As a regular blogger for Teradata
, I was encouraged to write a blog reflecting on my career in technology to help celebrate Women’s History Month. The first realization is that the vast majority of my career in technology has been about data.
Starting with graduating from the University of Florida with a Computer & Informational Sciences major from the Warrington College of Business, my career path has been one that bridged business and technology. Even my blogs
in 2019 had a common theme of using data and analytics to answer business questions, so let’s look back through this lens. Not to worry, even though I started my career in the last millennium, I promise to limit my musing to the key highlights.
My first job was with Harris Corporation in Melbourne, Florida (the Florida is important as I now currently work in Melbourne, Australia!) and I was hired as part of the Decision Support Services team for a high-tech engineering firm that worked on a lot of government contracts. One of the key business questions that I was helping the users answer centered around the components that went into each of the systems (satellites, rockets, etc.) being built (e.g., Which of our systems used part x or part y?
It was at Harris Corp that I had my first introduction to Teradata
. The government had introduced a requirement for every contractor to be able to answer: What is the complete breakdown of components within the XYZ System?
Up until then, we were only required to go to a fixed-level of depth in the bill of materials. The Teradata platform was attached to the mainframe and the Item Master table was loaded to enable unlimited regressive lookups.
After working with the DSS team, I rode the wave of desktop computing, the introduction of PCs, word processing, spreadsheets, etc. It was through this discipline that I was recruited to join Harrah’s Entertainment in Memphis. At Harrah’s, I internally moved to another team to help set up the end user support process for a system about to launch called Marketing Workbench.
Marketing Workbench was the key platform for driving Harrah’s customer loyalty program. One of the tenets of the program was cross-property visitation, with a key question: Which customers have visited specific properties but not others?
Harrah’s was also my first exposure to predictive analytics (e.g., identifying customer’s propensity to respond to an offer) as well as operational analytics (e.g., determining the optimum price/discount for hotel rooms for each customer).
From Harrah’s I moved on (and back to Florida) to join Office Depot, where I led the team developing and supporting the Customer Marketing Platform. Our team had to solve for complex data transformation requirements including customer identity matching to enable Marketing to have a complete view of customers. Another complexity factor was in having to differentiate between individuals as business customers and consumers.
After Office Depot, my career took on a different trajectory as I ended up meeting (and eventually marrying) an Aussie and moved down under! I initially took an individual consulting role with the Australian Tax Office (ATO) and I quickly learned that even though I wasn’t fluent in Tax, I could help specify their data needs in such a way that IT could implement. By starting with the key business questions (e.g., What are the indicators of an invalid tax deduction or fraudulent tax return?
) and understanding the data required to answer them, the planning and implementation of the extract, transformation and loading of the data could be delivered.
While I was still consulting at the ATO, I joined forces with an Australian-based IT firm to form Formation Data, a specialty data management, data warehousing and analytics consultancy. Being based in Canberra, our primary customers were the federal government departments. Over five years, Formation Data successfully grew and what I learned is that the larger the company got, the more removed I was from doing what I liked doing -- helping organization achieve business outcomes from their investments in data and analytics.
After being a customer of Teradata, a consultant and building a consultancy, I decided it was time to join Teradata itself. I am fortunate to have an individual contributor role that allowed me to work across the Government customers when I lived in Canberra and now supporting a wider variety of industries from Melbourne. I won’t go into the many key business questions we have enabled together as many of them have been covered in my previous blogs
Looking back on my now 35+ year career, what I want you to walk away with is that a career in technology is a very individual one. I chose early on to follow a path that bridged business and technology and in doing so found a common theme, helping organizations invest in answers to their key business questions.