In the Sogeti Spotlight – Cassy Calvert on diversity in testing and breaking into the technology industry
Hiring more diverse talent is a key priority for the technology industry. Today, we are talking to Regional Portfolio Director at Sogeti, Cassy Calvert, to get her perspective on how the industry has changed since she first started in testing, how organisations can continue to do more to encourage diversity, and what advice she would give to those who are looking at a career in testing.
How did you get started in your career?
I didn’t take the traditional route into the technology industry. When I was at school, I was always seen as the ‘techy’ one and I enjoyed mucking about with code. I went to university to study IT but left before graduation because I found the curriculum boring, and I was one of only two women in a course of more than 100 men. I didn’t feel like I got the stimulation that I needed on the course because it focused solely on development, rather than exploring the wider range of jobs on offer in IT.
My first job was then an admin role at a finance company, which mainly revolved around inputting finance applications into a terminal. I got so quick at doing this that I began beating the system before it could move on to the next page. So, I started to play around and push all the buttons on the terminal to see what would happen, which resulted in me getting banned from using the machines because I kept breaking the software.
Around that time a ‘tester’ job came up in another finance company, which was all about trying to find bugs and issues in software. This seemed like a match made in heaven for me – testing different software and putting it through its paces! I quickly grew my skills and understanding and developed technically from there.
As a female leader in a typically male-dominated industry, how have you seen this sector evolve and become more diverse?
As I just mentioned, at university I was one of only two women on my course – a number that didn’t improve with further intakes in the following years.
That said, it has been my experience that there has always been more women in software testing than in the developer community, which has meant that I’ve worked with a good balance of both men and women since joining the IT industry.
When I made the move into management, however, it was clear that there were a lot more men in those positions. I have sat in many senior lead meetings, internally and with clients, where I have been the only female present. I wouldn’t necessarily say it has had a negative impact on me and I certainly didn’t feel like I was treated differently to anyone else, but it was something that was very noticeable to me as I progressed up the ladder.
I’d also say that things have vastly improved, and for the right reasons. There hasn’t just been an influx of female employees because companies need to hit a quota, but – in Sogeti and also Capgemini’s case – we are actually seeing an increased number of women apply for technology roles because as a company we have made ourselves more attractive to females. No longer do women feel like taking maternity leave or asking for flexible working to help with childcare will result in them not be able to progress in their careers. Companies are also interrogating their own hiring processes to ensure their questions or how they conduct promotions, for example, aren’t biased towards a particular gender.
Things have come a long way, but there is still plenty of work to be done. That is why I am working not only internally at Sogeti where I am a UK ambassador for Women in Delivery, but also externally with schools and universities to better teach students that there are multiple job options in technology and that women can have a long and prosperous career here.
What do you like most about your job?
I really enjoy mentoring the teams I work with. I have a number of teams that report to me, both from a line management and delivery perspective, and I make sure to carve out the time to coach individuals on whatever they might need support with.
The people are the best part of my job but also the most challenging aspect. I really like coaching people and get fulfilment when I am able to support them, whether it is on a query about a project, coaching them through a promotion, or supporting them through a personal issue. That said, I definitely don’t always have the answer - it can throw up many challenges which I don’t know how to manage straight away! But then I continue to learn and improve myself.
What would you say to others who are interested in a career in testing?
Be bold and don’t be frightened of making mistakes – after all, one of the main principles of software testing is finding them.
It is a great career and one that continues to evolve, which stops it from ever being boring. You can challenge the status quo quite easily and find better ways of working. I see it as a licence for people who want to make things better – be that software, process improvement or general admin – to challenge preconceived ideas and work outside of the normal boundaries that other roles sit within.
I help organisations build quality into their software and applications through Quality Assurance, delivery of service and use of accelerators and tooling. I'm also passionate about quality - having, building, delivering and living it!
In my role, I support our consultants to deliver on this, ensuring that our delivery is on time, clients are happy, teams are happy and that we are successful commercially.
I enjoy leading teams, improving and developing how we work and empowering the people I work with to become their best, by trying to promote a working environment where we have a positive culture, can deliver to our commitments and do what we do best, be innovative and test!