Amie Pinder is navigating a “squiggly career”. It started in the early 2000s, following an accounting and finance degree, when she qualified as an internal auditor. But, in the past two decades, a natural curiosity about technology and cyber security has opened a series of new doors. She has branched out from consulting into telecoms and financial services; across all three lines of defence, into cyber security, technology audit and business partnering. She is now a director of technology resilience risk. Her journey has required an adventurous spirit and being “easily bored”, but, crucially, a belief that broad experience matters.
“Internal audit is a brilliant place to start a career because you work with so many different businesses,” she says. “It also prepares you to work in technology because you build an understanding of business processes; you can’t build a business with only technologists, you need bridges between the technology, the business, and its customers. I also like a challenge and initially thought technology was a black box. I thought, ‘let’s see what’s in the black box.’ If I don’t like it, at least I can say that I have tried it.”
In 2008, Amie’s adventurous spirit kicked in when she decided to leave the security of her consulting career and move into industry. She found a professional home in telecoms, starting in the audit department before gaining experience in technology security and risk. A series of mentors helped her bridge gaps in her knowledge and strengthen her sense of courage to try new things. Seven years later, when redundancy propelled her out of her comfort zone again, an opportunity in financial services beckoned. It was a move that would dramatically change her career.
She describes jumping into the “heart of technology”, working in fintech, banking, and now, on the public markets. In the past seven years, she has worked in technology audit, service operations and delivery, sitting in ‘war rooms’ to learn about the impact of, and response to, major technology failures. She’s worked with technology teams, commercial teams and customers, building her understanding of technology resilience – in case the worst should happen. It has been a fascinating journey. “I learn so much more when I do things that aren’t my speciality,” she says.
Amie now wants to use her experience to help other young women embrace a squiggly career path. When she looks back to her early twenties, it would have been good to know she had a range of options ahead. A tap on the shoulder to suggest a squiggly line was normal would have been reassuring; perhaps she would have seen others doing it, too. Amie also wants others to acknowledge that a breadth of experience is important in modern business, and vital for aspiring leaders.
Amie, what an inspiring story. What would you say to someone thinking about a squiggly career?
“What’s the worst that can happen? You get to meet such a diverse range of people and develop a diverse range of skills. In my business partnering role, for example, I met so many clever colleagues working in sales and technology. They taught me about business and the technology platforms themselves. Understanding both sides is helpful working in technology resilience because I can see things through a customer’s eyes, too. I also bring my experience of audit.”
How do you think broad experience helps people to progress?
“There is a huge difference between leaders who have stayed in their specialist area and those who have not. Leaders who have gained first-hand experience can appreciate the challenges different departments face, because they have experienced them. This helps them to empathise with others, which is crucial when gaining respect and making strategic decisions. Unfortunately, I see fewer leaders with this breadth of experience; there are many people with a single, vertical specialism.”
What’s it like being a woman navigating this type of career?
“Things are getting better. Before Covid-19 I used to go to industry conferences and there was never a queue for the women’s toilet. Now, we all know, wherever we go – the cinema, for example – there is always a queue. But that wasn’t the case at big work events. Recently, however, I have been to conferences and started to queue. This might not be a true representation of women working in the sector, but it’s nice to see. I have also met more women working in technology and cyber security in recent years.
“In terms of a squiggly career, women are good at seeing things from multiple points of view, which helps when linking areas of a business together. Male colleagues tend to be more logical about the solutions, so diversity of thought is important, especially in technology resilience. We need everyone’s voice. More broadly, I’m starting to have open conversations with friends about the gender pay gap and developing the confidence to talk about pay in a more transparent way. The BBC has published a useful tool about the pay gap in companies with more than 250 employees.”
Where will you go next in your career, and what’s your advice for others?
“I’ve stopped thinking about it because I don’t want to limit myself. At this point in my career, I don’t know where it’s going to go, and that’s fine. But like me, my best advice for others would be to be adventurous, even if you don’t feel like it. I still love audit, but I think it will be a long time before I decide to go back.”
iGROWW is Protiviti’s internal women’s network group and stands for ‘Initiative for Growth and Retention of Women at Work’. It has a strong voluntary membership that tackles women’s professional issues through forums and facilitates networking events and community service activities. For more information, please contact Rhianne Williams [email protected].