March 12, 2021
International Women’s Day (IWD) celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and aims to raise awareness for accelerating women's equality. The theme for 2021’s IWD is #Choosetochallenge encouraging everyone to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women's achievements.
To celebrate IWD this month, we’ll be sharing a Q&A blog series to shine a spotlight on some of the amazing women we have in our team, in both leadership and tech roles, here they’ll share their experiences and learnings on how they’ve made it to where they are today and how they’ve challenged gender bias along the way.
First up, is Lara Cartwright, our Senior Business Project Manager.
Q. Tell us a bit about your career journey that's led you to where you are today.
A. Leaving school at 16, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do for my career yet, so I started with gaining experience in the workplace. After a few years I decided to continue studying and did this part time at night school. I have worked in many different areas across different industries but found my passion for Project Management whilst working in a compliance role at an engineering company where I was given the opportunity to manage a new system roll out. This is also where I found my interest in technology. I hadn’t had much exposure to this before and I was now in a position where we were building a totally bespoke system from scratch, I was fascinated by what was possible. Since joining eNett over 3 years ago I have had the pleasure to work on a large number of projects some of which have involved big technical changes and I love how we challenge the status quo, constantly pushing boundaries to achieve what is right for the business and the customers.
Q. What do you enjoy most about your role?
A. Getting the chance to collaborate with so many different people, in different roles, globally. I am a massive people-person. I also love a challenging project with multiple aspects and moving parts – and usually with a strict deadline too. The challenge to get it all delivered on time, and correctly, is fun. Working on a variety of projects across the business allows me to get out of my comfort zone and try new things, enabling me to grow. In my current role at eNett, I especially enjoy the regular exposure I have to technology experts and processes. In the past, I made an ill-informed assumption that coding and tech was simple. I was of the opinion “surely it doesn’t take that long”. But having now worked so closely with Developers and QAs, I’ve been able to gain a real understanding of the back-end work that goes into making systems and certain functionalities work. I’m keen to continue to learn more in this area.
Q. Why do you think it can be difficult for women to get into tech and/or leadership roles in tech?
A. When I was at school there wasn’t much in terms of career advice in IT or coding, so it wasn’t something I really considered, as I didn’t understand the scope of what was possible. At the time, it was also a common opinion that those who played video games (mostly boys) are the ones that could work in technology. Fast forward to today, I’m now working in tech and know how untrue this is. The Developers and QAs I work with come from all sorts of backgrounds and are not just video gamers 😉, or men for that matter! I’m very passionate about changing this assumption for girls who are growing up today. And so, I have been involved with a not-for-profit organisation called ‘Go Girl’ that hosts a yearly event aimed at school-girls, showcasing possible career options available in technology. This is a great step forward to increase the number of women in the industry.
Q. What’s your advice or message for women looking towards Project Management for a career?
A. Some of the best advice I was ever given was to never turn an opportunity down, as you never know what may come of it. Even if you are not sure you can do it, just go for it! See what happens. I believe that getting out of your comfort zone and building up your network are valuable. It can be uncomfortable attending seminars and networking events when you don’t know anyone, but this has been something I have personally gotten a lot out of and feel proud when I’ve challenged myself.
Q. Have you ever been in a professional or personal situation where you’ve witnessed or experienced gender bias? Did you choose to challenge it?
A. Whilst interviewing for a job before eNett, I was asked if I was in a relationship. This was an odd question and left me feeling fairly uncomfortable. I wondered if they thought I might be going on maternity leave soon, if I was of that age and in a relationship. This made me contemplate how my answer would impact whether I would get the job or not. At the time I did not challenge why they were asking such a personal irrelevant question. However, as I have grown older I feel a lot more comfortable to challenge gender bias as I see it. There is some great work being done across business and in the sports world with even men challenging gender bias, so I like to think this will continue. One of my favourite sports media interviews was with Sally Pearson, an Australian Olympic gold medallist, who was once told “you’re strong for a girl” to which she replied “I am not strong for a girl, I am just strong”.