People of Pontoon: Women in Tech

Video 27 Oct 2020 . Brianna Kerr

Women account for only 3% of students globally who join information and communication technology courses. In part one of our Women in Tech series, we hear from three Pontoon colleagues who are forging successful careers in technology roles. They discuss their personal career journeys, the importance of women supporting women and what we can do to empower the next generation of females in STEAM roles.  

What drove you to pursue a career in technology? 

Profile photo of Kristina Urdaneta

Kristina Urdaneta: I started my career in management consulting. I wanted to solve business problems. The more I got into difficult and complex issues, the more I realised that technology was the biggest component for driving positive change. Technology was a skill I needed to solve big problems. I fell into business intelligence, but it is the perfect marriage between business and technology, and I have ended up in exactly the right place.  

 E’Lisha Davis: When I was young my mother worked at IBM and I used to visit her after school. It was during that time that I had the opportunity to interact with a lot of computer programmers and engineers. They shared what they were doing and entertained my questions. This sparked my interest. From that point on I pursued anything that related to IT and technology.  

Profile photo of Ginger Rissew

 Ginger Rissew: Technology fell into my lap. I started my career in the human services field. I had a friend who worked at Adecco at the time and she alerted me to a position in the customer service team. I have continued to increase my knowledge and skills since then. It was a happy accident. I love it and feel like this is where I should have been from the start.  

How do we ensure that women and girls are encouraged to pursue careers in STEAM roles and is there anything that you do personally in this regard? 

Ginger: I think that things like this initiative increase awareness and encourage women to pursue roles in STEAM. Continuing to spotlight women in these roles is important. Pontoon does a great job of ensuring that diversity. Personally, I encourage women to go after roles that they don’t think that they can do. My goddaughter is 9 and loves art and her computer. I encourage her to pursue things like graphic design and I can see her as a future architect. 

Kristina: Women in roles like mine have an opportunity to demonstrate to young women what is possible. These types of jobs can be intimidating, and to women, they can feel like they are outside the realm of possibility. Exposing people to regular women in these roles is important and exploiting free resources about coding and programming helps to normalise the field. 

E’Lisha: We must continue to be poster boards for what we do. Women need to shout louder, stop being silent achievers and share their experiences.  

How has Pontoon enabled you to further your career in tech? 

Kristina: Pontoon has been very supportive with respect to sponsoring training. When I first started, we were able to do an in-person training on Power BI (a business intelligence tool) and can do self-guided trainings. They are very on top of ensuring I can continuously sharpen my skills and move up in my career.  

E’Lisha: I have been with The Adecco Group for 26 years and over my tenure, it has been a great ride. I have had opportunities to work on various IT and technology projects and initiatives where I have learned new skills, worked across the business and enhanced both my operational and technical capabilities.  

Ginger: I have really learned a lot since I started with Pontoon from all the VMS’s to the Case Management tools that we have. I have realised that I have some strong skills in troubleshooting and problem solving and I never would have had the opportunity to realise that had I not joined Pontoon.  

What steps can we take as individuals and organisations to break down stereotypes and ensure more diverse representation in STEAM roles? 

Ginger: A lot of this has to do with acting and not just talking. At Pontoon, the employees are diverse, and they lead by example. I would like to see more women in Leadership roles and there is always room for improvement here. Continuing to highlight women in tech roles helps encourage other women to see themselves in these roles. 

Kristina: We are doing a good job, but we can be better. There needs to be more emphasis on the recruiting side. Looking in places we have not looked before. Diversity in technology is so important because technology is all about solving problems. Diversity of colour, of orientation or socioeconomic backgrounds but also diversity of thought. Bringing people together who have vastly different perspectives increases your chances of solving big problems.  

E’Lisha: As a woman of colour in our organisation I have seen an improvement around gender diversity, bringing more females into the tech space. There is definitely more work to do with minority groups, minority women and the promotion of innovative thought. Once we draw more women into these roles they need to be supported. We can invest more in mentorships and ambassador programs to ensure we achieve this.  

What does the future hold for women in tech? 

Kristina: I think the future is ours! Women are graduating at higher rates than men now. The world is changing. There are not as many women in leadership roles but that will change. There are so many in entry and mid-level roles and they will get there. This is an amazing time in our history. As more women continue to join the workforce it is our responsibility to empower them and support them whether as an informal mentor or a formal sponsor.  

E’Lisha: There are so many more opportunities available for females in IT and technology industries. There is more to do at the leadership level but as long as there are opportunities the sky is the limit.  

Ginger: At this point, there really are endless possibilities. It is a really exciting time to be a woman in technology. We are starting to get recognised. It is up to us to help pave the way and encourage other women into STEAM roles.  

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