Recognising the critical role women at INSTANDA play in Science and Technology


Posted on 11th February 2022

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Recognising the critical role women at INSTANDA play in Science and Technology

Posted on 11th February 2022

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This year we are putting a spotlight on some of the talented women working at INSTANDA. Learn more about who they are, how they started their careers in Computer Science, and the important roles they play within the business.

Debbie Wilson

Debbie Wilson, COO - North America

How did you start a career as COO?

My career started early in a technical capacity. First as a computer operator (yes that was a long time ago), then as a computer programmer (RPG II to be precise) and then into management in my mid-late 20’s at an Insurance Company. In my early 30’s I went on to become a CIO of a fast growing top 10 Insurance Brokerage. Having a career underpinned with technical and business knowledge, set me on clear and inevitable path to take on the role as COO.

What got you into Technology?

Very early in my career the head of technology happened to walk by my desk one day and noticed I was executing command line code to start specific menu tasks in our ERP system. He stopped and said “hey, where did you learn to do that”. I told him I taught myself. I had noticed every time I selected a menu option the command line code would execute so to keep myself amused, I memorized all of them and just started programs that way. Two days later he stopped by my desk again asked me if I wanted to invest in my career and become a “back up computer operator”. The deal was, I worked for free from 5:30 AM to 8:30 AM in exchange for this opportunity to advance my skill, and then I had to do my regular day job. I jumped at the opportunity and never looked back.

Which is your most significant accomplishment?

Hands down being a mother of two beautiful daughters who both have similar exciting careers in the Insurance Industry today!

What benefits of what you do are passed on to the client?

My passion for success and focus on excellence is all aimed to benefit our clients and inspire the people I work with. And, as soon as we get something right, we turn our sights to making it even better.

What’s the biggest misconception about Technology?

The biggest misconception about Technology is that it’s the tough part of an implementation!

How can we encourage more girls to get into computing/STEM?

Keep up the social awareness about those who have succeeded, offer coaching/mentoring opportunities, influence through stories like this one.

What advice would you give to women & girls looking to get into your field of work?

Be authentic, be passionate, be transparent, take deliberate and carefully considered risks, trust your gut, and jump in. There are so many great paths your career can take; this is a challenging, fulfilling and rewarding journey that you will not regret.….just ask my daughters!

Deepa

Deepa Lucas, Senior Business Analyst

How did you start a career as a Business Analyst?

I started as a programmer working on the Y2K project. I spent a year working for a US bank converting 2 digit years to 4 digits. After moving to the UK I started as an Analyst Programmer with Cornhill Insurance.

What got you into computer science?

I am an Electronics Engineer. When I finished college, the IT industry was in its infancy in India, and they were looking for people who could be easily trained as programmers. I thought it was a good opportunity. It offered a good salary and opportunities to travel and I was very happy to take it up!

Which is your most significant accomplishment?

I can’t really pick out any. The fact that I love what I am doing everyday is probably my personal accomplishment.

What benefits of what you do are passed on to the client?

My programming background coupled with my insurance knowledge helps me understand the business and developer perspective of requirements.

What’s the biggest misconception about Computer Science?

That computer science is boring and all you do is sit in front of your screen all day!

How can we encourage more girls to get into Computing/STEM?

There is subconscious conditioning built into toys, books and stationery for kids which alienates girls from STEM. We need to get the message across to the kids that STEM is fun, interesting, and very much for girls as well as boys.

What advice would you give to women & girls looking to get into your field of work?

Go for it! It is a very fulfilling career with lots of opportunities. We need more women in IT to get the balance right.

Maria Wright

Maria Wright, Senior Software Engineer

How did you start a career as a Software Engineer?

My first job was in an internship as an assistant in the implementation of an appointment scheduling system in an ophthalmology clinic. I gained a lot from getting business experience and confidence. I also started getting experience in software coding. I was only in my third year at university (it’s a five-year undergraduate degree in Peru) so it wasn’t too bad for a first job.

What got you into Computer Science?

My tutor at school suggested it, so when I applied to university, I had a couple of options study either Economics or Software Engineering, I applied for both, but only passed the entry exam for Software engineering! I’m glad I did, I think it’s much more fun.

Which is your most significant accomplishment?

My daughter.

What benefits of what you do are passed on to the client?

The software they interact with!

What’s the biggest misconception about computer science?

I’m not sure if it’s the biggest but people tend to think that we are not very talkative. I think we can be quite social, but thanks to tv shows and films, we are not the cool kids.

How can we encourage more girls to get into Computing/STEM?

If you have an interest in it, don’t be intimidated that we are the minority. When you are a software engineer, or any job you do, what matters is what you can bring with your expertise and intelligence.

What advice would you give to women & girls looking to get into your field of work?

It’s a steep learning curve, but I imagine the same applies to any job, so look for good mentors, network with people in the field and don’t get discouraged for all the hard exams you’ll get at university.

Roksana

Roksana Wengierska-Singh, QA Manager

How did you start a career in Quality Assurance?

I have started my testing career at Cath Kidston as a Contractor. Previously I worked as an accountant, compliance officer and estate agent, all the roles were very repetitive and every day at work looked the same.

I got a chance to work on the small project and I've loved it since day one, even after a few years I’m still enjoying it very much. The greatest aspect of this job is to be constantly improving and learning new skills.

Now I’m working as QA Manager, looking after the QA team and helping with processes and quality improvements.

What got you into computer science?

I always knew IT industry is massive and has a lot to offer. The first thing what got me into tech industry was curiosity. I was amazed how technology can change our lives. The best aspect about my role is that you get to know each and every single part of application you are testing. There is never the same day, every time we are facing a new challenge. It is more like being a detective and by acting as end-user, we are the one who must think outside the box.

Which is your most significant accomplishment?

The biggest accomplishment is contributing to a very successful platform. There is this great feeling that every day we are making a difference. I’m very proud that I can share my knowledge and skills with other people and break the misconception about female’s career progression in IT industry.

What benefits of what you do are passed on to the client?

Customers spend lots of money to buy a product. No one would be happy if the end product doesn’t work as intended. My role is to make sure we as a team can deliver a quality feature, which meet client’s expectations. We act as quality advocate and always think about customer experience.

What’s the biggest misconception about Computer Science?

Definitely the first on my list is that computer science is only for boys, girls often doubt their ability to do well in technical industry.

Second is that computer science is only about programming.

How can we encourage more girls to get into Computing/STEM?

I think it is a stereotype that only men are designed to pursue career paths in Science, Technology and STEM. Maybe by creating some special programmes dedicated specifically for girls, workshops and general discussions at home and at school that there are no barriers between men and women may encourage girls to choose computer science.

What advice would you give to women & girls looking to get into your field of work?

Testing is a very flexible career path. This means the opportunities for progression are endless and can go in any direction. Testing is a great starting point for those looking to kick-start their career in technology as you gain cross-functional skills that can be utilised across the whole software development cycle. Women have great analytical skills which also help in this role. My advice would be to follow your passion, be curios, don’t be afraid of challenges and stay customer oriented.

Ugne

Ugne Litvinaite, Senior Software Test Engineer

How did you start a career as a Software Test Engineer?

It was completely accidental. I applied for a role which was advertised as a trainee/junior role in the company I worked at when I was 19, and luckily, I made a good impression and was chosen for it. It’s been a very exciting journey full of challenges and I am very grateful for the opportunity I was given when I was younger.

What got you into computer science?

Funnily I was never into computer science until I started my role as a Test Analyst, however working within the industry and seeing how the technology is advancing has built up my interest. Having the opportunity to work with different platforms, seeing how people approach different situations and finding solutions to problems is incredible.

Which is your most significant accomplishment?

Seeing how far I’ve come in the last 7 years working in tech. Started out in the industry with minimal knowledge, and now I’m working for a great company creating wonderful technology for their clients. Being a part of the process and seeing the impact you make during your day to day job is extremely rewarding.

What benefits of what you do are passed on to the client?

Part of my job is making sure that we provide the best quality software to our clients that we possibly can. Within my role it’s important to think like our clients and put myself in their shoes to understand their needs and expectations.

What’s the biggest misconception about computer science?

That this field of work is for men. Although it is a male driven field, some of the most incredible colleagues I have worked with have been women. There’s place for everyone in computer science and it doesn’t matter if you’re male or female.

How can we encourage more girls to get into computing/STEM?

Exposing women/girls to STEM at an early age helps to build up their interest in the field. By broadening their understanding about technology we can increase the number of females working in this field. It’s all about problem solving, creative thinking and collaboration. If that’s what you’re good at, this field might be perfect for you.

What advice would you give to women & girls looking to get into your field of work?

Be brave, do not underestimate yourself.



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