Senior Women In Tech: Carla McGlynn, Citi

  • Carla McGlynn’s job title is a bit of a mouthful. She works for global bank Citi in Belfast and is the Site Lead IN Belfast for Fixed Income and Currencies Technology Business. Hers is a dual role – she’s also the Programme Manager for Brexit.

    In addition to her day job Carla relishes the many other projects she’s involved in at the company.

    “Citi has allowed me the opportunity to get involved in and drive a number of initiatives that I am really passionate about. Helping our future generation!  My focus is to encourage women into the many roles in technology that they might not know exist,” she explained.

    Although she has a hugely successful career path both in front of and behind her, Carla is almost her own cautionary tale. Interested in both science and business in school, she ended up studying for a degree in biotechnology at the then University of Ulster in Coleraine. She followed that with a masters in Computers and Information Systems without any real understanding of the industry she was about to start working in.

    “I started the masters in September and by the following February I had a job as a Java developer at Liberty IT waiting for me when I graduated. I thought that was it; that I would be coding for the rest of my life,” said Carla.

    She continued: “I coded for a couple of years but I didn’t really enjoy it. My manager was the one who suggested that the things I clearly did enjoy were pointing me towards business analysis instead, which back then wasn’t the career path it is now. It was when I started at Citi – as a business analyst – that I realised that I wanted to move into my strengths again and move into project management.

    “That was 10 years ago and since then a lot has happened. I’ve managed small projects and big ones. I got married, had two babies and had a number of different roles. At Citi there is fantastic career mobility. If you want to look for an opportunity, then it’s probably here and there is a way to get into it.”

    Turning the norm on its head, Carla actually credits motherhood as having given her own career a boost.

    She said: “I became more career focused after my first child. I don’t know if it was an instinctive need to prove myself after I became a mother but there is one thing that made a big difference for me. Three or four years ago I came back to work after my first maternity leave and I had lost a bit of my confidence. I wasn’t sure I would be able to pick things up as I had before.

    “Citi runs a global programme called Prometheus that is all about female talent development. I’ve gone from being a participant in that to being one of three global leaders for it. It made a huge difference to me.”

    Certainly, juggling a career and parenthood is a balancing act, but not one that Carla feels that she deals with alone.

    “Citi are a fantastic company to work for and you do get a lot of support, you might have to work late some evenings or at the weekend, but you’re going to get that back. In saying that, my biggest advantage has been my husband. He’s been incredibly supportive of what I do and I think people underestimate how important that is, particularly when you have a family,” she said.

    For Carla one important focus is ensuring that future women will have choices in the IT industry that she simply didn’t know about. Some of the several projects she spearheads are a programme working with the education board to ensure primary school teachers have the skills to teach technology. She has also launched a programme called Citi Spire, open to female students of STEM degrees.

    She explained: “the successful applicants – this year they’re first year students – will be aligned with a female mentor for eight months. They can talk about anything from their career path to their degree and we bring them in for workshops on things like how to take the lead, presenting with confidence and their personal brand. Through awareness and communication, we’ve doubled the amount of women applying to our Technology academy.”

    Clearly Carla loves what she does and where she does it. As we sat in her office overlooking the courtyard in the middle of Citi’s Belfast offices she couldn’t help but smile as she talked about her work.

     “I work with people across the globe on different projects – Citi is a worldwide company but it’s still one with a sense of community. We had local Girl Guides in recently to learn about careers in technology and there will be a charity breakfast here tomorrow.

    “I started about 18 years ago and I didn’t think much about diversity then. I knew I did a male-dominated degree and then moved on to a male dominated environment and that never held me back. But there are a lot more women in the industry these days and particularly in the last five years there has been a huge focus on encouraging women into this industry. There’s a wealth of information about careers and jobs out there that I never had.”

    The advice that Carla has for those planning a career in business or technology in the future is unsurprising.

    “Drive and positive attitude,” she declared. “Don’t come to me with a problem, come to me with a solution to the problem. If you see someone with too much work then knock on the door and offer to take some on. I look at the women starting with Prometheus this year and I was the same. I was afraid to knock on that door in case I looked pushy but instead you actually look eager. You’re too long in work every day not to enjoy it.”

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