Sarah Burne James | IBM

Sarah Burne James featured

Five years ago, I wouldn’t have predicted I would be working for an IT company today, much less in a technical role. I hadn’t considered a career in technology even as a remote possibility. After studying Linguistics and Spanish at Oxford University and teaching English abroad, I joined IBM as a business consultant in 2015. I was initially interested in applications of technology to improve our world, but I soon realised that I was just as interested in how things work.

My route into IT means I do not have a traditionally technical background, however I see this as an advantage; I bring a new perspective to my team and question the status quo. Since starting at IBM, I have completed assignments in Technical Governance, IT Architecture, Project Management Office, and Testing in the Financial and Utilities sectors. I aim to make a positive impact on each assignment, and learn as much as possible, asking as many questions as I can while supplementing this with books, articles, and training courses. The consistently excellent feedback I have received demonstrates that this has been a success.

I am determined to demonstrate that a successful technical career is possible from an unusual background, particularly because it is disproportionally women who come into technology from other routes. I lead by example, but believe supporting others is key too. I mentor junior colleagues, and enthusiastically share technical events, courses and articles with my network. I am on the committee of IBM’s early professional technical community and am working with technical leaders and executives to run IBM’s annual conference for technical women.

Outside work I have won hackathons proposing Internet of Things solutions for insurance and e-commerce. I regularly volunteer at parkrun UK – providing weekly free community runs. I speak Galician, Spanish, French and Japanese.

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