Samantha Toombs on being the first woman to chair the BT board in Wales

29th April 2019

Samantha Toombs has been appointed Director of Local Government and Health for BT in Wales. She talks about her role as a director at BT, and being the first woman to chair the BT board in Wales.

It’s an exciting time to be working in the digital and communications field. We’re about to see big and exciting technological developments in the next few years which will change the way we live and work.

How many devices in your home are currently connected to the internet? For many households, it might be as many as ten. This is predicted to increase five-fold over the next few years, with the average UK household expected to have 50 connected devices by 2023.

But the digital change coming our way won’t just be about home applications such as smart TVs and gaming. It will be about connecting all sorts of things to the internet, from automated factories and cars, to medical equipment and smart rubbish bins.

For public services in Wales, this new connected technology could help us better tackle some of the big challenges facing our towns and rural areas: more efficient delivery of health and social services; improving traffic and town planning; and helping us to use energy more sustainably.

Put another way, helping to protect and improve the lives of Welsh citizens.

It’s essential therefore that Wales is ready, and that we adapt all our industries and public services to the latest innovations and technologies. That means being able to connect seamlessly in future to the latest, super-fast fibre and next generation 5G networks. While making sure these networks are secure and cost-effective.

In my role as public sector director in Wales, I’m looking forward to working with colleagues to help us become a fully digital nation.

I’m proud that many of these new technologies and services being introduced by BT are being developed and implemented by staff here in Wales. BT has a presence in all corners of Wales and is one of the nation’s largest private sector employers and investors. BT Group now directly employs 4,400 people in Wales and spends £300m with Welsh suppliers.

I’m looking forward also to chairing the BT board in Wales. As well as focusing on supporting customers in Wales and pushing this digital agenda, we will also work to highlight the positive social and economic impact of BT Group’s staff in Wales.

As the first woman to chair the board in Wales, I am also keen to promote the importance of gender equality and celebrating diversity in the workplace.

There is still a major shortage of women working in technology – in Wales and elsewhere – and it’s something I’d like to change. We can do this by encouraging more women to pursue these roles and to consider tech as a good career option.

Research shows that companies that lack female employees are missing out on diversity of thought, innovation and revenue.

I’m pleased to be a mentor with Chwarae Teg with the aim of trying to encourage and support individual women and those from minority backgrounds. Chwarae Teg does fantastic work to inspire, celebrate and promote gender equality in Wales. But there’s still a lot of work to do in this area.

Wales has a real chance to embrace the exciting digital revolution ahead of us. Hopefully, it can do this with people from all backgrounds in Wales playing their part.