Laura Wilson of FinTrU
Friday 9 December 2022
Laura Wilson is a recent graduate of the Press Refresh Data Analytics programme delivered in partnership by Women in Business and Belfast Metropolitan college. The free 16 week programme is funded by the Department of the Economy NI and has been designed to give women the opportunity to learn new skills, gain qualifications, explore data analytics, build confidence, and enter the Tech sector with support from female role models in Tech. Laura shares her Press Refresh experience with us as a Women in Business member.
Please share a brief overview of the organisation and your role within.
FinTrU is a multi-award-winning technologically enabled Regulatory Solutions company, specialising in the areas of KYC, Compliance, Legal, Risk & Controls and Operations. Working with Investment Banks around the globe, we design technology-enabled solutions to help our clients meet their regulatory obligations. We consider ourselves to have a fundamental social purpose to create high quality professional employment and we care deeply about our culture and values of Partnership, Passion, People and Professionalism. We currently employ over 1,100 people worldwide across Belfast, Derry/Londonderry, London, Dublin, Letterkenny, Maastricht, New York and Porto. I am a Senior Project Manager within our Technology team, primarily focussing on projects that enable FinTrU to grow in a safe and consistent way. I work with our own technology people and our partners, delivering complex changes that bring value to our business.
Please share a brief overview of your career journey to date.
I joined Accenture, a global technology services and consulting company, straight from university. I worked mainly in client-facing roles with financial services companies, large public service bodies, and some smaller scale pro bono clients. I gained experience in nearly every element of technology delivery, from upfront advisory and business development work, all the way through to postimplementation support. After 12 years of consulting, I left Accenture to spend more time with my young family and find my next challenge. In my spare time, I grew a side project - The Dab Hand, a retail business specialising in dressmaking fabric – and organised meet up events for Belfast sewists. When my youngest child was approaching primary school age, I completed the Press Refresh Programme and subsequently joined FinTrU’s Technology team in June this year.
Why did you decide to apply for the Press Refresh Programme?
For me, Press Refresh was an opportunity to gain some new skills, a structured path back to work, and the space to think carefully about what I wanted to do next. I’ve always been interested in Analytics technologies and was really keen to get some hands-on experience with them. After years of deferring to development teams on technical implementation, I was curious to know if I might have the aptitude for it, and maybe even enjoy it. I had known for a while that I wanted to return to work but I found it difficult to translate that into action. I was open to returning to a technology role but I really wanted it to be an intentional move, rather than just going back to what I was used to. My biggest worry about returning to work was the impact it would have on my family. They were used to me always being available and having the flexibility to work around them. I saw the Press Refresh Programme as a way of dipping my toe back into life as a working parent. Over the course of the programme, my kids got used to some after school care and I found ways to deal with the practicalities of being at my desk all day. My Press Refresh group swapped a lot of slow cooker recipes!
How was the Press Refresh experience?
Overall, Press Refresh was a very positive experience for me. It felt really good to be among a group of smart, motivated women, all working towards the same goal. I really valued the support of the group when we were tackling something difficult or life was getting in the way. Equally well, I loved being there for others when I was able to give them help or encouragement. This has continued beyond the completion of the course and I am still in regular contact with many of them.
Which skills or experiences from the programme helped most in your career?
Gaining hands on experience of a range of technologies and working towards the certifications was a great reminder of my capacity to learn new skills. Previously in my career, there was a lot of learning on the job and bringing in technical experts for support. I now have confidence that if I dedicate the time and effort, I can learn the basics of anything and it really enhances the value I can bring to a project. While I haven’t been administering databases or writing Python code during my time at FinTrU so far, this approach has helped me to get up to speed on our technology estate and our inflight projects. On completing the Press Refresh Programme, I was assigned a mentor to support me in my return to work. I feel very lucky to have been matched with a mentor who has challenged my thinking and brought a fresh perspective to how I can tackle problems. I find our monthly check-ins to be great opportunities to reflect on both my achievements and challenges. From our first meeting, she has been an invaluable source of support and encouragement.
What is your advice to those who are thinking of applying?
Career returners are a wonderfully diverse bunch of people and the range of our past experiences is one of the things I love about us. That said, something many of us have in common is that we have put our own needs on the back burner for a while. We often need some encouragement to get that ‘main character energy’ back. Press Refresh is a big investment of your time and energy but it’s a great opportunity for self-development and getting you on your way to the next big thing. I would encourage anyone thinking of applying to carefully consider what they would need to make a go of it, but not let those things hold them back.
You can keep up to date on Laura’s career journey by connecting on LinkedIn.
Friday 9 December 2022