Thursday, October 18, 2007

GHC: Split Session: Interplay of Life & Work

What a fun session! Three very diverse women presenting here gave lots of different perspectives on how they balanced life & work!

Cecilia Aragon, Computer Scientist, grew up in a small town in IN, feling she was good at nothing, but after getting out of her small town she has had quite a successful career, obtaining a PhD in computer science & moving forward with an exciting life. She's an aerobatic pilot - quite a task, considering she was afraid of heights and flying and much smaller than the standard man the cockpit of most planes was designed for! She had to get special shoes cobbled with thick soles, a booster seat & 40 pounds of weights.

Barbara-Ann Fox, Technologist - grew up a tom boy and has found the best role models for her professional career were men. She ran her own "personal workshop" asking herself these questions: Who am I? What do I want? Where do I find Satisfaction? How do I operate most effectively? Her beest advice: Trust yourself. Reengergize yourself, be human, design your life. (Don't evolve: sometimes you need to start over from scratch). She realizes that she'll never be the expert, but it's not part of her requirement path so it doesn't stress her out. She recommends doing things you think are impossible - because you may surprise yourself!

Robin Wilensky, Solution Architect, hasn't been afraid of reinventing herself as needed. Once she joined Sun, she started making her own niche. This was good, because she could do what she loved - but troublesome as people didn't know what to do with her. She makes personal & professional goals, and balances the issues together. Working 'til 1 AM every day is not conducive to good social life, which she wanted, so that had to stop. She was surprised to find she was still productive, got a lot of work done & nobody was really requiring her to work those crazy hours! Robin has a slightly different perspective on being expert: if you talk about something enough, you will eventually become an expert!

We got to hear more from Cecilia Aragon after the panel, when she showed us a cool video of her in her specially built plane, She went into detail about how somehow being an aerobatic pilot was somehow less scary than getting a PhD in computer science! (she does all of this while working full time and raising a family with the help of her husband)

Valerie Fenwick

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