The UK tech industry has one of the widest gender imbalances, with just 31% of UK tech jobs held by women (February 2021, Office of National Statistics). Data from the Harvey Nash Tech Survey 2021 shows that this gap is even wider within UK technology leaders with just 10% of these roles filled by women. At PeopleClear SMCR that is not the case as we leave the technical side to our Chief Technology Officer, Jo Murphy. For International Women’s Day, we sat down with Jo to talk about her experience as a woman in tech.
Tell us a bit about your career before becoming Chief Technical Officer (CTO) at PeopleClear SMCR.
My first tech role was in a small IT firm providing PC support and training. Then I went on to spend 22 years at J.P. Morgan. While there I worked my way up from Help Desk Analyst to Developer, then Trainer, and finally, a Business Analyst in Compliance IT.
After J.P. Morgan I worked at Nomura where I was the IT lead for analysing SMCR requirements. This involved proposing, building, and implementing a solution.
Have you always wanted to work in the tech industry?
I’d be lying if I said working in tech was what I always wanted to do. I’ve always been a maths person, I love numbers and solving problems. I thought I would probably be a maths teacher. But for my first job, I fell into a role at an IT company and loved it immediately. I haven’t looked back since. I still do really love my job. Tech aside, the core of what I do is to identify a problem that people have and then develop something to fix that. So, I am still problem solving and helping people which is what I always wanted to do. Working in tech is about as close as I can get to building something without the need for bricks and mortar.
What is your experience of working in the tech industry?
I recognise that there is a gender imbalance in the industry, as often throughout my career I was the only woman in the room. But I am pleased to say that I never personally felt that I suffered as a woman in the tech industry. I have been very lucky to work with employers that were understanding about the juggle of working and raising a family. When I worked for J.P. Morgan, I had young children and was able to work from home and be flexible around my family. Having said that, while my family was young, I probably did put my career progression on hold in a way that a man might not have done but that was something I chose to do. I’ll never know if being a mother stopped the company promoting me as I never put myself forward for it during that time. I don’t feel that I was treated badly as a woman or a mother at all, quite the opposite, but perhaps there were restrictions I put on myself during that time in my life.
The tech industry is still largely male-dominated especially at leadership level, have you found this a challenge during your career?
No, I have been very lucky to be fully supported by senior managers, both male and female, throughout my career. I am sure that is not the case for every woman in tech, or indeed every woman in any industry, but I can only speak from my experience, and I have always felt that I was valued and that my opinion was heard and considered.
How does PeopleClear SMCR support women in tech?
PeopleClear SMCR is a team, we all work to support each other. I head up the tech side of the organisation and am recognised and valued for my experience and knowledge, not my gender. We currently outsource our development to Fastfwd, which has a diverse and global workforce that includes many women in senior roles. It is a welcome new experience for me not to be the only female in the room when discussing tech.
What is the best thing about your current role?
I have been able to take all the experience I have gained from working in large corporate organisations and apply it to a small start-up where I am aware of and can be involved in all aspects of the firm. Working at a large organisation you are just a tiny piece of the puzzle. Being in a start-up you get to be part of all of it and get to see the whole picture.
You’ve had a very successful career so far, what attracted you to your role at PeopleClear SMCR?
The opportunity to be pivotal to building a product from scratch and working in a truly collaborative environment. I love that I can be involved in the whole process. I was initially approached by Andrew and Jonathan as they wanted to run the idea past me due to my experience in SMCR. So initially, I was there from an advisory capacity but then they asked if I wanted to be involved fully. I’d left Nomura as I was planning to complete a ski season in France as a Chalet host. Joining PeopleClear SMCR I have been able to work from France. It’s great to have the flexibility to do the things you want to do in life and still maintain a job that you enjoy.
Joining a start-up can be risky, what made you believe in PeopleClear’s SMCR solution?
Because my opinion was sought and valued. I believed in the solution and felt listened to and appreciated from the start. Due to working with them in an advisory capacity initially, my role evolved quite naturally so it didn’t feel like a big risk.
What would you say to young girls who want to work in tech?
In a previous role, I would mentor younger people in the organisation and my advice to anyone is don’t get complacent. Keep learning, keep improving, and keep moving. Not only will you learn from those around you, but they will also learn from you. I stayed with one organisation for a long time and ultimately you are just a tiny piece of that puzzle so don’t be afraid to move on. Looking back, I would have moved around more.
I’m not ignoring that working in a male-dominated industry can be hard for some but my positive experience of this shows it can be done. So, don’t let the fact that there is a gender imbalance be the reason you don’t do it. If you want to work in tech, go for it.
What would you say is your career highlight so far?
I am very proud of being part of the team that delivered PeopleClear SMCR to market. I strongly believe in the product and how it can help firms manage their SMCR. There can be a feeling, particularly as a woman, that you have to achieve great things early on in your career, but I believe that some of my proudest moments are still to come. With our SMCR solution, we are looking to really innovate the technology used for HR and compliance. These systems are often overlooked when it comes to innovation and yet HR systems will be used by almost everyone in the business so should be invested in. If we can do the legwork to open the door for HR and compliance to benefit from more innovative technologies, then that will be a very proud moment for me.
If you’d like to book a demo with Jo you can send a request here.