Meet The Role Models is a technology community series which highlights the stories of The Ada Lovelace Initiative role models; the female technology professionals who are committed to voluntarily promoting technology careers to female students nationwide.
The success of the Ada Lovelace Initiative depends on the participation of role models & since September 2015, The Ada Lovelace Initiative role models have reached approximately 3000 secondary school students. In this series, we would like to offer you the opportunity to learn more about the role models who make these visits possible.
In our last instalment of Meet The Role Models, we had the opportunity to speak to Jolene Dunne who works as a Software Engineer in Proofpoint in Belfast about her experience of visiting St. Louis Secondary School in Dundalk, County Louth.
Meet Tanya Beattie
Today’s interview is the 15th instalment of Meet The Role Models and features Tanya Beattie who is a Solutions Architect with MDS Global. Tanya volunteered to take part in The Ada Lovelace Initiative this year & last term she visited the Transition Year pupils of Presentation Secondary School in Thurles, County Tipperary.
Hi Tanya! How would you describe your current role?
My official title is Solutions Architect, but that would not mean a lot to people unfamiliar with the software design and development process. In a similar way that an Architect would draw up a detailed design for a building project, I would do that for a software project.
It involves working closely with customers to determine exactly what they need and then to provide a design on the best way that they can use our system to get that. It also involves providing detailed designs to the engineering team on the new components or extensions to existing components that we need to develop.
What attracted you to this type of work in the beginning of your career?
Starting out as a programmer, I found that I was particularly interested in the internal & external design of the various components we developed. I liked to ensure that the internal design followed patterns making it easy for others to understand should it ever need to be changed or extended. With regards external design, I was concerned that there were simple, clean, extendable interfaces between components, e.g. a Web Page that accepts user input, being one component, and a back end business logic layer that interprets that and provides a response, being another component.
These concerns meant I progressed down a technical path, however there were other paths open to me such as business analyst or development team lead roles.
What would you say is the best part of your work?
Starting a big project and not knowing how we were going to provide the solution. Then working with a team and the customer to break it down into functional/technical components and the solution slowly materialises. Then several months later seeing it actually developed and live at the customer site.
What would you say is a common misconception about your role type?
The most common misconception is that I sit a computer typing all day. I actually spend a lot of time working at a white board with colleagues trying to figure out solutions to various problems. I work with different departments within both my own and the customers’ organisation around the current solution. On a daily basis I spend time working with the following teams:
- Test Team – to give an overview of the solution and to answer any questions as they arise
- Development Team – I provide detailed design steers so that the development team can build the solution. I need to ensure all understand how their part fits into the overall solution.
- Management Team – assist with providing a breakdown of the solution into work tasks so that it can be planned and resourced adequately, e.g. what technical skills does it require vs who is available.
I also spend a lot of time visiting and on calls with customers throughout the lifecycle.
What motivated you to get involved with The Ada Lovelace Initiative?
There are too few women involved in software development.
How would you describe your school visit for A.L.I. – My Story?
I was a bit nervous beforehand as I didn’t know if the students would be interested in my particular story. However, the time went quickly and I was encouraged by the questions during and after the presentation.
Did you feel differently before and after your visit?
While feeling somewhat nervous beforehand, now I feel thankful to have had an opportunity to meet the students and provide some real-world experience of a career in IT. I particularly like liked showing that you do not need to be a master mathematician to have a rewarding career in IT and that there are many different career paths available within the industry.
Now that you have completed your school visit, would you have any tips for other role models?
Providing examples of what you were like that their age, interests, hobbies and in particular your perceptions of what the IT industry was. It may help the students identify with you, students who may not feel that they are suited to the IT industry.
Also, the students were quite interested in the financial reward of the role, so it would be useful to have some information on that.
Who is your own role model, and why?
Helene Graham, Chief Technology Officer of Eir. It’s fantastic to see a woman with the most senior technical role in a very large Irish Information and Communications Technology (ICT) organisation.
We would like to thank Tanya Beattie for sharing her story for Meet The Role Models and also for visiting the pupils of Presentation Secondary School in Thurles, County Tipperary. If you would like to learn more about The Ada Lovelace Initiative, please visit our A.L.I page.
We are looking for role models from every county, if you would like more information about visiting a school on our waiting list or your old school, please fill out our form here and we will be in touch shortly.