Before beginning her career in technology Lisa Miks, now a Product Manager at MYOB, started off studying a Diploma in Business, majoring in IT at TAFE. Her intention was to become a network administrator.
“I sort of got more into the hardware side when I first started,” says Miks. “I basically attempted to get into that network admin/hardware side and the only job that I could find was working for the equivalent of Gateway Computers. So I took on a sales job purely selling computers through a chain called IPC.”
Realising pretty quickly that it wasn’t exactly what she wanted to do, she approached the company’s financial controller and discussed with him her desire to work in network administration. Soon after, an opening came up for a network admin to join their head office and Miks took a junior role, working her way up within the company from there.
At that job Miks was introduced to a company called Solutions Six, a much bigger company which she later joined. Upon joining Solution Six, Miks was working with a team of guys that were part engineers and part software people providing support to clients. From there she moved into the development environment as a product specialist, dealing mostly with the technology aspects of the products that Solution Six was selling.
Miks says she was the first woman in the systems team when she joined Solutions Six.
“When I joined Solution Six it was obviously a tech company and there were a lot of people in there,” says Miks. “When I got introduced to the other support teams, those teams all had girls in them. I was the first girl to join in the systems team. Some people there were literally like, ‘oh you’re the girl in tech – good luck with that.’ I was literally the first girl they’d had join the team and it made me feel a little like I was joining a zoo. So I was slightly intimidated on my first day, I was like, ‘Oh my god, I came from this safe little company and now I’ve joined a bigger one but I’m going to be eaten alive.'”
MYOB and Solution Six merged some years later. Miks has had a number of technology based roles over the years, having moved into product management. Miks told Startup Daily that over the years she has noticed a real difference when it comes to diversity in the tech space.
“It is still very much male dominated. But there are a few women starting to come through,” says Miks. “From a development perspective, there are many more women coming through than what there were even two, three years ago. So I look around at our team now, there’s a good mix of females in the team that are actually developers, not just a QA or a BA.”
Miks is very adamant that education is the key to getting more women into technology-based careers, particularly when it comes to roles outside of traditional development and coding.
“I think education is key. Before I began my current role I didn’t really understand what a product manager did,” says Miks. “When I speak to people I think people just really have no idea what goes on in your day to day whereas with a developer they go, ‘okay, they code, that’s their primary function.’ They might not understand all the details, such as what goes around coding, but they can almost imagine what that person’s day is like.”
“Whereas with a product manager, and I can understand why it’s the case – we do such a lot of varied things. When you speak to different product managers, there are those that are very much market focused and are almost product marketers. Then there are some that are really technically focused, like myself. Though education is critical, finding really good courses or training around product management in Australia is really, really difficult.”
Being a product manager for MYOB in the technology side of the business, Miks says that her favourite thing about her role is that she gets to deal with such a variety of people on a daily basis. Her role consists of communicating technically with the engineering and development teams all the way through to having different level conversations with the product marketing teams.
“I think for me, it’s probably around the opportunities I get to effectively work on different and interesting products,” says Miks. “The opportunity to move around to different departments as well and just try out different things that are sort of related but sort of not. That is the best thing about working here, there is opportunity and no limit to what you could do.”
Featured image: Lisa Miks
This post was bought to you by MYOB. Accounting software for people who love what they do.