Meet The Role Models is a technology community series which highlights the stories of The Ada Lovelace Initiative role models. The success of the Ada Lovelace Initiative depends on the participation of technology professionals across Ireland and since September 2015, The Ada Lovelace Initiative voluntary speakers have reached over 5000 secondary school students between them.
Continuing our 2021 series , this interview features Sarah Nolan, Technical Lead at Hubspot.
MEET SARAH NOLAN
Hey Sarah! How would you describe your current role?
Currently I am working as a technical lead. This role is great for a variety of reasons, you get the experience of helping other engineers grow but can also still take on technical challenges. It’s very rewarding if you enjoy mentoring and collaborating with others, alongside building out the product.
What attracted you to this type of career?
I’ve always been fascinated by technology and used to be glued to the PC when I was a child. I’ve always enjoyed playing video games too which was my initial motivation for studying computer science in college.
What did you study in college?
What were your favourite subjects when you were in school?
I loved Maths and Biology.
What were your favourite hobbies when you were in school?
My family is very musical so I played the violin and piano, alongside vocal training. I also enjoyed playing video games and reading books.
What would you say is a common misconception about your role type?
Often people in tech, in particular engineers, are stereotyped as nerdy and socially awkward. This is a big misconception, the engineers I work with are super friendly and outgoing. The culture of a tech company is so important and is something most companies in tech work actively to nurture and grow.
What would you say is the best part of your work?
I love the ownership that I get from my role. I feel like I’m given the room to make my own decisions and also my own mistakes. I love solving problems and taking on new challenges, and I feel like I am learning something new every day. It also helps that I work with some really intelligent people that I can also learn from.
What motivated you to get involved with The Ada Lovelace Initiative?
I feel strongly that the key to getting more women in tech, is to get more women interested from a young age. There’s a common misconception that women are naturally “not as good” as men at engineering. I only discovered I enjoyed problem solving and working with computers due to my Mum getting me Vtech laptops as a child. My school didn’t offer modules that would have helped towards a career in tech the way the boys schools would eg. technical drawing. More women need to feel like tech, and in particular software engineering and coding, is for them. For something that impacts society so greatly, diversity within these companies across roles is so important. There are a lot of misconceptions about what working in tech is and I’d love to help break them.
How important do you think it is for young girls to have the opportunity to meet female role models in the stem space?
It is very important. For me, the women I have met in tech have had a big impact on my own growth as an engineer and technical leader. Women’s experiences in tech are different to men’s and having another woman to talk about those experiences with is hugely helpful. I also think having female role models in tech helps other women see that tech does not exclude them.
Who is a role model in history that you look up to, and why?
Ruth Bader Ginsberg. She was such an amazing woman that fought against the odds to succeed and made some historical changes for women throughout her career.
Who would you say is your own role model in your career today, and why?
I’m pretty lucky in that I work with my current role model – my current manager Nadia Alramli. Nadia has had a huge impact on my career and growth since I started reporting to her, and she is a big advocate for other women in tech as well as for diversity and inclusion as a whole.
What advice would you give to any young girls considering a tech / stem future?
The advice I wish I was given would be to not judge the field by the stereotypes that the media/society portrays it as. I’d advise girls to try out some coding tutorials online, and see if they enjoy them. If they don’t enjoy that, do they enjoy art/design? Then maybe UX is for them. There is so much more to tech than just the engineering side, and I’d really advise all young girls to research the different roles.
We would like to thank Sarah for being involved in the initiative, from taking part in our Ada Lovelace Day video to now sharing her story.
If you would like to learn more about The Ada Lovelace Initiative, please visit our A.L.I page.