NRECA Women in STEM: Dana Cote Bain

Dana Cote Bain, Director, Applications Development & Support, NRECA

Job Role: Director, Applications Development & Support

Department: IT

Explain a little bit about your career at NRECA. What is the core function of your current role and how does it support the mission of the organization?

My core function at NRECA is to maintain, grow or transform a portfolio of software applications that support our trade association’s line of business and its members. This portfolio includes automated functions like dues generation, invoicing, event registration, PAC administration, subscriptions management, etc. I enable a team of talented software developers and project managers to deliver on initiatives prioritized by a committee of NRECA’s senior leadership.

How did you get here? Has your background always been in STEM fields, or was it something you discovered later in your education or career?

I joined NRECA in early 2010 as an IT project manager. My career has always been in technology; however, I did not get my undergraduate degree in a STEM field. Once I was exposed to technology in a business context – which happened early in my career – I became very interested in it and decided to pursue a more technical track through my then employer. The employer offered an internal “Systems Engineering Development Program” to employees on a recommendation basis. With this credential, and a bit more working experience, I realized that I would also benefit from a graduate degree in Management Information Systems to support my intentions to work in this field long-term.

How did you become interested in your area of expertise?

I think I realized relatively early in my career that software development efforts were complex, with several moving parts, and were most effective with an engaged point person to focus and coordinate them. As a contributor to many projects, I was eventually given responsibility for a small portion of a larger effort. I enjoyed being responsible for something larger than I could deliver by myself, and my interest just grew from there. I said “yes” when opportunities presented themselves to grow my role and to increase the number of people I could serve.

What is your favorite thing about your job and NRECA?

My favorite two things about my job are the opportunity to bring skilled technologists together to improve a process or solve a problem and the great variety in the work that we do to support NRECA. I love to see how my team will jump in to help one another when a problem arises, or when they celebrate a colleague for improving a process that increases our efficiency. What I love about NRECA is the strong sense of mission and great people I have gotten to know who work here.

What inspires you?

I think I am inspired most by those that are both driven and generous. People who are always working to grow their skills and contributions, while at the same time are willing to help others when needed…

What does it mean to you to be working in your current field?

Technology is taking an increased role in all aspects of society, so there will be no shortage of work – and variety of ways to contribute – in the future. I feel very fortunate to have had the career in IT I’ve had thus far.

If you had a piece of advice for someone who wanted to explore a role in Tech or another STEM field, what would it be?

Even the most gifted technologists that I have had the privilege of working with are daunted by the rate of change and innovation that we’ve seen in IT. I would say don’t let that stop you. Find an aspect of technology that you are passionate about, assess your strengths and pursue that area with determination and a growth mindset. There is a place for you in this big field.

Read more NRECA Women in STEM profiles