In a society that lines us up for daunting career talks long before we leave school, many of us feel under pressure to find our direction at a young age, and we stress about hitting the appropriate milestones along the way. It can often seem as though we must get in our lane and stay there but, as the women working at Circularity First show, there really is no single path to a fulfilling career.
Take our Financial Director, Selina Kavanagh, a self-described ‘woman on a mission’… Selina joined us at a pivotal moment in her career, having been made redundant on return from maternity leave and subsequently feeling empowered to make some big decisions.
She recognised Circularity First as somewhere with a flexible culture that provided space to be creative and grow, as the organisation looks to amplify sustainable IT. Likewise, the company saw that Selina brought an extraordinary breadth of experience and skills from her unusual journey from midwifery to the corporate world.
CAREERS THAT CROSS OCEANS
Flexibility at Circularity First is partly driven by the fact that we’re international. Someone who demonstrates a true international mindset is Maha Aziz, an intrepid software developer who travelled from Pakistan to the UK to head our Knowledge Transfer Partnership with University of East London.
Maha demonstrates how having an open, adventurous approach to careers can drive exceptional outcomes, and we are excited about the groundbreaking project she is leading that has been designed to normalise the use of sustainable IT. Adjusting to life overseas was somewhat plain sailing for Maha, whose work is inherently concerned with navigating complex systems and processes.
My own route into IT was not a direct A to B by any means, although sustainability runs consistently through the roles I’ve pursued. Working in marketing for a large company twenty years ago, I realised climbing the career ladder wasn’t enough. I was passionate about business, but I wanted my work to be meaningful. A role where I could develop knowledge and skills in driving better outcomes for people and planet was the perfect fit.
As Head of Sustainability at Circularity First, I instinctively draw from my previous experiences in agriculture, despite fairtrade coffee and the world of datacentres seeming to be unlikely bedfellows. In fact, both industries are subject to geopolitical supply chains and the changing demands of consumers. Both depend on raw materials that need to be consumed more sustainably for existing and future generations to thrive. And one has an economic and environmental impact on the other, with technology manufacturing involving extraction methods and electronic waste practices that pollute vulnerable communities.
RECOGNISING OUR STRENGTHS
Just as different commercial sectors are intricately related, complex career insights are linked. We are not often taught to recognise the skills we carry from one experience to another but, like linear IT models, downplaying our strengths is something we can unlearn. Maha’s global perspective is an asset in a forward-thinking organisation, just as the skills Selina brings from her remarkable career trajectory are of value to any company that pursues innovation. Selina’s holistic approach to finance is supported by her varied experiences, from delivering babies to delivering success in business.
For all three of us, our changing roles came at a significant time in our careers. We shared an ambition to be part of a company that has environmental and social priorities at its core. Circularity First is concerned with amplifying the message that linear is not the only, or best, option for IT. As a people-focussed company we also applaud this non-linear principle being reflected in our team’s personal and professional experiences.
FINDING OUR OWN RHYTHM
Circularity First are cheerleaders of sustainable IT. Many of our colleagues have lived and breathed technology throughout their careers, which is inspiring. Equally, we recognise it can be true that the closer we are to something, the more difficult it can be to look at it through a new lens or to consider alternative approaches. Challenging our assumptions is essential in a fast-paced industry where innovation is critical. Having a pool of wide-ranging experiences helps our vision continue to grow.
Companies that embrace employees with non-linear career paths build highly creative teams. That’s why we celebrate diverse routes into dynamic roles. We know innovation is best nurtured in a trusting, responsive environment, and as a company we have a genuine understanding that work is a part of life, not our whole life. We understand that a career is a tapestry of rich experiences and that having the courage to change direction is a strength. Like our Financial Director says, ‘you have to find your own rhythm’.