As we celebrate the UN’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science and Technology, we spoke to Jobs and Skills Australia digital team member Sally Soei about how she found that a career in tech was the job she never knew she wanted.
When Digital Product Delivery Manager Sally Soei was finishing school, she never imagined she’d end up working in a technology role filled with new experiences every day, constant learning and the rewards of building and launching online products.
When Sally applied for university in 2003, she was unsure of what job she wanted so she focussed on two areas: business, because it would help her get a job and, psychology, a personal interest of hers.
A graduate role in strategy with Telstra early in her career provided her with the opportunity to rotate through a number of different areas of the company. It was here that she discovered she was less interested in strategy and more drawn to the tangible outputs of the emerging digital side of the business.
It could be said that it takes a small village to build a website or interactive digital platform of any kind – and Sally’s work is pivotal to linking the various parts of the village together. As a product delivery manager, she brings products into being. Her jobs sits somewhere between understanding the requirements of the business, to the creativity of design, the practicality of user experience (UX) and the technical aspects of development.
In her past jobs, Sally has done everything from creating a bespoke catering website to ‘build your own sandwich’, to e-commerce and gamification-based sites for large corporations, and setting up early pay-per-view through Telstra’s BigPond movie service.
Ironically, she returned to strategy as a Principal Consultant for Fortune 500 IT service provider DXC Technology, solving complex problems through technology-based solutions.
“I’m a jack of all trades and master of none,” she says. “I know a little coding, I know some Photoshop, and I can put together functional wireframes for the product requirements. I know how it fits together and who needs to do what.”
One of her biggest projects with us at JSA has been producing the Jobs and Skills Australia Atlas platform which provides an overview of the Australian labour market at national, state and regional levels. Searchable by occupations, skills and industries, the Atlas draws on a range of JSA’s datasets to provide its first-of-a-kind snapshot of the country’s jobs market.
Sally’s career experience has come from both learning on-the-job and continuous study. Her MBA focussed on project management, a skill that is valuable in all kinds of arenas, including science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). She’s also completed tech industry certifications in Advanced Scrum, Product Management and SaFE.
The UN International Day for Women in Science and Technology is a timely reminder that although STEM jobs are widely regarded as critical to national economies, so far, most countries are far from achieving gender equality.
Employment opportunities in STEM occupations in Australia are projected to grow by 10.9% by May 2028 (compared with 6.5% growth across all occupations). Women remain underrepresented, making up only 20% of people with STEM qualifications and about 41% of STEM jobs, compared to approximately half in the wider workforce.
Sally was drawn to the creative and outcomes-focussed nature of her work. Being at the beginning of the technology wave helped her to gain experience as the sector grew and, through continuing her training, she has found herself in a career that is fulfilling and challenging.
“It’s a job where nothing is ever the same, I like the people I work with and it feels like I’ve hit a sweet spot in my career.”