In Technology


Julie Prough

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Title: Director, Information Technology

Company: UPMC

Education: Master's degrees from Katz Graduate School of Business and the University of Pittsburgh

Organizational Affiliations: Member of 3 Cups of Coffee (A Pennsylvania Women Work Program) and RedChairPGH

My journey so far has been...

What made you realize you wanted to pursue a career in technology?
For me, it was an evolution — I’m a data and process person who saw the natural progression from human resources and new platform implementations to M&A [merger and acquisition] system integrations and on to data analysis and the expanding use of data and automation to improve the user experience.

What three adjectives would you use to describe your journey in the industry so far?

  • Winding — It has been a journey with many twists and turns.
  • Heuristic — Lots of trial and error and problem-solving along the way.
  • Important — My experience leads to my passion that IT has something for everyone, and I use this to help drive my efforts as chair of UPMC’s Women in IT external outreach.

What is your personal mantra?
Honesty and integrity.

Tell me about the highest point in your career so far and how you got there, including all the hurdles you had to jump (and the ones you tripped over and too).
I would say my current position as director of data quality is my highest point. I have a great team of professionals led by three very strong leaders who have a passion for their teams, the organization, and the people we serve.

My journey was one of problem-solving and collaboration. I worked in various parts of the organization through its early M&A efforts, where I built relationships through trust, respect, and a focus on quality deliverables. These foundational efforts actually assisted with a major application challenge that my team encountered some years back and allowed me the ability to move through that challenge knowing I had the support and backing of many different impacted groups as we all focused on the bigger goal of protecting our patients and correcting the system flaw rather than finger-pointing or laying blame.

Today, my strong leaders and their growth have allowed me a bit of space to pursue other ways to assist my organization and my community through the UPMC’s Women in IT initiative, where I chair the external outreach efforts. Over the past three years, I have led amazing people as we have grown the outreach efforts within schools (middle school, high school, and college) and women-focused community groups to inspire, support, and educate women about the many opportunities that information technology affords them. I can say that, through these efforts, I have directly contributed to the hiring of at least two women into other parts of the UPMC’s information technology family — a feeling that is very rewarding. With all that being said, I believe I still have higher points to hit in my career.

What is your most admirable quality?
I believe it’s my integrity.

I'm looking forward to a future that is...

What aspect of the industry do you think has the most potential for growth, and, on the other hand, which aspect do you think needs the most improvement?
Most potential — artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Most improvement — data quality and data governance.

When you imagine the future of the technology industry, what does it look like?
More creativity as we realize the richness of diversity and inspire others, especially women, to not be afraid of trying and failing. There are more and more opportunities opening every year in technology, and I truly believe it has something for everyone — those who love math and science, those who love creativity, those who love analysis, etc. Whether you are building out a state-of-the-art data center, designing new products that leverage ML/AI to make people’s lives better, or analyzing data, there is something for you.

What is the most valuable life lesson you have learned so far and how has it helped you in your career?
Don’t be afraid of mistakes, and, when they occur, own them. About 10 years ago, a large-scale application failure that rippled through multiple user groups, shutting down critical patient data flows, occurred on my watch. By stepping forward to acknowledge the issue and collaborate with others to lead through the triage, communications, and follow-up, my standing within the organization as a leader was actually enhanced rather than diminished.

What three adjectives come to mind when you think about your future path?

  • Exciting — Opportunities will continue to evolve.
  • Optimistic — As an industry, we recognize the importance of including diverse thoughts/backgrounds/perspectives to produce great products and services. Now, we need to move the needle forward to ensure that diversity happens.
  • Fluid — I see my future path changing as the needs of technology and our organization change.

March 2021

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