Women are increasingly important in the tech industry
Women in Tech The technology industry is changing: although it is still male dominated, an increasing number of powerful and influential women are emerging on to the scene.
One of these is Jane Ayres, director of OCSL, a specialist in cloud computing and data centre software solutions, who came in to the industry by lucky chance.
The inspiration behind a career in technology
“I wasn’t interested in IT at school and studied geography at Portsmouth University,” she says. “But in the last year I shared a house with a women who did mechanical engineering – the only women in her year – and at the end of the year she knew what she was going to do and the rest of us didn’t. It was the first time I thought about I.T.”
Initially interested in working in marketing or advertising, Jane took a job in telesales at OCSL in 1992 and rose up through the company to board level, while OCSL itself grew from a minor player to a £63 million annual turnover. She now manages a team of 10 with close links to the extended sales team of 50 in a 350 person organization and sits on several advisory boards. “It was tiny when I joined – there were just four of us,” Jane says. “But the technology didn’t bother me. I had to get used to the language, though – it was like hearing a foreign language and I think that remains one of the inhibitors to the industry today.”
As for the tech industry itself, Jane says that many analysts believe that it is now at its biggest inflection point for many years.
Jane says she was fortunate to join OCSL as her colleagues are hugely inspirational and entrepreneurial, while she thrives on the innovation and energy in the industry. There is also a huge amount of variety. “We work with everyone from airlines to Formula 1 to retailers to the NHS,” she says. “In that last, we created a solution that enabled clinical teams to access multiple software packages in a streamlined way in order to spend more time with patients. It was very moving: I saw it in action on the wards.”
Increasing the amount of women in tech
Although women are still in a minority in the tech industry, Jane sees it changing, not least because OCSL is in partnership with Hewlett-Packard, which is headed up by Meg Whitman. Another partner is Microsoft. Her advice for women who might be interested in a career in tech is: “Come and try it. Do your research. The career opportunities include travel, meeting interesting people and diverse clients. I took my 15-year old god daughter to the office this year for workplace experience and she loved it.”
As for the tech industry itself, Jane says that many analysts believe that it is now at its biggest inflection point for many years. “Our heritage will be hardware and software but we now see much more consuming through the cloud,” she says. “We will continue to see more acquisitions – but 10 years from now not all the current players will be around any more.”