This obsession of mine turned into a passion for technology when I took my first high school Computer Programming class. Coding programs to solve for problems was just another puzzle to me! And, when I realized that this could be an actual college major and possible career for me, I was elated. This was a pivotal moment in my life.
When I graduated high school, I had the opportunity to complete a 4-year corporate internship through a program aimed at developing minority talent. Through that internship I gained real-world experience, forming part of a team tasked with coding and delivering business applications. That experience cemented things for me.
I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1991 with a degree in Computer Science and entered the corporate workforce, working in the Technology department for a bank on Wall Street. Since then, I’ve had technology positions in the pharmaceutical industry, retail industry and have done some consulting as well. Eventually, I made my way back to banking, which is where I’ve been the last 20+ years.
Computer science is easily transferable across industries. All industries have business problems that need technology solutions. Technology, however, changes over time. As new technologies replace obsolete technologies, one of the exciting features of a career in computer science is the need keep up with these changes. It keeps things fresh and appealing.
While a large portion of my career was spent programming, my career path led me to technology project and program management, which is what I currently do. I am responsible for a portfolio of technology projects and oversee the global teams delivering these. These teams are composed of project managers, business analysts, application testers and developers. Together, we deliver technology solutions to solve business problems.
There have definitely been some challenges along my journey.
- While I was in college, I had an advisor in the Engineering school who was not supportive of me switching out an Electrical Engineering requirement for some business courses. He dismissed my request, with a claim that I “wouldn’t amount to anything” unless I pursued hard-core engineering. I felt very strongly that for me, the combination of business and technology courses would benefit me most. I changed advisors and found one that would support me, and it was the best decision for me.
- Early on in my career, it was very common for me to be the only woman in a room and the only Latina in the department. I am pleased to see the progress that has been made to remediate this through the years. Although we have more work to do, I see more faces who look like mine in the technology field and in leadership roles.
My STEM journey has not always been smooth sailing, but I find it very rewarding. I made a career out of something I am passionate about…I wake up every day to a new puzzle to solve.