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SheCanCode Spotlight Series: Emily Best, Senior Infrastructure Consultant, Netcompany

Emily Best, Senior Infrastructure Consultant, Netcompany

ARTICLE SUMMARY

Emily Best is a senior infrastructure consultant at Netcompany and has been with the company for 6 years.

Emily has held roles alongside billable client projects that help steer the growth of the company such as leading the ERG Women in Netcompany, running the collaboration with Ahead Partnership and being an active member of the After Dark events team. Outside of work she enjoys heading out and about with her film cameras, taking portrait photos and street-style photography.

IN THIS PIECE, SHECANCODE CAUGHT UP WITH EMILY TO TALK ABOUT WHAT HER DAY-TO-DAY ROLE LOOKS LIKE, HER ADVICE FOR NEWCOMERS TO THE INDUSTRY AND WHO HER ROLE MODELS ARE.

HOW DID YOU LAND YOUR CURRENT ROLE? WAS IT PLANNED?

Like so many graduates, I left university not really knowing which direction to go in or what I wanted to do next. With a degree in Criminology and Psychology, I applied for countless entry-level and graduate positions but as they are often few and far between and highly applied for, I didn’t make the cut. Needing to get some money behind me, I took a sales assistant role at LEGO for a few months while I decided on my next steps. I saw an opportunity to apply for a graduate role at Netcompany and decided to go for it purely because it aligned with my interest in the tech industry. I have always enjoyed a challenge and working in a fast-paced environment, with real-world implications.

WHAT ARE THE KEY ROLES IN YOUR FIELD OF WORK, AND WHY DID YOU CHOOSE YOUR CURRENT EXPERTISE?

There are far too many roles to possibly list here, but I generally find a split between two areas. The first being the obvious – technical roles, for example, engineers, architects, coders etc. and the second is people/non-technical roles such as project managers, business consultants, bid writers etc. where technical knowledge does help but isn’t always a necessity. What is a necessity is that all these roles are filled by the right people with the right skills and the willingness and drive to get to the correct solution.

I chose my current expertise as I have an interest in tech and how it can help society.  I’m a people person (sorry for that phrase!) and find it easy to manage a group of people to then deliver what is needed and on time to the customer.

DID YOU (OR DO YOU) HAVE A ROLE MODEL IN TECH OR BUSINESS IN GENERAL?

The role models I have always chopped and changed, and they’re always people I know personally as then you get more of a truer reflection of their story.

Obvious ones include my parents, the way they brought me up and their tenacity in their own jobs always inspires me, if I grow up to be half of either of them then that’s a fantastic win in my eyes.

Not so obvious is my little sister and peer-sisters in their personal lives and respective careers, they are like wild dogs with their grit and never give up the chase of bettering themselves, constantly improving in a world designed to disadvantage women and yet they’re still smashing it and changing the world in their own ways. It’s easy to get batted down and give up, the people I surround myself with are always (in my eyes) stronger than I am so I can continue to learn from those around me. Surround yourself with good people!

 WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN YOUR CAREER, SO FAR?

I have been a part of many society-critical digital projects, such as assisting with the NHS COVID Pass solution for England during the pandemic.

This was highly rewarding, as I played a part in creating a safety blanket for millions of people who didn’t, or couldn’t, leave their homes.

I’m also incredibly proud of the work I have been able to do with Ahead Partnership in Leeds local schools, with the Growing Talent Digital Leeds programme we are spreading awareness and insight into a career in tech to pupils who may not have thought the industry was an accessible option.

WHAT DOES AN AVERAGE WORKDAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?

Whether I’m working from home or going into the office my first port of call is to scan through my emails for anything that takes my interest, like an opportunity for Netcompany to volunteer in local schools or anything non-average-workday specific that jumps out at me. Then it’s onto checking client emails and checking the world hasn’t ended overnight – we’re in unprecedented times! My days consist of meetings to check with the team about the project status, what’s happened, what needs to happen next and how we as a team make that happen. I’m chasing teams for their reports, updating reports, sending reports to the client and making sure we’re progressing as we should be through the project lifecycle. I take a lunch break and then depending on the meetings in my calendar, I usually take some time to look at what events Netcompany are putting on socially for wider teams to network and  relax after a long day, whether that’s going to see a film, driving round a racecourse or axe throwing! There’s always something fun happening at Netcompany to let your hair down during a busy week.

 ARE THERE ANY SPECIFIC SKILLS OR TRAITS THAT YOU NOTICE COMPANIES LOOK FOR WHEN YOU’RE SEARCHING FOR ROLES IN YOUR FIELD?

The most important skill/trait to have is the willingness to learn. To be eager to keep building on yourself and increasing your skillset is incredibly important in any industry, but with tech, I believe it is even more so. The tech industry is constantly changing and there’s always new tech on the horizon, so that willingness to move with the tech and the people alongside you is imperative in this field.

HAS ANYONE EVER TRIED TO STOP YOU FROM LEARNING AND DEVELOPING IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL LIFE, OR HAVE YOU FOUND THE TECH SECTOR SUPPORTIVE?

Interesting question! There have definitely been people doubting where I was going to head after school, with peers and teachers telling me that I would not end up with the grades to go to University. I started to believe them – until I really wanted to prove myself wrong, I just wanted to feed my interests, learn new life skills and have some fun on the way.

Coming into Netcompany I find myself lucky to join such a supportive group of people. If there’s anything I ever need help with, I know exactly who can help me with what, and if I don’t know who can help me then I know I can ask the wider team and there is always someone waiting with help for me. Whether that help comes from across the office, across the country or even across continents – that help always comes here.

 HAVE YOU EVER FACED INSECURITIES AND ANXIETIES DURING YOUR CAREER, AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?

I feel there is a buzzword currently that everyone has felt at some point and if you haven’t yet, I’m sure you will. That is “imposter syndrome”, the feeling that you’re not qualified and/or experienced to be in the role you’re in and quite often, that ends up being your career. I have definitely felt that way on more than one occasion and although it can keep you on your toes, it can definitely add to your insecurities too. Overcoming imposter syndrome is easier said than done, it takes a lot of self-praise, which can be uncomfortable… But it helps to tell yourself (and truly believe) that you are in this position because you earned it, you are the best person to do this job and you were chosen to do this! If you think there are areas, you can improve in – go for it! Netcompany does this really well, in that there are several academy courses and pop-up training that you can enrol in to help fine-tune your skillset whilst levelling up your career.

 ENTERING THE WORLD OF WORK CAN BE DAUNTING. DO YOU HAVE ANY WORDS OF ADVICE FOR ANYONE FEELING OVERWHELMED?

Everyone is pretending to some degree! I always thought everyone had it together by the time they left university – they don’t, and honestly, I don’t! Everyone makes mistakes somewhere down the line, but the best piece of advice I have ever been given and continue to tell everyone and anyone who will listen is – to ask the stupid questions – because guess what, there are no stupid questions. Asking any and every question you can possibly think of to help build a bigger and better picture will help you and others around you. Every time.

 WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE OTHER WOMEN WANTING TO REACH THEIR CAREER GOALS IN TECHNOLOGY?

Also, choose a company that is dedicated to helping you grow. Make sure they’re offering training and a clear progression path to help you reach your own goals. Netcompany has an internal academy that offers training and a pathway for several different careers. Both the academy and pathway are focused on you individually and the assigned mentors are tasked to help you get there.

Keep at it. It’s daunting and overwhelming at times but please keep at it. I’d say networking is my biggest advice, beyond the company you work for too as there may be other companies doing things differently that you can learn from and implement elsewhere.

Finally, lean on each other, allies are great but there is no comparison to empathy from your peers and/or colleagues.
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