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Women in Tech: Forging your Own Path to Leadership

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Applications Operations Manager, Nikky Stunt, shares her unique route to IT leadership and offers up advice for women at their own career path crossroads.

Here’s Nikky’s journey in her own words…

What’s your current role at Acora?

I really enjoy my role as the Applications Operations Manager and managing my team. Operations Management is like a sausage machine – once a project has had the nod of approval and contracts get signed, my fantastic team steps in to deliver the promises made to our clients! In short, I support and encourage my team to ensure that we continuously drive project momentum and ultimately, put a smile on our customers’ faces.

At school age, did you envisage yourself being in IT? 

In all honestly, I didn’t envisage myself in IT… I actually had a vision that I would become either a lawyer or a social worker. Although, I knew these were unrealistic dreams as I was in a rush to leave school to enter the working world. After all, my parents worked in the hospitality business (they owned a petrol station and ran a pub) so I was working from the age of 13 anyway!

Despite my dislike for academia, being a youth in the 80s meant I had to complete a YTS (Youth Training Scheme aimed at people aged 16-18yrs) and so I proudly left school with a BTech in business. With this under my belt, I decided to go straight into employment rather than to university.

What was your journey from there to your current role like?

My first job was at a solicitor’s office. However, the role did not live up to my expectations… Plot twist: my manager asked me to walk their dog, I declined, then my notice was served! I wanted experience relevant to law. Not to be a dog walker… and so I thought perhaps working in a law firm wasn’t for me.

I then thought a career change would be a great move for me and so I was on the road emptying fruit machines and spent some time working at Bell Fruits. It was good fun. However, the permanent job lifestyle and being on the road limited my ability to start a family, so I temped for a while in multiple businesses until I was placed at AT&T. That’s when IT got a hold of me.

After two weeks of temping at AT&T, they offered me a full-time position and I decided to go for it. I embraced the opportunity to grow within AT&T and became the Service Desk Manager, with 50 women working in my team. AT&T was a turning point for me in my career however, I decided to gain more experience and worked as a consultant for Sanderson’s (a software house).

By the age of 24 I was on the road again. Only this time, I wasn’t emptying fruit machines. Now I was putting EPOS systems into warehouses. As a consultant, I helped customers create labels for cigarettes and alcohol products plus, how they were able to manage their back office. My experience of working within the warehouse environment and utilising my IT skills gave me a good grounding and a thick skin to navigate through a male-dominated environment.

After 10 years, I expanded my knowledge further by joining Technology Management who trained me in Microsoft Dynamics NAV which is an ERP system for the middle market. Microsoft call its Business Central, but I still can’t stop calling it NAV. I’m still really good friends with them and I left on good terms, they’re lovely people. Then I went to work for an end-user – a large and well-known food group. They have huge chicken factories in the UK and part of your induction is to see the chickens slaughtered. That was… a mistake.

What drew you to Acora?

Acora welcomed a host of opportunities for me such as the ability to grow as a professional and get involved in different types of work. It was refreshing to not be limited within a role or to just one tech speciality from my toolbox.

 

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