Posted February 29, 2016 | Industry Interviews, Software, Women in Technology | No Comments »

Women in Technology: An Interview with Vet Solutions

In this weeks blog we interview Carol Shuttleworth – Head of Implementation and Development at Vet Solutions – the largest provider of practice management software to the UK veterinary profession.

Enigma People Solutions has worked with Carol throughout her successful career. She shares with us her experiences of working in Scotland’s technology industry, as an employee and an employer, and discusses the role of women in technology.


Carol Shuttleworth Vet Solutions Women in Technology Enigma People Solutions interview

“There seems to be less female software developers in the pool now – whether that is to do with the particular personalities drawn into development, I’m not sure.”

Carol began her career working as what would nowadays be considered a modern apprentice and business studies student, where her department rotation into the IT Support department sparked her interest in technology. She found the role enabled her to see real results for her efforts, working closely with customers and solving their technical issues. After the company acquired a Software house in Scotland, Carol took the opportunity to relocate and went into a field based role, acquiring a range of hands on technical skills from building systems to installing servers.

She then joined Kingston Communications, working closely with overseas startup mobile telecoms companies, one of which was acquired by Vodafone. This was an exciting move to make as the mobile market was just taking off at that time. She continued working closely with customers and analysing business processes as an Applications Specialist and then progressing to a Training Manager Role and Project Lead.

Carol now heads up Implementation and Product Development at Vet Solutions, where she is responsible for ensuring a smooth experience for customers throughout the implementation process of their software.

  • Hi Carol! Tell us what first interested you in working in a technology environment?

“As an apprentice I rotated between departments every 6 months. I quickly realised I enjoyed the IT Support role above anything else that I had done in other departments.

I enjoyed working directly with customers and making a real difference, adding value to their business and training them how to get the best out of their application.

The role allowed me to see the results of my efforts, and I gained satisfaction from getting a crashed system up and running again. For example, you would go from a situation where the customer feels their business is in a little bit of a crisis and they may not be able to pay their payroll because a machine has crashed, to getting them back up and running and able to make payments.

It was that kind of saving the day and solving problems for a customer which was very rewarding.”

  • Did you perceive any obstacles or were there any obstacles that you had to overcome in terms of the industry and role?

“When I began working on the support desk the majority were female. I think that’s down to the softer skills that women, in the main seem to have over a male. There was a need for patience and curiosity to ask the questions to get the answers you needed, because back then the technology didn’t exist to be able log on to the clients system and see what was going on. So it was all about questioning to help resolve the issues.

It has had a subtle change, certainly throughout my first role where the majority of staff on helpdesks were female and those in the field were male. Over time the ratio had really evened itself out.”

  • Was the career path not as open for women at that point?

“From my experience you do see a lot of opportunities. As a woman you do have access to these opportunities, but I felt I needed to work a lot harder to be successful and get recognised. I think to some extent that is the same today.

The consistent message is that women feel, and it certainly seems to be the case that they have to work harder to be recognised.

I am lucky here that I work for a General Manager who sees the value of female managers and sees what a woman with my experience brings to the business.”

  • In terms of women in technology you have been in a great position to observe the industry for many years as an employee and as an employer. What is your experience of recruiting women in the industry? 

“My current recruiting experience is that there seems to be less female software developers in the pool now – whether that is to do with the particular personalities drawn into development, I’m not sure.

There are increasing numbers of young females starting courses but often they move into roles that have more to do with utilising communication skills.

When I worked at Response we participated in the  modern apprenticeship scheme and out of 20 candidates I interviewed, only 1 was a young female and she was successful in gaining the apprenticeship. She was way ahead of the males in terms of communication skills, she maybe didn’t have the level of technical skills that the others did but that was the easy bit to teach somebody. I coached her and mentored her and she won the award for the West of Scotland best apprenticeship in 2012. I was very proud of her.”

  • What advice would you give to women and girls trying to get into the technology industry? What can the industry do help improve things?

“If you have found something that you enjoy doing be it programming, training, business applications, just go for it.

If you don’t have a degree then find employers that will give you the time and education you require. We have invested in people here at Vet Solutions who have displayed this kind of enthusiasm. It is up to us as individuals to be more assertive.

Employers have to be open to sponsoring, developing and challenging individuals but that takes time to allow people to grow. That is how I behave as an employer.”

Vet Solutions is the largest provider of practice management software to the UK veterinary profession. They are a part of Henry Schein-  a Fortune 500® Company and a member of the S&P 500® and NASDAQ 100® Indices. Together they are the world’s largest supplier of healthcare products to medical, dental and veterinary professionals, which has enabled Vet Solutions to become firmly established as the market leader in the field.

For the latest job opportunities with Vet Solutions contact Daria on 0141 332 4422 or email!

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