One of the goals of International Women’s Day 2021 is to celebrate women’s achievements. At Fordway, we decided to celebrate three women with very different roles who are all part of our management team. And, in the light of this year’s theme ‘Choose to Challenge’, we also want to contest any preconceptions that women can’t or don’t want to run technical teams. As Jenny and Jo demonstrate every day, they can and they do – and the company is thriving as a result of their work.
Johanna King, Technical Services Manager: “I took computer science to fill a gap in my college timetable and found I enjoyed it more than everything else.”
Johanna King is our Technical Services Manager, leading a team of third and fourth line engineers who maintain the infrastructure and tackle any problems that the company’s Service Desk cannot resolve as well as onboarding new customers and handling all IT changes and service improvements both for customers and internally at Fordway. She also manages the company’s 24x7 support team, who ensure customer and Fordway environments are patched, backed up and proactively monitored – working to identify and resolve potential issues before they impact day to day business.
“We ensure that both customers and Fordway as a business have all services available whenever people need them,” Jo explains. “Of course, that no longer means 9 to 5, because with remote and flexible working people are now online across a much longer period, so we’ve adapted accordingly.”
Jo discovered her love of IT at college, where she was studying to become a physiotherapist. She took computer science to fill a gap in her timetable and discovered she enjoyed it more than her other courses. So, she changed direction and began her career working on an IT Helpdesk. She quickly worked her way up to team leader and found that what she particularly enjoyed was managing people in a technical environment.
“This was the sweet spot for me – managing teams who fix things,” Jo says. “I like dealing with people and technology. Some techies are real characters and many of them have interesting and unexpected hobbies, so it’s a great environment to work in. It’s important to earn people’s respect. Mutual respect and working effectively as a team are key, and a good sense of humour goes a long way too!”
Jo developed her career through service and support roles at blue-chip companies Sony, GlaxoSmithKline and Hitachi, as well as at several IT specialists, before joining Fordway in February 2020.
“I wanted a more challenging role, and here I’m dealing with lots of new technology, so I’m always learning,” she explains. “No two days are the same, and I like the combination of the reactive element with the proactive improvement initiatives we do despite there often being several competing priorities on the go at once. I may not be hands-on technical myself but I possess good common sense and relevant experience, and work hard to ensure I have sufficient knowledge so I can make informed decisions and provide the required level of support and guidance for my team.”
Jo says it would be lovely to have more women in the industry in technical roles but doesn’t see many CVs from women come across her desk for Infrastructure or Network Engineer roles. “Everyone uses so much tech in their daily lives that I’m surprised more women don’t realise it also offers a really interesting career path,” she says. “There are so many different opportunities for women in IT for which you don’t have to be technical. If they identify the range of roles out there, they can find something which fits their interests and skills. I also think it’s important to look for mentorship as you develop your career. IT is a great environment to work in – challenging at times but ultimately extremely rewarding.”