International Women’s Day: an inspiring Q&A with three of our team

Published: Thursday March 08, 2018

Today is International Women's Day, celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women.

At GBG, we're focused on promoting a culture that values diversity of all kinds. In recognition of International Women’s Day, we asked some of our talented women about their careers and professional motivations.


Cathie Hall, Customer Experience and Operations Director

Q. What motivates you professionally?

Early on in my career I just wanted to do the best I could. I did everything in my control to never miss a deadline, and if I did I would communicate up front with stakeholders. I was always organised and proactive; I sought out extra responsibility. Being so passionate about the customer, whether internal or external, meant I consistently strived to over-deliver. 

Now I am still motivated to deliver against my commitments; its’ a strong drive for me.  But I also want to see those around me flourish. I like to celebrate the success of others. 

I love seeing an organisation change, improve, grow – creating more value for customers, building an exciting working environment for the team and of course meeting shareholder expectations.

Q. Do you think enough is being done by the industry to address gender imbalance?

I think the situation in tech is similar to that in UK politics in the past. Women don’t necessarily find the sector attractive, they don’t necessarily know all the different career options open within tech, and they don’t necessarily find the traditional developer role enticing. Getting into schools and encouraging young women to take maths and computing courses is critical to getting a feed of female talent into development roles and more generally into tech companies – but to really stimulate it we need to actively seek out female talent to join. Then the growth of women in the sector takes on a life of its own as the number of role models increases.

I would also point out, this shouldn’t just be about women – it’s about diversity across the board. Diversity challenges thought, challenges approaches, weaves together differences in style and interpretation which is critical in the creative process.  That’s another thing – the creative side of development needs to shine through in the promotion of the sector – not just 0s and 1s!


Chirpa Santhanam, Head of Quality Assurance

Q. What does a ‘Head of Quality Assurance’ do?

Quality Assurance (QA) within Technology is really key. It sits within the software development cycle and essentially, our team ensures the quality of products is kept right from the start.

My role requires strategic thinking, and planning and expertise along the whole development cycle.

Our team’s purpose is to think like the customer, to improve confidence of the product. We interact with IT Support and Infrastructure teams, App Support, Helpdesk, and Account Managers. It’s great to be involved from where product change begins to where it ends, ensuring the quality is affirmed along the process.

 Q. How has being a ‘woman in tech’ impacted you, professionally and/or personally?

With nearly 17 years of work experience in tech and 7 years in science, I’ve been very lucky to never have anyone act in a way to make me feel like a ‘woman in tech’. I’ve always been a person.

There’s never been a situation where I’ve felt on the back foot – even six years ago when I was the only woman in QA. I feel I go to work like anyone else and I’m a team member, and responsible for my team. In our department and our team, there's nothing one gender can do that the other can’t.

It’s all down to how much do you want to do it. If you display capability then why wouldn’t you be given the opportunity?


Alexi Walsh, General Manager of Identity Assurance

Q. What's the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

“It’s ok to fail as long as you learn from it.” Working in an environment where it's ok to make mistakes provides a platform to take calculated risk, which in turn can lead to big results. This can be extremely motivating. What’s not ok, is to make the same mistake twice; failure can be tolerated when it teaches you something and you correct your action next time. We often learn our best lessons when the pressure is on or things go wrong.

Q. Who has been the biggest influence in your career and why?

My first manager, Joyce Duncan, has been my biggest career influence – she was the Office Facilities Manager in a big Liverpool law firm and I was her assistant. Joyce believed in my ability and regularly pushed me out of my comfort zone to take on new, challenging tasks. By 18 years of age I was running the Reception, the post room, the supplies department and the cleaning team; managing a team of 12 with a mean age of >50 – not easy when you're 30 years their junior! Joyce taught me that the best way to earn professional respect was to listen to and be interested in people’s troubles and be pragmatic in finding solutions. Also never ask someone to do something that you wouldn’t be prepared to do yourself. Good advice that I still follow today.

Q. How has being a ‘woman in tech’ impacted you, professionally and/or personally?

I don’t think that being a ‘woman in tech’ has had an impact on me – I’ve not felt that my gender has held me back or promoted me (either professionally or personally) in this industry.  Yes, there are less women in this sector – that’s obvious when you attend events and only every sixth or seventh person is female – but I’ve always felt that my voice is as loud as the next guy’s and whether my opinion is well received is nothing to do with gender, and more to do with whether I’m making a good point.