Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Career Advice

Breaking the Gender Stereotype: Meet FDM’s Kate Oliver

John Smith

Kate Oliver joined FDM Group back in 2015 after graduating from the University of Southampton with a 2:1 in physics. Her love for technology fuelled her to join FDM’s graduate scheme. She is currently based in London, placed at the Royal Bank of Scotland as a Consultant Application Support Analyst.

How did you get into this line of work?

I have always been quite a technical person and after a module in coding in my final year of university, I decided to look into an IT-based graduate role. I enjoy talking and working with people so I wanted a career that involved communicating and building relationships with others. I wanted to continue a career related to physics but on a path that didn’t require me to be stuck in a laboratory all day.

I always found myself excelling at STEM-based subjects at school such as science and maths and a career in tech seemed like a natural option for me.

What does your current job entail?

When I first joined RBS I was in the Single General Ledger Application Support Team. This role saw me working as part of a global team providing analysis to stakeholders, maintaining and monitoring data from hundreds of upstream sources into the single general ledger and dealing with related issues if they arose. I also acted as a primary UK contact for RBS’s reconciliation application, on-boarding new systems and ensuring it was ready for bank-wide use.

At the end of last year, my role changed. I now work within the Product Control Support Team providing second and third level analysis to Front and Middle Office stakeholders in relation to applications dealing with P&L and Independent Price Valuation applications. I work closely with stakeholders around the world in order to enhance the change process to ensure that current setups are meeting the right levels and support JAVA based applications. My role involves a lot of debugging, looking at logs to see where the issue lies as well as searching databases to narrow down problems.

It’s a high-pressure role where deadlines need to be met. The job involves shift work, which I started doing very early on. Within the first three months of being placed I became the primary point of contact for any issues on my shift. This has been a great learning experience.

People think a role like this is just being sat at a computer. Whilst there is obviously a lot of that, it is a role that really relies on your communication and people skills. Building strong working relationships cannot be underestimated, it’s hugely important and you can’t just rely on having strong technical ability.

I have quite a few late nights and although the role can be very challenging, I get a lot of satisfaction out of it. If you have a complex issue that you resolve, it’s a great feeling!

What has your journey been like?

When I first joined FDM, I didn’t know where I would end up and didn’t expect to be working with a big bank like RBS. FDM is a great way to start a career in the financial sector. Over the last two and a half years I’ve been able to adapt my role and develop my skills.

I urge any graduate who is just starting out in their career to join the mentoring programme. I didn’t have one when I first started and think the reassurance would have been good to have. It’s daunting starting a new role and just having that extra support I think really helps.

It doesn’t surprise me that historically there have been fewer women in tech than men but I think more women should get involved in this field. No one should have any misconception that it’s only a place for men to work or that it isn’t a good culture for women. In my current team, I work with two men and one other woman and everyone is very supportive. I’ve had the privilege of growing my skills in an environment where I am not treated any differently for being an external consultant, rather than a permanent RBS employee.

I think a lot of people don’t realise that to work in the tech industry you don’t necessarily need to have a technical background – there’s great diversity in roles.

Top tips for success

  1. Have confidence in yourself and what you do – as mentioned earlier, joining the FDM mentoring scheme would ensure you have reassurance and support if your confidence starts to waiver.
  2. Do plenty of research and find out about the company before you join– if you want to join FDM, find out about their clients and what they do. Ask lots of questions and make sure it’s the right fit for you.
  3. Make sure you keep up with extra-curricular activities – in my spare time I’m a scuba diver and a dancer – always look for other things to do.
  4. Always ask for help – people are always happy to answer questions and to give guidance, both onsite at the client and at FDM.
  5. Be flexible – technological jobs contain long nights and weekend work so although the satisfaction is there, you need to be prepared for everything.