Chloe Shepherd
Mar 8, 2017
10 mins reading time

Meet the Team: Women in Tech

In honour of International Women’s Day, we have interviewed just a few of the fantastic women on the Web Team. Keep reading to find out more about each us and why we all love working in tech!

Liz Pope


Role: Web Team Lead

Time at HX: Almost seven years!

How did you get into tech?:

I’ve been in to technology for as long as I can remember. I’d get in from school and spend 20 minutes waiting for the PC to boot up, then another 10 to get it to connect to internet (got to love dial up!), before having to disconnect so someone could use the phone! As I got older I would build my own PCs and was the go to person in our family for IT support. In terms of as a career, I used to do some small amounts of website maintenance for a previous employer which made me think I might like to work more in technology, I then saw an opening at HX as a Software Tester, which sounded fun - I liked the idea of spending all day on the internet!

What has managing a web team taught you?:

Communication is key. Nearly every single problem we face can be solved by better communication, even technical issues are often down to not having the right people involved, or teams not interacting in the best way.

What is it you like about working in tech?:

There is always something new to learn. Even now that I’m not as close anymore to the development work, I am still learning all the time about new technologies, ways of working and how to help people fulfill their potential.

Who are your heroes (tech or not tech related)?:

Thierry Henry, I totally adore him.

Caroline Woodhams


Role: Product Owner of Integrations

Time at HX: Almost three (June anniversary)!

What attracted you to a career in tech?:

It wasn’t a career I actively chose, to be honest. At school, I was in the first year to take the IT GCSE - at that time it was all about creating spreadsheets and coding a little Visual Basic, hardly exciting stuff. I went on to start my career in housing and construction in project management roles. It was only when I worked at Westminster City Council on an Agile transformation project that I got my first taste of product management. What I love about this job is how I get to leverage technology to solve real customer problems: it’s deeply satisfying to think I’m creating products to make people’s lives easier.

What has being a Product Owner taught you?:

Just because you think your product is amazing, doesn’t mean other people will. Some companies spend far too long in the R&D phase, followed by a lengthy build process, that means the product is completely disconnected from what customers actually want. Then when they deliver it to the market it flops because it’s become irrelevant. It’s so important as a PO to keep the focus on the customer, from that everything else will fall into place.

What advice do you have for people thinking of getting into tech?:

The employment market is changing - from a skills to a knowledge based economy. Jobs that are currently undertaken by humans may eventually end up being automated - we’re already seeing it with developments like self-driving cars. What this means is that it’s becoming unacceptable to be tech-illiterate. But that doesn’t have to be scary! Start investing in self-directed learning about tech - whatever job you end up in it will be an incredibly useful thing to understand and open doors to many fulfilling careers.

What is your greatest achievement?:

Starting my own business - it taught me that relationships are the single most important thing to be successful.

Georgia Drew


Role: Software Tester

Time at HX: Just over 4 years

How did you get into tech?:

I previously worked in the Call Centre at HX in Insurance so was well aware of the Web Team but never thought I had the skills they needed so chickened out in applying for roles upstairs. After 2 years in the Call Centre I felt I needed a new challenge and loved the sound of the Software Tester role, and luckily for me, there was a Software Tester Role available so I jumped at the chance and applied.

What has testing taught you?:

So much! But mainly the frustration customers can have when booking on sites. The smallest thing can put you off booking a product, if something doesn’t look right, or behave the way in which you thought it was going to, this is so frustrating! It has also made me question so much of the work we do, and ask why? Why are we doing this and how will this benefit our customer?

What is it you like about working in tech?:

There is always so much to learn and so many different areas of tech. There is room for progression in lots of different areas which is what I love so much about it, you never have to stick to just one role and you are always faced with a challenge or being pushed out of your comfort zone.

Who are your heroes (tech or not tech related)?: Cameron Diaz, I love her!

Ilarna Nche


Role: Software Engineer

Time at HX: 8 months

What attracted you to a career in tech?:

My father is involved in the technology industry and he would sometimes bring home spare computers to fix when I was younger. I was intrigued by computers and that’s how my passion for computers and technology started. I wasn’t aware that you could have a career in tech until I took a Computing course at A levels. It was one of my favourite lessons and that’s when I had learnt my first programming language Python. It has opened my eyes to the vast amount of job opportunities that you can have with a technology background.

What has coding taught you?:

Coding is just like learning a new language. You have certain rules and different syntax to learn. Also, it is never too late to learn. There are so many languages and techniques to use. Technology is constantly changing and you need to be evolving with it.

What is the biggest challenge working in tech?:

I would say updating old legacy code. You break so many things and have to figure out a way to update it without breaking the rest of the code.

What advice do you have for people thinking of getting into tech?:

Technology is the future. We need more and more people coming into this sector because this is the way forward. It is important especially for Women to enter this industry because there is a lack of female employees. We shouldn’t feel intimidated if you are the only woman in the class or in the workplace in your role because you are inspiring and representing generations to come. I highly recommend watching Hidden Figures, it has inspired me to believe that I can achieve anything I want to.

Stef Kennett


Role: People Executive - Tech Recruitment

Time at HX: 3 years

How did you get into tech?:

I kind of fell into it! Started off at HX doing general recruitment, supporting lots of teams across the business. I was interested in the web team and what they did so built up a partnership with their recruiting leads. We’ve been growing so much, the expansion of the web team has been huge so they needed a dedicated recruiter as the roles are difficult to fill - and here we are!

What has recruiting for tech roles taught you?:

Tech is such a diverse field, you don’t have to just be a developer to work in tech, there are so many different roles involved in keeping a website and product in front of customers. And there is so much to learn, but I enjoy every aspect of it.

What advice do you have people applying for jobs in tech:

Be confident in what you can bring to a company. For us, it’s not just about what you can bring technically, but about you as a person too. Our values are at the core of our strong team culture and used throughout our recruitment process.

Who are your heroes (tech or not tech related)?: David Attenborough, total legend.

Chloe Shepherd


Role: Developer Lead

Time at HX: 6 months

What attracted you to a career in tech?:

For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated with all things tech and being the inquisitive person I am, I have always liked sitting and just playing with things in order to figure out how they work. This combined with my passion for customer service is what attracted me to a career in this industry. Improving a customer’s online interaction by using the latest tech… what could be better!

What has being a Developer Lead taught you?:

It’s massively opened my eyes to the challenges developers can face. Quite often something that seems ‘simple to fix’ can turn out to be complex to implement.

What advice do you have for people thinking of getting into tech?:

Just go for it! It’s such an exciting time to be working in tech and there are endless possibilities of what can be achieved. There are so many different roles in tech too (as well as coding), so don’t be afraid of taking that leap and trying something new.

What is the best part of working in tech?: It is fast evolving, which can be a challenge, but that is exactly what makes it fun. I love reading about new technologies / apps / websites etc and watching them evolve too.

Well that’s it from us! Want to find out more about working at Holiday Extras? Get it touch, we’d love to hear from you (any excuse for us to talk tech!)

Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten the awesome guys on the team. Check back on International Men’s Day for their profiles :)

Tags International, Women's, Day,, IWD,, Tech,, Female,, Profiles