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Success in STEM....by Sarah Windrum

Sarah Windrum is CEO and Co-Founder of the Emerald Group, a successful technology consultancy specialising in operational IT for small to medium sized businesses offering IT Support, IT Project Management, Cyber Security, and IT Infrastructure services. Sarah is passionate about encouraging people into STEM industries especially women.

How do you succeed in STEM? That is a question I am asked a lot when I talk in schools, colleges, and universities. It’s funny because STEM is not a phrase used much outside of the education environment. My advice is for anyone wanting to transition into the technology industry from education or another career, whether male or female.

1. Be Creative

The technology industry is still missing creativity, especially in small to medium sized businesses. The way STEM subjects were taught traditionally mean that people were separate into ‘logical’ right brains and ‘creative’ left brains. Remember we all have both!

2. Be Logical

The opposite to the above. Technology likes rules and dislikes exceptions to rules. One of the things I love most about coding is if you press go and it doesn’t look like you want it to look or run like you want it to run, there is an error in the coding somewhere. All you have to do is find it and correct it. Like a puzzle. Again, you have two sides to your brain. I am proof of that as an English Literature graduate who started a technology company!

3. Be Empathetic

I heard an engineer (not one from Emerald I hasten to add!) once say “the problem with business owners is they try to make software fit the business and they should make their business fit software.” Too many people in technology believe that technology is the master to be served and that is not the case. It is our job to make the technology fit the business need. We work with a range of software and hardware providers and our role is to understand our customers and their pain and find a cost-effective and deliverable solution to resolve it.

4. Understand Natural Work Flows

Following on from point 3, it’s really important that people working in technology understand the people that are using the technology. Technology will often disrupt natural work flows and that’s ok as long as there is purpose to it. For example, we are about to roll out a new data management system for a small team of ten sales people. It involves replacing their previous paper sheets and typed hard copy reports with iPads and a back-end data system so that the sales team, the business owner, and their clients can see the real-time business intelligence applicable to them at the click of a button. Obviously, this involves a change to the sales team’s natural work flow. However, I have demonstrated the time they will save in only having to enter data once on the iPad in comparison to now entering it four times in four separate reports. Emerald also provide full training and full support during and after the transition period. It is crucial to remember that technology will only ever be as good as the people using it.

5. Never Be An Expert

Working in technology is about life-long learning. That’s what I love the most about it. So much changes and disrupts what has gone before and you need to be ready to learn something new every day. In my opinion, as soon as you call yourself an ‘expert’ in the technology world it is time to retire!

To learn more about Sarah and the Emerald Group visit www.emerald-group.co.uk or connect on social media

Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarahwindrum/

Twitter: @emeralditms

Instagram: @theemeraldgroup

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheEmeraldGroup