Finance Director, BAE Systems Digital Intelligence
6 Apr 2022
How should women approach the “third quarter” of their lives when it comes to their career and the tech industry? Rebecca Peagram says you’re never too old to turn towards tech
As a young woman growing up, I was always more excited by math and science than writing words, and this is one of the reasons I studied physics at university.
I love the logical problem solving approach to things, and it’s this passion for solving puzzles, numeric or otherwise, that has shaped my career.
I’ve never really had grand aspirations of where I wanted to be “in five years-time”. My focus has always been on seeking to grow my skills and abilities whatever I do. But please don’t mistake this for a lack of ambition
Over forty and fabulous
At this stage in my career, I have a much better understanding of what motivates me and where I can have most impact; I love the fact that I feel able to be really clear about that. There are many things I’m able to do, but there are some where I will really thrive; that works best for everyone.
As a finance director I work with a wide range of people, and that means I can raise awareness and drive change in areas I’m really passionate about.
The other real benefit from lived experiences is the ability to deal with uncertainty, and focus on what you can impact, rather than the things you can’t control.
What gets in the way?
For starters, there are general perceptions of age and ability. Am I too old to be “talented” and have great ideas? Can you really only progress when you’re in your thirties? No, of course not.
And then there’s the menopause. Recent research shows 25 per cent of women with serious menopause symptoms leave their jobs and this definitely has played out across my friendship group. The effects, which range from loss of self-esteem and anxiety to fatigue and hot flushes, acutely impact confidence to deliver at work.
My training partner is a women’s health physio who speaks publicly about menopause. We often discuss her upcoming talks on our long runs. Despite having this ringside seat on the subject, I just didn’t see that it was affecting me personally.
Although menopause is getting a lot more airtime, both in and out of work, which is fantastic, there is much more to do!
Broadening out the skills base
Whilst there is a huge amount of effort to get more girls from all different backgrounds into tech, I’m still surprised when the latest stats, like these ones from TechNation, come out as they are always a vivid reminder of the scale of the task ahead.
There is also an opportunity to upskill or reskill women with different backgrounds and different career experience who are in their forties and beyond. It’s about understanding the transferrable skills we all have, whether that’s communication, stakeholder management, or commercial skills and how they might apply in different industries.
As for me, there’s still much I want to achieve in my career. It’s always been about looking for opportunities where my passion for change and improvement is a benefit and where I can have an impact wider than my role.
This year’s WeAreTechWomen One Tech World Conference was an opportunity to spotlight the disruptions and innovations impacting the tech industry
Take a read of the perspectives from BAE Systems Digital Intelligence speakers at the event
How companies can drive inclusion. Organisations have overcome all manner of challenges over the last couple of years but why is gender equity proving so problematic? Theresa Palmer says it’s time to move from talk to action
Delivering diversity in tech. Theresa Palmer is on a mission to help more women into the tech industry. She explains what we need to do to create a gender balanced workforce
Uniting Greater Manchester around diversity. Victoria Knight of BAE Systems Digital Intelligence and Co Chair of the Greater Manchester Cyber Advisory Group explains why greater gender diversity must be an important part of Greater Manchester’s drive to become a world leading digital city-region
From Boot Camp to BAE Systems. Jen Openshaw is not your average software engineer. She tells Victoria Knight about switching careers, the benefits of a coding boot camp and leading the charge for more women in the tech sector