20 Mar 2023
by Sonya Mathieu

Top three pieces of advice for the next generation of technology

With International Women’s Day and those who celebrate this looking at how we can embrace equitable workplaces, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on my career and share some pieces of advice anyone can take if they want to apart of the next generation of technology making workplaces equitable.  

To start, I thought it would be helpful to share a little about my career and how I got to where I am today. One thing which frames my career is my mindset. Having a mindset which drives me forward and enables me to keep pushing is ultimately the thing which allowed me to succeed.   

After finishing my undergraduate degree in psychology, I was working in a restaurant and decided I wanted to do something which allowed me to push myself, so I went back to university and did a degree in Computer Science.  

While programming wasn’t necessarily my favourite thing to do, I thrived in an environment where I could enable other people’s successes, by taking on a project management role within the group to ensure everyone had a role, to ensure we all stuck to the deadlines and completed all tasks.  

Once I graduated, I always chose the hardest route when it came to jobs as it allowed me to be authentically me, and to tap into my passion of figuring out how to complete tasks, such as new business or transformation plans, in a better way.  

Now you know a little about me and how I got to where I am today, I wanted to share my top three pieces of advice for anyone entering the technology sector today and tips to help you succeed:  

  1. Do your Research  

One of the most valuable pieces of advice I’ve heard in my career is to “always do the research”. Research the company you want to work for, the CEO, the people within the company, the specific team – find the person, team or company value which inspires you. You have to remember, in the working world you have the ability to choose your boss, as much as they choose you.  

Once you have this knowledge, you’ll easily be able to connect authentically in an interview or conversation with people from that business.  

  1. Be really brave  

I know being brave and putting yourself out there can be daunting and an uncomfortable experience, but to be comfortable we need to put ourselves in uncomfortable situations.  

In the spirit of being brave, once you’ve found the person you connect with via your research, reach out to that person – no matter how senior. Within this conversation, play to your strengths, think about what you have done, and how this links to the job description. It can be anything, for example, did you lead a team to the championship finals at university? Have you managed shift work at a restaurant? All of these experiences are invaluable.  

While I was at my previous role, a graduate who wasn’t eligible to join my team for another two years contacted me and closed me within 20 minutes. In those 20 minutes he showed me he’d clearly researched me and my team, and his passion for cybersecurity was also evident. He was incredibly authentic throughout the whole conversation about his experience and what he could bring to my team. 

This will always stick with me as an example of why doing the research and being brave can get you where you want to go.  

  1.  Ask someone to mentor you  

Finally, with your research in hand, your ability to make yourself uncomfortable (with the aim of being comfortable), the next step is asking someone to mentor you.

This is why it is really important to do your research, once you have an idea of who and what inspires you, you can try to find a mentor who aligns to this, even if they’re really senior. 

I’ve found a lot of my mentors by watching them speak at a conference or event and, by being a little brave, connecting with them afterwards.  

Once you have your mentor, remember to be respectful of their time and be prepared for every meeting, This way you’ll get the best out of them while also making the sessions easier for both of you.  

Throughout my early career I didn’t have enough women around me to support me, mentor me or give advice. I hope that while I’ve grown up in a technology industry without many women, those entering into the sector today are surrounded by supportive colleagues who champion them at every step in an equitable way.  

techUK is marching forward to close the tech gender gap in 2023. Throughout March, coinciding with International Women’s Day (IWD 2023) on 8 March, we are exploring how we embrace equitable workplaces. The UN’s theme for IWD 2023 focuses on Digital for All or DigitALL, and we are proud to support this.

For more information, please visit our Women in Tech hub.

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Sonya Mathieu

Channel Director, NetApp UK&I