Here at Liverpool Girl Geeks we like to showcase what it’s like to work in all aspects of the tech sector, in both technical and non technical roles. Laurie is currently working as an office manager at one of our proud members offices, interconnect/it. We caught up with her to get an inside view of what it’s like and how she ended up there…

When you were younger, what did you want to do when you were a grown up?

My first ever job was as a waitress and cook at my local Little Chef when I was 16 and it was a great little part-time job while I was studying! It taught me the importance of customer service. I developed an interest in psychology and enjoyed working with children, so I started working at a special school for children with autism. Later I worked as a nursery nurse, and as a teaching assistant in various roles at mainstream and special schools. I ended up being rather disenchanted with going into the teaching profession and staying in education, so I was keeping my eyes open to other career options but to be honest, nothing was really jumping out.

Laurie Chandler portrait

So what inspired you to have a career in Tech?

Having chatted to my friend Dave Coveney (we met at my local badminton club!) I discovered he had a small web development company. The company had not long started so Dave was responsible for managing development, company paperwork and accounts. I offered some of my free time over a few weekends to assist him with organising the administration. Following my help, he decided to offer me a part-time job and as the company has expanded I’ve taken on more and more responsibilities.

What is your favourite thing about your job?

Since starting at interconnect/it 7 years ago, I’ve had two children and life has changed a lot. I still love coming into the office and for me, it’s actually a peaceful haven away from my busy home life with my 2 young boys! I like the fact that I can be organised and take control of managing so many varied tasks in a creative environment, with some great colleagues.

The company operates flexi-time with opportunities to work from home and part-time working, which allows people to work and meet their other responsibilities – whether that be childcare or caring for an elderly relative. The tech industry has a reputation for staff having to work long and demanding hours, but our company culture prefers to place an emphasis on a healthy work life balance, something that in the long run we believe benefits everyone.

Tell us about your day to day routine?

One thing I really like about my job is that my work varies such a lot. As we’ve expanded I’ve enjoyed an increasingly varied work life; helping us research new office space, plan layouts and order furniture – and I often take enjoyment organising company team-building outings such as our recent ‘cultural day’. Usually though, my day-to-day work revolves around managing our company accounts, liaising with clients, and managing HR.

Interconnect team on day out

What’s the team like at interconnect/it? Are there many women in the team?

Our team now includes 14 members of staff – when I started there were just 4 of us. Our current team includes; developers, project managers, designers, and Mim and I, who manage accounts, administration and HR. We girls definitely play a large part in managing the successful day-to-day running of the company.

Until recently we received very few female applicants for tech roles, which was part of the reason why Dave was so keen to become a partner with Liverpool Girl Geeks. There are two women in management roles in the company, myself and Mim, and we have recently recruited our first female front-end developer. We were happy to see that more women applied for our latest technical vacancy and we hope this is a sign of things to come.

interconnect-team

A large part of our company culture is that we are all encouraged to have a say in how the company operates and our Director, Dave, is very open to hearing new ideas.

We have a Nominated Committee where each area of the company has a representative. The Committee meets monthly to discuss ideas, issues, future business goals and general business strategy for the company. It’s a great way to give a voice to staff. If you’re not on the Committee, you can still submit ideas and thoughts which are added to the agenda for discussion.

Our company continues to expand and as we do we keep making improvements. We aim to progress without making too many changes at once – a delicate balance but a tried and tested formula for us – it’s one of the reasons behind our success so far. Every day we work with the most up to date tech, allowing me to combine the technical and administrative aspects of my job.

What services do you provide and what kind of clients do you have at interconnect/it?

We provide a number of web services to a variety of clients who are local, national and international. We primarily work with clients from the publishing industry, on large-scale, high traffic sites. However, we work with clients from a large variety of different backgrounds, such as NGO’s, activists, journalists and developers. They include the likes of The Spectator, Centaur Media, NATS, New Statesman, International Gender Champions, GreenAcres (part of Bibby Line Group) and CGIAR Consortium. These services include our core offering of web design & development, hosting & management, consultancy and strategy.

What would you say to people who want to enter this Industry? Any top tips?

  1. Treat it like a profession, which means you have to keep learning, keep studying and keep up with developments in the industry.
  2. It’s a huge sector and you’ll never know everything, even if you feel like you do right now. Don’t lose confidence, it’s completely normal not to know everything.
  3. Don’t be afraid to experiment, yet always check that you’re not reinventing the wheel.
  4. Google first, then ask questions!

You can find out more about interconnect/it on their website.