The IT industry has a diversity problem, although it is starting to address it. Michelle Cope, Portfolio Architect at Allianz, thinks that initiatives like the Women in IT Excellence Awards - at which she won the Hero of the Year (Enterprise) category last year - are important in building role models for women in the industry.
"These awards help to build up the right role models [for women]. I do quite a bit of mentoring for rising stars within the architecture space, helping them to tailor their message so that we can get the right information out to our business partners. [This win] made me think, ‘Why can't I provide that mentoring to other women within Allianz?'"
She added that the industry has been "crying out" for more events like the Women in IT Awards, which was Computing's most successful first-year event ever in 2017:
"The Awards was essentially promoting the value that women have been bringing to IT for a number of years… To me, this event is essential in promoting awareness in what women bring to IT.
"The categories are as much about leadership as technology, and...those nominations showed the blending of those two things: leadership in IT, which is a set of skills that is ubiquitous for any success, whether a woman's in an IT or a business trading line."
Asked about her win, Cope said, "I felt that it was representative of me working with so many women who go above the call of duty; people whose day job and the way they think is about coaching and about empowering people to do the best thing for themselves to realise their potential, as well the benefits for the company.
"It was, to me, a huge testament...to the value that women bring and the empowerment that is happening across the industry."
This year, Cope is investing her time in courses around business architecture, as well as looking at mentoring outside of her department. She's also found that the foam cut-out cushioning her award makes a great stress ball!
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