I’ve worked at Coastal Housing for over seven years and over six of them I’ve spent in the IT department. Back in July this year, I was promoted to be team leader of our business partner team which had just been expanded to include two others – the ‘team’ had been just me for a while. I contacted Housing Technology to see if they’d be interested in an article about a newly-appointed female manager in IT and I’ll also be doing a talk at the Housing Technology 2020 conference with my colleague Amy Kelly, our lead IT support analyst so if you enjoy this article, please come and have a listen, although our presentation will be slightly different to this as I’ll explain later.
The idea for this article arose after I read an article on wisecampaign.org.uk about how only 16 per cent of IT professionals are female and how the number of female IT technicians has decreased from 19 per cent in 2017 to 17 per cent in 2018. I’m happy to say that I love my job, the work I do really excites me and the team I work with is brilliant.
I know that I’m lucky to work in a team which has a 50/50 gender split and we have a female director, but I just don’t like that I have to feel I’m lucky. I’m hoping from this article that my passion for this role will shine through and it’ll encourage the few females within the IT part of the housing sector to stay to further their careers and encourage others to join.
So, what do I actually do each day as a newly-appointed IT business partner team leader?
When I arrive in the office each morning, the first thing I do is make a cup of tea, search for a space to sit and retrieve my laptop from my locker. Last year we had an office refurbishment so instead of each having our own desk in our own department, we now work in the area most suited to our needs at that time – project, team, quiet or drop-in.
I tend to start my day in the project area because we have stand-up desks there which I love, and it also allows my team and the rest of the organisation know that they can approach me – which they all do rather often. I have three meetings arranged today, one is a phone call with a consultant checking in on a project they are developing, the second is with our maintenance team about a new piece of software they’ve seen and the third is with Amy to finalise what we need to do for the Housing Technology 2020 conference and its looming presentation deadline.
After finishing my tea, I take a wander to find my team and check if they need anything from me and to discuss what their plans for the day are, normally answering questions from other staff as I make my way over to them. It’s also usually around this time of day that I start to get hungry and consider eating my lunch even though I know I’ll regret it later in the day.
As an IT team, we use the Asana project management tool to keep track of where we are with everything; it’s great for a quick overview of what’s happening in the other areas of IT and significantly cuts down on emails which can only be a good thing. It also frees up our team meetings from too many work updates work updates and more about discussions around new ideas or problems that we need to sort out. So after a quick look through Asana and answering a few questions, it’s time for a phone call with a consultant.
Happily everything is going to plan on this latest exciting development and it’s on course to be finished by the deadline. I’m keeping it under wraps at the moment because I don’t want to jinx it but I’ll definitely talk about it in a future article Housing Technology article. I update Asana with the latest conversations and inform the relevant people who need to know.
Amy and I get together to take a look at our talk for Housing Technology 2020 which will be about how the technology sector is starting to change with the increase of females taking up roles and how a stronger workplace can be gained from this. Before we can agree on a title, we come up with three questions:
- What do we want the audience to learn from our presentation?
- What do we want to make sure we say?
- What do we want to make sure we don’t say?
From these three questions, we come up with our title – “Can I speak to someone in IT please?” We’re hoping we’ll be able to entice as many of you as possible along to see us – we promise to keep our talk as entertaining and witty as we can!
The last item on my list is to have a chat with our maintenance team about a new piece of software that they’ve come across which checks and stores CP12s and electrical certificates. We use PanConnect to do our CP12s and are currently developing an electrical certificate task with them. This new piece of software would enhance what we already do and allow the gas and electrical team leaders more time to concentrate on the great work that they do. It’s agreed that we’ll write a business case and make a few enquires.
So that’s it, I’ve had some lunch and a few more cups of tea in the middle of it all. A chat about holidays because it’s my favourite topic to talk about and answered many questions in between what I’ve talked about here, from the simple, “Can Wrapp [our HMS] do this?” (most probably, yes), to the more complicated, “Can you tell me how many of my UC claimants have co-habitants under the age of 16?”
Rhian Waygood is the IT business partner team leader at Coastal Housing.