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Technology career advice from three female trailblazers at the heart of UK government

Female trailblazers, Eric Robinson, Christine Bellamy, Natalie Jones OBE

ARTICLE SUMMARY

These female trailblazers challenge stereotypes, sharing stories of resilience, innovation, and achieving work-life balance. From tackling societal challenges to fostering diversity, they inspire limitless aspirations for women in technology!

Our workforce is evolving, and the Government Digital Service (GDS) is at the forefront, embracing the dynamic contribution of working women.

In this article, we sit down with three influential women at GDS, who have not only championed significant digital innovations but also balanced their roles with motherhood, offering insights for aspiring women in technology and leadership.

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Balancing motherhood and career progression

Erin Robinson, Chief Operating Officer at GDS

In my career, I’ve often encountered the outdated notion that women should consider pausing their career aspirations whilst they start and grow a family. This mindset is not just archaic but also a barrier to women’s career progression. My journey at GDS challenged this norm. While my husband was stationed abroad for work, I found myself navigating the responsibilities of motherhood and my aspirations. I was also eight months pregnant when I interviewed for the COO position at GDS. Despite the physical challenges, I succeeded, a testament to GDS’ progressive approach.

This experience taught me the importance of workplaces accommodating the needs of mothers. Employers need to offer flexible arrangements, such as adjusted work hours or non-traditional work options. But beyond organisational support, women must advocate for themselves, and for each other. We need to be vocal about our needs and ambitions, and not shy away from opportunities, even when they seem daunting. It’s about striking a balance, and it’s possible. My advice to other women is to embrace your career goals with determination and seek employers who value and support your dual role as a professional and a mother.

Diversity in technology: reflecting the users we serve

Christine Bellamy, Director of GOV.UK

The technology industry urgently needs more women. Considering the diverse range of people using digital products and services, it’s important they reflect the users they serve .

My journey highlights the need for workplaces to foster diverse cultures, allowing women and other underrepresented groups to contribute meaningfully. It’s crucial for women, regardless of their background or stage in life, to see technology as a field where they can make a significant impact. It’s never too late to start a career in tech. Whether you’re a recent graduate or someone looking to switch careers, the tech industry offers numerous entry points. The key is to take that first step, bring your unique perspectives, and be part of shaping the future of technology.

As Director of GOV.UK I have the privilege of running the digital home for the UK government and the best place for people to access government services and information. This year has been marked by significant societal changes, including the passing of our monarch and big changes within the government.These events required swift updates to GOV.UK to keep the public informed.

Similarly, during my time at the BBC, I led the transformation of BBC Bitesize into a TV channel during the Covid-19 pandemic. These experiences underscored the importance of diverse perspectives in shaping responsive and inclusive digital products.

Grabbing the daunting opportunities that others might avoid

Natalie Jones OBE, Director for Digital Identity at GDS

Leading the way in technology is a challenging yet rewarding journey. My path has been paved with resilience, leadership, and learning from failures. A significant challenge I faced was overseeing the digital delivery of the EU Settlement Scheme. This project, which needed to be completed within nine months, was fraught with complexities and unexpected hurdles, such as dealing with hoax applications. Despite these challenges, I remained committed to ensuring the project’s success, which was crucial in safeguarding the rights of EU citizens. This project earned me an OBE, a moment of immense pride and recognition.

Today, I have the privilege of spearheading the strategy and execution of the team behind the launch of GOV.UK One Login; a new digital identity that provides a single, personalised sign-in service for UK citizens to access all government services. This initiative will directly tackle the absence of passport identification for 20% of the UK population and aims to bridge the digital divide that leaves many citizens without the skills or means to access vital government services and information. These experiences have reinforced my belief that challenges are opportunities in disguise and have prepared me to inspire and guide other women aspiring to excel in the field of technology.

My advice to aspiring women in technology is not to shy away from daunting projects. These challenges are opportunities to grow, build resilience, and make a significant impact. It’s about believing in your ability to contribute to complex tasks, even when success seems uncertain. Remember, it’s not just about technical skills but also about having the right mindset. Embrace your fears, learn from every setback, and keep pushing forward. And don’t forget, achieving professional success doesn’t mean sacrificing personal well-being. It’s about finding the right balance, which I managed while working part-time and raising three children. Resilience, adaptability, and flexibility are key.

Unlimited Aspirations

The experiences of these inspiring women at GDS not only highlight the strides towards gender parity and the integration of working mothers into high-level positions but also demonstrate the tangible benefits of diversity in leadership. Their stories show that with flexibility, resilience, and innovation, it’s possible to balance personal life and professional ambitions. These trailblazers prove that gender should not define or limit your professional journey. There’s a clear message for women aspiring to careers in technology or any other field: your aspirations have no limits.

To join these inspirational leaders and other amazing women at GDS you can learn more about roles at GDS here.

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