Working mothers have a huge amount of determination and possess many of the same skillsets that are essential in the business world. As a working mother herself, Sadie Sangster understands the business world from this perspective and credits motherhood as the driving force in her career success. In this edition of our blog, Sadie explains why it’s important to see more women progress into senior roles after having children.
How long have you been at PCI Pal and what is your role? What is a typical day like for you?
Sadie Sangster: I joined the PCI Pal division as Operations Manager in March 2014, following an internal transfer from another business area. At the time, PCI Pal was part of a wider business where I had joined in 2000, working in the contact centre software space. I was able to transfer many skills (and lessons learnt over the years) and have had the benefit of seeing PCI Pal develop and grow from its early inception.
My role today is that of SVP, Customer Success, managing a global team which includes Professional Services, with Project Managers, Web Integration Specialists and SIP Architects, through to Service Desk, Support and Account Management functions.
A typical day would involve virtual team meetings, discussions with our partners and customers, monitoring progress for project delivery and service desk and ensuring the teams have what they need to provide our customers and partners with first class service. I’d be looking out for any trends or issues that could impact our ability to deliver within our targets, focusing on customer retention and satisfaction and ensuring the team are always reviewing and improving processes where necessary at every step of the customer journey.
How did you get started in the technology/payments industry? What led you to that career choice?
Sadie Sangster: It is really a career that evolved organically. It was never a predetermined choice. I’d worked for several years for a large insurance firm when I started out in my career, but I made the leap across to a smaller local firm, as I felt I would be able to make more of an impact. From my time in the contact centre software division, I’d managed projects, ran service desk, delivered training and been involved in implementation, so I’d had a very well-rounded exposure to the industry. As with any business in its infancy you need to be willing to wear many hats and that has given me invaluable experience. I was very lucky to be in the right place at the right time and carve out a successful career path.
Who has been your biggest role model in shaping your career path?
Sadie Sangster: My current CEO, whom I’ve worked closely alongside for seven years, has always inspired me with his very strong work ethic and the confidence he places in every one of his employees. He’s certainly empowered me to be the leader I am today. On a more personal level, my son, who has some significant challenges, is my driving force for working so hard daily – being able to leave a legacy to care for him when I’m gone is very important to me and drives me to succeed. Becoming a mother made me re-evaluate what is important and has given me a great sense of perspective.
What is your proudest accomplishment in your career to date?
Sadie Sangster: Being nominated, and shortlisted for Women in Tech, Security Leader of the Year awards, in 2020 and 2018 were both extremely proud moments. But daily, seeing the team that has been built from scratch become self-sufficient and all working together cohesively across continents and achieving amazing results, makes me proud every day.
Do you notice a lack of women in technology? If so, why do you think that is the case?
Sadie Sangster: I think the interest in STEM subjects at an early age needs to be developed and nurtured. Growing up with three brothers, maybe I was more subjected to that kind of environment and have, as a result, developed a lifelong interest in technology – I remember watching Tomorrow’s World on the BBC growing up and being excited about the opportunities that technology of the future would be able to open. Schools can do a lot to make these subjects more appealing to the younger generation of women.
In your experience, does being a woman in your profession come with confidence challenges that you have to overcome, for instance doubting your own ability? How do you overcome it?
Sadie Sangster: Certainly. I have never been the most confident person in the room anyway, but I believe in listening, gathering facts and being quietly confident, speaking when I have something meaningful and helpful to contribute. My confidence has certainly grown as the team has evolved. Having a good team who look to me for clear leadership and support certainly builds confidence. Confidence is something that comes from multiple sources. People's reactions and support help build it naturally and surrounding yourself with a great team and having a supportive employer all help grow confidence in your own abilities.
Many women in the tech industry have felt their gender has affected the way that they are perceived or treated. Have you ever been in a situation like that? How did you handle it?
Sadie Sangster: I have been the only female in the room in so many meetings over my career I could not begin to count. I have been in a situation where during a customer meeting, a question was deliberately directed to a member of the opposite sex on my team, even though I am the person qualified or responsible to answer. In the past, I have also known of female colleagues who were questioned on a particularly good piece of work produced, where they were asked if their husband had helped them with it! Shocking examples. You must develop a bit of a thick skin and rise above it. Laughing about it does help! But ultimately, you must not let it knock your confidence and keep reminding yourself how hard you have worked to get to where you are. I’m very fortunate to work for a forward-thinking, progressive and supportive company, that do a lot of good work to empower women.
What do you see – or hope to see - as the future for women in technology roles/payments industry?
Sadie Sangster: I’d like to see more women being given a chance to progress into senior roles after having children. I think the pandemic will help with that – employers are realising how flexible and multi-skilled women can be, juggling children and working lives. This has, of course, always been the case, but with the current situation it is really being highlighted. Working mothers have a huge amount of determination and drive and most develop amazing organisational and prioritisation skills and natural empathy as part of becoming a mother – all very useful skills in business.
Were you given any advice during your career that has stuck with you? As a result, do you have a personal mantra or a famous quote that you live by?
Sadie Sangster: I like the quote, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” Even in these strange times of home working where pajamas and lounge wear could be an everyday occurrence, I try to ensure I make an effort every day. It seems to help with the separation of homelife and work and gets you into the right mindset.
What advice would you impart to other women about how to succeed in the payment industry or in a technology-based field in general? Is there anything you wish you had known?
Sadie Sangster: I don’t think it’s specific to women, but my advice would be to always be yourself, work hard and treat everyone you meet with respect, regardless of status or industry. It pays dividends in every area of life.