Name: Victoria Critchley
Role: CEO of Derby-based Microsoft Gold partner Bam Boom Cloud (formerly Cooper Parry IT)
Context: Having worked in IT her whole career, Critchley became Bamboo Cloud CEO last month following its MBO and rebrand from accounting parent Cooper Parry.
How did you get into the IT sector, and what led you to occupy your current role?
I have always worked in IT. I studied IT at college. My first role was a technical support engineer, fixing Macs and PCs. I have always been a huge fan of Microsoft/Bill Gates so it feels like fate led me to own a business dedicated to Microsoft technology.
Career highlight so far:
An easy one: fully owning and becoming CEO of my own global technology business - I still have to pinch myself! We also won Microsoft Global Partner of the Year in 2019 - the email announcing that we had won made me drop to the floor and cry!
Do you think the IT industry's gender diversity deficit - and diversity deficit more widely - warrants highlighting?
I am delighted to say that we have a Microsoft MVP (Most Valued Professional) on our team. There are not many in the Microsoft network and our MVP happens to be a super woman!
I was the only woman on my computer science course at Uni back in the 90s and I know from having a teenage daughter that girls are still not attracted to computing - it's dominated by boys. It is getting much better but it is still not enough. It means that women in the sector don't generally start off in their early career on a technical track. I actively encourage the women (and men) in my team to constantly learn new technical skills even if they don't use them day to day - this gives them better insights into what our customers need but also gives them more career options. I am delighted to say that we have a Microsoft MVP (Most Valued Professional) on our team. There are not many in the Microsoft network and our MVP happens to be a super woman!
Who is your role model?
Elon Musk - I love his ambition! He tackles HUGE problems, is not afraid of a challenge and is comfortable with trial and error. He also submerges himself into his projects; he likes to understand the technical details and he leads from the front. I think of him every time something seems too tough...if Elon can get to humans to Mars, then I can do X!
What are the key business benefits of having a diverse workforce?
A diverse workforce mirrors our customers and our society. We sell to SMB's, they are all diverse themselves, and we should be too.
I think it is wrong to say that women bring typically feminine traits such as empathy, care, and patience into the workforce: any human can possess these traits and it is wrong to generalise because of gender. People are individuals - they each bring their individual talents to the workplace.
What's your top tip for tech providers that are serious about tackling their gender or diversity deficit?
Make it something you consciously track and report. Then act on the data.
What is your advice to women and girls thinking about a career in the channel?
Go for it, stretch yourself, the role may look too much for you but you can do more than you think. Employers are looking to improve their diversity, use this, take a risk and go for it.
Who is your career mentor?
Gavriella Schuster - CVP at Microsoft. She is inspirational. I love listening to her speak. She is so passionate about the Microsoft ecosystem, technology and diversity. She must be incredibly busy but still takes the time to be "real".
How has Covid impacted the diversity debate?
It has definitely made an impact on working parents - home schooling and working a full time job is exhausting and has a impact on people's mental health. The stress of the "double shift" is taking its toll. I hope my team have felt supported and empowered to fit their role around their other commitments. Young people have also had it tough, we have also recently hired 8 new team members using the government backed Kickstart Scheme - giving young people struggling to find work a chance to thrive.
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