For many employers, hiring a young enthusiastic worker over a more knowledgeable type can be a real challenge.
Luckily for Overclockers UK (OCUK), system technician Abbey Bowen is both. After starting out as a sales assistant at Gamestation, she worked in OCUK’s retail shop before showing an interest in system building – an area she has excelled at for almost two years now. She was voted PCR Woman of the Year Rising Star by our panel of judges last October, and is over the moon with the accolade. (Read all about the PCR Women of the Year Awards here).
“The guys at work remind me every five minutes, so it’s hard to forget,” she says. “They don’t call me Abbey anymore, they just call me ‘Rising Star’! The PCR event and all the talks were really inspirational. As I work with a bunch of guys, it can be hard to relate to them, so it was nice to see other women out there in this business.”
A keen gamer, she comes across very professionally, with bundles of enthusiasm and honesty – Abbey clearly knows her stuff. But not all customers feel the same way, sadly, as she goes on to explain. I ask her what it’s like working as a woman in such a male-dominated environment.
“It’s interesting. I’ve always got on well with guys and I like to think I can fit in with them quite well, but sometimes it’s hard to get the respect, especially with those outside the business – as a female, that’s where all the issues are,” she admits.
“In the past I’ve been on the phone talking to customers, who might ask something like, ‘Is there a guy I can talk to instead?’
“Those comments are frustrating, but I take them more like, well okay, if you don’t think I know what I’m on about, then I’ll show you.”
ALL SYSTEMS GO
I’m talking to Abbey just after the Black Friday sales period, so it’s still an incredibly busy time for her in the run up to Christmas.
“It went from one day we were standing around, wondering, ‘flippin’ heck, it’s meant to be Christmas,’ to the next day having five or six times the orders we expected.
“I mainly build systems but I also cover the service side, repairs and quality control. But over the past couple of weeks around Black Friday, my main job has been to build. We’re each getting through like eight to ten builds per day. I tried to do as much as possible and worked a few extra Sundays. We just had to keep going!”
So, what does Abbey love about system building and what systems is she particularly proud of?
“I find system building fantastic. There’s nothing nicer than opening a brand new graphics card, I think!” she beams. “It is a fantastic job.
“In terms of memorable builds, I made a Scimitar watercooled system recently. It took a good eight hours to finish. I think it’s one of the best builds I’ve ever done. It’s one of the legendary OCUK systems we all work towards, so I was pretty happy to finally get the chance to make one.” So what longer term plans does Abbey have for her career?
She explains: “Over the next year I plan to get all my Cisco certification and maybe get into networking, but if I can stay in system builds and get to a senior tech position or maybe further, that would be fantastic – I couldn’t think of anything better.”