This blog is part of our on-going Women in Technology series.
Ciara O’Sullivan is a Review Manager based in London, here at Consilio. Ciara earned her bachelor’s in law from the University College Cork and qualified as a solicitor in Ireland.
Initially, Ciara worked in private practice for almost eight years, then moved to the UK and worked in-house doing litigation. After working on several document review matters, Ciara joined Consilio permanently in 2017. To Ciara, the most exciting part about Consilio is the ability to work with a diverse range of people from all over the world.
What pivotal moments in your career helped to get you to where you are today?
Moving between Ireland and the UK was definitely a big moment for me. I was working in a relatively small town in a small legal practice. At the time, I thought to myself that I did not want to be doing the same thing day-in and day-out for the rest of my life, so I took the plunge, and it changed my life completely. If I hadn’t taken that leap, I would not have ended up where I am now.
What has been your experience with mentors during your career?
I have found mentors at various stages throughout my career who have been both male and female. However, when I started my career, there were fewer women than there are now in litigation. At the time, certain areas of legal were considered more “family-friendly” or a more practical choice for women.
There was a woman I worked with who was fantastic. We were the only two female lawyers working as litigators locally, and she always looked out for me. She frequently encouraged me to use my voice and make sure I was being heard.
Did you ever notice a time where your gender was an apparent obstacle?
Like I mentioned before, some aspects of legal were considered more “family-friendly” than others. When I was in law school, it was almost an expectation for women to switch career paths to a “non-contentious” area of law.
When I was a litigator, I very much felt like a part of the minority as a woman. As the male-dominated environment could be intimidating at times, my approach with confidence was to fake it ‘til you make it.
What is your advice for someone who is working in this type of male-dominated setting?
Be brave and understand that your opinions and thoughts are worth just as much as anyone else’s. Do not be afraid to speak up for yourself, even though it can be difficult.
Seek support from your colleagues that have been there for longer than you have – they have been through much of what you are going through.
What do you think organizations could do to motivate more women to pursue careers in technology?
Speaking to girls at a young age would be a good start — going into schools when it is time to start picking classes and deciding on a career path. Showing girls in STEM that this is a worthwhile career path and that absolutely nothing is stopping you if it is what you’re interested in.
If someone had told me ten years ago, this is where I would be today, discussing my role as a woman in technology, I would have been astonished. I had always been interested in scientific subjects, but it’s helpful to have had encouragement to go in this direction.