Maggie Morrison is Director of Business Development, Public Sector at CGI Scotland. Prior to joining CGI, she was Account General Manager for Hewlett Packard in Scotland and previously held senior leadership positions at home and abroad for Cisco, 3Com and Cabletron. At Cisco Maggie founded four Cisco Networking Academies with not for profit organisations in Glasgow. Maggie is passionate about the digital divide, skills, and gender in the workplace. In this article, she reflects on her career.
Reflecting back on 32 years in the IT industry, I have had an amazing journey! When I graduated in the eighties there was a severe recession and jobs were tough to find, even for graduates. My priority after university was to find a job, any job, just to get on the career ladder. My first job was in telephone sales, a role which didn’t require a degree level qualification. Telephone sales is tough, you learn rejection early, but it is an excellent way to learn about any company and the sales process.
I left Glasgow, believing that I would find more opportunities in the South East of England, to work for a company called Macro Marketing, a distributor of electronic components based in Slough. My annual salary was £5,000 – not much money even back then! I may have ended up in the IT industry by accident but I could see that this was an industry with a future – an industry which would literally change the way we live, communicate, work, play and learn. That is equally true now – there are literally thousands of highly paid, unfilled vacancies across the industry and in Europe we are not producing people with the skill sets to fill them. Nor are we seeing enough girls entering the industry. Governments, education and employers need to work together to address this.
Computing is never boring because the industry moves so fast. Failing to keep up means disaster for an IT company. Thirty percent of UK tech start ups come from Scotland so that is a great starting point. But why does it not appeal to more young people and especially girls? IT roles often offer flexibility around location, working from home, working hours which can be fitted around other commitments important for a generation that seeks work life balance and that is likely to have multiple jobs throughout a career.
My career in IT has enabled me to fulfil multiple roles in sales, leadership and corporate staff roles. I have lived and worked in France, Germany, Switzerland, The Netherlands and, most recently, California and North Carolina in the US. I have visited forty seven countries in total and the majority of those have been related to various job roles – although I do also love to travel for holidays! I have been back in Scotland since 2008, bringing home all the skills I learned whilst living abroad and experiencing different cultures.
A well paid job enables you to do the things you love, to achieve your personal ambitions and to feel fulfilled. If you are looking for a career that provides variety, is well paid and one in which you will never be bored, you really should consider the IT industry.