To celebrate International Women’s Day, BQ spoke to four inspirational women in tech about their careers, and the people who have influenced them, with a bit of help from Digital World.
Frances Sneddon, chief technology officer, SIMUL8
As CTO of SIMUL8 Corporation and deputy chair of technology industry trade body ScotlandIS, Frances Sneddon sounds like a perfect pen portrait of a successful tech industry executive. However, she tells BQ, her career could have taken a completely different path.
“When I was at school, my big ambition was to become a lawyer,” she explains. "But when I spoke to students a few years ahead of me it became clear that they were struggling to find jobs. That prompted me to think about what I was good at and reconsider my options. I’ve always enjoyed problem solving so I studied maths, statistics and management science.”
Today, Sneddon is responsible for the strategy and direction of SIMUL8’s products, which are used by Fortune 500 companies including Ford and American Airlines to take the risk out of business decision-making. She joined the firm as an intern and then consultant, helping clients improve their business processes. Working in a small team she also got involved with marketing and started to experiment with coding so she could develop the company website.
Her then boss was instrumental in her next move - from consultant to developer. “The founder of SIMUL8 was incredibly supportive and he taught me the basics of coding,” she says. “He gave me the confidence that I could do it and didn’t need to go back to college to retrain. He also gave me the space and opportunities in the working environment to put that learning into practice. That spurred me on and I became absolutely hooked. I moved into software engineering and went on to head up the development team.
“This is an amazing industry and it offers so many interesting opportunities but people don’t always realise that they are open to them. My experience shows that even if you don’t study computing science at university, with the right support you can transfer and learn the technical skills you need not just to be part of a development team but eventually to lead it.”