The ‘Women into Science and Engineering’ (WISE) annual core-STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) report shows there has been a steady growth of women in tech within the ICT sector over the last decade.

Here at Unique IQ, we have a number of women who are part of our team and today we share a chat with two of our newest and most experienced members, Cheryl Guest and Nicollah Sekete.

Cheryl Guest

First-up is Cheryl, our Service Delivery Director who has been part of the team for the last five years and is our longest-serving female member of staff.

Hi Cheryl, thanks for joining us today. Could you please tell us a little about yourself?

I am Cheryl Guest, the Service Delivery Director of Unique IQ. I have been part of the team for just over five years and I have overall responsibility for service delivery. I oversee both the development and the service and support teams.

Cheryl Guest

As you cover two completely different types of teams, what does a typical day in the office look like for you?

My typical day is very varied, one day I might be collaborating with the technical team around a new feature, the next day I might be defining new processes in order to streamline our products in terms of service.

What is your history and tech background?

I am not a developer! [Laughs] I’ve never developed, I started off working in a computer store initially, selling hardware and peripherals as part of this role. From there, I moved into software, which I have been working with for a number of years now, it was software solutions for education, before Unique IQ.

What first introduced you into the world of tech?

I’ve always been interested in the world of technology; I’ve also always been interested in the role of technology that makes someone’s life easier. Here at Unique IQ, we concentrate on providing software solutions for care, which essentially helps care providers deliver better care.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced as a woman in tech?

Although it has not been a challenge as such, historically the sector has been quite male dominated in terms of hardware sales, particularly where I have come from. But in software, as I am more the management side, typically it tends to be a good mix of male and female within the environment.

Has working within the tech industry changed since you first started?

There has been a shift in the hardware industry – we are starting to see more women involved with that side of tech. But in terms of females in software solutions, I think it’s the same as it has always been, particularly in the management side of things. I do think more so nowadays, it is more acceptable that women are in tech, particularly on the development side. Here at Unique IQ we have a couple of female developers who are young apprentices who are just coming through the ranks. I think education has had a positive impact on that.

What do you see for the future of women in tech roles?

I am hoping to see it become more balanced. As education and schools have an impact on making it more attractive, making it more appealing and acceptable, not so “nerdy”. As we are moving into a mobile technology world, software as a solution becomes much more exciting and innovating.

Do you have any advice for women looking to get into technology, especially software development and management roles?

Embrace it if you like an ever-changing world, which technology is, go for it. If you are interested in innovating and getting involved in producing something that is going to change people’s lives, I think it is something you should embrace.

Thank you, Cheryl!

Nicollah Sekete

And now, we chat to Nichollah Sekete, one of our talented developers who joined us in August directly from a coding bootcamp. Nichollah is one of our newest members of staff.

Could you please tell us a little about yourself Nicollah?

Nicollah SeketeMy name is Nicollah Sekete, I am 24 years old and I’m fairly new to coding.

Tell us about your experience attending coding bootcamp

I went for an apprenticeship with the coding camp, we learned a lot of coding languages including JavaScript, a little of React and C#. We didn’t study PHP in the camp, so over the last week and a bit, I was self-teaching the basics of PHP and every day now I am learning something new, literally learning on the job!

What made you want to become a coder?

I like the idea of a challenge. I didn’t come from a coding background, I actually studied English Literature at university. It was a huge jump going from that into coding, but pretty much all of the jobs I had since finishing university were pseudo-coding, they would refer to you as a ‘data analyst’ even though I wasn’t doing any of that! [Laughs] But it started to intrigue me, it was interesting to see what career paths were available if you had some interest and understanding of coding and languages. That is what made me curious and led me here.

Could you describe a typical day in coding bootcamp?

We were taught for system application programming (SAP), we were assigned mini projects for about a week to 10 days to complete. We covered all types of coding, including front and back end development. It was quite a good experience and helps you to get a good taster for the different types of languages in coding.

Did you enjoy this route into coding?

Definitely! I really enjoyed it. I have a friend who is studying in the bootcamp from my recommendation, she loves it. My friend saw that I was enjoying it, especially for those people who didn’t go to university as it’s a really good way to get hands-on experience as well. It was brilliant, I will always recommend it.

Do you have a favourite coding language from what you have learnt so far?

From my time at the coding camp I would say that I picked up front end stuff a lot quicker than the backend stuff, I think that was probably due to my background. It felt like you were reading when looking at HTML, like everything just made sense and it flows naturally, unlike the more logic heavy stuff at the backend. Since working at Unique IQ, I have started to really enjoy working more with backend, such as PHP. I wouldn’t say at the moment I have a preference though, I enjoy both.

What advice do you have for girls interested in tech?

Just do it! There are opportunities out there and although it is a male dominated industry it is slowly changing. I have been speaking to my friends who are in other STEM areas who feel the same, I would say as long as there is one woman in the door, then the door is open. Although, you might be the first person in that company who is a woman, when the next one comes in, they’ll look to you and be like “you’ve managed to do it, I can do it too!”

How have your experiences been so far as a woman in tech?

All my experiences have been super positive, I have heard of the horror stories and I am happy to say I have not had those experiences at all.

Many thanks to Nicollah and Cheryl for spending time chatting with us today.