Theresa Byrne finds her place in the IT sector
When Theresa Byrne finished high school, she wasn't sure what career path to follow, so she opted to take a gap year, and a full-time job at the meat works.
Fast forward to today, and she's thriving in her role as a Digital Business Analyst at Te Whatu Ora MidCentral in Palmerston North. Based in the Digital Services Department, she loves being part of a supportive team who are focused on technically supporting the hospital and its staff.
"I like to see myself as a 'translator' or a 'bridge' between those who require the digital solution, and the technical team working to create that solution," explains Theresa.
Right now, her team are working on a couple of digital projects to help improve hospital processes and patient outcomes.
"For example, some of the processes at the hospital are still quite manual and paper-based, and in some cases a digital solution is required to improve and accelerate those processes. I get to work with a variety of hospital staff to understand what they currently do and what an ideal future would look like. Then I go back to our technical team and 'translate' this information in a way for decisions to be made on the best way forward when it comes to the technical work that's required."
Looking back to her teens, a career in tech wasn't on Theresa's radar.
She says like many people, she had a strong stereotype in mind when she thought of people who worked in the tech sector. It was, "people working with screens of code in front of them, hacking into mainframes and working on computers in their spare time, so extremely tech savvy." Theresa didn't fit that mould.
She didn't even know her role existed at that point. "I never would have thought I would be in a career like this."
After her gap year, Theresa completed one year of a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in social policy and anthropology. Although she enjoyed it, she couldn't see herself building a career out of it.
It was then her dad urged her to consider a career in tech. "He said, 'Why don't you give IT a go? It's growing so rapidly and there's a demand for technical roles and skills'."
Seeing a full-time role at the meat works as the only other option, Theresa took the plunge and enrolled in a Certificate in Business at UCOL Te Pūkenga. She soon "fell in love with IT" and committed to a Bachelor of Information & Communications Technology.
In her third year, she completed an internship in the Digital Services Department at Te Whatu Ora MidCentral. Not only did she love the role, she was also awarded Best Internship/Project of the Year, through UCOL.
"Winning that award boosted my confidence tremendously. I thought 'I really can do this, and I can do it well'."
After completing her degree, she got a permanent role at Te Whatu Ora MidCentral. That was two and a half years ago. She loves her work as a Digital Business Analyst and is grateful to be in a job where she's continually growing and working to her full potential.
So where would she be if she hadn't had that conversation with her dad?
"Who knows? I'd probably still be working at the meat works."
Tech roles suit all kinds of people. It doesn't matter where you've come from, or what your background is.
Working in the industry has opened her eyes to all the exciting roles available and she urges other young women to consider a career in tech. She wants to let people know that tech roles suit all kinds of people. It doesn't matter where you've come from, or what your background is.
Theresa believes that to be a Digital Business Analyst, you need good interpersonal skills such as communication, empathy and a positive attitude. Critical thinking is also important, but she says you don't have to be extremely tech-savvy. Outside of work, she doesn't touch computers.
"If you've got a basic understanding of how a computer and its systems work, you could also progress into this role."
Theresa doesn't know what she'll be doing ten years from now but is happy "winging it and enjoying the journey which is most important".
"I love what I'm currently doing, going on courses and working on projects that give me more experience to improve myself as a Digital Business Analyst."
So, what's the best thing about her job?
"Definitely the people. And knowing that I'm contributing to make some sort of difference."
-- by Renee Murphy