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 promoting technology careers to pupils nationwide. In this series, we feature interviews with a diverse range of technology professionals, with a variety of roles from over 75 companies in Ireland.

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 over 2000 pupils nationwide. In Meet The Role Models, we offer you the opportunity to get to know the role models who make these visits possible.

In our last instalment of Meet The Role Models, we had the opportunity to speak to Karen Bollard who is a Group Project Manager with One4all, the multi-store gift card brand based here in Dublin, Ireland.

Today’s interview is the seventh instalment of Meet The Role Models and we would like to introduce you now to Siobhan Maughan who is a Product Management Mentor & Coach and the Founder of IntegratedThinking.

Siobhan volunteered to take part in The Ada Lovelace Initiative & recently visited her old school, Portmarnock Community School, to tell the pupils how her career developed since she was a pupil there.

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Hi Siobhan, how would you describe your current role?

I founded IntegratedThinking in 2013 to help companies who are looking to establish a stronger discipline in the way that they develop and market technology products or solutions. Many companies tend to focus very well on the technical aspects of product development but may lack discipline in the way that they apply other aspects of the product management process such as talking to customers, assessing market opportunities, managing return on their investments or prioritising resource allocations.

What attracted you to this type of work in the beginning of your career?

I think I was initially attracted to a career in technology because of the great opportunities it offered. When I went to college there were so few opportunities for graduates in Ireland and many had no choice but to emmigrate. Technology was an area of growth in the 90’s and there were so many more chances to get work in Ireland than with many other courses.

I suppose my career in technology has really varied over the years. When I graduated from DCU I really didn’t know what I was getting into. Although I started out as a software engineer, I was exposed to so many other career development opportunities in areas such as project management, team leadership and mentoring, marketing, sales and strategic development – working in technology really helped me to develop my skill set.

What would you say is the best part of your work?

I think fundamentally I love working with people and I love a challenge. A career in technology is never dull and is always challenging – I love that I learn something new every single day and I get to work with some really creative and innovative companies.

What would you say is a common misconception about your role type?

I suppose a lot of people feel that a career in technology is extremely technical and boring and that you need to be some sort of computer wizard to even consider looking at this as a career option. This is so far from the truth and although the courses do deal with technical aspects, they really require an ability to think logically and to apply logical thinking to problem solving. I suppose that is why those with a strength in mathematics may have an advantage in these courses.

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What motivated you to get involved with The Ada Lovelace Initiative?

Having worked in technology companies for the last 20 years I can really see the benefits that women bring in the workplace and I am concerned at the drop in female applicants in technology courses. I think there is great opportunity for women to really succeed in technology and there are no barriers to leadership positions. I felt that the Ada Lovelace Initiative was a way for women, like me, who have had varied and interesting careers in technology to meet with and encourage the next generation of women to focus on technology as a career choice.

How would you describe your school visit for A.L.I. – My Story?

I really enjoyed getting back to visit my old school. Having a couple of teenagers myself I was apprehensive about chatting to the group and whether I would be able to connect with them. It is always a challenge to keep the attention of a bunch of 15 year olds – especially at the end of the day – but they were very attentive and seemed like a great bunch. I spoke to them about the founder of Openet (Joe Hogan) who is my brother and who also went to the same school. I told them that really there was no reason at all that they couldn’t think of a successful business idea just like Joe! We also spoke about the Collison brothers of Stripe and I think it resonated with them that Irish students who were so young could now be so successful with a business in the technology sector.

When I started my talk I asked how many would consider a role in technology and we had no hands. I asked again at the end of the talk and I reckon about 20 hands went up – a mix of boys and girls. Hopefully they do remember the talk when they are looking at their CAO forms in couple of years.

Did you feel differently before and after your visit?

I was apprehensive at the start and I knew it would be more difficult than talking to my usual audience of business leaders. It was great to do it and I hope it planted a few small seeds in their thoughts around career choices.

Now that you have completed your school visit, would you have any tips for other role models?

Keep it simple and try to engage them on “what’s in it for them”? They really don’t have any idea what a career in technology even means so spending more time explaining this area would probably be helpful for them.

Who is your own role model, and why?

I think Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook is inspirational and her book Lean In is a great read – As the COO of Facebook, she is one of the most successful women in the technology sector.

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We would like to thank Siobhan Maughan for sharing her story for Meet The Role Models and also for visiting the pupils of Portmarnock Community School! 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.

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