No doubt about it, we have some incredible customers here at Ivanti! Today I’d like to spotlight some of the awesome people we’re privileged to work with, who also happen to be women! I interviewed three of them about certain aspects of their career paths, why tech matters to them, and more.

Kelly Ruston

Technical Support Specialist II at William Osler Health System

Although the above is her offical title, Kelly prefers the term "Jack of All Trades, Expert Level". She provides front-line support for staff, administers select software applications like Ivanti ISM Cloud, troubleshoots hardware issues, provides a limited range of network/infrastructure support, has identity and account management duties, creates both technical and customer support documentation, and on top of that, is constantly looking to broaden her skillsets. 

She first became interested in tech when she was a teen.

"My dad owned and operated his own web design business from our home," says Kelly. "As the oldest, I was quickly made the official intern. I fell in love with the magic at my fingertips. With a few clicks (and back in those days, some patience), I could talk to people all over the world, read up on anything my curiosity fancied, listen to music by artists I'd never heard of before, and more."

Fast forward to the present, and Kelly finds herself in a career that challenges her, surrounded by a team who supports her and has endless encouragement for her "insatiable curiosity." She remarked that while there were certainly storms of tears, stress, exhaustion, early mornings, and even later nights on her journey to get to where she is now, looking back it was all worth it. "I get to do what I love every day. Even on the Mondays, I’m loving every minute."

Q: What advice would you give to younger generations who want to enter IT/tech, or who are just starting a career in the field?

KR: "Where to start? Technology is expanding and changing at rapid rates, and it’s an amazing, exciting field to be part of right now. The only one who can decide what you can do is you, so do what you love. Decide what you want, then make a game plan and put your mind to it. Don’t let obstacles deter you; there’s always a way. Be determined, be unafraid, be fearless, be curious, and nothing can stop you."

Q: What can we do to help women succeed in tech?  

KR: "It's time to break the stereotype of IT being filled with geeky/nerdy/gamer/hacker guys wearing suspenders, coke bottle frame glasses, pocket protectors, high-waist khakis, and button-down shirts. To help do this, I believe it’s important to encourage young women and girls to take an interest in the industry.

"For example, as a child my parents didn’t put the traditional gender role definitions in place for me when choosing toys for me to play with. I didn’t realize my interests were different from the norm until I was old enough to understand that by doing this, my parents left the path to tech open for me. When I chose to explore it as a young woman, they encouraged and supported me. I feel that if we can expose young women to technology, empower them to make that choice, and let them learn in a supportive environment, we would see more women in tech than we do today."

Q: Who is your role model or inspiration?

KR: "My first IT role model is my dad. He challenged me to learn, and to never stop learning. I would not be where I am today without his support and encouragement.

"Ada Lovelace was also a huge inspiration. She was the first computer programmer, writing the world’s first machine algorithm for an early computing machine in the 1840s. She was also the first one to realize the computing machine had capabilities far beyond computing equations. In a world that was dominated by men, she was unafraid to stand her ground and show the world the brilliant person she was."

Carla Thornley 

Central Service Desk at the University of Oxford in England

Carla is currently responsible for the central service desk at the University of Oxford in England, having come back into an operational role last year after spending a number of years working as an industry-wide global consultant. The university uses the Ivanti Service Manager solution.

For Carla, the draw to IT was not the tech itself, but the people. “My passion is actually people,” she says. “Even today, the biggest challenge in tech is still to understand how to deliver time-saving, clever solutions to everyday problems and ensure that they work seamlessly, to improve people’s lives.” 

Carla believes that the best way to tackle challenges like this is to view them through the customer’s eyes. “I was driven to a career in IT exactly because in the early days I struggled to make effective use of it and recognized that others must have been in the same boat.” she says. “I would say that rather than being a technical person myself, my own specialism is in customer advocacy and service management. These specialisms help keep services and projects on track.”

Q: What can we do to help women succeed in tech?  

CT: "I’ve worked in organizations where I was very much the lone voice, and often found myself in a position where I would be either totally invisible or speaking against the crowd. I imagine that for many women, it’s easy to believe that you must either present yourself in a different way in order to be taken seriously, or that you should change your own perspective. Considering this, as a woman in tech there is no doubt that to become an effective leader you will need to be resilient. However, there is also a fine line between having the courage of your own convictions and broadening your own perspective by taking on board the views of others.

"Having a strong peer group is also important and I think we could do more to allow women to share their stories, discuss their successes and their failures, and learn from each other."

Q: What is one upcoming project you are excited about? 

CT: "I'm actually about to join a newly formed UK-based, Higher Education-wide Women in Technology (UCISA) group, and am very excited about that! Finding ways to improving the diversity of our workplaces can only make us all more creative, empathetic, and collectively better at problem solving."

Q: Who is your role model or inspiration?

CT: "My current inspiration is actually a lady named Susan Cain, author of the best-selling book Quiet. She is instrumental in challenging people’s understanding of what it means to be an introvert. Although Susan isn’t in tech, she stands out as a woman who is challenging stereotypes and changing perspectives in such a very positive way."

Melina Neofitos 

IT Tech at Purch

Melina is currently an IT tech at Purch, which uses the Ivanti Security Management Suite along with the Asset Management Solution. She’s loved computers since the moment she first played the ski game on a Packard Bell in 1996. Since then, Melina has been hooked on tech. 

“I always loved taking things apart and putting them back together,” she says. “The challenge of trying to get anything to work again after breaking is my kind of adrenaline rush. I love research as well, so I am constantly trying to find better ways to improve processes and the time it takes for me to get maintenance tasks, etc. done.”

When Melina was just 17, she used what she knew about technology to go and work for Best Buy. “That was the start of everything, and after being in Geek Squad Troubleshooting for a while, I ended that job in 2013,“ she says. “I love a good challenge, and IT is always changing and evolving in amazing ways. I don’t think anything could ever make me leave IT, I am a lifer for sure!”

Q: What advice would you give to younger generations who want to enter IT/tech, or are just starting a career in the field?

MN: "Always be yourself. Never let some of the stress eat at you. Experiment with your labs, do research, and never let your users see you sweat or struggle. Enjoy what you do and see the fun in it. Also, it’s important to always be positive and keep your passion, no matter the struggles and challenges, because those two things will actually make you proud of yourself."

Q: As someone on the frontlines of tech, what are some of the coolest ways you’ve seen IT/tech change throughout your career? What exciting developments are on the horizon?

MN: "I have seen so many cool things. From cool design layouts, to APIs that you can use to make custom scripts and tools to make your job easier. It proves that the possibilities in this industry are absolutely endless. I am excited to see data centers grow, and to see faster connections and the different ways that technology can help us in our lives. As exciting as all this is, I believe we still need to give ourselves a break from tech and from the screen occasionally; it’s healthy to kind of reset your brain and relax."

Q: Who is your role model or inspiration?

MN: "I really look up to my manager. He has let me grow by giving me the chance to really experiment, letting me build and test on anything to improve my skills. There are companies that I’ve worked for where there was a lot of restriction and I felt as though they put a cap on my learning, whereas my manager has given me the tools, training, and guidance to become the best Tech I can be."