Women in Digital: Hayley Roberts​

“I was conditioned to be impressed by those that had followed a linear upward career journey, so have always felt a fraud in many ways. Little did I know that actually being challenged and making crazy decisions sometimes is a good thing.” Hayley Roberts​, CEO of IT distributor, Distology shares her decidedly non-linear career in technology.

Posted 2 May 2023 by Christine Horton

Did you enjoy school?

I did actually. I was active in sports and played hockey and netball for the school and was in all the school plays. I even directed the play one year. I won a few prizes for English and Drama over the years so can’t have been that bad!

What qualifications do you have?

I have 11 GCSEs, 3 A Levels and a 2:1 in Business Studies. Looks good doesn’t it?! But I only got a C in Maths and an E in Biology at GCSE and my A levels I got CDD rather than AAB so Business was the best option I had through clearing, rather than Law.

Has your career path been a smooth transition, a rocky road or a combination of both?

Rocky as hell. Four different industries and in between, three children, part time, full time and lots of challenges.

What specific challenges do you see women facing in the industry?

I think we all have a daft perception that if we get to the role that we want as a child then life is super dooper. This is a fairy tale, not just for women. The reality is that life chucks stuff at us and so our plans often need to adjust. No truer than when we have children and have to take a break from our roles for a period of time. I think we should see this as a great opportunity to reflect on what we really want to achieve in our career and manifest it. There are no ultimate prizes for sticking at something just because it’s what we have always done.

What is the best career advice you can give to others?

Challenge yourself daily. If boredom sets in, address it and establish what is causing it. Only then will you find out what you are really good at and what skills you can offer a business whilst flourishing personally.

If you had to pick one mentor that had the biggest influence on you, who would it be?

I have never had a formal mentor, but I have had three excellent business coaches who challenge my thinking and help me build on the good things I have done so I can keep getting better and still focus on making a difference in the world. I cannot stress how much of an impact this has had on my life so far.

From where do you draw inspiration?

From so many different places and people to be honest. I get a real kick out of listening to the team here at Distology, they always have sone great ideas and are very upbeat. I love meeting people and understanding their journeys and their inspirations, I really get fired up by inspirational people.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced to date?

I have mentioned this a lot previously but often my biggest challenge comes from within my own head. I was conditioned to be impressed by those that had followed a linear upward career journey and so have always felt a fraud in many ways. Little did I know that actually being challenged and making crazy decisions sometimes is a good thing and can be turned into something amazing, given the right attitude.

What qualities do you feel makes a good leader?

Honesty and humility are two of the best qualities that I think good leaders possess. Nobody is born a good leader and if we think about how we come across as a leader too much, it would be contrived. To be a positive person with an infectious vision and positive attitude makes a leader in my opinion.

From a work viewpoint, what has the last 12 months been like?

Crazy, brilliant, challenging and fun to sum it up. But, every year for me is like this and as long as I am learning and making a difference to the business and to others, then it becomes a success.

What would you say are the biggest tech-based challenges we face today?

Usability and ethics. Let’s not forget innovation is key but we need to be able to wrap human ethics and values into the usage of some technology. Social media being an excellent example of this.

What can be done to encourage more women into the industry?

We need to be seen as accessible and inclusive as an industry. I do not have the perfect formula for this, but we have to encourage people to want to know more and excite and inspire the younger generation as much as we can. This is our responsibility as leaders.

Give us a fact about you that most other people wouldn’t know.

I once sang a demo for a Eurovision entry when I was 14. Don’t ask me what the song was, I can’t remember!