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International Women's Day 2021: Celebrating TSG's women in tech

According to a recent Tech Nation report, 77% of tech director roles in the UK are filled by men. It also revealed that only 19% of the tech workforce are women. With an alarmingly low rate of female employment in the technology sector, we decided to ask the women of TSG about their journey into the tech sector.

The women who work for TSG didn’t all come from technology backgrounds – in fact, most didn’t even consider joining the IT industry until much later in their careers after discovering that there were many exciting and potential career paths and opportunities available to them.

Did you study at college or university and if so, what did you study?

“I finished the University of Finance Administration in Athens, Greece. During the 4 years of studies, I had the chance to undertake a few optional lessons on coding, Office and finance software.”

Eirini Katsampa, NAV/BC Practice Manager

“I started off in the travel and tourism industry and completed my BTEC national diploma, then continued to university and studied both a BA Honours and Master’s degree in business management. Always knew I wanted to manage a business and be responsible for people and teams but wasn’t sure of the industry at this stage in my life. Never did I think of technology. Growing up I didn’t have much exposure to technology or the roles available to me.”

Raj Gill, Project Manager

“I did leisure studies as really had no idea what I wanted to do and have always been that ‘sporty person’.”

Fleur Parker, Senior Service Design Lead

“I went to Newcastle College and did Travel and Tourism.”

Jayne Purvis, Customer Care Coordinator

“I studied BA Hons English Literature and Latin.”

Clare Townsend, Senior Customer Success Manager

“I went straight to work when I left school.”

Julie Chamberlain, Service Desk Team Leader

“I actually studied Early Education & childcare for a year after leaving school, and whilst I enjoyed the course I realised it wasn't the career for me and never returned for my second year.”

Louise Mitchell, Service Desk Agent

Tell us a little bit about your career history – did you start off in technology or did you do something entirely different before moving into the world of tech?

“My first job was as a part-time receptionist assistant in a small commercial company while I was at university. I stayed at this company for 6 years and my role changed from part-time to full time and from receptionist to assistant accountant and accountant. For the following 4 years I worked as chief accountant at a construction company and also at a manufacturing company. From there I jumped to my first Microsoft partner in Athens where I stayed for 6 years until I moved to the UK with my family and worked for another Microsoft partner for 2 years before joining TSG 6 years ago. For 5 years I worked in TSG as a Senior Consultant and PM and in the last year I’ve been promoted to lead the NAV/BC Practice. Throughout the years I worked in a variety of Microsoft implementation projects for all types of industries from small to global businesses on goods and services.”

Eirini Katsampa, NAV/BC Practice Manager

“I started the Child Benefit Centre when I left school and later moved to work for Vanguard Computer Systems as a receptionist. I then went to work for UNW IT and this is where I met David Stonehouse, TSG’s CEO. When UNW IT closed, David put me in touch with Mark Joynson (Joynson’s) since then I have not looked back. At Joynson/TSG, I originally worked on call handling/scheduling then when the role came up for Team Leader – Call Control/Field Scheduling, I thought “well why not”. Due to changes for the better, Call Control became Service Desk which I am now currently Team Leader for 1st Line Service Desk.”

Julie Chamberlain, Service Desk Team Leader“

My first job was as a sales rep for SmithKline Beecham and later on I spent a large part of my career working as an IT Service Desk manager for British Airways before moving to TSG.”

Clare Townsend, Senior Customer Success Manager

“My first job out of University was for one of the world’s leading photocopier manufacturers- Konica Minolta. I was employed as a Trainer. This was a new world to me, as I didn’t even know about the world of technology but started to love it from the moment I joined. The importance of automated workflows and the impact they have on a business generally was definitely an eye opener. I was at Konica Minolta for 14 years. When I used to go visit customers on site, they would always be surprised I was a woman.”

Raj Gill, Project Manager

“I started as a Modern Apprentice with Co-Operative Travel in 1997 and worked my way up to Assistant Branch Manager. In 2015 I become Branch Manager of Thomas Cook and in July 2018 joined TSG in the Customer Care Team.”

Jayne Purvis, Customer Care Coordinator

“After college, I worked part time at the local sports centre, whilst doing a main job in an accounts department. I worked in finance for a while, studied for AAT on day release but struggled with 9-5, so went back and worked as a Fitness Instructor. I ended up talking to a lady that worked in recruitment for British Airways, which took me down another path and worked as Cabin Crew for a couple of years. However, was always going to be a ‘fun short lived job’ before I needed to find what I really liked and settle into a career. I answered an advert that said’ Do you have finance background and are you interested in IT?’ – which I thought was me all over. I applied, got the job and that led me down the path I am in today. I worked on support desk for Sage customers, then into pre-sales, consultancy then other partners doing Sage, then Pegasus, Access and some NAV before moving to Accounting Answers who were then bought by TSG where I ran the Sage team and was Lead Consultant on all projects. The journey really then started when we became TSG where lots of opportunities arose including running different teams in the region, then the group and meeting some awesome people along the way.”

Fleur Parker, Senior Service Design Lead

“I started working in Next as a Sales Advisor while going to uni. My first IT job was working as an IT Assistant during my placement year at uni for 1 year. After I graduated my Masters, I worked for a small company in IT support for 3 years, then came to TSG as a Service Desk Agent. After 2 years of being in Service Desk, transitioned to the CRM team as a Junior CRM Support Consultant.”

Emma Yuk, CRM Support Consultant

“TSG was my first real job after leaving school/college and I'm still here 10 years later! I started working here to complete a Business & Administration apprenticeship which I completed whilst working in our then call control department logging tickets & doing the diary scheduling for the field engineers. Over the years I was lucky enough to work with some managers who were happy to give me some chances at technical training first on the telephony systems then moved in to our technical teams which eventually became first line.”

Louise Mitchell, Service Desk Agent

“I started as a trainee with Alliance & Leicester Building Society (now Santander) and stayed for 7 years as Customer Advisor. I then moved on to Going Places Travel for 10 years as Store Manager, before moving to Thomas Cook Travel for 6 years as Store Manager. I joined TSG 2014 as Contracts Administrator, then Customer Care, next was Billing and currently Customer Care again as Team Leader.”

Nicola Vent, Customer Care Team Leader

What do you enjoy most about working for TSG?

“TSG has amazing people with amazing skills, and we all come together to support our customers and each other. I am grateful to TSG for looking out for us through this pandemic by allowing us to work from home and by supporting us in every way. TSG feels like a second family to me!”

Eirini Katsampa, NAV/BC Practice Manager

“TSG is a fast-paced organisation where you see results quickly! I love the fact they use the software they sell internally as an organisation, which is a great example to their customers. I also admire the empowerment we have here at TSG, they really believe in the value of their staff and also recognise them when they have done a good job. I am really excited for my future with TSG.”

Raj Gill, Project Manager

“I love TSG’s customer engagement and helping to work through requirements to help them move forward. As an ERP person through and through, that really floats my boat and where I add a lot of value, I thrive on the discussions and showing that the systems are capable of that and more.“

Fleur Parker, Senior Service Design Lead

“TSG cares about everyone and everyone is so friendly. You are listened to at every level.”

Jayne Purvis, Customer Care Coordinator

“TSG has a wealth of great people to work with and a real focus on doing the very best for our customers.”

Clare Townsend, Senior Customer Success Manager

“I love that not one day is the same. It’s a great feeling seeing members of the team progress in their roles, for example moving from 1st line to 2nd line or moving from support to sales. The best part is the people.”

Julie Chamberlain, Service Desk Team Leader

“I enjoy the range of technology TSG has to offer for customers and being able to interact with these technologies. Most importantly, the people who work at TSG are approachable and the support is always there when help is needed.”

Emma Yuk, CRM Support Consultant

“TSG cares about its people and values, as well as our input. Best of all, the senior management team are approachable and genuinely listen to your feedback.”

Nicola Vent, Customer Care Team Leader

If there was a new skill you could learn in a day, what would it be?

“Technical skills would be the one thing I would like to learn in a day. People believe that if you work in an IT company you know how to build a server where my job is more about doing business analysis and finding the best way to use Microsoft solutions to satisfy our customers’ needs.”

Eirini Katsampa, NAV/BC Practice Manager

“Writing code! A little geeky I know, but it fascinates me, especially since I have been at TSG. Having this skill would also make it easier to relate to how our developers work. Learning to code could help open up many avenues and opportunities for me. Never know… from Project Management to Software development.”

Raj Gill, Project Manager

“Probably Qlik – I love the whole BI element, having been an ERP consultant writing old ODBC reports, clever pivots with macros and so on. It was always the bit that I found more of a hobby than a job, but as my career followed the management side, I left the tech part behind and I know I would have loved this.“

Fleur Parker, Senior Service Design Lead

“I’m really interested in Forensic Science or to be able to cook a really decent meal (as some of the TSG team know I do not cook!)”

Julie Chamberlain, Service Desk Team Leader

“Every day is different, and every ticket is different. IT and tech change daily so there’s always something new to learn and try and it never gets boring. I also work with a lot of brilliant people and have a great work life balance working here.”

Louise Mitchell, Service Desk Agent

What do you think are the most exciting innovations of the tech industry to date?

“Cloud solutions and using technology remotely from anywhere in the word and from any smart device is very exciting. Also being able as a business to combine information (data) from multiple resources and access it safely and remotely from any device will be the must have for all in the future.”

Eirini Katsampa, NAV/BC Practice Manager

“It has to be the smartphone! A mobile phone that performs many of the functions of a computer, typically having a touchscreen interface, internet access, and an operating system capable of running downloaded apps. I don’t know how we would cope with out one now.”

Raj Gill, Project Manager

“It has to be Cloud – going back to training on DOS ERP systems and editing config files just to make things work and configuring awful dot matrix printers, to now just needing a laptop to connect to any system you need with no pre-config is heaven!“

Fleur Parker, Senior Service Design Lead

“Cloud solutions – it fascinates me how technology has moved on and things are out are there.”

Jayne Purvis, Customer Care Coordinator

“Anything related to medical advances that improve or extend people’s lives e.g. prosthetic limbs controlled by brain signals, AI powered clinical diagnoses, continuing progress in 3D printing of body parts for transplant.”

Clare Townsend, Senior Customer Success Manager

“The internet still amazes me. The way you can type anything into a search engine and get answers instantly is still one of the greatest innovations to me.”

Julie Chamberlain, Service Desk Team Leader

“Power Platform and Power Automate/Flow – the ability to build apps and automate tasks in the background is impressive.”

Emma Yuk, CRM Support Consultant

“Probably cloud - find it amazing how many people can work from home during the pandemic.”

Louise Mitchell, Service Desk Agent

“Cloud solutions – virtual data blows my mind!”

Nicola Vent, Customer Care Team Leader

According to research by Coralesce, women in tech make up under 30% of the ICT workforce. What do you think could be done to encourage more women to embrace ICT as a career?

“I personally think the fact that this is a male dominated industry may make women feel that they need to work harder to prove themselves in this industry while research shows that they are being paid less than men. All businesses have to improve on this and offer equal fees and opportunities to women so that they will feel more welcomed into this sector.

We also need to show to young women how creative technology can be nowadays.  Developing, analysing and being part of new technology that is been continuously released is truly fascinating. 

I believe that all of us women already in this industry need to inspire younger girls to start thinking about this sector.“

Eirini Katsampa, NAV/BC Practice Manager

“I think women currently working for organisations within the tech sector should go speak to young girls in the final year of school who are unsure of what they may want to study and show how many different roles are available with-in tech.  More tech organisations should also have apprentice schemes available for school leavers. This will give them confidence from a younger age and not have the stereo typical mindset that technology roles are just for men.”

Raj Gill, Project Manager

“Be strong – as a woman you have to make your mark in a meeting full of men the minute you walk in. Be strong and believe in yourself and get across you know what you are talking about – from there great relationships are built and it’s a brilliant industry for a woman to be.”

Fleur Parker, Senior Service Design Lead

“I think for more informative to be available for what women can do in this industry. It’s interesting and changing all the time. If you are a person that loves to be a part of exciting innovations and being part of a modern future, I would suggest this is career for you.”

Jayne Purvis, Customer Care Coordinator

“We need more focus on positive female role models in ICT in the media, on TV shows and the like. Also, there needs to be more insight into what ICT roles actually involve from businesses and recruiters to make them more accessible/relatable to women.”

Clare Townsend, Senior Customer Success Manager

“Challenge the stereotype – we need to fix the image being presented. Girls need to see that tech is intresting and not just something for boys. Educate schools –girls might think IT is all about coding, design and engineering, but it’s so much more than that. Businesses need to promote the fact that they have women in Tech Roles.”

Julie Chamberlain, Service Desk Team Leader

“Every woman has engaged in technology in one way or another, whether it be a mobile phone, building an application or teaching someone how to do something technical. It is finding something that you think is fascinating and you want to learn more about. It ranges from building a laptop, building an application or learning about how something works. ICT isn’t scary; like many things in life, it’s only scary if you don’t want to learn about it.”

Emma Yuk, CRM Support Consultant

“I think there needs to be better education in schools as to what is actually involved in a typical IT role. At school, I just learned that it was about computers but there’s so much more involved – such as lots of innovative solutions and software.”

Louise Mitchell, Service Desk Agent

“There is a lot more to this industry that people imagine, and it takes many cogs in the wheel to allow a business like ours to operate – so many skills can be incorporated here. If you enjoy and can embrace change and exciting new innovations, then this is the right sector for you.”

Nicola Vent, Customer Care Team Leader

Breaking the glass ceiling

In a survey by Women In Tech UK, women cited that the most off-putting thing about working in the tech industry was the lack of opportunities to be promoted into senior roles. We wanted to highlight the range of roles available at companies like TSG across all levels, demonstrating the opportunities available to women looking to start a career in the industry or change their career path from elsewhere.

The technology industry is an ever-evolving and fast-paced environment to work in, so if you have a passion for innovation and creating a better future using technology, you may find a perfect role for you right here.

Current Opportunities at TSG

If the women above have inspired you or you’re interested in exploring the opportunities available in the industry, we’d love to hear from you! You can find out about current opportunities on our careers page.