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International Women’s Day 2024: Nicola Taylor, Chief Operations Officer

For International Women’s Day 2024, we’re featuring some of the hardworking and talented women behind the scenes at ScotlandIS.

Read the below interview to find out more about Nicola Taylor, our Chief Operations Officer.

Describe your role at ScotlandIS.

I have been with the organisation for almost 15 years, originally starting in a part-time role working on our e-Placement Scotland programme. Over the last 4 or 5 years, I moved to full-time hours taking on the project management of various skills initiatives, as well as becoming responsible for other aspects of the business, and was eventually promoted to Head of Operations and more recently, COO.

Can you tell us more about your background and how you ended up in this role?

It was a case of the right place, right time for me; I worked with a colleague in a previous role who was working with ScotlandIS and suggested myself for the part-time opportunity at the time. I had worked in a couple of sectors prior to joining ScotlandIS – construction and oil and gas to name a few – but I truly found my passion in the tech sector and I think that is evidenced by my length of service with ScotlandIS.

What is the best part about your job in STEM?

I love the variety that my role offers. One minute I am supporting growth opportunities for organisations, the next, I am in a classroom teaching children how to use a microbit or the importance of password security or about their digital footprint. I get to work with industry, academia, innovation centres, public sector, and the most fantastic companies doing the most incredible things. My role genuinely means that no two days are the same so it’s always interesting and exciting, and I don’t think it’s something I will ever get bored of doing. I have been with ScotlandIS long enough to experience a number of full circle moments and it will never not be the best feeling to have an employer come to us to use the e-Placement Scotland scheme to hire interns because they were once an intern through the programme themselves.

What has been your experience as a Woman in STEM?

I have never not felt supported or out of place as a Woman in STEM. There is still more to be done to encourage more women into the sector, but I think we are lucky to work in a sector that recognises this. Change is gradual but we see it every day, and most recently we have witnessed it with 10 out of the 14 ScotlandIS Saturday Schools Scholars being young women.

What are some of the biggest challenges you see in the sector for diversity?

Talent attraction and the skills shortage are a huge factor here, I believe our sector to be striving to achieve diversity in the workforce, but it is almost impossible to get the diversity balance correct when we just don’t have enough skilled people coming into the sector.

Why do you think it’s important that we have greater gender diversity?

Not only is it important, but crucial for a number of reasons: without diversity in the sector, we stifle innovation and creativity, and we reduce our ability to problem solve. The need for diversity in the sector is imperative to its continued growth. 

Is there a Woman in STEM that is an inspirational or influential figure to you?

I am fortunate to be surrounded by inspirational and influential Women in STEM all day, every day; I find this question difficult to answer as I honestly think every single woman I have come across in my time here has inspired or influenced me in some way shape or form.

It would be remiss of me not to name Polly Purvis, a powerhouse in our sector, and of course Karen Meechan, our CEO, who has been my mentor since joining the organisation – I have loved experiencing her journey to CEO and watch her flourish in that role. I could quite literally write pages and pages and pages of names here, but I will finish with the wonderful team at ScotlandIS who also inspire and influence me every day: Joanne Mills, Cat Blair, Bev Bowles, Fiona Thomson, Hez Moore, Nicola Jackson and, not to mention, the best allies there are, Ross Murray and David Ferguson.

Fun Facts

Favourite Time of Day

Early morning when you first wake up, it’s one of the only times of the day that is truly mine (well mine and the dog’s) – a hot cup of tea in silence to start the day off right! 

Secret Talent

Have you not heard our ScotlandIS Christmas songs from the last two years?? 

When I Was Young, I Wanted to Be…

A lawyer – I did get a law degree, but it just was not for me

One Thing You Can’t Live Without

Dave Grohl is the honest answer, but my family is a close second!

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