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It’s time of open our minds to new ideas when it comes to diversity and inclusion in tech – Amber Villegas-Williamson, Technical Consultant at Uptime Institute

Amber-Villegas-Williamson - Uptime Institute

Amber Villegas-Williamson, is a technical consultant at Uptime Institute, an unbiased advisory organisation focused on improving the performance, efficiency, and reliability of business-critical infrastructure through innovation, collaboration, and independent certifications. Prior to this, Amber held roles at Eaton, Vertiv and Schneider Electric. Amber studied electrical and electronic engineering at the University of South Wales and she is a passionate STEM ambassador for STEM Learning UK, The WISE Campaign, The Big Bang Fair, the Women’s Engineering Society and the IET.

Amber Villegas Williamson - Uptime Institute
Amber Villegas-Williamson – image © Liz Drake Photography

Amber was an attendee at the inaugural Womanthology Diversity Thought Leaders’ event at Warwick Business School in The Shard on 20th November 2017.

Electronics pioneer

When I was in secondary school, I had a great science teacher, Mr Everett, who suggested I take electronics for A-level as it was a new one that they were trailing with distance learning. (I can hear the modem dial up just thinking about it…)

Apologies for my Americanisms. I now work for a US-based company (Uptime Institute) so I have developed many ‘Americanisms’ in fulfilling my role as a technical consultant.

Stepping back to see the bigger picture

My role involves reviewing documentation packages for our ‘Tier Certification’ programme to identify issues that may impact a Data Centers’ resilience. This enables our clients to have a completely independent set of eyes looking at a Data Center design. We all know what it’s like when you’re close to a project, sometimes it’s difficult to take a step back to see the bigger picture and perhaps spot something you wouldn’t have noticed prior.

My role also includes visiting sites (which can be anywhere in the world) and acting as a witness as our Data Center team conduct various business continuity demonstrations from a set of demonstrations I’ve written to make sure that the issues identified in the findings from the documentation package have been addressed.

Keeping the Internet running

Many of the conversations I’ve had, particularly in the past year, have been about the skills gap for the data centre sector as we are an aging population and worst still, people don’t really know we exist. People have heard the buzz words such as ‘Internet’, ‘cloud’ and ‘streaming’ but few people understand the physical infrastructure required to support all of their data.

We are also keen to encourage more young people to pursue a career in engineering, so we can train the next generation to basically keep the Internet and the applications we use on daily basis running.

Attending the Womanthology Diversity Thought Leaders’ event

I’m a STEM Ambassador, Big Bang Competition Judge, WISE Campaign supporter, member of WES and The IET (wow … I didn’t think there were that many!) so obviously an active participant in promoting what we do as engineers, so when the Womanthology Diversity Thought Leaders event, which happened on 20th November, popped up in my LinkedIn feed, I thought that it sounded interesting and a great way to meet with like-minded individuals.

My absolute favourite part was the expert panel (although shout out to Fatima Benkhaled, an Amazon Women in Innovation Bursary recipient, for her enthusiasm – now we just need to find a way to bottle it. #BetterThanCoffee).

Back to the panel, employment lawyer, Kevin Poulter, stated that at the moment ‘shared’ parental leave currently means that both parents have to divide the time off work which effectively means that one parent ‘takes’ from the other and that what we really need is equal parental leave for both.

“If the system doesn’t work, change it.”

I thought this was an interesting insight as it is a bias which currently exists and only by changing the system can we see REAL results. Which leads me effortlessly onto Mark Lomas and his very clear message: “If the system doesn’t work, change it.” The figures he gave for recruitment and diversity at HS2 was quite simply incredible and just goes to show easy it is to remove systematically ingrained unconscious bias by changing the system they previously used in recruitment.

Dr. Chengwei Liu introduced me to a novel concept of “Nudge”, a way of getting people to do and behave differently by subtle suggestion. My favourite example given was that a cleaning team noticed significantly less ‘spillage’ when a small imagine of a fly was etched into the urinals at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. The idea behind it was that the majority of users would adjust their aim to target the fly, hence the subtle “nudge” to corrective behaviour.

Time to open your mind

I think it’s also important for people to understand that it’s in everyone’s best interests to support and encourage the next generation, and only by doing so together will we facilitate change. By exploring new ways of innovating in the diversity space I believe we can speed up progress towards gender balance in the workplace. It doesn’t have to take generations. We can all make a difference by opening our minds now.

I’m looking forward to the next event in 2018.







Diversity Thought Leaders issue

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