In celebration of International Women's Day, we interviewed a number of successful women at QA. We caught up with Mary Sansom, Marketing and Communications Director at QA Apprenticeships to find out more about her, her career journey and achievements.
- Who inspired you to strive in your career?
"My parents have been a real inspiration for me. My dad set up his own pharmaceutical publishing business when I was born and sold it to Ogilvy 18 year later having evolved it into a highly successful business with offices in the UK and the US."
"On top of that I had my mum’s unwavering encouragement and support. I remember being 15 and my mum was driving my friend Hannah and I to the cinema, we were talking about jobs and what we wanted to be when we grew up. Hannah said that she wanted to be a lawyer but that she knew she couldn’t do that – her mum had told her not to aim too high and be disappointed when it didn’t work out - she would be better aiming to be a legal secretary instead. At this my mum pulled over the car, turned back to us and said “Girls – you can be whoever and whatever you want to be in life. You must set your sights on a goal and go for it!” That memory has stuck with me and it is advice I have tried to follow throughout my career."
- Has being a woman ever hindered your professional development? If so, how did you deal with it?
"I have read countless stories and articles about sexism in the workplace and feel very grateful that I have not had to experience the effects of it first-hand. I have always felt hugely supported by my male colleagues – 2 of whom (both managers of mine) in particular have given their time generously to mentor, develop and support me at different points in my career. Without them, I would not be where I am today."
- Have you experienced any challenges getting to where you are? If so, how did you overcome them?
"I did once have a really obstructive manager who – now I reflect back on her behaviour – was actually displaying bullying behaviour. She used to openly criticise things about me in front of other members of the team and once even in front of a client. I think it was a way of putting me in my place and making her feel more authoritative but it was hugely demotivating and upsetting. The final straw was when she told me that she didn’t like the outfit I had worn to a client event, she said that it had looked cheap and didn’t flatter my figure. I made the decision to leave the business after that. I remember reading an article about this once. It explored the idea that ambitious young women don’t gel well with other generations of women in the workplace. I think it is an interesting work-place dynamic and so I have always been really conscious of being supportive of all of my female colleagues – we need to be workplace allies not enemies. "
- What advice would you give to other women aspiring to get into your profession and succeed professionally?
"I would pass on the words of wisdom from my mum - “Girls – you can be whoever and whatever you want to be in life. You must set your sights on a goal and go for it!”
Watch our video showcasing women who have embraced a career in technology.