Having fallen into her role in IT after beginning her professional career as a council trainee back in 1984 Newport City Council governance manager, Tracy McKim is a big believer in the power of data analytics and the importance of IT education.
In her time at Newport McKim has overseen massive IT reforms, being a key, driving force in its award-winning Information Station, helping develop the new website and infrastructure powering it.
A permanent believer in the importance of understanding what the technology can do as well as how it works, McKim is also currently studying a postgraduate certificate in public services governance at Queen Margaret University.
V3: What's your favourite part of your current job?
McKim: For me it's watching technology improve ways of working. For example, 45 percent of all customer transactions with the council are now self-service – this huge change is underpinned by our web technologies.
What would be your dream job?
I like working for the public sector – making a difference to people's lives, though something with more influence in the Welsh public sector would be nice.
Which mobile phone and tablet do you currently use?
I have a Samsung Galaxy S3, which I use as both a tablet and a smartphone.
Which technology has had the biggest impact on your working life?
At Newport City Council we use NetMotion technology. This has helped to realise our vision for an agile workforce and means that I can access all the applications on my laptop, from anywhere. It's been life changing!
What's been the highlight of your career so far?
Being part of huge changes to services in the area where I live and work has been hugely rewarding. Projects such as the development of the award-winning Information Station in Newport where I helped develop the website and infrastructure supporting it. I'm very excited about the next year which will see big developments in customer insight so that we can develop a better understanding of our communities based on their behaviour, experiences and needs. Hopefully this will lead to us getting it right the first time more often.
What was your first job?
I was a council trainee back in 1984, which meant that I worked in different parts of the council, and studied Public Administration part time – I was only 16 at the time for anyone doing the maths.
What's your favourite thing about working in the IT industry?
For me it's being able to make other people's ideas a reality.
What will be the next big innovation?
As the challenges continue for the public sector, the ability to understand the data we hold and understand the communities we serve through analytics will become more and more important. It would be good to see support for this type of requirement in the next big 'thing'.
What do you enjoy doing when you finish work?
I enjoy keeping fit, and movies – from old repeats on TV to DVDs and my first love, cinema.
What was the last book you read and was it any good?
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. It's the story of an introverted teenager, stood on the sidelines of life, written as a series of letters to a stranger. It's a brilliant read.
Who is your favourite band?
It changes regularly, but right now Mumford and Sons. Radiohead are a close second.
What's holding back women from entering the IT profession?
I think it's mainly perception – the idea that IT is a male-dominated, slightly geeky profession. It can be, but it's also a great industry to be part of, with the ability to offer new ways of working. We need a variety of skillsets for the new world of IT.
How can we get more school children interested in IT careers?
This may happen anyway through much more use of technology in the classroom environment, however we need to show that the IT industry requires a mix of skillsets, we need to attract people who are interested in what the technology can do – as well as how it works.
Did you always grow up wanting to work in IT?
No I didn't. Although I did get an A at O-level computer studies, which was mostly programming on a green and black screen. In the late 1980s a PC was introduced into the finance office I worked in, and I was one of the few people who wanted to use it. This led to me becoming something of an expert in spreadsheets, and macros and things developed from there.
What websites do you have bookmarked at work?
Currently I have Wales Online's news site, Twitter and Queen Margaret University's student 'hub'.
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