Women in Tech: Jacqs Harper
The second story in the series of our Women in Tech interviews. This time, we speak to Jacqs Harper, our Technology Director.
What’s your name and role?
Jacqs Harper, Technology Director. I’m responsible for leading the teams that develop and manage all the technology, software and hardware, we use in Nuffield Health.
How did you decide to pursue a career in technology? Was it your childhood ambition or a spontaneous decision to work in the field?
It’s been an iterative journey towards technology throughout my career. I’ve always been interested in innovation and new ways of working and so I naturally gravitated to tech roles. I like learning and in technology you get to work with smart people and learn new things every day.
What are your biggest achievements / moments you’re most proud of in the workplace?
Gosh, it’s hard to pick but let me call out some big team achievements per place of work. At Three, we had a very strong year in 2019 delivering a portfolio of change that was critical for business performance. We went to the UK Digital Experience awards that year and cleaned up taking home lots of big awards. It was a special day celebrating with the team and so it sticks in my memory.
At RSPCA, we launched whatthreewords as a method of locating injured animals in rural locations. This one was really special because the team getting the product to market quickly meant that we actually saved animals lives which was incredibly rewarding.
So far at Nuffield, there are a few that come to mind. I’m really pleased with the progress the team are making in setting up the new squads and units in our Tech structure. This is a big change and I think they are doing a great job of implementing a modern way of working that will ultimately deliver better performance for the charity. Some of the progress that’s been made in online booking has been a highlight too. The Operations team and the Tech team working closely together has delivered a massive increase in the number of bookings occurring digitally. This feels like a massive win from a customer experience and a trading point of view.
What advice can you give to women considering a career in tech?
A couple of nuggets of advice from me:
· Build some strong technical skills and become as T-shaped as possible. This could mean taking some coding classes, doing a course in UX or even considering ITIL. Going outside of your primary discipline and broadening your skillset will open up opportunity and also make you more effective and confident in your core role
· Network with other women, and with men, and don’t be afraid to lean on each other and ask for help. You are always stronger with others around.
· Feel the fear and do it anyway! Put your hand up to speak at an event or take part in something that makes you feel a bit scared. If you can make this a habit you’ll find yourself developing at a super-fast rate.
· Have fun! Working in Tech is interesting and rewarding. Enjoy it.
Do you think that women have the same opportunities as men in the tech world? How can we change that?
Women are still underrepresented in Technology, especially in leadership roles. To move this forward I think efforts need to continue in making STEM education more accessible, mentorship programmes for woman and role models. More generally, continued effort in the DICE space will support freedom of career choice for all genders.