Today we’re celebrating International Women’s Day. To kick us off we’re putting the spotlight on one of the many fantastic women that are an integral part of our team
In this interview, Sian Holtzhuizen, Conosco’s Group Service Delivery Team Lead shares her personal growth journey as well as her experience as a woman in tech and as a mother leading a team whilst working remotely.
Sian, what is your role at Conosco?
My role at Conosco is to lead the Group Service Delivery Team (GSDT) – assisting clients with operational support and driving internal process change to ensure we deliver quality services efficiently. I am also extremely passionate about making a difference in others’ lives and I am proud to lead our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) function.
I’ve been at Conosco for two years and it has been nothing short of an amazing experience. My growth journey has been fast-paced and I have exceeded my own expectations in a very short space of time.
Tell us about the start of your career? Where did it all begin?
I started my career in the corporate world a little later on in life at the age of 28, following a life-changing experience. I had the ambition and drive to become independent and successful, but I could never have been prepared for how quickly my career would take off.
My first position following this change in my life was contracting as a PA for a large FMCG organisation. I worked long hours willingly and had a thirst for knowledge. At the time I was a mum to four children and had another on the way. I needed to provide for my family and I was overjoyed to quickly be offered a full-time position.
I never realised how much I would love my career choice. In 2017 I was offered a change of course and moved to a Customer Service Representative role. Now as a mum of six children aged between 1 and 14 years old, I was uncertain of how successful I could be whilst juggling a career and a family.
However, I took on the role and thrived. My passion is people and I built amazing relationships with my customers. I took pride in my job, and my colleagues and I were very close. I was lucky to have the support of my family and this allowed me to climb the corporate ladder and push as hard as I could.
What was it like joining Conosco and moving into the tech industry?
In 2019, I was offered the role of Senior Service Desk Analyst at Conosco. It was a completely new role in an entirely different industry. I was in my early thirties and I had been with an amazing international company for five years but I felt it was time for a new challenge.
Embracing change can be unnerving, when I started at Conosco I was apprehensive about the technology industry. Two years on and I have found it to be an extremely rewarding career path. I feel passionately that more needs to be done to encourage women into the industry given that women only account for 22% of employees in UK IT companies.
Technology is a rapidly evolving market. There are so many different specialisms and skills to explore – the opportunities are endless. One of the great things about working at Conosco is that they support employees’ continuous development and encourage us all to keep our knowledge fresh by taking courses and seeking accreditation where possible.
What support did you get in your new role?
It was quite intimidating during my early days with Conosco, there were so many new portals and customer service tools to navigate and I wondered if I would ever grasp all of these concepts. I kept asking questions about the processes and at times doubted whether I was the right choice for the position.
My manager, Laura Gleeson, assured me that she had no doubt in my capabilities and this only drove me to strive for success. To have someone believe in you is truly special.
What’s more, I was surrounded by compassionate and supportive colleagues and I immediately felt accepted as part of the team. I loved my new work environment and company culture.
How important is great leadership?
I have been lucky enough to have had two outstanding female leaders, one in my previous role and one here at Conosco. Both of these strong women have mentored me and taken me out of my comfort zone. Their processes, leadership style and belief in me has set me on this amazing path. You cannot underestimate the power of having great leadership to aspire to.
It has long been a goal of mine to build my own team and guide them in the same way. To pass on knowledge and to support people in their growth and career progression – that is true leadership.
Two years on, I am now Group Service Delivery Team Lead and CSR Officer for South Africa 😊.
What has it been like working remotely?
Working remotely since March 2020, whilst it has had its challenges, has enabled me to connect with my colleagues in a different way and has brought me even closer to my team.
We have regular company-wide meetings that bring together the UK and South African offices and we encourage open and transparent communication. During what has been a difficult time for many, protecting employee mental health has been extremely important. By hosting regular monthly quizzes and running well-being initiatives Conosco has successfully maintained its core values and team ethic.
I often have regular 1-2-1 meetings with my team as well as members from different departments and I welcome some friendly banter here and there. We are all on our own journey and I love hearing about each and every one of my colleagues’ experiences and what their future aspirations are.
How do you manage motherhood alongside remote working?
I have, on occasion, had an internal Microsoft Teams call interrupted by one of my younger children walking into my workroom to hug me or to show me something beautiful that they have just created. In the beginning, I deemed this unprofessional but I have since realised that so many of us across the globe are in a similar position and this is not something to feel unsettled about.
I have unending support from Conosco. They understand the importance of family and the need to cherish relationships with your loved ones. After watching me working from home and seeing how much I love my position and I appreciate my colleagues, my eldest daughter has now decided to study Computer Application Technology as one of her subject choices. I am so proud of her as this is something she had never considered before I joined Conosco. You lead by example both at work and at home.
Balance is extremely important to me, and my children remind me not to burn myself out. I am blessed beyond belief to have a great work-life balance.
What advice would you give to others working from home?
Working remotely does not have to feel remote – schedule daily lunch calls, build connections, keep on pushing forward, work hard, find your work-life balance, live it and preach it, ensure a great support structure at home to enable you to continue on your journey, surround yourself with strong and successful peers, their experiences are all different and their stories are inspirational. If you need someone to listen to you, there are always people to turn to. You are not in this alone.
As a full-time working mother of six, I am appreciated, I am valued and I am able to flourish as a career woman. It has taken me many years to reach this point in my life and I am excited about the path I am on.
What’s next in your career?
The tech industry is constantly growing and so am I in my role, every day. I have an amazing team that I work with daily and colleagues from other departments who are willing to take time out of their day to share their knowledge with me and to assist in my upskilling, providing me with feedback and sharing ideas.
You are never too old to learn, having just recently achieved my ITIL Foundation 4 Certification, I am already planning to complete the ITIL Practitioner Certification before the end of 2021.