Name: Lorrin White
Role: CEO of Cheltenham-based IoT, comms and cybersecurity provider Bamboo Technology
Context: Having joined the firm in 2002 as an office admin, White worked her way up into the CEO seat. Bamboo recently acquired TechOps and moved into a new HQ "within a stone's throw of GCHQ".
How did you get into the IT sector, and what led you to occupy your current role?'
I took an office admin role in 2002 with a small telecoms company. I was a single mother of two at the time and simply worked hard. With no degree, no real business experience, I took every opportunity to learn and step by step I found my way to the board room. Nearly 20 years on and I am still in the same business but rather than sending faxes through for SIM changes and sending mobiles, I drive the business development strategy across comms, IT, software, and digital assurance.
In June 2014, after a four-year trademark protection battle that I was embedded in, I personally got the news that we had won our infringement case. It was a real David and Goliath story as we took on a consortium of household brands in the television broadcasting and telecoms arena. It was without doubt one of the most daunting episodes of my career, the enormity of which was played out in the witness box as I was cross examined by a QC. Receiving the successful judgement some weeks later was exhilarating and served as a real-life lesson that no matter how challenging the circumstances, honesty and integrity will always win.
Who is your role model?
My role models are members of my family. My grandparents and dad were all in the forces. Whilst growing up and in the forces, my parents fostered many disadvantaged children. My mum latterly went to work in child protection. Their sense of duty to serve and to help others has always been inspiring. I aspire to have the courage, depth of character and resilience to help others and make positive change, just as my family have for decades before me.
Do you think the IT industry's gender diversity deficit - and diversity deficit more widely - warrants highlighting?
Yes, I do. Change at the level that is required will take decades to be realised and as such, those of us in influential positions now hold the responsibility to understand, implement and then culturally embed new behaviours that seek to address the imbalances. We cannot simply hope that companies will right their biases, we must drive conscious change by highlighting both the deficit and the benefits of diversity.
What are the key business benefits of having a diverse workforce?
Wider talent pools.
Better employee engagement.
What is your top tip for tech providers that are serious about tackling their gender or diversity deficit?
One top tip is a tough ask, so I am going to go with a few:
- Get clarity around what good looks like for your organisation.
- If you have policies, make sure they align with your diversity objectives.
- Check the language you use for all your comms. This is not just about recruitment ads, its about whether your tone of voice and language across all you do promotes inclusivity.
- There are some great examples of businesses that already on the journey. Widen your own network to include those businesses and seek support, advice.
What is your advice to women and girls thinking about a career in the channel?
If you want a role but it scares you (because of real or perceived barriers), you should still go for it. This would be my advice to anyone. If you need some support to help you get ‘it', then seek out that help. You will be surprised how many people, and in my experience women, have already experienced your issue and will want to help you.
Who is your career mentor?
I have had more than one career mentor. I have tapped into different support networks and individuals at different times, dependent on the challenge I have had at the time. Only I know what I really want from my career, mentors have helped me to navigate my way through barriers with tools and techniques.
How has COVID-19 impacted the diversity debate?
I suspect that COVID-19 shifted diversity down the board room agendas in 2020 as finances, resources and effort were redirected to items considered more relevant. In that respect I fear that COVID-19 slowed down progress that was being made around diversity. However, with the rise in awareness and concern around mental health and well-being during the pandemic the inclusivity debate is making its way back. Many people have taken the time to reassess their personal goals and life wishes and even take stock of the wider sense of community, support, health, and equality that has been embedded in the UKs response to COVID-19. I wonder if in response…. will we see an unexpected but welcome peak of activity from companies wanting to embrace a better sense of fairness and equality and address diversity?
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