Imaginify was a… BI Specialist.
Jo Freegard, BI specialist and data goddess, slayer of SQL, has worked in tech for her whole career. She’s covered engineering, insurance, and social housing. She got her first computer in 1985 and was one of the only women on her software systems postgrad course.
- I recently spent two days and nights in the Sahara desert
- I love The Rolling Stones. Once I planned a two week holiday in America so that I could see them perform in Los Angeles. They cancelled that show but the holiday still happened!
- I really want to go to the moon. I want to be able to look up every night and say ‘I have been there’.
What do you do and why?
I grab data from one place, do something to it and put it somewhere different. I then grab it again and display it in charts for people to allow them to make business decisions based on evidence or to see how well the company is doing.
I wanted to work with computers (specifically programming) as a teenager. I had one of the first home computers (a ZX Spectrum) and spent hours and hours writing code to do something like draw a load of circles on the screen. They did not teach IT at my school, I joined a lunch time club to learn the art of programming. My first job after university was not in IT but I was so keen to be involved with computers I signed up for any evening class I could: word processing; spreadsheets; desktop publishing. I didn’t care what I was doing as long as it was with a computer. I knew I needed it to be my job at that point and went back to university to study for a IT related masters. My first IT job was not specifically BI but I soon realised that I loved playing with data and building reports. My next job was to a BI specific role. I have been working in BI for 13 years. It is hard to answer the question ‘what made me decide to become a BI Specialist’. When I was writing that code when I was 13 I didn’t even know what a database was! I just knew I loved making things happen by working with a computer.
Who inspires you?
Any woman working in what is traditionally a man’s world and who is doing a damn good job.
What do you wish you’d known earlier?
Men talk about things they know little about as if they are experts, with confidence. They blag it. If I had known that I would have applied for those promotion opportunities and not made it easy for the blaggers to get the jobs. I always knew I was better (that’s not meant to sound arrogant) but have never been able to blag. Now I know wouldn’t have needed to blag, I did actually know more then them! And there is nothing wrong with not knowing all of the answers immediately.
What advice do you have for girls or women considering a tech role?
Don’t let gender affect your decision. If you want that job go for it. The best thing in a competitive world is to stand out. If you are the only woman being interviewed for a role, they will not forget you. That is a huge advantage, use it!