You might think that to manage an IT Service Desk you would need to be super savvy on the ins and outs of tech. Well, that does kind of help. But IT company, Vaultex, has found that taking a broader approach to the skills they hire for has brought significant dividends. Tracy May-Hughes’ story is testimony to that.
Tracy breaks molds. As a woman in her late 50s in a Service Desk Manager role, she’s not the cardboard cut-out figure someone might think of for this position. But her success has been years in the making and her employers have been supporting and encouraging her all the way.
For Tracy, all her success has really come by backing herself as she aims for her goals.
A non-traditional career path into IT
“I never thought I would ever be clever enough to get a degree, I was encouraged by a line manager and started a journey leading up to eventually getting the degree.
From there, I decided eight years ago to move into management. This started the journey out of my comfort zone again – How could I ever be a manager?”
Not to be daunted, Tracy took on contract work for several years so she could learn as much as she could as quickly as she could. And she’s continued this growth mindset into her role with Vaultex.
“I felt a good vibe at my job interview for Vaultex and since starting here, every day certainly is a learning day. I am sure I can meet my personal goals working here.”
It’s her attitude, and this commitment to always push herself, that has allowed Tracy to cover the tricky terrain of managing a support desk team. When we asked her what roles her job entailed, she rattled off an astounding list of tasks and operational targets – we counted 15 – that display not only her grasp of the job but her ability to approach each operation with clarity and purpose.
Then, she mentioned that she started off as a typist, before becoming an Estates Officer, an Accounts Administrator, Second Line IT Field Engineer, and now, an IT Service Desk Manager.
Tracy has also been an active community volunteer, which has included mentoring veterans on technology, being a community mediator, and rising to Petty Officer in the Sea Cadet Corps. With all this, it should be no surprise that she taught herself DIY home renovation, is a biker, and used to be a Muay Thai boxer.
“I have done lots of volunteering over the years. I took a break this last 18 months as I have bought my own house and suddenly become a DIY person. I can now “drive” a drill and I have even laid flags and put furniture together without even breaking a nail,” she chuckles.
“I think voluntary work is very important, there is nothing nicer than giving back and just helping people generally.”
Tracy’s drive to improve how things work and to help those around her get ahead has been central to her success at Vaultex.
Making a pivot to IT – in heels!
Recalling how she first made the move to IT, she told us with a smile, “Now that’s a story!”
“You have to remember I’m quite old now, so computers were just coming in, the government agency that I worked for were using an outsourced IT company for any issues and they wanted someone onsite to go to the users when there was a problem, ring the IT company up tell them what the problem was to talk me through the fix. I started keeping a notebook so if the problem occurred again, I could just apply the fix. This began taking over more and more of my day job.
So, when that department merged with another government agency which had its own IT division, I applied for a job there. I got it and so the next day I was in IT, working with guys who were all university qualified. I knew I had a lot to prove but I would rock up to the office in my high heels and be confident – even though I was shaking inside in the early days!
It was a massive learning curve, but I enjoyed every minute of it.”
We get the impression that whatever Tracy approaches, she quickly starts weighing up what she can bring to it and what she can do to improve how it works. Every obstacle is a challenge, and every setback is simply a lesson.
“When I came to the Vaultex Service Desk I listened to what the team thought were working and what wasn’t, one of the things that came up as needing improvement was the shift pattern. With full consultation, we opted for a four-week rotation so that everyone would always know what shifts and could plan their work-life balance. This helped us continue to deliver the best service to the business and was happily accepted as a big improvement. We’re constantly striving to improve individually and as a team.”
The secret to a great IT career for women – the company you work for
Tracy tells us that delivering on what she promises is a key value for her at work. And right now, she’s driven to delivering change in her industry so that young women can dive into the space she has been busy creating.
“IT support is still very thin on the ground with women. I don’t know why. When I talk to girls outside of work and they talk about career options I tell them how much they would get from IT, how challenging it is. You never know what the day will bring and working in IT brings a massive amount of self-achievement when you successfully resolve an issue that has been an annoyance to someone.”
She says that being a woman from a non-technical background remains her biggest obstacle and the most challenging aspect of her job, even today. But she can see Vaultex is where she belongs, saying that “When they could have dismissed me for my lack of technical qualifications, this company instead accepted me for the values I could bring to the role.”
Tracy wants to leave a legacy for women in IT, so that the gender challenges she has faced will not be part of their working lives.
“I believe this can be achieved within Vaultex. They are very good at self-improvement and internal development and actively encourage you to look where you would like to be so you can aim high.”
For Tracy, who has never stopped aiming high, such a goal looks a certainty.