Women in Engineering, with Lynn Cassidy
To celebrate International Women’s Day and as a continuing series during the year, we are proud to be joined by some of our female colleagues here in Fenergo Engineering to share their stories. We do have a strong representation of female engineers in Fenergo and are delighted to be able to highlight their experiences.
However, gender imbalance is still a prominent debate in society and, more specifically, in work environments that have traditionally been carried out by men, as it is the Tech sector. Top down strategies like the establishment of the "Balance for Better Business Review Group" here in Ireland, emphasise the need for companies to rank gender balance highly as a key consideration when appointing their boards and senior leadership teams. This not only sets up strong role models at the forefront of a company’s leadership but signals that an organisation is drawing upon diverse and inclusive input to shape its culture and direction.
Although it is broadly accepted that diverse teams deliver better outcomes, reality is that potentially 91% of Software Engineers globally are males, according to an article on Silicon Republic. Despite other research describing a slightly better conclusion in Europe, Software Engineering remains a career path with a low ratio of female participation. And that’s a trend that ripe for challenging. There is no doubt that every gain towards a more diverse engineering team adds extra value. It enhances the collective opinions and approaches of a team, breaks down barriers to inclusion and ultimately creates better outcomes, which is the whole point of being in business.
To attract and maintain a diverse workforce, a company must speak to the collective issues not just for the majority but also those less represented. What better way to do that than have our people tell their own stories? This month we are delighted to have Lynn Cassidy, Associate SaaS Engineer, sharing her journey with Fenergo and her experience in the world of Software Engineering.
How did your Engineering career begin?
To go back to the beginning, I didn’t always know I wanted to work in tech. I studied English at University and moved to Spain to teach English. I tried a few different things to find a career I was really happy in but also knew I liked technology, so I applied for a digital marketing internship with a local company. I was charged with implementing their Google Analytics. I remember being so excited to see there was a whole other world happening under the face of our website. It was my first-time seeing code! I did my first course in Python programming and through that heard about the FIT apprenticeship programme.
To be accepted on the FIT (Fasttrack into IT) programme, I needed to secure a role in a technology company and Fenergo was suggested as one of the participating companies. I had an initial interview with Fenergo and given that the tech industry is perceived as being quite male dominated, I was struck by the panel of women who met me in the interview room. This company, which in my eyes was doing impressive but complicated work, delivering digital solutions to banks, clearly had several women in leadership roles. Instantly I thought, look at these women, I can really see myself working here already. The fact that Fenergo took me on shows they’re looking for people from diverse backgrounds with a broad range of skills.
Some of these women would later become great role models to me when I began my role as a QA tester. I learnt so much from them and really felt they had my back if any issues arose. I think one of my favourite things about working in Fenergo is the feeling of support. There’s a collaborative approach to working here. There are challenging times and project deadlines but there’s also a real focus on your growth as an individual. Although I was happy in my role, my aim had always been to get into development. I was given the chance to train up and apply for the role of Assistant Software Engineer.
What about your move into Software Engineering?
So, for me, this role was a really big deal. I’d just spent three years re-training and working towards becoming a Software Engineer. After the second interview I was told the decision would be made within two weeks. Unbelievably one week after this interview I discovered I was pregnant. Although myself and my husband were absolutely delighted, it couldn’t have been worse timing in terms of my career (or so I thought!). I spent the next week in turmoil. The advice I’d gotten from those closest to me was to keep the pregnancy under wraps until the new job was in the bag, but to me this felt a little dishonest and like it’d be starting off on the wrong foot. The two weeks were up, and it was time to make the call to management. I was incredibly nervous, but I let them know my situation. The response I got was just amazing. I was offered the warmest congratulations along with the job! There was no hesitation from them at all. I think it’s testament to the inclusive nature of the company. Whether you’re planning to start a family or not.
I made the transition from Software Tester to Assistant Software Engineer just over a year ago. As a Software Engineer with Fenergo, you’re never bored. We are the ones building the product itself. Every day presents new challenges to overcome, but you really feel like you are part of something and working towards a common goal. It was a big transition from QA to Assistant Software Engineer, but I’ve had fantastic support from team members and management. I had a mentor to get me up to speed and she encouraged me to complete training courses in the relevant technologies. There is great training available in Fenergo through our own Fenergo University programme.
What’s it like to work at Fenergo?
I’m lucky to work with a diverse team. I think overall we have an inclusive and diverse work culture where everyone feels welcome. I’ve read our gender pay gap report. It surprised me to learn that although Ireland has the highest rate of STEM graduates in Europe, we also have the highest gender differential. That means twice as many men graduated from STEM courses as women. There’s no magic wand to diversify the workplace but I feel Fenergo through its apprenticeship programmes opened the door for me and other women to enter the tech workforce. The support is there, whether you’re a young person just starting out, or someone more experienced moving up into a new role.
What type of projects are you currently working on?
I’ve spent the last few months mostly working in React on our front end. It’s been super interesting learning the basics of the language and working with Micro-frontends. By splitting the frontend monolith into smaller more manageable pieces, many teams can work simultaneously on the application. Basically, we’re not all committing changes to the same project and stepping on each other’s toes, which is brilliant. For me on a day-to-day basis I can see changes I’ve made locally instantly in the web browser. I can even mount more than one frontend at a time, so it’s really useful when you need to make changes in more than one project.
How do you balance your professional and personal life?
As a relatively new mother myself I think Fenergo offers a great work life balance. After such a long break (I use the term ‘break’ loosely here), I was really feeling the nerves re-entering the workplace. I wondered how I would cope balancing work with my baby, and how much pressure would be placed on me to perform immediately. Once again, I need not have been so worried. I was offered coaching sessions with a ‘return to work’ coach. These sessions were great for allaying any fears I had.
My manager also organised for another Developer on my team to become my mentor. The support I received from her was so beneficial and made all the difference in those first months back. Fenergo offers flexible work from home options so I’m able to balance my work and personal responsibilities. Outside of that, we have a great Sports and Social club open to everyone. It’s a great chance to meet your colleagues in a less formal setting and build relationships.
If you are looking for your next step in a career in Engineering, check out our open roles to join our team.