges. Lots of women join Computer Science degrees and leave within the first year so retention is key. Ask your female colleagues to go in and talk about your organisation. It is so important to show female representation within tech. Offer work placements to women wanting to get into tech or currently doing technical training. Have your female employees talk at conferences and just be more visible in your community.
OVER THE PAST FEW MONTHS I HAVE READ SOME GREAT BOOKS, MICHELLE OBAMA – BECOMING AND ALSO WHY I’M NO LONGER TALKING TO WHITE PEOPLE ABOUT RACE BY RENI EDDO-LODGE. ANY OTHER NEW BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS OR ONLINE READING YOU FEEL WOULD BE VALUABLE?
I can never seem to make the time to read books. I am more of a podcast listener in the background whilst working.
I love Michelle Obama and am currently listening to her podcast as a downtime fix as its more about relationships and life in general. https://open.spotify.com/show/71mvGXupfKcmO6jlmOJQTP
I have also just started the brand-new podcast from We Are Tech Women called She Talks Tech and I am really enjoying that.
Both on Spotify.
IF YOU COULD BUILD YOU DREAM SQUAD OF THREE. WHO WOULD BE IN IT AND WHY?
This is a difficult question as this could change depending on what I was trying to achieve. Looking at my own career development I would choose the following three people.
Sheryl Sandberg would be my dream mentor – obviously for any woman in tech she is a huge inspiration but I have heard that she is really down to earth and very passionate about encouraging women in tech. I would love to learn from her first hand about her rise to COO.
My wife is my support – I literally would not be where I am today without her constant support and encouragement. She is also my proof reader as I am dyslexic and she is an English teacher, that comes in extremely handy.
Will.i.am would be totally awesome to work with. He has so much energy and passion, he is a very inspiring person. He is a self-proclaimed geek and loves cutting edge tech so it would be amazing to work with him.
WHAT IS NEXT FOR CARLY?
I have just started my Master of Business Administration (Executive MBA) at UWE so that is going to keep me pretty busy for the next 3 years. I am looking forward to getting #GIRLCODE back as soon as we get back to a bit of normality. I am talking at a few conferences this year and also joining Plymouth Startup Weekend as a coach in November.
FINALLY, WHAT IS ONE QUOTE YOU LIVE BY OR JUST ONE THAT YOU REALLY LIKE?
“Take time to make time”.
Find Carly at:
Thank you so much Carly, keep rocking!
A voice for diversity in tech <3