Liberty IT’s Patricia Meara: ‘STEM diversity starts in schools’

29 Jun 2018

Patricia Meara. Image: Liberty IT

This week on Leaders’ Insights, Patricia Meara of Liberty IT talks to us about people development, problem-solving and her early passion for computers.

Patricia Meara is technical capabilities manager at Liberty IT.

She has been with Liberty IT for more than two decades, previously holding the role of senior software engineer before moving into project management.

Meara earned her BSc in computer science and finance from the University of Stirling in 1994.

‘When I was at school, I found my passion for computer science and, as I was at an all-girls school, I had no one telling me it was a boy’s world, so I just went for it’

Describe your role and what you do.

I am a technical capabilities manager at Liberty IT. Here, I am responsible for the development of the people within the unit I am part of.

How do you prioritise and organise your working life?

Lots of lists! I feel a great deal of satisfaction when I can score things off the list as I complete them.

What are the biggest challenges facing your sector and how are you tackling them?

The biggest challenge for me is the reduced need for data centres, which is being replaced with the increased use of cloud. I work in the infrastructure area of the business and we have been focusing on reskilling our talented technical people in the DevOps mindset and learning the tools used in creating infrastructure as code.

What are the key sector opportunities you’re capitalising on?

Personally, I am capitalising on the need to focus on people development by working with people in our organisation to help them grow and hone both their technical and non-technical skills.

As I have been working for more than 15 years on the software development side of the house, I am enjoying being involved in infrastructure and ensuring that our industry is making the life of developers much easier.

What set you on the road to where you are now?

I love problem-solving. I started my career solving problems using code and now I am helping people solve problems through coaching and mentoring.

What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?

Early in my career, I was being eager and working on a Saturday and, instead of deleting a couple of files, I deleted the whole C drive. This included the database of information that was only available on one other computer. My first thought was to run and deal with it on Monday but I decided to call my manager instead and confess. Thankfully, he was very understanding and appreciated the opportunity to get it fixed before work on Monday morning. From this experience, I learned that is OK to make a mistake and ask for help to fix it.

How do you get the best out of your team?

Firstly, trust them. They are all talented individuals who are very able to do the job they are given. Secondly, listen to your team – and I mean really listen – so that you can understand their viewpoints and help them find ways to grow and develop. 

STEM sectors receive a lot of criticism for a lack of diversity. What are your thoughts on this and what’s needed to effect change?

I firmly believe this starts in schools. When I was at school, this is when I found my passion for computer science and, as I was at an all-girls school, I had no one telling me it was a boy’s world, so I just went for it.

Who is your role model and why?

Simon Sinek – I love his ideas on leadership.

“A leader’s job is not to do the work for others, it’s to help others figure out how to do it themselves, to get things done and to succeed beyond what they thought possible.”

What books have you read that you would recommend?

The Phoenix Project by Gene Kim, Kevin Behr and George Spafford. It’s a novel about IT and DevOps and it really helped kick-start my interest in the infrastructure world.

What are the essential tools and resources that get you through the working week?

My notebooks, email and many cups of tea!

Want stories like this and more direct to your inbox? Sign up for Tech Trends, Silicon Republic’s weekly digest of need-to-know tech news.