The Cimpress Women in Technology Group invited 2015 BEYA Most Promising Engineer in Industry Recipient Jane Odero Greene to speak at their April 17th gathering. Odero Greene, a Senior Systems Engineer at Raytheon, is currently working on a cutting-edge Navy radar program. After the meeting, Cimpress Software Engineer Siyi Gu talked with Odero Greene in depth about her work, being empowered by diversity and the next big thing in Tech: the Internet of Things.
What are you working on now that you are excited about?
Right now I’m working on the Air and Missile Defense Radar program, which is a next-generation scalable radar. For the Navy, this is a big deal as far as radar systems go. This is the first time that we are doing things very differently, building information protection from the ground up…and doing it as a part of the program protection team. So we are looking at software assurance, cyber security and supply chain risk management.
We are also doing something that’s new for the Navy, which is agile scrum development. This is my first time working in an agile scrum environment and deviating from a traditional waterfall design process. So it’s really fast-paced, really challenging and just exciting.
What intrigues you most about the state of technology right now?
I don’t know if you’ve heard of this term Internet of Things. You may start to hear it a lot. It has been used to describe this information ecosystem of connected devices sharing lots and lots of data. A lot of companies are tapping into this available data and using it to their advantage. It’s creating a lot of profit for companies.
Consider a company like Facebook, which is the biggest media owner, yet it creates no content. It’s relied solely on the user data that is shared on its platform. Think about the companies that are developing an automated infrastructure of smart sensors for smart metering, smart monitoring. Companies are using those sorts of technologies to drive down their cost of, for instance, product replenishment on shelves, and things like remote fault detection and then deploying people to fix this growing infrastructure of connected devices that is allowing this. And think about big data analytics, the ability to analyze data in national security for purposes like identifying terrorist activities. So there is this big data analytics around this Internet of Things with connected devices. Cisco and Morgan Stanley predict that there will be 50 to 75 billion connected devices in this Internet of Things by 2020. Imagine that.
You can’t talk about this Internet of Things and this sharing of and accessibility of data without talking about privacy and security concerns. For me as a cyber-security professional, the concern is that the devices are coming with vulnerabilities that are connecting to your network and so introducing new ways for attackers and hackers to get into your system and to compromise it. So to me, that is what is exciting: the Internet of Things, big data analytics, the technology around that big data analytics, and the security solutions needed in response.
What have you learned about how to succeed as a woman in technology over the course of your career?
For me, the biggest thing is to embrace yourself, embrace your diversity and understand your diversity is your asset. When a company is evaluating their assets, I think diversity is an asset to be valued. Understand the value that you bring to the table as a woman. Own that, don’t shy away from situations, let your voice be heard, build your credibility, and understand that you are an important piece of the puzzle to any given company and that you bring a lot to the table. And that’s what I think is really important for women in technology to understand.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give other women working in tech?
Have mentors and build advocates around you that will allow you to succeed but also understand the power in other women and make sure that you’re being an advocate for them. There is still the statistic that women make 78 cents to every dollar a man makes, and companies are struggling to keep women in technology because at some point they are reaching a dead end. They feel they are not able to advance and so they are choosing to change careers, maybe even to leave technology altogether. So we have to encourage each other to succeed, and when you are in a position to make a difference, you have to be that role model to other women so that they see that there is hope for them to reach that level of success.
I would say for women in technology, it’s really important that we come together as a community to motivate each other and encourage each other. For us to succeed, we need to change the retention problem we have with women in technology.