Being a Woman Working in a Male-Dominated Industry – TubbTalk #27

TubbTalk #27 - Melissa Saar

Richard speaks with Melissa Saar, Partner Success Manager at IT Glue, a SaaS-based documentation platform.

An Interview with Melissa Saar

TubbTalk #27 - Melissa SaarWho is IT Glue?

Melissa is the Partner Success Manager at IT Glue, a cloud-based documentation platform with a focus on SaaS (Software as a Service). They help companies with storing best practices, standard operating procedures and other documents in one place. They also integrate with other vendors so everything is managed through one platform. 

How did Melissa get Started in the Industry?

Melissa says she was always interested in technology and did things like pulling her laptop apart to see if she could fix it herself. Her fascination with the field drew her in, and she wanted to be a woman who could do IT as well.

Her first role was as a service desk apprentice at an MSP (managed service provider) in Guildford. It took her 14 months, and Melissa admits she finished it a bit earlier because she was so keen to progress in the service desk role.

Her Early Challenges

Melissa says it was a bit scary starting in a male-dominated industry, especially as she was only 19. She found it different from what she was used to because her previous experience was in retail, which is more mixed.

She says that she always had a feeling that she wanted to do the job as well as anyone else, and when she found things she wasn’t sure of, she would research the problem first without asking, spending most of her evenings on finding an answer to help resolve the issue, either partly or fully.

How her Career Progressed

After completing her apprenticeship, Melissa spent a year as a service desk engineer, which allowed her to work on more advanced tickets and go onsite to help customers and have more hands-on experience.

A typical day involved doing backups, a process which could be quite time-consuming if customers used tapes. Then she worked through tickets from the previous day before starting on those that had come in earlier. Melissa also spent a lot of time on research and learning more.

She then moved to a construction company, into a pure service desk role, but she wasn’t able to work on the bigger tickets in the way she wanted. Looking for more hands-on experience with technical issues she went to a communication company, before going back to her first employer.

Being a Service Desk Manager

Melissa spent another 11 months as a service desk engineer before being promoted to Manager, a role she held for three years. She was only 23 when she took the job and enjoyed the opportunity to take a step up and be challenged.

Melissa admits she had to learn a lot about managing and develop new skills, and the main challenge was getting used to people’s management style preferences as not everyone wants to be managed in the same way. She did a management training course and was able to apply a lot of what she’d learned in a practical way.

She went from being a service desk engineer to managing her friends and former teammates, but she says that the good relationships she’d built with her colleagues meant that they respected her and did what she asked.

What Advice Would She Give her Younger Self?

If she could speak to her 19-year-old self, Melissa says she would tell herself to be more confident, which was something she struggled with at the beginning and to know that she could do the role just as well as a man.

Be more confident, just go for it and know that as a woman you can do the role just as well as a man' Melissa Saar of @ITGlue Click to Tweet

She’d encourage herself to: “just go for it because if you don’t try you don’t know.” She wasn’t sure if she’d fit in or be able to do the job, which worried her at first, but her eagerness and determination meant she made a success of the opportunities she was given.

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Interview Transcript

TubbTalk 27 with Melissa Saar and Richard Tubb

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