About Meet The Role Models
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.
Meet Jennifer Daly
Jennifer volunteered to take part in The Ada Lovelace Initiative & recently visited her old school, Loreto College in Swords, County Dublin.
In addition to her visit to Loreto College, Jennifer also supported The Ada Lovelace Initiative by making a second visit shortly after to speak to an audience of over 101 pupils in Ratoath College in County Meath.
Hi Jennifer! How would you describe your current role?
My current role is Product Owner for Ellucian, who are the leading provider of higher education technology.
Every day I work with universities and colleges from all over the world to discuss the challenges they are facing, and after that with our development team, to deliver solutions to address these challenges.
What attracted you to this type of work in the beginning of your career?
Outside of work, I love to read, watch a good mystery or complete a crossword. That’s mirrored in my choice of career – I’m constantly working to solve problems. I studied Applied Sciences in college and I really enjoyed the Software Engineering part of the course. I particularly liked the practical work; producing something that actually worked on a computer and that could be used by other people!
When I left college I worked as a developer for IrishJobs.ie. Being a developer allows you to solve problems every day but you also get to build something that is used by lots of people and which can make a real difference to their lives and I found that really appealing.
What would you say is the best part of your work?
Every day is different! I work with the team here to solve problems every day & to deliver new features and products all over the world, which gives me huge satisfaction. The best part of what I do is working with bright, creative people.
I work with people from all over the world of all ages and with a kaleidoscope of talents, which come together to build some really great products.
What would you say is a common misconception about your role type?
That I’m a nerd that sits in front of a desk all day staring at code without interacting with other human beings! Which couldn’t be further from the truth by the way! I work on software that other people spend all day working on, my work day consists of discussing and designing new features which our clients would like to see in the software. With my team, I then design, detail and deliver features which will make our clients’ working lives better.
What motivated you to get involved with The Ada Lovelace Initiative?
A friend of mine was already involved and after attending the kick off meeting I too was excited about the opportunity of presenting technology as a career option for young women in Ireland. I would never have thought that I would work in software development when I was in school. I thought maybe something in science, but never thought of a career in technology.
The variety of jobs which are available in computing only became apparent to me once I began my career. It’s only going to get bigger and better too. I believe that the technology industry benefits hugely from having diverse representation.
How would you describe your school visit for A.L.I. – My Story?
I tried to structure my talk to be as interactive as I could, asking questions as I went to try and keep rapport going. The group seemed to enjoy seeing my old school photos – it might have been the uniforms and hair; I was in school before selfies and photo filters, this is certainly a more self-aware and street wise generation! They already know much more than I did about technology, some of their parents are already developers and there were pupils who had attended a web development course in DCU too.
In my talk, I spoke about what I enjoyed doing when I was in school and the steps from school to working as a Product Owner. I talked about how developing software is not unlike building a house; that there are many different types of jobs that people do during the process and that the people I work with who do those jobs come from all different types of backgrounds.
I spoke about the opportunities that working in Technology has given me and the different roles I’ve had since my career began. I started out in tech support, then worked as a developer, moving onto becoming a Business Analyst and now I’m a Product Owner. I tried to convey that a career in technology can be like that, you can move around if you want or stay working in one role, there’s just so much opportunity within the technology industry for all abilities and backgrounds.
Did you feel differently before and after your visit?
I was both nervous and excited at the prospect. I’m used to presenting to groups of people but this was different, this was talking about me and it was talking about me to not my typical audience!
Fortunately the materials that were provided and the feedback from Róisín from the Ada Lovelace Initiative team helped me to prepare. I made sure to practice it a few times on my own then with a friend, as I do with all presentations, which helped me to work out the kinks too.
I really enjoyed going back to the school that I had attended and getting the opportunity to catch up with some of the teachers who taught me, and I have already arranged to come back again next year.
Now that you have completed your school visits, would you have any tips for other role models?
The first talk I did the group was a little quieter than the second, I would recommend having some questions ready to get the conversation going. I used these to start the discussion
- Does anyone you know work in technology, what do they do?
- Would you be interested in my job?
- What did you enjoy or not about the talk?
The second group was definitely more outgoing and they had some interesting questions themselves so I would recommend you get prepared for some like these!
- Where had I travelled with work
- Could I work abroad for my company if I wanted?
- How much do I get paid
- How much would they get paid
- How many points was my course
- Is it hard /do you have to be brainy
Who is your own role model, and why?
There are so many inspirational role models, but Norah Casey is one that sticks out for me. She is a very successful business woman and is doing a lot of work for furthering the cause for professional women in Ireland. I’m looking forward to hearing her speak at the Women’s Academy conference in the RDS in April.
We would like to thank Jennifer Daly for sharing her story for Meet The Role Models and also for visiting the pupils of both Loreto College in Swords and Ratoath College in County Meath. 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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