Setting a Deliberate Path to Principal Engineer

Establishing a technical career path

I ran into Cathy Spence (@cw_spence) at the Intel IT Leader’s Summit in San Jose. She mentioned she had just found out she was promoted to Professional Engineer. I realized I didn’t know much about the process or what that really means, so I interviewed her recently after everything was announced. Here’s our conversation.

Tell me about what you do at Intel.

I have two jobs.  First, I’m the Hosting Portfolio enterprise architect and my domain expertise is in Cloud Computing.  One area where I go deep is in Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) where I am the technical domain owner and have overseen the path to production. In short, I provide direction on how Intel IT can use the cloud to better run Intel’s business. Continue reading

Fast-forwarding IT Careers with Social Media

Fast-forward IT Social

I have been encouraging all Intel IT employees to get on social media (internal and external) for a few years and really embrace mobility (i.e., start by downloading the Intel IT Business Review mobile app for the IT industry intel.com/IIBR). And I am so happy to see so many of my peers in IT now on Twitter or LinkedIn — and blogging on our internal collaboration platform and our external community. 

But it’s 2014 and there are still a lot of people “on the fence” — watching and waiting, but not quite jumping in. Here’s what I am learning about shifting the fence sitters.

It’s about the Benefits 

One thing that seemed to help was collaborating with my peer in Intel IT Training to create an online training series, “The Benefits of Being Social.”  The 5-part courses cover both internal and external social media platforms typically used by IT people (including LinkedIn, Twitter, HootSuite, and Jive). The first portion of the course reviews the benefits to the employee and to the company.

Each of the Benefits of Being Social courses walks through getting set up and creating your profile, how to follow and just lurk for a while, how to comment on things others post, and then how to post your own ideas or share useful information and start to really engage. It’s quite methodical – you do these same actions for each platform. Online training is great because people can go at their own pace. Continue reading

Igniting Social Communities of Women Leaders

Young business woman in social network

Originally posted April, 2014  on Women’s Center for Leadership

For Women’s Center for Leadership (WCL), we are, at our core, all about community. Our mission is about our members.

 WCL is a consortium of professional women joined in developing leadership skills, sharing knowledge and building community in the Pacific Northwest.

I’ve been a member of WCL for about 10 years. My participation has evolved: from sporadically catching a monthly breakfast event at first, then attending more regularly as my daughter got older and could do more to get herself ready for school, and ultimately joining the WCL Board of Directors. I think many of our members have times when they are active, and times when they have to check out for a while to attend to other things. Many just do their best to stay in touch, even if it’s only reading the email updates and checking out a blog or two.  Having to make tradeoffs like this is just part of the reality for a lot of professional women.

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On Humble Confidence

Depositphotos_31410177_humbconfidence

This blog is more of a short story about a leadership lesson I learned.

One summer when I was in college, I came home and took Thermodynamics at a community college. When I had some free time so I helped my mom by taking my grandfather, her dad, on his errands. One day when I picked him up, I had my Thermo textbook on the front seat. He went to get in and put the book on his lap. As I drove, he thumbed through it, then closed the book, looked up and said, “Kelli, I really like you because you are smart but you don’t show it.” Hmmm, was that a compliment? Oh yeah, it was. You see, my grandfather was a machinist who never went to college, but he was naturally smart at math. I know this is where my mom and I got our aptitudes for math. He knew it too.

Then he went on, “When I worked in the shop, I would get plans from the engineers. Sometimes they’d be wrong. You know I could figure it myself, so I knew if those numbers were wrong. I would go back to them, but they didn’t want to hear it from me. I was only a machinist.” I stopped the car at our first errand and my grandfather looked over at me and said, “I am so proud you are studying these books and going to be an engineer. Just never act like those fellas.”

I didn’t realize it at the time, but he was urging me to be competent but not arrogant or too full of pride. He wanted me to act with humble confidence.

Over the years, I have realized that my grandfather gave me some really solid leadership advice. We all know leaders need to be competent and confident. But a leader who is that and also humble, is more human, more approachable and maybe even more respected.

Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.  -Thomas Merton

A humble leader listens because they can learn from others and they also own up to their mistakes (unlike those arrogant engineers my grandfather had to deal with).  This is the kind of leader that inspires me. The kind of leader I aspire to be.  And I think my grandfather would approve.

Time to Reinvent Yourself for 2014

reinvent yourself

It’s the end of the year in a few days.  Just before I went out on holiday break I finished documenting my accomplishments for the past year. I actually like taking some time before the New Year to take stock – not just of my own work, but also of the broader landscape. A friend forwarded me this timely blog, “2013 was a lost year for tech” by Christopher Mims. His assessment of the tech industry is that it was a dud in 2013. Whether you believe things are really this bad or not, it’s still a pretty good wake up call for those of us in tech who want to continue to do amazing things with technology.

And with any wake up call, some sort of change on the part of companies and individuals alike is required. Change is a funny thing. It is hard, and the less you embrace it and the more you resist making the minor transitions in your work (or any part of your life), the harder it gets to make the really big, important changes.

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Chasing Storms and a STEM Degree

Tornado

I went to Chicago recently to visit family and had some time to catch up with my niece Stephanie Gizzi. She is a senior at Northern Illinois University.  I interviewed her to see what it’s like for young women pursuing a STEM degree these days. Here is our conversation.

Stephanie, tell me about the degree program you are in.

I’m getting a Bachelor of Science in Meteorology – it’s an engineering-based science degree. I’m done with all of my calculus and physics, so I’m taking mostly meteorology courses now. 

I am getting my GIS (Geographic Information Systems) certificate to differentiate myself from other meteorologists.  I am using ArcMap to analyze geospatial data. I can compare all kinds of historic trends to today’s data and graph it. It’s really practical in business for analyzing growth zones for development, visualize population density trends and things like that. For example, Walgreen’s uses it to plan where to open retail stores. 

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Big Data is a Big Deal

Digital financial data

Originally posted on Nov. 19, 2013 on intel.com

I attended the 2103 Grace Hopper Celebration, a women in computer conference with 4800 technical women participating. There I had the opportunity to attend a lively panel session on Big Data. After spending 2 seconds on the proliferation of data in our digitized world problem statement, the panelists launched right into a focused discussion on how big data analytics helps us unlock the value and gain insights. They acknowledged the hype, yet stressed the point that every company needs a core data competency, must be accountable to uphold security and privacy regulation and need to deliver better performance and tuning (users expect responses quickly).

The panel went on to discuss about career opportunities and the gaps businesses have right now in filling positions for qualified data scientists who have both the business acumen, programming and statistical knowledge necessary to unlock and visualize the data, so the business can make better decisions faster.

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What about My Needs!

screaming woman

Recently, I watched an Omega Institute for Holistic Studies live webcast “Strength, Courage and Wisdom” with TED icon Brene’ Brown and Zen priest Joan Halifax Roshi.

They were talking about finding your strength and how important it is to know your capacity and own it. I loved that Joan Roshi said, “Remember to take an in-breath.”  Then she posed the question “How can you take care of the world, if you don’t take care of yourself? You must love and show kindness to yourself.”

“The female identity is being a care-giver or a do-gooder,” added Brene’ Brown. The conversation went on that it’s unfortunate that if a woman does take that in-breath, in our culture she is viewed as narcissistic. What I pulled from that part is that to have power, we also need to take care of our needs and not care how others perceive us. Sometimes you have to enlist the help of others and put down that do-it-all shield.

Talk is cheap, right? To really do this, you have to overcome your fear of what others think or any other feelings of inadequacy that you harbor. For women, it takes courage to take some of those “in-breaths” in our lives. And to really have power, you have to be your true self and speak your own truth. You have to speak up for yourself. If you have a supportive family and friends, it may be a little easier to do this kind of woo woo stuff in your personal life, but what about at work?

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Why We Should Mentor Millennial Employees

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When I graduated from university in the late 80’s jobs were hard to come by – even with a technical degree. You had to get experience wherever you could. I knew when I graduated that the easiest way to find a job was to work through the campus recruiters, but I ended up moving to Japan and doing some backpack traveling for a few years instead.

While I was in Japan I worked in a translating company that specialized in technical documentation. I checked and corrected Japanese product/service manuals and research papers that were translated by native Japanese speakers. I read all kinds of things: scientific papers on the effects of electromagnetism on cockroaches, recommendations on which potatoes to plant in SE Asia to prevent famine, computer user manuals, and lots and lots of documentation about tool die casting equipment. I’m talking tool die specifications, product installation, service manuals and marketing brochures. Did I say a lot? There were so many tool die casting manufacturers in Japan at the time.  Tool die casting was not sexy, but it was my big opportunity to get some technical experience that I could take back to The States when I was ready to turn in my backpack for a real job.

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Letting Kids Provide Care

Abby card

Six years ago our family went to the animal shelter and a beautiful Black Lab named Abby picked us to be her family. It only took one look at her sweet brown eyes and we were smitten. She has been a great family dog. Even though she’s 50 pounds, she curls up with our daughter on the floor when we watch movies. Please don’t tell her she’s not really a lap dog. Our daughter has grown up with this dog. So far in this relationship it feels like we have gotten way more from her than we provide.

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