Leeds women in tech: The Unsung heroes – Sally Bogg

Next in our series showcasing the women in Leeds not only carving out their careers in technology but also helping to spread awareness, inspire our next generation and create opportunities for some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

 

Sally Bogg – Head of End User Services at Leeds Beckett University, Women In IT Business Role Model of the year 2018, Chair of UCISA Annual Conference Organising Committee

 How did you get into tech?

I dropped out of school after becoming pregnant at the age of 17, by the time I was 25 I had two more children and was a stay at home mum. After suffering a severe bout of post-natal depression following the birth of my third child I decided I wanted to make some changes in my life. At this point I was hearing a lot about the internet but I knew absolutely nothing about computers and so I enrolled on a part time IT Course at my local college. I loved being back in education and followed this up with a number of other computing courses.

In 2002 I got the opportunity to go to University as a mature student, and after four long years of juggling studies alongside caring for my family, I graduated from Leeds Beckett University with a BSc 2:1 degree in Computing in 2006. I was the first person in my family to go to university. I started my career as an secretary in the IT Dept at Leeds University and was quickly promoted to the role of Incident Manager, a further promotion followed a couple of years later to Service Desk Manager where I was responsible for turning the traditional catch and dispatch Help Desk into an award winning sector leading service desk.

In 2013, I completed an MSc in IT Service Management – having to manage full time work alongside my degree and my family. The benefits that I have received from a university education inspire me everyday to ensure students and staff receive the best IT support services.

Tell me a bit about your role? How do you see your role evolving in the future?

After nine years of working in IT at the University of Leeds , I returned to the Leeds Beckett University in 2015 as Head of End User Services and I am now responsible for the University’s IT Services Desk, Desktop Support and IT training as well as managing 50 plus staff. I am also leading the Leeds Beckett IT Services USDM (Unified Service Delivery Model) Programme which aims to use IT Service Management Best Practices to deliver high quality support services to the University’s 2,900 staff members. By improving our Service Desk and Support Services I have been able to deliver better communications to our users, ensure the an effective turnaround of incidents and service requests and increase the levels of customer service we offer, I have also worked on developing our IT Service Management reporting capabilities enabling IT Services to provide meaningful management information on IT Support for more effective decision making.

How do you see your role evolving in the future?

This is an exciting time for the ITSM and IT Support Industry! As we see more automation, more AI and more VR, and we reduce the frequency of personal interaction there will be increased demand for a far higher quality of contact and experience when customers and users do need to speak directly to people. If we are to make the most of automation then we are going have to significantly improve the maturity of our systems, processes and knowledge – something that is years away for many organisations and it will be sometime before we can really exploit AI or RPA to do anything more than the most basic tasks.

Automation will make us focus on our key skills, the things we are really good at that no robot or computer could ever do. And therefore the role of the IT Support will remain even more valid as automation moves us away from the standard activities, Service Desks will be carrying out the complex tasks and activities in nonstandard environments. The difficult people stuff! No longer will the Service Desk be the Cinderella of IT and the role of IT Support will change significantly. We need to get more human in the way we use tools frameworks and processes and remember that they are not the silver bullet. Creating the right culture and working environment will remain critical in delivering digital transformation.

What are your interests outside of work? Are you involved with the Yorkshire tech community outside of work?

To date I have not been involved with the Yorkshire Tech community but this is something I am hoping to change. I am passionate about supporting the empowerment and enhancement of women, in particular women working in the tech industry. Women have been responsible for some of the greatest technological inventions in the modern age and yet they continue to be massively under represented within the industry – currently women hold less than 20% of technical roles in software companies, and make up only 18% of computer science graduates , and only 16% of tech companies are founded by women.

Given the importance of technology and software and how central it is to modern life this is certainly worrying. Not only have we got a leaking pipeline but we also have a very limited pipeline! When females make up 60% of our graduates in the UK this is a shocking waste of talent. What is even more shocking then is the fact that this is at a time when we are facing a digital skills shortage.

Currently 72% of large companies and 49% of small and medium enterprises are suffering a technical skills gap. There is a clear mismatch between the skills we need and those the workforce is currently offering and this is holding back the growth of many organisations. We need more people with the digital skills but supply is simply not keeping up with demand.And the tech industry has an image problem – there is a lack of awareness of career opportunities within the sector, we struggle with gender stereotypes and much work needs to be done to demonstrate that this is an exciting and interesting sector to work in. This is not just a gender issue though – we need to focus in on diversity in general. Recognising the value of a much wider pool of people from all backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, gender and age could go some way in addressing the challenges of the digital skills shortage. Studies have shown time and time again that the organisations that focus on diversity are far more likely to be successful. Creating a diverse workforce will increase creativity and innovation, encourage personal growth, enable you to develop your talent pool and is likely to increase employer performance.

As an industry it is time for us to focus on the skills and competencies required to be a successful IT and ITSM professional – that magical mix of technical understanding, business and market awareness, leadership and influence and of course communications skills. If we really want to attract more diversity into tech we need a different approach to recruitment and think about how we can create exciting opportunities for talented people. I am determined to do as much as I possibly can to support greater gender diversity, in the last few months I have hosted the Service Desk Institute’s Gender Equality in ITSM event, and contributed to the corresponding report, I have also taken part in a number of panel sessions to raise awareness of the issues and challenges facing Women in Tech and to help breakdown some of the harmful stereotypes.   I am also heavily involved with an organisation called UCISA

What do you predict will be the next big thing in technology?

AI, Machine Learning and increasing levels of automation are not only going to have a huge impact on the IT Support industry but also on our everyday lives. Software is becoming increasingly central to modern life and these technologies have the potential to change the way we work, rest and play! I recently attended a tech event where I was privileged to hear a session from someone working in the robotics industry. Her company were using the latest in AI and robotics technology and combining it with 3D printing to make artificial limbs, bringing the cost down from over £100k per limb to under £10k, clinical trials are already underway with the aim of one day making these available on the NHS! More importantly – by focusing heavily on the design aspect they have made artificial limbs that people want to wear, limbs that no longer amplify the disability but make the wearers feel empowered and strong – like superhero’s – we really are at the point where we are creating super humans. And the most amazing aspect of all is that both the software and the blue prints for these limbs will be open source and available to anyone. The potential for technology to transform and reshape people’s lives for the better is simply mind blowing.

What’s next for your role?

Who knows! At the moment I am really enjoying my role at Leeds Beckett University – my own experiences of being a mature student and the positive and transformational impact going to University had on my own life has left me with a passion and love for the higher education sector and I just want to continue in delivering great IT Support Services for our users.