Former soldier Natasha leads the way for aspiring female engineers
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As KCOM’s newest Cisco qualified engineer, Rachael Taylor has found a company and career that’s helping to fulfil her potential
When Rachael Taylor was little her dad sat her down in front of the computer and said “this is the future”.
It was a lesson that young Rachael took to heart and admits she’s been a “bit of a tech geek” ever since.
“I grew up with computers around me,” she says. “My dad was ‘come on now Rachael this is the stuff you need to know about. This is the way the world’s going. This is the future.’
“I remember our first computer was a VIC-20 – remember them?” she says. “And then we upgraded to a Spectrum 128+2 – which was the one with the tape recorder stuck on the side. I was a bit jealous of my neighbour who had a Commodore 64.
“It seems a long time ago now. Computers have moved on a bit, but I’ve always been interested in tech since those days.”
Thirty years on and Rachael’s career has brought her full circle – back at the cutting edge of technology as a KCOM infrastructure engineer.
Specialising in routing and switching, Rachael is part of what she calls the “engine room” of the business, making sure the internet is always performing perfectly for customers across Hull and East Yorkshire.
And now, four years after joining the company, she is celebrating becoming a fully qualified Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) – KCOM’s first female engineer in Hull to do so.
“I’m delighted. It took five exams and a lot of studying but it’s a really big achievement for me and it feels like all the hard work’s paid off,” she says.
Liverpool-born Rachael followed a varied career path before joining KCOM. As well as working her way up from stacking shelves to organising supply chains for a major supermarket chain, she also spent time as a call centre operative in Hull, eventually becoming a quality control supervisor.
But it is at KCOM that she believes she’s rediscovered her true vocation.
“I knew nothing about Cisco when I started here but I’ve been helped all along the way. My boss saw the potential in me and I was given a massive opportunity to learn new skills within the company. I’ve definitely grown as a person.
“They could have got someone else who already had the qualifications to do what I do. But they had faith in me and helped me grow within the business – and I think that’s great. That’s benefitted me and the company.”
As the only female infrastructure engineer in her department, Rachael says she doesn’t want to be seen as the poster girl for women in technology – just as a good engineer who gets her hands dirty installing new servers, fitting racks and running cables like the rest of the team.
“I think I’ve earned the respect for being good at my job the same as everyone else in my team – and I get treated the same as everyone else,” she says.
“I don’t really want to be seen as “the woman in the department”- just recognised for being a good engineer. Getting the CCNP accreditation is a great achievement whether you’re a man or a woman.
“But if I can help any young girls see that jobs like mine are available then I’m happy if I can inspire them to go for it - because there are good companies and great careers out there for them.”
Tim Shaw, KCOM’s Chief Technology Officer, said Rachael’s achievement, which included scoring 100 per cent on her final CCNP exam, is inspirational.
He said: “Rachael is a brilliant team member and I’m absolutely delighted for her that she’s reached her CCNP qualification after a lot of hard work.
“Her achievement shows that technology roles aren’t just ‘jobs for boys’ and KCOM is determined to recruit more women in this part of the business going forward. By recruiting and nurturing talented people within the company – both men and women – KCOM is building a highly skilled workforce ready to make the business a success for decades to come.”
For details of the technology roles available at KCOM now visit https://www.kcomcareers.com/jobs