IWD: Jess Beardmore, Product Manager of Global Interoperability, Allocate Software
Why is International Women’s Day important to you?
International Women’s Day is really important to me. It’s good to remember how far we’ve come and the women that have sacrificed so much before us, but also to remind ourselves that there’s still so much to do.
I think there’s also an opportunity for solidarity on International Women’s Day. Everyone coming together, men and women, to keep driving change and getting stronger is just a great thing.
What does this year’s theme, #ChooseToChallenge, mean to you?
I really like this year’s theme. I think it’s empowering people to stand up and say, ‘no, I actually choose to challenge that thing that’s not quite right or made me feel uncomfortable’.
Often, we don’t call out issues for fear of the consequences. This is helping to create that safe space to challenge, where people feel like they can do so without negative repercussions.
It’s also about being comfortable with the fact that you might be challenged and being okay with that too. We don’t like to be wrong, but we shouldn’t normalise or accept bad behaviours. It’s an ongoing journey where we’re making great progress.
Why did you choose a career in product in health tech?
I’ve worked in so many different disciplines and Product kind of chose me in all honesty. Product feels like an amalgamation of all the different things I love. People often don’t realise that product is equally as much about talking to customers and understanding them as it is about the more technical side of things.
Also, through working in an organisation that is focused on making the NHS and it’s people’s lives better, I feel like I’m making a difference. When I’m able to see an issue and solve it for a Trust or a customer, I feel like I’m actually contributing to the bigger picture. It’s only small but it feels like if we’re all doing these small bits it makes up one whole great thing and that’s really nice to be a part of.
What can we do to better encourage women into these roles?
I think there are more women in product than some might realise but it’s the tech and software side of things where we need to encourage more.
I was able to start my career in product as my employer, Allocate, gave me that opportunity to grow and move across disciplines.
Organisations need to provide that flexibility and be careful to not pigeon hole people. I’ve worked in various roles and can draw on that as a product manager. It’s about nurturing talent and seeing that, even though they might not have the best experience, their natural talents will be enough and they can build on those technical skills easily.
What would be your advice to women wanting to start a career in tech or product?
Women are often more humble creatures and that’s a good trait, but I would encourage all women to never underestimate themselves.
I would also encourage women to look deeper into the different roles out there. There’s often more to it than what you first think. Try to think about how you can take your strengths and apply them to a particular role, don’t focus on where you think you don’t have the skills. You can always learn the technical elements and build your skills if you have the confidence and drive to do so.
A huge thanks to Jess for sharing her thoughts. Find out more about International Women’s Day and this years theme here.