Empowering Women in Tech: Rosie's Inspiring Story at the Home Office

Apr 11, 2024
hackajob Staff


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In this blog, Rosie shares her unique journey into the tech industry, starting as an apprentice in the Home Office's Digital Data and Technology (DDaT) department and progressing to a senior role. Despite not having a traditional tech background, Rosie leveraged her drive and ability to learn on the job to excel in her career. 

She details the supportive environment at the Home Office that helped her navigate the challenges of being a young woman in tech, from mentorships to her leading the Women in Tech (WiT) allyship programme.  Rosie's journey offers invaluable insights for any woman looking to make their mark in the tech industry. Dive in.

Tell us more about yourself, your journey into tech and how you ended up in your current role at the Home Office.

I left university or, to put it more bluntly, I dropped out. I believed I was better suited to learning on the job, an apprenticeship-style approach, so university didn't resonate with me. I started looking for an apprenticeship and decided that the Civil Service, with its culture and work-life balance, was where I wanted to be. I found an apprenticeship in the Home Office's DDaT department. So, I ended up in tech, not by deliberate intention, but by chance. 

What challenges did you face as a young woman entering the tech industry? How did the Home Office support you in overcoming those challenges?

My challenges have been quite subtle, and I've become more aware of them over time. 

However, the Home Office provided a safe and nurturing environment for me to grow and develop my identity as a woman in technology. I was encouraged to understand my value and the significance of my voice. 

Last year, I attended the DDaT Women in Tech (WiT) conference held in Salford. This event allowed me to network with inspiring female leaders from top tech companies. Recently, I have secured a place in the Empowering Women to Lead Digital Transformation program. I look forward to completing this program with the support of my peers in the coming months.

Please tell us more about how the Home Office supported your career progression.

I began as an apprentice Business Analyst and quickly moved up to a higher grade. Exploring various departments like Police, Biometrics, Migration, and Borders, I settled on the Enablers Portfolio. Here, I advanced to Senior Business Analyst, gaining an international diploma, and progressing to Grade 7 (a senior level in the Civil Service) with ample support.

The Home Office demands were initially challenging, but support was always available. Despite dealing with imposter syndrome due to my relative inexperience, mentorship helped me realise my value lies in my capabilities, not my tenure. I've now reached the Principal level, reflecting my abilities rather than my length of service. It's about what you can do, not how long you've been doing it.

Can you describe your experience working on the Grenfell Tower project in more detail? What did you learn from working on such an impactful project?

It was my first time as a Senior Business Analyst, and I lacked experience. However, I saw it as a learning opportunity and felt I was given room to grow. Despite the high-profile nature of the project due to media attention and ministerial priority, I felt I was working in a safe, sheltered, and protected environment. It felt like a community; we were all part of the same team, focused on our goal and confident we would manage to get it done.

I learned a lot by working in that fast-paced environment. Seeing our work become tangible, public and impactful was rewarding, especially given the difficult circumstances. I appreciated being trusted to work on such a project at a young age.

As one of the leads of the WiT allyship programme, what are your goals for the programme and how do you hope to see it grow and support more women?

Turning awareness of protected characteristics into positivity is crucial. We aim to establish an active ally network that genuinely supports women in tech, ensuring active allyship promotion. The programme objectives are to:

  1. Build a visible network of active allies who are well-equipped, supported and confident to challenge.
  2. Contribute to a positive culture for the wider organisation through education and empowerment at all levels. 
  3. Redress women's balance in technology-related roles by providing opportunities to progress and encouraging growth at all levels. 
  4. Actively embed allyship into the Home Office Bullying Harassment Discrimination and Victimisation agenda.

The goal is equal treatment, open communication, network building and safe space creation. We aim to instil this culture at senior levels. We also plan to expand this to other protected characteristics. 

How has having a mentor, such as your Director, helped support your career progression? What have you gained from the relationship?

Having a female Director as my mentor has been incredibly inspiring and has helped improve my performance. I’ve noticed an increase in my confidence, particularly when speaking to senior leaders. Initially, I would get nervous if they messaged me on Teams, but now I can have a casual conversation with them. I am more comfortable bringing my true self to work, understanding that everyone is just trying to do their job, regardless of their position. I used to find working with more senior colleagues intimidating as an apprentice, but now I strive to be an approachable leader.

Another benefit is the exposure at the senior level, providing me with opportunities that I would not have otherwise received. Instead of being one of the 300 people in the portfolio, I am now on a first-name basis with my Director. She messages me when she needs something, and this opens doors for me to take on tasks I might not have considered before.

What advice would you give to other people interested in a tech career who may not have a traditional educational background? And what advice would you give to other women considering a career in tech at the Home Office?

While I had a standard education, I never specialised in anything technical – true learning began with my job, not my studies. Starting a career in tech is a real learning journey. Your past doesn't matter, your motivation, drive, and transferrable skills like communication and conscientiousness do. Age is irrelevant if you're eager to learn and grow.

For women entering the workforce, it's important to note that diversity in organisations has greatly improved over the years. The stereotype of a Civil Servant has changed and now encompasses a more diverse range of individuals. Embracing everyone's differences makes for a better working environment. In conclusion, just take the leap.

And that's it!

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