Sheila Flavell Exclusive: How to make it in the IT industry
Tuesday, 8th of May 2012
Here at graduate-women.com we give you access to expert advice
from leading women in different Industries. This week we hear
from Sheila Flavell, COO of FDM Group and winner of the Every
woman in Technology award for "Leader of the Year". Whether your
considering a career in IT, or want to know what its like to
succeed in the fastest growing industry in the world, read on for
Sheila's top tips on making it in the industry.
1. Stand out from the crowd Recent research from TargetJobs found that there is an
average of 15 applicants to every one job currently advertised so
in order to get the chance to interview, you need to make sure you
stand out from the crowd even if you don't necessarily have the
most relevant experience. I would advise you to take something from
every job or academic experience you've had and demonstrate that in
your applications. For example, I started my career with the
Glasgow police force, which gave me focus, discipline and
resilience, I then spent time working in the Middle East for an
airline, which gave me independence and flexibility. Afterwards, I
went back to university to study a Masters to gain the academic
qualification I needed and it is all these qualities that have
allowed me to have a wonderful career in IT for over 20 years.
2. Work experience I cannot express the importance of gaining work experience.
Although it's not imperative to have the most relevant experience,
it is definitely something that can make you and your application
unique. Although I didn't have IT experience prior to joining FDM,
my leadership skills overpowered this. If you make a difference
during your time there, you may secure a longer placement or even a
full time job. Use your initiative, build robust relationships, be
willing to help and become indispensible through hard work and
commitment. Never forget that you have a voice so use it!
3. There are many opportunities and routes into IT - you don't
have to be a technical wizard There are so many opportunities for a career in the IT
industry from Java Development to Sales Manager to Marketing. We're
all aware of the common 'geeky' stereotype of IT professionals but
IT is one of the world's fastest growing industries and is now at
the forefront of business with great career prospects. Depending on
what career you are looking into, I would suggest a degree in
Computer Science, numerical sciences or business is advantageous.
You don't necessarily have to have a Masters, at FDM we take on
fresh graduates with a degree and offer further training within
specific streams of IT to further develop their qualifications.
4. Don't be afraid to take risks I know this is a cliché but I can't stress the importance of
trusting your gut instinct because nine times out of ten it'll be
the right choice for you. I'm sure you are aware of the success of
Steve Jobs and Bill Gates despite both of them dropping out of
university. Yes, this was a risk but look how far they have come
and the legacy they have created. I'm not promising that risk
taking will always pay off but how will you know if you don't try?
We opened our first office in New York in 2010 right in the middle
of a recession and its success has been overwhelming, so much so
that we are now expanding onto another floor to accommodate the
5. You will step on people's toes eventually My final top tip is to speak your mind; don't be afraid to
speak out even if your opinion is against the gradient. At the
beginning you're not expected to know everything so if you make a
mistake, learn from it and if you have an idea which you feel would
benefit the company and team or a specific campaign even if it is
not in agreement with a colleague who has been at the company
longer than you, still speak up and make your voice heard.
I hope these tips have helped you to consider the many paths
available to an exciting IT career and realise it is possible to
get a place on a graduate scheme in such a crowded job market.
There is no question that education is vital but you need to
demonstrate drive, determination and the will to go above and
beyond order to stand out from the crowd. Remember that barriers
only exist in your mind so believe in yourself and don't be afraid
to follow your dreams.
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