Women in Technology Q&A


8 March 2018


Estée Lauder

Back in the 1950’s, Lauder was as innovative with her Marketing strategies as her cosmetics products, the combination of which eventually made her the richest self-made woman in the world. As we celebrate International Women’s Day, here at GCI we’re turning the spotlight on some of our female employees at the forefront of digital transformation. The ladies at GCI aren’t just in traditional female roles like Accounts, HR and Marketing (although we have them there too, and love them just as much!) But in fact, some of the most important technical positions in the company are held by females; as the Women in Tech movement shows, ICT isn’t just for the men.

Read on as three Women of GCI talk about leadership, dedication and above all, a passion for IT…


Rachael Allen, Service Transition Director

Rachael gained a significant amount of hands-on experience of a wide range of ICT technologies from 14 years in the Royal Signals (the communications arm of the British Army), where she designed, Project Managed, implemented and consulted on many large-scale infrastructure projects. She now plays a pivotal role within GCI’s strategic direction and keeps us focused on delivering operational and service excellence.

Why we love Rachael: She’s demonstrated strong leadership in her journey to becoming one of the most senior women at GCI.

Q: As an experienced professional in the IT industry, what advice would you give someone early in their career who is thinking about a role in IT?

A: IT has a critical place in every business. We’re often one of the few business units that spans an entire organisation; everything we do affects every team in the business and is key to its success. If you want a role where you can contribute daily to the success of the business and see for yourself the efficiencies that technology can bring, then the IT department is a great place to start.

Q: If you had to name three characteristics of great leaders what would they be?

A: Integrity, Courage, Passion

Q: In your role, how do you strive to be a great leader?

A: I endeavor to lead by example. I will always ensure that throughout the team we share information and knowledge, as well as have open and honest conversations and relationships. People and culture are key to providing operational excellence, and we can only achieve this with strong leadership, collaboration, integrity, accountability and passion. Continued investment in our people is paramount; we need our teams to be responsive, agile and committed, and a great leader will also ensure their team feel valued and are given the recognition they deserve. Quite often my role as a leader is to simply instill the confidence in those around me to create their own success, then sit back and enjoy the benefits.

Rhiannone Cobbold, Technical Consultant

Rhiannone develops and implements solutions within ServiceNow; a scalable platform with a multi-instance architecture that manages GCI’s day-to-day activities and insures the business runs smoothly. With an impressive web development background, Rhiannone found the move to working on ServiceNow development a natural transition.

Why we love Rhiannone: She has worked in the IT sector for many years and is one of our most experienced and competent female technical consultants.

Q: You have worked in IT professionally for 17 years now. What is it about the sector that inspires you?

A: Honestly, I like the complexity of computer programming, the focus it requires, and trying to engineer a piece of software to behave in a certain way. First you need to understand the experience you are trying to give the user, which you can then translate into designing and implementing the code. You’re also constantly learning; it is such a vast subject. Computer programming languages, technologies and tools are always evolving, keeping you on your toes and curious.

Q: Technology is clearly your passion, so what technology could you not live without?

A: Good question! One of Amazon’s Alexa game questions is “What would you live without, chocolate or Wi-Fi?” I said chocolate. Although now I think about it, I wouldn’t want to live without internet as we’ve got so used to it; it’s incredibly handy! And actually, I might be out of a job!

Q: If someone was looking to get into the technology industry, what advice would you give them?

A: One piece of advice that always comes to mind is to make sure you work at something you enjoy, because let’s face it, most of our time is spent working! And get some hands-on practice; with computer programming you can get the concepts through education for sure, but put some personal time into architecting the code and implementing it.

Shannon Westwick, Service Delivery Manager

Shannon oversees the delivery of services to some of our VIP customers. She ensures GCI consistently achieves high levels of service performance and drives service improvements across the business by working in line with our customers’ SLAs, OLAs and KPIs. Shannon also holds monthly and quarterly Service Reviews with her customers – both face-to-face and via Skype for Business – to recap on the previous month’s performance, service improvements, quality and processes.

Why we love Shannon: Even though she has a non-IT background, her innate capability has meant she has progressed into a leadership role within GCI very quickly.

Q: You have progressed into a senior role within GCI rapidly. What advice would you give to someone going into a leadership position for the first time?

A: To take everything in your stride. There will be a lot of things to learn and there will be new responsibilities that you’ve never had to deal with before. As long as you show a willingness to learn, people are happy to help you where needed; everyone at GCI have been amazing at assisting me with anything. Just be confident, adaptable and ensure you are approachable.

Q: What are the challenges of your day-to-day role and what aspects do you enjoy?

A: Other than the reporting aspect of the role, every single day is different – and that can be a real challenge! Being new to the role there are still some areas I need guidance and support with, but I love the fact I have my own set of customers to look after, and that I am building genuine relationships with them both face-to-face and via technology. I really enjoy going to actual meetings and that I’m not entirely desk-based anymore.

Q:  Any top tips for someone who is thinking about a career in IT?

A: Technology is constantly advancing and evolving, if you are thinking about a job in IT just ensure you are willing to learn and are keen to pick up new things. You aren’t going to know everything to begin with, so don’t panic!

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