Hi I’m Jo Connew, Head of DevOps and Transformation in HMRC's IT function. I started my career in HMRC as a Constable; basically I was a security guard with admin duties. Today I lead a team of 35 and was named IT Manager of the Year at the 2017 UK IT Awards. Intrigued? Here’s the story of my IT journey.
I came to HMRC straight from school. Although being a Constable wasn’t my first choice of career the pay, with shift allowances, was great for an eighteen year old. It was also a good way to get to know different people in the office which would prove very beneficial later in my career.
After a year I moved into a development and training team, which I loved. Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m the first person to jump up at meetings or workshops to lead from the front and some would say play teacher! It was a fantastic opportunity to learn a variety of management and leadership skills through assisting in the development and delivery of training to colleagues. As an NVQ Assessor I represented HMRC nationwide, delivering presentations to external organisations.
My next role was in HMRC's banking and finance area acting as a trouble shooter. Then, just four years ago and with no IT experience beyond using a PC, I made the move into one of HMRC's digital teams.
So why IT? I wanted to make a difference and to find a new challenge and, having been a user of so many of the IT systems that I now support, I brought with me an understanding of what our customers want and the difficulties they face. So I transferred my skills and took a resource management job to gain an insight into ‘digital’ and learn about what, to me at the time, seemed a very strange world.
After a year I became a lead for our IT Infrastructure and now, as Head of DevOps and Transformation, I can use my leadership skills, knowledge of the business, and vast amount of contacts to strive for IT excellence.
HMRC has helped me throughout my career with inclusive opportunities, great training and development. They’ve also supported my extra-curricular activity with Movement to Work where I’ve made connections with my local Job Centre and created work opportunities within HMRC's IT and digital teams for those people seeking to get back into employment.
2018 has been designated ‘Year of the Woman’ to mark the 100th anniversary of the vote for women. It’s come at a time when it feels like there’s a surge in women being recognised for making a real and significant contribution across all areas of business. This is especially true in the IT industry where, until recently, it has been renowned for being a male-dominated environment.
I hope my story will inspire others to aim high. You never know where you’ll end up. I certainly never dreamed when I was working on the door of an office in Southend that one day I’d be IT Manager of the Year 2017!
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