Honoring Women in Tech: Challenging IT Industry Perceptions
International Women’s Day is a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Celebrated this year on Monday, March 8, the theme is #ChooseToChallenge. That motivated us to honor women in technology, including one of our inspiring customer advocates who is herself choosing to challenge limitations in how we view data and IT.
“I try to treat people the way I’d like to be treated and try to walk in their shoes.”
Meet Libby McNairy …
Championing learning for women in tech
Libby has been a Data Governance Specialist for about 20 years and has always worked in some capacity in healthcare and healthcare information technology. She began her career in the healthcare industry managing large physician practices where she quickly realized that data could increase productivity as well as patient outcomes.
Libby is passionate about working with the right tools to capture the insights that are embedded in data so organizations run more effectively, while also making sure companies are compliant and as healthy as they can be. Having worked with both hardware and software, Libby has seen IT from numerous vantage points.
We had the opportunity to meet with Libby and ask her a few questions about her #ChoosetoChallenge commitments and passion for women in tech.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been at the company you’re at now?
I recently started working with pharmaceutical company Alkermes where I am assisting with the startup of a data governance program for the commercial organization. I am extremely proud to be working for them, not only for their commitment to data governance but for their commitment to mental health and addiction.
My career has been working in healthcare and healthcare information technology in some way, and over the years my love for IT just grew and the understanding of protecting the data we gather is a must.
Q: Did you always know that working in technology was what you wanted to do?
I have always been fascinated by data, and in healthcare there is so much – but the question was “how do you get to it, use it and create something out of it that helps the business make decisions”. With healthcare as most other industries – the issue is you have multiple systems and multiple types of data…. how do you merge those to tell a story with it? How do you know if this term means the same in this system as it does in another, and once you are done with all the manipulation…then where did it really come from? So, a person who loves process and procedure – I loved tying it all together and seeing the importance of governing that data so when we use that data it can be trusted.
Q: What are some of the challenges that you relish in your work?
I have had to teach myself about the different aspects of IT. When those job descriptions say, “other duties as assigned”, well I think that has applied to me. I am not an engineer or developer but worked with a group of engineers for a couple of years, so I had to learn their language and perspective. Do not be afraid to take on a new challenge, ask questions, dig and learn and then pay that forward.
I have evolved and grown as I have learned new skills and believe me, I am so grateful for those opportunities. I think you must get out of your comfort zone and understand about what comes before what you do and what comes after.
Q: Do you have a guiding quote you live by or a saying that’s meaningful?
Well, I guess I try to treat people the way I’d like to be treated and try to walk in their shoes. Until you understand what they do and what they’re trying to accomplish, you can’t expect things out of people. In governance we have a saying “It’s a process, not a project” I think life is like that…. we are always in the process, and that can change daily.
Q: What are some things that you have chosen to challenge?
In my life, as I mentioned previously, mental health and addiction issues are important after losing family. We must be more compassionate about those.
My challenge in my career is that we as women help other women to move up the ladder in IT and to get young women interested in technology as a career. I think we need to work with our local universities, jr. colleges, technical schools and help mentor.
Q: What advice would you give to women entering the tech field?
As I mentioned above, I have been lucky because I have always had some great mentors. I encourage women to find a mentor, and for those in the field to look for someone to be a good mentor to. Also, do not limit yourself to what you were doing in your first IT job. Take advantage of learning all you can…. “Never stop learning”. If you do not know much about Data Governance – it is a rewarding career.
Another woman in tech #ChoosingToChallenge the narrow definition of what it means to be in IT. Thank you, Libby!