‘The tech trade will be even more diverse in the future’

After cutting her teeth in the PC industry almost 20 years ago, Rachel Gordon now holds an incredibly varied role as Mad Catz’ European marketing manager.

PCR asks her about winning the 2015 PCR Women of the Year Marketing and PR award, working life in the UK tech channel and how the trade is embracing greater equality.

Retail and trade marketing, events, social media, product launches, merchandising, eSports sponsorships… calling Rachel Gordon’s job role diverse would be a bit of an understatement.

As European marketing manager for gaming brand Mad Catz, her daily tasks vary massively (see ‘Cool for Catz’). Her success in this role convinced our judges to award her with the 2015 PCR Women of the Year Marketing and PR accolade last October.

“Although it’s a cliche?, even to have been nominated in this category was truly an honour – there were some notably talented characters that in my opinion were as worthy if not more than myself,” Rachel tells PCR. “However, the panel spoke and I am incredibly humbled still to have been recognised.

“The event was a great celebration for anyone in the industry regardless of whether female or not. I was in great company and enjoyed networking with some fabulous ladies as well as catching up with a few peers and ex-colleagues.

“Although there’s a feeling of slight paradox in the fact that we actually choose to attend an event that seemingly singles us out for our gender, it was very apparent that the event wasn’t necessarily to put a spotlight on the fact that we were women in a male-orientated industry, but rather to celebrate and pay tribute to a select group for their hard work, tenacity and conviction which can’t be seen as a bad thing from any perspective.”

It isn’t just Rachel’s job role that’s diverse. Women in tech and workplace equality has generated a lot of headlines over the past 12 months, with firms like Microsoft, Intel and Apple pushing new diversity initiatives. What are her views on this area?

“Women in technology will always be a topic for discussion regardless of whether the gender gap levels out,” she says. “It’s really positive that these global brands are on board and recognising the need to make the industry a more inviting and less intimidating place for young women, as well as other under- represented minorities.

“I also believe that the natural shift that’s occurring towards technology and tech-based professions will create organic growth and result in a more diverse environment. There is already a difference in the way tech is taught and received in schools – it’s a much more gender-neutral environment.

“Technology is becoming more and more mainstream and necessary. This means that certain topics such as IT, which may traditionally have been perceived as ‘geeky’, are now relevant life skills for anyone. This, coupled with a broader spectrum of job roles within the industry, can only mean a more diverse and equal future.”

So what advice would she give to girls and other young people looking to get into the tech industry?

“To always stay determined and focused,” Rachel explains. “Although it’s true that it is still very much a male-orientated industry, there is room for anyone that can demonstrate the correct skill set and ability. Like in any walk of life, you will encounter elements of discrimination and inequality, however, it’s also an incredibly diverse and rewarding industry with an amazing amount of talented and accomplished individuals.”

In her own words, Rachel Gordon reflects on her career: “I cut my teeth in the PC tech arena almost 20 years ago. I began working for Microwarehouse – a prominent VAR/reseller – as a stopgap post-university job. The focus was on 56k modems, SCSII and parallel printer cables. And ISDN was a groundbreaking phenomena!

“My next role was with Belkin in Northamptonshire, where I worked for seven years, managing all channel marketing aspects for the retail team. This was my introduction into a more B2C environment. At Belkin we helped launch 802.11b /n protocols into mainstream retail and etail.

“Following a couple of maternity stints, I was keen for a change and the gaming industry was growing rapidly. I’ve been a casual gamer ever since I was a student, where ‘study periods’ was code for a Mario Kart tournament or Time Crisis marathon!

“I have been at Mad Catz now for six years and my role has evolved greatly. I intend to increase our portfolio of influencers – this is an aspect of my job that is increasingly relevant due to the emergence of social media personalities, both within the gaming and eSports arenas, and outside them. I’m looking forward to embracing the challenges that 2016 may bring.”

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