One of the goals of International Women’s Day 2021 is to celebrate women’s achievements. At Fordway, we decided to celebrate three women with very different roles who are all part of our management team. And, in the light of this year’s theme ‘Choose to Challenge’, we also want to contest any preconceptions that women can’t or don’t want to run technical teams. As Jenny and Jo demonstrate every day, they can and they do – and the company is thriving as a result of their work.
“I wanted to do more with my customer service skills – and I’ve always been interested in fixing things!” – Jenny Harvey, Service Desk Manager, Fordway
Jenny Harvey is the Service Desk Manager, responsible for managing Fordway’s level 1 and 2 support teams. She and her teams provide the first level of contact with customers and fix a high volume of the problems that customers encounter. Anything that they can’t resolve is handed on to Joanna King and the technical services team, who we’ll discuss in the next blog in this series.
Jenny’s background is in customer service, not computer science, but this has not held her back from managing a technical team.
“Having a customer services background is ideal preparation for running a technical support team because you understand that the job is first and foremost about solving customer problems while providing a good service, and the actual technology you’re working with is less important than finding a solution,” Jenny explains. “You also need to remember that the people you’re dealing with have different technical abilities. Your role is to solve their problem so they can get back to work and you need to be able to communicate with those who are technical and non-technical.”
Jenny moved into technical support after deciding that she wanted to do something more challenging than customer service alone. She’d always enjoyed the logical aspect of problem-solving and had an interest in computing. So, she joined a software company on their service desk.
She was the first woman they’d recruited into a technical role, but after growing up with five brothers she wasn’t daunted by a largely male environment. Over a six-year period, she became steadily more senior until she was running the team. Moving on to another software company to manage all first-line support, in a few months she was managing second line support as well, and by the end of the first year also took on responsibility for the client services team.
Although successful in this role, Jenny decided she wanted to focus on IT support and expand her skills to handling all aspects of IT, from hardware to cloud services. She joined Fordway in August 2020. “The wide range of technology here keeps it interesting and enables me to learn new things, so it was the ideal opportunity,” Jenny explains.
She’s already implemented a number of service improvements, instituted a new customer satisfaction survey and improved internal and external communications. She’s a member of the company’s management team and meets regularly with her peers to discuss challenges and improvements, keeping customers at the heart of the service.
“I really enjoy the people management aspects of my job, particularly coaching my team to get the best from them,” Jenny says. “I also love the customer interaction, and the feeling of satisfaction when we turn a problem around by providing a good solution.
“I think this type of role offers a great career opportunity for women. You need to be willing to step outside your comfort zone at times and be prepared to learn new things, as the technology is constantly changing – but human nature remains the same, so people skills will always be applicable! A few years ago, it was less common to have women running service teams, and I had one person who asked to speak to ‘the manager’. He was a bit surprised to discover he was already speaking to her…… However, these days that’s very unlikely to happen, as what was a male-dominated industry is changing very quickly. I love my job and the satisfaction of solving problems every day.”