This month we speak with Tahuaka Fahey, Senior Service Delivery Manager at Blackboard ANZ about what it takes to inspire the next generation of girls to pursue technology as a career and how her own experience growing up in a large family helped drive her to this field.
Q: How did you find yourself working for Blackboard and have you experienced any challenges as a female in the technology industry?
I actually started my career in finance, in transactional support for a large e-commerce and electronic payment company in New Zealand. From there I dabbled a bit in operational support for an insurance company before moving across the ditch to Australia. I’ve been at Blackboard now for ten years, working my way up to where I am today in a service delivery role.
From early on, it was clear I'd rather be talking to a client and looking after them “fixing” their problems in a purely technical sense. Initially, I was one of the first females on the support team, but I’m happy to note that this mix is changing.
Q: What attracts you to technology?
Working in technology there is never a shortage of challenges. Finding solutions to new challenges is part of the fun - it’s all about having the right mindset whether you are a technical whiz or not.
Q: What is Blackboard’s role in encouraging more women into STEM?
As an education technology company, we have one of the biggest roles in encouraging more women to choose STEM careers. We are helping people learn, plain and simple.
Blackboard’s commitment to addressing accessibility in education through our Ally product is just one of our many initiatives that opens doors for all types of learners - regardless of gender, learning style, etc. I’m proud that in my role, I am ensuring that students can achieve degrees and qualifications in the space.
Q: What motivates you?
The answer is simple: my clients. If the clients are happy and succeeding at their job, then I’m succeeding at mine. Nothing is more rewarding than being regarded as an extension of a client’s internal team.
Q: How can schools, professional organizations and companies work together to empower women entering STEM?
Today, you can see and feel the growing energy and awareness around STEM. I’m encouraged, for example, that my nieces have greater access to STEM-based learning opportunities than I did growing up. Learning through technology is now part of children’s everyday lives - whether they are playing with a digital toy or learning about robots in a more formal classroom setting.
Q: In your role, you have insight into new technologies. What do you see as the biggest transformation to date?
The internet and in particular the cloud. My role and the industry Blackboard operates in is all about online learning, of which the internet plays the starring role. In today’s world, the internet has definitely become an indispensable part of all our lives and most of us are looking for ways to streamline or make those lives easier. The fact that we can now offer our clients cloud-based LMS solutions through SaaS, I believe will for institutions and students redefine how we learn, access and share information. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing how far the cloud takes us in the higher education space.