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IT offers opportunity at all levels as this fast-paced field grows and evolves at light speed.
With employment expected to grow 13% during the next 10 years, faster than the average for all occupations, the field of information technology, or simply IT, offers a great array of opportunities.
From hands-on tech skills to leveraging those tech skills and managing in the IT space, four professionals in the field offer advice for success in this ever-evolving industry.
Gwatoh Kroma Helps Accenture Clients Scale Up Their Tech Operations
When clients are ready to scale up their technology, Gwatoh Kroma is ready to help.
As a senior manager in Accenture’s operations practice, Kroma works with Silicon Valley clients when they’re ready to outsource work from their current organizations to facilitate their growth, whether that’s adding 100 new employees or developing a new customer service call center.
For instance, prior to the Olympics and World Cup in Rio in 2016, Kroma and her team were responsible for helping Brazil update its financial infrastructure to accept chip debit and credit cards.
“It’s technology used by hundreds of thousands of people and on a scale that Brazil had never experienced before,” says Kroma, who’s based in San Francisco, CA. “We began working with them two years before the Olympics to make sure tech infrastructure could handle all the volume.”
While Kroma initially went to school for architecture, it was a job that she took to support herself halfway through her major that redirected her to technology.
“I got a job as a tester working in the software development cycle…these are individuals who validate that the technology works. I really liked it, and it paid my bills, so I decided to learn how to code Java, and it went from there,” elaborates Kroma.
The “chance to always try something new” is what first drew Kroma, who’s been with Accenture for 14 years now, to the company, which has global headquarters in Dublin, Ireland and U.S. headquarters in New York, NY.
“Every three to four months, you’re on a new project, you’re moving fast, learning new skills, learning to adapt, meeting new stakeholders, all in-house,” Kroma says. “Here you get to work with Fortune 100 and 500 companies and try different industries to see where you land.”
She also appreciates how Accenture works with employees to assist them with their career growth by providing mentors. These mentors, notes Kroma, are agnostic to the mentee’s project, and serve as an objective sounding board to benefit the employee.
“At every turn of my career, there’s been someone willing to help me with the next step.”
Kroma herself has a hand in helping others in their career growth via her support of Accenture’s collaboration with Girls Who Code (GWC), a New York, NY-based national non-profit organization specifically targets women and people of color.
“I’m passionate about bringing new blood and faces into the organization, and giving them the support that they need,” she underscores.
To help yourself stand out in the job search, according to Kroma, show more than what you’ve done in the classroom.
“What is it that makes you different and separates you from the other candidates that will get through the door? What are you passionate about, what do you do that’s outside the box, and how can you bring that to an organization? College gives you basics, but you need other stuff to differentiate yourself,” she advises.
Another way to help set yourself apart is by building strong communication and problem-solving skills.
“In technology, yes, the technical skills are important, but we don’t prepare young people to communicate well,” says Kroma.
“Knowing how to write a nice summary of a meeting, writing a proper reply, and being able to listen for nuance and adjust to what the stakeholder is saying, those are skills that are hard to teach, but so important in this field.”
About problem-solving, she adds: “Don’t just say there’s a problem; have an idea of a path forward, some insight on what’s next and be open to people giving their thoughts on that to find the best solution.”
Find career opportunities with Accenture at accenture.com/careers. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.
Stewart Helps Keep Cox Automotive Customers Connected
Curtis Stewart ensures that Cox Automotive’s teams stay connected with customers.
As senior director of software engineering within the enterprise platforms department, Stewart oversees the development and integrations of the company’s CRM software, Salesforce, including nine different instances of Salesforce across three business units within Atlanta, GA-headquartered Cox Automotive.
“CRM software is typically used by sales, marketing and service teams to manage their customer interactions and drive business processes,” explains Stewart. “My team prides itself on marrying business problems with technology solutions.”
He adds: “The thing that I enjoy most about my job is being able to solve problems for the business via technology. I enjoy automating processes utilizing integration and exposing the business to technical options that they were not even aware existed.”
Stewart was initially drawn to the field for the money, but after being exposed to different software and realizing how much he enjoyed working with it, he knew it was a field he’d be in for a long time.
Stewart started with Valpak, a Cox company until 2017, almost 15 years ago. But what he didn’t realize was how large the company was and the opportunities it offered. After a year with Valpak, he moved to another Cox division and stayed with the company ever since.
“The best thing about Cox is the career options. You could spend 10 years in one division and then move to another entirely separate division. It will seem like a totally different company, yet you will retain your tenure, benefits, etc.,” he points out.
In addition to the opportunities, Stewart appreciates Cox’s culture that encourages diversity and inclusion.
“I think what makes Cox such a great place to work is the Cox family, and the openness and support that they encourage. Cox is a privately owned company, and the family is very active and visible,” says Stewart.
“The company fosters an environment that builds on the unique talents and perspectives of its team members. Embracing diversity is both a core value and a business imperative.”
For professionals interested in technology, Stewart advises learning a programming language early, and he strongly recommend Java.
“Once you have [Java] down, it wills open doors to learn many other languages. Additionally, Java can be used across many different platforms and integration software.”
He also encourages young adults to learn a certified skill in technology even while going to, or in lieu of, college.
“Most of today’s technology is point-and-click in a lot of ways, so you could become a certified Salesforce administrator or a MuleSoft developer, and get a well-paying job within a short period of time,” Stewart adds.
Finally, he says, don’t be afraid of technology. “I believe that people shy away from technology because they feel it’s too hard, and they may not be technical enough.”
Skills in hand, Stewart advises to always be your own number one advocate.
“Don’t expect anyone else to look out for you. Brand yourself, work hard and don’t be afraid to express your worth,” he counsels.
“If you don’t ask for opportunities, they may never come. Let your leadership team know what you bring to the table and how they can benefit from it.”
Cox is currently hiring. To find opportunities visit jobs.coxautoinc.com. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.
Lark Leverages Her Differences as Assets for DXC Technology
Michelle Lark works to help improve efficiency and customer experience at Tysons, VA-headquartered DXC Technology.
Lark is a service catalog manager with the company, an end-to-end IT services and solutions company. In this role she manages requests from clients to put their processes and workflows into one centralized location to bring efficiency to the business and an improved experience to DXC’s internal clients.
“Our clients often have multiple processes and workflows that they’re trying to simplify and condense into a one-stop shop for their users,” explains Lark. “My job is to make sure this happens in a timely and effective manner.”
DXC was formed from the 2017 merger of Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) and the enterprise services business of Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE).
While Lark works for a tech company, she doesn’t consider herself a techie. With the company for three years, Lark was introduced to Hewlett Packard through Workforce Opportunity Services (WOS), a New York, NY-based non-profit organization that provides opportunities for career pathways to post-9/11 veterans and folks who live in underserved communities. Since starting her job, she’s moved through a number of roles.
“Now that I’ve been in IT for more than three years, I realize the things I continue to enjoy most are the learning opportunities, and the always helpful and knowledgeable people who work in this company and industry,” notes Lark.
What Lark appreciates the most about her company is the people: “I work with people who are willing to share their knowledge with me in a culture that encourages learning and exploration. It’s also a very inclusive work environment.”
To succeed in the IT field, Lark feels it’s important to be honest about your weaknesses to turn them into strengths. It always requires believing in yourself.
“When I started this journey, I could’ve been boxed into a stereotype, but I refused to allow that to happen. I chose to go for it. It was during the WOS program - where I was one of the few blacks (and the only woman) in my cohort - that I realized this experience was about more than landing a job,” recalls Lark.
“I discovered I had the opportunity to lead by example for other young women of color who would follow me. It was an amazing feeling: hard work does pay off!”
In addition, embrace your differences as assets. Lark is a black female veteran, three groups that are all underrepresented in the tech space.
“I’m an example that this statistic can be changed by believing in yourself, working hard and having relationships with people who will support you and help you grow.”
Finally, don’t be afraid to speak up and advocate for yourself.
“After getting my initial offer, I knew that based on my extensive research on the industry and the role I was applying for, the offer should be higher,” says Lark.
“So I spoke up and asked for what I thought was right, instead of taking the first offer that came my way. It’s amazing how a little courage goes such a long way.”
Learn more about Workforce Opportunity Services at wforce.org. Find career opportunities with DXC Technologies at jobs.dxc.technology. Connect on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Williams Keeps Her SYNNEX Team Well-Trained in a Fast-Moving Field
Wanda Williams works to ensure her team is all on the same page to best serve SYNNEX Corporation customers.
“I enjoy having the ability to impact the professional development of the entire team,” says Williams, who was recently promoted to manager of business operations and professional development for SYNNEX’s VISUALSolv team, which provides IT services, and support for audio-visual, digital signage, presentation, professional video and physical security needs for its customers.
“I’m a people person, so I enjoy being able to influence quality relationships.”
SYNNEX is a global leader in IT distribution headquartered in Fremont, CA, but has a large workforce in Greenville, SC, where Williams works.
She manages the on-boarding process for new team hires; standardizes processes and procedures for the team, brings in expert trainers and schedules routine knowledge transfer sessions to help the VISUALSolv team understand how to work better with other departments and vice versa.
Most recently she created and managed a mentoring program for the team.
“Peer-to-peer mentoring has led to the growth and development of our entire team. In contemporary mentoring, the transfer of knowledge goes both ways, so everyone benefits from the program, not just the mentee.”
She’s also passionate about diversity and inclusion in her work.
“Biases must be recognized, revealed and educated upon. I think it’s imperative that any organization recognize the strengths, talents and abilities of all employees, no matter their race, background or orientation,” Williams underscores.
“It leads to better relationships, which serves to take the company to a higher level, both internally and externally.”
Regular sharing of knowledge and bringing diverse perspectives together, notes Williams, is important in the fast-paced, ever-evolving field of IT.
“The excitement of staying abreast of the changes and developments is challenging. I like a challenge,” notes Williams. She’s worked for the company for 24 years - 12 years at SYNNEX and 12 for Gates/Arrow Distributing, which was acquired by SYNNEX.
“Twenty four years is lot of years and experience in the IT industry, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” says Williams. “The fact that the IT industry is ever-changing keeps the work days fresh and exciting.”
Key traits for success in this field, says Williams, are good organizational skills, enthusiasm and a team player mentality. She adds: “Flexibility and being able to adjust to a fast pace will take any young professional a long way in this industry.”
One piece of advice that Williams offers others that has personally carried her through her career (and life) is to allow your work ethic and character to speak for you.
“That advice has carried me for years and has never failed me,” adds Williams.
Find current career opportunities with SYNNEX Corporation at synnexcorp.com/careers. Connect on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
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