‘I went from physiotherapy to IT’ | information age

To mark International Women’s Day 2022, Information Age is releasing a special series, Women in IT Leadership. We talk to 15 women in various tech roles across Australia about how they got their start in the IT industry, their approach to leadership, and how to encourage more women to pursue careers in tech .

Today we speak with Alison O’Hare, ANZ Technical Director at Mimecast.

#iwd2022 #breakthebias


How to move from physiotherapist to cybersecurity? Just ask Alison O’Hare, ANZ Regional Technical Manager of Mimecast.

Prior to 2000, Alison was working as a physiotherapist in London when she became aware of the rise of the IT industry.

Although she enjoyed her work as a physiotherapist, she often felt that her days were always the same.

“Patients presented with similar problems, whether it was knee, ankle, shoulder or back pain, day after day. I had friends who worked in IT and there was excitement in that space, especially the hype around the new millennium.

Intuitively, she felt she would like to work in technology. She also drew parallels with both industries.

“At the clinic, I took care of patients all day to solve their problems. In IT, I would be dealing with an end user or customers trying to solve their problem. »

His first-hand experience in technology was at his clinic where some of the reinforcement machines were computer-connected. Working with these machines fascinated her.

Eventually, Alison took a leap of faith and left the clinic.

“That doesn’t mean it was easy or difficult. I didn’t have the knowledge I needed. I had to study again. I knew I couldn’t come in and learn on the job. Somehow I got lucky with the organizations I would end up working for.

“Plus, I got to know more people working in IT and loved the idea of ​​working in technology because it changes so quickly.”

Today, Alison has no regrets about giving up physiotherapy.

What she loves most about the industry is that IT is changing all the time.

“You work with people, whether they’re end users in a business or a customer, that you’re trying to help solve a problem. I like the problem solving aspect. Constant changes are what keep me in technology.

You have to start somewhere

For 14 years, Alison has worked for Mimecast. Initially, she started as Director of Service Delivery in the Boston office, before moving to Australia in 2012 as the business grew.

In her current role, Alison oversees the growth and development of Mimecast’s technical advisory and pre-sales professional services teams.

Daily challenges are what keep her focused and on her toes.

“You can never be comfortable; whether it’s innovation or change, nothing stands still, the playing field is constantly changing. Some days it’s like, ‘how can I stay on top of everything’, and that’s what drives me.

Feeling like an impostor was a challenge she faced early in her career.

“When I started, I didn’t think I had the depth in terms of understanding the industry and the breadth of the technology. This impostor syndrome appeared at different points in my career.

What made it happen was the multitude of avenues the IT industry offers.

“There are so many different areas you can grow in, from security to development. Depending on the type of person you are, the skills you have, and the amount of hands you want to practice, you can move in terms of focus and strengths.

Wasted time

His biggest frustration in the security field is that so much time and money is spent fixing problems caused by people or hackers.

“From cybersecurity to breaches, these are people who attack people at home or in businesses, and they make money! It is frustrating to waste a lot of time fixing these flaws, due to attacks made by individuals.

“It costs consumers and businesses millions of dollars to protect themselves. These attackers also try to ruin the reputation of organizations. »

As a mother of two young children, O’Hare is keen to help her children understand digital transformation in order to keep them safe.

“I talk to my kids all the time about protecting themselves online,” she adds. “Digital transformation is a good thing. We are all connected and you can do so much more because of it. It’s so exciting, but at the same time, it’s so dangerous because of it all. We all need to stay aware.

Leave a Reply