What was your dream job as a child? When I was a child, I wanted to be a teacher like my grandmother. She taught Kindergarten for over 25 years. My siblings and I would use some of her books and extra supplies to play “school” whenever we had the chance. This is one of my favorite memories. My family has always valued the importance of having a good education and that starts at home. Just ask my kids about all of the extra workbooks that they have had to complete over the years. Maybe in my next career life I will have a chance to revisit my dreams of becoming a teacher!
Tell us a little about your career in tech leading up to your position at NWN Carousel. Explain what you do now. I started my career in tech as an intern for AT&T/ Lucent Technologies. As a political science major, I was hired to research an education technology bill in Massachusetts to fund school districts. I enjoyed learning about technology and working with the sales teams so much that they offered me a full-time position and I accepted it. Who knew? The rest is history! I have helped to design communications solutions for my customers for over 20 years. Previously I led our presales engineering team as Director of Engineering. Now my current role as Technical Architect gives me the opportunity to work with our Product Offering and Engineering teams to refine and develop innovative solutions to meet our customers’ business needs.
What is the best professional advice you’ve ever received? The best advice that I have ever received was offered to me when I was thinking about taking on a new role. When discussing this with a mentor they asked what my desired salary range was, and I froze. Their advice to me at that moment was “Always know what you are worth! How else are you going to ask for what you deserve?” I realized that I didn’t understand the value of my work experience and knowledge. If I didn’t understand that for myself, how could anyone else? This advice has taught me that it is important to appreciate your contribution to an organization and to challenge yourself to keep growing and evolving that to your fullest potential. When you continually invest in yourself, your company will too.
What if you don’t have a tech-savvy support system? How do you get the mentors or the help you need? The best way to build your network is to join a professional group within your industry or a group that is related to your interests outside of your current position. This is not only a great way to meet people, but it is so helpful in finding the right resources and support; especially from other women who can help to direct your path and offer exposure to other platforms. There is a wealth of knowledge, training, and assistance within these collectives, and they are vital to our growth.
What should we be telling younger generations of women? We should be telling them exactly what my mentor told me. Know your value. You are talented, you are strong, you are intelligent and you deserve to be here. No matter what you want to do in your life, you can achieve it! I can’t count the number of times that I looked around the room in a meeting and asked myself whether I was qualified enough to be there. Yes, you are! Not only are you qualified, but you are also essential. Every organization, campus, hospital, and industry will benefit from your knowledge and perspective as a woman. That’s worth more than you know.
How does hybrid work enable your work / life balance? For many of us in tech, hybrid work has been the norm for quite some time. We have developed a workstyle that allows us to be adaptable and productive. For me, it has been a vital part of my life because it has enabled me to work within a flexible schedule, engage with more clients and support my family’s dynamic calendars. Hybrid work fosters more engagement and collaboration, and that means that we can be more impactful to our customers and our team members. It has and will continue to be an important part of how we all work.
What motivates you every day? My family motivates me to work hard and do my best daily, but being in the tech industry encourages me to learn, change and grow every day. Just like the technologies that we support, we are always advancing our capabilities, knowledge and skill sets in this industry. The teacher in me absolutely thrives in this dynamic environment. It is rewarding and it helps me to stay sharp, especially when my children try to outpace me with the latest apps!