Meet our unsung heroes
Shaida Mahmood, L2 Service Desk Engineer
We caught up with Shaida, our L2 engineer who has returned to Fordway after a five-year career break. As a female engineer and a working parent, Shaida’s story is inspiring.
Pursuing a career in IT is no easy feat. But for some female technologists, climbing the ladder in what is still a male-dominated industry can be difficult due to unconscious bias, different standards, and negative workplace cultures. Shaida shares her first-hand experience as a female in IT, as well as uncovering the peaks and troughs of being an engineer.
Are there any challenges you’ve faced as a female engineer and is there any advice you would give to other women considering a role in IT?
I think it’s a shame there are not more women in IT, it’s fun and challenging at the same time and you are constantly learning due to how vast the IT world is. Every day is a learning day, especially with how quickly the changes to tech are happening now. I work alongside some great supportive colleagues, and I know I can always reach out and ask for help if I am stuck.
I’ve never encountered any gender discrimination but there seems to be a misconception that working in IT/Tech is a gendered role…it is not. It is a harmful stereotype and creates unfavourable environments for more women to excel.
My advice to other women considering a career in tech is to embrace it. Embrace being a woman in in the industry. You will soon realise it is just a roomful of people with the same goals, interests, and aspirations as you.
I’m sure that will help many aspiring female engineers to hear your story. Tell us a bit more about yourself and your role as an engineer?
I work predominantly in Service Now which is Fordway’s ticketing system, dealing with incidents, on-standard requests or standard requests. I prioritise my tickets by urgency and then if they risk breeching an SLA. A typical day begins with logging in and setting up all my applications for the day (Logmein/TeamViewer for remote access), PowerShell, connecting to customers O365 portals, as a managed service provider we are responsible for numerous customer systems, I always have at least half a dozen different applications open. The work we do on the service desk is very broad, always interesting, and challenging at times.
I first worked at Fordway in early 2009 and left in 2016 to go on maternity leave, which ended up being 5 years! Once my son was full time at school in 2021, I had a lot of time to myself and started contemplating returning to work. After such a big break, it was incredibly daunting, as the field of IT had changed so much in the time I was away. So, I spoke to Fordway’s HR team about returning to work and how anxious I was feeling. Was going back into IT the right decision or should I enrol onto courses to brush up on my rusty skills? Would I be able to cope with returning to work after such a big break? After talking it through, I applied for the L2 role, and I am so grateful for the support which has allowed me to progress my IT career.
Has hybrid working allowed for an easier transition as a working parent?
Returning to work was a shock! So much had changed, the technology and hybrid working. I struggled initially with WFH and decided that I will work as much as I can in the office, to get to know people and ask as many questions as possible in person.
Fordway has been fantastic to me as a working parent, giving me flexibility to do the school run by starting later in the morning and taking my lunch break in the afternoon so I can do the pickup at the school gate. I got a lot of support from the team when I joined and listened to any issues I had returning to work.
I struggled with working from home, being isolated and getting to know my work colleagues took longer than it would have done being in the office. However, I do love the flexibility of working at home, I tend to get more done now that I am up to speed.
Have you always wanted to work in IT? And out of interest…what was your first paying job?
I have always wanted to work in IT, I did a degree in Business, IT and Technology and loved the IT and Technology modules, although by the time the course material gets approved by the university, its already outdated by the time we learn it. Working in IT really opened my eyes up to how everything works in the background, from databases to emails, servers to virtualisation and storage.
Real world experience is like no other, which you don’t learn from a book or a course. My first paying job was as a Saturday assistant at Superdrug, it was great as I had a lovely boss who would give the expired sandwiches to us instead of binning them! To be 16 again.
She sounds like a lovely boss! We’d love to know what inspires you at work?
To provide great customer service. It’s horrible when you have a customer who cannot work, and you want to quickly get them back up and running. Sometimes, it’s not the fix that’s crucial but the customer communications about progress on their issue is key. I also love learning new things and documenting it for our knowledge base to help others in my team.
Do you have any mentors in your professional life?
Jo, our Technical Services Manager is a great mentor. Nothing phases her and I can always approach her with anything, regardless of it being trivial or substantial. Fordway has some brilliant techies, and I have learnt so much from them. Seeing how your colleagues problem solve and work is great exposure and has helped me immensely.
Lastly, and most importantly… what three things would you take with you to a deserted island?
Kindle, a pallet of custard creams, and Matt Damon.
Great choices, Shaida. Sounds like paradise to me.
What makes Fordway a great place to work is our people.
From getting to know our customers and understanding their needs, to enabling users and their organisations to do more with less, people are at the heart of what we do. We’re proud of the people that we work with and that means we are committed to helping them reach their full potential. If this sounds like the kind of place you’d like to work, then get in touch with us today.