Ellie Bellhouse is a Deployment Analyst and has been working at Agilisys for over a year, with four years of IT sector experience. Ellie is a finalist for the Rising Star of the Year Award 2020, a category of the Women in Tech Excellence Awards. We wanted to know more about what motivates her in her role at Agilisys, working in the IT sector and what her top tip for women looking to get into this industry.
Tell us about your current role and what motivates you?
I am currently working as a Deployment Analyst on a busy Transformation Programme for the States of Guernsey, responsible for supporting the Deployment Manager with the delivery of the project, including the roll out of devices and ensuring all t-minus activities are completed in line with the project deployment lifecycle. This involves issuing communications to users, making sure the right amount of hardware has been allocated for deployment, ensuring engineers and profile migrations are scheduled, checking application readiness, and allocating the correct licenses. The list goes on! Essentially, I ensure that everything’s in line for deployment.
In addition to this, I have also taken on the role of Subject Matter Expert for Migration Studio, providing operational support to colleagues within the Workforce Productivity Team and acting as the middle woman between the vendor and our teams to optimise the use of the toolset. This involves creating user guides and hosting sessions to help them use the tool to better plan and deliver their migrations and the projects that they’re running. I also look to identify trends in the issues our teams face on their projects and work with Migration Studio to aid with the pain points. This has contributed to the development of their toolset and helped us to develop a process model which in turn helps our colleagues to better use the tool.
What has been the driving force behind your career strategy?
My career strategy is to set goals that are in line with the goals of the project, which helps me progress within my career but also contributes to the progression of the project. The driving force behind that strategy is the sense of achievement from learning a new skill and knowing how that has contributed to the success of the project.
A big motivator for me is being able to invest in others and watch them succeed. This has a lot to do with the fact that when I first started out in my career I was too nervous to ask for help for fear of being looked down on or just unable to get the help I was looking for. Now, I ensure I devote as much time and energy into a new starter, a training session or a colleague simply asking for help.
Also, during my first couple of months at Agilisys, I was required to set up a newly installed toolset, complete an application rationalisation piece, which I’d had no previous exposure to, and complete full data discovery. I was motivated both by the challenge of working on aspects I wasn’t familiar with and succeeding regardless of my experience.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in your career?
One of the biggest lessons I have learned is to turn my weaknesses into strengths. There have been many times in my career when I have doubted my capability because I got something wrong, which has inevitably held me back. To overcome this I’ve had to take a step back and remember that mistakes can make you more resilient and you should always ponder on the how, what and why. Really, I’ve learned over time that being out of my comfort zone opens the doors and avenues to progression and helps me gain a sense of achievement. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some really good people who have taken me under their wing.
What is your top tip for women looking to start a career in IT?
My top tip would be that age and gender should not define your limits to success.
There have been many times during my career when I was treated differently to others in the boardroom. For example, a stereotypical comment was once made to me by a male senior colleague, which I don’t think he’d have made to a male counterpart. Or, being challenged by someone when I was new to a team before being they even introduced themselves to me. It seemed that they were making certain assumptions. These factors didn’t limit me, they just made me push to become even better in what it is that I do. A manager once told me, ‘if you’re ever presented with an opportunity to speak or do a presentation, just say yes’. So now I try and ensure I instantaneously say yes, even if I don’t want to do it. Or just something as small as sharing an idea in me, because it’s always worth that sense of achievement.
Once you’ve delivered a presentation or once you’ve pitched an idea or a thought that you have, no matter how big or small it is, when people are on board with what you’re saying, and they appreciate the knowledge that you have, it really boosts your confidence. It has helped me build my character a little bit more and I try to prepare myself to respond properly to assumptions like that going forward.
Of course, there’s always room to learn more. These experiences however, changed for me when I took the risk to become more open and started sharing my ideas – then I was able to show what I could contribute as a young woman in IT.
Once you get over that fear and demonstrate your confidence and passion in your field, people will value your knowledge and charisma, so don’t be afraid to speak your mind!
Overall, I think it’s an exciting career and I embrace the fact that I am a woman doing well in IT. That’s something to be proud of.