Tusca Francis-Scott is a Project Management Professional, based in Trinidad and Tobago with a strong focus on the planning and implementation of transformation programs and projects. With more than 15 years of project management experience in both public and private sectors, Tusca has experience in management consultation, business process re-engineering, strategic implementation, and training and development. She has led transformation initiatives for telecommunications, government, and private organizations in Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Botswana, and The Bahamas.
In 2019 she managed the design, development, and implementation of the UTURN System. The UTURN system enabled Trinidad and Tobago’s Ministry of Works and Transport to implement the demerit points register, fixed penalty and citation notice, red light camera, and spot speed camera enforcement system. Currently, Tusca Functions as the Programme Manager of the Ministry of Digital Transformation – Programme Management Office.
1. What first sparked your passion for the tech industry?
I can’t even remember the age I was, but I remembered seeing a woman walking though the old Piarco airport pulling a “work bag on wheels” (I know now that was a lap top bag). I was old enough to know that she wasn’t a flight attendant. She presented as assertive and important. I can’t remember any details of her physical appearance but I remember saying “that’s going to be me one day”. Ironically, years later while of an assignment in Botswana I was asked by the house keeper for where we stayed “how did you get here? We chatted for a while and then she said you’ve given me a vision of what I can become as a young black woman.” It was the first time I realised that I had become that woman and that I had lit the same fire that she had lit in me in someone else’s life.
2. Did you face any challenges being a woman in tech? If so, how did you manage to solve them?
I can’t say that I have faced many external challenges during the earlier years of my profession. I’ve always been very fortunate…no I’d say blessed to have been surrounded by persons who saw my skill set and pushed me forward, pulled me up suggested additional areas of training etc. Ironically, as I began to function in more senior positions the challenges came but they tended to be more of an internal nature. For me the issue of work-life balance became a key challenge. Like many industries, tech can be demanding, and balancing work and family responsibilities can be challenging, particularly for women who may have additional caregiving responsibilities. However, maintaining a work-life balance is essential for your physical and mental well-being. I maintain a work-life balance by:
Ensuring that my daily efforts match what I say my priorities are. That means that I regularly ask myself, Tusca what are your priorities for work and personal life and then ensure that each day reflects those priorities. Don’t continually put off doing particular activities for another time because by doing so you automatically change the priority status of the particular thing. Decide which tasks and activities match your priorities and allocate your time accordingly.
Managing my time and the help my those around you learn how to manage their too! I am big on schedules and I try to avoid multitasking as I’ve learnt that multitasking reduces my productivity, increases stress and undermines my quality of work.
Learning to say no. Saying yes to everything always leads to a workload that is difficult to manage.
Building in breaks to refresh my mind and reduce stress is a life principle for me. One key break is the Sabbath. As a child I was raised to observe the Sabbath. When my friends would be studying on Saturday for that exam, I rested and I noticed that my mind was clearer and sharper of the days that follow. As an adult Sabbath affords me a weekly reset and I noticed that solutions to work and personal challenges usually immerge following a genuine Sabbath rest.
Establishing boundaries between my work and personal life. It’s hard but I try to avoid checking emails or taking work calls during your personal time (well that’s unless I get a call from Minister, Jaquie or Devindra because they usually do respect my boundaries so when I see a call I know it’s something urgent).
Openly communicating with my senior about the need for work-life balance is a must. If you can’t talk to this at an interview, then it’s usually an indication that the job is not for you.
Another challenge for me in the earlies was the lack of representation at senior technical levels which can made it harder to find role models and mentors who could have provided guidance and support. Then entered Google and YouTube, whenever I couldn’t find personal mentors, I used virtual ones.
3. What do you think is the best part of being a woman in the tech industry?
The tech industry has traditionally been male-dominated, but the situation has been changing in recent years, with more and more women entering and making significant contributions to the field. The best part of being a woman in the tech industry has been the ability to have such significant impact. The things I get to work on are experienced not just a closed group of customers but by a nation. For me making a difference has been by far the best part of being in the tech industry. As a woman in tech, I’ve had the opportunity to create solutions that have had positive impact on my country and has made a real difference in people’s lives.
4. Why do you think it’s important for more women to join the tech industry?
I believe women bring a thoroughness to the industry that transcends installation of equipment, deployment of software or the development of AI. Women often bring unique perspectives to the table, which can help to drive innovation and solve problems in new and creative ways. We see through different lenses and that always a must to have on a team.
Another key reason is the opportunity and encouragement that my presence provides for other females. Senior women in the tech industry can provide opportunities to connect with other women in the field, share knowledge and experiences, and support them as they develop in their careers.
5. List 3 top skills young women need to excel in tech.
I couldn’t settle on top three skills so I asked ChatGPT to help me on this one and I agree absolutely agree. “There are many skills that can help young women excel in the tech industry, but here are three top skills that I believe can be particularly beneficial:
Problem-solving skills: In tech, problem-solving is a crucial skill that involves identifying, analyzing, and solving complex issues. Young women who can develop strong problem-solving skills can be valuable contributors to tech teams, especially when they can offer unique and diverse perspectives.
Technical skills: In addition to problem-solving, young women in tech will benefit from developing strong technical skills, such as coding, data analysis, and software development. These skills will enable them to work more effectively in tech teams and take on more complex projects.
Communication and collaboration skills: Working in tech often involves collaboration with colleagues, stakeholders, and customers. Young women who can communicate effectively and work collaboratively can build strong relationships, foster teamwork, and drive better outcomes. Additionally, effective communication can help women articulate their ideas, negotiate for better pay and benefits, and advocate for themselves and their ideas in the workplace.
6. Do you think enough is done to help women get into the tech industry in Trinidad and Tobago? If not, what would you recommend?
I want to flip the script on this question and say that no one has to do anything for you to get into any industry that’s your passionate about. That’s on you as a person and professional. Be mindful of needing a handout in order to progress. That being said young ladies need to know that they have options other than the traditional careers. We can start as early as preschool letting kids know that they have more options than firemen, lawyers, doctors and police. There’s a whole new world of professions out there and they include:
- Software Developer/Engineer
- Data Scientist/Analyst
- Project Manager
- Network and Systems Administrator
- Information Security Analyst
- Database Administrator
- Technical Writer
- UX/UI Designer
- Quality Assurance Engineer/Tester
- Cloud Computing Architect
- DevOps Engineer
- Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning Engineer
- Cybersecurity Specialist
- Web Developer
- Mobile App Developer.
Another key cog in the wheel is to create opportunities to talk to younger women and expose them to other female in the tech industry so that they get a vision of who they can become.
7. What advice would you give to young female professionals starting in tech?
Build a strong network: Don’t waste your university network. Stay connected to your classmates and the stay connected to person even when you leave organisations. That means you need to be a relatable person and someone who they’d be happy to work with again. Seek out opportunities to connect with other women in tech, attend events, or join online communities to build a network of support and mentors.
Seek out opportunities to learn: Take courses, attend workshops, and read books to stay up to date with the latest trends and technologies in the field. “Show me your friend and I’ll tell you who you are”. Ensure that you have other tech associates who are sharp and hungry to remain on the cutting edge.
Advocate for yourself: Don’t be afraid to speak up and advocate for yourself, whether it’s negotiating for better pay or asking for more challenging projects. You deserve to be recognized and valued for your skills and contributions.
Develop a growth mindset: Embrace challenges and failures as opportunities to learn and grow. Every new level you are asked to perform at will seem overwhelming, as it should, because you are being stretched. Don’t be afraid to fail. Instead fail forward. Developing a growth mindset can help you stay resilient and adaptable in a fast-paced industry.
Find a mentor: When you are in the presence of experienced and excellent professional, soak up all the lessons you can squeeze out from your interaction with them. Don’t focus on impressing them and showing how much you know. Instead, avail yourself to the wealth of knowledge that they offer. You would do well to find a mentor who can provide guidance, support, and advice as you navigate your career in tech. A mentor can offer valuable insights, help you build your skills, and provide valuable connections.
Stay curious and passionate: The tech industry is constantly evolving, and staying curious and passionate about your work can help you stay motivated and inspired. Explore new technologies, take on new challenges, and don’t be afraid to try new things.
Remember, as a young woman starting in tech, you have the potential to make a significant impact on the industry and the world. With determination, hard work, and support, you can achieve your goals and succeed in your career.