23rd June marks 9 years of International Women in Engineering Day, celebrating the incredible women in engineering and raising the profile of the career opportunities available in the industry. This day plays a pivotal role in encouraging more young women and girls to take up engineering careers.
DVLA’s Women in Engineering: Kirsten Phillips, Infrastructure Cloud Engineering
We spoke to Digital Voices advocate, Kirsten Phillips, about her experience as a woman pursuing a career in Engineering and what she thinks the future holds for female engineers. Find out why she hasn’t looked back since joining DVLA’s ITS (Information Technology Services) Centre of Digital Excellence scheme in 2020…
Hi Kirsten! Talk to us about your background and where your career started…
After leaving school, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do as far as a career goes. I tried the college path, but by that point I realised full-time education really wasn’t for me. I simply wanted to be out there working and making my own money.
I had a few different jobs in pubs, bars, warehouses, and such, but that all changed in 2014 when I started working at DVLA as a telephone advisor. Around 18 months later, I applied to work on the Multi-Channel Team, where we assisted customers via webchat, email, social media, and phone.
Kirsten Phillips, Digital Voices Advocate
“If you have an opportunity to do something you are interested in, just go for it. Don’t be afraid to take a chance. The more women that have the courage to do it, the more of a difference we can make”
What made you want to pursue a career in Engineering?
In 2018, I applied for an opportunity to work for the Customer Channel Management Team (CCMT) within the Contact Centre to develop a chat bot for the gov.uk website. My role in CCMT gave me my first exposure to cloud-based software and experience in developing an IT service. My work involved a lot of problem solving, testing, and analysis, which I thoroughly enjoyed!
2020 was the year I fancied a challenge – I applied for DVLA’s Cloud Academy Development Programme for a Trainee Infrastructure Cloud Engineer. The programme was tailored for people with little to no experience in IT who wanted to work in that field. It didn’t require any qualifications other than relevant GCSEs to apply.
So, what was it that drew you to this field?
Admittedly, working in IT wasn’t something I always knew I wanted to do. But after the work I had been doing with CCMT, the development programme really appealed to me and I thought it was such a good opportunity – so I gave it a go.
How long have you been part of the development project?
The Development Programme was a fixed term appointment for 2 years, with the potential to be made permanent. I found that part quite daunting… but worth the risk.
And what’s the best engineering project you have worked on since starting the project and why?
When reflecting on the programme, a personal highlight for me would be the knowledge I have gained since the beginning. I have achieved Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud Practitioner, AWS Solutions Architect Associate and AWS SysOps Administrator Associate certification. Additionally, I have completed British Computer Society exams and gained certification in DevOps and Agile.
Fantastic. Any other Cloud 9 moments? If you’ll pardon the pun…
Another highlight for me would definitely be being made a permanent member of the Cloud Engineering Team, which happened in March! I am also proud to announce that alongside so many other amazing women working in Tech across the country, I have been nominated for Rising Star of the Year in the Women in Tech Excellence Awards, which is such an honour.
Currently, something I am sinking my teeth into is working with a different cloud providers. All of my training and experience so far has been working with Amazon Web Services. However, my squad has recently been given more opportunities and exposure to work with Microsoft Azure. For me, this means getting stuck into some online learning that we have available to us and familiarising myself with the different platform and all the services Azure has to offer, which is interesting to say the least!
What has been your experience overall on the course and how has it prepared you for your future career in engineering?
All in all, the Cloud Academy has been such a good opportunity to build a future career in IT. The certifications that I have gained are nationally, if not globally, recognised. I have access to everything I need through DVLA to continue learning and expanding my skillset within Cloud. The programme opened my eyes to the opportunities that are out there, even if you are like me who didn’t have any higher education qualifications. If this opportunity should come around again, I would encourage anyone who has an interest in this type of role to apply. I am grateful that DVLA invested the time and training to help me realise my potential and build a future career in IT.
If you have an opportunity to do something you are interested in, just go for it. Don’t be afraid to take a chance. The more women that have the courage to do it, the more of a difference we can make.