International Women’s Day 2021- Reflections on my career at PDMS
This year international women’s week coincides with my 20th work anniversary at PDMS.
When I first joined the company to take up the role of Marketing Manager, there were twenty-four of us working from our only office in the Isle of Man. Over the years, our team has grown (we are now a team of over 80 talented people) as has the range of the technology services we provide. We’ve also expanded our geographical footprint with an office in Glasgow and home workers dotted around the UK.
So why have I stuck with the same company for so long? There are multiple reasons including the fact that PDMS has evolved over time, as has the marketing profession, so there are always new challenges - new innovations, new markets, new clients, and new opportunities. I also work with a great team of people who are all focused on delivering the very best outcomes for our clients.
Just as importantly, I am fortunate to work for a great company that has genuinely supported me throughout every step of my career as a working mother. During the last twenty years at PDMS, I have been able to achieve a positive work-life balance. I have two children, teenagers now, but when they were born, I was able to return to work when I felt comfortable doing so. There was no mandatory return to work dates imposed to cause undue anxiety, I could return when I felt ready to do so. The company also readily accommodated my requests for flexible working so when the children were young, I worked shorter days and weeks. Having more time to spend with my children, whilst still being able to work in a job I enjoyed, was incredibly important to my overall wellbeing and identity.
As many working Mums will attest, it isn’t always easy juggling children and a career but knowing that I had a supportive employer who wasn’t going to give me a hard time when I had to down tools to look after a sick child, made life so much easier. I never felt conflicted about being ambitious and wanting to progress in my career whilst also raising a family.
I know that this isn’t the approach some organisations take and trying to successfully balance work and raising a family can be a significant and stressful challenge for many women.
If I’ve ever felt that I’ve been held back during my time at PDMS in years gone by, it’s only ever been on account of my own self-belief. Not because of the way that I have been treated as a woman. There’s a phrase called “unentitled mindset” and whilst many women face internal barriers at work, they also often lack a healthy sense of entitlement. There is research to show that a feeling of being somehow “less deserving” is much more prevalent in women than men. There’s a detailed and interesting report published by the Female Lead, if you’d like to read more on this topic. I can recognise elements of this in myself when I was younger. However, I have benefitted enormously from the support and mentorship of numerous colleagues both male and female within PDMS and from other working women in my wider network.
Two years ago, I was appointed to the PDMS Board and, with three female directors, I’m hugely proud of the fact that we buck the trend when it comes to female representation in the boardroom. Interestingly, I also attended a recent Institute of Directors event highlighting the huge underrepresentation of marketing professionals on public and private boards. Quite depressing considering marketing’s role in representing the voice of the customer and helping to inform and drive business strategy. So that’s another plus for PDMS!
I appreciate that by staying with one company for so long I may have missed out on the opportunity to experience different corporate cultures and gain new insights into how different organisations work. However, over the last twenty years, I’ve had so many opportunities to be challenged, to make a positive impact, and to grow professionally.
I work in a sector that is, unfortunately, lagging behind when it comes to diversity -where only one in six technology specialists in the UK are women and only one in ten are IT leaders. There are many fantastic initiatives underway to try and address this imbalance. I’m delighted that this year we have been able to sponsor the “Empowering Women to lead digital transformation programme” in Scotland – a programme to help enable support female managers into becoming even more confident, capable, and motivated leaders.
Here’s hoping that one day, in the not too distant future, that International Women’s Day will be able to focus solely on celebrating the achievements of women around the world as there won’t be any need to raise awareness about the issue of equality.