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Riona | from Graduate to Senior Manager

Book open Reading time: 5 mins

We spoke with Riona Fitzpatrick, Senior Manager within the Solutions Experience team, to discover a bit more about her role and area, how she’s got to where she is today, and her passion about D&I.

How long have you been at BT and what do you do?

I started as a software engineer in BT Belfast office back in 1999 on a one-year placement, then came back to BT in 2001 as a graduate. I’ve been in BT ever since in a range of roles from Software Development and Test to Business Management, Contract Management, Business Operations – then drawn back to a technology role as a Programme Director, and a range of roles, right up to my current role working in Solution Experience.  I’ve had many opportunities to work directly with customers, for example on our Global Transformation, co-creating solutions, and learning about their experience with BT. The visit to one of our mining clients in South Africa stands out as a highlight! I’ve also travelled to many of our BT operational service centres and development centres in places like India. For me, BT has been a household name for as long as I remember - my father started in BT in 1969, my father-in-law in 1971, and even my grandfather worked in BT (or the GPO as it was before) starting in the 1940s so I’m proud to keep that legacy alive. I grew up seeing the yellow BT engineer vans, talk of Buzby, and remember the TV adverts ‘It’s good to talk’ – a mantra I still live by!

You work in our Global unit but with a crossover with our Digital function. What’s exciting about working in Digital?

Global is the part of BT that serves global multinational organisations around the world with our security, cloud, and networking services. We have talented people all over the world – it is such a diverse team with so many skills and so much experience working with customers and technology. Over 90 of the world’s Top 100 banks, 45 of the top 50 insurance companies are our customers, c.95% of the world FTSE companies work with us - the list goes on! The sheer scale, coverage, and range of solutions we offer is so impressive everything from Digital Work Solutions to Security and Connectivity. Global Portfolio and Digital is at the heart of Global, but also aligned with Digital. Working in Digital means you’re focussed on both our customers and our colleagues – we’re innovators, thinkers as well as doers, and we get to be involved in the end-to-end experience from so many angles. I love how I get to connect people and be connected to people from so many angles in BT – digital, technology, operations – sales, service, billing, and be part of the latest innovations – the list goes on!  

What impact does your work have in the business and/or customers?

In the Global part of BT that I work, we serve customers in many vertical industries across the world, in fact in over 180 countries. Some people work in sales, others in service and operations, others are product management, and designers or engineers – in my role we get to work with so many different people – it really is an exciting place to work, and it is the power of the collective group and the collaboration that enables us to deliver for customers.  In my current role leading Solution Experience in Global Portfolio & Digital I have a fantastic team dispersed across the UK, Hungary, Germany, and India. At one point last year I had someone in my team with nearly 52 years’ experience and another with just over a year of experience in BT. My team work with colleagues from across BT and with large multinational customers on Digital Transformation and projects driving improvements to our existing solution experience, and influence the design and launch of new solutions. A lot of what my team is involved in is a real collaboration with people in BT and working with partners and suppliers with so many different skills and experiences.

What’s your favourite project you’ve ever worked on?

In the Digital Work area, a project that stands out is working on One Cloud Cisco – I was working with Product, Design, Operations to drive improvements in the experience. This project involved many things like running bootcamps for people all over the world and visiting customers like one mining client in South Africa – and going down into a coal mine and around their sites!

Have you ever won an award?

Most recently (July 2021) I was awarded the Customer Experience World Games (CXWG) Star Player award and our team that I was honoured to be Vice Captain for won the overall competition. It was such a rewarding way to enhance my customer and user experience skills, working with a globally dispersed team of professionals, academics and practitioners to solve challenges presented by 5 charities around the world. You can find out about the CXWG via The Customer Experience World Games - Limetropy or reach out to me about it via LinkedIn. Last year via BT sponsorship I completed the Harvard Business “Leading Through Change Talent Programme” – I’m a believer in continuous learning so it was a great opportunity to go through the course with colleagues from across BT.

Women in Tech has been a topic of discussion in the last few years. Why do you think it’s important to have more women in technology and what is BT’s role to foment that?

I think including people from different backgrounds, cultures, and generations, as well as having gender balance, matters in business and in Technology. Our award winning TechWomen Programme connected female talent with others helping us to build a network of support and advocates, and also include lots of personal development and training around topics like personal brand, imposter syndrome. The TechWomen programme, which I feel very proud to have completed and be a sponsor of, has now in 2021 become part of a wider series of Talent Development initiatives inside BT focussing on the wider talent pool. I still see alumni from TechWomen supporting each other and being ambassadors for attracting new talent into BT and into STEM careers, for example going out to their local schools. I personally feel passionate about supporting the STEM agenda, for example I volunteer at our BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE) regularly and have been a BareFoot ambassador, going out to introduce primary schools to Technology. BT has also partnered with Code First Girls to help close the UK gender skills gap. It makes me so proud to see so much going on in this area across BT here in the UK and in other parts of the world like India. There is lots going on, but still more to do in this space – I think the more people who get involved, share their experiences, encourage others to get involved, the faster we’ll make progress in getting more balance!