Tell Your Story
Ada Lovelace Day (ALD) is an annual worldwide celebration of women and diversity in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), that is dedicated to the woman behind our College’s name, Ada Lovelace.
This year, to mark ALD, we are asking all our industry partners to contribute towards our Tell your Story Campaign. This campaign seeks to highlight women in tech and help others learn more about their experiences in pursuing a digital career path.
Linda Davidson, Global Transformation, Technology, People & Culture, Operations, Choreograph shares her story:
A care experienced child; I left home at 16 to be a dancer in a working men's club in Liverpool. My ambition, though, was to dance for Loretta Legg on Blackpool Pier. I was desperate to wear the bijoux and feathers while dancing to the jazz age tunes she choreographed.
Then. A Kind of Loving was on my telly-box; it was the first time I had heard a northern accent, apart from Coronation Street, on the TV.
A perspective shift. I would be an actor.
My bestie and I plotted and planned, we got The Lady magazine and found a bedsit in Balham. We packed our case, bought duvet covers in Woolworths, then headed off to Lime St. Station. We took pictures of ourselves in the photo booth, the selfie of that era. Here it was, the big day, we were off to find the streets that were paved in gold.
I got on the train.
She did not.
I was about to turn 17.
Fast-forward: An audition to drama school, an audition to play Mary the Punk in EastEnders, Auditions for the West End, auditions for regional theatre, film, and much more telly. All of which I did.
I was happily 'resting' whilst writing for Tomorrow's World, a BBC science programme. The engineers were making ones and zeros communicate across the heavens; it was something called a website. The potential for global communication, to tell stories in different ways, to democratise knowledge was all just mind-blowing.
I went off to do an Alan Ayckbourn play, finishing in Reading. I put away that actress-self and joined a bunch of vagabond engineers as part of the launch team for BBC Online.
Fast-forward. Ten years almost to the day, I was stepping off the same Reading train. This time not as an actress but as Global IT Director for Discovery Networks. I was there to sign and implement a multimillion global video conferencing solution with Cisco. The precursor to Zoom.
Rewind: Still at the BBC, by now as Executive Producer, I was headhunted to launch E4, went to Discovery as the Global Digital Production Director, then IT Director. Back to Cisco, back to the BBC, back to Channel 4. To Jamie Oliver and now GroupM. Launching Video on Demand Channels, managing technology teams, managing the build of data platforms to generate differentiated marketing solutions, now managing the operational aspects of a data & technology product business. A girl with no Maths or English.
I have been mentoring and tutoring young apprentices for over ten years now. Mostly young people who, like me, don't have a school shaped brain. I help them find ways to succeed, be heard and counted.
A trip to Leicester. A charity called Giving World seduces me with its ambition to eradicate child poverty in the UK. I fundraise, built a social enterprise business plan, called Patient Care Packs, which now funds 29% of our work. I write a metric tonne of letters to trusts and foundations, building relationships, securing funding and helping get us backed by the Lottery.
Another trip, this time to the theatre to see Oily Cart. A theatre company aimed at children with complex needs. They use sound, touch, taste, music and smell to create a unique sensory experience for their unique audiences. I became a trustee.
I am proud of myself. I have worked hard. I LOVE what I do.
Always do what you love. Follow your own ambitions and your own ideas of success. Make connections. Keep connected to them. They will be your own personal board of trusted advisors. And you theirs.
Most of all trust in yourself. The money will always follow.