Title: Vice President of Modern Workplace Technologies
Company: University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC)
Education: Bachelor's degree in information technology from Carlow University, master's degree in management information systems from the University of Pittsburgh
Professional Credentials/Accreditations: ISACA Certified Information Systems Manager (CISM)
Achievements/Awards: Greater Pittsburgh Athena Award Nominee - 2021
What led you to a career in technology?
After attending community college and receiving an associate's degree in word processing, I started working as an administrative assistant in the clinical chemistry labs at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. They provided me with an older Apple computer that nobody knew how to use. I worked to figure it out and found that I enjoyed doing my own troubleshooting. Soon, others would ask for my help with their computers. I loved it. I decided to go back to school for a degree in technology. Over my 35 years at UPMC, I have held roles from entry-level help desk, PC consultant (carrying a toolbox to the deskside), server admin, project manager, IT security director, and vice president of modern workplace technologies.
What motivates you to go above and beyond in your current position?
I love knowing the work we do in IT has profound impact for all of the employees at UPMC. While we do not directly care for the patients, the systems and services provided by IT are enabling every part of the business to effectively access the information and services needed for providing excellent patient care. The rewards are immeasurable.
What role does sustainability play in your life both personally and professionally?
Taking care of our planet while each of us is gifted to have our time here is a responsibility that we all must recognize. Our future generations are depending on us to pay attention and take steps to learn what we personally can do to reduce and eliminate the devastatingly harmful and wasteful behaviors that have become second nature to all of us. I do my best to instill that feeling of responsibility into my kids.
What is the most fascinating lesson you have learned while working with technology?
Since I’ve been in the technology world for over three decades, it has been astonishing to recognize the stark differences in our lives over those years. When I started, there was no internet, no cellphones, no working from home, no artificial intelligence. I could continue citing major tech advances all day long.
“When you feel your voice being silenced or interrupted, speak louder.”
What is unique about you professionally?
As I’ve grown in my career over the years, it’s been obvious that, almost always, I’ve been either the only woman or one of very few women in the room. For the past five years, I have held a co-chair seat for our Women in IT (WIT) committee at UPMC, and I’m passionate about creating awareness that career paths in IT are available to women. WIT is determined to level the ratios and attain better diversity in IT at UPMC.
What is your most admirable quality?
I’d say that the use of kindness, empathy, and the nature for building positive relationships has been a quality that I’ve been admired for often. I’d also attribute this as the differentiator that has helped me succeed as a leader in a technology division.
Why is diversity, equality, and inclusion necessary for this industry?
I’ll address this one from the perspective of a health care organization. Health care naturally and historically has been dominated by females while, as we all know, tech roles are held mostly by males. It’s widely known that solutions designed to benefit all types of people are better when designed by all types of people. Diverse experiences lend to diverse perspectives. Our solutions and services are best when those differing perspectives are leveraged.
What aspect of the industry has the most potential for growth, and how can we accelerate that?
Leveraging the massive amounts of data for predictive analytics in health care has the potential to make a major improvement in the way patient care is delivered. Investments in technology development in this area will position health care organizations to enable these capabilities for clinical teams and, ultimately, will improve patient outcomes.
Where does the industry need the most improvement, and what can we learn from the current shortcomings?
I’m compelled to say that remediating the diversity disparity in tech will be the most impactful improvement. I’m optimistic that future generations are less likely to categorize occupations into genders. With that proving true, along with the results from the focused efforts of groups like UPMC’s Women in IT, there will be a day when this conversation is no longer necessary.
When you imagine the future technology, what does it look like?
There is absolutely no end to the possibilities. In the near term, my hope is that technology will solve our sustainability concerns.
What advice do you have for women and other minorities who are currently working in the industry but don’t necessarily feel like they belong?
Network with other women in the field. Sharing perspectives and stories will help to give you the confidence to hold your head high. Take every opportunity to remember that your voice is at least as valuable as any other voice in the room. When you feel your voice being silenced or interrupted, speak louder.
What advice do you have for young girls who may be interested in a future career in technology?
Don’t let anyone tell you it’s not for you. Tech is a space for creativity and innovation and there is a place for you.