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5 mins with Carly Gray, winner of ITP Women in Telecoms 2020

How long have you been in your current role and can you tell us a bit about your career history?

I have been with Openreach since 2018, working in Service Delivery for the past 14 months as an Area Manager.  I started my telecoms journey in 2009 aged 18 as an office administrator for a small telecoms firm.  In 2011 I started my own successful civil engineering business, helping companies implement all aspects of their business from staffing solutions, overheads, profit margins to help them run functional and successful business within industry.  Over the years I have built a solid network of directors and CEOs to sell my business ideas and securing contracts. The knowledge base and career I have forged to date has all been self-taught.

What attracted you to a career in telecoms?

I was brought up around the industry so naturally I grew inquisitive. It fascinated me how the world could stay connected via telecoms and that fascination and inquisitiveness drove me to the career I have today. Since I was a young child I have always wanted to make a difference, at the time not many women were in this industry – again this made me inquisitive and wanted to be a part of the change. The very first time we connected our first cabinet and gave broadband to all those customers knowing I was a part of making a change to their life, was the best feeling in the world and I have never looked back. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s been so rewarding, helping to keep people connected especially during this time has never been so important.

What is your biggest achievement so far?

The most significant achievement I’ve had in my career was setting up my own business alone, aged 18, in a male dominated industry. Building relations with external stakeholders, I efficiently executed flex and civils in the utilities sector by matching budget requirements without compromising on quality or safety of  projects. Delivering a trustworthy operational service. I started the business after noticing a gap in the market for a trustworthy, qualified workforce. I started with just myself which grew into having partners, employees and my own business premises with depots in Wiltshire, Norfolk, Glasgow and Kent.

Would you say you have ever faced any challenges as a woman in this industry, if so can you tell us more?

I have faced many challenges being a woman in industry, I would say my biggest challenge early on in my career was feeling like I stood out simply for being female. The telecoms sector in those days was very heavily male dominated. Everyone I came across would always believe they knew better than me due to me being a woman so I had to work harder than anyone to prove myself and sell my idea more than anyone to help with long term change. It took time, but with self-belief and determination I went on to prove what I knew I was always capable of.

Do you think the industry should be doing more to encourage women into telecoms, if so what?

Yes the industry should be doing more to encourage women into the industry. Women need to understand the different roles that are offered within the industry from engineering to management. Telecoms is very fast paced with long working hours but this doesn’t mean that you can’t raise a family and pursue your dream career. I personally think the industry needs to be at more career day events to sell the industry to the younger generation which hopefully in turn will naturally encourage industry to become gender equal. 

How important is mentoring to you?

Mentoring is absolutely crucial. Spotting women within the industry and helping them realise their potential is vital. Whether its just job shadowing or just having regular one to one on their progress, this goes a long way. Over the past decade I have brought women from outside the industry in who are now developing amazing careers.

What advice would you offer other women considering a career in telecoms?

Everyone’s career will be different  and will come down to the individual, however my advice would be; Ask Questions, don’t be shy, build up a good support network. Try and be as inquisitive as you can to understand the business. Invest in yourself, every woman is entitled to achieve her full potential at work and at the same time have a good work life balance, in my case raising a young family as well as pursuing my career.

What does winning the WIT Award mean to you?

Running a business is tough, working your way up the corporate ladder is tough, especially if you’re a woman. That’s why winning or being nominated as a finalist for the WIT award is so special, it’s given me such a boost. It’s an incredible feeling to have your hard work recognised by experts in telecoms. It’s a massive boost in helping me realise my own potential.

What would you say to others considering entering an ITP Award? Did you find the process easy and what do your employers think of your success?

I would encourage anyone in considering entering to apply, the process itself is rewarding. We work in a fast paced industry so to take the time out to reflect on your accomplishments is invaluable in self-development. My employer has enjoyed celebrating my recognition and accomplishments. My development is just important to me as it is to them, I am given the tools to excel  and raise my career to the next level.

Carly is the winner of the ITP’s Women in Telecoms Award 2020.