Inspirational Tech Advocate Q&A with Caroline Lewis
Our Sales Director, Caroline Lewis, was recently interviewed by WeAreTechWomen about her career within the tech industry, the challenges she’s faced along the way, and what she believes is one of the biggest tech trends facing 2021. If you missed the original article, catch up below…
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
I’m Caroline Lewis, and I’m the Sales Director for Tiger – a workplace data analytics organisation.
I’m proud to be the company’s Sales Director – driving forward an eight-strong sales division. But while sales is my specialism, I also work closely with all of the different teams and departments across the whole of Tiger – working collaboratively to ultimately grow the business and build upon our strong reputation within the industry. I have over 20 years’ experience in the industry, but my passion for tech started when I decided to study a computing and informatics degree at the University of Plymouth.
After graduating, my first job was in a customer tech support role at Tiger. I then swiftly progressed into the sales area of the business, due to my combined business and technology skillset. Tiger is a company which really fits with my own personal values. Aside from the inspiring technical developments, it offers lots of support and development for its people, which makes it a positive and rewarding environment to be part of.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
Honestly, no. When choosing my A-levels, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I knew I enjoyed STEM subjects, and I liked the idea of working in business. Looks like I was on the right track after all!
Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?
Flying the flag for women in a predominantly male-dominated industry has its challenges!
In my early twenties, I remember sitting down in board meetings – where the c-suite representatives were all men – and having to demonstrate my ability to not only hold my own in the room but to understand technical discussions.
I quickly discovered the importance of having confidence in your own skillset, but also knowing when you do and don’t need support from colleagues with more experience.
What has been your biggest career achievement to date?
There have been several key milestones for me.
Of course, I’m proud of being Tiger’s Sales Director, but not because of the desire for seniority, rather it’s about all the years’ positive experiences, successes, wins, and hurdles overcome which have got me here. Being able to use this knowledge and experience within my own team to help them develop, grow and ultimately be more successful, is a hugely rewarding process.
Also, a specific achievement that springs to mind is having been awarded Tiger’s ‘Salesperson of the Year’ title for four consecutive years. This is given to the team member with the best revenue performance for that financial year – something I’m extremely proud of.
However, alongside being recognised by my fellow colleagues, it’s always very rewarding to see how our technology makes a difference to our customers – helping them to interpret their data so they can make better decisions, improve efficiency, and reduce costs.
Ultimately, I’m proud of the reputation Tiger has in the marketplace and the relationships we have with customers, partners, and the wider UC&C space. We don’t stand still – which makes it a great place to be!
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
Great parenting – mine have been a big influence in my life.
I inherited my passion for STEM subjects from my dad, and my self-belief and drive – stubbornness! – from my mum.
From an early age, my parents encouraged my brother and I to enjoy learning and developing an interest in a plethora of subjects – there were never any barriers or boundaries to what we could do. And this confidence in my capability to do anything I put my mind to has stayed with me.
However, finding a company which possesses this same ethos has also played a pivotal part in this success – it was fate.
What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?
To believe in yourself, be determined and surround yourself with people who have this same positivity – don’t listen to the doubters! Finally, find a job that interests you – it’s important to retain your passion and excitement for your chosen field.
Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?
The barrier is often other people’s mindsets. That’s why it’s important to work with, and learn from likeminded colleagues, coaches and role models plus look for a company which has the same ethos you do.
What do you think companies can do to support to progress the careers of women working in technology?
Ultimately, this has to come from both sides of the fence – the company and the employee – with women being confident and believing in their capabilities.
However, the firm should have a level playing field and open mindset when hiring new candidates – they need to be conscious about how they’re presenting themselves. For example, are the culture they promote and the job descriptions they write authentically inclusive? If so, this may go a long way in attracting more female applicants.
There is currently only 17% of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?
The change has to come from an early foundation. I’d push the importance of STEM subjects in education and ensure that all schools and colleges had positive role models with encouraging attitudes towards women in tech careers. I always remember my maths tutor laughing at me for wanting to do a computer science degree, and that shouldn’t happen.
What is your favourite thing about working in the tech sector?
The ability to be part of an industry that can challenge the norm, influence change quickly and inspire everyone with new ways of working.
What do you think will be one of the biggest tech trends in 2021?
While 2020 saw businesses having to react quickly by setting up remote workforces or accelerating their home-working capabilities, this year it will be all about those same companies catching up with where their tech investments have rapidly propelled them.
All this will take place alongside analysing what worked well and not so well – to inform future business decisions, regarding people, productivity, and efficiencies. And workplace data will play a vital role in achieving this.
Last March, Microsoft Teams’ users increased by 12 million in one week, while Cisco reported 6.7 billion minutes of meetings on one day. And one of our clients had voice data volumes increase over threefold between February and March.
Now, companies will be figuring out how to harness all this intelligence.
In the age of ‘dispersed workforces’ – all sat remotely behind a webcam – business leaders will want to know more about how line managers are looking after their teams, whether employees are engaging with the new tech, and if there are any staff wellbeing issues, and more.
But having the data to know if staff don’t have their cameras on for every video call or send high numbers of instant messages to colleagues, can help to identify any issue and remedy it. Whether it’s because they’re lonely, they’re having technology issues, or there’s a training need – organisations will need this insight at their fingertips.
But crucially, everyone needs more access to the data that’s relevant to their team. This will be the key in helping individuals to better help staff, collaborate and enhance productivity – benefitting the entire company.