Once worried she wasn't technical enough, Elise McGill is now an IT project manager
Elise McGill will celebrate four years with Leidos UK this April. McGill started with the company as an IT Administrator before becoming a Desktop Support Analyst for three-and-a-half years. She recently earned a promotion to Associate Project Manager for internal IT and sat down with us to discuss her career journey and aspirations.
Why did you join Leidos?
I worked in retail for a number of years after college, having gained my Higher National Certificate (HNC) qualification in administration. I had progressed and moved up to management levels in retail but I was looking for a change, and I wanted to use the qualification I worked hard for. I began circulating my CV on online job boards and LinkedIn. I was approached by a recruitment agency who told me a little about the administrator role with Leidos. Having never worked in technology and coming from a retail background, I was nervous that I would not fit in with the corporate nature of the business. I was concerned that I may not be able to keep up with the technical jargon the role involved.
During the interview stages, however, I met some of the team I would be working with. They made me feel so much more relaxed about the technical aspects of the role, and after joining I discovered that I didn’t need to worry so much about not being “techy” enough. Just six months later, I was offered the opportunity to train with the team as an engineer! The company has supported my development and progress in technical roles and I’ve loved learning new skills. It has been an amazing opportunity to get involved in an industry that I never imagined I would.
How would you describe your role to your 10-year-old self?
My team keep everyone else working! Everyone in our company uses a laptop. We make sure that each person’s laptop, and everything connected to it works the way it is meant to, and fix it when it doesn’t.
What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?
At 20, I was a store manager, working 50 hours a week for minimum wage! I would tell myself not to be afraid to reach for more. There are opportunities out there if you take the initiative to go and find them.
What would your 100-year-old self say to you?
I have no doubt I will have plenty to say! There are a couple of things that stand out though… One, there is more to life than work. Two, make the effort to make a home-cooked meal and stop having takeaways! And three, take a walk. Stop driving everywhere!
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
I think International Women’s Day [March 8] is an opportunity to discuss why gender inequality is still so prevalent around the world. From my perspective, it tends to focus on why so few women choose to pursue careers in STEM related fields, which is, without doubt, a huge issue facing the economy today. More than that though, in my opinion, this day should open a discussion around inequality in general. It is not all about women. Gender inequality affects everyone. Discussions should be had around gender inequality involving both men and women.
Men and women should be encouraged to pursue careers that they feel an affinity for, that take their interest and spark passion for them. We should all work together to ensure that no one is made to feel that they cannot chase their dream purely because they are male or female. If you are the most talented individual for the role, then the role should be yours. Regardless of gender.
This day, for me, is an opportunity to have conversations on these topics and share views with colleagues, friends and family to try to establish why these biases still exist in today’s society. We must determine how to work together to ensure nothing but your skill, your training, your determination to do the job well, and your willingness to learn are considered when you apply for a role or pursue a career path.
What makes you special?
I know almost everyone - it’s my super power! I am a very talkative person, and prefer to go and speak to someone, or call them, rather than send an email or IM. So I am often seen around the office, and I get to speaking to everyone and anyone on my travels.