Since its inception in 1917, International Women’s Day has been celebrated annually in many countries across the globe. It is a day when women are acknowledged and commended for all they’ve achieved over the years, regardless of the political, economic and cultural barriers that have been thrown their way. While the movement for women’s rights has seen success after success, statistics reveal that, like many other sectors, there is still a major gender gap in the tech industry. Starting with our very own Victoria Jones, Billian is not only celebrating women in tech this year, but also hoping to inspire more women to join the sector and help to close the gap. Here’s a little bit about Victoria and her thoughts on women in tech…
Can you tell us a little bit about your career and how you came to work in the travel technology sector?
I started work in a small independent travel agency straight after my O’levels at the age of 16. I then progressed to work in the business travel sector and then into one of the new BA Four Corners shops where I had my first taste of working in tech.
I was tasked with implementing GDS (a global distribution system used by many travel agents and tour operators to reserve seats on flights, hotel rooms, car rental and much more) and mid & back office booking technology. I was then offered a job by the technology company on their Customer Service team, the rest is history!
Billian is a technology provider that specialises in the design and implementation of online booking engines for travel companies. What role do you play in this and what do you enjoy most about it?
My role is varied, I handle sales and the commercial side of the business. Seeing a project through from the initial sales call to the client having a fully functioning online booking facility is the most rewarding part. It changes the way a business works and it’s great to see bookings being made online 24/7.
Is travel technology the industry you always envisioned working in? What did you want to be growing up?
Like a lot of children, I wanted to be a vet but by the time I reached 16, I was ready to get to work and earn some money. I had no wish to continue studying for a long time. My parents had always taken us on holidays abroad, so I really had the travel bug. Even though travel technology is not the industry that I envisioned working in, I find watching travel companies enhance their online presence using booking engines that Billian developed really exciting!
What do you enjoy most about being a woman in tech?
I enjoy the team atmosphere and working with a variety of personalities, but I do try to stay as much on the travel side as possible to bridge the gap between our clients and the technical teams here in the office.
In your experience, do women have equal opportunities to men in the tech industry? If not, please state why and how we can overcome this.
I think there are definitely equal opportunities in the sector, however there is a shortage of female technicians and programmers and we really need more. I think a female presence in a technical, male oriented team changes the dynamics and provides a much broader range of customer and commercial awareness.
You have worked in the travel tech sector for over 22 years. In that time, what has changed?
Well, there was no internet, so all of our initial products were desktop based and we had to send updates through the post on floppy disks. I have no idea what we did before online searching and booking!
It was very rare to see a woman working in the technology industry back then. Luckily more and more women are choosing tech as a profession and the statistics are predicted to continue to rise.
How do you keep up with the latest travel tech trends?
Trade sites and press are great, and our marketing department keep us all updated with anything new and interesting that they see on social media.
Do you have any advice for women who are thinking about embarking on a career in travel technology?
Yes, do it! We definitely need more women in tech. Some sectors of the technology industry can sound a little dull sometimes, but we have the best of it with the travel thrown in. The only problem is that you always want to go on holiday because of the type of customers and the products we are working with!
Here at Billian, we’re dedicated to supporting women in tech and equal opportunities in the workplace. What are your thoughts on #womenintech? Tweet us @billianIT or join the conversation using #tech4travel.