Video Above: Hollie Braid shares the IT job opportunities in a community video with a local college.
How long have you been working in the technology industry?
15 years, 11 years at GreatAmerica.
What did you do before your career in technology?
I’ve always had a passion for helping others. I went to college for early elementary education, but realized it wasn’t a good fit for me. I worked 3rd shift in college at a hotel and thought I found my niche. I began building my experience with the goal of being the general manager someday. I worked in many different departments, in many different capacities, eventually ascending to Assistant General Manager. Unfortunately, hotels are bought and sold frequently, and those sales usually include a replacement of the management team. My husband and I were ready to start our family and all of a sudden the career I had begun in the hotel industry felt too unstable to continue. Moving forward, I wanted to find a career in a stable and growing industry where I could help others.
Did you always know you wanted to work in technology?
No :) The year was 2000, and with all the focus on Y2K, I realized computers would continue to have more and more influence in our world. I went back to college to obtain my associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree and Microsoft certification. Unfortunately, the company I worked for went bankrupt, was purchased by another company, and once again, I felt my family’s future was no longer secure. GreatAmerica was looking for a Help Desk tech, so I applied and was hired.
What was your technology career path?
My career at GreatAmerica began with supporting our internal users from the Help Desk. After about a year, there was a need for someone to support a software solution we offered to customers and I volunteered. After about two years of supporting that software, the decision was made to start a managed services division (the beginning of Collabrance) and I was asked to be part of it. Of course I jumped at the chance. That was 7 years ago. I have gone from Help Desk support, to leading the technicians, to today where I lead the entire service organization, including onboarding and ongoing support. I love my company, my team and my role. I am able to put my passions (helping people, process definition and improvement) to work each day. I’m challenged, rewarded and feel very fortunate that my non-traditional path led me to IT.
What’s attractive about the technology industry?
I’m interested in technology because of the growth opportunities in the industry, and the pace. Some days it feels a little too fast, but most days I am grateful to always have plenty to do and never be bored.
What advice do you have for women interested in technology? What opportunities do you see for them?
My advice is to follow your passion. If you have a passion for helping people, don’t overlook a technical career because the IT careers are getting more and more “people oriented” all the time. Many organizations would love to increase the number of women in their IT departments, because they are still outnumbered by men, so I feel like the job outlook is terrific. Working in IT has given me the opportunity to learn every day, put to work my passion and skill for bringing order to things and to help people. I can’t think of another career that would fit my skills and aspirations better than IT.
Brittney Stepanek, Strategic Marketing Director for Collabrance, is responsible for helping build relationships and brand awareness through strategic marketing initiatives. Before working at Collabrance, Brittney joined GreatAmerica in 2012 doing marketing for the Office Equipment Group. She received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology at the University of Iowa.