When Caroline Wright started her career during the recession years of the 1990s she was told that her law degree was “as good as a piece of toilet paper”.
“My career evolved to a place I never imagined,” Wright says. “I managed to find a job at an accounting firm in tax, and they took me on the condition that I studied accounting.”
It wasn’t a natural fit for Wright, who had failed accounting twice while studying Law Commerce at Melbourne University. But she didn’t let that stop her.
“I ended up getting honours and continuing to become a chartered accountant,” she notes.
“You never know where life will take you,” acknowledges Wright, whose career went from accounting to technology, business analysis, product management, implementation and sales to now Head of Product – Accountants & Partners at MYOB.
“It has been an amazing ride,” she says.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that being a senior woman in technology – arguably a male-dominated field – wouldn’t be without its challenges, but for Wright, her gender has never prevented her from aiming high.
“I never saw a ceiling being imposed on a woman when I started out,” she says. “My view is that you make your own opportunities and if you work hard good things will come your way.”
But she does acknowledge that there’s been a concerted effort in the last 10 years to focus more on diversity and promoting more women into senior leadership positions.
“I’m not sure if it translated to more women in senior levels, but I see a desire for that to happen,” she says. “In tech there is still a challenge around the number of women in development roles.”
“I would like to see more women in our management team,” she concedes. “There are a lot of issues around gender equality due to the fact that responsibilities around raising children in society have changed, but a lot of other things have not changed, such as school hours, holidays etc. It’s challenging as a parent – man or woman.”
“I can understand why there are not a lot of women in senior positions as it is very demanding, particularly when you have both parents in a household working full time. However, I would not have it any other way and I am thankful that things have moved on to afford me the flexibility to do what I do.”
Flexibility has been a huge point of difference in technology over the last 15 years Wright has been working in the area of tax technology.
“The shift from desktop to online and mobile capabilities has afforded people so many benefits in terms of flexible working practices,” she acknowledges.
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“It has also enhanced our ability to develop software and bring it to the market quicker.”
Wright argues that the changes in workplace flexibility over the last decade have enabled more women to work at a high level while maintaining a work/life balance.
“Luckily for me the evolution of workplace flexibility coincided with me becoming a mother,” Wright says.
“I was able to return to work part time and then in my next role in technology I continued at three days a week, despite being senior.”
Wright’s advice to other women facing similar challenges?
“If you work hard and are open to new challenges, you will end up on a fantastic journey, and have a lot of fun along the way.”
This article was originally published on SmartCompany as ‘Women in tech: “You make your own opportunities and if you work hard good things will come your way”‘.