Women in IT
Stella Alkass: Hello, everyone, and welcome to The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Women in IT Webinar. I’d like to speak to some logistics real quick. If you can see on the screen the webcast in broadcast-only mode, that’s to minimize the background noise, so please ensure that your speakers are not muted. If you’re experiencing any technical difficulties, you can click on the help icon on the bottom toolbar to troubleshoot.
If you have any questions throughout the presentation please do not hesitate to communicate with us through the Q&A box at the left side of your screen. I will be answering questions near the end of the presentation. We’ll also be sending a link to the recording of this session after the webinar, so please look out for that in your inbox tomorrow.
As you can see, by today’s agenda, today we’ll be discussing the history of women in technology, I’m moderating our women in IT panel’s Q&A, and touching on the MS MIS curriculum and admissions requirements. As previously mentioned, if you have any questions throughout the presentation, please use that Q & A box on the left side of your screen.
Now, at this time, I’d like to introduce our organizers. So my name is Stella Alkass. I’m an enrollment advisor for UAB’s online program. We also have with us Dr. Molly Wasko, professor and associate dean, and De. Paul Di Gangi-
Dr. Molly Wasko: Hello again.
Stella Alkass: Yes, hello, and Dr. Paul Di Gangi, MS MIS program director. Molly will introduce our panel shortly, but at this time, I’d like to turn it over to Dr. Di Gangi to kick off the presentation.
Dr. Molly Wasko: Paul, are you on mute?
Paul Di Gangi: Sorry, thank you very much. Sorry, thank you all for coming in today. I’m really excited to be able to talk about this topic with you and share the panel conversation that we’re going to have. It is my distinct pleasure to highlight some of the famous women in technology that we’ve had over our history in the field, so we can gain an appreciation for just how much of an influence women have played in the technology industry and all of the different things that we, I think, have to gain an appreciation for.
With that, I’m going to jump right in. In fact, probably one of the most famous women in history for us is Dr. Grace Hopper. She’s a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy. She’s known as Grandma COBOL, and that’s because she is one of the founders of the COBOL language and understanding how to conduct language translation. She is the person who first realized that humans and computers don’t speak exactly the same language. In fact, we have to teach computers how to understand the things that we want, and so she was fundamental to changing the way we talked with our computers and starting to understand the language that we have to write, the structure and the syntax. Of course, that’s just our first person.
Now, Margaret Hamilton, she’s the person that coined the term software engineering. She worked with the Apollo and Skylab that helped land Apollo 11 astronauts on the moon. While Grace helped us in terms of changing the way we talked, Margaret helped us in terms of literally changing the way we were able to walk and travel.
Of course, this next person really needs no introductions. She was the star of one of the most recent movies, Hidden Figures, Christine Darden, PhD. She was the first African American woman at NASA’s Langley Research Center that was promoted to senior executive service. In fact, she was one of the champions of the field of aerodynamics, in particular, sonic boom effects. She helped focus on the way we flew, the way we traveled, the way we were actually able to accomplish such great things with our NASA Center.
Of course, it’s not just about the language and travel. We also have some other great people that have played huge roles in our commercial applications. For instance, Dr. Susan Kare, she was the pioneer of pixel art. She created such typefaces as Chicago, Geneva, and the Monaco, the way that our computers were actually going to look, the artistic trends, working with Steve jobs trying to make sure that we put artistic talent into our systems, and it wasn’t just the plain vanilla engineering perspective that we realized that we can actually present ourselves and present emotions and care into the way that we actually graphically produce things.
Now, of course, somebody that, if you’ve taken a telecommunications class and you’ve had a case about how you don’t pay particular attention to the redundant network structures that you might create, you can end up having cascading failures in your organization’s network, Radia Perlman, PhD. She was one of the founding mothers of the internet, in particular, she’s quite the engineer and quite the scientist, inventing the Spanning Tree Protocol along with over 100 patents.
The Spanning Tree Protocol is what allows us to create redundant links in our network, but make sure that they don’t create cascading failures by setting up one circuit or one network link at a time that’s considered active so that there was no network traffic or echo effects. Radia actually helped us designed the way we communicated across the world, especially at the time when we first started putting ethernet and telecommunications devices into our organization.
The last person is Carol Shaw. She’s actually the one where instead of thinking about the business perspective, it was about trying to understand how we could play with technology. She was, in fact, one of the first female game designers. Some of the famous games that she helped design, Rive Raid in 1982, 3D Tic-Tac-Toe in ’79, and Video Checkers, all of which were world-famous games back then. She helped shape the way we were actually … To be able to interact and play in these new technology environments.
Now, there’s many women that have been successful and had a huge impact on our fields. These were the six that I saw that were quite interesting that kind of showed who we talked about, how we actually play, how we communicate, and how we travel, but there’s a lot of women today that are also shaping the future of our technology, and this is just a small smattering of them. The panelist also are all accomplished women that are going to be able to share their thoughts and experiences. I wanted to just kind of bring out a few of these in particular.
For instance, we have some of our established organizations like IBM and General Dynamics, so we have the technology field and the aerospace and defense. We also have women leading our emerging technologies that are shaping what business is going to look like today, whether it’s the biotech fields with 23andMe, whether it’s the artificial intelligence and consumer applications with Lumi Labs. Open-source software is a personal favorite of mine with Adafruit and Limor Fried. You have different types of telecommunications, as well as cloud computing and fashion technology that are really shaping the world in which we operate.
Each of these women have played a role in trying to change the way businesses are structured, but also how to do that with the technology focus. Now, of course, each of these people have accomplished many things in their own industry, but I have the honor of introducing the moderator of our next panel who has actually helped shape my academic career. It’s my distinct pleasure to introduce Molly Wasko who is going to be our moderate for our Women in IT panel. Molly? Molly, are you there?
Dr. Molly Wasko: The mute button, yes. Don’t forget the mute. Yes, so thanks, Paul. I’m Molly Wasko, and as Paul mentioned, I’m his advisor, so I’m a little bit older than he is. Back when I was getting my PhD, that was when MIS was just starting to emerge as its own separate field. My first job out of college was actually working for Pepsi, and because, at the time, I just happened to have some computer skills that I became the default IT person. We didn’t actually have IT offices or central organizations. It fell upon, basically, super users like us to invent what we wanted IT to look like in our organizations. I would also like to introduce the rest of the panelists, Jamie Adams with Mspark. Jamie, you want to talk a little bit about yourself?
Jamie Adams: Good morning, everyone. This is Jamie Adams. I’ve been in technology for about 20 years, and specifically, a CIO for the last five years. Currently, I’m the CIO at Mspark, which is a direct mail advertising company.
Dr. Molly Wasko: Thank you. Next, we have Kit Deason with Blue Cross, Blue Shield of Alabama. Kit?
Kit Deason: Yeah. Hi, I’m Kit Deason. I am department manager over claims support and application development at Blue Cross. We have a big IT shop here. I started as a developer and climbed the ranks, and managed a department of about 100 developers.
Dr. Molly Wasko: Ellen Holladay with Motion Industries.
Ellen Holladay: Yes, thank you, Molly. I’m, of course, Ellen Holladay. I’ve been in technology for about 35 years. I’ve been Motion Industries, the largest industrial distributor in North America, for 28 years, and I’ve been CIO for 22 years, and manage a staff of about 200 people.
Dr. Molly Wasko: Finally, Bonnie Parker with Southern Company.
Bonnie Parker: Thank you, Molly. Good morning, everyone. I’m with Southern Company, and I’m the technology business partner responsible for technology at Alabama Power. My career, I started as a developer. I’ve worked in infrastructure, cybersecurity, managed the help desk. I’ve kind of been across all towers of technology. I’ve been in this role about two years.
Dr. Molly Wasko: Excellent. All right, so we’re going to jump right into questions. First question for Jaime, what experiences led you to choose a career in technology?
Jamie Adams: Yes, so my undergraduate degree is actually in business and management information systems, and when I went into … Well, that was back in 1996. MIS was actually a fairly new field at that point in time. It was very popular. I actually entered into that major just because it was so popular, but once I got into it, recognized that the MIS field was interesting because technology really impacts every aspect of the business. I saw it as an opportunity to get exposure to all areas of the business. That was the big attraction for me, and it’s an opportunity to have a very significant impact. I also enjoy learning new things and like change, and as you know, technology changes every day. I felt like it was a good career step for me.
Dr. Molly Wasko: Great. Does anybody else want to add to that?
Kit Deason: This is Kit. Yeah, I was similar. When I started college, I didn’t have a major in mind. I was sort of looking, but yeah, the computer field, of course, was up and coming in the early ’90s. I always found it interesting. Of course, it promised future career opportunities, so yeah.
Dr. Molly Wasko: All right, so-
Ellen Holladay: Hi, this is Ellen.
Dr. Molly Wasko: Sorry, go ahead, Ellen, please.
Ellen Holladay: No, I was just going to respond if that’s okay because I did not choose a career in information technology. I actually majored in English, and I just wanted to shout out to say that it’s great to have a background. When I was in school, it was all computer science and not MIS. I did go back to school at UAB to get my MBA with the concentration in cost accounting, and went on an interview with an accounting firm, thinking that was what I interviewed for, and they actually wanted somebody to do IT consulting. I changed my focus, and I think I was in the first class of individuals getting their MBA with the concentration information technology at UAB. That’s been a long time ago, but it was a great experience, and definitely say a good school to get that kind of background.
Dr. Molly Wasko: Good. We have a great question from one of our audience. How would you suggest an MIS graduate to enter into the industry with no experience?
Kit Deason: This is Kit. I’ll start. We’re looking for graduates right out of school. A fear I had graduating was that, on the first day, I was day that I was hired somewhere that I was going to be expected to sit down and write a program and solve some business problem for them. That’s just not the way it is. They have to give you time to learn the business, to learn their environment. I guess my advice is you don’t have to have a high expectation for that first day. Right out of school, the opportunities are there. The jobs are posted, and then they’ll show you what they need you to do.
Dr. Molly Wasko: Here’s another question. Is 40 too late to change career paths? I’m currently working on banking as an implementation coordinator.
Ellen Holladay: This is Ellen. No, it’s not. Absolutely, not. Just to kind of tag onto what Kit just commented about you’re going to get your experience on the job. An education is great, but you don’t really know that much for your first day on the job and don’t let that intimidate you. I think there’s such a need for information technology professionals that I think the industry welcomes anybody who’s interested in pursuing a career. I would say 40 is absolutely a good age to transition, and there are a lot of opportunities all over, and I think a lot in our market too.
Bonnie Parker: Hi, this is Bonnie-
Jamie Adams: Hi, this is Jamie.
Dr. Molly Wasko: Go ahead, Jamie.
Jamie Adams: Sorry. Yeah, no, 40, absolutely, is not too old to enter this field. It’s definitely diverse, and there are a lot of opportunities out there for any age. My recommendations to those who are entering the workforce right out of college, focus in on the company you choose because that’s pretty important, especially for your first position. I would recommend, go after a larger company where you can enter in the workforce and you can get experience in a lot of different areas of IT. In that way, you can decide what area specifically you want to focus on. Also, a larger company will offer more benefits as far as training opportunities, on-the-job experience, travel, and structure. You’ll learn a lot about process and structure, which I think is critical for someone who is currently entering the workforce.
Bonnie Parker: Yeah, I was going to say that you can take what you learn from your other career and apply it to a technology career because technology is in everything. I think there’s a lot of benefit from your first career when you switch that you can bring over to IT and technology when you change careers.
Dr. Molly Wasko: Great. Thank you. Next question. Kit, this one’s for you. Why is IT a good career for women? How have you see the technology field change for women over time?
Kit Deason: Well, it’s a good career for women simply because you can program and develop software anywhere for anyone. There’s more and more job flexibility. That’s one thing I’ve seen at Blue Cross. We’ve gotten more and more flexible as far as work hours, work from home, so it’s easier to fit your personal life and your personal responsibilities with it as well. There’s more models of women in the tech field and women starting their own companies. There’s more models out there now than there were when I got started. That’s encouraging. Women are more supportive of each other. It’s tough for women sometimes, and we’re definitely out there supporting each other. It’s definitely changed. There’s more women now than it’s used to be, and it’s definitely a good career choice.
Dr. Molly Wasko: Anyone else want to kick in?
Jamie Adams: This is Jamie. I agree with Kit. I think this is a great area for women. There’s a lot of flexibility. We allow our developers to work remotely a couple of days a week. I’m seeing more and more women enter into the development field.
Kit Deason: This is Kit again. Piggybacking on what Ellen said for the previous question, yeah, IT is on every field. It’s like pick an interest, and then you can have an IT field in that interest of industry. It’s in everything. You can be interested in something on a bigger scale, and then have a job that is in IT, supporting that industry, or is a part of that industry because it’s everywhere.
Dr. Molly Wasko: How would our women audience reach out to women in the IT field? Is networking important?
Kit Deason: Yeah, it is. There are organizations in Birmingham of women in the IT field. TechBirmingham and Birmingham Women in IT are good groups to connect with. There’s multiple groups out there, and just to … Their events are social events, and sometimes they cover topics that are helpful in the workplace, but those are great places to connect.
Ellen Holladay: Yeah, this is Ellen. I agree with that, and I just want to make one comment about networking. It is very important, and don’t feel like you need to focus on just women in IT. You need to network with everybody. Network with people in your industry. Network even with people outside of technology who are in similar businesses that you’re in. Network with people who are in completely different industry because you’re going to learn different things from different people. I think that is a very important piece of advice to give you is that you need to establish your network pretty early on, and it will reap the benefits.
Bonnie Parker: Yeah, I’d like to follow that up. Make sure you’re networking while you’re in school, so keep in contact with your classmates and your friends from school because you’ll go out and you’ll all spread all over the place, and if you keep those contacts up, your network will just start going from there.
Kit Deason: Alumni to your school in your major, your IT major, they’re participating because they’re interested with you. Stay networked with them and ask a lot of questions. Let them tell you their stories. That’s a good way to network.
Dr. Molly Wasko: Great. Thank you. Next question, Ellen, this one is for you. What advice would your present self give your younger self if she were to enter the technology workforce today?
Ellen Holladay: Well, we’ve hit some of those areas, kind of, our last discussion on networking. That would be follow my list of advice. We also hit choosing your company. I think a good comment was made about choosing a larger company. There are definitely benefits there, but I would also consider looking for a company that is doing something that sparks your interests, and from the IT perspective, companies that are working on projects in your area of interests. Are they working on new things, or are they just maintaining? Are they working in technologies that you’re interested in?
If you want to pursue something in software development, is it a company doing a lot of development, or if you love package implementation? I think you really have to figure out what that company is doing. Also, whether or not is a cultural fit with your own personality. That’s sort of hard to determine on an interview, but part of it is kind of gut feel. Interview with as many people as you can in the organization.
Then when you start that job, I think this comment was made earlier, don’t feel like you’re walking into something and you’re going to shock everybody that you don’t know what you’re doing because you’re not going to shock anybody. They don’t think you know what you’re doing if it’s an entry-level job, and just try to learn from everything because you’re going to get some pretty unattractive tasks or projects when you first start out. You have to look at it as a learning opportunity. Learn from everything you do, even the projects that, on surface, you don’t like.
Always do it well. Always volunteer when you can. Don’t miss out on opportunities within your own company to network if you’re given an opportunity to work on a project or go to an event, or just any way that you can get to know more people in your company and recognize that you need to learn the business. You need to learn the culture, and you need to establish your business partners internally. Even if you’re starting in an entry-level job, you’ll have business partners that you work with, and you never know where you’re going to run into them again.
People change jobs. Somebody that you think you don’t have to work with again, you probably will. They may be your boss. You may be their boss. I just think you have to learn from all your assignments and just do a really good job and volunteer and stay visible. Don’t get intimidated if you’re on a project that you don’t know what you’re doing because those are the projects where you really learn.
Jamie Adams: Okay. This is Jamie. I would encourage you as well. You definitely want a stable job. It is also a great opportunity to take more risk, and even pursue entrepreneurial tech ideas and startups in your spare time, and getting experience presenting a pitch deck to a group of investors is huge. I mean, that’s a huge opportunity. You’re at the age where you can take more risk. That’s what I would encourage my younger self, was definitely put yourself out there, take more risk, get a stable job, but also pursue entrepreneurial tech ideas on the side.
Kit Deason: Yeah, IT is always changing so keep learning. Ask for the harder assignments at work, and don’t rely solely on your job to keep you informed and up to date on IT. Do research and learning on your own, and that’s where entrepreneurial ideas may come from. Don’t rely just on your job for your learning for your future growth. Do some of that on your own as well.
Dr. Molly Wasko: To build on this, a question from the audience and younger self can be defined in many ways, but this is a woman who works in IT now. She’s 55, and she’s wondering what the advantages are to a degree? At 55, do you still need a degree if you’re in IT, and what would be the advantages of doing that?
Ellen Holladay: This is Ellen. I think that more important than a degree is learning. If a degree helps you learn and you have the opportunity to do that. I think it’s great. I think a degree in and of itself, when you’re further along in your career, you kind of have to decide if your company values that, and if it’s going to benefit you. I think the bigger piece of advice I would have would be just don’t ever stop learning, whether pursuing a degree or not. You have to learn until the last day on the job. It makes you happier in your job when you’re learning and you’re developing new skills and you’re able to provide value in ways.
Kit Deason: A degree is important-
Dr. Molly Wasko: [Crosstalk 00:29:16].
Kit Deason: Sorry.
Dr. Molly Wasko: Go ahead.
Kit Deason: I was just going to say a degree is important as far as … Frankly, one of the reasons is it’s a higher pay. At Blue Cross, we are opening opportunities for people with certifications who have attended intense development training programs, but they never enter the jobs here at the highest level possible without a degree. We do help you pay for a degree if you get in one of those lower positions. We do have tuition reimbursement. It doesn’t cover all of your college cost, but it does help with it.
Kit Deason: Of course, a degree, there’s so much else that comes with a degree. Other subjects and topics that make you a well-rounded person. You might learning English skills, speaking skills in another area of college that are important in the job field. Sometimes, we see young people just entering the business with not a lot of good soft skills, and we’re having to address those. By those, I mean looking at people when you speak to them, being able to be clear in what you’re saying, just courtesy, business courtesy kind of things, like answering emails in a timely manner and those sort of things. Getting a college degree makes a well-rounded person, which is helpful for any job.
Dr. Molly Wasko: This is Molly, the moderator, and keep in mind I am biased. However, I think a degree delivers so much more. It gives you a structured way to learn new things and exposes you to information you probably would not have found on your own, especially we’re then guided by college professors. You think about what our job is to do is to go out there and find the best, brightest, and most relevant things that we can bring back and help you on the classroom.
Also, one of the great things about this program is you learn a lot from the other people that you’re doing the degree with, so your other students, that we talked about how important it is to build your network, but this ability, you’re going to get to know the other students in your courses really, really well. This becomes a professional network that you can leverage forever.
All right, Bonnie, next question, this one is going to be hard. What was your biggest career success or failure, and what did you learn from it?
Bonnie Parker: This is an interesting question. It relates back a lot to what someone said in the last question around soft skills. A lot of times, your success and failures are going to ride on the soft skills and not necessarily on your technical skills. One of my favorites is where I built a team, so I started my career, developer, building code, and love to see the results of that. As my career progressed, I just began building different things. I had the opportunity to take over a project that was not doing very well. It was in a ditch. It was over budget, behind schedule, had a lot of issues, and so I was able to build a team to support that effort.
We got a vision. We got a plan. We communicated. We collaborated with other stakeholders and people that were involved in the project and were able to execute that and turn into a success, and then I was able to take that team and grow it into an entire organization that eventually supported multiple business units within our company, but it all hindered around the soft skills, and so being able to communicate, to talk to people, to work with other people. The times I’ve seen failures are when those things haven’t happened, so when you haven’t communicated well, there’s been some kind of communication is where a lot of our biggest failures come from.
Being able to do those things, really, will help you in your career. That’s actually, related to this is one of my favorite interview questions to ask is what’s your biggest mistake. What I’m really looking for is not what you did, but how you handled it. Did you own it? Did you communicate what the issue was, what the impact was? Then did you learn from it? What did you take away from to be able to not have it happen again the next time? You really got to have that balance, I think, of soft skills as well as technical skills when you go out into your career.
Dr. Molly Wasko: Anyone else?
Ellen Holladay: Yeah, this is Ellen, just a few thoughts, and I think you could use these comments to apply to a failure or success. I think you really got to have a plan, and it has to be a pretty detailed plan. You have to work your plan. It will change, but if you’re not staying on top of where you’re originally meant to go, and routinely check yourself, check your team, check your sponsor to say, “Are we really on the path that we originally meant to go down?” If it’s changed, is there a real reason it changed?
You have to constantly circle back and anticipate your roadblocks to success and deal with them head on because they’re there. In almost every big, complex projects, there are roadblocks, and you just have to figure out what they are before they hit you on the face. Then one thing that I stress to my team and that I’ve learned over the years, I think in technology, sometimes, particularly in software development, if we get something into production, we think we’re done and it’s a success. That’s rarely the case.
I think if you’re a true partner with the business, you have to hang in there a while, and not just to make enhancements, but to really check and make sure that the originally benefits really are coming to fruition. I think it’s really important to be a partner of the business in that regard and not just to say, “Well, I did what you asked me to. Project’s complete. It’s in production.” If you’re really going to be a successful professional, you have to extend that beyond just the pure technical project task.
Jamie Adams: Hi, this is Jaime. I would encourage you to force yourself outside of your comfort zone because I think, in that situation, you’re always going to learn something, whether you succeed or you fail. Honestly, I would say failure really is associated if you don’t learn from something. Force yourself outside your comfort zone.
I spent 14 years of my career with one company, and a pivotal moment for me and my career is when I chose to leave that company, which was a place of comfort for me at the time, or a CIO position in an industry that I was unfamiliar with. It was the first position as the CEO, first time owning IT strategy, first time reporting to a CEO and board of directors.
Forcing yourself outside of that area of comfort, you’re pretty determined to succeed in a situation like that, and I think having the guts and tenacity to make a move and then succeeding at it will change you. You’ll realize your full potential. You’ll realize what you’re capable of, and you’ll also build confidence through that process.
Dr. Molly Wasko: Good. Thank you. All right, final question that I have for you guys, what do you see is the next big challenge or opportunity in tech, and what can we all be doing to prepare for it? Kit, what do you think?
Kit Deason: Yeah, I’ve been trying to come up with a good answer to this question. It seems like as technology changes, it’s always a challenge. Looming opportunities, challenges, security is always a changing thing, a challenging thing. In my company, we have to strike a balance as well in new technology coming along with mobile app technologies, chat, new ways to interact with our customers, the newer technologies as well as maintaining our older technologies. We still use COBOL and Mainframe that have been around 30 years or more. Our company is profitable because we were able to do that. There’s lots of even parts of IT that you can find out about and learn about. I agree with whoever said early on, starting with a large company where there’s all kinds of opportunities to move around and try different things.
Ellen Holladay: Yup, this is Ellen. I think I sort of would look at this a couple different ways. One is, I think, probably everybody on the call kind of has a feel for did they want to get into IT management or did they really want to focus on honing some very sharp technical skills. I think that the answer, is it in software development? Is it in the infrastructure? There’s so many different answers depending what your viewpoint is, but just a couple of comment, I think if you’re already in a job and an industry that you want to stay in, you have to kind of look at what is going on in that industry.
Some technologies apply to many industries, but usually have some technologies that are a little more applicable or ready on the maturity curve than others, and I think the industry that I’m in, in manufacturing and distribution, out of the Internet of things, Industry 4.0, machine learning, automating the production process, and kind of the marriage between IT on OT, and I think part of the question is, what do I do to learn about that?
I think that’s an area that’s moving so quickly. You’ve got to read. You’ve got to follow some people on Twitter that are really doing interesting things in that area. There are a million podcast. I think that speaks to a lot of technologies, find the source, then find multiple sources of people who were doing those things, making commentary, learning every day.
Then if you are really interested in the management side, I think that an area that is a valuable skill is to really learn and be proficient on any area of DevOps, understand those processes, understand how to streamline them, how to make them better, how to deliver faster at a higher quality? I would just encourage you to kind of think about what you’re really interested in, what your business values, and then just read and learn a degree is great, but once your degree is over, you can’t stop. You got to continue to learn every day.
Dr. Molly Wasko: Anyone else?
Jamie Adams: Hey, this is Jaime. I see a lot of opportunity with data and predictive analytics to drive business decisions, data protection and privacy, but also revenue-generation technology. When you’re looking at companies, and it’s your first position out of college, look at companies where IT may not necessarily just be a call center, but an engine to generate revenue. I’d say look into those opportunities as well.
Dr. Molly Wasko: Thank you all very much. I’m going to open it up to questions for the panel, but just wanted to make one closing comments, that this is one of the main distinctions between an MIS degree, management information systems, and something like software engineering or computer science, that if you listen to the panel, they keep coming back to this focus on what is the business need. It’s this ability to be able to understand the technology, but how it actually impacts the business and have partnerships in the business. One more question, are you guys willing to mentor some of the people in the audience today?
Female: [Crosstalk 00:43:46].
Female: Sure. Yeah.
Dr. Molly Wasko: Great. Any more questions from the audience? As we’re waiting for questions, would anybody else like to have a concluding thought? All right, so I will turn it over to Maggie.
Maggie: Paul, you can go ahead and discuss the MS MIS program overview. Paul, are you on mute again?
Paul Di Gangi: Just before we get started, I think I saw on the screen here, someone asked if they can repeat an answer because it got a little scrambled. I don’t know if it’s possible. There was a little bit of a noise background. I know there will be a recording posted of this later, so we might be able to play it back for you.
Kit Deason: This is Kit. I think it was about mentoring. I think anyone of us would be willing to do that. I would encourage to talk to more than one person … have many.
Paul Di Gangi: Well, so one of the great things for the MS program, and actually for our undergraduate program as well, is that we utilize a IS strategic advisory council. All of the people that you heard from today sit on that council with us. They advise us about our curriculum, about the directions that our programs can take, as well as new potential ideas that with can get into as a university, so that way, we can best prepare the IT workforce. Any of these particular women that you’ve heard from today, if you’d like, I can try and arrange the ability for that information to kind of flow between the two, so we can kind of close the loop on the mentorship aspect. All right?
I also want to highlight a little bit today, as we’ve been talking about women in IT, I think it is important to discuss some of the degree options that we do offer here at UAB, especially for those interested in transitioning into the IT field. I wanted to highlight today a little bit our master’s program, where I’m the graduate program director. The basic design is a 30-credit hour course program. Unlike other graduate programs where the core of the program is mainly about teaching you the fundamentals of information systems, so you get back into, say, in telecommunications, database, systems analysis.
Our core is designed around the idea of building the modern day IT professional to manager perspective. What we want to do is introduce you right away into the core topics that can highlight your strategic and operational skill set. That’s why we have courses like IT and business strategy, the IT governance, as well as IT project management, so that way, you can understand the managerial applications of being successful as an IT professional. From the operational side, we have our introduction to cybersecurity as well as our data science for business, a little bit more of the fun topics of social media and virtual communities to introduce you to some of the things that IT professionals deal with on a more tactical and operational level, but would be useful for all IT manager.
This serves as kind of our base, our fundamentals for what an IT manager should be focused on, and then we allow for some concentration director. For instance, we’ve heard earlier already that cybersecurity has become a hot button topic. In fact, globally, there is a three and a half million job shortage in this area. Now, a good portion of them exists outside the United States, but it’s still over a million jobs in the United States in North America that are lacking qualified applicants.
One of the things that we tried to do is focus in on cybersecurity management. These are the people that are essentially going to be leading the troops. While we have operational level security professionals, we need the captains. We need the field marshals. We need the generals that are going to be able to understand the strategic positioning of our cybersecurity resources in order to make sure our IT strategy or our information security strategy or posture that we have as an organization is strong, is robust. That’s why we have classes like security management to focus in on the policy development aspects. We focus in on cyber attacks and threat mitigation, how do we actually assess the vulnerabilities in our organization, how do we monitor the threats that are emerging in our organizational environment.
Incident response, clearly an emerging topic for a lot of organizations as they’re having to deal with the fact that no matter what you do in security, you will eventually have a cybersecurity incident, so it’s best to train how to respond. All right? Then, of course, digital forensics. Once you actually have had this incident, how do you go back through and make sure that you can identify the root causes, preserve evidence if you’re going to be seeking a legal proceeding?
In addition to the cybersecurity management concentration, we also have one that’s designed more along the lines of like the CIO track. This is called IT management. It includes the incident response class because our advisory council had recommended that regardless of whether or not you’re in security or just more generic IT, you need to understand the concepts of incident response and business continuity. We also include a course called leadership in IT to get you introduced to the different ways of managing your leadership style and managing teams.
We have a tech planning and capital budgeting class that helps you understand portfolio management and making the tough calls on which projects align best with an organization strategy, which projects need to be updated, which systems need to be maintained. Then we have a class on web analytics to get you a little bit more flavor of understanding organizational presence online. This is the overarching program, but for those of you that are thinking about transitioning into the master’s degree program, transitioning from a non-IT field, we also have what’s called the bridge program. All right?
Now, I know, I believe it was Ellen who mentioned earlier that she was an English major originally, and so we’re going to use that as kind of a quick example here. Say, for instance, you have your bachelor’s degree in English, and you’re thinking about making that transition into the tech field. Well, with this, we have a basic six-course sequence to essentially rapidly get you into the fundamentals of the information systems field. This is modeled after our undergraduate major degree, and what we do is essentially provide you with information systems.
Our intro course you to give you breadth of the field, give somebody who is thinking about breaking into this field a wide angle lens of, okay, well, what are the types of jobs that are out there? What are the topics? What does information systems encompass for me? All right. That’s kind of our basic little piece here, introducing you to the field, get a big picture, a little bit of a deep dive, a little shallow dive, really, into a variety of different topics and different types of positions you can have.
After that, we give you the foundational knowledge and skills. Systems analysis, database, business data communications, telecommunications, and business programming, kind of our four kind of key knowledge skills areas that you need to understand to be an IS professional. This is about making sure that you just have the basics down in order to be able to entry level into an organization. Then, of course, for some of you, you might be transitioning in from a non-business discipline, or perhaps are going, and so we want to make sure that you have a little bit of an intro to the business communications world. How do you actually speak and act like a business professional? We try and make sure that we kind of highlight these things for our bridge program.
I mean, that’s our overall system. We have the master’s degree for those of you that have already been in the IT field that have already, perhaps, even had a bachelor’s degree in information systems, or say, for computer science, and you’re looking to take that next step on the IT management side, there’s those of you that are interested in transitioning into information systems field, we like the fact that you can leverage your previous business, previous experience. Before you take the master’s program, the bridge program really gets you into the fundamentals of the style, the language, and the key topics associated with the field. With that, I’m going to hand it over to Stella. She’ll walk through some more of the admissions requirements that we have.
Stella Alkass: Thank you, Dr. Di Gangi. To be eligible for the program, you must meet the following qualifications. You have to have graduated with a bachelor’s degree in an information technology or information systems related field from a regionally accredited college or university with a minimum overall GPA of a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Now, for those not meeting this requirement, they must have completed a bachelor’s degree in another area of study from a regionally accredited university or college, or completed another graduate degree, and completed the UAB MS MIS bridge program, which Dr. Di Gangi previously discussed.
There’s an online application you would have to fill out with a $70 application fee or an $85 international application fee. You must present official transcripts from all previous institutions you attended. We would need a current resume, and as well as a personal statement. The statement must include your professional applications and how a student have faced and overcome challenges in their life. The applicant must also submit a GMAT score.
Now, you may be reviewed for a potential waiver based on a professional or academic experience. At this time, I want to scan through really quickly to see if there are any additional questions that have come through. If you do have any questions regarding the MS MIS curriculum or admissions process, you could submit them at this time. In the meantime, let’s take a moment to familiarize yourself with these important dates that are coming up. The graduate application deadline for our summer term is May 1st, classes start May 6. I highly recommend you start the application process ahead of that May 1st deadline just to give you enough time to gather all the transcripts and materials in time. To contact your advisor, you can schedule an appointment at the following link.
I just want to see if there are any more questions that have come through. Okay, so someone is asking about the length of the program. How long does the program takes to complete? The MS MIS program typically is about five semesters or a year and a half long. Now, if you do the bridge, that would be another three semesters or another year.
Paul Di Gangi: The program can also be completed in a full-time capacity if you so choose, which means for those highly ambitious they can get it done in as early three semesters though.
Stella Alkass: Someone has a general online learning question. In the online environment, are there fixed class times that I would need to dial in to? Are there recorded lecture? There are no fixed times. Our program is entirely asynchronous, meaning there’s no set login time. You don’t have to be in front of a computer at a specific time. [inaudible 00:56:32] of the 100% online program is very flexible.
Paul Di Gangi: Actually, if I can add to that too, some of our professors offer a online optional component that gets recorded afterwards just so that students that do want that more direct interaction, they can get that opportunity, but it’s an optional thing that we also allow with the recording posted afterwards of the live sessions if students want to be able to attend them.
Dr. Molly Wasko: Stella, and this is Molly, and I just want to encourage everybody in the audience to go ahead and reach out to the panelist, especially with specific questions about job prospects and what are the different areas in job opening they have in their organization, they’ll be able to give you really good advice, and even direct you to some specific job postings that they have.
Stella Alkass: Thank you. At this time, I’m not seeing any more questions come through, so we’ll go ahead and conclude our webinar for today. I want to thank every one of our panelist for joining us. Thank you, Dr. Wasko and Dr. Di Gangi for coordinating this amazing discussion. There will be a survey at the end of this broadcast, and we appreciate any and all feedback. Everyone, have a great afternoon.