Doris IT are one of our most unique proud members. Through training, mentoring and assignments, they are helping to close the digital skills gap and build up the next generation of tech professionals. Diversity is key at Doris. Currently the composition of the company is 60 – 40 men and women and as well as having a female name, Doris was founded by two women.

The focus at Doris is not on what qualifications or experience you have, it’s about having an interest and a passion for all things tech and wanting to build your career, even if you don’t know what the end goal is yet. Doris knows that the only way to find your path is through experience. Doris matches you with your assignment and you’re based there full time, but you’ve always got that support of Doris in the background – whether that be through the Doris community or the Doris Hub, which gives you access to those in the wider Doris community.

We wanted to find out exactly what’s it’s like being on assignment at Doris, which is why we spoke to Lisa and Laura who are both on assignment at the Co-op in Manchester.

Meet Lisa
and Laura

To start off, do you have any fun facts about yourself?

Lisa: I was on Richard and Judy when I was a baby. I was on promoting towel nappies!

Laura: I was the Gunther of Central Perk on Bold Street when it was open which is cool!

What are your roles on assignment at the Co-op and which teams are you working with?

Lisa: I’m a PMO (Project Management Office) analyst for a central team called EPMO (Enterprise PMO) in the bank change function. It involves governing the projects and making sure that they’re on track as well as loads of other things, I’m learning everyday!

Laura: I’m a finance analyst on the Retail Business Transformation Programme at the Co-op Group, which involves simplifying all the systems at the Co-op into one system. Being a Finance analyst can mean many different things, I look after the purchase orders, budgets and track the resources used from contractors to third parties and manage invoices and delivery too.

When did your passion for tech begin?

Lisa: I started as a Personal Assistant (PA), which gave me a great insight into the many types of roles I could progress into as well as a great basis for making connections and friends with colleagues. I’ve now moved into a more techie role and am enjoying the experience of seeing how this side of the business works, it’s great to have a view of both sides.

Laura: I started taking on technical admin tasks when I was working in a coffee shop, even though it wasn’t in my job description, and I went on to do the same in my next job at a hotel because of the experience I had built up. I loved all the techie side of things, keeping track of people’s holidays, using database systems and things like that. I found it really interesting. I wanted to do something more IT based from then on.

What’s the best thing about being on assignment from Doris?

Lisa: It makes you different. I wouldn’t have been given the opportunities that I’ve been lucky enough to have. Doris has taken me out of my comfort zone and I never thought I’d be working in Manchester. In any other permanent role you’re stuck, but Doris allows you to move around. I really like the connection with other Doris’ers on assignment at the Bank as well.

Laura: Being a Doris’er you get the best of both worlds. You get all the freebies and the perks from the Co-op but you’ve got all the background support from Doris! You get training days, personal and professional development and you’ve got Doris to talk to as a third party, who aren’t biased if you are having problems.

What other perks do you have being a Doris’er?

Laura: There’s always some sort of social event. We’ve had a Go Ape day, a karaoke night and there’s a football club. The Doris football team keeps on beating the Co-op Bank’s football team.

I also started a book club here at Doris because the commute from Liverpool to Manchester is around an hour so I started reading more and I wanted more suggestions. I run one in both cities, because there’s been such an appetite for the club and we’re now onto our 5thbook! Doris gets the drinks in and we chat about literature and feel very cultured!

Have you faced any challenges being women in tech/business throughout your career?  

Lisa: The only thing I have experience throughout my working life is that I’m sometimes spoken over in meetings but Doris has helped me in situations like that and has given me confidence and experience to gain respect and assertiveness to compete in meetings with Senior stakeholders. Doris has a ‘Communicating with Impact’ training course which I went to and that really helped. This is one of the courses that every Doris’er gets through with one of our trainers. It dissects your personality to be one of four different types (you can be a mixture of 2 or even 3!) and enables you to understand how to interact and communicate with people of the same and opposite types. It’s really fun and enlightening!

At the Co-op Bank there’s a lot of women in senior positions – 60% of their management are women and they are committed to addressing this further in senior positions which is a really positive and supportive environment to be in! I’ve always looked up to these women during my time at the Co-op. I have always been treated fairly and had female role models to look up to on assignment and at Doris.

Laura: I haven’t really. Being a Doris’er you get taken under their wing and nothing falls on your head if you get it wrong. Maybe people don’t take you as seriously because they know you’re not as experienced as the more senior people, but I wouldn’t say any discrimination takes place. I do feel more protected as a Doris’er than I have in previous careers which is great as I’m starting out in tech.

What advice would you give to other people looking to change their career or begin a career in tech?

 Lisa: Step out your comfort zone. Just be more confident and believe that you can do it. I used to be put off a lot of jobs in the past because I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it. Even when I was a PA I didn’t think I could do what I’m doing now, then I realised you just learn whilst your on the job – you’ve just got to push yourself and not give up. I used to get so down applying for jobs when I graduated, but you’ve got to not let it get to you and persevere!

Laura: Before this, I left a comfortable job but I wasn’t very happy in it. I’m annoyed now that I didn’t do it sooner. There’s so many opportunities out there, don’t think that you can’t do it. You get so much training and support when you start most jobs, you can pick it up. You’ve got to not expect to know it all over night, it takes a while to find your feet. Everyone’s in the same boat. At Doris it’s unique because you’ve got all the other Doris’ers there who reassure you that they felt exactly the same way when they started.

What do you think Liverpool Girl Geeks brings to Doris?

Lisa: I think it’s great that Liverpool Girl Geeks’ are taking the stigma out of being a geek. I always dreamed of being in a techie role and I think you do automatically presume it’s a nerdy thing but I like the way Liverpool Girl Geeks challenges this.

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