Digital Her was set up to address the gender imbalance in the digital and tech industry in Greater Manchester. Our programmes aim to inspire the next generation of women to join the industry, and support the current generation working in the industry.
Rising to the top
Amelia Bampton, Regional Director, UK North of Codurance, talks to us about why she loves working in digital and tech, her career journey, the challenges she has faced along the way and balancing life as a working mum of two.
Tell me about your journey into working in the digital and tech industry?
So my journey into tech was very unexpected. When I think back to college and starting to think about what my career might look like, tech was definitely not on my radar. It was just not something I thought I'd find a career in. I definitely saw myself working in the corporate space, but what that would be was still very much undefined.
I went to Liverpool John Moores University to do a business degree. The course had quite a modern approach and taught us that business and tech go hand in hand, they are not separate. It was very much the theoretical view of how organisations like Amazon, who back then was still an online bookstore, were disrupting the market and harnessing tech to really change the way things were done. I continued to study for a masters degree, which was a little more hands-on with tech but still heavily weighted towards the theory of business and this really shaped the direction I took in my career.
I started as a business analyst with logicaCMG, one of the large global tech consultancies and soon realised that role was about using my interpersonal skills and my knowledge of the theory of tech. I found that I had this gift in the tech space of understanding stakeholders, being able to talk in language they could understand, but having a technical mindset that enabled me to relay this information back to the tech teams so I became the conduit between the two. That's where it all started and I have never looked back.
You’re now Regional Director, UK North of Codurance. As a senior leader within the industry, what challenges have you found along the way? And how have you overcome them?
If I’m honest, I’d say one of the biggest challenges I faced was myself, with imposter syndrome. A few years ago, no one really knew what that term meant, but it's had a lot of airtime over the past few years. I think that's because one of the biggest challenges is believing in yourself and that you can do this role, at whatever point you are in your career.
When I was in my late 20s, I went into my first leadership role. I was the only female on the team, I was the youngest member on the team, and here I was managing people that had worked together for a long time. I'd come in from an external appointment, and one of the people I was now managing had also gone for the role. It was a challenging dynamic, and a steep learning curve, but what got me through was that I knew my manager believed in me, and over time I started to believe in myself too.
Following my intuition and what felt right when making decisions, helped me realise that I was making the right decisions, and that I was the right person for that role. That gave me the confidence to keep moving forward.
As well as leading the team at Codurance, you’re also a mum of two, what has been your experience as a mother working in such a fast paced environment?
I love what I do when I show up every day, and I do my best, that’s part of who I am. But when I went off on maternity, both times, I was able to take a year off, which I really appreciated.
People knew who I was and how hard I worked, there was a perception that that would change. When I came back from one maternity leave, it was into a brand new position, due to promotion. Which I think is an important story to share, because I think there are some pre-conceptions that going on maternity leave and having kids is going to hold your career back. However, that isn’t always the case and I think that's important to share, and to champion.
I've always been quite career focused, so when I went off on my first maternity leave, people used to ask me how I would be when I came back to work? My only answer was I didn’t know. I’ve always been very comfortable in the corporate space. I needed that time to understand who I was as a mother, and what I wanted. It turns out I didn't change. I was just Amelia who loves what she does, and very much still wanted to work in the corporate space. Yes, I now have a child, the world has changed for me personally. But I haven't changed in terms of how I want to show up for work. So for me it was about setting my boundaries and parameters and understanding what my core values were.
I’ve been on a bit of a journey with it, especially when I first returned to work. I went back 4 days at first, in fact I've probably tried every combination of working hours along the way. What I found was I was a better mum by being at work and having that time. That was core to my values.
I'm back full time now, they're a bit older and I don't feel guilty, I feel energised. I want to be a role model to my daughters, to show you can have a career that fulfils you, and not to let society make you feel guilty for being who you are.
The truth is there is no easy path being a part time mum, being a stay at home mum, being a full time working mum. You're always busy. There's no easy route. There's no right route. I think it’s about working out who you are, and setting those boundaries. My boundaries are that I turn up for work, I do a good, honest, hard day's work. Then when I'm with the kids at home, that's their time, and that feels right for me.
There’s still a huge gender imbalance in the industry, as a woman in a senior position, what do you think the industry could do better to address this?
When I think back almost 20 years ago, I was the only female on the team, back then I never questioned that. Now there is so much more awareness of diversity and inclusion within the industry. It’s something I would definitely question today - which is a good thing. I've definitely seen a change in the number of women working in the industry, but we still have a way to go.
A lot of the work I’ve done over the last 10 years is around graduates, young people and encouraging non-males to step into the space. I love my career, and if this career path in tech could be opened up to someone else, and it would light them up as much, then that lights me up.
Promotion of the industry needs to start much earlier than graduates, it has to be at a primary school level. We need to be showing better tech role models and female role models in the primary school space. Getting them coding and opening up different opportunities, so they know it's something that is available to them.
Why do you think it's important that we're reaching out to those younger ages?
There's just so many shapes of careers in tech now, but I don't think that awareness is landing with younger people. There are definitely still those pre-conceptions of what a role or career in tech looks like. I think people believe you have to be a developer to work in tech, and it’s simply not true. I honestly believe it's a great growing industry to be part of. The industry is constantly evolving, there's always different shapes of roles emerging, so there's so much potential for you to find a role that you enjoy, and can grow and can develop with.