Nicole Dyer: 7.5 minute read

International Women’s Day: OLMers who #choosetochallenge the status quo

International Women’s Day celebrates women across the world and strives for gender equality. The theme for this year is #ChoosetoChallenge and this is something that we fully endorse as an organisation. We are fully committed to gender equality and offering equal opportunities which make a difference. Our core goal is to make a difference to those working in health and social care, with our team of OLMers behind us.

As a whole, we employ more than 200 people across OLM Group, celebrating and believing in the power of diversity. Having an inclusive and diverse working culture allows wider perspectives to be integrated when solving problems and developing new ideas in business. We are dedicated to challenging the status quo and how could we do that without ensuring that equality runs through our organisation?

​As we move towards our 30th year of operation, we wanted to share the stories of some of our dedicated OLMers. They are women who strive to make a difference.

Here are their stories and how they choose to challenge.


Aby Atilola

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

The theme for this year is ‘A challenged world is an alert world. From challenge comes change’. I believe we can challenge the way some things are done not just in social care, but every day in all areas of life. As a product manager, I’m constantly asking why?. I know one day a year won’t change the status quo for a lot of people, but it gives women everywhere a chance to make a change by asking why?

My story

I previously worked as a Product Manager for an organisation that produced software for regulated industries such as Oil and Gas, Finance and Transport. I choose to leave because the software didn’t have an impact on people’s lives. The move to OLM in November of 2015 was a reaction to this as it provided the opportunity to work within an organisation which focuses on innovation. It was a chance to work in a completely different industry in order to make a difference.

My first day was a baptism of new words and product abbreviations. It was a lot to learn but through working with others who had been with the company for years and still enjoyed their work, I was hooked. I knew that I had made the right choice. Still to this day, I enjoy problem-solving, seeing the impact our software has on users, how it is used and how we can continue innovating.

As a Product Manager, I look after a range of products from the ECLIPSE suite. From Citizen Engagement to Bed Management and a few others, my responsibilities lie in the maintenance, promotion and vision. I am responsible for ensuring that requirements and development are in-line with the overall plan that OLM has for taking the complexity out of people's lives through innovation in software and services.

An average day for me consists of prioritising product requirements, writing user stories to describe how the products should help solve problems, and testing completed user functionality.

I have enjoyed my time at OLM and therefore, a favourite memory is difficult, but I do enjoy meeting new people. Meeting new colleagues to get a flavour of what they do and how their work enables transformation across the social care and education sectors stands out most for me.

In ten years' time, I hope that I will still be on planet earth, making a difference and helping to change things for the better. This is my focus in life and through those who inspire me, I will continue to push forward.

Who inspires you the most?

Quite a few people, but I’ll settle for two – Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and OLM’s Chief Executive, Peter O’Hara.


Thea MacAlpine

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

For me it provides the opportunity to learn about the many achievements of women through the decades, there are so many amazing women out there and stories to hear. For my own personal reflection, it is for me to be proud of what I have achieved in my life and continue to work on overcoming any challenges.

My story

My previous role before joining OLM was as a reporting lead for Moray Council. They were a customer of OLM’s and this is how I came to know the organisation, joining OLM on the 8th April 2013. I chose to leave Moray as I wanted to work somewhere closer to my family and the hospital in Edinburgh. On top of this was the desire for a new challenge, something that would take me out of my comfort zone and let me grow. Getting first-hand accounts from others working at OLM helped me decide to take that leap of faith.

My first day began with a bang, taking an early flight down to the Teddington office from Edinburgh. Meeting with the team that day, I was a little worried about being late, as I hate to be late, and grateful for the opportunity to work with so many amazing people. It was nerve-wracking but I got through it with my new laptop, which I packed wondering if I’d remember how to log into it the next day!

There doesn’t seem to be an average day around here. The role of Implementation Consultants can be varied. I could be doing anything, from preparing for workshop/validation sessions with a local authority customer to catching up with calls, linking into the other aspects of the implementation such as migration and working with the Data Onboarding Consultant. Whilst I am not technically minded, in terms of that being my focus, I help customers with the process of how they go about translating data from their legacy system to ECLIPSE. Not to be cut short there, I also work closely with the Model Office lead in developing the Scottish Model Office which can include developing additional processes as identified by customers. Communication is key in my role and within OLM there are several ways to keep in touch with others and see what is happening with other projects, product development and even just having a catch-up.

I have so many amazing memories of working at OLM, from meeting our customers to working with some great OLMers. The Tough Mudder challenge that we took part in a few years ago is one of my all-time favourites as it was a team challenge in aid of a great cause. It was one in which I was unable to finish, with one colleague remarking that the ice obstacle had left me a little blue and unable to talk, but I still loved the day and feeling of being part of a team. We followed this up with a Three Peaks Challenge a few years later in which I was a proud part of the support team. Despite all of this, my favourite memory, was when I was presented with my ‘Above and Beyond’ award from Peter and Christine. I was so shocked and stunned, in addition to being very happy to have been thought of. The award provided the opportunity for me to visit the Big Cat Sanctuary, where I had the best time. I can never thank OLM enough for that experience.

The things I enjoy most about working at OLM is the variety in what we do, the sense of achievement when you can help a customer with a query no matter how small. Above this for me, is the people I work with, they are amazing and I can’t stress that enough. There is always someone I can ask and get some help.

I don’t like thinking too far ahead, as you never know what is around the corner, but I do hope that I can still be here in 10 years time. Hopefully, I will still be at OLM, continuing to work with good friends and family, enjoying life to the full! This is of course if I haven’t won the lottery!

Who inspires you the most?
There have been some very strong women in my family who have inspired me, from my mum to both of my Grandmother’s. Though their love and following their own destiny, believing that they can be more than was expected of them, I have been inspired. On top of this, my friends inspire and keep me going with their compassion and kindness.


Laura Donohue

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

International Women’s Day puts women at the front. It’s a day where I feel emboldened to share my experiences and accomplishments.

My story

Before joining OLM in October of last year I was a freelance UX Researcher. I enjoyed the freedom of being able to pick and choose different projects but really missed that feeling of being part of the team. This was something that I found as soon as I joined OLM. It instantly felt as though I was part of a bigger team, looking to enable positive change.

As a former social worker with a research background, I knew that OLM was the right place for me. It was a place in which I felt confident that my unique skill set would be utilised. On top of this is the feeling that I am making a difference and doing work that matters. This was re-enforced as soon as I walked through the virtual door when I was greeted by my Manager, Tanya, who was incredibly friendly and warm.

Every day looks a little different but mostly I begin by reviewing deadlines to ensure everything I’m working on is done in a timely fashion. At 10 am I attend the developer stand up so I can get an idea of what features and fixes will be going out to customers. I jot down some notes and think about the best way to communicate these updates to our users, then meet with my UX Team, where we catch up on what we’re working on. The rest of my days really vary. Sometimes I’m writing up Learn How content, other times I’m conducting usability interviews with users. I’m always looking for ways to make our product better. My cat, Karl, also makes an appearance on my desk at least once!

I’ve only been here for a short time, yet have lots of great memories, mostly around how friendly and approachable everyone is. If I needed to pull one memory to highlight, then it would need to be our Product Team Lunch where we played a guessing game. It was a lot of fun!

What I enjoy most about working here would be the internal culture. Everyone is fully invested in their work and each other. It is a very supportive environment in which to work. We always support one another. In ten years' time, I would love to take the knowledge and experience of working here at OLM and bring it to my own team. My dream would be at this time to be running my own team of researchers and writers.

Who inspires you the most?

Dr. Evelyn Hooker is a true inspiration. She was one of 11 women to enrol in Johns Hopkins University's PhD program. This was during a time when women were rejected solely based on their gender. Her groundbreaking research led to the removal of homosexuality as an illness. She inspires me to challenge the status quo and to always be curious.


A Final Thought

This year we celebrate International Women’s Day at home. Behind closed doors we remain in order to protect the vulnerable, yet due to advances in technology, we can still choose to challenge.

For more than 30 years OLM has strived to push the boundaries of what is possible and employ like-minded individuals to help push that idea forward. Aby, Laura and Thea are part of the OLM family, helping us push forward and make positive change. We are proud of everyone at OLM and hope that you enjoyed reading the stories, as much as we have enjoyed sharing them.

Happy International Women’s Day to everyone out there making a difference to the world.