STEM Professionals

Jordan D'Ambrosio - Business Operations, Data Centers
D'Ambrosio

Keywords: information-technology,business,programming-and-coding

Facebook

Virginia Tech, University of Maryland

Career Description

I’m currently a Business Operations lead at Facebook Inc., where I have the opportunity to support a team of Business Operations Managers who solve complex organizational and operational challenges for the Infrastructure Data Center organization. The team is spread out all over the world so it’s important to communicate clearly and understand different cultures and working styles. In this role, I help to support the career development of the members of the team and also help to connect the organizational dots so that our stakeholders and partner teams are able to focus on running their business. The important skills that you can learn to be successful in a leadership role are solving problems with a team, listening, empathy, and being curious. As you grow up, always ask questions and know that there are no stupid ones. Focus on building friendships and relationships with your peers and figuring out ways to solve different types of problems.

What is your educational background and motivation to pursue your field of study?

M.B.A. University of Maryland BS in Finance, Virginia Tech My interest has always been about solving problems to enable organizations to focus on running their businesses. I have also always enjoyed business and its impact on new technologies. I majored in Finance to learn more about economies work and the lifecycle of organizations. I furthered my education with the master’s degree so that I can also help support and lead teams who solve business operations challenges. It just so happens that I am at the intersection of business and technology at Facebook.

What have you struggled with or overcome in your educational or life path to your current job?

a) life - losing some of my closest friends in high school to drug overdoses. It caused a lot of pain and stress in my late teens/early 20s. But I learned that life is precious and to try to not sweat the small stuff b) profession - I know that i'll never be the smartest person on a team or in a classroom. However, I'll go out of my way to do what others don't want to do. That's boded well for me throughout my career as I've been able to quickly build trust and relationships by getting things done.

What is the best part of your job or research?

I love to enable the team to solve complex issues. I’m energized when I see team members succeed and enabling professional growth.

What is the worst part of your job or research?

The worst part about working is the opportunity cost of spending time commuting or working late vs spending time with family and friends.

What is the most exciting part of your job?

I really enjoy the problems that Facebook are trying to solve and working with really smart people.

What is your most memorable career-related moment?

The most exciting thing that has happened was meeting some technology leaders who are truly passionate about making the world a better place. It is really energizing to hear.

What has changed about your profession in the past ten years?

The past decade has led to a lot of ways in which companies do business and the challenges scale causes. When a company grows quickly, it often risks taking the time to set up structure to enable sustained growth over the long run. Also, people now are able to work further apart so working with people outside of the office has also changed.

What do you think will change in your industry in the next ten years?

I think we will continue to see more companies adopt flexibility in its expectations on job location. I think more people will work remotely and decentralized. I also think automation will change a lot of industries and lead to some really cool innovation. Who knows, most of you can be working in space!

Laura McDermott - Freelance Information Technology Program Manager
McDermott

Keywords: information-technology,technology-interface,efficiency,business,finance

freelance

Ohio University

Career Description

I manage Information Technology projects, planning the timelines and work, coordinating communication about the projects, getting the team members assigned, providing updates on progress, helping to resolve issues and challenges. One example of a recent project is helping a company move several of their systems from their on-premise data centers over to the Cloud. This saved the company money and allowed developers more flexibility and faster delivery to build their own servers.

What is your educational background and motivation to pursue your field of study?

Ohio University: Bachelor's of Business Administration in Management Information Systems. I am passionate about using technology to solve business problems. When I was in college, we did a project to imagine what we could do with technology. At the time, we did not have tracking of packages and I pictured a time when we could know at any time where a package was from where it was made to getting to my house. Of course today, that’s a standard and when I’m excited for a package to arrive, it’s nice to know it’s in Dallas, then it’s in Ohio and it will be at my house tomorrow.

What have you struggled with or overcome in your educational or life path to your current job?

I despise presenting in front of groups, especially large ones. I have to do that from time to time and I have to practice A LOT so I'm comfortable and can do it without passing out.

What is the best part of your job or research?

When we release a solution that makes the business more effective, saves money, increases sales etc.

What is the worst part of your job or research?

In this job I am often the bearer of bad news, when a project is struggling. I have to have the difficult conversations usually with senior leaders about the situation and what we need to do to fix it.

What is the most exciting part of your job?

Seeing the technology we build “in action”. I remember the first time we put customer information in so that when we called in using the same phone number, the customer service representative “knew who was calling” and could get right to that person’s information and the products they owned.

What is your most memorable career-related moment?

What has changed about your profession in the past ten years?

Fewer of us are needed with the adoption of Agile and tools that make our jobs easier. Using Agile delivery, the team members who understand the business and the team members delivering code work directly together to build the solution. With older methodologies, much of what the business wants to build is written down and then the developers attempt to understand and build it.

What do you think will change in your industry in the next ten years?

With more adoption of Agile, the trend will continue that fewer of us are needed in pretty much all IT jobs but Project Managers in particular. We will need to continue to hone in on the parts of the job that are adding the most value like clear communications about the projects and the people side of change which are often overlooked.

Gail Wheatley - Executive Director
Wheatley

Keywords: biology,ecology,business

Edheads

Maryville College, TN University of Oklahoma

Career Description

I run a small company (Edheads), so I do it all. I can be running the financials in the morning and writing grants in the afternoon. Or the next day I could be preparing for strategic planning with the Board of Directors, or I could be designing a game or other content. I also work with volunteers on lots of projects and plan and implement events and fundraisers. There are no two days the same, which I like.

What is your educational background and motivation to pursue your field of study?

I have a college degree in biology and chemistry and a Master's Degree in Ecology. I worked as a wetland biologist for about 6 years and decided I was tired of my feet being wet all the time. So I got a part time job at a science museum in Florida. I LOVED it! It quickly became my passion and a lot of years and three other science museums later, I decided to start Edheads. The original concept was sort of a museum online, but it quickly changed to careers online. Because I needed that and a lot of students today (even adults) need that, too. And because so many interesting jobs are going unfilled these days. I thought Edheads could help students understand careers and pick a good one, while helping business and industry fill those in-demand jobs.

What have you struggled with or overcome in your educational or life path to your current job?

I really struggled with math in high school. I thought it was going to require me to change all my career plans. I also thought it indicated I was stupid or something! It turns out, I maybe just wasn't ready for quadratic equations when I had them. Two years later I was making good money tutoring them in college. So it wasn't as if I 'couldn't do math' or had some sort of substandard brain, I just needed to work and wait and then (angels singing) it all worked out! Other difficulties I've had I've overcome by looking at the problem from different angles or by asking a lot of people for their advice. I've found that you can almost always go under, over or around a problem, if you persist. So persist!

What is the best part of your job or research?

By far the best part of what I do is testing games and other content with students. I love that part! I get to see and hear what they think of it. And even if the comments aren't all positive, I learn how to improve the game or content, and what I learn can be applied to all future content I might develop. So it's always a win.

What is the worst part of your job or research?

The most difficult part is having a fabulous idea for a game and not having the money to develop it. We have lists of 100s of game ideas that we haven't gotten funded yet. Some of them are amazing and would really change how students and teachers look at education. But we have to have a sponsor or granting agency to give us the money to develop the games. It's hard to get rejections from potential funders, knowing that the game you are asking money for might not ever be developed.

What is the most exciting part of your job?

It's the opposite of the worst part - it's getting the money in the door to develop a new game. Love that feeling!

What is your most memorable career-related moment?

I was up for a big award from the American Association of Museums for a program I developed. A group of us went to the conference and I heard that the Smithsonian Museum and also the National Museum of China in Beijing were entered for the same award as my program. I figured I didn't have a chance - those are two of the biggest museums in the world! However, I won the award (Smithsonian came in 2nd, China 3rd) and got to celebrate with some great work friends. It was an exciting day!

What has changed about your profession in the past ten years?

Technology is moving at a super rapid pace. Software and hardware common 10 years ago is not even around today. Keeping up with all the changes takes a lot of time and money and is difficult for a small nonprofit.

What do you think will change in your industry in the next ten years?

Technology will continue to change. It will continue to be difficult to keep up with it financially and knowledge-wise, but it will also make it more engaging and cool to educate students about careers. I'm looking forward to it!