Women in Tech: Featuring Rebecca Devine, Western Connecticut State University
Rebecca Devine does it all—she is responsible for all operational and programmatic functions of the CS Gold®, CS Access™, and MICROS® 9700 systems on the Western Connecticut State University campus. If a card transaction happens on the WCSU campus, Rebecca is involved. She took time out of her very busy schedule to share with us her thoughts on the future of campus auxiliary enterprise technology and her advice to others in the field.
On her journey to tech
I've been working in technology in one form or another for the better part of 25 years (mostly in municipal government and public higher education), ten of them involving card programs. I joined the workforce in the early 90s when technology was becoming available to more than just programmers. I am not a traditionally educated technology person. I have two advanced degrees in English, cut my teeth on MS-DOS®, and learned technology on an as-needed basis.
In an environment where many people weren't comfortable or knowledgeable about emerging technologies I became the default expert, fell in love with databases, and championed technology as a way to improve the workplace and customer experience. I wasn't aware of this type of work when I was deciding what I wanted to be when I grew up but I absolutely love what I do and look forward to coming to work every day.
I've held few traditional technology jobs, but instead have brought technology into every job I've had, whether it was re-creating forms online, developing databases, or pushing for network installation and improvements. I'll never forget being asked by a town council person at budget time 18 years ago when the expected investment in computers and technology would be done. I told him never.
On the future of auxiliary enterprise technology
I believe biotechnology and the cloud will significantly influence many of the services we offer, making experiences more customized and secure on a personal level while expanding service to accommodate an increasing and more demanding mobile populace. I think one of our biggest challenges is to keep a human element in our programs and systems because if we don't know our end-users, we won't be able to successfully develop the programs they will need or want to use.
Advice for the next generation of system admins and card service directors
Much of the work we do is cyclical in nature, so get to know what happens every August, December, etc. Once you understand this, accept that the particulars of the delivery change every single semester and that firm knowledge of the data and devices combined with creativity in problem solving will be your biggest advantage. While the scope of work is narrower and more specialized for a database admin while a card system director's is more comprehensive, I think core knowledge combined with creative problem solving is critical for both roles.
Advice for other women in technology
Ask the tough questions. Don't be afraid to make mistakes and then find the solution. You are the subject matter expert and got that way through struggling with the possibilities before you. Even in the 21st century, it's too easy for women to be sidelined or second guessed, particularly in predominantly male fields.