To celebrate International Women's Day on March 8th, this week we will be bringing you a series of guest blogs from leading senior females in Technology. They will be discussing their success, career-defining moments and what advice they would give to another female looking to pursue a similar career. This is what Angela Donohoe, Chief Information Officer of BPAY had to say.
Profile: Angela Donohoe is responsible for leading BPAY Group’s technology function including business focussed strategy, architecture, solutions, and operations that enable high quality and innovative technology and payments services. Angela was appointed to the role of Chief Information Officer in 2016 and is a member of BPAY Group’s executive team. In this role, she has ownership and oversight of technology governance, IT risk management and information security for BPAY Group.
Recent achievements include the launch of Osko on the New Payments Platform, the transformation of BPAY’s infrastructure to private and public cloud services, strengthened Cyber Security defences and significant improvement in time to market of solutions through mature Agile practices. Angela has led the development of a new technology strategy and roadmap which details a focus on customer product and services enhancements, innovation and exploration of new technologies, strengthening BPAY Group’s data and analytics capabilities, and improving internal and external collaboration and information management.
Angela has more than 25 years experience in senior technology leadership roles in financial services and government including Revenue NSW, Cuscal, Societe Generale, and Bank of New York. She is a Fellow of CPA Australia and FINSIA, holds technology advisory roles, is a director of a not for profit childcare organisation, and is an active mentor and promoter of STEM careers for young women.
What are the key habits that you feel make you successful?
- Trying to look ahead and be organised
- Having a variety of interests that provide diverse experiences and opportunities to mix with people from different industries and backgrounds. For example, I have volunteered on school committees, fundraising events and have been involved with not-for- profit groups.
- Investing in a range of professional networks that have provided my with ready access to advice, opportunities to meet others in similar roles and the occasional job referral
- Making time for family, friends and fitness
- Mostly healthy eating but allowing myself indulgences.
As you transitioned to more Executive level roles what was the shift you needed to make?
I found that I needed to develop a more strategic mindset so that I could contribute meaningfully at the Executive level. Having worked in mostly male-dominated environments, I had to overcome a lack of confidence and find my voice. I also learnt the value of wide consultation, understanding the unwritten rules that exist in all organisations, and the importance of “meetings before the main meeting” for important decisions. I have also learnt the value of planning ahead for business cycles, being efficient and organised and in ensuring I have the right people empowered to lead the work that needs to be done.
What's the most challenging situation you have faced in your career and how did you overcome it?
At a relatively young age, I was given a lot of management responsibility during a difficult M&A situation. There were very difficult HR issues with some senior managers. I followed poor advice and did not treat these people with the respect they deserved, resulting in unpleasant meetings, upset staff and court actions. I pushed through and built relationships across the new teams and attempted to establish good working relationships with some disaffected team members. I was mostly successful, but in some cases, a respectful working relationship could not be achieved. I was very disappointed but came to accept that management does not equate to popularity and that as long as I treated people fairly and courteously, I could be comfortable with the outcomes.
How do you approach making a difficult decision?
Firstly, I try and not rush a difficult decision, as it deserves due consideration. I identify the pros and cons and will consult with others as I weigh up the consequences. Once made I don’t agonise over the decision because as a wise friend once advised me – if you get a decision wrong it will usually come back to you to revisit again!
What do you believe will be the most in-demand skills over the next 10 years within Technology and why?
- Technical – BPAY Group expects to recruit a range of people with in-demand technical skills. We look for strong systems thinkers, ecosystem product and solution designers, full stack software developers, testers, automation engineers and devops engineers
- Security – Demand for CyberSecurity professionals will grow as businesses continue to invest to protect, detect and defend digital assets
- Data, Analytics and Automation- growth in the generation of, and access to data will drive the need for specialist skills in data science, machine learning and AI; robotics will become pervasive, creating demand for those with skills as well as ethicists who will be called upon to provide confidence in algorithms that will have increased influence in our lives
- Communication and Collaboration - increasingly, workers will need to have advanced digital skills for collaboration and communication. Those who are articulate – both verbal and written - will stand out
- Industry specialists – those who understand business ecosystems, points of friction and opportunities to improve products and services
- Risk management and compliance – roles that support design, management, reporting and governance will be in demand as concerns with data protection and privacy grow.
What's the most valuable piece of advice you have received in your career and how did it help you?
- Pick your battles, don’t procrastinate and don’t be a perfectionist – the time invested can be at the expense of other important things you need to do.
- To become an effective senior leader, I’ve had to develop a good radar regarding positions to fight for and those to leave for another time. Respect needs to be earned at all levels - staff, colleagues, and those senior to you. I’ve found that timely, appropriate communication, is usually the most important ingredient for success.
- I have also learnt that empowering others to make decisions within agreed guidelines is one of the most important things I do as a leader. By doing so, I have reduced a bottleneck (me!), supported others to grow their capabilities, and improved capacity to get things done.
What advice would you give to other females looking to pursue a career in Technology?
I’m an active mentor and promoter of STEM careers for young women as STEM is challenging, rewarding and never dull! There is a real opportunity for women to build the most wonderful careers in technology. We need more women, and in my experience the men I have worked with have been incredibly supportive and provided opportunities for learning, growth and promotion. I have been able to successfully grow my career, hold senior roles, and balance an active family and social life like many other women I know. I’ve found it helps to get support where you can (share the load if you have a partner), call upon family and friends, and to pay for household help when you can afford to.