By Kirste Worland, Head of Technology Applications.

Growing up on a council estate in the West End of Newcastle, with two brothers, I never dreamed of finding my way into the world of IT. Technology wasn’t freely available, girls were encouraged to take typing classes and home economics, and learning computer skills was something only the boys did.

After leaving school at 18, having a baby, and facing a number of life challenges, my priorities had changed and I needed to find a suitable job that would enable me to look after my young son.  Thinking about a career wasn’t high on the agenda – getting a job was!

Eventually though, through a lot of hard work, and some amazing individuals along the way who saw potential in me, gave me a chance, and believed in me, I found my way into IT by accident. And I loved it.

I was involved in developing a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system from a business process perspective and ended up being involved in the design of the User Acceptance testing (UAT).  An opportunity came up in the IT department and I took a chance and applied; even though I didn’t have the technical skills or background.

One of the things I love is solving problems. And there I was in a department with no customer focus… Having come from the customer service area, the first thing I set out to accomplish was the introduction of a customer service ethos. After that, I was hooked.

I got involved in applications support, writing code, developing approaches to testing and release management, agile delivery, designing and implementing test environments, and developing staff.

Over this time, I gradually gained management qualifications and Higher National Certificate.  Shortly after having my two daughters, I decided to undertake a degree.  I was working full time, putting in lots of long hours at the university library, and drinking lots of coffee. The hard work paid off and I was able to secure first class honours and the Dean’s Award.

Throughout my time here at the NHSBSA – I have been given autonomy to develop and implement apprenticeships, student placements, outreach networks and engagements with military veterans. As part of this learning journey I developed a love for helping people identify their skills, talent and potential. Through coaching and mentoring, I’ve helped people thrive and grow; developing their confidence to take opportunities as and when they are presented.

So taking this career path has enabled me to do two things that give me a real sense of satisfaction: the technical and the people!

Over the last couple of years there has been a shift in the amount of women coming into technical and senior roles.  I’m delighted to say that this is reflected in a number of areas:

  • 60% apprentices in our department are female, (1 has also gone on to secure a permanent position)
  • 50% veteran placements are female
  • 50% of degree student placements are female.

While there is still work to do, I’d like to say this to the women aspiring for roles in sectors primarily occupied by men: Take a chance. If opportunities are there and present themselves, grab them with both hands, you just never know where it leads to.

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