My career as a software engineer began in what was at the time a forward-thinking high school that offered computer programming classes. My relationship with coding, however, got off to a rocky start. Although I loved solving problems, misbehaving programs drove me a little crazy at times. I once joked with a fellow classmate that I could never be a career programmer because I often woke up in the middle of the night with my brain debugging code. (As it turned out, we both ended up in software development.)
Just to add another plot twist, I started out at Brown University as a pre-med student. Somewhere along the way, however, I began to see the exciting potential of applying computer programming skills to any scientific discipline, so I decided to take a computer science class. With personal computers quickly starting to take off, I quickly became hooked. I finished the pre-med requirements but, ultimately, software engineering seemed the better fit for me.
In the years after graduation, I explored a variety of vertical markets, including cyber security, software development tools, finance, medical hardware, and defense systems. I worked in companies of all sizes, from 3 people to over 100,000, in difference capacities as a developer, trainer, consultant, and architect. Each role gave me a unique perspective and taught me new skills.
Today I am a Solutions Engineer at Hortonworks, where I help customers understand and apply our open-source software to transform their businesses and customer experience. Big Data is a very exciting place to be. Because open-source software evolves very rapidly, there is always something new to learn. I also love digging into challenging and novel problems and discovering the use cases of our diverse customers.
The Value of a Healthy and Diverse Culture
I chose Hortonworks because of the people, the technical leadership, and the company’s dedication to customer success. My job involves learning and applying cutting edge tools to solve real world problems. Because our team shares our experiences and learns from each other, I believe I’m part of the best solutions engineering team in the business.
Hortonworks is an especially great place for women because of our leadership’s commitment to building a healthy and diverse culture. Not only does such a culture improve our experience as women employees, it improves our company’s performance and bottom line. Skeptical? Consider reading this Harvard Business Review Study.
In short, diverse teams outperform monocultures, and talent is a key differentiator. Companies like Hortonworks who seek diversity cast their nets widely to find the best talent. But consider also a ripple effect: Since our customers are culturally diverse, we believe that it’s also critically important for our customers to feel that we not only understand their technical problems, but also their culture.
Our market is highly competitive and our success relies heavily on the innovative products and services. While a homogenous team can often feel more comfortable and perhaps make decisions more quickly, the results might not be as innovative because of the limited perspectives and experiences of the decision makers.
Women @ Hortonworks
I am honored to serve as the president of Women @ Hortonworks, an Employee Resource Group (ERG) that supports women in all roles at Hortonworks. Our goal is to make Hortonworks a top choice for women employees. We advocate for the gender diversity at Hortonworks by offering mentoring and other programs to educate, develop, and advance the careers of women. With the spirit of diversity and inclusiveness, we work with other ERGs on common diversity goals.