If you’re focused on developing your career, honing your technical and job-related skills is a fantastic way to progress. But, even if you’re excelling in your role, you might find yourself struggling to take the next step or move up the ladder, especially as a woman in tech.
That’s when building your network, learning from others in your field and the support of trusted mentors can help you level up. Penny Hamer, Head of Data Engineering & Insights, Data Solutions at prestigious Financial Services company, BNY Mellon, can attest to the power of support, mentors and community:
“When I started out on my career journey, the major thing I missed was having mentors to guide me. There were definitely some difficult situations where I could have used help. Now, after having built a network and receiving the support of a great company, I’ve been able to move and take opportunities.”
“I knew from an early age that I loved technology.”
“I knew from an early age that I loved technology. I started in a junior computing role and was sponsored to further my education in computer science at university while I worked. Then I gained practical experience with hardware, operating systems, networks and remote software.”
Penny was one of the first 200 people in the world to qualify as a Citrix Certified Enterprise Administrator, and quickly passed her first Microsoft Certified Enterprise Admin exams. With this impressive accomplishment already under her belt so early in her career, Penny joined BNY Mellon in 2001 as a Technical Analyst. During her time, she’s experienced a number of interesting, varied roles in Technology, working on large-scale development projects and managing teams.
“I’ve managed staff and contractors across the globe. Along the way, I’ve met some incredibly talented people who I’ve been very lucky to work with. When I joined BNY Mellon, I received the opportunity to move from pure technology to managing the data insights and engineering team. It’s a fascinating role with many opportunities to grow, learn and push the boundaries of innovation.”
So, if you’re looking to build your network and grow in your career, check out the following insights from Penny!
Don’t be discouraged by setbacks
With a long-standing 20-year career history at BNY Mellon, Penny and her team are very proficient at delivering scalable data modelling. (That is, using technology and connecting datasets to tell a story!). In doing this, the team identifies new efficiencies and insights from global data and implements them across the bank.
But at the start of her career, Penny faced several challenges where she wasn’t sure who to turn to for help.
It took some courage, bold moves, two job changes, and one attempted resignation for her to push past these. Without the support of professional mentors early in her career, she found support in family.
“It was my mum who encouraged me to join BNY Mellon – because she said in a large organization, there would be opportunities to grow. She was right! While I was quite young when I first joined, I was never pigeonholed. If I was interested in exploring new avenues, I always felt I could ask. My mum taught me courage, that change is good and to ask for new opportunities.”
BNY Mellon has leadership development programs and mentoring opportunities.
Find out what other professional development initiatives they have on their benefits & policies page.
Find the right organization to support your development
Being part of a supportive organization can be instrumental in your career development. BNY Mellon has evolved over time through mergers, acquisitions, influence from market demands and world events – but not at the expense of its people.
“I’ve grown alongside it, moving, and taking opportunities in tech because I’ve been supported to do so. I’m proud to have achieved a number of milestones and a huge amount of delivery over the years individually, and as part of a team.”
Most notably, Penny was honoured for an internal award as a BNY Mellon STAR in 2015.
“To be recognized for my commitment, delivery and the impact my work has at the company was a wholeheartedly humbling experience. To meet with our CEO and executive committee made an incredible mark on me.”
Join communities in and out of your workplace
Having a sense of community can make us feel as though we’re a part of something greater than ourselves. It provides opportunities to connect with people, reach for goals, and feel safe and secure.
Penny has done just that – joining meaningful communities inside and outside the professional sphere. She’s part of the BNY Mellon choir, and has years of martial arts experience, from when she first started at the age of nine.
“I’m currently a member of the Meridian Wing Chun Kung Fu Martial Arts Association and am training for my Orange Belt! Martial arts have taught me many things, including respect and empathy for others, courage and to never to give up.”
She’s also an active core member of Women in Technology (WIT), supporting initiatives as part of the London chapter, with a focus on retaining and growing a diverse, gender-equal workforce.
“I was one of the first to join and build the WIT London group, when the number of women in tech were limited. I’ve taken on roles as Chapter Lead and held a global WIT chair role for the EMEA region. Building a network, collaborating, organizing events, receiving support and offering support to others has been phenomenal.”
In 2018, she was recognized as one of the We Are the City TechWomen100. She continues to push for BNY Mellon to be a place where women in technology want to work and for women’s voices to be heard – advocating and supporting other talented professionals to be recognized for this award each year.
Find mentors and mentor others
In time, through being intentional about networking, growing at work, and using interpersonal skills, professional mentors and support networks will come. You’ll pick up some gems of wisdom and may even become a mentor yourself.
“One of my mentors said to me: ‘Be present. If you’re reading with your son, then that’s what you’re doing – not checking emails or working. Quality time is key.’ Recognize it’s okay to make time for yourself. You can’t be 100% for others if you don’t take care of yourself first.”
Experiences and insights from mentorship and community have helped Penny become a better mentor to others.