I live in Dublin with my husband and two children, Conor, 9, and Sarah, 6. Living with two digital natives really helps you understand how differently they will grow up than my generation did, and the speed at which it will change. I also see how differently boys and girls approach things and how differently the environment treats them.
Recently my company completed some research across the United Kingdom and Ireland on why so few girls study science, technology, engineering and math. One of the reasons is that teachers and parents do not fully understand the careers now available in these sectors and hence tend to guide girls towards “more traditional female careers.”
As a woman in a leadership position in a technology company, it’s important to be part of the solution to help bridge this gap. For my daughter, I want her to be provided all the encouragement and knowledge to help her make the career choice she wishes—that role is shared by parents and the education system.
During the last 16 years, I’ve had at least 16 different roles, working on major global change programs, designing new capabilities and leading large-scale multidisciplinary, international teams. I’ve found that these opportunities need to be worked for. Success in this type of environment requires a high-level career plan, a very strong track record, a diverse set of mentors and a propensity to take risks.
One of the areas that I have had to actively work on is developing a strong external network. In 2013, I founded and began chairing the Multi National Tech forum, a group of senior business leaders across the technology sector in Ireland, where I get to work with government agencies and other industry representatives on shaping the education system in Ireland to maximize the opportunity for future generations.
Dublin is a great location to work and live. We have a young, well-educated workforce, a strong pro-business environment and a very dynamic ecosystem full of innovative technology, pharma and financial services companies.
I am thrilled to have recently been appointed as the director for Accenture’s Centre for Innovation in Dublin, Ireland. The Centre is a huge opportunity to make a real difference. We will be looking at issues from the future of healthcare—exploring how to keep people healthier—and how Artificial Intelligence will empower humans through technology to do things more brilliantly at work every day.
These issues need R&D, design thinking, rapid prototyping, and might involve multiple solutions like advanced analytics, Internet of Things and strategy, to come together. Initiatives like the Centre for Innovation really help to drive the next wave of innovation into the environment, and the future is bright.