CGI partner Gemma Hancock’s passion for maths kicked off her interest in a STEM career and now, a year into the graduate program at CGI, she couldn’t be happier to have taken her career in this direction! 

November 2023

My love of STEM started at secondary school. I always had a natural mathematical ability and was selected to be part of a maths mentoring program through the UK mathematical challenge. This showed me how broadly maths can be applied outside the classroom, even in some of the most seemingly unrelated areas. It was fascinating.

When I graduated with a degree in Mathematics with Computer Science and a postgrad in the Mathematics of Cryptography and Communications, I was drawn to CGI’s technical graduate role. I wasn’t sure what career route I wanted to go down yet, but I loved the work CGI did and felt it could open the door to many possible paths.

I also loved CGI’s community outreach initiatives. I’m always keen to volunteer for social causes and help ignite other young peoples’ passion for STEM. I could see that both through their work and CSR activities, CGI is making a difference on a global scale. I was excited to be able to be a part of that.

I’m amazed how much I’ve developed already

I’ve really enjoyed my first year at CGI. I have learned a lot about a broad range of topics and been able to delve deeper into those I find particularly interesting.

Interestingly, I’ve learned that a career in STEM doesn’t have to begin with any real technical experience. I came into this role with very little relevant background knowledge, but my determination and drive to learn has made my first year so successful. CGI provides everything you need to develop your career – all you need to do is take it all in!

I’ve already created a strong technical foundation I’m excited to build on. In just a year, I’ve gone from having no development experience to working towards becoming a full-stack developer.

In addition, I’ve been involved in many activities outside of my regular project, including some great events at a local high school. One was a careers fair I attended with several of my female colleagues from our CGI ‘Sisters in STEM’ project. We spoke to a wide range of students to introduce them to CGI’s work and the multitude of career opportunities available in STEM. The other was a workshop at the same school for year nine students, about CGI’s exciting work with the European Space Agency. I think we inspired a lot of young minds that day!

A great mentor has made all the difference

One of the best parts of my first year has been my incredible mentor, Elise. All of my colleagues have been extremely supportive of both my professional and personal development, but Elise has really taken me under her wing. She has taught me so much about technical topics, as well as general workplace and transferable skills.

From learning about the flow of a piece of work and how to approach and break down a task, to developing a baseline knowledge of computer science topics I’d never come across before, what hasn’t she taught me! When I first joined my current project, she sent me several resources that I still refer to even now. They’re packed with helpful information and practical exercises that have enabled me to gain an understanding of new areas I am working in and refresh concepts I’ve forgotten.

She also answers any and every question I have, and has helped me start thinking about my future goals. I would not have made anywhere near as much progress without her support and encouragement, and I cannot put into words how grateful I am.

CGI has a wonderful open culture

An aspect of CGI’s culture that I really appreciate is the willingness to share knowledge. We have regular sector newsletters, which inform us of current topics within the Business Unit (BU). We also have regular town hall and ‘lunch and learn’ sessions, which are opportunities for members to educate others within the BU on projects being developed.

In addition, there are numerous internal networks – the Women’s network, LGBTQ, Neurodiverse and so on – where members across the organisation can connect with others for support, motivation and inspiration.

To girls and women considering STEM: go for it

I am a testament to the fact that STEM fields are diverse and inclusive. Many women have made outstanding contributions to STEM, whose stories are proof that you can excel here. I’m sure you’ve heard of Marie Curie, for a start! 

Companies like CGI know how valuable women are to their workforce, and if you choose the right employer like I did, you have a very fulfilling career to look forward to!

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