At Bitrise, we enable customers to deliver mobile experiences to billions of devices every day. There are fantastic folks here making that possible, and in our Behind the Scenes series, you can get to know them too.
This time, we are chatting with Cathy Harmon, Technical Support Representative in the US.
Can you share a little bit about yourself?
As many times as one is asked this question in life, you would think it would become easier to answer! The tendency is to talk about your career, which neglects so much of who you are as a person. However, given the number of hours we devote to our careers, it seems to make sense to start there!
After graduating from North Carolina State University with a Computer Science degree, I began my career in the ever-changing field of technology. I started as a developer writing system programs in assembler that ran on the mainframe. As you may guess, that was more than a few years ago!
When development for my product ended, I naturally found my way to support. Support combined my technical skills, my people skills, and my love for fixing things! While many see support as a “necessary evil”, I find that it is much more challenging in some ways than development.
Along the way, I have been fortunate enough to dabble in just about every aspect of software development. A few of my favorite areas include training/mentoring and technical writing.
Oh, and for those hours that I’m not in front of the monitor? I have a husband who thinks I’m brilliant, 2 daughters that have turned into incredible young women, the most adorable 2-year-old granddaughter, and 4 dogs that make me try to be the kind of person that deserves the unconditional love that only dogs can give!
Did you always know that working in technology was what you wanted to do? How did you decide to go into engineering/tech?
Actually, I did! I have always been analytical and a logical thinker, with a good dose of creativity thrown in - the perfect mix for technology! It never occurred to me that technology wasn’t a field for women.
When I started college, I was actually considering a degree in Chemical Engineering. In my freshman year, I took the introductory class for computer science as I felt it would be helpful regardless of where I ended up. I was hooked and there was no turning back!
What is it like to be a woman working in technology for you?
To be honest, I never really thought of myself as a woman working in technology. I have never felt that I wasn’t just as smart and capable as anyone, male or female, nor that my ideas and opinions mattered less. It simply never occurred to me that I couldn’t do something because I am a woman!
In addition, I have been extremely fortunate to work in environments where gender bias was minimal and I was judged on my abilities and contributions - not my sex. In fact, many times the majority of people in my management chain were women! I do recognize that this is certainly not always the case and am thrilled to see efforts to encourage and support women in following whatever path they choose.
Do you notice a lack of women in technology? If so, why do you think that’s the case?
My answer is probably a bit unusual, but there has always been a number of women in my work environment, many in leadership positions. I feel very fortunate in this regard as I realize this is likely not the norm for most women in technology.
As a result, I don’t tend to think in terms of male/female when thinking about the people I work with. I honestly had to stop and think about the number of women on the support team!
What’s your role at Bitrise? What do you do on a typical day?
A typical day? I never know how to answer this as I am never sure exactly what a typical day is! That is one of the great things about working at Bitrise - the unlimited potential of each day! But let’s give it a shot!
A large part of my day is spent researching and responding to customer tickets and helping teammates do the same. Many times, a reported issue may involve something I am not familiar with. Then I will need to research how something works or look at the code to see how a step works, or set up a test to figure out a problem or a solution or collaborate with others to find out the root cause and/or solution.
Of course, during this process, I may need to collect information to create a bug report. Or perhaps I will need to work with our tech writing team to correct or improve documentation. Maybe I will need to write a knowledge base article or edit/review an article written by someone else. And of course, there is always something new being developed that I need to learn about and see if there is any input I can provide to make sure our customers’ needs are met.
With the rapid growth at Bitrise, a “typical” day may also include one of my favorite activities - training someone new to the team!
Whatever the mythical “typical day” involves, you can bet it is never boring and I always end up learning something new.
Why did you choose to work at Bitrise, how did it turn out?
I was at a point where I wanted something a bit different. I had previously worked many years at a large computer company and had lots of experience from the various roles and positions I had held. But this had been during a time when I was focused on growing my career and it was in a fairly structured environment. I wanted something different, something more flexible and somewhere I could hopefully help others be successful as they started their own journey in this crazy, ever-changing, always exciting field.
So along came Bitrise! It offered me a chance to use my skills and experience, as well as to continue to learn as I had no experience with mobile app development. As a rapidly growing startup, it also seemed perfect in terms of flexibility and the opportunity to help others, as well as the company itself, succeed.
How did it turn out? Well, I got all I hoped for and more! Can it be frustrating? Absolutely! But every day I learn something new, and every day I have an opportunity to make a difference.
What challenges do you have the most at work?
The biggest challenge is simply finding time to do all the things I would like to do! I want things to be better. I want things to continually improve. But the reality is that there are only so many hours in a day and there is a limited amount of resources. This results in my biggest personal challenge - being patient and realizing not everything can happen overnight! They say patience is a virtue; it just never happened to be one of my virtues!
What learning/growth opportunities have impacted you most?
Every day provides a learning opportunity! There is so much involved in the area of CI/CD, as well as mobile app development. I think I encounter something every single day that I have never heard of and need to learn about.
What are your future career plans, who supports you?
This is probably a horrible thing to say, but I don’t really have any future career plans! I feel that part of my career is in the past and I’m incredibly lucky to be in a position where my career plans are so flexible as to be almost non-existent! Don’t get me wrong, I have no plans to stop working anytime soon. As long as I enjoy what I do and feel I am contributing, I’ll probably continue working.
And as to who supports me, my biggest fan is my husband. He thinks I’m the most intelligent person he has ever known and I hope he never changes his mind or finds out he is wrong! Of course at Bitrise, my team as well as the entire company supports me. While they may not always agree with me, I always feel they support me.
Who are your role models for women in tech?
I don’t have any role models for women in tech. Women are equally intelligent and capable and I see no reason to differentiate on the basis of sex. I think everyone, male or female, should be supported and encouraged to pursue whatever field they choose.
The best I can do here is to share a favorite saying about the glass ceiling breaking: “Ladies, put on your heels because there is glass all over the floor”.
What do you think is the best part of being a woman in the tech industry?
I never think of myself as a woman in the tech industry. I just think of myself as being in the tech industry. I really can’t say that I’m extremely self-confident. I have just always felt that I was just as capable as anyone else. There is nothing I can’t do if I put my mind to it and am willing to put in the time and effort.
For me, the best part of being in the tech industry is the amazing advances that are made every single day! That and knowing a whole lot more about tech than my daughters do. When they were teens, I set the router to disable the internet connection for their computers at 10 pm. They would tell me they were having problems with their computer and that it would just stop working every night. I pretended to be horrified and told them their computers must have been infected with the “10:00 Virus”! They believed me! Score one for being a “mom in the tech field”.
What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in the tech industry? What do you wish you had known?
My advice to a woman would be the exact same as my advice to a man. If you want a career in the tech industry, go for it! Make sure it is what you want to do and that you know what is involved. If it truly is the right field for you, then do it.
While many may not feel it is necessary, I would highly encourage going to college and getting a degree. It can provide an overall foundation to build upon and provides much more than basic knowledge. Take advantage of the many opportunities out there and know that you are absolutely capable of doing anything you put your mind to!
And while it may be corny, overused, and almost trite, I'd borrow that well-known directive and tell them - JUST DO IT!
Thanks so much to Cathy for a great interview and a look into her life as a Technical support representative Senior Software Engineer at Bitrise. Want to work with Cathy? Check out our current job openings.
Written by Agi Czutor
“As the Employer Brand Strategist at Bitrise, my job is to ask good questions, transfer the beliefs of our people and foster advocacy. My aim is to create an alliance that enables us to provide a platform of an unshakable internal community. At Bitrise we believe in creating an environment where people can have impact and purpose to shine the best of their talent every day.”