Written by Sara Heitkamp
Meet Katie Carty Tierney - Our first Twin Cities Geekette of the Month. Katie is a rockstar mother of four, SaaS ITSM Geekette and all around awesome woman. She will be one of two speakers sharing her experience and inspiring the women of the Twin Cities at our Launch party (event details will be announced soon).
What's your background?
I started my career as a programmer. A hard-core, geeky programmer. My first “real” project was writing COBOL to convert data from a mainframe financial system into a new client-server system. Yes, I am old. But then I continued coding in PowerBuilder, C++, Java, and Forté for 6 years, when I packed it all away to become a stay-at-home mom.
Even as a stay-at-home mom, though, I was never too far from technology. I coordinated a huge grassroots volunteer team for Orlando Sanchez’s 2001 campaign for Mayor of Houston, Texas. As part of that, I built an Access application to track volunteers, events, skills, and more. Then I went on to help found Ever After Gowns, a Twin Cities non-profit that allows young women who might not otherwise be able to afford a prom dress the opportunity to “shop” for a gown in a very special boutique. Again - I couldn’t get away from the technology. I managed all the online marketing, built the website, and developed all of the event collateral.
After having three more children (yes, you read that right! Four little kids!), I was asked to rejoin the workforce by Steve Papermater, the CEO of nGenera, a Texas-based software startup. Steve also held the role of CEO of the first company I joined after college - the one where I started with a COBOL program. The great thing about the nGenera job was that I was able to plan the work around my children’s schedules. I committed 20 hours a week to nGenera, focusing on corporate communications, and I had the flexibility to plan those 20 hours around my family priorities. It wasn’t long before the technology bug bit me again, and I quickly moved back into a more traditional labor model as I took over responsibility for recruiting, building an intern program, and continuing communications work.
In 2009, I was offered an opportunity to dive back into hands-on technology as a pre-sales consultant for BMC Software’s Remedy product line. I’ve been at BMC ever since, helping to drive the future of IT and IT Service Management.
Katie, you are the North American Regional Sales Manager or Service Support at BMC Software. Please walk me through your day.
I should start by explaining what Regional Sales Manager for Service Support actually means. I run a team of nine specialized salespeople who work across the US and Canada. We are the subject matter experts in BMC’s Service Support solutions - what many people may call “Help Desk.”
One of the great things about my days are that they are never the same. Take this week for example… I will be in Chicago on Monday to present the future of IT to a major US university. On Tuesday, I’ll be meeting with my team to go over account plans and sales forecasts. Then I’ll fly out to California for an all-day customer meeting with one of the largest software companies in the world on Wednesday, where we’ll be demonstrating our Remedyforce and MyIT solutions. I fly back to the Twin Cities on Thursday, and will spend Friday catching up with my team, working with product development on our technology roadmap, and answering lots of emails.
What do you love most about your work?
BMC gives me an opportunity to do what I do best: share my passion for technology with people all over the world. I speak to audiences of all sizes, and interact with folks ranging from application developers all the way to C-level executives. It’s never the same!
You hold a MIS degree from Texas A&M. How did you discover your passion for IT?
My passion for technology started well before I went to Texas A&M. In fact, I wrote my first program in 1981 on a neighbor’s Commodore VIC-20 computer. It looked like this:
20 print “Katie”;
30 goto 20
I fell in love. I made a machine do what I wanted it to do. It was so much more than Pong. I controlled it. I was nine years old. And I was hooked. In 5th grade, I was given the responsibility of booting up the TRS-80 computers in our “computer lab” every morning. I even played the odd game of Oregon Trail if I had a few extra minutes (I always died of diphtheria, though). In 8th grade, I was a SYSOP on the school BBS. In 11th grade, I wrote a maze game in Fortran that included rabid, blood-thirsty hamsters. By then, it was clear where my life was going… When I got to Texas A&M, I signed up for the MIS program in the business school, took a job selling PCs at Computer Access, and the rest is history.
What is the biggest misconception about working in the IT world?
The biggest misconception is when people believe that “technology” can fix anything. IT is a mixture of People, Processes, and Technologies. If we don’t look to change all three, we end up with a very wobbly three-legged stool. Technology is only part of the battle - if you don’t address people and processes, you’ll never succeed.
What is the best advice you ever received?
Never yell at the office. Never lose your cool. No matter what the other person might be saying or doing, losing your cool only hurts your credibility. And this is even more important for women, who are often portrayed as “emotional” in these situations.
If you could do one thing differently, what would it be?
That’s a hard one… I love the way my life has turned out. I have an amazing husband, four beautiful children, and a job that I love. If I had done even one thing differently, I don’t think I’d have this life, so I’m glad that my life took the twists and turns it did. Those crazy paths have given me everything I have today.
Any advice for the Twin Cities women?
Don’t let anyone else dictate your path. Don’t let the judgement of others limit your dreams. Even if the path is winding, you can be anyone you want to be. And in technology, you can be someone AMAZING. But make sure you have a warm coat. It's cold here.
You can follow Katie on twitter @txaggie94