AI&D Senior Manager, Consulting, Deloitte
Even though she doesn’t have a background in STEM, June Foley is now a senior member of an artificial intelligence and data team. She reveals how her career has developed.
June Foley didn’t take a conventional route into her STEM career. In fact, for the first seven years of her working life, she wasn’t involved in STEM at all. Now, she’s a Senior Manager within the Artificial Intelligence and Data (AI&D) team at the leading global professional services organisation, Deloitte.
Entering the field without a technical background
“I don’t have a technical background,” admits Foley. “I did study computer science for a year after leaving school; but art had always been close to my heart, so I took a BA in Design and Visual Communications at Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT), then began a career as a graphic designer.”
Years later, when Foley was looking to make a career change, she contacted her IADT tutors and asked them about the latest tech trends. “One of them mentioned data visualisation,” she remembers. “As my concepts and designs had always been extremely researched and data-driven, I thought it would be an exciting avenue to explore.” She joined Deloitte as a Consultant in 2015, becoming an expert in using data visualisation to help clients improve their decision-making capabilities.
“As a woman in STEM, I believe role models and mentoring are very powerful in challenging the ingrained biases we all have. By sharing our experiences, knowledge and guidance, we pave the way for aspiring women in tech to overcome barriers and unlock their full potential.
As a Technology Partner in Deloitte’s Consulting Business, who started as a graduate of the organisation, I value and see our teams thrive in a diverse and inclusive environment where we can shape a future where every individual feels respected and can embrace their passion for technology, confidently owning their career choices.”
Ita LangtonTechnology Partner, Deloitte
A supportive and inclusive working environment
Admittedly, leaving the design world and adapting to an entirely new career was a steep learning curve, but Foley felt supported every step of the way. “I’ve had three very supportive coaches during my eight years here,” she says.
“I’ve had terrific mentors, such as Ita Langton, one of our technology partners. I’ve asked for her opinion on a range of topics, and she has always been so helpful. I quickly realised that people with all kinds of experience are happy to rally around if you ask for support. I’m also part of a mum’s network. Just being able to go for a coffee with a colleague — from any team, not just technology — has been hugely beneficial.”
Foley has appreciated the organisation’s commitment to flexibility and now works a four-day week. “I’ve been able to take advantage of the hybrid working strategy and was promoted during my first maternity leave — and then again when I returned from my second.”
Making the most of transferable skills and tools
Being a woman in STEM is not without its challenges, however. “It’s an inclusive culture where there is always room for you at the table,” says Foley. “But we need more female leaders in technology because if women can see it, they can be it. Things are improving, and we are now seeing more females move into senior positions and roles. It’s not a challenge I can overcome alone, but I can be aware that more female representation is needed, so it’s easier for women to rise.”
Foley advises women who have their sights set on a STEM career: “Go for it! If you studied STEM subjects, are curious, willing to learn and come to Deloitte through its graduate programme, you have every opportunity to succeed.” But a STEM background is not a dealbreaker. The organisation runs an initiative called Project Magenta, which offers women from non-technical backgrounds a three-month training programme.
“It’s never too late to make a change. You have other attributes that are just as important as technical skills,” says Foley. “My graphic design career certainly equipped me with many transferable skills and tools.”