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Computing Career Success
Careers in software and hardware engineering offer longevity and innovation.
According to CareerOverview.com, software engineering, as a career, is expected to grow rapidly. The most highly qualified job seekers with bachelor’s degrees and related work experience will be the most sought-after candidates, and greater skills will be required of software engineers as computer technology advances.
As for hardware engineers, CareerOverview.com advises that the number of hardware engineers is smaller in comparison to software engineers with persons in this field involved more in researching, designing, developing, testing and installing products. In order to keep up with the many rapid technical advances, hardware engineers are required to keep abreast of current changes.
Meet several women who are the forefront of software and hardware engineering and glean advice about how to break into and thrive within this arena.
Mahajan Ascends from Developer to Engineering VP at Juniper
Pallavi Mahajan fell in love with physics and mathematics during her younger school days, but faced two choices after completing high school in India.
One was to take it easy, finish college and get married - a path taken by most of her cousins and friends.
The other was to get into a good professional college and make a life for herself. She chose the latter.
“Given my love of physics and math, engineering was a natural choice,” she says.
While studying for her Master of Science in computer science, Mahajan recalls spending many enjoyable hours creating algorithms and finding efficient ways of solving problems.
“The beauty of coding is that you can always do it better, so there’s always a challenge that leads me to rewrite code and bring it to perfection,” says Mahajan, who found working for a startup to be a perfect fit after graduating.
She notes that when she joined Juniper Networks in India, it was a start-up. She was also only one of three developers. Over time she moved from being an individual contributor into management. Now 13-plus years later, Mahajan is vice president of engineering.
“The different jobs and responsibilities I’ve had within Juniper keeps challenging me,” she says.
As an industry leader in automated, scalable and secure networks, Juniper Networks - which is headquartered in Sunnyvale, CA - provides products and solutions that power the internet. “We connect everything and empower everyone,” she remarks.
Today she leads Juniper’s Junos Software team and is responsible for driving strategy and execution for the company’s engineering functions.
A member of Juniper Networks India’s founding engineering team, she’s credited with incubating many new software teams. “The software world is going through a huge transformation,” she explains. “From machine learning to virtual reality, the possibilities are endless, and there’s so much to learn and do in the networking industry.”
As the mother of 10- year-old twin girls, Mahajan is particularly cognizant of the importance of encouraging her daughters to identify their own choices. For those interested in the technical sector, she advises of the need to be inquisitive, to keep on learning and to realize there’s no substitute for hard work.
Mahajan, who loves working with people, is also a dedicated “techie” who holds six approved patents. Over time she’s mentored many colleagues, some of whom are now top technical talent at Juniper. She also enjoys connecting the dots from forecasting customer needs to finding solutions and then launching those solutions.
As the leader of the Juniper India Corporate Social Responsibility charter she heads the team’s efforts to devise a strategy focused on creating meaningful endeavors.
Case in point: “We’ve adopted a cluster of villages in India and are focusing on bringing better education, health and sanitation, and employability with special emphasis on empowering girls and women living in these villages,” she elaborates, adding that her current focus is on bringing in Juniper technology and living up to the company’s mission statement to connect everything and empower everyone.
Go to juniper.net/us/en/company/careers for Juniper jobs. Connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Glassdoor.
With 9,000-plus employees in 70 countries, Juniper Networks co-innovates with its customers and partners to deliver automated, scalable and secure networks.
Digest more at juniper.net.
Abbott Leads a Team of 120 Software Engineers at Xerox
After an auspicious start as an intern at Xerox Corporation, Wendy Abbott is now in her 21st year at this Norwalk, CT-headquartered company. She is currently a software development manager for Xerox’s workflow and applications group for ConnectKey products.
With a Bachelor of Arts in computer science from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Geneseo and a Master of Science in software development and management from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), Abbott began her career as a software engineer. Through the years she worked on several families of Xerox products, always gravitating to the user interface portion of software development.
“I enjoyed thinking about how customers would interact with the device, as well as wondered about how the software was written - a thought that particularly came to mind when I was tasked with creating programs for my wedding,” she shares.
“After I explained what I needed to do, the employee at a local copy shop showed me to a Xerox device - one on which I had worked. He then proceeded to recommend I use the booklet creation feature, on which I had also worked. About to explain how to use this feature, I had to stop him at that point saying, I got this. I wrote the software for this feature. He was shocked by that reply - and our wedding programs came out perfectly!”
Looking back on her love of math and problem-solving in high school, Abbott traces her initial interest in software design to participating in a one-week summer BASIC programming course at IBM.
“That was the start of my intense interest in software design,” she relates, adding that it was her college professor dad who suggested computer science as a college major. “He felt it would fit my interests, as well as be a sector with significant career possibilities. Quite insightful advice for 1992 - and [a career] I ended up loving,” she comments.
Today Abbott manages a software group of 120 engineers in three locations - Rochester, NY, Singapore and Chennai, India - working on ConnectKey, the software that drives a family of office multi-function devices. She’s responsible for all aspects of her team’s software development and delivery, including release planning, effort tracking, integration and problem management.
“Software development is a growing and evolving field with immense career potential. It’s also a field where computer science graduates are among those who receive the most job offers,” she maintains.
“These days software is in everything, not just in smart phone apps, but in copiers, cars and even refrigerators. It’s an area that does not show any signs of slowing down.”
Hopeful that women see beyond the stereotypical image of software developers as geeky and anti-social, Abbott points out that many companies - Xerox included - now use an Agile software development model where teams of four to seven developers sit together in Scrum rooms, allowing for greater interactive communication and teamwork.
Another plus, she underscores, is that computer science is a career path that offers a great deal of flexibility, helpful for maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
According to Abbott, “Beyond knowing various program languages and having experience in software design and development, attributes such as problem-solving, collaboration and communication skills are incredibly important.”
Her advice for those starting out is to look forward. “The technology field is continuing to grow and expand. Think about where you want your career path to lead and be sure you’re gaining the skills and experience you need to get there,” she states. She also mentions her team is currently looking to hire several new college graduates for software developer positions in Rochester, with more information available at xeroxstudentcareers.com.
For Abbott, solving complex problems and having a working piece of code that real customers are going to use is satisfying. The broad scope of her job requires the ability to dig into and understand technical details, plus make strategic decisions. “Additionally, a management position offers opportunities to positively impact people on a personal level when it comes to hiring, mentoring and providing opportunities for career growth and advancement,” she states.
A member of the Xerox Woman’s Alliance, Abbott volunteers at several community events designed to encourage more women to study computer science. She’s involved in organizing Xerox’s sponsorship of the Women in Computing all-female hack-a-thon at RIT, and she’s been asked to speak with female students at RIT, Clarkson and SUNY Brockport.
Research xerox.com/en-us/jobs for Xerox career possibilities. Connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
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