What is your role at Verizon and what does it involve?
I am a Team Leader for Verizon’s junior network engineers and service desk in the Network Security department. My day-to-day role includes being the first level response for customers, triaging tickets, fulfilling network engineering requests and managing internal and external escalations.
I also work closely with our operations and ASOC (Advanced Security Operations Centre) team in implementing cybersecurity operations.
Why have you chosen this career path?
I’m a gamer at heart and played a lot of games as a child, so naturally I was always on the computer. When deciding what I wanted to do as a career, I wanted it to be something I enjoyed, so I chose a path that would allow me to work with computers.
A friend of mine suggested that I should study network security; I took their advice and haven’t looked back. It’s a field that I really enjoy as it’s challenging, there’s always a new challenge to solve, and I love troubleshooting.
What has been the highlight of your career?
Every promotion I’ve achieved at Verizon has been a career highlight for me. I started out as an intern before being hired as a Consultant Engineer for the Network Security team. I was then quickly promoted to the position of Lead Consultant Engineer, as I excelled in the work I was doing. Then I was promoted to my current role.
Another highlight has been the opportunity I’ve had to work overseas in various global operations roles at Verizon. I worked in Japan for two months and in Germany for a week, both of which were incredible experiences.
These opportunities helped me to build my international relationships and improve communication between my team and global operations, facilitating a better understanding of what our team was doing for our international counterparts and fostering better collaborative practices.
What drives you?
As a middle child, I’m stubborn, persistent, and competitive, traits that drive me to be an overachiever and to succeed to the highest degree in everything that I do.
When I was studying to get my Diploma of IT in Networking at CIT, I was one of only two women in my classes, and one of the first to graduate with that qualification in about five years. Similarly, when I got the job with Verizon, I was the only female engineer on the team.
Due to this lack of female representation in IT, I became committed to breaking the stereotype and showing other women that this is a career they can pursue.
What do you think is the number one challenge holding women back from pursuing STEM careers?
The biggest challenge for women joining a STEM career is the lack of gender diversity in the field. Many studies have found that girls are most interested in STEM subjects until they get to the later stages of high school. When they start to explore career options in STEM, they find that most are dominated by men.
I regularly go out and speak to female students who aspire to work in STEM, and what I commonly hear is that when they are the only female in the class, they feel discouraged and deterred in their goal because they feel that it is a boy’s club where they lack the support they need.
What initiatives have you observed that have shifted the needle in attracting women to tech roles in Australia?
Within the last year or two, the government has introduced more programs to encourage young women to pursue further study in STEM and foster their interest beyond the secondary schooling level, including traineeships at companies.
At the same time, I’ve also noticed an increase in high school programs that help female students get work experience in the STEM field, which are great in showing them that this is a career option.
I’m part of an organisation called Women in ICT (WIC) that arranges work experience for female high school students, and I’ve observed that with a strong support network behind them, women are far more likely to not only stick out a career in STEM, but to thrive and achieve their greatest potential.
Which women do you admire most in the tech industry and why?
Tami Erwin, former CEO of Verizon Business Group, was a fantastic mentor to me in her time at Verizon and helped connect me with several like-minded women at Verizon. However, I haven’t been exposed to a lot of high-powered women in IT, which is something I’d like to change for the generation of young women growing up today who are interested in STEM.
I try to follow the path of successful women before me, but if that path doesn’t exist then I take it upon myself to carve one out as inspiration for others to follow. At the start of my career, I didn’t have a role model, so I grew up and stepped up to become the role model I would have liked to see.