In our new Women in DevOps blog series, you’ll hear from talented women in DevOps. They will share their experiences in DevOps, their thoughts on leadership, lessons learned and also how we can encourage more women to focus on an IT career.
Nicole Munro currently holds the position of cloud platform engineer at WatchGuard Technologies. She started out with Secure Computing, in the late 1990s, working in technical support, then moved to BorderWare Technologies and eventually moved into the engineering group putting her Bachelors of Science degree in math and computer science to use. Now, she’s a DevOps Queen! Let’s hear about her experience in the industry.
Hi Nicole! What has your experience been as a woman in the DevOps industry?
Overall, my experience in the industry has been very positive. I’ve been fortunate to work with talented individuals, who have treated me respectfully and judged me based on my technical skills, not my gender.
How can we encourage more women to get into this industry?
I think we need to start de-mystifying technology by introducing it at younger ages and allowing experimentation with the technologies - allowing it to be fun! While in university (a long time ago), I volunteered to help with a program called Scientifically Yours which was open to girls in grade 10/11 to bring them into the university and expose them to several sciences. Each department had an interactive workshop set up to allow the students to experience something specific to each discipline. In our department, we ran a tutorial to allow them to create a web page. What I remember most is that a large portion of the girls were impressed that with just a little knowledge they could create the same kind of thing they were able to see on the internet. I hoped that some of those talented high schoolers would choose to do a CompSci degree when the time came.
What do you look for in a great company/boss/mentor?
Recently I was asked why I have stayed at my company for as long as I have. My response was that I still believe in the things we are accomplishing as a company - and that I feel that I can help to contribute in positive ways in the future. I’ve had the pleasure to be employed at a company that strives to make the internet a safer place. I’m proud that I’ve helped in any way to achieve that.
Over the years, I’ve had a variety of managers. Some were great and some less so. I found that the great ones were those who listened to what I was saying, were open to the ideas I was presenting and helped develop my ideas into their final versions.
As for a mentor, I look for someone that will challenge me and that will question the decisions I’ve made so that the arguments pro and con are stronger overall.
What does career success mean to you?
To me, career success is not measured by how high up I am on the management ladder, but by how well I’m balancing work life and home life while still enjoying and contributing to both. There have been times that home life took higher priority than work and vice versa. The situation can change almost daily. One of my previous engineering managers would check in with me to ensure that I (and the rest of our team) was still enjoying the current project - “Are we having fun?” I’ve always felt that if you are enjoying what you are doing, more can be accomplished and the quality of work will be higher, because of that level of enjoyment. Of course, not every project is going to be fun all the time - but actually enjoying the work/task at hand goes a long way.
If you could have given your younger self some advice for the future, what would you tell her?
Ask more questions - don’t just assume someone else knows more than you. Most of the time when I’ve struggled to understand some aspect of a project or ensure that all the requirements are known and clearly defined, asking questions to the expert led to a “Well, I’m not sure either…” In almost all of the situations I’ve been in where I’ve had questions on the subject or how to implement the proposed solution, everyone else was just as unaware of the answers as I was! I think we need to stop worrying about appearances when we seek information or respond to questions. Will this question make me look smart? Foolish? It’s just a question - a conversation starter to get the people involved thinking about all aspects of the problem and solution. I’ve always found that asking is better than assuming, and not everyone knows all the answers. A good skill to have is to know who to go to when you need guidance in a subject.
What do you love most about being a woman in DevOps?
The community. I’ve always been impressed with how open and helpful everyone is: sharing code, sharing ideas, even just sharing the experience of trying to deploy code and having the failure to learn from.