Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
I’m an ex-archaeologist who fell into tech accidentally 20 years ago while going to grad school in London; I emailed my resume for a coding job at Time Out Magazine to be one of the two people running their website, and the simple act of attaching a file was so innovative at the time that they hired me immediately.
I’ve since worked in Silicon Valley, NYC, Philly and now Seattle. I started off as a programmer and am now a digital asset management/content strategy expert who works as a technical program manager at Amazon Web Services.
And some fun facts: I’ve met 2/5 of surviving Monty Python members, and I’m passionate about digital preservation. I’m also a published beer historian, Star Wars fan, musical theatre nerd and Whovian who has passed on my geekery to both of my kids.
What # would define your life journey?
Favorite website / app:
I love the Internet Archive and their work to save the web (it’s especially fun to come across sites I built and worked on in the 1990s there), the particular flavor of semantic linking behind Spotify, and the fact that I can fall down a Tony Awards rabbit hole on YouTube anytime I’ve had a few too many beers.
Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted:
I have many, many historical inspirations – early women doctors like Mary Edwards Walker and Anna Broomall; tech pioneers such as Ada Lovelace, Anita Borg and Grace Hopper and quite a few suffragists across the world.
But my favorite contemporary role model isn’t in tech, but film – Kathleen Kennedy. Not only does she have this lifelong Star Wars fan’s dream job, but her approach to the work and her always-learning leadership style is inspirational. I wish she would write a management book – I’d actually read it!
Song that makes you want to dance:
Technical challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
I love using my tech skills to power libraries and archives, but the pay scale there is laughably low; after a mid-career transition to thoroughly enjoyable and challenging archival work (and a second master’s degree), I went back into pure tech – I could no longer afford getting paid a fraction of my tech salary for the same skillset.
That said, it did open my eyes to the amazing work libraries, archives and historical societies are doing in the digital realm on very limited budgets – in many ways, it’s been more valuable than my previous dot-com startup experience in terms of learning how to get things done without ample resources.
I’d love to run all things tech- and information-related for a huge cultural institution like the BBC, British Museum or Disney (well, Lucasfilm, but you probably guessed that) – and I’d like to hire a ton of digital archivists in roles across the org and make sure they are properly paid for their expertise. Librarians and archivists are tech superheroes!
What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
Tell your own story and make your narrative work for you; there are many routes into tech professions, and all outside experience add value and color. Once you are there, take credit for a job well done, but share the reflected glory with those who helped you along the way – highlighting a junior coder’s contribution not only inspires their confidence and helps them on their journey, but it also demonstrates what kind of leader you are – one with a positive sphere of influence.
And build in time for mental breaks – a mid-day walk or run can help get the brain moving in the right direction to solve tricky problems. Not all ‘work time’ needs to be spent ‘working’ – dedicate some time to think long-term or otherwise beyond the immediate problem that needs to be solved.