A few years ago if you had asked Ellie Wintram or Darcie Walsh what they would be doing in 2020, neither would have said working as an engineer at one of the UK’s fastest growing tech companies. Only a few years ago, Ellie was working as a studio manager at a design agency and Darcie was the office manager at a fintech company. Thanks to a career change programme, both now have promising careers in tech and are loud advocates for other women thinking of doing the same.
Tech not an option
At school, neither Darcie nor Ellie considered engineering as an option – not surprising when you hear what lessons were on offer; “At school we only had IT lessons which were very basic introductions to using a PC” says Darcie, “I left with no understanding of what a job in tech entails and little to no computer skills.”
Ellie’s experience was similar, “I know there were IT classes at my school but the teachers weren’t confident about teaching it and weren’t in touch with the developments happening in the outside world.”
Ellie blended creative A levels in design with Maths and Physics, before choosing to study illustration at university, “I don’t know why I chose the degree I did, I didn’t try enough out” she says. Darcie chose a well beaten path in her family; “I put myself in a box, my family all did creative careers so I thought that was what I was meant to do”.
Making the change
By the time Ellie and Darcie got into the job market, there was a huge demand for tech skill but very few people qualified to do it, as Ellie says “we fell between two eras really – when we were at school we weren’t taught tech skills or even told tech was a job opportunity, but then by the time we graduated tech was one of the most in-demand roles around.”
Makers was set up to tackle just this problem – capitalising on the opportunity to tap into talented people who were never given the opportunity to consider a career in tech and helping them switch careers.
But it’s not the easy route.
“It’s very intense and there is a lot of information to take in!” says Ellie, “You have to shift your attitude and get used to working in pairs to solve problems, which is good because that is actually very similar to what it’s like for me now in my team at MVF.
“I didn’t realise how much engineering is about communication, collaboration and knowledge sharing. For every problem you encounter there are four or five solutions so you work together to find the best fit.”
Passing the baton
Now they’ve found their dream jobs, both Ellie and Darcie want to help other women find their way into tech. “I have been to some great events around increasing diversity in tech but I still end up the only woman in the room at times. I remember how that felt when I was starting out, so I try to go to as many meetups as I can to ensure there’ll always be at least one other woman there if someone new to tech turns up.”
Despite the hard work and industry challenges, Darcie would still recommend a career switch to tech to anyone: “It’s the best decision ever. It has given me so much confidence in my abilities. I love telling people I am an engineer because people still don’t expect that answer from me!”.
MVF is hiring – check out our open roles: https://www.mvfglobal.com/vacancies
Kizzi Nkwocha is the editor of Business Game Changer Magazine and publisher of The UK Newspaper, Money and Finance Magazine, the net’s fastest growing wealth creation publication. Kizzi Nkwocha is chair of The Ethical Publishers Association and co-chair of The Logistics Association. Kizzi made his mark in the UK as a publicist, journalist and social media pioneer. As a widely respected and successful media consultant he has represented a diverse range of clients including the King of Uganda, and Amnesty International. Nkwocha has also become a well-known personality on both radio and television. He has been the focus of a Channel 4 documentary on publicity and has hosted his own talk show, London Line, on Sky TV. He has also produced and presented both radio and TV shows in Cyprus and Spain.