Job Role: Director, SDLC Management Office
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?
The Systems Development Lifecycle Management Office (SMO) improves the quality and management of software projects and system maintenance processes to assist NRECA, specifically the Department Insurance and Financial Services (I&FS), in aiding in the fulfillment of the organization’s mission and strategic goals. We apply industry best practices in IT project management and quality assurance to expedite the delivery of high value, innovative, and complex software solutions.
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 discovered IT Project/Program Management later in my career. My interests during my formal education emanated from my proclivity for logic, mathematics and process engineering. I, however, began my career in product operations/analysis. Due to my predilection in the areas mentioned above, I found myself redesigning software products during my own time and after completing the primary duties of my post. Because of this– I became responsible for operations, as well as redesign efforts of underlying product software, seemingly overnight. From that point forward, IT Project/Program Management became my principal focus.
How did you become interested in your area of expertise?
I found IT Project/Program Management through a series of fortunate events, years of working long hours and the imperative amount of education. I was fortunate to be working with employers that encouraged innovation, open communication and, while expecting success, also allowed for small failures. Through impediments, I found myself more resolute and through personal betterment, consensus building and the motivation of my team, I readied myself to avoid any similar failures in the future. It is an unfortunate adage, but it is also truthful, that sometimes the lessons you learn in a loss are just as important as those you learn while winning.
What is your favorite thing about your job and NRECA?
My favorite thing about my job at NRECA is that I am given the opportunity to innovate, build and improve processes, people and tools. I am excited by the prospect of increasing efficiency, coaching teammates or providing new capabilities. My role in IT Project/Program Management allows me to do that full time. I find this extremely satisfying from a career perspective.
A question I am asked often when interviewing people to hire for the team is “What do you love about NRECA?” I will share with you the same thing I share with them with respect to my feelings toward NRECA. This organization is, at its core, people-focused. All IT projects tend to boil down to one decision. Will we build our software the right way or the least expensive way? While these two concerns are not always in conflict or mutually exclusive, NRECA is the only organization where I have worked where consistently, we make the decision to execute projects the “right way.” We are a membership-focused, people-focused organization. Although things might be harder or more expensive in the beginning, the staff, the board and the members are willing to invest more to improve the result. While we need to be fiduciarily responsible, doing things the “right way” is less expensive in the long run; we don’t have as many issues and high-caliber personnel is retained. It is so refreshing!
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?
A career in a STEM field is not so different than jobs in alternate fields. One exception is that the methodologies employed in your role may require a greater amount of education in the technical fundamentals of your chosen field, however, the technical skills you possess are simply part of the “tool kit” with which you discharge your duties. At its irreducible foundation, your role in a STEM field still requires cooperation and collaboration with your peers, team members, and leadership. In the simplest terms, your IQ may get you a coveted STEM job, but you will also need EQ for success.