I know one thing that me and Lucy are catching up over a glass of champagne at Selfridges when all this is over and I can’t wait. This week Women Rock is dedicated to Lucy Grimwade Service Design and Transition Manager, Women in IT & Digital Coach, Equality Culture Creator and Business Enabler at Selfridges.
In November 2018, she launched a platform called ‘The Wonder’, in her spare time, which works across three service pillars: Career coaching for Women in IT & Digital; Small business coaching to aid brands to digitialise their business and Community with the aim to bring people together.
We’ve talked through her career journey, a great piece on networking and Stella McCartney handbags. Thank you so much Lucy, looking forward to catching up in person really soon.
Back to the very start – You attended UWE (University of the West of England, Bristol) and completed your Degree in Computing. At what point did you want to get into tech and why?
I will always remember when I was looking through a university prospectus trying to figure out what I wanted to do to further my education, it wasn’t as simple as picking your options like I had for GCSE’s or A Levels.
All I knew was that I wanted to go to University. My education life had a rocky start – with one teacher telling my mum (at the age of 5) that “Lucy will never be able to read words that contain more than 5 letters…” from then on, I was tarnished with the brush of not being ‘one of the clever kids’ – So, you see, I had a point to prove!
I enjoyed studying ICT for GCSE then for A Level. And I was good at it. I wish I could give you a bright, fancy reason why I decided to go to UWE and study computing but, the truth is – it seemed the most sensible choice with good career prospects. Another deciding factor was the ability to choose modules – I liked the sound of the flexibility especially around the options of forensic computing, ethics and business skills.
So, I looked at map – I didn’t want to be too far away from home but far enough to gain independence, Bristol seemed ideal and in September 2007 my university life began! Oh and I was one of 10 (max) female’s on the course. The other 50 +, were male. That’s when I knew, I had another challenge on my hands around a gender balance…
From University, you went sent straight into the world of work, can you give us an insight into your career journey and what challenges have you encountered along the way?
My career journey started working on an IT Service Desk for a government body, which was my very first office job. I quickly adapted to the change of environment and using my customer service skill I gained working on the shop floor in retail– I became the face of IT for the small IT team, my roots started to bed into an IT Service career.
I progressed up the career ladder from first line to second line then into management roles to finally finding my niche within service delivery, with a specific interest in design and transition. I firmly believe I achieved this by not being scared to take on new opportunities, for being curious and challenging the status quo.
I have encountered many challenges along the way, from lack of support or access to mentoring/coaching, to bad company cultures with glass ceilings and, of course, the gender pay gap. I have also experienced first-hand negative situations that can so easily cause self-doubt yet I have found and grasped opportunities to shine and progress gaining confidence, skills and learnings. Having a good community around me also helped.
I now work for Selfridges, and recently moved into the role of Service Design and Transition Manager, with the main responsibility to work with project and support teams to design and deliver services into Selfridges IT ops world. I still form part of a Service Delivery Management team where I continue to manage business and supplier relationships, support management with service improvement needs, and contribute towards the service delivery strategy.
I am also part of the Women in Tech initiative where I lead meetings, collaborate with teams and have had the opportunity to set the overarching objectives for the group. One of the goals are to arrange realistic career success talks from people in industry for the wider IT function with the aim to inspire and contribute towards team member PDPs.
As well as working at Selfridges, you also are the founder of The Wonder. Can you tell us about it?
I started The Wonder in November 2018, with the concept focused on being a free networking platform to connect women in business, provide empowerment, share knowledge as well as give a sense of belonging.
A year + on, The Wonder is constantly growing where now it has expanded into a service platform focused on female empowerment with the strapline: ‘powering your potential’ – The main goals are: To enable women working in IT and Digital to be the very best versions of themselves, empower small businesses and entrepreneurs with their business ventures and allow followers/members to be part of a community.
The Wonder works across three service pillars: Career Coaching, Small Business Coaching and Community, supported by The Wonder Blog where I write articles and guides specifically aimed at women working in IT and Digital with ambition to help them with career aspirations and explore topics such as technology, female empowerment and wellbeing.
What do you think companies/teams can do differently to attract and retain women in tech?
Companies need to create a culture where equality is at the heart of their value system which means creating internal groups like Women in Tech or Diversity in Tech to give a fair platform for their staff.
Organisations can educate themselves on diversity topics by allowing their staff to:
- Attend and have a presence at networking events.
- Be involved in think tanks and hackathons.
- Invest by bringing in expert companies and people to coach their staff and shape strategies.
With so many resources, there really is no excuse for ignorance.
Companies need to be transparent with regards to pay, use gender neutral language on job specs and use their social platforms to market their own women in tech forums.
Management need to support personal development. I recently read that women working in non-technical IT roles are not given the opportunity to progress into technical roles resulting in women leaving both the company and IT all together! Learning and development is key to empowering teams, growing an individual and the success to an organisation. By ensuring and securing budget for training and opening channels for staff to learn technical skills will be the start of the journey for many to follow.
You attend a lot of networking events, what advice would you give someone who wants to get involved but isn’t sure how?
There is a running joke in my collective of friends about the amount of networking events I attend. I just love meeting new, likeminded people sharing stories, ideas and building those all-important contacts…
So, my advice to anyone who would like to get involved/attend networking events would be to show up and go for it. Ok, it seems simple, but how many times have you seen someone’s Instagram post at the event you didn’t go to and felt like you missed out? (that used to be me).
It can also be a little dauting, so why not take a friend, but don’t stay connected at the hip through the duration, aim to speak to at least one other person and build on it, next event two… so on.
Networking events are not all the same – so it is about finding the right format for you. I particularly like attending events that have a feature talk then time after to discuss.
I recommend looking at Meetup and Eventbrite – search key phrases like ‘women in tech’ and set the location. There are also female only member clubs available – a few to check out are: Allbright and Step Up which offer networking event throughout the year.
The question that everyone wants to know I’m sure (Excuse me, non tech!), what’s your favourite purchase you’ve used your discount on?
Great question! I am so lucky, and my bank account is very grateful to have access to such an amazing benefit. Other than all the beauty products I buy – I would say my favourite purchase would have to be my Stella McCartney handbag. (see picture of me outside of Macy’s New York).
Do you have a favourite quote?
Sheryl Sandberg said “Being confident and believing in your own self-worth is necessary to achieving your potential.”
I am such a strong believer in that the formula of knowing yourself plus being confident in who you are, will always unleash your potential!
Thank you again Lucy, you’re awesome!
An interview by Darcie Cornish
A voice for diversity in tech <3