Celebrating International Women’s Day

International women's day - Quickline Broadband

We’re marking International Women’s Day by celebrating the fantastic contribution made to our business by some of our female colleagues.

We sat down with Kate Johnson (38) who is one of our NOC (Network Operation Centre) engineers. Kate is based in Quickline’s Willerby headquarters and has been in her role for two years.

Tell us about life before becoming a NOC engineer here at Quickline.

It’s been a bit of an unusual career path really. I worked in higher education for a long time and before that I also worked in the football industry doing match reports, journalism and data analysis for the Press Association.
I was working at the University of York and the travelling got to be too much. I was living in East Yorkshire and I wanted to find a new role that was closer to home.
I started in the telecommunications industry with KCOM in Hull in 2019 in engineering control. I saw the job advertisement and thought I would go for it. They were looking for strong organisational skills and data management and so I was able to transfer my skills and learn how to use them in a brand new role.

What did you want to do when you were growing up?

Well, my family are from the emergency services. My dad was in the Fire Service for 50 years and my uncles and cousins were. I think there was always a bit of an assumption that I would take that route or maybe go into something like nursing. There was never any pressure, just that they thought it was a good career and I definitely saw it as an option but I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I picked the subjects I was interested in at school and just kept my options open.

What does the role of a NOC engineer entail?

As a NOC engineer, we play an important role in monitoring the operation and performance of the Quickline network. Working as part of a small team, taking a pro-active approach in identifying risks and potential problems that may occur early to help essentially minimise disruption to our customers. The role heavily involves diagnosing, troubleshooting, and tracking potential faults, assisting with 5G support to our FWA engineers in the field, monitoring alerts across a number of systems and responding accordingly to network outages. At times, we rely on working closely with colleagues within the Networks Team, IT and Infrastructure Scheduling to assist with arranging field support when site visits are necessary to fix a problem. It’s a varied role and no two days are the same.

Do you need specific qualifications to carry out your job?

Based on my experience so far, not really. For me, it was about having a keen interest, a willingness to learn and being given the opportunity to showcase the transferable skills set in a new environment. There are a wide range of courses and qualifications that can help you on your way. Self-study is also encouraged, but most importantly the continued support I’ve received from colleagues across the business has really helped improve my understanding of such a technical role.

How do you feel about working in a role that is predominantly filled with men?

Well, I am currently the only woman across IT, Networks and the NOC but it doesn’t really bother me.
Confidence is a key thing. People can quickly lose confidence but for me it is about embracing opportunities and not being afraid. And with age, comes experience.
I do think there are still barriers to break down but having women in the team brings a different outlook, creativity and even the end product can be different because of the way we look at things.

What would you say to other women, particularly younger girls thinking about their future careers?
I think there is still a lot of stereotyping and girls are directed into certain types of roles and boys into others. My advice would be to keep your options open. Go and find out about different roles and career paths. There is so much choice out there and it is not always the obvious ones that you’ll be best suited to.
And if you’re already in work but are looking for a change, have a good look at your skillset and think about your transferable skills. I never thought in a million years I would be sitting in a job like this but here I am and enjoying it.

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