Women should look at careers in IT, says HBP Systems' MD

By HBP Systems Ltd | Posted: 22 Feb 2018

Jo Dixon, the internet, and specialist IT company HBP Systems have grown up together over the last 25 years – building the platform of technology which allows more than 600 Humber region companies do business worth £13bn a year.

Although the firm was less than a year old when Jo joined it as a YTS trainee in 1992, the lion’s share of its growth has happened in the last decade – the time she’s been its MD.

Turnover at the company, which has offices in Scunthorpe and Hull, has climbed to a record high of £5m. Mum-of-three Jo said: “It’s been a decade of significant change; a decade in which we have transformed our business by transforming businesses for others, making ourselves the ‘go-to’ IT systems and software specialist in the region.”

Jo says the pace of change forced on businesses keeps accelerating. “We’ve all grown so used to a ‘connected’ world we can easily forget what it was like 10 years ago, never mind 25. When I joined the company, the internet had been publicly accessible for only a year, and Google didn’t exist; that didn’t come onto the scene for five more years. Since I’ve been MD we’ve seen the birth of the iPhone and the iPad; we’ve moved from Windows Vista to Windows 10; and we’ve proved our reputation for working to the highest standards by earning partner status from major software suppliers including Microsoft, Sage and Sophos.”

The next big change the IT industry needs is to have more women working in it, says Jo. “Not only are we working against a stereotype that the IT industry is geeky and full of nerds – which is down to the media’s perception of us – but schools don’t spend enough time teaching the subject,” she said. “I have three children under 10, and they spend less than an hour a week on computers. Considering how important IT is in every aspect of modern life, I believe that’s an imbalance that needs to be addressed. Modern IT is about thinking differently, about problem solving, and about using computers to make life easier and better for everyone. That’s the kind of thing which should appeal to girls and young women, and encourage them consider a career in this industry.

“The media tends to portray the IT industry as geeky, and as a result that’s what the wider public believes too. But it’s not like that. It’s a cool industry. On a cool scale of 1-10 I’d rate myself at about 8.5 – though my kids might tell you otherwise, and I’m the MD of an IT company…”

HBP Systems is working towards securing a place on the Sunday Times list of the top 100 companies to work for. “We have put measures in place to start us on that journey, and I have no doubt that we’ll move closer to it in the months ahead. The things we’re doing will appeal to women looking to build a career, and that makes us a very different IT company,” she added.

“IT provides the machinery that makes modern business possible in the form we know it. I grew up in Hull, and I have a huge affection for the Humber region. My HBP Systems colleagues and I want to do everything in our power to help the region make the largest possible contribution to the UK economy.”

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