Interview: Jessica Lewis, Admiral Group, Women in Tech Excellence Awards finalist

'It’s so important for future generations to get the acknowledgement that a rewarding career in IT can be for them too'

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Interview: Jessica Lewis, Admiral Group, Women in Tech Excellence Awards finalist

The tech industry has long suffered from a lack of female representation, but the tide is starting to turn.

The Women in Tech Excellence Awards shine a spotlight on the changemakers pushing for progress. On 23rd November, we will celebrate women leading the charge - from bold young coders to seasoned executives. These trailblazers inspire us all to challenge the status quo and open doors for the next generation. By honouring their drive and vision, we move closer to making tech a place for everyone to thrive.

Jessica Lewis, a principal engineer at Admiral Group, is a finalist for one of the biggest awards of the night: Woman of the Year - Financial Services, after reaching the 2022 shortlist for Role Model of the Year. She has over 17 years experience in the financial services industry, excelling at building up high performing engineering teams.

We talked to Jessica about her work at Admiral, prior to the awards.

Computing: Tell us about Admiral - what is the company all about?

Jessica Lewis: Admiral is a Wales-based FTSE 100 financial services company. Founded in 1993, it has spent most of the last 30 years in the private motor insurance sector where it has become UKs largest motor insurer. Over the years, Admiral has diversified its offerings, expanding into home insurance, travel insurance, pet insurance, and a range of other financial products, including loans.

What truly sets Admiral apart, and what has kept me here so long, is the company's culture and its people. It's no coincidence that Admiral consistently ranks among the top employers in the UK, as evidenced by its 23-year streak in the Great Place to Work survey.

During my time at Admiral I've had the opportunity to participate in exciting and impactful projects, enhancing my skillset, and advancing my career.

What one company achievement in the last 12 months are you most proud of?

Admiral recognises the importance of engineering excellence and is in the process of pivoting to become an engineering-centric organisation. As part of this transition the career path for individual contributors has been enhanced, giving more options for career advancement for technical focused people. I've been able to explore the different paths offered, advancing my skills in the process. 

Admiral also frequently run hackathons, allowing employees the opportunity to break away from their usual tasks and to take part in a challenge which gets the creativity flowing while providing the chance to explore new tools. The hackathons are always fun, and great way to make new connections. Everyone leaves feeling inspired to drive innovation keen to try out their strengthened skills. 

Admiral's commitment to engineering excellence doesn't end there. I'm also part of the team shaping our SRE functions within our newly created value stream model. It's an exciting time for our engineering community where our drive for engineering excellence, reliability and resilience is top of the agenda. 

What are you working on this year?

I am currently spearheading a transformative digital project. This transformation aligns to Admiral's diversification goals, designed to enhance the customer experience by providing a unified and seamless customer experience across all our products and channels. I play a central part in this programme, leading the development of a consolidated Digital Experience Platform for our web and mobile app customers. This platform serves as a central hub, ensuring customers have an enhanced and streamlined experience when accessing and managing their products. I'm driving the integration of modern technology placing a strong emphasis on the principles of automation, reusability, resilience, and a "shift left" approach, ensuring that issues are addressed early in the development process. 

Additionally, for my personal and professional development, I have undertaken a post grad certification in Sustainable Leadership. I'm thankful to Admiral for supporting employees with a passion for continuous learning, allowing me to stay at the forefront of the industry and to contribute meaningfully to Admiral's success.

Why are events like the Women in Tech Excellence important to the IT industry?

I come from a deprived school, where I found myself lacking support in terms of career guidance. Despite this, I achieved one of the highest A-level grades in IT in the country, which earned me a Women in Tech award from the national examination board. That award, and the ceremony that accompanied it, opened my eyes to the possibilities within the tech industry and introduced me to other talented young women who excelled at IT.

It's so important for future generations to get the acknowledgement that a rewarding career in IT can be for them too. Events like the one I attended at the age of 18 and now, the Women in Tech Excellence Awards help showcase female talent, champion diversity, and create a sense of community and solidarity among women in the IT sector. 

The Women in Tech Excellence Awards will take place on 23rd November in London. Click here to view the shortlist and here to book your table.

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