Meet Former Victoria's Secret Employee Turned Woman in Tech, Kelly Ruston
In this customer spotlight, we talked with Kelly Ruston, technical support specialist at William Osler Health System.
How long have you been working in the IT industry and what was your first position?
KR: My first job in IT was when I was 13 years old as an assistant web master working for my dad, who taught himself to code and co-founded a web design business in the 1990s. I started by assisting with graphic editing, then slowly moved up to proofing code and other assorted tasks, then writing code.
Sadly, the rise of ready-made websites eventually killed his business. But while it lasted, it helped instill a love of technology in me. My love of tech prompted me to continue towards a bachelor's degree in computer science, and I graduated cum laude from Clarion University.
What were you doing prior to IT?
KR: While in pursuit of my dreams, I worked in retail. Victoria's Secret was very unique in that the products are a very intimate part of being a woman, so the client-sales person relationship is much different. It helped me learn a lot of skills that have helped me work with staff who call for IT support. Thirty years ago, IT was very much dominated by the stereotypical IT persona (aka not a people person). Today, it's essential to have good people skills no matter where you work in IT, because you will be working with the general public in some fashion.
Working in retail also gave me a huge appreciation for the salespeople in stores. Make no mistake, it had its ups and downs. In the end, would I go back to retail? Not for all the tea in China, but I think the world would be a better place if everyone was mandated to work in retail for six months (and it needs to overlap the Christmas holiday) at least once in their lifetime!
What do you love most about IT, your position, and the company you work for?
KR: When you think of the word "hospital", what do you think of? Nurses, doctors, maybe the person who works the x-ray machine. You might also think of the clerical person who checked you in at the front door. If you’ve had some in-patient time, you might think of the people who work in the lab, the people in the hospital cafeteria, a particular therapist, or the person who brought the meal cart around each day.
The often unrealized truth is there’s actually a small army of people working behind the scenes to keep the doors open, enabling all the people you just thought of to do their work. By keeping the technology in the hospital in top shape, I help front-line staff do their jobs. So I am helping contribute to saving lives and increasing the quality of life for many others. I also get to be part of a team that is constantly looking for innovative ways to deliver healthcare in order to provide the best patient experience possible.
What I love most about IT, my job, and my organization is that when combined, I’m able to use my skills to do a job I love and make a difference in people's lives.
What has been your proudest moment at work? (At William Osler or previous jobs.)
KR: I’ve had some pretty amazing moments at work. I’ve been recognized for exemplary work by coworkers, directors, chiefs, and executives. I’ve earned some pretty amazing achievements and certificates. What stands out the most to me is the day-to-day “ahhh” moments. It’s that moment when someone says “Ahhh, thank you for fixing this, you’ve made my day so much better!”. In that moment, I know I’ve made a difference so they can stay focused on the person that really matters—the patient.
What’s the most important trend you see happening in the IT industry today?
KR: One of the most important and most influential trends I see across the industry today is the cloud. Now in the tech industry, the cloud is nothing new—it’s been around for a while. It’s the innovations happening within and around the cloud that have brought it back to the forefront of everyone’s thoughts.
This past year, we’ve seen the introduction of parallel streaming in milliseconds, giving us access to data faster than ever before. Cloud providers are embracing new open source alternatives, which allow them to provide better availability and lower costs to customers. Combined, this is allowing the market for cloud services to grow in ways it previously couldn’t. This also opens a whole new frontier’s worth of questions around high-profile concerns such as regulatory compliance, data residency, security and privacy, legal obligations, and more. The precedent we set today in reaction to these concerns will define and shape the future, and in some industries the viability, of cloud computing.
If you could drop some advice to newbies in IT, what would it be?
KR: Learn. Then get curious and ask questions to learn more. Don’t ever be afraid to ask questions, or ask to shadow a more experienced tech so you can learn from them. Keep an open mind, look for opportunities to learn something new, and smile!
We all know you're a rock star at work, but what other things do you like to do on your time off?
KR: I enjoy spending time with my darling Greyhound (Cara) and my awesome husband. I also like to explore our local area. We live in a beautiful, rural village with plenty of areas to hike. If we’re not out exploring nature, we like to jump on our motorcycle to visit and explore neighboring towns. We also have two very energetic young cats (Kane and Selina). They aren’t as interested as Cara in the jet-setting lifestyle, and prefer to help me in my garden or with slaying monsters in video games.