Title: Data Engineer - Lead
Company: UPMC Enterprises Companies - Prodigo
Education: Master's degree and diploma in computer applications
UPMC WIT SPOTLIGHT 2020
WIT Volunteer in UPMC Spotlight! Award
WIT mission to mentor High School Kids in IT/HealthCare/STEM
International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF) Grand Award Judge, Intel Society for Science & The Public (SSP), 2012 and 2018
Commendation from North Allegheny for School Debate Judging, North Allegheny High School Speech & Debate, 2013 - Present
UPMC Data Analytics Executive Program Certification, Carnegie Mellon University - Heinz College, 2016-2017
What made you realize you wanted to pursue a career in technology?
IT jobs will always be in demand because technological innovation never stops. We are moving forward. So, pursuing an IT career is a good choice.
What three adjectives would you use to describe your journey in the industry so far?
Authentic, heuristic, and empowering.
What is your personal mantra?
The more you love yourself, the less nonsense you’ll tolerate.
Tell me about the highest point in your career so far and how you got there, including all the hurdles you had to jump (and the ones you tripped over too).
Honestly, I believe the highest point in my career is yet to be reached.
Connecting my workplace to social impact always was my asset. I believe success is about giving back, helping colleagues, and mentoring young girls to achieve success — to tell them they better get their acts together because nobody else was going to help them — it’s about lifting them up along the journey of my career.
In 1997, when my spouse and I immigrated to the U.S., I realized the tech industry was where the jobs were. So, it was more a "job" than a career move to start my journey in the tech industry, but I obtained academic experience and training in GUI [graphical user interface] design, computer applications, and courses in DBMS [database management systems] from the local community college.
To be honest, learning coding was more challenging and frustrating than adjusting to a new culture and new country, but I had this “don't give up” attitude. I did not have a computer science background, and a lot of the concepts went over my head the first time around.
Once I completed my academics, I wanted to stop learning and start doing. I explored and secured a job as an application developer for the city of Pittsburgh.
Many consider being a woman in IT a challenge. Yes, it is a challenge, but, with practice and by learning, unlearning, and relearning the job skills, I gained confidence.
I never felt gender was an issue at work; I never felt gender discrimination at work.
But, at the same time, I felt I was not being very proactive to challenge myself career-wise, as I had two kids and was looking for more of stability than career growth.
I had a job I loved while raising two young kids but, at the same time , I just started exploring for better options. I joined UPMC as senior programmer in 2007, then I worked for five years as powerbuilder programmer and later moved to the BI Reporting Team at the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. I loved my work as senior systems analyst and learned a lot of health care-related reporting.
I prioritized learning new skills — knowledge is the one thing no one can take away from you and the one thing that grows more as you share it with others. It is what makes you irreplaceable as a company asset, and it’s the catalyst for a successful future. During my seven years, I was involved in Volunteering UPMC WIT (Women in IT).
I had a very supportive group at WIT, and I challenged myself to explore on my analyst nature to be more specific to find a niche in data engineering, which led me to join UPMC Enterprises Cos. – Prodigo. At Prodigo, I met some wonderful people.
Now, I do enjoy my job as data engineer, and I’m consistently training to grow in my career by exploring, learning, unlearning, and relearning.
What is your most admirable quality?
My colleagues, friends, and family say I am an approachable, empathetic, and spontaneously funny.
What aspect of the industry do you think has the most potential for growth, and, on the other hand, which aspect do you think needs the most improvement?
The COVID-19 pandemic is the most unprecedented event in the industry. While not everyone has been infected, it is safe to say that every human being on the planet has been affected.
Even after all this, compared to many other industries, the IT Industry is expected to have an enormous market boom in the next five years due to the increased demand for software and social media platforms, such as Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams. Another boom was for e-commerce retailers, like Amazon and Instacart.
Technology works when there is trust. Trust has many facets, including security, privacy, reliability, and performance. That trust is currently ambiguous.
Cybersecurity needs the most improvement — better encryption standards and prosecution of cybercrimes, safeguards against exploitation of personal data, etc.
When you imagine the future of the technology industry, what does it look like?
After the industrial revolution, electricity, computers, and automation, we will have the Fourth Industrial Revolution — the new world of Industry 4.0, smart factories, connected machines, and intelligent robots will not only change workplaces but also professional functions, such as marketing.
The way we will live, work, and play will change — AI, ML, and data science will make smart homes; co-bots (collaborative robots), robots, and drones will deliver packages; and more e-commerce retailers will pop up, replacing more and more cashiers.
What is the most valuable life lesson you have learned so far and how has it helped you in your career?
Never let job titles define you.
Always be your true self — your journey and unique stories help your position on the team. Know that diversity and inclusion would not exist without you or me. Life is good when you live from your roots. Be proud of your heritage and your family’s culture, as your values are a critical source of energy, enthusiasm. Work is meaningful and fun when it's an expression of your true core!
What three adjectives come to mind when you think about your future path?
Progressive, integrous, and persistent.
Data engineering, like any other career, is a field that is constantly changing.