Where did you grow up and what were you like as a child? What did your parents do for work?
I grew up in Boston as a young child but lived most of my life in Massachusetts in different towns. Spent my high school years in Randolph, MA and Brockton, MA. My mother was a single mother who raised 3 children including myself. She worked primarily as a secretary/administrative assistant for Teradyne and Harvard Pilgrim Health care.
Where did you go to college? What did you study and what did you do after graduating?
I attended only one year of college at the New York Institute of Technology. I studied Business Administration and after one year, I landed a job working in retail and then customer service at Harvard Pilgrim.
What inspired you to get into the tech industry?
I had always been the go-to or even the go-between of non-IT and IT at my companies. I had always been interested in computers, but after I did some outside learning on my own, I found out that I really enjoyed helping with computer issues. My best friend worked in IT at the same company and saw that I had an interest. He was leaving the company and his new company needed a help desk tech. He got me the job interview and it started my career in IT.
What has your career path looked like in tech and the various positions you’ve held before joining CyberArk?
My positions in tech prior to CyberArk have been primarily Help Desk and Support with cross-training in system administration and some information security.
Can you share the high-level responsibilities of your current position in IT & Support at CyberArk?
In the current role, there are many high-level responsibilities. However, we are ultimately responsible for building secure end-user machines so employees in the company can access our resources.
What has attributed to your success thus far and what types of obstacles have you had to overcome along the way as a Black professional?
For myself, I attribute my success to the support I get from family and friends and never letting “what I am supposed to be” define me. I believe in the skills I have developed and the ability to improve those skills with proper training. As for obstacles, I have been subject to people not believing I could perform a job before even seeing qualifications. Recruiters and HR assuming one thing and then suddenly being surprised when interviewing me that I have a brain. Nothing more insulting than being told you “speak very well” during an interview. This, I have run into several times throughout my professional career.
What types of programs and initiatives does CyberArk have that support diversity, equity, and inclusion?
In my short time with the company, I have seen CyberArk initiate conversations/webinars speaking on diversity. Utilizing outside speakers to drive the conversation. Along with women in tech speakers as part of the talks.
What advice would you give to other Black professionals who are interested in joining the tech industry?
Find a specialty that interests you and engage in as much learning in that specialty. The tech world is vast and technologies are always changing. Don’t be afraid to apply for and reach for positions that may seem difficult. If it is what you want to do, it can be obtained. Patience and hard work are the key.
While general awareness of the problem of diversity in the tech industry is a step forward, to make a lasting change, real actions need to be taken. Do you have any ideas or suggestions on what companies or employees can do to step up and make a difference?
Companies can reach out to communities of color and form partnerships to supply equipment to students interested in tech, as well as supporting STEM programs. Employees in tech can be encouraged to mentor at all levels. Companies can offer internships aimed at people who may not normally have opportunities to explore the depth of the tech community.