Spotlight on Women in Tech: Sam Mudd of Phoenix Software

10 September 2020

Sean Robinson

Women in Tech,

At License Dashboard we are, and always have been passionate about creating and maintaining a diverse place of work. One of our employees has been working with the Women in Technology Community by building a space where women can support each other, share advice and work to narrow the gender gap.

We asked some esteemed women within the IT industry to tell us a bit about their experiences within the workplace. Here’s what Sam Mudd of Phoenix Software said:

When did you first start in the IT industry and what drew you to it?

My career journey started like most of the early women in IT – by accident. I had just completed by A ‘Levels and had taken a GAP year, to find after a few months of traveling and selling time share apartments in Tenerife I needed a ”proper job” to tide me over until I started University the next year. I ended up working alongside three other women calling from a yellow page’s directory to sell the first software applications that were brought to market back in the later 80’s. This was the start of the Software Reseller Industry and we were at the start of it all, very exciting times,, but unchartered territory and we made it up as we went along really – how to be good at what we did!

As a woman, have you faced any challenges within working environments?

The challenges I have overcome are no different to most women, you turn up to a meeting and it suddenly dawns on you that you are the only female at a table of around 8 or 10 men. Yes, that’s a regular occurrence for me, both in customer meetings and vendor ones, but it doesn’t for one-minute deter or upset me, because I am at ease with who I am, the value I bring to the table and the alternative views that might be missing.

I am at ease with who I am, the value I bring to the table and the alternative views that might be missing

It’s now well known that a lot of industries have been highlighted due to pay gaps between men and women, do you think this is the same within the IT industry?

Yes I do. And as a consequence I have been working hard on the Phoenix cultural tone of our workplace over the last two years and one of the important action areas is to promote accountability and fairness among other things. So if I accept that fairness is a key variable, I want a fair deal for women, on pay and benefits in the workplace. If I focus on culture at Phoenix, I can improve the engagement with my staff and if I can do that, I can hopefully find better ways to keep attracting more women to our company because I will be vocal about enabling women to be a success within our organization and have a seat at the table.

In recent years there has been an influx of women in all workplaces, but it’s not equal to men, men are 30% more likely to be promoted to a managerial position than women. Why do you think this is and what can organizations do to prevent discrimination and maintain equality when looking at hiring, salaries and promotions?

I think ‘if ‘the feeder pool at the bottom is equal (males & females coming into our industry) then really it is about retaining women in their careers, and providing flexible working options for them to have a family and continue to work. That way they can keep the momentum in their career going and as and when promotions become available they won’t be left behind.

I also interview a lot of women and find that by showing them as a role model I have managed to work my career and have a family, it provides them with an example it can be done. Of course I have had terrific male support from my male bosses over the years, and that is key to allowing a women to perform to her best ability. If they provide the trust and belief you can do it, the rest will follow.  Hence if you cultivate a culture of inclusion for all diversity – gender, age and race we will attract more talent in the long run and get the feeder pool at the start balanced between males & females.

What resources and support are available for women in IT?

We have recently undertaken a proactive program of activity at Phoenix under a campaign called ‘Women in IT’ (WIT) to encourage more women to think about IT as a career.

Because of the modern world we live in, we have used social media to promote some blogs from women across our business about their journey into IT and the roles that they have had as they developed their careers. They all have different roles to showcase the variety of career choices you can have in an IT company, ranging from sales, to admin and marketing to of course technical and development.

We have also recorded WIT Podcasts, and have presented at Schools and Colleges to offer more awareness to younger women that a career in IT might be something they wish to consider. The WIT network that we are a member of offers similar resources and networks that people can utilize.

What’s the biggest lesson you have learnt as a women in the IT industry?

I think that the role of being a figurehead has only really hit me in the last few years, when I started to understand how much notice people took of everything I said or did. My title and role give me the privilege of being able to be vocal about issues that matter. So, I have consciously decided that I want to ‘Give Women Confidence to be who they are and be successful in IT’.

Give Women Confidence to be who they are and be successful in IT

What is your favourite part of working in the IT industry?

I must say I love working with men and women alike, but that is because I am a people person. I studied Psychology for my degree and undoubtedly, I subconsciously use that to help me put people at ease when they first meet me or try and get to know me. At the heart of what I do, is try and get people who work for me, to be the very best version of themselves possible and reach their potential, what ever that role might be.

What’s the biggest professional challenge you have faced and how did you overcome it?

I have had many, but in the early days of my career as a Director at a different company, I had to make a bunch of people redundant through no fault of their own. It was a decision made by the bank who owned us at the time. It was the worst decision that company could have ever made. I over came it by parting company that with organization as I no longer believed in the strategy. It was the right move for me as I found the right company to work in – Phoenix…so it all turned out OK in the end. The moral of the story is, if you don’t believe in what you are doing, don’t waste a career. Move on and find out where you belong. Be authentic to yourself.

Do you have any advice or words of wisdom to women starting out in the IT industry?

Yes its fun, its vibrant and quite frankly you probably will not find another industry as exciting as IT, given the pace of change we encounter all the time! There are so many varied roles for women to explore and if you find one, you may establish others over time that also interest you. So jump in, give 100% and don’t be frightened to put yourself forward!

jump in, give 100% and don’t be frightened to put yourself forward

Keep an eye out for the next blog in the Women in Technology series and if you would like to take part, please don’t hesitate to get in contact.

Sean is a pioneer of SAM with over 20 years’ experience in software licensing compliance. He developed our industry leading, software asset and license management tool, License Manager, delivering SAM services to some of the largest companies in the world.

Sean Robinson

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