Winning Female IT Leader of the Year in Scotland — against competition from Google and Amazon – was a career-defining moment for Sheryl Newman. She remembers thinking, ‘How can a wee girl from Aberdeen with a tiny company be playing in this space?’ But four years on, she shows that this early success was no fluke.

When Sheryl launched technology consultancy Appetite for Business in 2016, she admits it was a scary time. The country was in recession, we had no clients, and only £1000 of personal savings in the bank . “At one stage, even my accountant said ’Stop, you’re not going to make it’.”

But giving up was never an option. “I’m not a quitter. I knew my customers, I knew the market, and I knew what people wanted.

“From a young age, I was taught never to fear failure. In fact, my dad used to say, ‘So what have you failed at today?’ It wasn’t meant to be a negative; It just encouraged me to think, ‘Well, how can I do this differently?”

Fast forward to 2016, with serious health battles to contend with and her mum terminally ill, Sheryl poured all her energy into work. “After all I’ve been through, my business challenges weren’t insurmountable. I wanted to create something my mum would be proud of.”

Today, her strength, determination and belief has paid off handsomely. Appetite for Business has over 100 customers across a diverse range of industries from pharma and renewables, to energy and construction. To cap it all, turnover has hit over a £1milion – with no loans, investment or debt attached.

The firm specialises in Microsoft 365 consultancy, with the overarching aim of helping companies cut costs and improve efficiency through better employee engagement with technology. Sheryl remains a staunch advocate for women in STEM related opportunities.

“I’ve always been fascinated with computers – and the whole people process – but thought there was such a disconnect between the two. You can have the best technology in the world, but it won’t succeed if you can’t persuade people to join your journey and adopt it”

It’s no surprise, then, that Appetite for Business aims to build genuine long-term relationships. “We don’t just ‘sell’ a solution’. We listen to our clients and give them what they need to thrive.”

Sheryl reflects: “The business climate is very different to three years ago. It’s much more people-orientated. As a female-led business we’re leading from a place which matches these needs, and I think that’s why our more empathetic way of working is so appealing.”

We understand from talking to customers that a large percentage know that they could be using Microsoft 365 services to help them be more productive as a business (even with a smaller budget). They don’t know what they get with “out of the box M365” as Microsoft are adding so many updates at pace, it’s understandable to be overwhelmed.

We run workshops helping show how to make the most of tools like Microsoft teams, power Platform including Power BI and SharePoint. This includes defining strategy, helping support internal staff with the skills to implement that strategy, or providing support with skills shortages to ensure their digital | hybrid workplace & team are a more productive, efficient, lean machine.

Sheryl thinks there is still a glass ceiling in terms of the perception that bigger is better. “But we’re on an equal playing field in terms of certifications. We invest in our team, and this reflects in the quality of our work.

“One of our core values is being audacious. We might be the underdog, but we will fight for the right to show our worth. And when you see the type of client we’re attracting, it shows we’ve taken the right path.”

What advice does Sheryl have for young women considering a career in tech? “You have as much a right to a seat at the table as anyone else Noboby promised you a tomorrow so kick ass today and be confident in your own abilities.

I’m proud to do my bit to encourage women into the industry: our skills are badly needed!”