Louise Collis on her career in Banking, Consultancy, Engineering, Computing & IT, Science & Technology and Finance

Graduate-women.com interviews Louise Collis, Technical Test Trainer at FDM Group. As a successful IT professional, Louise is a key driver of FDM’s ‘Women in IT’ campaign and became an FDM Female Champion in 2012. She is a mentor for female IT Consultants in the business and is also heavily involved in arranging events and on-campus activities for women pursuing careers in the male-dominated technology sector.

What's the best career advice you've ever received?

When I applied for university, I was accepted by every uni I applied to. This lead me to wonder if it was because of ‘quotas’ (I only applied form Comp Sci and electronics courses). My A level Electronics teacher gave me the best piece of advice which I have always remembered. She said ‘even if that’s why I was accepted, to use it to my best advantage, wear your best dress, look fabulous and then really show them why you’re there.’ So I did just that. And I was one of only 3 women who graduated from my degree course.

How did you choose what industry you wanted to work in?

I’ve always had a passion for technology and gadgetry, so when it came to looking for degree options I naturally gravitated towards Computer Science. After that it was pretty much set that I would end up working in the IT industry.

What difference do you believe being a woman has made to your career?

Honestly, not much. Though I do have better shoes than the rest of the dev team!

What have you had to risk/sacrifice to get to the position you have?

Nothing much, other than my sanity (which any tester will testify to!)

What advice would you give to aspiring graduates looking to work in your field?

Never give up. The job market is tough, and that is the same regardless of gender, age, or anything else. Make sure you go to every interview fully prepared, yes you think you would be good at the job, but it’s up to you to prove to them you can do it. The right attitude make such a difference.

What have you struggled most with since starting your career, and do you have any advice on how to overcome it?

Getting into IT in the first place was probably the toughest challenge, so many employers want degrees and 2 yrs experience. I was lucky that a local company was willing to take a chance on a graduate, especially as I didn’t obtain the grade I probably should have.

Do you feel diversity is an issue where you work?

I am very thankful to be able to answer no to this question. I have been fortunate enough to work for some amazing companies and some fantastically talented and lovely people. Even at my first job I was welcomed by the development team an given the opportunity to learn what I now regard as my career.

What do you enjoy most about working in this industry?

I love the constantly changing environment, there is always a new technology or application to understand, another programming language to learn. Working in IT means there is always something new just round the corner. I’m not the type of person who could do exactly the same thing every day for the entirety I love the fact that I don’t know what I’ll be working on in 10, 5 or even 2 years time.

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