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Join the digital future with Westpac and Vogue

14 September 2016

Anastasia Cammaroto, Chief Information Officer, Business Integration for Westpac Group Tech, is the first to admit that a career in financial technology was not the path her younger self would have predicted. Yet, reflecting on her childhood, her passions and motivations, it’s not surprising that Ana’s success has seen her take on a position of leadership in the digital future.

Although Ana was born in Australia, she lived in Greece for a large part of her childhood, before returning to Australia with her family. The move had a profound effect on the path Ana took vocationally.

“In Greece, I was a voracious reader and inclined toward the humanities. But I was inquisitive to know how things worked.  My parents tell the story of me pulling apart my talking doll to work out where the voice came from. I wanted to be a journalist, but that was in a Greek context, in the Greek language,” she said.

Back in Australia with English her second language Ana didn’t experience the same joy in expressing herself. It was a discovery that left her feeling “like a fish out of water” when it came to her long-held beliefs about what her career path would be.

Ana’s teachers noted how much she enjoyed science subjects and recommended she attend some young scientist programs.  This spark lit, the passion built, and Ana went on to enrol in electrical engineering at UNSW.

“While completing my degree in electrical engineering my interests remained broad. I really thought about how engineering can help people. This area is and has always been my true passion. My thesis was in biomedical engineering,” explains Ana.

At the time, recruiters for technology, particularly technology in finance roles, were looking for engineering and maths graduates who could bring a new way of looking at problems and solving them.

 “This way of problem solving that comes from an engineering core is still a technology industry driver today,” says Ana.

“I often think: here I am, a biomedical engineer working in IT in finance, and it sounds like the beginning of a joke. But at the core, it’s about thinking differently and taking the fundamentals of engineering and the way you problem solve and applying this to finance,” says Ana.

It’s this commitment to pushing the boundaries and thinking outside the square that has led Westpac to join with the Vogue Codes initiative in October, which aims to break down some of the stereotypes surrounding technology.

The number of undergrads in IT is falling across both genders, but particularly among women. What is driving that? Not choosing STEM subjects is one reason, but further, there are the misconceptions about ‘only geeks in technology’ and the lack of positive role modelling for women in this area.

“We have generations of misconceptions we need to undo, so we have to think creatively. The initiative with Vogue challenges popular stereotypes. Women in technology and a fashion magazine, now that’s a fresh avenue, and a great way to start challenging plenty of stereotypes in this space,” says Ana.

“Further to this, fashion and publishing have an increasing need for digital skills, and will fall behind without them. If you don’t own the language – and coding is the language of the future - you won’t survive and as women we must acknowledge that and be prepared,” says Ana.

In other initiatives, Westpac is bringing in Year 10 students to show them what an IT career involves and challenge their current thinking around it. Partnerships with organisations such as Code Camp, which teaches young children to code, is another initiative breaking down the tech stereotype.

“It’s time to showcase the many stories of role models in our space, so that young people – young women in particular – can be fully informed,” says Ana.

On the wider recruitment level, Westpac has reviewed the language in its job advertisements for technology roles, especially in relation to stipulating a set number of years of experience, recognising that the ads were discouraging women from applying.

“We are incorporating words like ‘5 to 10 years’ experience in the text of the ads and it is having an effect in encouraging more women to apply,” says Ana.

“Young women are just as much digital natives as the guys, but don’t have the history to make their mark, so we are trying to rewrite that,” says Ana.

Vogue Codes takes place this October.

You can also check out opportunities for women in technology at Westpac Group.