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Coding is crucial to the corporate nervous system, making IT workers essential to all sectors.
A degree in IT is the master key that opens the doors to myriad possibilities. Why? Because coding is embedded into everything these days. It binds together the corporate nervous system. Thus, there isn’t a sector that doesn’t require IT workers.
And with all sectors tugging at their sleeves, they’re finding pay is commensurate with demand. Demand will only grow considering job openings are projected to grow by 12 percent in the coming decade, as estimated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
In addition, according to InfoWorld, average annual salary for IT workers is $89,450, and the BLS has computer and information research scientists and computer network architects averaging six figures.
Perhaps, best of all, with all industries needing IT professionals, you’re free to work nearly everywhere, from dedicated IT corporations and software companies to the energy sector, the healthcare fields and government - the list goes on from there. Find your inspiration in the stories of some successful IT pros profiled here who love their work.
Martinez Parlays Her Vast Experience into IT Director Post at Halliburton
Mary Rose Martinez is IT director, division and project services, at the Houston, TX-based energy titan, Halliburton. She’s accountable for IT services to Halliburton's global business lines, as well as global IT project services. Of course, she doesn’t do it alone, as she oversees 33 employees and nine contractors. Martinez is the epitome of the door-opening power of an IT degree.
“With a major in computer science and also in mathematics, my work experience has spanned software engineering to marketing to IT. Within IT I’ve worked in project management, strategy development, software management and business relationship management,” elaborates Martinez.
She’s parlayed her zig-zagging career track into an expansive skill set, which has engendered success in her many roles. “I’ve found the exposure brought on by each experience to enrich the successive job role, while building new skill sets at the same time.”
But working here and there and pert near everywhere can be challenging, notes Martinez.
“I was in the middle of Halliburton’s President’s Leadership Excellence Program, an intensive year-long program, when I was assigned a new position leading a team of almost 200 people in the US and India. I was out of the office up to 80 percent of the time during my first three months in the role,” she recalls.
“The experience of being stretched to the limits forced me to re-evaluate and make two fundamental changes. I researched and implemented ways to increase my productivity and took the advice of a mentor and applied the ‘good enough’ principle where I could. That advice has helped me balance the amount of effort I apply to any given objective with its corresponding value.”
When it comes to value, Halliburton actively values its approximately 70,000 employees, according to the IT director.
“Halliburton places great value on the health of its employees,” Martinez points out. “Fitness and healthy lifestyle choices are highly encouraged. We even have the Red Games, our version of the Olympics, where teams compete in a variety of events that require both fitness and strategy.”
She also enjoys the cutting-edge science and technology at Halliburton. “Contrary to some perceptions, the energy industry is very technologically advanced. To solve the challenges that we face and work in the harshest of environments, we rely on technology to effectively, efficiently and safely deliver services. The possibilities brought about by digitalization only make it even more exciting for me.”
Working in IT has Martinez interfacing with professionals in disparate disciplines, which further ratchets her learning.
“Halliburton’s extensive line of products and services means I am continually learning. It also means I get to work with a wide range of people who have different perspectives and expertise from whom I can learn,” she says.
When it comes to learning for those still in school, Martinez urges learning beyond the classroom: “Your degree is the foundation with which to build a career. However, interpersonal, communication and presentation skills are essential to be truly effective in any role. Planning and organizing skills will allow you to expand your capacity and take on increasing responsibilities, while maintaining work-life balance.”
Martinez’s final nugget advice might sound odd if you desire promotion, but prepare your replacement!
“If you want to continue to progress in your career, then ensure there’s someone trained and ready to replace you. This may sound counterintuitive from a job security perspective, but there are several benefits to this approach,” she explains.
“It’ll improve your overall team performance as you tap into their talents, as well as boost motivation when individuals are tasked with additional responsibility or participation. Preparing a replacement will not only facilitate your movement into another position, but the resulting business continuity will also convey respect and commitment to your current manager and team.”
Thumb through jobs.halliburton.com for Halliburton job paths. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram and Google+.
Sanford Health’s Oatis Uses Tech to Positively Impact Patients
Marcus L. Oatis, a personal systems technician at Sioux Falls, SD-based Sanford Health, developed his IT skills in the healthcare sector for the most poignant of reasons.
“Previous to this career my newborn niece passed away, but she was with us for about a month. I witnessed first-hand how the technology in the hospital works and the potential healing that can be done with that technology as well as the people involved with healthcare,” he shares.
“It was at that moment I decided to pursue a career directed toward supporting technology that’s used to help people within the healthcare system.”
Oatis chose well. “I love the technology and how it works to help people. I love learning about processes, programs and devices and how these all merge together to help people receive treatment and care,” he says.
Unlike many IT workers who tap away in a cubicle, sometimes Oatis is gurney-side in life-and-death circumstances.
“My first time assisting with an issue in the emergency room was an eye-opener. The word, ‘emergency,’ is a nerve-racker, but I had to teach myself to bypass the physical issue or problem, and focus on the technology and devices that needed repair or correction so the patient can receive the type of care required.”
One of nearly 28,000 employees, Oatis has nearly 30 IT personal systems technician colleagues in his Fargo, ND region.
“I love the relationship-building among coworkers and providing help to those in need, as well as the ability to be hands-on with new, emerging technology. The people are warm, friendly and inviting.”
Oatis also enjoys the pace of technological change. “Technology itself is ever-evolving daily, if not hourly, so to keep up with just that is a challenge, but an invited one. The thrill to figure out the why and how and ability to make things work is a rush.”
Oatis also shares life advice from his grandmother: “’Don’t just be….Be effective!’ was issued by my grandmother on life in general, and has been a driving force in my life for as long as I can recall.”
See sanfordhealth.jobs for Sanford Health career paths. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Flickr and Google+.
CHS CTO Christian Leverages Tech to Enhance Healthcare Delivery
Eric Christian is Carolinas Healthcare System’s (CHS) chief technology officer (CTO). It’s work that makes all the difference in the lives of millions of Americans.
“I lead a technology organization that’s responsible for leveraging tech to enhance the delivery of healthcare to our patients. I help develop the technology that enables improved care,” he specifies.
Christian and his 60,000 colleagues at Charleston, SC-based CHS never forget their profound purpose.
“We’re a non-profit healthcare system,” he explains. “Previous to coming here, I worked at a for-profit company, which was capitally driven. We’re driven here by excellence in patient care, not the stock price. We have to be fiscally responsible and be good stewards, but it’s not the primary driver. Patient satisfaction matters most. We care for people’s loved ones. We’re there for them at some of the most difficult times of their lives. People depend on us. It’s tremendous responsibility, and people trust us to do our very best work.”
Information technology (IT) serves this purpose, according to the healthcare CTO.
“I love the ability to be innovative, to apply technology regardless of the industry for which it’s been developed. I apply it to healthcare problems in new and unique ways. I think it’s cool how we’re extending the care and the reach of our doctors and our surgeons,” Christian describes.
“We have virtual care, which leverages care through video conferencing and web conferencing. We provide care with computers that allow doctors to diagnose and order medications and conduct follow-ups without patients ever leaving home. It could be through the medium of a smart phone or tablet. Our reach has been extended into very rural areas. Our specialists, like pediatrics or oncology, can reach people who can’t easily reach us.”
Everywhere he’s worked, IT has been the key for Christian: “I’m a true technologist. I’ve been able to practice IT across various industries. I love the diversity within my career. Leveraging tech to solve business problems has been the richest rewards. At Marriot Hotels I drove advances in hospitality and lodging via online reservations. At GM we automated the building of automobiles via advanced algorithms to make a line more efficient.”
It’s also been key to understand the business of each business, he maintains. “Develop a deep understanding of the business you’re in. Know and understand your customers to reduce costs or expand your service lines, which technology can enable.”
Education serves such understanding, Christian asserts. “Get a master’s degree as well as an undergraduate degree. That education allows you to think critically, to problem-solve. Education gives you the foundation to be creative.”
Check careers.carolinashealthcare.org for CHS career possibilities. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
Software Developer Barron Pays It Forward at SAP Ariba
Paige Barron, a software developer at SAP Ariba, which is a software and IT services company located in Palo Alto, CA. It’s a procurement transformation company, creating cloud-based solutions, SAP Ariba Network, source-to-pay software, contract management software and financial solutions.
Ariba was originally founded in 1996 in Menlo Park, CA with a mission to build a solution to help companies manage their spend. After almost two decades, Ariba launched a new brand identity last year after being acquired by SAP in 2012. And from there, SAP Ariba was created.
Barron focuses on the user interface of SAP Ariba’s projects. One of 84,183 employees at SAP, she was a little flustered when first hired by the software titan.
“With SAP being my first job in my career, I was terrified,” she remembers. “Joining a team of well-experienced developers with very little experience was nerve-racking for me. Luckily, I was able to find a mentor within my team that has helped me tremendously perfect my craft and build my confidence.”
The software developer now pays that guidance forward. “I love that SAP provides opportunities to give back to the community. They offer plenty of volunteer options. I participate in a program that allows employees here in our Boston, MA office to team up with one of our local high schools and provide mentoring to the students there,” she details.
And what advice does Barron dole out to the students? “This industry is always changing. There’s always something ‘new and better.’ Stay up to date with latest technologies.”
However, she further feels the social component is just as significant. “Networking is a major key. Make as many contacts as you can. This is also important throughout your career.”
If hired by SAP, then you’ll thrill to the work arrangements. “The work-life balance at SAP is amazing. SAP offers flexible work arrangements allowing employees to work non-traditional hours, remotely or from other SAP locations,” points out Barron.
Want to know more? “You can go to www.sap.com/about/careers to learn about career opportunities. Although we’re a technology company, we have careers in many different areas,” she underscores.
Scope sap.com/about/careers and ariba.com/about/sap-ariba-careers for SAP Ariba job possibilities. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram and Google+.
Cardona Keeps USCG’s Lines of Communication Flowing Freely
Manuel Alejandro Rodriguez Cardona, information systems technician, second class (IT2) for the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) sees IT becoming ever more essential in the life-and-death duties of the Coast Guard.
“I think we’ll be ever more IT-dependent. It lets us fulfill our mission with greater ease and more success,” he observes.
Cardona’s specific role is communication. “As a field technician I work with those who respond to everyday missions. I work with local infrastructure and maintenance, which might be a maritime vessel or a building. We work with the communications there, from computers to telephones. Programming and code is above my pay grade, but you can do that within the Coast Guard, and you’re often working along civilian partners.”
As such, Cardona foresees a smooth transition from the Washington, DC-based USCG to the civilian sector.
“What interested me about the IT field was how translatable it is in the civilian side. I wanted to find a job if I leave the service one day. I want to be prepared. I also enjoy the work,” he shares. “We live in a world where everything is headed in that direction. Computers are everywhere.”
The information systems technician entered the Coast Guard with no IT background, but he’s being paid to learn.
“As an enlisted member, I attended apprenticeship school. It’s an eight-month program in which you’re provided all of the basic skills. You’re offered opportunities to acquire multiple certifications beyond that,” he elaborates.
The post-9/11 GI Bill will enable further learning beyond the Coast Guard, but, for now, Cardona doesn’t want to be anywhere else.
“The Coast Guard has offered me incredible opportunities to succeed, travel and acquire valuable certifications that will continue to aid me in my professional life. My routine as an IT in this organization satiates my desire for challenges and stimulation,” he notes.
He urges his colleagues, current and future, to tap the USCG’s abundant educational opportunities.
“Don’t decline opportunities to attend new courses or receive new certifications, regardless of the educational level and experiential wisdom you already possess,” Cardona recommends. “These can provide you with fresh knowledge on their given subjects, and can also serve you in your personal marketability as a professional.”
And don’t forget to enjoy the ride! “On a much lighter note though, don’t forget to smile and enjoy yourself. Your coworkers and customers will appreciate you more when you can help them with their requests and bring joy to their day.”
Cardona applies his own advice: “I enjoy the healthy balance of social interaction and focused task immersion that my role entails. Technical support offers me the chance to work with end-users and help them solve their issues. Simultaneously, the nature of my job also demands moments of focused and undivided attention. These contrasting experiences flow in great harmony, and produce a particular degree of variety to my routine I truly cherish.”
Of course, harmony isn’t always the order of the day, but communication can save the day.
“I received a call from Sector Lake Michigan’s command center, which notified me that network communications with the outlying response units had failed and repeated attempts to establish a link had been unsuccessful. If unaddressed, it could have led to serious consequences for the Coast Guard’s responsive capabilities in western Lake Michigan,” recalls Cardona.
“Since I was the technician in charge and my immediate supervisors were unavailable that day, I was somewhat intimidated by the challenge, but I curbed my anxiety by focusing on the task, troubleshooting one step at a time and communicating with members from each unit over the phone. This allowed me to gather information, maintain a direct line with each of the affected parties, and eventually triangulate the root issue. I learned a very important lesson in the value of communication that day.”
Observe uscg.mil/top/careers.asp for USCG job opportunities. Connect on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Saxena Oversees Quality of Blackboard’s Educational Products, Services
If you’re a recent graduate, then there’s a good chance Blackboard helped power you to your degree, especially since Blackboard writes software that supports education from finance and security to learning. As a QA manager at Blackboard, there’s a chance that Samhita Saxena also played a role in your education.
“I’m responsible for the quality of all Blackboard products, for delivering excellent educational products and services that support institutions around the world,” details Saxena.
Washington, DC-based Blackboard also supports learning in businesses and governments, so the educational tech company’s role in your on-going learning may not be finished. In terms of numbers, the company serves more than 16,000 clients across 90 countries, reaching 100 million users.
“I think the most surprising thing about Blackboard is how broad our portfolio is today. While we started 20 years ago as a learning management system (LMS) company for higher education, we now work in K-12 schools, as well as with corporations and government organizations,” Saxena points out.
“Our products span teaching and learning, analytics, community engagement, campus transactions and security solutions, as well as student services. This means that I get to work on a lot of different products and with institutions facing very different challenges on a daily basis.”
Blackboard’s 3,000 employees enjoy a supple workplace that allows them to meet life’s different, daily challenges.
“Blackboard offers a very flexible work environment, which makes it possible for me to maintain a good work-life balance. We have the option to work remotely when we need, which is helpful when you have a sick child at home or a delivery that you might need to wait for. We even use our own web conferencing product, Blackboard Collaborate, to meet virtually with coworkers around the world,” she explains.
Saxena has achieved managerial success by leveraging her innate interest in programming and the experience derived from working with colleagues outside her sector.
“I’ve always been interested in electronics, telecommunications and programming, so I enjoy exploring all of the new, innovative applications that Blackboard creates,” she outlines. “My work involves cross-cutting initiatives, so I have the opportunity to work with many different people across the company.”
She urges new hires to not pigeonhole themselves, but instead to develop a broad and ever-expanding skill set. “I’d say new employees should be proactive and try to take on a variety of projects, which will give them a good platform to kick-start their career.”
Interpersonal skills have also helped her. “I think that being a people person has helped me get my work done efficiently. I like meeting new people and learning about their needs, which very easily translates into my job,” she notes.
“I’m also very approachable and have an ‘open door’ policy. The best advice I’ve ever received is that it’s critically important to network with people in the same field, so you can continuously learn more about the nuances of your industry.”
Those interpersonal skills develop networks, which, in turn, deliver the goods, the QA manager maintains.
“One of the most common challenges I experience is a tight deadline. However, I’m able to manage these deadlines by staying calm and working closely with my team to divide and conquer various responsibilities,” elaborates Saxena.
She further believes an essential interpersonal skill is listening.
“I often work with clients who are frustrated for one reason or another, which can be a difficult situation. However, I make sure to talk through the situation and understand their needs, so that we can come to an understanding, and I can provide a solution for them,” shares Saxena.
“Clients like it when they’re heard, so I make sure to always be a good listener. I enjoy being in a client-facing role where I can interact regular with our customers. This gives me the unique ability to directly respond to our customers’ needs and make changes to our products as necessary to ensure that Blackboard is meeting those needs.”
Browse careers.blackboard.com for Blackboard career opportunities. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+.
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