Tonya Makowski

Nevertheless, she persisted.

Queens of Tech Podcast

60+ questions with female tech influencers about their journey into STEM

#12

Tech Queen

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Tonya Makowski - Network Engineer

Tonya Makowski

Network Engineer/Front-end Support

Tonya Makowski has been in an IT role since 2004 where she was the “accidental techie” at a non-profit.  Leaning into that skill set, she completed a Computer Science degree in 2009 focusing on data management.  Tonya has worked as a web developer, database developer, .Net developer, IT support technician, and project manager.  She has spoken at tech conferences, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) events, and tech boot camps.  Currently, Tonya volunteers for the DEI Committee with the Parents Teacher Association (PTA) at her son’s high school and throws axes in her free time.

Tonya Makowski-Queens-of-Tech-Podcast

Full transcription

In this episode, I’m very excited to welcome my guest, Tony Makovsky, Network engineer and Front-end support at Flying Buttress. Hi Tony. Hi. I’m very happy to have you joining me today.
I am so excited!

How are you?
I’m really great. This is the first day of my four day birthday weekend. My birthday’s on Monday, so this is a great kickoff.

Happy birthday. Now let us dive into your journey into tech. Hope you’re ready for the Queens of Tech’s 60-plus questions.
I’m ready.

***FUN FACTS ***
  1. How would you describe your personality in three hashtags?
    #IamtheITguy, #wranglerofchaos, and  #bitchesget shit done.

     

  2. How would you describe your life in three sentences?
    Our productivity is not our worth. Any progress is better than nothing, and perfection is the enemy of progress.

     

  3. What kind of music stimulates and motivates you the most?
    Hip hop and rap, it’s my favourite.

     

  4. What’s your personal motto?
    Help the people that come behind you.

     

  5. What is your favorite book?
    Hitchhiker Guide to the Galaxy.

     

  6. What is your favorite podcast?
    I picked two. One serious and one funny. I’ve been listening to what can Roman Mars learn about constitutional law and then Everything is alive. It’s hilarious. Check it out.
     
  7. Mac or PC?
    For my personal use, I like Mac When I’m fixing other people’s computers, I hope it’s a PC.

     

  8. Say something interesting about yourself that most people don’t know.
    I throw axe.

     

  9. What is your hidden talent?
    I have a really good ability to make money.

     

  10. If you were going to write a book about your life what would the title be?
    Nevertheless, she persisted.

***CHILDHOOD***

  1. Where did you grow up?
    I grew up in the San Francisco Bay area.

     

  2. What was your dream job as a child?
    I think I wanted to be a veterinarian.

     

  3. What was your favorite subject in school?
    Probably music, cuz I did it the longest. Elementary school all the way through post-college.

     

  4. What was your least favorite subject?
    Math . I was so slow at it.

     

  5. What would you say is your earliest memory of technology and the arrival of the internet?
    My mom brought home extra old computers from work and we got to play with that and really, I used it like as an electronic diary while my friend was learning how to French braid my hair and then, School when the internet was starting to be more easily accessible to everybody. We used to log onto chat rooms and like connect to universities and be like, Look, we’re in the university library, which seems silly now.

     

  6. Which were then the three first technology gadgets you owned?
    I used computer from my mom’s office. I had a pager when I was in high school. I had a motor. Star Tech Cell phone. That was my first cell phone in like 1999. And then when I was in college, I had an old laptop, which I thought was revolutionary because I could do my horse work in the student lounge and not have to wait until I got home because  of efficiency.
  1. Who was your female role model and why?
    It has always been my mom. She doesn’t back down and gets everything done and is motivational and has taught me everything I know about writing resumes and how to negotiate your job. And I try to teach those things to the women that I encounter in my life cuz they’ve been invaluable to me.

     

  2. How do you think where you grew up and the school you went to and the generation you come from influence your education and career choice?
    I think because computers became so much more common and the internet became so much more common, it seems easy to people of my generation or, certainly easier. It wasn’t learning a new thing.

    The old dogs can’t learn new tricks kind of situation. So it was easy for me to pick up and I noticed. A lot of value in teaching the older generation how to do things when they were trying to transition into computers and electronic tools in the workplace. I’m like, oh yeah, that’s easy. It’s really efficient once you learn it. That’s how my career path really took the turn for technology.

     

    ***CAREER PATH***

  1. What did you study at university?
    I had two college experiences. The first one I was studying philosophy and political science, but then got, I don’t know, disenfranchised after the American 2020 election. That was a debacle. And so when I went back again, I decided to study computer science with an emphasis. Data management specifically because the data that you put in is as good as the data you’re gonna get out. And I really wanted to jump in front of bad practices and workplaces and control that because I feel like it brings businesses down.

     

  2. Who and what influenced you to get into your chosen field?
    I don’t really know. I saw other people doing it and making money and working from home. I was like, Oh, that’s easy. I could do.

     

  3. What professional roles have you had before that led you to the current one?

    The role that moved me into technology was, I don’t remember what the position was called, but for an organization, a nonprofit called Wardrobe for Opportunity, where I was working on clients scheduling for appointments where people would get dressed for work, they would get interview clothing for no cost, and then they could come back when they got a job for a week’s worth of clothing that they can wear in a professional environment.

    I was mostly answering phones and scheduling. But I was working with an older generation of people on computers that were donated, and it was technology chaos. I saw a bunch of ways to improve that implemented offsite backup server, so everything was in a centralized location, offsite backup, so that way they weren’t losing data, a database.

    That was built for the way that they did business, so they could track things and generate metrics. And I thought, wow, this really is transformational and made this business possible to be functional and to help these women. I wanna do this all the time. And that’s mostly what I do now.

     

  4. What does your company do, and what is your title?
    Flying Buttress is a managed service provider, that’s a fancy way of saying it, support, and we work primarily for the architectural engineering design and construction vertical. So architectural companies primarily. My role is officially Network Engineer, but primarily my job is front-end PC support. I sit at a help desk basically all day and help people fix Autodesk, reset their passwords, keep people working basically.

     

  5. How did you get the job, and what are your main responsibilities?

    I have always been the accidental techie. Again, going back to that nonprofit where I just knew the most about it and wasn’t, don’t make people feel bad about having a problem with computers. People are like, Oh, I’m so bad at computers, and I’m like, Oh my God, I’m so bad at accounting. You do accounting. I’ll do computers. So it’s been easy for me to get along with people and help them when they’re feeling bad about themselves, about having this problem. Good customer service helps. And then in my interview, I’m the only technical woman at my company. They were like, Are you able to work with a bunch of bros? And I said, as a woman in technology, that’s primarily my career experience. Bring it .

     

  6. What does a typical work day look like for you?
    Everything is tickets first. Like we’re always waiting first thing in the morning for things that have come in overnight or over the weekend. And we can also then advance as things slow down after tickets. We can advance client projects and tasks and things like that, and then maybe third internal projects and make ourselves better. But tickets.

     

  7. What do you love about your job?
    I really appreciate the fact that it keeps everything going and our role is primarily to make other people’s jobs easier and more efficient. I’m all about easy and efficient. They are hopefully less frustrated after, having their problem solved.

     

  8. What is the best experience you’ve had in your role so far?
    I have a client that we took on, I think we onboarded them, I can’t remember if it was January, February, March of 2020. Then I never got to see them in person. Their elevator was broken for a while and I couldn’t go up four flights of stairs at that time. And so I didn’t see them in person for a long time. But eventually when we were going into the office, they would see me walking around the office in the background and then cheer, Oh, yay, Todd’s here. And I was like, Oh, thanks guys.

     

  9. What is the biggest challenge, you have encountered so far, and how did you tackle it?
    Trying to organizing tasks across clients. It’s really interesting to deal with one, business’s it problems and be really good at that, But applying that 6, 7, 8 times and being able to integrate ourselves and then their processes into our workflow has been challenging. But standardizing documentation. I even have a shirt that says Document or die, and trying to automate as many things as possible makes it easier.

     

  10. What do you wish everybody understood about your role?
    People need breaks. Hey, can I remote in one 30? And they’re like, my computer’s available at noon or after five, and I’m like, I have to eat and I also have to leave at five because I have a family Or just need to stop working
  11. What is one of the common myths about your professional field that you want to disprove that everybody?
    We’re not all guys. people sometimes reply back and they’re like, Thanks, Tony. And I’m like, Okay, you’re welcome. Fine.
  1. What do you love about working in the tech industry?
    It and tech in general in this era really makes everything else possible. We do everything on computers, so that feels pretty great. And ideally, we’re making the world better all the time in our jobs. That feels motivational to me, and this is a real easy way to do that because it influences everything.

     

  2. What has by far been your biggest achievement in your career?
    Like small businesses, because I feel like I can make the greatest impact. And I often time walk in and they are doing things in a really discordant, antiquated way. And I’m like, Hey, we can streamline this and make this data available all the time and automate a lot of these processes, and it’s mind blowing and really transformational. For these businesses, increasing efficiency and making people’s jobs easier is good for business, but also good for people.

     

  3. What’s the biggest factor that has helped you be successful? Any success habits?
    I really like lists and prioritizing things. Really, we are each only one person and can only do so much, and at work and really in our personal lives. There’s an infinite amount of things that can be done, so making. Prioritizing the things that need to be done because they’re critical or urgent or take a long time, and then asking for help and asking others if they need help is a good success habit for anything. Anytime you’re working with other people.

     

  4. How do you measure your own performance at work?
    I’m a number cruncher, and my business doesn’t necessarily crunch numbers, and so I watch the number of tickets that we have open for a given client and the percentage. The open tickets that are on my plate and per client tickets, and sometimes I’ll pop in and look at tickets for other people and see has this been addressed for the clients that I’m primarily responsible for to try to keep things moving. We’re supposed to be closing tickets all the time and advancing projects. But we have a feedback process. When you close a ticket, they get an email to rate it, and sometimes they’re mad because took a long time to solve this problem because the software is challenging or their computer is broken, and it’s frustrating for them. But sometimes they write these really nice reviews that are just warm and fuzzy. So I read those. As a measure of customer satisfaction and the fact that I’m being personable at my job, but also to keep me motivated because sometimes it gets hard and I’m frustrated and I read those like warm fuzzy notes. I save them. I’m in a file so I can read them later on hard days.
  5. What is your biggest failure in your career, and what did you learn from it?
    At one point in my second degree, I learned as many programming languages as this program would offer me. So I had a lot of rudimentary knowledge in a lot of places, and I thought, Oh, I could apply this to anything. And I took a job as a junior file maker. Developer file maker is like an access database, but for Mac, it’s owned by Apple or a subsidiary now of Apple. And honestly, I hated. Software and when I think back on it, I really hate making access databases and so I should have known better, but I hated it and I was really not good at it. I made myself a database and now I have this database, but boyo, , I really did not enjoy it.

     

  6. What is inspiring and motivating you the most in your role and career right now?
    I really enjoy improving business process and efficiency in my role. I have the opportunity not only to do that for my employer, but also for all of the client companies that I’m working with. That really keeps me coming back every day. Make it better. We can be better .
 

***MENTORSHIP AND ROLE MODELS**
  1. Do you have a mentor today?
    I don’t really have. One mentor. My mom, she proofreads everything for me and keeps me going, but I really have leaned into communities instead of individual people.

     

  2. Who is the female role model you look up to in your field?
    I have two organizations that I just adore. One of them is Lesbians Who Tech. They’re a global. Company and they just hosted a summit in San Francisco and they’re fabulous. The people in that community are super smart, really forward thinking, really trying to build a better community, more diversity in tech, and doing amazing things. And then my second organization is Tech Ladies, which is how I met you. They’re very similar. Also a global organization of very smart women who are very specifically all trying to help each. Which I use them because I’m the only female at my company. I use them as female coworkers, and so they’re a good sounding board. And when I’m frustrated, I can go in and talk to them and they’re not telling me that I’m being emotional. They’re like, Oh no, that’s really challenging. And I see how you’re frustrated by that. Cheers to both of them.

     

  3. How important do you think it is to have a role model mentor during one’s career?
    I think it’s incredibly valuable. It helps guide you to the best ways to grow your career. Having somebody with perspective is incredibly valuable, and I don’t know, imposter syndrome is a real thing, and so a mentor will de you. For your value in a way that you can’t and will remind you that, Oh no, it’s a hard day. You’re not a bad person. It’s a bad situation. And where sometimes when you’re just thinking about your own perspective, you can get bogged down. I think the way that women are in their relationships, it would make sense to me that they would be more likely to have mentors. So applying that to our business lives just makes sense.

     

  4. What does leadership mean to you?

    I really actually resonate with that quote by Cheryl Sandberg because the idea of making change that outlasts you, that applies to a business.

    Of course, we wanna make a. Better, but the people that you are doing that business with, making their lives better. One of the principles of Agile project management is psychological safety in the workplace. And when I first heard that, I was like, Oh gosh, don’t be silly. That’s a ridiculous concept. But then I thought, No, wait a minute.

    Making a place to where it’s. Safe for people to ask for help and certainly offer help to each other or to say, No, I can’t take that on right now. I’ve got too many things, or, let’s just schedule that out, is incredibly valuable. And introducing those concepts to businesses is revolutionary, honestly.

     

  5. What do you consider a good versus a bad leader?

    Bad leaders are inconsistent, and I guess that translates into unreliable. It’s not having clear ideas about what the company’s goals are and how an individual person fits into that, and then how the team can do that together. And then I think also not giving people the space to do those things because you’ve obviously hired them because you respect their skills and a.

    Let them do it. Don’t stand in their way. While those are the qualities of bad leadership, Contrarily, the good side is inspiring people to do their best work. I’ve been real deep in the project management training mindset recently, and we were talking about how to form teams about the storming and norming part of it, and then performing a good leader will re.

    That changes in a workflow or in the team membership is gonna change the way that things are happening and encouraging that growth opportunity and then locking in how this team works together and then how to grow it and be better. The sum is greater than the individual parts.

     

  6. Who would you say is your favorite female tech leader?

    I don’t know. There are so many. To pick from Edie Windsor. Both was a technologist at, I think IBM early on and was revolutionary in the IT industry, but also was one of the named people in the lawsuit that ultimately went to the US Supreme Court for marriage equality. Her career life and her personal life were both big and influential, and that’s amazing.

    And then second, I can’t just pick one, is Megan Smith. She was the third. CTO, but I think the first woman to hold that position, and she’s big in the lesbians tech community as well. And so she speaks at these events and things like that. Having a woman at that level, making decisions about technology for the US and a greater sense really is amazing.

  7. How would you describe yourself as a leader?
    I try to be kind and I try to always thank people. I shouldn’t assume that because there has been a task assigned or it is their job that they shouldn’t be thanked for their time and effort, and so I always try to thank people and ask people if they need help. Sometimes it feels, and I think. For women and for men as well. It feels uncomfortable to be overwhelmed or stressed out at work and ask for help. And so if you can get ahead of that and say, Hey, how’s everybody doing? Does anybody need help with anything? Creates that psychological safety in the workplace.

     

  8. What values are most important for you as a leader?
    Really valuing people as individuals more than process or the business itself. If you hire people because you know they’re good, then get out of the way of them and let them be good. Don’t work them to death.

     

  9. What leadership lessons have you learned that have formed you into the leader you are today?
    I’ve been in a couple of companies or had some clients where the leadership were, I’m gonna say hostile, like yellers. We always say, Oh, he’s a yeller. And it makes people uncomfortable and scared in the workplace, and I don’t want to be that. It just seems like a poor quality in people and just like really silly to do at work, We’re at work. Can you be an adult?

     

  10. What would you say are your three strengths and three weaknesses?

    I care a lot about the outcome of what I do. I guess I take it personally. The success of things that I work on are incredibly important to me, which maybe is also one of my weaknesses. I’m incredibly persistent. I feel like I can find a solution to anything given.

    Time and effort. I always have a plan A, plan B, plan C, plan Q, and servant leadership. It’s a phrase that I’ve really appreciated, where it’s not top down. It really is supportive and I like it a lot. For weaknesses, I’m just gonna say again, I sometimes I care too much. I get a little bit. Frustrated by immobility.

    People have told me that they can see it on my faces, so sometimes I will just call into a meeting instead of via on the video. We’re all here doing something together. Are we gonna do this? Or what? My third one is, I end up running myself down and then typing. Sometimes I’m a chaotic typer and I don’t slow down and check for typos.

***DIVERSITY, EQUALITY, INCLUSION & BELONGING***

  1. What do diversity, equality, and inclusion mean to you personally?
    I feel like we as a culture know what this means. For me personally. It’s identifying where we’re lacking and then fixing it for that particular business, but in a lasting way, so it impacts future generations.

     

  2. What do you consider to be three to five signs of good company culture if you were to join a company?
    Always read through a company’s website and I look at their leadership. A lot of times there’s photographs, are they all cis head white guys? That’s important to me. Transparency and communication. Really that is salary and job postings. I’m really excited that it’s becoming law. I think now in New York and California and a couple of other places in the us I also try to speak with people during my interview. About tenure at a company, How long have people been there? If there’s a lot of turnover, it’s probably not a good place to work.

     

  3. As a woman, what has been the most significant barrier in your career, and how have you overcome these challenges?

    I think imposter syndrome has been one of my biggest challenges. I’m short and so when people see me, sometimes they mistake me for a kid, like when I went on a field trip recently, they said, Are you one of the students here?

    And I was like, No, I’m a mom. Which is hilarious to me. But sometimes I think that influences how people. See me, even though I see myself differently, and so I overcome that. I’ve decided that I’m in this situation, this job, this forum, this speaking opportunity because I have good skills and experience and I should just do it.

    I’m there. I’m just gonna start talking about the things that I have to say.

  1. Why do you think it is important for more women to join the tech industry, especially as leaders?
    Avoiding group think is primarily the reason for diversity in the workplace. A business can do nothing but gain from having more perspective and being more broadly attractive to the market and having more people contributing to the way a product or a service looks is how to do that. Sometimes I’m like, Why don’t we get that?
  2. Do you, and how do you speak with your female colleagues and male colleagues about diversity quality and inclusion challenges, especially salary gaps?

    I don’t have any female colleagues currently. One of the biggest ways is trying to, Anytime somebody asks me to look at a job listing, I’m like, Are we gonna put the salary range in there?

    Both in terms of not wasting people’s time if it’s a job that they can’t apply for because it’s offering less than they can take, but also because stating that amount of money makes it clear that everybody should be getting paid. That at one point, I worked for a company where one of the developers could crunch numbers in the employment data.

    And did, and then we decided that we wanted to talk to the leadership about whether or not people were really getting paid equally. The outcome was a change in title and I possibly pay for her, but it started a conversation about whether or not our efforts really were equal and fair for people doing the same job.

    And title is sometimes just as important as pay equality because it’s difficult to get the next job in your career path if you don’t demonstrate you have done it. Being a senior and being recognized for that is.

  1. There are many public and internal discussions about the barriers women face from reaching higher positions in the tech industry. How do you feel it has affected and is affecting you, and what is your advice on how to best unlock these roadblocks?
    Hear a lot statistics about who applies for jobs, and the idea is that men will apply for a job if they mostly qualify for it when they’re reading the job description, and women may not. And I think applying for those jobs and talking in your cover letter and in your interview about why you are able to do those things, even if you can’t demonstrate you’ve done it on your resume. Tying back to what I just said about position and title, your ability, Sometimes isn’t necessarily reflected in your job history. And then back to imposter syndrome again, just like you’re there, you’re good at what you do, you’re capable. Show up and speak up and do it.
  1. As the tech industry finds it hard to attract and retain women what is your best advice on strategies for how companies can work to build a stronger corporate culture that engages gender diversity?
    It’s important that we’re actually doing things like we can’t just have policies. We have to have actions behind it. And so if we recognize we need change, we have to go do that. Change. Investing in training and mentorship or internship programs where we’re reaching out. To people who wanna get into the industry and making it accessible for them is valuable.

    Programs like Tectonic in San Francisco does Tech Boot Camps specifically for women and non-binary adults for this idea, recruiting from spaces where diverse candidates are watching, posting jobs with organizations. Like lesbians who tech and tech ladies, where there are more diverse candidates, you have to go and find these people and you can’t expect that they’re gonna show up in the places where you’ve showed up because those are closed loop systems.

    And then I think as far as like culture things, flexible work schedules, pay transparency, flexible work from home on location makes it possible for people to be humans and have a job. Sometimes appointments have to happen during business hours, but that doesn’t mean that this person’s not good at their job.

    And then showing people that you value them. There’s a lot of ways that can happen. Acknowledging their effort at work, saying Thank you, perks and time off, and good pay, equal pay, all of those things remind them that their time and effort really is contributing to their business success and telling them that we’ll make them better workers,

     

  2. What would you say then are the few challenges and possibilities of implementing diversity, equality, and inclusion in a workplace?
    Action, not just policies. We sometimes spend a lot of time thinking about it and then writing these policies, and then it’s just this black and white document oftentimes put up on a website, but there’s no change in how we’re doing things, and that inaction, I think, is the downfall of a lot of DEI efforts at.

     

  3. Why and how do you think companies would benefit from having workplace gender diversity especially better gender representation at C-level?
    A lot of times when people, women are evaluating a job, they’re looking at those pictures like I do when I’m looking at a job offer or a company that I might wanna work for, because that tells me a lot about what their culture and their policies, what their actions have been in the past. It also is gonna reflect a better understanding of people in their business, in their company in general. There’s more input and influence and thought happening around that. Any business that is considering broader category of information about. Their policies and their products are gonna be better in general.

     

  4. How much do you think the tech industry has changed regarding this subject since you joined?
    I’m used to being the only woman doing tech things, and I haven’t been nervous or shy about it necessarily, but it’s hard for other people to do and it’s really been great to see that changing where. More women are feeling less intimidated by being the only woman or being on a team where there are only a couple of women. I feel like we are empowering people to show up as their whole selves at work more, and that really includes having a different opinion or a different thought process than your coworkers.

     

  5. Looking back on your own career what one thing would you have changed in your working environment to break the bias?
    I would have started asking people to prioritize diversity earlier, like I really didn’t think about it and thought just my showing up in the workplace was enough. It’s our responsibility to help the people that are coming behind us. And so if I felt that there wasn’t enough diversity in the workplace, Then I could have done more earlier about it and said, Hey, we should have more training programs or reach out to people and do mentoring or have an intern who does it for the summer, and taken a more active role in changing that earlier rather than later.

     

  6. Looking forward what will you do as a leader to improve the bias for the next generation of women in tech?
    One of the things that my mom taught me was anytime there’s something that you’re interested in learning more about, or you’re interested in pivoting toward is to talk to people who have done it. They have insight and advice. But sometimes it’s harder for people coming from disadvantaged communities to have that network already in place. Like you have to have a person to ask before you can ask the question. And a podcast like this gives people a free, easy way to listen to a data scientist from Google or a CEO in France to ask these questions and to talk about their career path. And so your work is incredibly.

**MENTAL HEALTH AND WORKPLACE BALANCE***

  1. I’m sure without a doubt you have a busy lifestyle, so how do you take care of yourself to maintain good mental health?
    Sometimes I’m not very good at owning a body and I have to actively, and really the my loved. In my life, help remind me of this. But I have to actively remind myself that I do in fact need to eat, sleep, exercise, and take breaks. And so I really try to prioritize that mostly when I’m super stressed out. Oh, I’ve forgotten to do this.

     

  2. Have you ever experienced burnout?
    I have a couple of times, and it usually comes when I feel like everything is like skating along and under control, and I’m like, Oh, I can take on one more thing and then it causes chaos. For burnout. I wanna recommend a book by, I think her name is Emily Nagoski. It’s called “Burnout” and it talked about completing the stress cycle, like there’s the stress and the stressor, and you have to allow yourself to be like, Wow, that was really awful, and that was really hard.

    Okay. That really emphasizes slowing down and that we can only do as much as one person can do. We’re not super people as much as we are super people in those times. You gotta focus on the. Sometimes being kind or being healthy and happy is more important than whatever your business goals might be.

     

  3. What motivates you every day to get out of bed?
    Quote from Eminem from a song. He says, “Success is my only mother fucking option. Failure’s not”. And that really resonates with me because I’m gonna do this like I am doing this and everything is gonna be okay. And I just operate from that standpoint. And so I wake up and I’m like, Okay, what am I doing today that is gonna be successful?

     

  4. What is your advice on how companies can create a more mentally healthy workplace in the new now? 
    I think flexible work schedules, allowing people to slow down and be less productive when they’re feeling that burnout edge, because when they can slow down and regain their composure, they’re more effective, more accurate, more pleasant to work with, encouraging breaks, encouraging the use of PTO, prioritizing people over processes, and good work will follow from that.
 

**WORDS OF WISDOM***
  1. What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given that has helped you during setbacks in your role and career?
    I think as a woman, my inclination is to organize things for other people and schedule and take on administrative duties to keep things going, to keep the household running. But I think the best advice I’ve gotten is always focus on staying technical yourself. So I try to orient myself on that all the.

     

  2. What is the worst advice you have ever been given, and how did you tackle that?
    One time my mom and I went to a women’s conference and I don’t know what the topic was exactly. I was expecting like motivational speaking about women in the workplace and salary negotiation and improving your skills. But the door prizes for people were baskets of cleaning supplies, and they literally said, Get a husband. And my mom and I looked at each other, got up left, laughed about it in the parking lot and got lunch. Okay. Sometimes you need to know that’s not the good.

     

  3. Is there something you wish you would have known or a skill you wish you had when starting out in the tech industry?
    Not necessarily. I feel like everything you can learn positioning yourself in a way that is a growth mindset, and not being afraid to learn and ask questions.

     

  4. If you have the ability to go back in time when you were just the beginning of your career what advice would you give to your younger self?
    I’m gonna say more certifications. There’s a lot of IT certifications. You can be a certified network engineer or a Cisco certified engineer or a Microsoft certified professional. And those things really have value as demonstrating your technical skills, but they also teach you those technical skills. And so sometimes it’s challenging to get a job that catch 22. It’s hard to get a job without experience, but you can’t get the experience without the job. And training programs are a way too.

     

  5. What advice would you give to young girls and women, wanting and trying to break into STEM fields today?
    If you like it, do it. Your interest and passion about it is gonna make you good at it. And don’t be intimidated by the workplace because clearly you’re good at it. Do it

     

  1. What is next for you in your role and career in tech what are your career aspirations?
    You, everybody asks you what’s your five year plan, and my plan really has been focused around getting my son through high school. Then I have more flexibility about where I can go. And so I’m like, What is Tanya gonna do? So I set a goal for myself early in 2022 that I’m gonna be a CTO or CIO by 2025. So we’ll see how that goes.