Toni-Ann Grant – episode 3305 December, 2023
In the latest episode of the women in tech spin-off series, our host Jade Haddock is joined by a special guest, Toni-Ann Grant, who serves as the Principal Security Architect at BT. In this episode, they discuss the pivotal moment that was a big turning point in Toni's career and led her to recognise her true calling in this field. Toni also shares advice she wishes she could have given her younger self and reflects on the changes she would have made in her career if given the chance.
Toni's Journey at BT
Toni’s career at BT spans two decades, one of the unique aspects of working at BT is the opportunity it provides to explore a variety of fields without having to leave the organisation. Toni explains that the joy of working for a company like BT is that it's like many businesses in one. If you feel like you'd like to try something in a different field, you can apply for different jobs and not actually leave the company.
She initially joined during a project in 2003, transitioning from IT support outside the organisation. BT was on the cusp of a big project which was transitioning the NHS from a paper-based system to a computerised system. From there, her roles evolved from project management to technical project management, ultimately leading her to cybersecurity, where she took charge of the military division, originally on a temporary basis. Over the years, she expanded her role to oversee global cyber assessment labs, ultimately becoming the Principal Security Architect.
Toni-Ann Grant's journey at BT took a crucial turn when she found herself working with their military customer, an experience that would prove to be a ‘pivotal’ moment in her career. As she immersed herself in this role, a strong sense of social responsibility for national defence began to take root within her. This newfound awareness of the critical mission of safeguarding the nation's security steered her away from purely IT-based responsibilities and toward the world of cybersecurity.
Advice to her younger self…
As she reflects on her career at BT, she offers advice she wishes she could have given her younger self. The first piece of advice she would offer her younger self is the reassurance that things will work out. Another one of the aspects she regrets is not having taken more deliberate steps to travel and choose roles that would have allowed her to work in other countries.
In an industry heavily dominated by men, being a woman in technology can sometimes come with its own set of challenges and biases. Toni found a way to rise above these obstacles and make gender disparity "not a thing”. There was a moment during her college days when a lecturer questioned her choice to pursue a career in IT, reminding her that she might be the only woman in the field. Instead of letting this discourage her, she used it as motivation to prove that gender should never be a limiting factor. Today, she is a vocal advocate for diversity and inclusion in the tech space. She actively shares her experiences, her path to success, and the challenges she has overcome. By doing so, she contributes to breaking down barriers and encourages more women to pursue careers in technology.
Toni's advice to women in tech is straightforward yet powerful, don't sweat the small things. It’s easy to get caught up in gender bias and stereotypes. Her message is clear, don't let these minor obstacles deter you. Instead, focus on your skills and your goals. Apply for roles and seize opportunities without hesitating or doubting your abilities.