WIT Europe Summit 2020 Q&A — Caroline Lawson, Sailpoint

Caroline Lawson, SE manager, Northern Europe at Sailpoint, will be participating in a panel session, titled ‘Responsible Tech Rebuilding Society’, during the Women in IT Europe Virtual Summit 2020 on the 15th September.

Taking place at 10:25 BST, the session will explore the dangers of rushing back to old ways of working, the ways that social innovation can support emergence from lockdown, and how to ensure an ethical and sustainable ‘new normal’.

If you would like to register for the event, please click here. Registration for the event is free of charge.

Why do you think there’s still a problem with a lack of diversity within tech?

I specialise in the field of security, and focused on identity. I’m actually seeing that problem reduce drastically within the field now. I think in the wider technology field, it traditionally hasn’t appealed to women. I think identity appeals to women, because it’s about people.

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I think it’s largely a business problem versus a technological problem, therefore women like addressing those problems because they’re engaged. It very much relates to onboarding, people management, and appropriateness of access. All of those things are traditionally female fields, and as result we’re seeing more and more women getting into the technology side from that route.

When it comes to life in the field, I’m seeing more women that I ever have involved at senior levels. Identity’s been around a good 20 years now, and plenty of women my age and older who have been around for that amount of time are taking these senior roles, and I’m also seeing these women drive the next generation to promote how great security is as a field to work in.

How have you managed to promote diversity within the workplace?

I’ve run sales engineering teams for quite a long time, and during that time I’ve actively tried to recruit women at graduate level. I often advertise that you don’t have to be a coder, we’re not looking for people to write scripts in a dark room.

We’re looking for people to learn about business processes in the identity world, and we’re looking for people to stand in front of customers to present, to understand people’s business challenges and how we can find solutions to them.

I’ve successfully recruited a number of female graduates into the industry over the years, used my network to do that, and I’m a member of a C-level women in IT WhatsApp group. It’s an enormous group, and it’s interesting to see what goes on there, but it’s also a great place to find people.

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I’ve advertised a number of roles on there, and I always say the first and most important thing is the best person for the role, whatever background they come from. We always love to have a diverse team, and I’ve seen not only gender diversity, but also heritage and religious diversity bring so much to the team and help everyone grow.

Could you please expand on what you’ll be discussing during the WIT Europe Virtual Summit?

The panel I’m on is called ‘Responsible Tech Rebuilding Society’, and I think we’ve all seen the share prices of the successful remote access and virtual conferencing vendors over the last six months. Off the back of that, we’ve had a successful period as well.

I think people are realising that you don’t have to be in an office to get things done, so the big focus of my discussion at the event will be how to ensure people can maximise their efficiency while working from home. We’re not travelling to a meeting to talk and coming back, and if I now had to get in the car and drive somewhere, it has to be worth my time, because if it isn’t, I could miss out on several other meetings I could have had.

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We’ll be looking at re-emerging from lockdown, and how much we need to emerge. We have the Mayor of London saying we need to come back and support the coffee shops, but they were there to support the businesses, not the other way around. So those shops need to adapt in the same way other businesses have.

This is our opportunity to potentially not emerge as much as we need to, to be more efficient when working from home, to have a better work/life balance, and also potentially to reverse some extreme climate change damage. If we’re all not getting in our cars and cramming onto trains, there could be a huge benefit to that. There’s not going to be coffee cups outside cafes every evening, and that can only be a good thing for the environment.

If Covid hadn’t happened, we wouldn’t have had the sudden change we did, and this is a great opportunity to wonder why we need to go back. Work’s getting done, projects are being driven faster, and things are accelerating, so I think we can have an impactful work life while travelling only when we need to.

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Aaron Hurst

Aaron Hurst is Information Age's senior reporter, providing news and features around the hottest trends across the tech industry.