Lauren Murtagh: “I genuinely can’t think of a more interesting career”

We caught up with Lauren Murtagh who is the Technical Service Improvement Lead across BT’s TV and Broadband space, based in Belfast. She talks to us about her career at BT, and why more girls are getting into STEM.

Hi Lauren, thanks for speaking to us. So how did you get into your current role?

I studied BSc Computing and Information Technology, which included a placement year working as a Systems Engineer at Liberty Information Technology. This was my first experience of the customer-facing side of IT – and I loved it! After graduation in 2013, I started on the BT graduate scheme as a Software Engineer in the TV Client Devices team, working on set top boxes. I really enjoyed working here, my role primarily involved the development of an automated test environment and managing the TV software through its test, trial, rollout and in life cycle. The aspect of my job which I found most interesting was the identification and investigation of issues and trying to get these mitigated and resolved ASAP – this is where I realised my real passion for customer experience. Now, my current role is leading a TV and Broadband Customer Experience team who work on behalf of all BT ISP’s including BT Consumer, BT Business, PlusNet and EE – I find this is an incredibly challenging and exciting space to work in.

What do you love about your job?

One thing I really enjoy is pulling people together from across the business to collaborate and drive real change for our customers – stakeholder management is key in my role. I enjoy using my technical background to help the business translate customer needs into technical solutions, and then bring these from idea conception through to transformation delivery.

What does a typical day look like?

It’s very varied, so there’s no ‘typical day’! I’m travelling every week as a lot of the people I work with are in England. Last week I was down visiting and getting customer experience insights from BT’s digital care team in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland – this is the team that manages BT’s relationships with customers via Twitter and BT’s online forums. This week I am in London working with the business teams to review 18/19 investment proposals, and I will also be down working with Youview our set-top box partner on the service improvement roadmap we are building with their support. All in all, it’s a highly diverse and stimulating role.

Do you think that more women are getting into tech now?

When I started on the BT graduate scheme, the men significantly outnumbered women on the scheme and in the workplace. But that’s changed even since 2013; we’re seeing more female graduates joining BT now which is really positive. My sister has just graduated in Computing and her year had way more girls than when I was studying. I think it’s because there’s more of an awareness around STEM skills and software jobs now: people are realising there are so many opportunities and great jobs out there!

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing women in tech?

I recently completed BT’s Tech Women program, and it was very interesting to learn about other colleagues’ experiences and stories of working in the tech sector. Being relatively early in my career, I never encountered gender as an issue – this could be a sign of things changing for the better, or I may have just been fortunate with the great people I get to work with. I think entering the IT sector as a woman can be challenging, as industry research shows. In the BT Tech Women program, we reviewed this research on women in IT – women do struggle with confidence and ‘imposter syndrome’ – and as a result, this stops them going forward for higher roles and gaining promotion. I think through seeing the shift in the number of women in senior management roles and an increase in female mentorship at this level we can help solve this – and BT is a positive role model for the industry.

What has been your highlight of working at BT?

Wow, there are so many! One highlight was setting up a new Customer Experience Improvement team within BT TV, back in 2015. I’ve been responsible for leading the growth of the team; since inception, we’ve grown from 4 people to 34 and made significant improvements to customer experience. Another highlight has been being part of BT’s Tech Women program. It aims to help talented women in technical roles and is focused around five or six modules – things like career development, confidence and gravitas, managing conflict. It gives you great exposure to female leaders and role models across the business. Through the confidence I built on this program I was able to accept an award nomination and subsequently be named as a ‘We are the City Rising Star in Technology’ – this is a cross-industry awards program aimed at recognising, developing and promoting the female pipeline.

What advice would you give to girls thinking about a career in STEM?

I’m obviously biased but I genuinely can’t think of a more interesting and rewarding career! I think if you enjoy it, just go for it – there’s such a huge demand for STEM skills at the moment and so many jobs available. It may take some time to figure out where your passion is, but when you find it you will know – just make sure you find a something which you truly enjoy!

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