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Senior Women In Tech: Lorna Hermin, Kainos

  • With more than 1,000 staff deployed across over 250 customer projects, Kainos is one of Northern Ireland’s most successful digital technology companies.

    According to its last interim results in November, the company has seen a near doubling of sales orders to more than £64 million while posting revenues of more than £41 million. 

    Behind the financials and performance indicators, lies a clutch of young leaders driving the company forward. One of these is Lorna Hermin. She’s been with Kainos for more than 17 years and is now a delivery manager.

    Lorna leads engagement with customers, and shapes and leads the team building software.

    During the discovery phase, she could lead a small team of five to seven people. But for a major project, like when delivering DVLA services for driver and vehicle enquiries to digital platforms, the team can grow to over 40 people.

    The DVLA project impacted on around 45 million users and brought driving licence records onto a cloud platform “to make them fully available to citizens”. In terms of everyday changes for road-users, this meant taking away the paper counterpart of the drivers’ licence. 

    “Projects like this,” says Lorna, “are big and they impact on a lot of users. This was a really exciting client to work with because we were really changing how they were working by developing digital services.” 

    Lorna went on to work with DVSA on modernising their MOT testing service which is helping to reduce the overall cost of providing the service to garages, whilst improving test quality in a modern online environment.  The new “joined-up digital service” is expected to save the DVSA around £100 million over the next 10 years.

    According to Lorna, Kainos is geared around a “one-team approach” which means bringing their talent close to the customer. 

    “We’re determined to make things work, so we're all about bringing teams together to ensure that the customer has a good experience working with us,” she says.

    On a daily basis, Lorna is focused on looking at new ways to apply technology and collaborate in order to “break down silos within organisations”. This often means ensuring a policy team is working closely with the delivery and IT teams. 

    The Kainos culture, according to Lorna, is designed to enable people to improve and realise their potential.

    “Having been there so long, there are a lot of people that I have essentially grown up with,” she says. “We have a very real sense of belonging and teamwork. Sharing successes is really important and it's something that creates very strong teams.” 

    Outside of its core business Kainos sponsors events like Women Who Code and Code Clubs for schools.

    “Ultimately we do this because we love technology - and to see it applied and making a difference is so rewarding,” she says. 

    In her spare time, Lorna is a leader with Ahoghill Community Guides - and has been in Girlguiding for over 15 years. 

    “Girlguiding helped me in my own career and to fill qualifications that I may not otherwise have been able to do,” she says.

    Three years ago, she helped to set up TechAdventure which offers young people opportunities to get involved in tech like Raspberry Pi, Scratch and AppInventor. 

    “Girlguiding is about learning new skills and broadening your horizons, so I saw TechAdventure as an opportunity to help girls learn a new technology and help them choose careers whenever they leave school,” she says.

    “I hosted a TechAdventure in Belfast - we had 40 girls at the camp and it was really well received. Through this and Code Clubs we’ll hopefully present a whole wealth of information for people to realise that there’s a great career in tech for them!”

    Lorna would encourage all young people, but especially young women to pursue a career in this exciting industry. 

    “It's almost like you get to change jobs every six months because you're constantly being opened up to new experiences - and you do this without ever leaving the company,” she says.

    “That range of experience has been really great for me. That breadth of experience gives you so much confidence. So when you meet a new customer, you know that you're going to improve the business and make the life of that customer and their users a whole lot easier.”

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