Diana, could you tell us about your experience working in IT?
Absolutely. I have been working in ICT for 22 years now.
Even before I started working within the education sector, I had worked in technology. I still remember the day I left school with ‘A’ Levels in Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Economics. I was keen to pursue a career that would enable me to use my logical, mathematical mind. So my first job was in computer programming at Essex County Council before moving on to work in IT within the shipping insurance industry in London (back in the early days of bulky PCs and networking).
I took a 10-year career break to focus on raising my children before re-entering the profession as an IT Technician at Sudbury Upper School (now Ormiston Sudbury Academy).
After 17 years, and keen to take on a new role, I worked for an IT provider where I supported, among many clients, an academy trust. Eventually, I moved into an internal ICT position at the trust where I supported two schools: one primary with 300 pupils and a secondary with over 1,000.
Why do you like supporting schools?
Having been a School Governor and worked within ICT for several years, I know just how valuable it is to make technology accessible. After all, it doesn’t matter what profession a child eventually moves into as an adult; IT literacy is an essential skill. I’ll never forget something another member of staff once said to me. At the end of my time at the Trust, they thanked me for “making technology accessible to people who are scared of it.”
That’s exactly how I see my role – helping teachers, students and the wider school community access IT and use it to enhance education.
How does your experience transfer into the commercial world?
I have a lot of experience in resolving IT issues and thinking proactively about how IT can make processes more efficient.
As well as having a vast amount of technical knowledge, I am also commercially aware. I understand the vital role that IT plays in improving communication, streamlining business processes and protecting business-critical information. Most importantly, having worked in the shipping insurance industry for so many years, I appreciate how businesses work and the pressures that they face.
Why did you decide to join Agile?
I had outgrown my previous IT Manager role and was looking for a new position that would enable me to work in businesses as well as schools. An agent recruiting on behalf of Agile had my CV details and asked me if I’d be interested in one of the technical roles on offer at Agile. I could see from Agile’s website the blend of clients that they have, so I went along for an interview, where I met Nick (Agile’s MD) for the first time.
Nick explained that Agile is already well-established within the school community and was in the process of onboarding more commercial and education clients. So they created a Senior IT Specialist role that would enable me to work with a wide spectrum of clients. But also to continue to use my education experience to improve the IT provision in schools.
What do you bring to the role at Agile?
The role was a natural progression for me. I understand the challenges that schools and businesses face and the positive impact IT can have on people’s working life.
I like working through problems and coming up with solutions that people may not have thought of before, and this role enables me to do just this.
What are you most proud of in your career?
That’s a difficult question because there are lots of things – some big, some small. I’d have to say that it is making technology accessible to those who are afraid of it and knowing that I have made a difference to someone else.
I am good at putting technical things into non-technical speak, which I think is where I excel, and one of the reasons why Agile hired me.
What are your other passions (outside of work) besides IT?
Away from work, I let my creative brain take over. For example, I make lots of my clothes. I once created the outfits for an end-of-year school production. In fact, one of the pupils wearing my creations is now an actor in Bridgerton.
I am also making my daughter’s wedding dress. She’s getting married in the New Year and so we’re collecting lots of ideas at the moment.
Being an avid reader, I have read hundreds of books and belong to a local book club. I don’t have a preferred genre, as it depends on what I fancy reading at the time. My go-to, though, is something that challenges me to think differently about a subject or event. It’s how my mind works!
Just for the joy of it, I regularly attend Ceroc dances. Ceroc is a blend of Jive and Salsa, and it helps me to keep fit!