The percentage of women graduating in STEM related subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) is approximately 25% compared to their male counterparts. The stereotype is that women are perhaps less likely to excel or even consider working in these fields; that men are predisposed to greater success and afforded better opportunities. However, numbers of female STEM graduates are on the rise, drawing upon global equality movements and inspired by the likes of Professor Donna Strickland, who last year became the first woman in 55 years to win the Nobel Prize for Physics. Doors that were previously bolted shut are now creaking open.
Local Data Hosting business, Continent 8 Technologies is leading by example, with a workforce as diverse as their global operations. From technical operations, finance and sales, to HR and project management, there are a multitude of key business functions in their Isle of Man HQ, many of these with women at the helm, squashing all STEM gender preconceptions like misogynistic flies.
Every word, picture, game, video or meme that you see on the internet is delivered to you by a piece of computer equipment, somewhere on planet Earth. The world around, there are big white rooms, laden with massive computers and flashing lights, more secure than any A-List celebrity’s home – those buildings are data centres. The stuff inside them is ‘hosted’ there. They make the internet work.
There are a few decent local data centres, but what makes Continent 8 different is their global reach – they take data (securely), right across the planet on their own network, which other local data centres simply can’t do.
Since the company’s initial formation in Montreal in 1998, their expansion reads like Taylor Swift’s latest world tour: Just a few years later in 2006, Continent 8 Technologies incorporated on the Isle of Man, setting up its HQ in Douglas; after which data centres in Malta, Singapore, London, Paris, Gibraltar, Milan, Dublin, New Jersey, New York, Newark, Lisbon, Taiwan, Nevada, West Virginia and the Philippines, to name but a few, have swiftly followed. Regardless of the geography, the focus on delivering consistency across the global network is unwavering.
Diversity is fundamental to Continent 8 – both in their multiple centre locations scattered across the globe but also, in the make-up of key IOM HQ team members, such as Group Financial Controller, Stacey Brookes. Stacey is responsible for ensuring the financial foundations across all group companies are on a steady footing. Accuracy and efficiency are critical in her role;
“I like that the company actually does something important and that it is valued by our customers. It provides a service and facilities that you can actually see, which is different from everywhere else I have worked previously. I can walk around the IOM data centre where I am based and see the assets that are recorded on our balance sheet. That’s quite rare in the IOM where financial services are one of the dominant sectors.”
With clients in egaming, offshore finance, corporate service providers, online payment processors and public services, it is imperative that their solutions are tailored accordingly to such varying client needs. Account Manager Caroline Moran tells Gef of the importance of ensuring Continent 8’s customers get what they need:
“As it is a relatively small team, everyone works together to ensure our customers receive the best possible service. We offer a bespoke service to our customers and sometimes it can be quite complex – this can be challenging. I enjoy seeing a complex solution come together and a happy new customer. We are literally connecting customers around the globe”.
Over 50% of the staff in the IOM HQ office are women, and globally, the team is in the hundreds, all operating under the company ethos of “We protect the world’s most valuable information”.
Senior Systems Administrator / Recovery Lead, Joanne McAfee, based in Dublin, knows how critical security and reliability is in this industry. When asked about the biggest misconceptions about women working in tech, and how best those myths could be dispelled, Joanne said;
“The misconception that women in the workplace focus more on family life than their male co-workers led to some companies making assumptions that these women were not in a position to take a stronger opportunity role, or a role that involved a lot of travelling due to their family commitments. This misconception is dispersing in the workplace. Good employers see the potential in their employees whatever their gender and will help and mentor them to progress to a position of power in any way they can.”
Programme Manager, Joanne Wilkinson has over 15 years’ experience in the industry and now, after celebrating a year with Continent 8, she reflects on her own career in tech and what she enjoys about the role:
“I love the diversity of working with a global team. In most cases I am working on an internal project with the wider project team dispersed around the globe. In my first year at Continent 8 I have had the opportunity to work on a variety of really interesting projects. The technology sector is constantly evolving and with that comes change, ensuring my role is never boring”
The worldwide reach of Continent 8 is evident in their name but at its heart is the Isle of Man HQ. Recognition of their local achievements was given at the 2018 IOM Newspapers Awards for Excellence. Their efforts were rewarded in November last year when they received the coveted International Business of the Year. Such commitment to supporting local businesses and supporting the Island’s community is evident with their sponsorship of local not for profits such as Love Tech and Bridge Angel Network.
Clearly, there are still hurdles for women and their inclusivity in a male dominated industry. Continent 8 is doing its utmost to obliterate the negative stereotyping surrounding STEM. You are selected on merit, not gender.
Best practice, resilience, reliable governance, a diverse team, global network, as well as highly reliable managed hosting and security solutions, are what set this company apart. We won’t lie to you – our IT knowledge kind of starts and ends with “Have you tried turning it on and off again?”.
Thankfully, Continent 8 knows their stuff and they’re all-inclusive, acting as hosts for critical online operations across the globe and for women in all areas of business. We’ll be catching up with more of the Continent 8 team, later this week.