Jon Crouch is Chief Digital and Transformation Officer of RBS International. Here he explains why he and RBS International support Computing's Women in Tech Excellence campaign.
Jon Crouch joined Royal Bank of Scotland in 2014, building on 25 years' experience in Technology and Finance including working for HP, the UK Government, Accenture, Swiss Re and Standard Life. Throughout his career he's successfully fulfilled roles including Head of Technology, Portfolio Executive and Director of Technology & Change and Chair of the Operational Investment Committee.
Why do you support Computing's Women in Tech Excellence Campaign?
Diversity is great for business and great for wider society.
Tech is an industry that touches every part of our lives; everything from where we live to how we work - yet it currently only includes the contributions of a fraction of the women in the UK and beyond.
As technology leaders we know that providing an opportunity for everyone to succeed at work is not only the right thing to do, but the smart thing. Many studies show that a diverse workforce delivers a stronger business performance, boosts employee engagement and improves innovation.
Computing's Women in Tech Excellence Awards is helping to dismantle some of the unconscious bias and stereotypes that currently exist, through positive promotion and recognising exceptional female contribution to our industry; something we're delighted to be associated with at RBS International.
How did you get into the IT industry?
I'm motivated by making a difference to society and organisations and challenging myself to be the best I can be. The early 90s were a greenfield and a time of high possibility for technology - in 1993 the internet consisted of 15 million users worldwide with very little constructed for commercial transactions.
My degree was in Business Information Technology within an expectation of working a year in industry. I was fortunate enough to obtain a placement at Hewlett Packard which was a revelation in terms of its culture, the amount of responsibility it provided from day 1 and how it focused on building the commercial potential of the internet and exploring how we connect and interact as a species.
What do you think is the main reason why the IT Industry is mainly male, especially in technical roles and senior positions?
While we all agree on the shared objective of a technology workforce gender balance, I'd say that there are 2 factors at least at play:
- Disparity of educational subjects. While there has been a shift in males accessing traditionally female-dominated sectors, the reverse hasn't yet happened in some male-dominated industries such as technology and digital. A recent study, undertaken by Relocate Global, identified that only 20% of those taking computer science at GCSE level, for instance, are female.
- Having more targeted career guidance for young women from school age upwards could perhaps help, alongside greater promotion of apprenticeships and challenging traditional gender stereotyping from an early stage.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in your career?
- Be curious - curiosity is what has made our species adaptable and successful. Be curious about yourself - about how you show up, about your values, motivation and what makes you happy and then act to fill your life with that.
- Be curious about others - about what they believe and value and whether you can bring value to them or help them develop or attain their goals in life.
- Have a firm plan, lightly held. Be open to the possibility that is the heart of the journey. It's rare to have a career path that any of us can predict with accuracy 20 years ahead. Opportunity will arise and so long as it's in line with your value I'd always say yes. Part of the fun is seeing where the path leads.
I think Seneca pretty much nailed it in the first century CE - ‘It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste so much of it. Life is long enough and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for us to attain the highest achievements, if we choose.'
What are your three top tips for women looking to start a career in IT?
- Develop your support network - don't go it alone. Seeking out allies in tech of either gender can be an excellent way of progressing your career, your knowledge and helping to build confidence
- Seek out feedback, reflect and shape your skills - try to view feedback solely as an opportunity to improve and better yourself.
- Immerse yourself in your field - It's vitally important to maintain relevancy through having a good understanding of current tech news, themes and notable people. Be curious! And have fun on the journey.
What advice would you give to young women aspiring to take on leadership roles?
Be confident in the skills you have developed through your past experiences, and be prepared to speak to how they are applicable in the tech industry. Remember that, in many cases, what you know can matter much less than your confidence in your ability to learn.
Finally, embrace what makes you different and show up as yourself every time! It's your differentiators that add value to any interaction or relationship.