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Patricia Campbell – We have the freedom to choose!

29th July 2020

We’re lucky to bring you this blog by Patricia Campbell, an IT professional. She chose the career to create a better life for her son and how uses her experience and seniority to help guide and support others in IT.

 

Why IT?

I had my son at the tender age of 21 and I wanted more for him. I didn’t want him to be disadvantaged because I was a young single mother. I managed to make ends meet but I would not be able to take him on holiday without having to buy a national newspaper and collect the coupons for a budget break…..

I remember looking through the Guardian newspaper, it was on a Wednesday as that what when they advertised the job vacancies. I noticed that all the well paid jobs were in IT, so I wanted to get in to that industry to provide a better life for my son and I.

 

I wanted to provide a better life for my son and I.

 

I decided to go to university and get an IT based degree. In 1997 I graduated from University with a 2:1 in information Management and Business IT. My son was 7 years old, we went to Florida that summer.  

University was hard, I was a full-time student, full-time mother and worked in a hardware store every weekend. To be honest I dont know how I coped (I did have plenty of support from my family). There were times when I sat in tears, stressed, feeling alone, trying to study or finish an essay, but what kept me going was that my son deserved his holiday, he deserved a better life. For me this was one of my biggest achievements, I was so proud of myself for getting my degree because I was creating a different future for me and my son. I will forever be grateful for the doors it opened for me.

 

I was so proud of myself for getting my degree because I was creating a different future for me and my son.

 

 

Starting my career

I had one interview after university, I got the job, they thought I was super capable because I had juggled my studies with being a mother and working part-time. They saw my dedication, that I wanted a career as an IT professional, I was a Junior Oracle Developer. I was so proud of myself. I spent 8 years as a developer, I liked the challenge of debugging a piece of code and getting it to compile and execute, but I was such a people person and at that time if you were a developer, it was you and your desktop PC. I wanted to know more and more about what the business stakeholders wanted and managed to engineer a sideways move into becoming a Business Analyst.

I have been a Business Analyst for 15 years working in different companies. I love it! I enjoy being the voice of the business in IT and helping to deliver change. I like the challenge of not knowing anything about the part of the business function, application or activity that will be delivered, because I know that in time I will be the Subject Matter Expert of the change.

I spend time with stakeholders understanding the problem, understanding the strategic vision, the objectives and the goals. I have to ask why, why, why over and over again to ensure that the proposed problem is actually a problem - what evidence is there to back it up and to ensure that the proposed solution was fit for purpose and would meet the goals and objectives and deliver benefit and value to the organisation.

I love my interactions with stakeholders, from the end user to someone on the board. I need their knowledge and without them I couldn't elicit their requirement, translate them into bite size chunks that can developed and delivered by IT.

I enjoy building rapport, building trust, resolving conflict, breaking down barriers and delivering value.   

In my current role I work within the Financial industry. This is my first role in finance as most of my experience was been gained in the telecommunication industry, working for companies like Sky, Easynet and TalkTalk.

I was a little worried to begin with, but I reminded myself that I had to give myself a chance to get up to speed and that I didn’t need to know everything by the end of the 1st week.

  

Managing People

I also have Line Manager responsibilities in this role, which I absolutely love. I get a ring side seat in someones career, I also get to guide, empower and hopefully inspire those that I am fortunate to manage.

 

I get to guide, empower and hopefully inspire those that I am fortunate to manage.

 

Im not just about approving holiday requests, I want to make a difference, help them to identify opportunities for growth in their careers. I have a real interest in people development. 

I love guiding my direct reports along their career paths, encouraging them to be in the driving seat when it comes to their development. It’s important for me that they are put on projects where they are a little uncomfortable, as it offers opportunity for growth. I’m allowed to be creative in how I manage my team. As individuals, I try to flex my style to meet their needs. I don’t have a one size fits all approach. My days are a mixture of project meeting and 1-2-1’s with my direct reports, writing requirements and running workshops. I love the variety and freedom that my role affords.

 

 

Challenges I’ve faced

I have had to overcome many challenges over the years. When I started as an Oracle Developer in the 90s there were not many women, let alone black women. I had to deal with a lot of bias. I was not invited to the pub for drinks on a Friday afternoon. Eventually I invited myself.

It was presumed that I was not serious about my role because I couldn’t work late as I had to pick up my children from after school club and nursery by a certain time. I missed out on promotions simply because I was I wasn’t in the office for 12 hours a day, the reality was I didn’t need to be!

I was reliable, hard working and very committed. I was wanted on projects, to run career development workshops, coaching workshops, but was turned down for promotion over and over again. I would eventually leave that company and get a role paying more money. I now challenge ideas that working mothers do not value their careers and are not committed to their organisations.  Challenges still exist to this day, but I am so much more confident in calling them out and dealing with them in a timely way. If I do not speak up for myself then who will?

 

If I do not speak up for myself then who will?

 

I have been brave enough to leave a role during my probation period. When my children were young, and wholly dependent on me I would have never dreamed of it. Having a job meant I was able to take care of my boys and they were always my number 1 priority.

In my eyes the company failed my probation because they didn’t live up to their own values of honesty fairness and respect. When I brought it to their attention, they made the correct noises, but no action followed. I knew that I had to be the change I wished to see, so I left. It was such a good feeling to do that and empowering because I was at the centre of that decision and not the needs of my sons. I also had faith in my skills as a Business Analyst and was certain that I would get another role.

 

 

My current job

I am in an organisation that makes me feel optimistic in terms of gender and ethnic diversity. They have taken strides to ensure that there is gender balance and are now having the sometimes uncomfortable conversations around ethnic diversity. They have acknowledged that things are not quite right, and are listening and addressing by identifying mentors and role models to inspire women and the BAME community that they can have a career with opportunity to move up. I will continue to use my voice and experience to hold them accountable. They have signed up to the Race At Work charter and I want to help them to become a trail blazer in terms of Diversity and Inclusion

Outside of work, I a bit of a boxing fan. I attend boxing based classes, I am fortunate that my partner owns his own boxing gym. I also run the odd empowerment workshop for women. Family time is also important, I love spending time with my grandson.

The best piece of advice I was given when I was in my 20’s is that it is I who limits my choices. We have the freedom to choose always. Even if something didn’t turn out the way it was envisioned or was a complete disaster, there is choice in that. We can choose to stay in the messed-up situation and try to make the best of it. We can choose to abandon it and turn in a new direction, we have the freedom to choose.

 

We have the freedom to choose

 

And this is the advice I would give to women embarking on their careers; choices are limitless as long you are in the driving seat of your career development.

 

Do not be a passenger on someone else’s bus.

 

Thank you Patricia! If you would like to read more blogs like this then please click here! 

 

 

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