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Women in Technology: Meet Tara

By: Marissa Withers

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Marissa: Tell us your story on how you got into technology?

Tara: My father has always worked in technology, so I was exposed to it early on. My first “real” job in technology was what allowed me to pay for my Master’s Degree. I worked in product development. I thought it was something to pay for grad school, but once those skills start to build on your resume, you can try to leave the technology field, but it will find you.

Marissa: Did you always know that working in technology was what you wanted to do?

Tara: I’ve always been interested in technology and really enjoy the field, but it was not what I set out to do originally. When I got to college I double majored in Political Science and International Studies and minored in Peace and Justice. I got my Master’s Degree in Diplomacy and International Relations, with a concentration in Global Negotiation Conflict Management in Eastern Europe. After that, the last thing you would expect is that I would wind up in technology, but there is overlap, which is something I found to my delight. I know that liberal arts and technology seem vastly different, and in many ways they are, but the way that you approach problems transcends whatever industry you end up in. It provides you with a critical thinking mindset, which has set me up for success in my career.

Marissa: How long have you been with Dataprise? 

Tara: I have been with Dataprise for 5 years now. 

Marissa: Can you share a little bit about what it is that you do and what a typical day for you is like?

Tara: I work as a strategic consultant (vCIO). On any given day I’m drafting or reviewing a technology-related proposal for a client, conducting a pre-acquisition due diligence assessment for a merger or acquisition, advising on IT governance best practices, writing policy, developing technology roadmaps, or helping a client understand and meet cybersecurity compliance requirements. My clients have spanned a range of sectors and varying size such as private equity, government, nuclear technology, utilities, and healthcare, just to name a few.

Marissa: What is one piece of advice you would give to young women looking to get into the technology field?

Tara: Develop and nurture your curiosity. Actively listen to others but speak with confidence – don’t allow others to interrupt you. Never undervalue your talents and contributions. There are a lot of personalities within the technology field – be patient, and approach it with humor.

Marissa: What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in the tech industry? What do you wish you had known?

Tara: You can side-step into technology at any time – don’t be intimidated just because your background isn’t in technology. It’s such a diverse field. It’s not just engineers, network architects, and developers that are needed. I don’t think people realize how vast the technology field is. If you want to get into it, you can absolutely do it, and right now is the absolute best time to do so. I wish I had known how valuable my soft skills were right from the start. A sharp mind can learn any number of technical concepts as needed but it’s much harder to learn and refine soft skills. Soft skills are often in short supply in the technology industry.

Marissa: What do you think is the best part of being a woman in the tech industry?

Tara: Regardless of how your presence is viewed by some, your presence is known by all.

Marissa: What is it that you enjoy most about your current job at Dataprise?

Tara: I enjoy being the bridge between business and technology and helping clients feel empowered rather than intimidated. I also enjoy the sheer variety of work that I do.

Marissa: Where do you see yourself going from here?

Tara: I would like to become more of a specialist in certain areas such as technology risk consulting, especially within a cybersecurity context, and taking into account a business entity’s characteristics and the associated threat landscape.

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