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Home » Women in business » Our advice to any woman thinking of a STEM career? Go for it!

Catherine O’Sullivan

Operations Director, Fidelity Investments

Emer Guinane

Senior Software Engineer, Fidelity Investments

Mary McMahon

Scrum Master, Fidelity Investments

Three women working for a financial services corporation reveal the very different routes they took into their STEM careers and why it’s such an exciting sector to be part of.

Catherine O’Sullivan, Emer Guinane and Mary McMahon work in three very different functions at financial services corporation Fidelity Investments. They do, however, have much in common. They enjoy their jobs, relish a challenge, love an opportunity and have a simple but powerful message for any woman thinking about a career in STEM — go for it. 

Working in a diverse financial operations team 

O’Sullivan joined the finance corporation 13 years ago. She has experience across the technology side and the operations side of the business. Currently an operations director, she loves her working environment. “We have a strong cultural community within Fidelity Ireland,” she says. “We’re an international team, too, working closely with our colleagues in the US, India and China. I enjoy getting to know people from different countries and building a broader network.” 

She also appreciates the opportunities that are available to all employees, wherever they are in the business. “Every one of us is strongly encouraged to develop our skillsets, build on our knowledge and learn things that could potentially set us up for success in our next role,” says O’Sullivan. “Leaning into that kind of possibility is just fantastic.” 

Opportunities are growing all the time with regard to
internships and apprenticeships. Take advantage of
them because they’re a fantastic way to transition.

Mary McMahon

Graduate training and flexible working opportunities 

Guinane, Senior Software Engineer, agrees. Her STEM career started by accident rather than design, but she insists that she wouldn’t change a thing. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” she admits. “Then I studied an arts degree, and part of it included IT, which I enjoyed.”

After taking a Master’s in Software Design and Development, she joined Fidelity Investments’ graduate programme, LEAP, in 2016. “I was new to the world of work, so it was nice to be joining with 25 or 30 other graduates,” she says. “We trained for six months as a group before being placed in different parts of the business. It was a smooth transition.” 

Like O’Sullivan, Guinane is a people person. “It’s why I joined the LEAP alumni group,” she says. “But there are lots of different communities and organisations within the company for colleagues to get involved with. That’s been a big plus for me.” Flexible working has been another. “A mix of home and office working is available to us,” notes

Advantages of support, training and mentorship 

If anyone knows the importance of flexibility, it’s Mary McMahon. She studied software engineering and a BSc in computer science, finding roles with companies in the financial services sector and the telecoms industry. “I had two sets of twins within 24 months,” she says. “It was hard work.” 

After some time off, McMahon retrained and spent 11 years as a primary school teacher. “I had a passion for the technology sector, so it was always my plan to go back,” she explains. “I did some upskilling during the pandemic, reached out to my former tech network and joined as a Scrum Master three years ago, coordinating teams to deliver effectively.” 

For women thinking about changing to a STEM career, McMahon advises: “Opportunities are growing all the time with regard to internships and apprenticeships. Take advantage of them because they’re a fantastic way to transition.”

She’s certainly savoured her return to the industry. “For me, the most enjoyable aspect has been the encouragement I’ve had,” reveals McMahon. “The support and training I’ve received has been phenomenal, so this a great sector for career-changers. For younger women just starting, I’d say: ‘Believe in yourself. Find a mentor who can help build your confidence — and take the opportunities on offer.” 

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