Lorna McAdoo on Northern Ireland's first 'Women in Tech' awards


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  • Lorna McAdoo, Group Director of Environment, Social & Governance (ESG) and NI Lead at Version 1, sat down with Sync NI to talk about the launch of Northern Ireland’s very first ‘Women in Tech’ awards due to be held in the Europa on Friday 8th April.

    Lorna tells us that the idea for the `Women in Tech’ awards originated about 2 years ago just after the ‘Women in Tech’ Conference, organised by Women in Business NI’s Roseann Kelly. 

    Lorna explains that the conference itself “brought so much inspiration and energy to attendees who left feeling motivated and inspired” however she admits “this sadly started to wane after a relatively short period.” As a result of this both Lorna and Roseann wanted to find a way to keep the momentum alive for the entire year.

    This initially led Lorna and Rosanne to start hosting a Women in Tech Dinner Club where they would invite senior female leaders in NI’s largest technology companies to come along and share challenges and experiences but ultimately to start to create a network for senior tech females. It was at one of these dinners that Lorna and Roseann presented the idea of the awards and format. The feedback was unanimous and so the planning started.

    Lorna explains that the ‘Women in Tech’ awards are designed to celebrate women who work in technology, not just in the mainstream corporate and private companies, but across the entire spectrum. This includes the public sector and third-party sector where Lorna believes many of these women are overlooked and do not get the recognition they so richly deserve.

    There are nine separate categories that have been specifically designed to acknowledge that it is possible to have a successful and rewarding career in tech without having a computing or IT degree.

    The awards also aim to show that there are many varied roles beyond software development which is often perceived as the only way to have a career in technology. To draw attention to this point Lorna tells us more about her own journey and how she ended up in her current role by sheer chance.

    Lorna explains that she “got into tech by mistake” after originally planning to work in the health sector as a radiographer. After narrowly missing out on the grades she needed at her A-levels, Lorna decided to apply for an HND in Computer Science with Ulster University in Jordanstown.

    After starting her career with Shorts, Lorna tells us she soon discovered that she had a “limited talent for software development” and it was through chance that she was inspired by Kevin Coyle at Digital Equipment Company to move into Project Management instead.

    It was here that her true vocation was discovered, and a career developed via Compaq/HP at several local technology companies including BIC Systems and Kainos. This allowed Lorna to get to her current position at Version 1.

    Lorna tells us that there are both rewards and challenges while working in project management. She believes that it is important to have empathy and be able to collaboratively work as it brings out the best in people when they work to achieve common goals. She adds that this is particularly important in an environment with emerging new technologies, customer requirements and stringent deadlines.

    Over the course of her career in project management, particularly in such a male-dominated industry at that time, Lorna tells us she saw first-hand how men in technology were effectively able to create environments and networks to mutually support each other.

    As a result, Lorna wanted to grow support networks and practises for women too, so that they could reach their full potential in their careers supported by female peers. As part of this initiative, the ‘Women in Tech’ awards will serve as an ideal platform for women to receive recognition at all levels throughout the entire tech space. In addition to this, the awards will also celebrate these women’s achievements so that they can become the inspiration and role models that young girls can identify with, encouraging them to fulfill their own dreams and aspirations within the technology sector in Northern Ireland.

    Lorna tells us that the awards create the perfect message to schools by illustrating the diverse backgrounds and pathways the current generation of women in tech have taken on their personal journeys.

    The aim is to ultimately showcase the opportunities available to work in technology and build a strong pipeline for future generations of women. The awards, alongside other initiatives such as the Bring it On tech ambassadors and the work of Tech academies delivered by the Belfast Met, means that those without IT degrees can also gain entry and thrive in the technology sector. Lorna believes that this in turn will help to generate greater inclusivity for all citizens in Northern Ireland.

    The awards will formally launch on 14th February and entries close on 7th March. Lorna says that she would: “Appeal to every woman working in any area of technology to use this opportunity to nominate a peer or simply apply in person to any one of the 9 categories so that we can collectively come together to celebrate all those who typically do not get any recognition for their tremendous achievements and celebrate the talents of the women in our technology sector.”

    Lorna also added: “There are so many individuals who will have rightly earned a place on the finalists’ lists that judging will obviously be difficult, however, we want to encourage as many applicants and nominees as possible and for everyone to get involved and to do their bit to actively support women in technology in Northern Ireland.”

    Lorna would also like to extend her gratitude to the sponsors that have supported each category including PWC, Civica, Allstate, Deloitte, Core Systems, Slice and Realtime.

    Click here for more information.

    About the author

    Aoife is a Sync NI writer with a previous background working in print, online and broadcast media. She has a keen interest in all things tech related. To connect with Aoife feel free to send her an email or connect on LinkedIn.

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