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SheCanCode Spotlight Series: Katherine Bennett, Software Development Consultant, Netcompany

Katherine Bennett, Software Development Consultant, Netcompany

ARTICLE SUMMARY

With aspirations to become a technologist from a very young age, Katherine has always looked to steer her education and experience in that direction, however her journey hasn’t been without some challenging circumstances.

Becoming a mother in her late teenage years, Katherine chose to put her own personal goals on hold to devote herself to raising her young son. Once he was old enough to attend secondary school, Katherine opened the door to her own personal education once more – heading to university to study Computer Science, becoming a proud graduate in 2020.  

Graduating during the heights of the Covid-19 pandemic and balancing being a mother, Katherine was once again dealt a challenging hand and decided to take a temporary role as a remote care assistant, providing 1-1 care for elderly residents. Despite this temporary role, Katherine never gave up on her main focus of entering the tech sector and eventually got that break when attending a Netcompany-hosted event, STEM Women in Tech – being invited for an interview shortly after the session based on her interest, approach and skillset. 

Once onboarded, Katherine nominated herself for one of Netcompany’s most challenging and society-critical projects with the NHS, for which she now is a core member. Developing and distributing reminder alerts for citizens, Katherine’s work is directly helping improve the efficiency of the NHS by creating larger and more reliable datasets for front-line doctors and physicians to access 24x7x365. In tandem with her day-to-day role, Katherine looks to channel her skills and enthusiasm for tech through other methods. Recently engaging with two different local businesses to help them build functioning websites, supporting the digital journey of their customers and opening their businesses to entirely new channels – bringing them into the digital age. 

Alongside these efforts, Katherine stands behind the message that despite your background or technical ability, you can pursue and thrive in a tech career with a little guidance and steer. Championing this, Katherine has been a key proponent for Netcompany’s many social value initiatives. Perhaps the longest standing initiatives that Katherine has been involved in was the Us Programme mentoring programme, whereby Katherine was paired up with a young female from a disadvantaged background looking to enter the tech space. She helps her mentee navigate the landscape, gain relevant work experience and tee up her journey for success. 

As well as her deep dive into mentoring, Katherine has put her name forward for a number of other initiatives. Taking to the stage as a panellist in two separate events to share her story and helping to inspire the next generation to explore the fruits of tech, regardless of the misconception that ‘tech is solely a male sector’.  

All in all, Katherine stands as testament that despite your journey, it’s never too late to chase your goals –they are more attainable than maybe once thought with some grit and determination! 

IN THIS PIECE, SHECANCODE SPOKE TO KATHERINE ABOUT WHY SHE CHOSE A CAREER IN TECH, WHAT MOTIVATES HER & WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO GET MORE WOMEN IN TECH.

WHY TECH? WHAT EXCITES YOU IN TECH NOW AND ABOUT TECH IN THE FUTURE?

As an avid gamer, I spend many nights and weekends playing online. So much so, I am using my newfound cyber skills to help on gaming websites. This is where my career really started.

I love the feeling of completing a website, UX/UI, making the pages work with each other, responsiveness, and accessibility.

I am very excited to see what else can be done with website in the future.

WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO KEEP GOING AMIDST CONTINUED CHALLENGES?

My son is definitely my biggest motivation to keep going. As a lone parent being my best self for my son is so important. I want to continue to teach him the importance of improving oneself through study and hard work pays off in the end.

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

There are many career paths within tech, software, networking, cloud computing etc, don’t worry if you are unsure which path to take straight away, just narrow it down over time and eliminate the paths you don’t like.

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

I have never really been one for favourites, whether it’s movies or singers for example, but I think one woman I have a lot of admiration for, and to a small degree can identify with, is Hedy Lamarr. She had an amazing career as an actress, inventor, and pioneered the technology that led to the discovery of Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth. Hedy was a woman who followed her own path, changed careers to pursue other endeavours, and forgive the phrase, but truly ‘lived her best life’.

I personally try to channel this energy in my every day life, to really make the best out of my career in the tech sector.

WHAT IS THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN?

It’s never too late to reinvent yourself. We can always push ourselves for more and, as a mature student entering into tech later in life, this advice was key to my success.

WHY DO YOU THINK IT IS IMPORTANT TO HAVE MORE WOMEN IN TECH?

It is so important to break the stigma that tech is a ‘man’s job’. But I think it is also important to highlight that a role in tech is not ‘sitting in a dark room with a computer, coding all day long’; there are so many other aspects of the tech industry that are there to be explored.

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

Network as much as you can; learn, fail and learn some more; and speak up, don’t let your ideas, views and questions get overshadowed, there’s no such thing as a bad idea.

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