I am a "Software Team Leader", which means I lead a group of people who write computer
programs to support the Hubble Space Telescope. Here's how I spend my day:
- Keeping track of all of the work we have been asked to do.
- Helping team members to learn how to do their jobs better and encourage them to work
in a way that takes full advantage of their strengths.
- Talking with the people who use our computer programs so we make sure we give them
what they need.
I first decided on a career in computers in high school, when I realized I had a
talent for programming. I studied Computer Science in college and went on to get my
Master's degree. After being a programmer for several years, however, I realized that I
needed a job where I could have more interaction with people. I set about reading every
book I could get my hands on about leadership and taking every opportunity to study the
The best thing about my job is that it allows me both to apply my technical talent to
the peaceful pursuit of science as well as giving me an opportunity to contribute to the
personal and professional growth of the other team members.
The thing I like least about my job is that it is very hard to identify the positive
results of my work. When I was a programmer, I could point to all the programs I wrote
and all the people whose lives they made easier. Now when my team has a success or the
members grow, it is not always clear how I contributed to it.
I spent a lot of my time reading when I was younger. Ages 13 & 14, I was fascinated by
astronomy. I had been given a tiny telescope as a gift, and I was always poking it at the
sky. When I was 15, my interest shifted toward computers. My teacher gave me a key to the
school computer room, so I could go in after school and learn how to make it do things
that the other kids could not.
When I was a teenager, I usually stayed away from the type of stuff that every else
was interested in (sports, music and parties, for example) and instead spend my time with
things that interested me. This did allow me to acquaint myself with astronomy and
computers but more importantly, it let me measure myself by my own standards rather than
what all the other kids thought about me. More than anything else, this ability to set my
own expectations for myself and candidly evaluate myself based on them has prepared me
for a career in leadership.