Interviews

Senior Women In Tech: Stephanie Maher of PwC

  • For one female leader in a large corporate, success lies in finding strong mentors, networking widely and being open to learning new skills.

    Stephanie Maher started her career with First Derivatives before moving on to HBOS, Lloyds Banking Group, Cybersource and Bitnet Technologies.

    At Lloyds Banking Group she managed a banking platform consolidation project involving teams across the UK and India. Then at Cybersource, Stephanie managed the product engineering team responsible for the firm’s payment security products. 

    In 2016, she joined PwC and was immediately thrust into a major project with the Bank of England (BoE) exploring the use of blockchain technologies.

    “It was great to be in a position to work with an important client like BoE to help shape their strategic direction on a key emerging technology,” she says.

    Expert in delivering business-critical technology platforms, Stephanie Maher is now Delivery Lead in PwC’s Digital Engineering team within Technology Consulting.

    “I work with our clients across the world to help them define, design, build and implement innovative digital solutions. Each client is different and there is a continual need to adapt, learn new things and learn new technologies,” she says.

    With a focus on blockchain technologies, she also works closely with PwC’s technology partners like Amazon on delivering new technology solutions.

    “We often run education and training sessions for our clients to help them understand blockchain and how it is relevant to their industry or business,” she says.

    According to Stephanie, a large part of her role is geared towards “creating the right environment for the team”.

    “It’s critical that team members are given a working environment that is open, challenging and motivating,” she says. 

    “I’ve been lucky enough to work with really great teams over the years from whom I’ve been able to learn a lot. It doesn’t matter what role you are in; you always need to keep learning.”

    Sync NI has spoken with a range of organisations contributing to promoting diversity within the tech sector. From the Lean In movement, to networks like Women in Business, through to corporates such as Fujitsu and Concentrix, and all the way up to Belfast’s first citizen -  diversity is high on the agenda for the business community here.

    “Gender diversity is important because women bring a different perspective and viewpoint from men. Diverse teams ensure a greater range of skills, opinions and thought, which contributes to building better products for end users,” she says.

    When it comes to increasing female participation in STEM industries, Stephanie believes many suitably qualified female candidates are out there.

    “You’ve probably heard the statistic, men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them,” she says. “It actually comes from an HP internal report but the sentiment can be seen across all organisations and all industries.”

    Recently, the government signed up for the Tech Talent Charter and is writing to all major tech firms urging them to join them. Progress is being made - at PwC Technology Consulting, 35% of the graduates joining in 2017 were female.

    “Today the importance of diversity in teams is well researched and well understood,” says Stephanie. “We are seeing more and more female graduates starting tech careers.

    “However, there is still a significant challenge at more senior levels and particularly at board level where we see limited improvement, and that’s not specific to tech companies. I hope in the next few years we will see the benefits of the gender diversity initiatives and imbalance at the senior levels being corrected.”

    For Stephanie, networking outside of PwC is essential for business and personal growth - of which local tech meet-ups are “invaluable”. (Check out our guide to the most recent meet-ups).

    “I find the wide variety of tech-related meet-ups in Belfast invaluable for learning from experts, keeping up to date with new technologies and learning about opportunities in the local market,” she says.

    “There are also a number of women in tech networks in Belfast such as Women Who CodeWomen In Tech and Lean In Belfast which I find are great for learning, but also for support, mentoring and understanding that others are experiencing the same challenges that I am.”

    Mentoring - from people “who really challenge me to stretch myself” - has been particularly important for Stephanie throughout her career. 

    “I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a number of really supportive and inspiring mentors throughout my career, both male and female - people whose opinion I value and trust,” she says.

    “When I was looking for a new position (before joining PwC) I talked it all through with a mentor who helped me to understand what my priorities were when considering new roles and apply logic to the decision-making process.”

    In terms of career development, she puts her success down being open to new challenges and “being adaptable to different working environments”.

    “I believe if an opportunity interests you and you want to learn the skills required for it, go for it. You can learn on the job and build those new skills, something you won’t do if you stay in similar roles,” she says.

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