"I taught my peers to build websites" - Catherine McGough, NatWest Women in Tech Excellence finalist

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"I taught my peers to build websites" - Catherine McGough, NatWest Women in Tech Excellence finalist

Catherine McGough, Customer Due Diligence Platform Lead for Financial Crime Technology in NatWest Group, is a finalist in Role Model of the Year – Financial Services at the Women in Technology Excellence Awards.

Here, Catherine talks about her experiences in tech and what brought her to NatWest.

I have been interested in computers from a young age, finding it came naturally to me. My school didn't have a good technology department, so during my IT GCSE I taught my peers how to build simple websites and databases. When I started my Computer Science Degree, I was one of only a handful of women in a room full of men. I didn't have any experience of coding, but I picked it up quickly and graduated with First Class Honours.

In the summer of my penultimate year I completed a Technology Summer Internship programme at Merrill Lynch, where I was the only female in a group of 19. Following graduation I joined the Merrill Lynch Technology Graduate scheme and spent the first year based out of Switzerland, as a Technology Business Analyst in private banking. After two years I returned to the UK, where I became a project manager, gradually taking on larger projects across wealth management and wholesale banking technology.

In 2015 I joined RBS as a technology programme manager, and have since led several exciting programmes across Finance, Risk, Natwest Markets and Financial Crime. Over the past two years I have led the design and delivery of a bank-wide strategic monitoring solution, which actively manages financial crime risk through the continuous detection of data change events. The solution includes the best of reg tech, modern cloud engineering concepts and the bank's technical and business capabilities. This was a technically complex implementation of a loosely coupled, cloud-based architecture, utilising both in-house and vendor products, with over 300 resources from across the bank, and a multi-year budget of over £100m. I am now the Customer Due Diligence Platform lead, responsible for leading all strategy, run and change activities across the Customer Due Diligence application suite.

I have always looked for opportunities to support the development of young women, being an active member of Girl Guiding throughout school and university. As co-chair of the bank's Women in Technology employee-led network I led the recruitment campaign for new volunteers, facilitated the launch of our Python coding club, and increased focus on external awards to help inspire more women to pursue careers in STEM.

My decision to pursue a career in technology is ultimately down to my mum. She wanted to study Computer Science, but at that time it wasn't something women really did. I was determined to embrace the opportunities she felt she couldn't have, so I opted to study Computer Science myself. This inspired my mum to retrain and helped her find a role in technology later in life.

I love to travel, exploring different countries, cultures and cuisines. When I was 16 represented the UK at an international Guiding event in New Zealand. We travelled on New Years Eve, crossing the international date line shortly after midnight. As a new years baby this meant I ended up completely missing my birthday. I am convinced that means I'm a year younger than my birth certificate might have you believe!

The Women in Tech Excellence Awards take place on the 22nd November. Click here to book your place.

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