Spotlight on women in computing – Caroline Stuart

Caroline Stuart has been Scotland Director for Oracle Corporation Ltd since 2009. She is the current Chair of the Tech Partnership Scotland and sits on various boards and committees including Skills Development Scotland, Jobs and Business Glasgow, Scotland IS, the Scottish Government’s Strategic Group on Work and Women, the Scottish Government’s Digital Scotland Business Excellence Board, the Scottish Government Digital Workforce Advisory Board and the Funding Councils Skills Committee. 

A little bit about me – I graduated in Technology and Business Studies from Strathclyde University in1986 and left Scotland to work in the City of London. I trained as an Investment Analyst and worked for Crown Agents and Charterhouse Bank and then returned to Scotland. I ran three small companies before moving into business consultancy and was volunteer business advisor to the Princes Scottish Youth Business Trust for 10 years. 

I joined Oracle in 2000 in a role that was established to bridge the gap between IT and the Boardroom at the height of the dot com boom. I’ve worked in various business units across the UK and EMEA and am now the Director for Scotland helping customers to understand how technology is changing, often disrupting their world in an increasingly competitive global market.

I have been incredibly lucky through my career to move from one interesting job to another in a variety of sectors from Financial Services, Manufacturing, Marketing and Sales and Recruitment and working in IT I have worked with nearly every industry sector you can imagine.

In my current role the subject of skills has been close to my heart. Digital and computing science skills are fundamental to all businesses in the UK and our economic recovery. They are every bit as important (if not more so) as other economic levers – such as physical infrastructure investment – in improving the balance sheet of our country. According to a report released by the Prince’s Trust, two-thirds of companies fear a lack of skilled workers could jeopardise Britain’s economic recovery.

These skills are also hugely important to entrepreneurs establishing new companies. SMEs (small and medium sized businesses) form the backbone of our economy and digital technologies is the hottest growth sector in the SME space at the moment, with tech hubs popping up across the UK (and all over the world) to incubate and promote companies which are developing new products and services across every business sector imaginable and some yet to be imagined!

However, the IT skills gap is severely limiting the impact we could make to our economy to make it strong, healthy and competitive in a global economy. If we do not produce enough apprentices or graduates with the right STEM and ICT training, we risk cutting off the oxygen supply to these growing organisations.

To solve this problem and encourage future generations to engage in a more digitally literate future we must get students – especially women – interested in STEM subjects. We have fewer women in our industry than in 1980 which is a terrible situation and not one of which we should be proud. We are hiring across every industry in the UK and the best estimates are around one million new jobs (E-Skills) by 2020. With current youth unemployment around one million across the UK, there has never been a more attractive time to be considering computing as a career.

Retailers, investment banks, fashion designers, healthcare, food and drink, manufacturing, film and TV – every business you can think of needs a variety of skills from programmers, data scientists, big data experts, developers, computer games programmers and animation coders who can contribute to, and increasingly be at the centre of, their success. Computing underpins every business today and is critical to their future success.

I can think of no better subject choice that will open doors in any industry you choose and allow you to be at the heart of creativity, innovation and change.

I can think of no other subject that allows the flexibility of working that computer science does – enabling you to adjust working life to fit around other life events if you so choose. It can allow you to become your own boss or to build a global company.

I can think of no other career that literally will allow you to change the world.

We all have a role in being ambassadors for computer science careers which are undoubtedly offer some of the most exciting and well-paid career choices right now 



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