Name: Donna Taylor
Role: Managing director, Oxfordshire-based cybersecurity reseller and consultancy ITB (IT Bus)
Context: Taylor founded IT provider DSA Ltd in 1992 before selling it in 2007 after she had her daughter, Tegan. She joined ITB in 2010 as managing director, and today owns 80 per cent of the company.
What is your advice to women and girls thinking about a career in the channel
As a female who has run two successful businesses within the IT sector my advice would be to absolutely do it. My business specialises in cyber security but the whole IT sector offers huge opportunity and scope. There is such a varied career route that can be taken from sales, to technical, ethnical hacking to senior global roles. It is an industry I love.
Who is your career mentor?
I am not sure I have one. I have met many great characters over the years and each individual has impacted my life in different ways, positively and negatively but each time is a learning curve.
I remember taking my first business plan to a bank - let's leave them unnamed - for a start-up loan. This was before women were in IT. He refused me and asked me what I was going to do with the business if I decided to have babies any why I thought I was competent enough to run an IT business. He told me to ‘maybe consider something more suitable for a woman'! I remember taking the business plan off his desk and told him that he was wasting my time. I took the same business plan to another bank and secured a Government Guarantee Loan and turned over £1.2m in my first year. I sent the first bank manager my first set of accounts and, yes, he did call me and, no, I did not take his call."
He is definitely not my career mentor but he is someone that possibly drove me in the early stages to prove him wrong and that woman do belong in IT and certainly, thank goodness, we don't have attitudes like this any longer.
Who is your role model?
Definitely my father. My father was ex-military who rose through the ranks to Warrant Officer Class One, which is the top rank you can reach before becoming an Officer. Although he did not do this, he certainly had a very successful 22 years in the Army. My Dad always told me that "you become successful by making other people successful" and anyone who every worked for me over the years would have heard me say that many times. When I look on Linked IN and I see many people who did work for me over the years, I can see that this is true and I wish them every success and if I helped propel them to their success in any very small way then I am happy.
What are the key business benefits of having a diverse workforce?
The culture within our business is something we heavily focus on and diversity within our staff is something we champion. Having a diverse workforce allows us to bring a mix of personality into our team which brings different ideas and work methods which is important to us.
What's your top tip for tech providers that are serious about tackling their gender or diversity deficit?
I believe a key tip is to adapt. From our own experience we have found that applying an adaptable and flexible mind set has naturally allowed us to attract staff from diversity sets. An example of this is a key member of our team being Muslim and wanting to continue his commitment to prays. The business created a quiet place for them to do this and allow time to attend Friday preys which was very important to them.
From experience I know that individual staff members will all likely have different ways of living, and we as a business want to embrace and support this regardless of gender, race, sexuality etc.
Do you think the IT industry's gender diversity deficit - and diversity deficit more widely - warrants highlighting
I think if we look across all sectors there is still work to be done around all diversity. Having been in the IT industry for most of my career I know first-hand that it was a very male-dominated sector but over the years we are seeing this change with women securing senior IT positions which is fantastic to see, and long may it continue
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