To welcome in a new year, we decided to celebrate the women in tech that helped build this company. At the heart of 365 Response is Sarah Fatchett, female CEO and Founder in a fast-paced industry that hasn’t always utilised the varied talents of women. Despite not initially intending to move into the tech industry, Sarah saw a grave need for an improvement to the current service offerings in healthcare and Home to School transport due to personal experience. She was able to combine over 20 years of operational and public sector, health and care transport sector know-how, and utilise emerging cloud-based technologies to change the game. Those experiences continue to shape the company and its beliefs, particularly when it comes to female leadership and empowerment within the tech industry and beyond. Being a female founder comes with the added weight of ensuring that others, such as yourself, are also given a fair shot at landing a seat at the table, and it’s a weight that Sarah continues to acknowledge and address daily.
What made you consider the tech industry?
Melissa Segula, more commonly referred to as Mel, has been with the company for almost 3 years and has over 12 years of experience within the tech industry overall. As Senior Software Developer, her role involves developing new functionalities for the platform in an ever-changing environment, which makes it a little harder to pin down the usual daily tasks. Additionally, as a woman of colour working in an industry that is 75% male, her level of seniority within the company speaks volumes to her work ethic, abilities, and an environment that consciously tries to propel talented women forward, particularly in departments where they are scarce. When we sat down with Mel to discuss the experiences that led to her pursuing a career in development, she stated:
“I didn’t consider it initially, but a friend suggested that I find something that really challenged me, so I chose software development. I completed my education, searched for roles requiring Devs at a University of Leeds job fair, and I worked my way up from there! When I first started, there weren’t many opportunities for women to discover subjects different from the norm, but that’s changed a lot now. Things like Girls Who Code or Women in Tech offer opportunities for women to network and share their knowledge and experiences, which is great, but there’s still more work to be done to balance the field.”
Why 365 Response?
As a company, we are repeatedly reminded by our founders that “perfect is the enemy of the good.” Spend too long striving for perfection, and you are no longer fast, agile, or delivering what you need to. Releasing yourself from the fear of making mistakes is actively encouraged because everyone slips up occasionally. The first of our official company values (ABCD) is ‘Always Learning,’ followed by ‘Be Brave and Be Bold.’ The lesson, Sarah explains, is that it doesn’t matter how many resources you throw at things, you have to expect some bumps along the way. Be prepared to accept them and adjust your response, because that is how you grow. When I asked Mel for her reasons for joining the company, she shared:
“I’ve met a lot of men throughout the years that knew they wanted to get into computing or development from a young age. They would say they had an interest in the industry from the age of 10 or 12 for example, or that their parents had bought them a computer in preparation for that, and back in the day a computer was a big deal! Growing up, I wasn’t aware of the software development world at all, so it’s been important for me to embrace as much knowledge as I can, and work in a variety of environments. When I interviewed at 365 Response I found it reminded me of a smaller company that I used to work for, and I really liked that because there can be fewer restrictions that slow you down. Here I am given complete freedom to deliver what’s expected of me and the team.”
What 365 Response projects have you enjoyed working on the most?
The Development team is made up of a team of trusted experts with a wealth of knowledge between them. Working alongside Mel is Jason Thompson, Head of Development here at 365 Response for over 4 years, with over 12 years of experience in the industry. In November 2020 we welcomed George Apostolakis to the team as our new Director of DevOps, a highly experienced Director who joined at a pivotal moment for the business. Hiring individuals who believe in what the company is trying to achieve is paramount, as our company values are hardwired into everything we do. Our software was inspired by a need to provide quicker and more reliable services to the most vulnerable, and that’s what we offer in our 365 Smart Platform. It’s a digital transport system which can be used for Home to School transport, including SEND – Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. We strive to create an experience that is accessible and enjoyable for all in both our software and work environment, which is why we hold parent/carer forums that enable transport users to discuss their concerns, goals, and to ask any questions of our Founder Sarah Fatchett, to help them feel confident in our software and us as individuals. With almost 3 years within the company, we wondered what Mel remembered of her first initial projects:
“My very first project after joining the company was working on an airline logistics application, which was a lot of fun. I had never worked with the technology we used at the time, so that made it even more exciting. I like having new things to get my head around. Thrive Tribe was also one of the first projects I worked on as well, so I remember those two the most!”
The Future of Tech
There have indeed been noticeable improvements within the IT, tech, and software development industries, but unfortunately, there is still a vast divide between women and men when considering STEM subjects after secondary school. As a company, we know that there is far more we can achieve if we continuously push ourselves to consider the talents of a more varied group of individuals. It can be as simple as encouraging these discussions within the home from an early age, as we cannot be the change we don’t see. Thinking of the advice she would pass on to other women considering this career path, Mel shared:
“There has been a positive change in more recent years, but I’ve worked for seven companies now, and I’ve been the only female in more than half of them. That desperately needs to change. That’s why I would say, to any women out there considering this line of work, just go for it! You only need to enjoy being technical to get involved, that’s all that matters. If you’re interested in coding, whether you have experience or not, get your head down and use all of those programmes and resources at your disposal. I didn’t know this world existed when I was younger and look where I am now.”
In a world ruled by technology, learning to unwind from the day is extremely important, especially for our mental health. This applies even more so during the Covid-19 pandemic, where, for many, screen time is increased ten-fold. When asked about how she ends her days, Mel shared:
“I spend a lot of time with my family. I have a daughter as well, so we’ll go on walks together and generally relax. I used to like going out with my friends, but with Covid, that isn’t a thing anymore, so that’s about it!”
Thanks for sharing, Mel! We’re incredibly thankful for the work you and the Development team do. To acknowledge and celebrate the many contributions of women in tech, and how those influence the other women around them, we’ll be highlighting their achievements in the lead up to International Women’s Day on the 8 March.