26 October

#ItoWomen – Jo’s story

From a chance encounter with an IT company to testing transit data solutions – Jo Richard’s story of falling into and thriving in software testing.

Jo Richards is a Software Test Engineer at Ito World. As part of the testing team, it is her responsibility to test the code and the user interface of Ito World’s products to ensure the end result matches the requirements of the client. By evaluating Ito’s services and solutions from an end user perspective, Jo ensures that the products do what they are supposed to do, and that any software issues are ironed out long before the final version is in the client’s hands.

As a transit data company, Ito World operates in an industry traditionally dominated by men (crossing tech, data and transport). Jo has shared her story as part of #ItoWomen, an initiative to showcase the career paths and stories of women across its teams, to inspire more women to move into STEM-based careers, and to promote a more balanced and inclusive workforce.

As part of the 25% of Ito World employees who are women, Jo is part of a growing group of women in tech and transport businesses that are mission driven – helping to create inclusive solutions for all users of public transport. Jo enjoys her work in testing, but she’ll admit that it wasn’t a career path initially on her radar. After graduating university with an applied social science degree, Jo found herself in business development for IT services.

Working as a graduate business sales executive in an IT firm introduced her to the tech industry, where she became curious about the way technology was used to enhance business performance and solve business problems. Jo found herself leaning into the world of tech, in particular digital transformation, and endeavoured to learn as much as she could about the field.  Jo soon landed a place on a graduate scheme where she gained Business Analyst and Manual Testing certifications and went on to complete a two-year on-site placement as a Junior Test Consultant across multiple digital transformation projects within a government department.

After completing her placement and seeking a new challenge, Jo landed her role at Ito World. Having worked in the tech industry for a few years, and despite learning a great deal, she couldn’t ignore the fact that the environments were overwhelmingly male dominated. She also found that often women had to go further to prove themselves and to be taken as seriously as their male counterparts.

As a woman, it can be easy to fall into an imposter syndrome mentality, but as Jo notes, “Contrary to stereotypes, the tech industry is not made for just one type of person. Work in STEM fields requires a variety of skills and expertise such as collaboration, excellent communication, the ability to think analytically and problem solve. My advice for other women is not to limit yourself. Have confidence in the skills and value you bring and even if you aren’t coming from a tech background, don’t underestimate how your skills can be transferred. Within tech, there is space for everyone.”

In fact, Jo hesitated over her application to work at Ito World because she didn’t tick every single requirement in the job description. Jo’s enthusiasm to learn and her honesty helped to land her the position, where she has been able to expand on her testing skills and built her confidence as a testing professional.

“I was drawn to Ito World because I knew I’d get the opportunity to work alongside people that shared the same passion and drive for creating high quality, innovative products for our customers. I’ve found that people at Ito are genuinely warm and welcoming, and the managers make a huge effort to maintain that culture which helps to break down barriers between people, encouraging collaboration and conversation at all levels. Another thing I enjoy about working at Ito is that they are very proactive in supporting us in our professional growth. For example, we are encouraged to set goals and state things we’d like to accomplish – if there’s any areas you’d like to get involved in, the door is always open to help you make your mark and contribute your skills. It makes for a great place to work because the culture here ensures that everyone is always growing and expanding their skill set.

As a young woman in a male dominated industry like tech, it can be a struggle to be seen and heard, but there is definitely an awareness of this and progress is being made. I feel respected in my role within the industry and feel I can help to encourage women who may be unsure about working in tech. The more open and inclusive we can make it, the better!”