To mark International Women’s Day 2022, Information Age is publishing a special series, Women in IT Leadership. We speak with 15 women in various tech roles across Australia about how they got their start in the IT industry, their approach to leadership, and how to encourage more females into technology careers.
Today we speak with Megan Haas, Non-Executive Director at Tesserent.
A problem solver by nature, Megan Haas is a natural fit for a career in technology and working at the junction between technology and its applications.
“Technology itself can be quite a black and white science. But it’s not just this, because it’s how people engage with the technology, how people use it and how businesses use it that I find really interesting,” she explains.
For Haas, the beauty of working in technology is that it’s like an ‘anchor’ or common element across different businesses, industries, geographies, languages and even cultures.
“I’ve had this thread running through [my career] that is technology — understanding the risks linked to technology and how people are addressing those.
“And it's ever changing, so as technology changes, we need to stay ahead of the curve. Problem solving, having an open mind and being able to blend the technical with the way it’s used by people and what makes people choose to do what they do with technology, I find really interesting.”
Getting into technology, Megan took the “well-trodden path which was a business degree that would provide a springboard into the next step”.
“I had an opportunity to do a major in information systems and that was really the start of it for me because I was interested in how technology could be used to enhance businesses, and help achieve objectives. It was that combo of the business and the technology.”
Megan has observed how technology’s increasingly diverse applications is seeing people combine different specialities with a grounding in the technical.
“What I'm seeing is more people entering the industry with psychology degrees and with different backgrounds because what we're finding is that understanding how people are engaging with technology drives what they will do in their actions.”
As a non-executive director of cyber security outfit Tesserent and with a long list of previous risk management roles, Megan sees first-hand the growing challenge of security within technology.
It’s how to keep up with the fast-moving technological changes and providing “an environment that supports the business objectives, while being safe for the stakeholders, whether they're employees, customers, suppliers or other interested parties”.
The value of cooperative collaboration
“Tech is a team sport,” Megan says. “To design good outcomes requires curiosity, engagement and team thinking, and I really like that and enjoy engaging with people in that co-creation.”
“I may be in a leadership role, but I’m part of a team and we each have contributions to make. It’s about how I create an environment to get the best out of those individual pieces.”
At the same time, the value of self-awareness can’t be understated.
“It’s the ability to hear the perspectives of others, distill those to make a decision and then act upon that in a clearer way that also provides support to the other the individuals that I'm working with.”
Women thinking of a career in technology need to know there are different pathways, just as there’s a need for different perspectives on how technology is used, Megan advises.
“It's not regimented anymore that you need to do this and that, and as we see the different consumers of technology, we really need to be thinking about that in the design of technology.”
It helps to have an interest in people too.
“Because technology is designed to achieve an outcome, whether it's a business or personal one, individuals who have inquiring minds, are curious and interested in innovation and why people do what they do, here are huge opportunities.”
In her downtime, golf has become a favourite activity. “It's that combination of being outside and the exercise.”
It’s an activity she’s taken as her own and after many years of being one of the few women on the green for corporate rounds.
“It was only just in the last month, I had my first golf game with three other women. And it struck me that it had never occurred to me that there was something unusual about playing all the time with one or two or three male players. It wasn't until I had a round with four women that I thought: ‘this is refreshingly different’.”
Megan Haas is an ACS Member.