Deirdre studied Computer Science for her undergraduate degree at the Dublin Institute of Technology and started her career in the tech consulting field. As a mature student, she went on to do a part-time postgraduate course in Artificial Intelligence and continued on to complete a master’s degree in Data Analytics.
She has always had a huge interest in research, data and AI, and health technology, and feels very fortunate that her role as a Senior Cloud Engineer at 3M combines all three.
In her personal life, she loves cooking Indian food, making sourdough, following rugby, and travelling. She is also learning Hindi as part of her eternal obsession with India and Indian culture.
What empowers you as a woman?
“That feeling of independence I have because of the life I've built, what I have achieved and all that hard work to get to where I am today. The unique qualities I possess as a woman in tech and the different perspectives I bring to problem-solving is what empowers me and gives me confidence.”
What strategies can businesses do to empower women and break biases?
“Businesses should be looking seriously at their gender ratios in senior management. It's been proven that diverse teams and diverse leadership lead to improved business outcomes. I believe that the best individual (regardless of gender) should get the job, but women hold only 20% of C-suite executive positions. This is clear bias and is just not good enough.
I also believe employee training, on topics such as unconscious bias, is extremely important. Businesses should encourage their employees to call out inappropriate behaviour and make objective recruitment, pay and promotional decisions.”
Biggest career and personal achievements
“My work on my BSc final year thesis won multiple awards, including Programme Winner in the Global Undergraduate Awards, an international academic awards program recognising undergraduate work.”
Advice to your younger self
“I spent way too long (even a good part of my working life) worrying about what other people thought. I would also tell my younger self to take more risks, to take them sooner, and not stay in a position where I don't see an exciting future for myself. Not every risk will work out, but I wouldn't be where I am today (having a job I absolutely love) if I hadn't taken them.”
Who is your female role model, and why?
“I come from a family of very strong and independent women. They are more inspirational to me than any famous CEO or founder. My mother built her own business over 30 years ago, from the ground up, and it's still thriving today. My sister inspired me to study Computer Science as she had done. There were even fewer women in the field then. Without those role models and with existing stereotypes, I don't think I'd have realised tech was an option for me or been brave enough to choose it.”