Head of Projects at Agilisys Guernsey, Sam Brehaut is a finalist in the Women in Tech Excellence Awards in the Outstanding Returner category. To celebrate Sam’s nomination, we found out more about what motivates her in her current role, and her advice for people looking to start a career in tech.
Tell us about your decision to return to work after maternity leave.
For me, returning to work was a no-brainer. I love working and making a difference in the workplace, so it was always my intention to go back after my leave.
However, returning to work wasn’t quite what I’d expected – and not for the anticipated reasons of juggling childcare or sleepless nights! Like so many others, my role was made redundant as a result of the pandemic. While I’d been successful in securing another role with my employer at the time, when I returned it felt like a compromise. I was no longer doing the job I loved.
So, I left! A scary and bold move – but it felt like the right thing to do. And in September 2020, I joined Agilisys Guernsey in the role of Head of Projects.
After years spent working in People and Management functions both in Guernsey and globally, taking on a new role in a new sector was a huge career move for me. But for all its challenges, it was invigorating and rewarding that my new colleagues recognised what I could offer the team, and how my leadership, communication, and management skills could bring a people-focused approach to Projects.
With a baby at home, it was important for me to find the right balance between work and home life. Agilisys supported me by enabling me to adapt my hours around family – while ensuring we continue to meet our client’s needs.
Returning from maternity leave isn't easy but starting from scratch at a new company and in a brand-new job role was more than I ever expected to take on. I went on maternity leave in December 2019, expecting to return to what I knew – and that was challenging enough!
But the past year has also taught me lifelong lessons about my own resilience, and my determination to do a job where I can have an impact – using my skills to make a difference for my team, my organisation, and my customer.
Tell us about your current role and what motivates you. What has been the driving force behind your career strategy?
As Head of Projects, I lead a team of eleven people – a mixture of Business Analysts, Project Managers, and IT Business Partners.
We deliver what we call 'Business as Usual’ IT Projects on behalf of the States of Guernsey. This involves delivering end-to-end solutions for a variety of technology projects across the breadth of States’ services - from Blue Light Services, Education, Healthcare, Revenues… and much more.
They say no two projects are the same – and the nature of our work could see us delivering a hardware or application solution one week and supporting a ‘Team Move’ the next.
For me, every IT project is an opportunity to deliver better outcomes that work for people – both service providers and service users. This, I think, is what really motivates me in my role. Knowing that every day, the work we do has a real, positive impact for our community.
But looking beyond the day-to-day, over the past 18 months we’ve also played a part in supporting the Island’s response to COVID-19. Belonging to a team of Agilisys colleagues involved in supporting the States throughout the pandemic has been a real privilege for me.
While I’m in a very different role now than I was at the start of 2020, my determination to make a difference has really defined my career strategy from the outset. I’ve always been passionate about being in a role where I’m adding value and helping to deliver change. Now, I belong to a team that get to do that every day.
What is your top tip for someone looking to start a career in IT?
Be brave and believe in yourself.
Technology is such an exciting, varied, and challenging place to be. There is a role for everyone – and you don't need to be a technical specialist to make a difference.
Successful IT projects require broad capabilities, diverse skills, and people of all backgrounds. But most especially, our teams need people with the passion and drive to really make a difference for our community.
Before joining Agilisys, Sam led global IT organisational change at Specsavers and drove the company’s D&I agenda. Passionate about making a difference through her work, Sam has combined her love of travelling with career opportunities taking her to China, Australia and Singapore. As a new parent she is currently enjoying a whole new set of adventures and discoveries.