“You don’t just have to write code to work in IT”
Natalie started her IT career in law, moved to logistics and is now a Business Analyst at WANdisco.
Tell me a little about your path to working in the tech sector and your professional background.
“My background is very varied. I studied law and working in legal practice for a couple of years after I left university. I found the law sector quite boring actually! But I liked the research and analytical side of the work. I moved on from there to work in logistics and the supply chain sector, for a popular Swedish furniture retailer.
“Throughout that time my work was very systems-based. Even when I worked in legal practice, I never actually had a paper file; the focus was always about systems and how those worked for a user. It was the same working with warehouse management systems. I sometimes felt quite frustrated about the constraints within those systems. I really wanted to drive change but it’s very difficult when you’re in a user role.
“Then I saw an advert for a role in IT, which was in Ops Management, and I thought: ‘That looks quite interesting. I was already doing an Ops Management-based role, so I decided to move into IT.
The way that the managing director at that company pitched it to me at the time was, ‘IT is the way the world’s going.’ I think that’s very true; it’s changed the way we bank, the way we shop, the way we do everything. It’s a huge part of our lives and it’s just going to get even bigger.
“That company was reasonably small, so I wore a lot of hats! I looked at processes, systems and implementation and the business analyst side of my work really interested me. From there I moved to a slightly bigger hardware and networking company who specialised in installing LAN networks and VoIP systems for organisations, especially in the social housing sector. Then I moved from there into software, into a business analyst role.
“I was at that company for a couple of years when I saw the advert for WANdisco and thought: ‘That’s a weird name!’ I did a bit of research on them and the business really interested me, with the focus it had on big data. I had a chat with them and thought it was a great company to work for, so I moved across to join the company then.
“I’ve worked in IT for about five years now. It’s fair to say I’ve always worked in male dominated environments, but it’s never been something that I’ve ever thought of. I think legal practice has improved their ratio of men to women now. It’s probably not the stereotypical perception that people have had of that industry in the past.
“I think IT is also going to go through that journey where more women take an interest. You don’t just have to write code to work in IT. The sector is so broad. Even though I’ve worked for three different businesses, they’ve all done completely different things. There are other roles available like business analysts, product owners – these are roles that typically aren’t mentioned when you’re studying your GCSEs, at least not when I was at that stage in my life.
“Nowadays there’s more flexibility to jump around from law to IT. You might think these sectors are nothing like each other, but they really are, because there’s a large amount of analysis in both the roles I had.”
What did you enjoy most about your job?
“I get to work with everybody in the business. Essentially, I’m the voice of the customer within our business. I get to work with customers, tech teams, people in technical writing positions, testers – I get to work with everybody. I take their ideas onboard and talk to people to see how we can implement these ideas into our systems and products. It’s nice at the end to see what we’ve all contributed solving an issue.
“I also like the fact that I’ve taken my own frustration into using quite complex task management systems, that did things like print blank letters off and as a user you couldn’t stop it, to make sure our systems don’t do these things. If a user comes up with an idea, I can say: ‘Let’s put that on the roadmap.’ I can take that frustration away from people and help our business to grow and make money because people love our product. For me, that’s fantastic.”