Andrea Westbrook, Organizational Change Management Practice Lead – NTT Communications Americas Professional Services

You, your background and why you got into technology.

I didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted to do when I graduated from university with degrees in Physics, other than to stop being a poor student! My first choice career was not available to me in 1987 as women were not accepted into that industry in those days, but I was hired by a great company and 18 months later, I had very unexpectedly found my calling into IT. I credit my first employer’s new graduate program which exposed us to many different areas of the business, allowing us to develop and find our way during our first 3-5 years in the workplace. This corporate patience to develop young talent is rare today.

Your current role and skillset, does this inspire you, or is there any other role you would love to be doing?

Fast forward 30 years and I’ve changed roles, industries and technologies more than a few times. I’ve worked for large companies, small companies and had my own company. Each change I’ve made has been a response to my situation at the time rather than following a structured plan and that clearly works for me. By remaining open, continuous learning and taking calculated risks, I have grown and that has provided my career opportunities. Even now, I don’t know what is around the corner or what I want to be when I grow up but that is motivating to me and keeps me on my toes. My constant inspiration is my husband who has supported me for 30+ years and without whom I definitely would not be where I am today. That’s a story for another blog!

What or who drives you in the industry.

I am continually driven to keep pace with technology, to ensure that I can help people do the same and to leverage technology where it is meaningful and positive. I want to de-mystify technology and look our reliance on it. Technology should serve us, but sometimes it’s the other way around.

For women who are just looking to get into technology do you have any advice for them or could you tell us what you think worked well for you?

Apart from one career door being closed to me when I was young, my home environment was one where anyone believed they could do anything if they worked hard, had the basic skills and wanted something enough. That was very infectious and I never even imagined that barriers existed, but now that I’m older I realize that I benefitted from some incredibly brave and talented predecessors. The advice I give is to follow your own path. If you have clear sight to what you want to do or be, that’s fine and you should go for it, but if you don’t that’s fine too. Follow your heart and stay true to yourself.

What you believe the future of technology looks like for women and what policies or improvements can be made.

I believe the future for women in technology is as bright as it’s ever been as long as we continue to do and promote our good work, support each other and maturely call out bad behavior when we come across it. The gender pay gap is still shockingly real and more transparency on compensation is long overdue.