Laura Earle: Fulfilling Career Ambitions in Technology
With a passion for communications, a career in technology was the logical step for Laura Earle to take when graduating University; she explains how the industry is fulfilling her career ambitions, while making a name for herself in the process.
Having joined Cisco in 2009 after graduating from the University of Nottingham, Laura has excelled in her role as Executive Communications Manager, and was recently recognised as the Rising Star of the Year at the 2012 everywoman in Technology Awards. The role challenges and excites her, and gives her the opportunity to work with a diverse group of people across the globe. She also leads a variety of programmes to encourage inclusion, diversity and working with local communities.
Why did you want to get into this particular area of work?
My passion for words and writing fuelled my desire to work in the public relations and communications field. I had never really thought about a career in IT but I found that summer internships at technology companies were both welcoming and interesting. Instead of making tea and coffee and filing documents, I wrote press releases, created videos and pitched stories to journalists. This positive experience showed me that technology was the industry for me.
Making work experience my number one priority during my student years definitely paid off – it provided me with tangible experience that ultimately led me to being offered my role at Cisco. The technology industry is looking for smart, hardworking and, above all, passionate people – something my work experience proved I was.
Have you had any struggles during your working career? Have you had to focus on your confidence?
I had the opportunity to study abroad whilst at University; living in different countries, finding my way around in a new city and meeting new people definitely helped me to become more confident and I would recommend this to anyone if they have a similar opportunity.
I think everyone has struggles in their careers; that’s how we develop and grow. For me, I think I’ve probably put more pressure on myself that I needed to. I’m my own worst critic. If I ever start to doubt myself, I start to wonder if it’s my age and my relatively short time within the industry compared to my other colleagues, some of whom have worked in IT for over 20 years. I remind myself that I have every right to work here and I’ve already achieved a lot.
Some people ask if it’s a challenge working in an industry that traditionally attracts more men to new roles than women. I think it’s an advantage to be a woman who works in technology; I stand out from the crowd more!
Have been some of your highlights since starting your career?
Personally, being offered the role as Executive Communications Manager and realising I was the youngest person to have worked in that position is a huge moment for me, as was winning the 2012 everywoman in Technology Award as Rising Star of Year; that gave me a real confidence boost. Another highlight in my career so far has been the opportunity to work with local hospitals with Cisco, providing video services for children who are ill over the Christmas period – seeing the smiles on the children’s faces was very emotionally fulfilling.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
I have no plans to move out of the technology industry – I love the fast-paced environment and seeing the benefits that technology can bring to the lives of others. I’d like to run communications globally. I have also been touched by giving back to the local community so I’d love to get more involved in this area.
What role has personal motivation played in your career?
I’m genuinely motivated by my job, because it’s interesting and challenging, and I work with great people that have respect for each other. It’s also a very flexible environment with a focus on work/life balance – knowing that the company supports its employees that have family responsibilities is really positive. Seeing the benefits that Cisco’s technology can bring to the lives of others is also a highly motivating factor.
Have you set yourself business goals?
When I won the everywoman in Technology Award I had what the Americans call an ‘A-ha’ moment where I realised what I had achieved so far in my career. I want to continue to develop in my role, continue to get involved in different projects and try to get as much experience as I can, so yes - I have plenty of goals I have written down that I want to achieve in the next few years!