Investing in Her: Tina Howell, Chief Cloud Officer

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Tina Howell Mar 08, 2024
Tina Howell
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Empowering and investing in women not only fosters individual growth but also drives collective progress towards a more equitable and prosperous society.

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we caught up with the women in our senior leadership team to hear more about their career journey, the importance of investing in women and the advice they would share with others looking to follow a similar career path.

In this edition, we caught up with our Chief Cloud Officer, Tina Howell, on her diverse career journey within the tech industry. She shares more about a key influence in her life and the importance of speaking up and being yourself.

Can you tell me about your career path so far? What led you to where you are today?

After leaving school, I went to university and graduated with a degree in computing in business. Out of the 200 graduates that year, I was the only technical female. I started my career in tech with Compaq computers on and Windows NT before moving into networking, joining telecommunications companies, Vodafone and Blackberry, to work across their data and network teams respectively. From there, I decided I wanted to try out consulting and became an implementation consultant focusing on workflow systems. Across these roles and different levels of seniority, I realised I was good at problem-solving and critical thinking.

I never had a specific career plan until I joined my previous company, where I was promoted to join their leadership team before going on to join xDesign as Chief Cloud Officer. It made me realise that having a plan or going with the flow can have a very different impact on your life. In the end, I’m not sure what led me to where I am today other than my determination to work on exciting projects and deliver exceptional results.

What are the benefits of investing in women’s leadership and decision-making roles in various sectors?

One key benefit is that women give a different perspective. They offer a diverse mindset, solve problems efficiently and can provide an alternative path to others, allowing for innovative ideas to be shared. I’ve also seen many women in leadership be more focused on people and their growth.

Who has invested in you? How did they do it? And, what have you achieved as a result?

I think investment is a two-way street, but the biggest support base I’ve ever had is from the community I’ve built as my experience has grown. This group is made up of people who have given me advice and mentorship, as well as those whom I’ve gone out for a coffee with. My community has many incredible people in it but I want to specifically highlight Jamie Shields, Bruce Smith, Jonathan Grice, Gemma Cameron, Jon Smith and David Johnson. Thank you for all the guidance over the years!

I’ve also had some training and promotion investment at a previous employer where they paid for my executive MBA and assisted me in becoming one of their executive leaders. Not many people thought someone with technical skills could be an exec but my hard work, alongside mentorship and advice from my peers, made it possible.

Since joining xDesign, the honest and open attitude of my fellow senior executive team has also made me think and see things differently.

Who has had a significant impact on your life or career, and continues to inspire and motivate you?

One significant person has been my nonna, Betty, who unfortunately passed away ten years ago. I only knew her for a short period of time but she shared a lot of wisdom and life lessons with me. She made me realise that I didn’t need to be the same as everyone else, and accepted me for who I was. She was incredibly kind and caring, and her belief in karma taught me that being kind and honest would always pay off. I’ve continued to follow this advice and will do so for the rest of my life.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in your field or aspiring to follow a similar career path?

Cloud can be an amazing career path with so much to learn along the way. If you opt to take this path, you’ll learn a broad set of skills across many fields and at the same time become an expert in a few. Start with the basics, and then focus on improving your skills day-by-day. Within a few years, you’ll realise you have all the skills you need.

Working as a woman in the tech industry has changed for the better over the last few years, but there is still a lot of work to do. Be prepared to challenge yourself and those around you, and most importantly, be courageous. Have confidence in using your voice, sharing your opinions and being yourself - then we will begin to see more change.