Q&A with Paula Morrell, Head of IT Operations, BT Ireland on International Day for Women and Girls in STEM
Paula Morrell, Head of IT Operations, BT Ireland
Tell us about your role in BT Ireland?
I am Head of IT Operations but my career with BT Ireland has provided me with the opportunity to perform a number of different roles over the years.
I am currently accountable for the internal IT Operations group, providing application and infrastructure support, ensuring availability of critical services across our BT Ireland business operations from mediation, Order Entry, Billing engines to our Reporting systems.
Why did you choose a career in IT?
Honestly, my father steered me in this direction. It wasn’t Sr. Eileen, our career guidance teacher in the Convent of Mercy! He felt, in the 80s, that computers were the future and could see that the job opportunities would exist. My best friend and I applied for IT, I was successful in securing a place and she ended up in Business Studies elsewhere!
Have you faced any hurdles as a woman in IT?
I have worked for a number of companies in an IT role spending 7 years in London in Telecoms before returning home to work in both the Health and Banking industry and ending up in Telecoms again.
I can honestly say I encountered no hurdles as a woman in IT. As long as you show initiative and willingness to listen, learn and work collaboratively with others across the business then doors will open for you. That has been my experience.
I would observe and I would speak for myself here, typically women don’t have the confidence in their own abilities but programmes e.g. focusing on Diversity in the work place is helping to change that.
When you are recruiting in your department in BT, do you notice a lack of female candidates in technology? Why do you think that is?
Yes I would agree that this is the case within IT but not the case in other areas. Part of the problem is we don’t tell enough stories of the incredible scientists and inventors along the way who are women and as a consequence, women don’t see themselves as potential scientists.
STEM is an area for development into the future, BT are very supportive of this as we see annually at the fantastic BTYSE event. Only recently we met Norah Patten who is seeking to be the first Irish person to travel to space!
We all need to do more to provide our young people with what they need to discover, to experiment and to innovate.
What advice would you give to women and girls considering moving into a career in IT?
Believe in yourself and don’t suffer from lack of confidence in your own abilities. I work in an area where there are very few women but don’t let that put you off. A combination of great managers and mentors have supported me in my career along the way. Pursue your dreams.
Your industry is so fast-paced. How do you keep up with the constant change?
Through industry blogs, supplier partnerships and BT internally invests a lot of time and effort with relevant updates on a daily and weekly basis. There is a strong eco systems of subject matter experts which we can link in with being part of a global company.
What technology trend or prediction are you most excited about?
Is your job likely to be replaced by a machine? How certain are you of that answer?
AI is an exciting area and has been advancing enough to replace at least some jobs for over the last number of years in the United States.
I think it’s naïve to think that all jobs will be fully replaced, but they will be more heavily automated, and we’ll have to adapt our careers accordingly.