In our 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. Today, we hear from Jessica Deen.
Jessica is a cloud developer advocate for Microsoft focusing on Azure, containers, cloud, open source software and, of course, DevOps. Prior to joining Microsoft, she spent over a decade as an IT consultant / systems administrator for various corporate and enterprise environments, catering to end users and IT professionals in the San Francisco Bay Area. Jessica holds two Microsoft Certifications (MCP, MSTS), three CompTIA certifications (A+, Network+ and Security+), four Apple Certifications and is a former four-year Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for Windows and Devices for IT. In 2013, she also achieved her FEMA certification from the U.S Department of Homeland Security, which recognizes her leadership and influence abilities during times of crisis and emergency.
When she’s not doing something geeky, you can find her doing something active, most likely running out of breath at her local CrossFit gym. Yes, she’s one of those! She also enjoys biking (motorcycles and/or bicycles), shooting, eating, reading and hanging with her five-year-old rescue pup.
Hi Jessica! What has your experience been as a woman in the DevOps industry?
As a whole, my experience has been extremely positive. I’ve been in the IT industry for 12+ years and when I started, I was one of the few women I knew in this field. With that said, I have always received support from every company I have worked for. Over the last five years or so, I’ve had the great honor of working with some of the most talented and passionate individuals in this DevOps world; many of those I have worked with throughout my career have been women. The team I’m currently on at Microsoft, the Cloud Developer Advocacy team, is so powerful and inclusive, I don’t even think about gender. We have amazing people – male and female – on our team and everyone is treated equally. More importantly, we are all valued for our skillset and expertise - the fact that so many of us happen to be female is just a bonus.
Since you have worked with so many talented and passionate DevOps Divas, what do you look for in a great company/boss/mentor?
I look for the same qualities in both company and boss/mentor – passion, encouragement and constructive criticism. I want a company and boss who are passionate about me and my professional growth, my career development and on the same hand, I want to be passionate about the company I work for. I want a company who is willing to invest in me, the same way I invest my time, energy and skill into it. I think the best kind of boss, and as I say this, I think of my current manager, is someone who pushes you to be better, do better, empowers you to grow and then gives you the freedom to do so. When I went through the interview process for my current team – The League of Extraordinary Cloud DevOps Advocates – my manager asked me questions about where I want to be in five years, what gets me excited about work, what’s my biggest professional goal and what about my job makes me passionate. When I told him my goal, he responded with, “I will make that happen, and now I want you to think bigger.” Since joining this team, I wake up constantly thinking, “Is this real life? I get to do so many awesome things with so many inspiring people. I can’t believe this is my life, let alone my career.” My current boss tells me all the time, “If you ever wake up and actually believe this IS your life, tell me immediately so I can make your life unbelievable again.” That kind of support and encouragement – that’s what I look for in a company and a boss/mentor.
WOW! And from this place in your life, if you could give your younger self some advice for the future, what would you tell her?
I think the best advice I could give is – keep doing what you’re doing. I don’t want to give any spoilers by providing too much advice. The path I’ve taken to get to where I am today…well it’s been a fun ride. I want my younger self to have just as much fun. She’ll figure it out.
That is great advice. What personality traits or habits would you say make one successful in DevOps?
I think the biggest personality trait I can think of is – be open. Be open to change, be open to growth. I had an IT (Ops) background for so long, but I began working closely with developers when it wasn’t “normal” to do so. DevOps wasn’t really a word used at that time, and I didn’t realize my openness to things like automation and scripting to simplify both the developer’s life and my life was setting me up for a DevOps-centric career. However, again, the fact that I was open to change, open to new ways of doing things, that, I believe, made me successful.
What does career success mean to you?
Career success means waking up every day absolutely excited and passionate for what I have on my plate; if I can inspire others with that passion, I call that a win in my book. If I can wake up every day with joy for what I do, and joy for others in my communities, well, what more could I ask for? I could ask for an unbelievable life where I get to work with incredibly inspiring individuals around the world, but I already have that and that feels like success to me.