Supporting role: Sunderland Software City

October 2, 2019

Naomi Hutchinson, Digital Catapult North East Tees Valley lead at Sunderland Software City, is working with programme engagement manager Sophie Craggs to support her growth in the role and strengthen her understanding of the region’s manufacturing and technology sectors

Naomi Hutchinson

Sophie reached out to me a few months before we had a live vacancy as she was interested in getting into the sector. I advised her to research around the key organisations locally and to start attending some of the main events in the region. I was really impressed with how she followed up on my advice. So, when she applied for the role here, I was excited to see what she was capable of during the interview process.

I wanted to understand what her drivers were long-term, so I could help her shape the role into something she would really enjoy and be proud of. Doing a development plan also gave me guidance as to the things we could put in place as an organisation, and the things I could do to support her career aspirations.

I hope I have helped with building Sophie’s confidence in a professional role and helped her understand there are no stupid questions and how to manage people effectively.

I know how daunting it can be as a young female in a male-dominated sector like tech, especially when we are then asking Sophie to engage with the manufacturing sector as well. I hope I’ve given her the confidence to rise to the challenges she faces.

Sophie is a very creative person and her skills are invaluable to the team. She also challenges me on a regular basis around our approach to delivering support.

Sophie Craggs

After finishing my MA and working overseas, I knew I wanted a job that would let me work on a variety of projects.

It’s my job to make sure we’re known and trusted within our focus sectors, specifically manufacturing. My primary role is to support manufacturers in adopting advanced technologies, which can help them future-proof and remain competitive. We have a variety of programmes to achieve this.

The biggest challenge for me was understanding the manufacturing sector and how best to engage with it. I’ve had to work hard to get business leaders to trust I can help them.

Naomi initially introduced me to her contacts, which was really useful to understand the landscape I was coming into. She also gave me time to attend as many events as possible. Her encouragement to continue learning has been key to my development over the past year.

We get on really well, so I’ve found it easy to approach her whenever I have a question or want her opinion. We do have formal chats, where we catch up on projects, and I find having the mix of both styles really useful.

Being a young female in a predominantly male-led industry is always going to have some challenges, and Naomi has definitely helped me navigate through this by sharing her own experiences.

It’s probably been interesting for Naomi to mentor someone so close in age, but I hope our different experiences have added a new way of looking at the work we do.

Sunderland Software City