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February 16, 2018
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Women in Tech: Part 4 – Engineering Manager

I am a Software Engineer/Architect with over 20 years of experience providing end-to-end application and system solutions. I have a huge passion for data management and analytics, which is why I came to Hortonworks – to be directly involved in current technologies that support the overall Data Lifecycle.  Before Hortonworks, I worked in various industries including travel, education, government and startup, and wearing many different hats, from Software Developer to Performance Engineer.

Currently I am an Engineering Manager within the Hortonworks Data Flow (HDF) Department.  My role is to help enable the provisioning and deployment of HDF components (include Storm, Kafka, NiFi, SAM and Schema) on various platforms using applications such as Ambari and Cloudbreak. I’m also in charge of helping these components integrate with other supporting services such as Ranger and SmartSense. In the future we’ll be looking to Kubernetes and Mesos deployments as well.

In addition to my work in private industry, I love giving back to my community.  Over the years I have volunteered with local and national organizations including Black Girls Code, BDPA, NAACP and Technologists of Colors, where I serve as Co-Founder and Advisor.  In Atlanta, I’ve helped execute many programming, robotics and circuit building classes to local children in the Metropolitan area and have presented educational workshops for adults.

I am also a PROUD Terrapin!  I graduated 20 years ago from the University of Maryland, College Park with a major in Computer Science.  I also received my M.S. in Computer Systems Management from the University of Maryland, University College.

Experiences That Have Made an Impact

One interesting experience I’ve had was during my first project with Hortonworks as a Systems Architect in Professional Services. I am probably one of the few hires that did NOT have any experience with HDP, however, Hortonworks took a chance on me given my skills in Web and Application development as well as ETL.  That was probably the toughest project of my career given the amount I needed to learn while executing and delivering for our customer.  Things worked out in the end, but the experience of having to do and learn so much in such a short time was not for the faint of heart. One of the best things that came out of that experience was many of the connections I made with experienced Hortonworkers who helped and supported my growth the entire way.

Another great experience at Hortonworks has been my opportunity to present a workshop at DataWorks Summit 2017. I love to teach and it was extremely exciting to be in a room filled with about 200 people looking to learn the latest in Data Flow Management using Apache NiFi.  However, looking out over the room I could tell that there was much less than 10% of women in the workshop.  It was a reminder that we have a lot of work ahead to do within our industry to promote and support inclusion of women.

Finally the experience that I have had working with HDF has been possibly one of the best team environments I’ve worked on.  I truly believe that the people I work with in HDF are amongst the best and brightest in the business and it has been a pleasure working side-by-side to contribute great software to the open source community as well as provide amazing service to our customers and stakeholders.

So, How Do We Get More Women Into Tech?

What’s so awesome is that people have more access to learn code than ever before, and to do it for free. When I started playing around with my computer at 8 and 9 years old I was fortunate to have early computing programs at my school as well as a computer in our home. However, outside of computer summer camp and college there wasn’t much, if any, access to computer science education.  Now women have more access to traditional education routes, such as online college degrees and professional certifications, or they can pursue other lanes of education by joining tech specific meet-ups or enrolling in Coursera or Codeacademy courses. With so much more access, women can learn in a way and at the pace that works best for them and their lifestyle (and that applies to everyone really).

There are also many organizations and programs that focus solely on supporting women looking to enter this field or those of us who are already currently working in technology. Women Who Code, Atlanta, an organization that is focused on inspiring women to excel in technology, is one of those organizations that I have worked with through Technologists of Color. They offer coding workshops and meet-ups, conferences and exposure to job opportunities to women as well as support women in building their network.  I think it’s important for women to be aware of such organizations to provide that specialized guidance as well as encouragement.

However, even having more access to education and support does not mean that women are made to feel welcome in this space.  Part of the journey is exposing women to other women who enjoy technology and are successful in the field. Yet another key part requires a shift in the environment and changing not only the perspective that women should be involved in technology but also eliminating the “invisible lines” that dictate how they should be involved. It will be important for organizations to not only demonstrate a willingness to hire women in this space but also a vested interest in increasing the pipeline of women looking to be hired and support their growth towards the highest levels. I have been extremely fortunate and blessed to have that support throughout my career, especially within Hortonworks.  My hope is that same fortune is on the horizon for others.




WalmartOne says:

Nice share Davis.

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