One sign of the modern IT company has been the number of women making it into senior roles over the past 10 years.
Tess Nicholson, a senior account manager with CSC (formerly Continuum), believes the growing emphasis on building true relationships with customers, rather than just selling boxes, ideally suits women looking for a career in a traditionally well-paid industry.
Ten years ago, Nicholson was operations manager for Datacom, a job which involved relationship-building and customer support. In 1987, she was tempted into her first sales role, as a recruitment consultant for what was then Computer Recruitment Services (CRS).
“My opinion at the time was that sales people wear white shoes and sell door-to-door,” she laughs. “But since taking that job, I have never looked back.”
While Nicholson remained with the same organisation, handling recruitment in various forms, the company changed hands several times. CRS was bought by Paxus, which was then bought by Continuum. And most recently, Continuum has been bought by CSC.
“It means I have had to be really flexible. I’ve stayed within one organisation but have had all different kinds of jobs.”
Nearly four years ago, Nicholson moved from recruitment into account management with the health sector, a career change made possible by the Paxus and Continuum connections. And five months ago, she made the shift to a senior position handling outsourcing.
“So it shows you don’t necessarily have to change companies to get a real variety of work,” she says.
Nicholson feels the lot of women in the industry has improved a great deal over the last 10 years.
“People like Bev Pratt and Robyn West are excellent role models for people in the industry. It’s probably fair to say there is still an ‘old boys network’ out there, but it’s disintegrating. Women are eminently suited to the role of building customer relationships, which has become so important in recent years.”
Ironically, she feels it is men, more than women, who are more discriminated against when it comes to balancing their personal lives--especially children--with work. Most employers seem ready to make arrangements like flexible working hours for working mothers, but the needs of working fathers are still largely ignored.
“There are probably no jobs in this industry that are 9-to-5. There’s a lot of after-hours work. In this industry, if the client wants something working, you have to stay until it is. I think there is a real issue with men being pressured to work longer hours and that needs to be addressed. Companies have to resource to look after their staff better as well as their customers.”