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 Jo Stewart-Rattray, Director of Technology and Security Assurance at BRM Advisory.
Jo Stewart-Rattray said she always fancied a career in IT. She began working in radio before progressing into the logistics area for live shows and bands.
“I was moving around from sound engineering to lighting shows; they all had some level of technology. I realised then that I really fancied working in this environment.”
The tech bug hit when she moved to Europe and began working for an airline in Germany.
“From that point forward, my career in IT took off. I started in the infrastructure area where I was literally crawling around in data centers and connecting things. The airline industry is full of technology and while working, it really hit home: this is what I love doing.”
Since then, Jo has amassed 25 years in the industry, combining her information technology and security background with her qualifications in education and management.
Her speciality is consulting in risk and technology issues, with a particular emphasis on governance and security in both the commercial and operational areas of businesses.
Today, she is head of technology and security practice of consulting firm BRM Advisory and is currently on a long-term assignment with national healthcare services provider Silver Chain Group.
“What I love most is assisting organisations to be more secure and to imbue those companies with a culture of security. This is very rewarding.”
The everyday challenges she said are providing the best frameworks for a security in an organisation, particularly in a transformational setting where security has to be factored in from ideation to implementation and beyond.
She wants to see more women in management and in the security professions and the tech workforce.
“We are still sorely under-represented in the sector globally. I am involved in a number of ongoing activities to attract and retain women to tech and security. This is a continuing challenge which is fraught with bias, inequity and inclusion issues.”
Walking the talk
Jo has served on an international professional association ISACA, which is focused on IT governance. She was elected director on its international board of directors for seven years and was the volunteer founder of its global women’s leadership initiative, SheLeadsTech.
“A great leader is one who is empathic but can make the hard decisions,” she says. “One who listens in order to break down barriers and who frames strategy and then puts it into action. Most importantly one who is authentic, honest and transparent.”
“I hope my legacy will be an increased number of women at the top of the tech and security tree, more diversity, equality and inclusion across the sector. “
She was selected from a very competitive and large candidate base to be one of only two civil society women representing the Australian Federal Government Delegation to the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women.
“I have since returned to the UN as part of the broader Australian contingent representing the National Rural Women’s Coalition (NRWC) and SheLeadsTech. I will again speak with my NRWC colleagues at a UN virtual event next month.”
Jo has had an annual award established in her honor to recognise her outstanding leadership and commitment to increasing the representation of women in technology leadership and the tech workforce more broadly, the inaugural ISACA Oceania Jo Stewart-Rattray Award.
As for the future, Jo is excited by a challenge. “I see the future of tech and security as being just that. I see them both being more entwined; part of the fabric of our personal and professional lives and, the challenge of keeping us safe and secure as it happens. This excites me!”
Away from the tech world, Jo unleashes her creative side. “I have two side hustles," she says. "One is a little business that makes jams, jellies, mustards and spice mixes. These are sold through a number of cellar door outlets in the beautiful Clare Valley in South Australia.”
Her other passion has grown out of a love of beautiful silks and beads. “I make necklaces and earrings from sustainable and recycled materials including paper beads from Uganda.”
Jo Stewart-Rattray is Vice President, Communities, at ACS, and holds a FACS CP (Cyber) accreditation.