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Getting to gender balanced in tech

Posted by Jon Meyrick, about 2 months ago

3 min read

As part of Gender Equality Month, we spoke to Wincie Wong about her career journey, and being named Woman of the Year at the Women in IT Awards in 2023.

Wincie is the Head of Services Workforce Technical Capability in our Workforce Enablement team. She’s approaching 15 years at NatWest Group, and is well known as an inspiration role model who always has her eye on the next big developments in the tech space.

Congratulations on winning the Woman of the Year award, it’s a brilliant achievement. Can you tell us a little about your career journey so far? Have you always been interested in the tech industry?

Although I’ve always known how to code and been interested in tech, I actually studied accounting and my first role at NatWest Group was in our finance team. But soon enough I moved into a role running digital teams in the retail part of the bank.

I’ve always been passionate about trying to improve diversity in tech as I didn’t see many role models that looked like me around. I launched the NatWest Girls Can Code network which aimed to get more girls into coding, and through that work launched a charity under then name Tech She Can with other women in the industry to inspire more young people into careers in tech.

In 2019 I was asked to help implement the UK government’s review to support female founders grow and scale in the UK. As a serial entrepreneur myself, I was ecstatic to get this opportunity! Now I lead the bank’s programme to improve and increase our workforce strength in technology and data, which focuses on mapping out the bank’s technical skills and building capability in our teams.

You do a lot of great work around diversity, equity and inclusion. Why is making positive change so important to you?

I genuinely feel that we have limited time on this earth and if we have the ability to leave it a little better than when we arrived, we should try to do so. I want to create a movement where we no longer need any of the programmes, charities or boards I work on – a world where we have gender balance and inclusion in the world of tech.

I didn’t grow up with a lot of means to get into the tech industry. My parents were non-English speaking immigrants in America, and I know I would have chosen a path into tech earlier if someone had spoken to me at a younger age.

Now I want to make sure every young person out there who has the ability to work towards the future of the world, gets the opportunity to make that happen.

Why do you think you were recognised as Woman of the Year at the Women in IT Awards?

I’m extremely grateful that the Women in IT Awards saw how important the programmes and initiatives I’ve worked on are, both as part of my role at NatWest and outside of it. Those programmes are a huge part of why I won the award.

This includes the Women in Engineering reskilling programme with Code First Girls – so far we’ve taught thousands of women how to code for free and onboarded dozens of permanent female software and data engineers into the bank.

The award also recognised my work with the Tech She Can charity which I mentioned earlier. Our Tech We Can lesson plans have reached almost 40,000 young people of all ages to inspire people of all backgrounds on potential careers in technology, and what technology can accomplish.

I was also recognised for my time implementing the review of female entrepreneurship, including launching the Investing in Women Code to support female founders across the UK – now at over 200 signatories.

And lastly, what advice would you give to any women or girls who are interested in getting into the tech industry?

The barrier to get into tech is the lowest it’s ever been! There are plenty of free classes and videos online to teach you how to build apps and websites and chatbots. Invest that time into understanding the tech and go for it. And speak to others you know who work in tech.

We are constantly looking for tech talent and the old paradigm of having to go through formal education to learn it does not exist as a hurdle anymore. You are pushing on an open door, and you are very welcome here.

Find out more about working in technology, digital and data at NatWest.

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