Celebrating Ada Lovelace Week – Day 2 An Interview with Jo

11 October 2016 | Jo Crossick | About a 4 minute read
Tags: Ada Lovelace, Culture, STEM, Women in Tech, Wonder Women, working mums

Jo Crossick, Product Developer AND Budding Gardener

I am a product developer and product delivery lead (senior representative on client-site). My role is really varied and usually involves leading a small team of AND Digital and client employees, acting as a coach to the team in Scrum and development best-practice, and picking up development tasks.

 What led you to start working at AND Digital?

A chance conversation with an old friend led to a meeting with Paramjit (our CEO) in the very early days of AND Digital. At the time, my second daughter was six weeks old and asleep over my shoulder, whispering newborn snores in my ear while I did my very best to appear vaguely professional. His vision was inspiring, so when I was ready to return to work I talked him into giving me a job.

 What sparked your interest in IT?

I just thought I might like it… turns out I was right. Sometimes you just have to follow your instincts.

I graduated with a degree in natural sciences without having any knowledge in computing. It seemed like everyone joined either a management consultancy or one of the big accountancy firms. I didn’t fancy either of those so I applied to every and any IT graduate scheme I could find which didn’t require any experience.

What challenges have you encountered along the way?

I had heard that women often found they lost their confidence while on maternity leave; I just wasn’t expecting it to happen to me – certainly not in such an extreme way. But that first year of parenthood has a way of completely decimating your self-identity and replacing it with something which is entirely oriented around the baby. When I did return to work with my previous employer, I felt so out of place – I didn’t know what I should be doing or whether I should even be there. It didn’t help that my boss didn’t seem to know either. I went from high-flyer to misfit, then struggled to find a way to reconcile the two worlds which were part of my life. Five years and a new job later and I think I’m starting to get the hang of it.

 Who has inspired you?

When I first read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, it felt like she was describing my life. It was so inspiring to have someone telling me that I could – and should – step up and try to reach my potential even though I also had kids. It felt like nothing less than a call to arms; a moral imperative to keep on trying, even when you get knocked back. I’ve also been inspired by the wonderful academy team we have at AND Digital, because they reminded me how much I love to learn new things and have helped me face new challenges with a growth mindset.

Sometimes what we need most is not inspiration, but just a bit of encouragement and support and for that I have to thank my partner who encouraged me to take a risk on client-facing role in an unknown startup when everyone else was telling me to play it safe.

 How would you like to inspire others?

There aren’t many women in tech, and even fewer who are mothers. I feel like I’ve had to work a lot out by myself. As I’m learning to step up as a leader in my career, I’m increasingly aware of my responsibility to model the way as a woman and a working mum in the company because, as Hillary Clinton said, what works for men doesn’t necessarily work for women.

 It’s tough because I want to be honest about how hard being a working mum can be, but I also want to show that it’s possible – and can even be rewarding and fulfilling. I’m also aware that what works for me won’t work for everyone, but I’ve seen what the next generation of female techies in AND Digital are capable of and I am so excited about what they are going to achieve. So I’m going to do everything I can to help them along the way.

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