'If you dream of a job in STEM, go and grab it': Q&A with Sarah Lean, Cloud Solution Architect @ Microsoft

Cloud Computing

Sarah Lean speaks to us about her role in the technology sector and shares her thoughts on Edinburgh's Women in Tech Scotland, taking place 3rd September 2019

Sarah fell in love with technology at an early age and turned that love into a career. She joined Microsoft as a Cloud Solution Architect in January 2018 and her focus there is helping organisations with their Data Centre Transformations. Within her role she gets to combine her 13+ years experience of managing on-premises environments and her passion for Azure.


Sarah Lean

Sarah will be sharing her knowledge at Women in Tech Scotland, taking place 3rd September. Join her there and secure your spot today.


Please tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got to where you are today.

I am Sarah Lean, and I've worked in IT for over 13 years including service provider, manufacturing, Scotch Whisky and local authority industries. I've served my time resetting passwords and triaging support calls, maintaining platforms, building infrastructure, migrating end of life systems and migrating data centres. I've been a subject matter expert in various solutions through my career including Microsoft Exchange, System Centre Configuration Manager, and Patch Management – to name a few.

I am the founder of the Glasgow Azure User Group, which is a community group that meets every two months and aims to bring together people who are looking to learn and network with their peers.

My passion is technology, and I love to help people understand what it can do to help them. I consider myself a life long learner and love to share my passion for learning with others.

Landing a role at Microsoft in January 2018, was a dream come true and I'm loving the journey it is taking me on.

What excites you about cloud computing?

The art of the possible, the fact that things are ever-changing. It's throwing everyone out of their comfort zone and it's amazing to see what projects people are now working on.

What’s a typical work day like for you?

I'm not sure I have a "typical day" working at Microsoft.  It can vary drastically depending on the customer meetings I have. Some days, I can be up at 4 am to get an early flight to London for meetings with customers and my day involves taxis, planes, trains and working from airport lounges. Other days, I can be working from home having video conference meetings with my team or customers via Microsoft Teams. I love the variety and flexibility I have.

Promoting Women in Tech

In this age of digital transformation, how can emerging technologies improve and change our working and daily lives?

In terms of our working lives, technology offers us such flexibility. I often find myself having to work on trains, in airports, coffee shops or the such due to my schedule and I can be just as productive in these spaces as I am in an office or at home because of technology. Everything I need to work is on my laptop or phone. 

I've had colleagues who have had their laptops fail on a business trip and been able to do all they need work wise from their phone without any issue! This is a great thing for productivity, but we have to make sure we get the right balance and aren't working too much or burning ourselves out.

What are you doing to promote women in tech at Microsoft?

At work we have many initiatives and groups that support women in tech and when I can I attend/support these events or initiatives. For me, through being visible, being a voice in a male-dominated industry, I promote women in tech. I hope that by being the best version of myself, I can be an inspiration and a good role model to the next generation.

Are you working on anything exciting at the moment that you’d like to share with our readers?

Unfortunately, a lot of the projects that I am working on are covered by Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) due to the nature of the customers I work with.  However, I can say I am excited to see the cloud transformation journeys those customers are taking moving their IT environments to Azure. It throws up a lot of cultural and technology challenges.

Why have you decided to get involved with Women in Tech Scotland?

I want to see more women get into IT and the best way that I know how is to try and influence what it is to be visible, ie. seen and heard in the technology industry.

What are you speaking about at the conference?

My session is entitled 'Modernising the IT Strategy in Your Organisation', where I hope to share some insights into how businesses should be tackling their cloud transformation journey. 

Women in Tech Networking

Why should people attend the event?

A cloud transformation journey has its cultural and technology challenges, and I hope that by sharing some of my knowledge from the field I can help to make people less tentative about starting that journey or be more successful on that journey.

What advice would you give to women who want to pursue a career in STEM?

Don't be frightened, if you dream of a job in STEM, go and grab it, own it. STEM careers aren't just for men, women can add a lot of value in these areas.

Join us at Scotland's top women in tech conference, 3rd September at EICC, Edinburgh.


Women in Tech Scotland

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