Photo: Laura McDermott

STEM Pros:

Laura McDermott: IT Consultant


Please provide a summary of your job or research. What is an average day like? What are some duties performed?

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 what prompted you to go this direction.

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 path or life path to get to this point?

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/research?

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

What is the worst part? 

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’s 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 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 the next ten?

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.

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