Guest Blog - Women in Technology: Adelle Olds
Adelle is enthusiastic and outgoing, with 20 years working in technology across a number of different roles and industries.
With strengths in IT Service Management and Delivery along with People Management, she is willing to challenge the status quo and is energised and passionate about enabling and leveraging technology, to improve the way we work and live.
Where did your interest in technology come from? How did you decide to pursue a career in technology?
My first memory of loving technology came when I was five years old and my Dad brought home our first family computer. I loved watching and helping him put it together. At the same time I also found a love for computer games, these were the days of floppy disks where you needed to load it down first. Naturally impatient I learnt to do this process without the help of my father so I could be independent and play whenever I wanted. This love of technology and computers grew to being naturally curious about how everything fitted together, I began helping Dad fix the computer when issues arose.
I continued my passion and studied computer science in year 11 with dedication showing through as I came top of the class. There was no such thing as a computer science degree back then so I began my career in a traditional route at a large corporation. I started in the ‘traditional female role’ as a receptionist/admin assistant and from there began helping with IT issues wherever I could, simply because I loved the extra challenge. One day I was asked to transfer into the IT team after having made a name for myself as the go to fix it ‘IT Woman’ and never looked back. Though these days I’m no longer in a technical role.
What are the key things that allowed you to get where you are today and what do you attribute your success to?
I think the most important value I live by is to do what you love and then be prepared to give things a go - you may fail but if you never try you will always fail and not move anything forward. Being curious is also fundamental, technology is essentially about solving issues (not always technical ones) efficiently and being curious allows you to delve deep into problem solving. I do think also that you need to believe in yourself. This can be difficult but having a strength of self allows you the confidence to call things out and to push your own career forward.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you have received in your career and how did it help you?
The best advice I’ve ever received and still live by today is “Don’t let perfect get in the way of good”. If we focus too much on everything being at 100% all of the time and for everyone, it will be hard to change anything or to move it forward.
Another motto I live by is “The best way to eat an elephant is with small bites”. Implement something small, maybe it is only changing 10% or 20% of a process or project but by not changing anything you’ve achieved 0%. It’s also important to remember that small changes build towards big improvements so start today and you will never regret your actions.
My professional role model would be Brené Brown whose books and Ted Talks have encouraged me to embrace my vulnerabilities, authenticity and individual courage and helped me to challenge the status quo. Regarding other role models there is not one person that really stands out, I have been lucky to have good leaders and managers throughout my career who have invested and pushed me to reach my goals. There is a big difference between management and leadership. It is important to learn the difference and be inspired by people who may not be your manager but who are leaders instead.
As you transitioned to more senior and leadership roles what was the shift you needed to make?
I found the biggest challenge was adjusting to the level of detail needed to get the task completed. As a detail focused person I found it hard to let go when I began the transition into management roles. However you begin to realise that executives and even your managers don’t have the time to go through a 10 page detail report - they want the most important figures laid out clearly so they have the means to make the best decision quickly.
Delegation is also highly important, in letting go of your control you are investing in your team. Their success is your success but it will only get there if you allow them a chance to prove themselves and come through on your expectations. I’ve always been a people person and I think this skillset has been essential for me within technology. Having a love of people and tech means I can be the bridge between the two which has proven invaluable.
What was the most challenging situation you've faced in your career and how did you overcome it?
I’ve been fortunate enough to go through my career with minor challenges. I think a positive and can do attitude will get you through most work challenges. After having kids I realised that it was the biggest and a far greater challenge than anything I had ever experienced within a working environment.
I think it’s important to maintain resilience especially within these times. Ensure you have multiple aspects of life that are important to you so that if something happens in one it doesn’t cause your whole world to crumble. Personally I am currently facing redundancy from the impacts of COVID-19 however I know that by focusing my energy on applying for new roles and spending time between other things I enjoy that I will get through this. If you focus on the negative during this situation it will only make things harder for yourself.
What advice would you give to other females looking to pursue a career in technology?
Look at the options firstly, there are so many diverse roles within technology and not all of them are technical. Enure you consider every avenue and don’t fall to the common mentality that technology is just an industry for men or just fixing computers. Women bring a great diversity into this field and it is important to have women within the industry. Different thought processes, backgrounds and experiences are so important when working within a team looking to solve a problem and to drive innovations and improvements.
I also want to highlight that I have worked for many years within technology and my colleagues have mostly been men. Rather than being daunted by this I work to get along with all my colleagues and team members and really appreciate my male peers. Throughout my careers and different roles they have all been so supportive, very interested in my thoughts and genuinely enjoy having women peers around for company.
Finally I think it’s important to realise with the increase and diversification of technology within all industries, you have the opportunity to work within an industry you’ve had a passion for but in a different role you may be more suited for - e.g. if you have a passion for health but don’t want to be a nurse, there are multiple tech opportunities there that still allow you to contribute to the health sector.
The impact of COVID-19 and ongoing quarantine measures have been felt globally adversely affecting most individuals and organisations. From your perspective what have been the impacts of COVID-19 within the tech industry?
The impact of COVID-19 especially within the technology industry has been very interesting to watch. First and foremost I think the biggest change going forward is the increase and standardisation of remote working. I think this time has been an amazing experiment which highlights to all of the old school mentality that it can work and work well for many, and we have the means especially within the tech industry.
I think industries that rely heavily on paper forms will come out of this period ready to undertake a huge digitalisation of this process. This will be especially prevalent in industries such as finance and health. I also think we will have further growth in the e-commerce space.
I also think traditional face-to-face industries such as medicine and pharmacy will go through huge changes. It is possible now to have appointments over video conferencing rather than face to face which I believe will continue to make our lives easier and allow more flexibility.
Finally I believe that without this period where tech has had a spotlight and some companies would never have had the spur to improve, diversify and think outside the box. For example the conferencing tools we have all been using for almost all conversations and meetings, multiple new effects have come into play that have come from consumer feedback which arguably would not have happened and certainly not at speed, if this COVID-19 period hadn't brought about rapid and enforced remote working.