This month we discuss with Lindsey Nickalls, Strategic Account Executive with Blackboard, how women looking to forge a career in technology is becoming more widely recognised. Read the interview below for her advice for young girls interested in pursuing STEM.
Q: Growing up were you interested in technology. How did you choose this career path?
I grew up in a small town in South Wales in the UK. When it came time to consider a University degree, what interested me most was psychology and sociology. I’ve always had a keen interest in the mind and understanding behaviour. Whilst not directly related to technology, the principles of these disciplines have assisted me in navigating the direction of my career including moving from government to IT and eventually Blackboard.
Q: What motivates you and how do you define success?
It feels good to be able to help and support our clients achieve real world goals in educating those for the future. Success to me is not only continuing to meet the goals that are set for me, but to also be seen as someone that my peers look up to and ask for advice.
Q: What is your favourite aspect of your role at Blackboard and what is the most challenging?
My favourite part of my job is working with a wide range of people from different backgrounds and with different skills. I also enjoy being able to connect with such an amazing bunch of people both internally at Blackboard, as well as with our clients.
We are the advocates for our clients and I take pride in the hard work that goes into building a trusted relationship, as well as meeting their needs whilst solving their problems with technology. Change is a constant. In education it’s about keeping up with that rapid pace and being prepared for the unexpected!
Q: How has being a woman shaped your experience working for a technology company such as Blackboard and more broadly in the industry?
Until recently, women chasing a career in technology has not been widely recognized. But today I can think of many successful women in tech roles. I find it’s now more common, especially at Blackboard where I’m surrounded by such strong, successful, intelligent women. It’s inspiring to work for such a company.
Q: What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve received?
Many years ago, someone said to me “You can achieve anything; you just have to believe that you can.” You just have to visualize yourself doing it!
Q: What would you say are the top three skills needed to be successful in your role at Blackboard?
- To be honest and transparent with clients – this ensures we maintain a trusted partnership.
- To think outside the box – developing new ways of solving problems.
- To always have my eye on the goal—for myself and for my client--and figure out how I can meet and exceed these goals.
Q: Who are the family, colleagues, friends or people in the industry you particularly look up to or are inspired by?
My mum and dad inspire me. They worked so hard for our family when my sister and I were growing up, always providing everything they could for us. They never once stopped me or my sister from reaching for the stars, and encourage us to not limit ourselves professionally or personally. If we wanted to do a course or join a club, they did everything they could to allow that to happen for us, including supporting me in moving to the other side of the world!
Q: What advice would you give to women considering a career in STEM? Blackboard’s Role?
Absolutely do it! STEM is the future, and it’s both a challenging and rewarding area to be in. It would be great to see even more girls come up the ranks in this field.
These days, young girls in primary school are being taught from the onset that they have the opportunity to choose their own path. I would like to see this mentality carried through to the way companies recruit.
Q: What is the greatest transformation in technology you’ve witnessed in your career to date?
Without question the rise of mobile technology. In such a short space of time, we have come so far in terms of not having any mobile devices to now relying on them for everything. It’s astounding how fast this technology has progressed and how it has changed our lives. There is no doubt in my mind this pattern will continue as the tech and our needs get more sophisticated.