Gym Instructor to Global Head of Digital Tooling at HSBC - how did she do it?
No one person’s career journey is ever quite the same, and we are all at some point in our careers, going to be challenged - whether that be when transitioning, advancing or returning after a career break. For many of us women in tech, hills have been climbed, corners turned, and hurdles have been jumped to get to where we are now - and many of us will say it was ALL worth it! Listening to other’s stories, asking them to reflect on their careers to date, whilst offering advice and insights, can go along way in helping and inspiring many more women and girls to enter or remain in a career in tech.
In this ‘Inspired to Hired’ interview we speak to Cheryl Razzell, HSBC’s Global Head of Digital Tooling.
Cheryl has been involved in the tech industry for over 20 years and has established herself as a leading female senior engineering manager with HSBC, and an active advocate of diversity in tech.
With no traditional computer science background or coding skills, Cheryl started her tech career at Apple as a receptionist. Her time on the receptionist’s desk was very short-lived, as it soon became clear that not only was she very curious to find out why people were calling the help desk, she was (through her own obsession with self-learning and problem-solving) also fixing their issues! It was this curiosity and determination to build her knowledge and experience that helped open up opportunities for Cheryl throughout her career.
Q: How important is past experience when considering a job in tech?
A: All experience is relevant! It’s how you apply it that counts! With the wide scope of technology there is plenty of room for people with different experiences and backgrounds to join tech.
A personal observation, I have hired a lot of developers that have had backgrounds in music, as it’s this creativity and curiosity that can help in this type of role.
Q: Did you learn to code?
A: No. All my skills are self-taught from online courses, and working with my team to debug code. 2019 - I shall learn to code again!
Q: Did an internship contribute to encouraging you to enter tech as a career upon graduating?
A: Yes! Both Microsoft and HSBC encourage internships and I am a big advocate. I would encourage anyone to consider an apprenticeship as a way of experiencing another career path.
Q: Are you motivated to continue a career in technology?
A: Yes totally!
I love innovation, and I love to deliver new technology. I love problem solving, it gives me a lot of joy.
I keep up to date with market trends by attending many conferences and regularly speak to my peers in other organisations to get their insights. You need to keep current in this day and age.
I want to change the world for the better (as much as I can) and I know we can do this through the use of technology.
Seeing my team develop, grow and be successful, motivates me even more.
I can’t see myself anywhere else…. Well maybe on a yacht in the Bahamas one day!
Q: What top tips would you give a younger you when planning out your career?
Plan that dream job (don’t be shy) and aim for it. BUT plan how to get there. What do you need to do, or learn to do, in order to get there?
To slow down! I have learnt to slow down and calm down, you can’t do everything in one day.
Make sure that every role you take is one step closer to where you want to end up.
Always always ask for help, no question is a silly question, it’s how you learn!
Q: Have you read any good books lately?
‘A good time to be a girl’ - it's another take on the Cheryl Sandburg’s "Lean In". There has been a lot of buzz around Cheryl’s book and the topic but I found this of interest as it tackles the subject from another angle - not going to say any more! Read it.
Thank you to Cheryl for a great interview, and for the insights and advice shared.
You can connect with Cheryl here.
Want to recommend anyone to be included in our ‘Inspired to Hired’ series? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.