In our third instalment of MLL ‘Women in Tech’ we profile two seasoned IT/Telecoms industry professionals, both of whom have impressive STEM educational backgrounds and have enjoyed impressive careers prior to joining MLL.
Gail Harvey – Business Development Director
Gail joined MLL seven years ago as Business Development Director. She has a wealth of sales development, relationship management and procurement experience behind her, including from her time at Logicalis UK and MDNX (GTT), not forgetting Cable & Wireless.
“Things are changing but the industry still needs to work harder and smarter at getting more girls interested in doing STEM subjects – and from an earlier age,” asserts Gail. She should know, her long and successful career is an exemplar for Women in Tech.
A Bachelor of Engineering from University of Liverpool, graduating in 1987, Gail has seen the Tech/Telecoms industry change and grow immeasurably. From her early years in procurement at ICL (subsequently part of Fujitsu) working in the manufacturing division on an early Personal Computer, to a varied engineering and commercial role at a pioneering mobile phone start-up part-owned by Sir Clive Sinclair, one of the UK’s most famous tech entrepreneurs and inventors.
“My engineering degree covered the whole spectrum – mechanical, electrical, design and computer science. It suited me – having done A Levels in Maths, Physics and Chemistry – even though there were only seven women on the entire course. In fact, having been to an all-girls school it probably helped prepare me for life in a predominantly male workplace environment, especially in my formative career”.
Gail spent almost 15 years at Cable & Wireless (C&W), initially as a purchasing manager before moving into a sales and client relationship position, managing Global Systems Integrator accounts such as IBM, Capgemini and CSC with responsibility for developing complex business solutions. Her last role at C&W was as Sales Manager where she established and managed a team of 22 client executives, handling £10m C&W Systems Integrator and Public Sector transactional business.
“I’ve enjoyed my roles at large corporates as well as small firms, but I think MLL, as a fast-growing medium size network solutions provider, offers that extra flexibility and edge. We are large enough to compete for and win large Public Sector contracts but without sacrificing the personal approach. Both from a customer and employee perspective, maintaining that empathy is vital and sets MLL apart. Speaking from personal experience, the company recently sponsored my attendance on an advanced business management course I wanted to do. It was in Canada”.
Her advice to anyone aiming for a rewarding career in Tech: “Having a background in STEM subjects such as Maths cannot be underestimated, especially when it comes to sales, solutions and procurement roles. These require insightful decision making and commercial documentation being drawn up based on technical discussions with customers and suppliers. Interpreting data and figures comes with the territory”.
Manda Tiernan – Programme Manager – Bid & Transition
Manda Tiernan is MLL’s Programme Manager – Bid & Transition which means she is responsible for project managing and documenting all MLL’s pre-delivery tender activities, to new and existing Public Sector customers. She joined MLL just over six years ago when the company was just starting to grow its Public Sector business. “There were fewer than 70 employees back then and now we’re more than 180, with an impressive portfolio of local and central government clients.”
MLL’s rapid growth ensures Manda is kept extremely busy liaising with colleagues in various departments. “At the end of the day it’s my job to encapsulate and communicate our proposed solution to a prospective customer, which can be challenging with multiple bids in progress at any given time, tight deadlines, and the requirement to provide highly detailed information within limited word limits!”
Manda started her career as an electrical engineer, project managing the design and build of power stations around the world, following her BSc. in Electrical Engineering Science. She has an MBA (Masters in Business Administration) from Manchester Business School and an MSc. in Computer Science from UMIST. She later trained as a secondary school teacher in Maths, although she did not further that opportunity. She echoes Gail’s advice to follow STEM subjects for a career in tech, particularly Maths or Physics. “I decided to do Pure Maths, Physics and Geography at A Level at my all-girls school in Manchester which at the time was seen as rather unusual – these days, however, my old school, along with many others, are encouraging students to take STEM subjects and go into engineering.”
Manda has also worked at Yorkshire Water as a Business Development Manager with responsibility for sales, tender and contract negotiations for their Clinical Waste Management business. However, Manda’s move into an IT and Telecoms role came in 2000 when she joined legal firm Donns LLP as Telecommunications and Operations Director. She was there for almost 10 years before her next move, to Rochdale Borough Council, as ICT Programme Manager, allowing her valuable experience in seeing things from “the other side of the fence”.
Manda subsequently joined networks and telecoms provider Updata Infrastructure but following its acquisition by a larger publicly held IT group decided it was time to move on. “Prior to its acquisition Updata was rather like how MLL is now. A fast-growing SME where you can approach the senior management with ideas, make things happen, and be rewarded for your efforts. That’s why I moved to MLL.”
“The industry as a whole is always looking for new talent and there is a national IT skills shortage. IT Project Management is a great opportunity once you have got some initial experience under your belt.”