Senior Women In Tech: Sinead Dillon, Fujitsu

  • Despite keen childhood interest in computing, at school Sinead Dillon was initially drawn towards a career in business or banking. She studied for an accountancy degree at Ulster University and completed her chartered management accountancy qualifications while at the Kerry Group food company.

    Her transition into IT began when she moved into a role that combined accounting with financial systems support, and later joined global technology company Fujitsu as a financial systems implementation consultant. She then bolstered her practical on-the-job experience with a Master’s degree in Computing and Information Systems.

    Today, Sinead is Principal Consultant for digital transformation and innovation at Fujitsu in Belfast.

    “My role is focused on addressing customers’ needs, the role of digital in the business and, how our solutions can adapt to fit customer requirements across Northern Ireland, as well as looking at how new technology and innovative products can help to deliver services.”

    Describing herself as “a people person” Sinead explains that “working with different people and collaborating with different teams and organisations was very attractive to me, and in a business context I enjoy problem solving and delivering services.”

    Over the years, she has moved from ERP implementations to project management and business development, and now works at the heart of Fujitsu’s innovation and digital transformation programme for business across NI. Sinead recognises that digital transformation is changing the world of work through emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, automation and robotics.

    “A robotic device as a virtual assistant can allow certain rote and repetitive jobs to be performed highly efficiently in reduced time and improved accuracy. With the human-machine partnership, the  robot automates part of a job while human understanding brings creativity and a wider understanding of the business to the role. The bottom line with Artificial Intelligence is that we want to use it to improve our decision making, efficiency and accuracy.”

    Sinead has a passion for encouraging more women to consider a career in IT and technology. She admits that the gender diversity in Fujitsu still has room to improve and the tech sector has been slow to evolve since she joined it more than a decade ago.

    “Some job roles within the sector are more attractive to women. At the moment we’re still low in the number of people who are software developers, business analysts and infrastructure solution engineers. It is changing, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement to shift the dial up.”

    As an organisation, Fujitsu is tackling diversity head on. A Women’s Business Network has been established and the company’s Gender Goals for 2020 have a vision of making Fujitsu in the UK and Ireland “the place where women come to succeed”. On top of that, the company has a number of mentoring and outreach schemes, an association with the EveryWoman network to access their resources and learning opportunities, as well as a key partnership with Women In Business NI whereby Fujitsu’s female technologists can act as role models, indeed Sinead recently welcomed over 300 delegates to Women in Business’s inaugural ‘Women in Tech’ conference in Belfast.

    Offering advice to those looking to pursue a career in IT, Sinead said:

    “As you go through different roles, you learn a lot of new skills and adapt to the challenges that come. Skills are transferable, so be mindful that today’s job will help you in a different one tomorrow. Life-long and continual learning is key. You need to keep interested and keep active in the ever-changing sector.

    “There’s a big demand for people who are curious, creative, innovative and can problem-solve. And while the age-old requirements to be hard-working, motivated and focused are probably not on trend, they are still essential!

    “So if you have a flair for IT, are a people person, can be adaptable, and bring your own personality and curiosity to the job, you’re in the right industry.”

    Sinead also coaches and enjoys mentoring a number of women and young leaders.

    “It’s very much a learning experience both for me and the mentee or coachee. It gives an opportunity to get insights into different sectors that I’m not as aware of, to understand people’s challenges and talk about how to address them.

    “The key thing is recognising personal successes, and of course the business successes, and making sure that the person achieves what it is they want to achieve. I enjoy the other end where people are happy, and they have overcome a challenge, though through the engagement they may evolve and realise that they won’t end up quite where they originally thought they would be at the outset. So there’s an additional satisfaction when people realise where they really want to be.

    “When I talk to young people I advocate that IT is an exciting career with a lot of opportunities. There are so many different pathways that they you can go down and a wide variety of roles.  It’s not all purely about coding – that’s just one area – and there’s a variety which can suit individual personal tastes and preferences. It’s very much an open end.

    “The skills that they can obtain now, at school and college, will be invaluable for their career: problem solving, creativity, innovation. Bring that all into the IT world and you’ll have a very exciting career in a world that is continually developing and adapting.”

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