IT Consultant, Trainer
Fiona was kicked out of school at 15, but it didn’t stop her building a life she loves, with a well-paid career in IT.
What work do you do?
I started out as a mainframe programmer, quickly transitioned to an analyst contractor, then fell into Microsoft SharePoint. I recently finished a one-year course in cybersecurity. Currently I’m skilling up to become a blockchain trainer and a crypto-currency investor.
When you were at school did you know what work you wanted to do?
Well, I wagged most of high-school and was kicked out when I was 15, so I wasn’t at school for long! Not really – I knew I wanted to travel, to be in charge of my life and living a life that I consciously created – not just blinding following what everyone else was doing.
How did you get started?
I had just returned from travelling and had $80 in my bank account. I decided I needed to do something about getting a ‘’proper’’ job so I applied to do a 6-month programming course through a private college. I then somehow managed to convince the State bank to lend me the $6k course fee with only my back pack as collateral and that was the start of my career in IT.
What do you love most about your work?
Doing work that is meaningful. Having confidence in my abilities and knowledge. Surprisingly, I enjoy teaching and sharing my skill set.
What was your biggest fail along the way?
I don’t see not-succeeding as failure. To me, true failure is not trying. However, when I was 35 I became bored with programming, so I ran away to sea to work in the luxury yachts based in France. Out of the six yachts I worked on, I was fired from every single one.
What’s your biggest accomplishment so far?
My biggest accomplishment is that I love my life. Secondary accomplishments would be:
- Getting my Karate black belt and representing Australia.
- Being a foster carer for five years
- Seeing people succeed that I’ve helped.
- Travelling – Tibet, South-East Asia, Africa and Europe
- Living in a squat in the East End of London
- Jumping out of a plane and not dying.
Who helped you get to where you are today?
When I left school, it was pre-internet. Inspiring women role models were few and far between, so I constantly pushed my comfort zone. I worked hard and skilled up at every opportunity. I seized opportunities when they came along. And finally, I trusted my gut.
How has technology changed your industry in the last 5-10 years?
In my first office job, I was working with typewriters and adding machines. I was already in the tech industry when the first Windows OS was released. Before that, it was just dumb terminals connected to the Mainframe. And if the mainframe crashed, all connectively was lost so we would go to the pub for afternoon. Now we are connected 24/7.
The changes I’ve seen are only the start – we’re at the most exciting and critical time in human history – the world is changing fast and in ways we can barely imagine. There are huge challenges ahead, but also huge opportunities – The power of the individual to make a difference has never been so great.
What advice can you give to young girls thinking about pursuing a career in your industry?
Don’t worry about what you are choosing to study now – the information (if not the entire subject) is probably going to be irrelevant in couple of years.
Regardless of the industry, it’s important to develop:
- Analytical Skills; Being able to quickly digest, evaluation and summarise information
- Problem-solving skills. Coming up with innovative solutions.
- Social skills: Working well with others, being able to inspire and lead.
- Time management skills: Do what you say you are going to do when you say you are going to do it.
The most important characteristics that young women need now are resilience, adaptability and a love of lifetime learning. Having one career path for an entire life is long gone – having multiple career paths and jobs is the future.
In your wildest dreams, what would you love to do every single day and get paid for it?
This sounds terribly smug, but I what I’m doing right now. I have a couple of amazing holidays coming up, I get to binge watch Netflix when I want, I’m taking risks and challenging myself and I’m sharing what I’ve learned with others to help them.