Editor's Note: This is the next in a series of profiles of women who have successfully navigated careers in the data center industry.
Lorraine Swicicki is the vice president of service operations for QTS and oversees the strategic and operational management of the company’s technical customer support team providing support to customers over 25 international data centers. Lorraine interfaces with partners and large clients to develop and maintain organizational strategies, operational efficiencies, and processes to ensure customer support goals are achieved. She has successfully reorganized the service account management team resulting in quicker time to revenue for new services and customers. Lorraine has more than 20 years of hands on experience in strategic planning, business unit development, and project management.
Here is Lorraine's story in her own words:
'Push past the thought that you may not be successful. Do the research, get the education, stay on course and find a leader who can help you advance.' This is the advice I give to young women who are looking to enter STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields.
As the vice president of support operations, I handle QTS’ 24/7 frontline operational services, managing any incidents that may occur within our data centers and meeting the daily requests of our customers. I usually sleep with my phone nearby and I’ve worked hard to always be prepared for any type of situation.
For me, working in technology is exciting, ever-changing and challenging. The challenges, and tackling those challenges, have made my job worthwhile and rewarding. Being in a male-dominated field, however, hasn’t always been easy, but I was determined to grow and ascertain my goals. The point is, while I have worked hard to reach my current position, I haven’t done it alone. Young women today must learn that it’s important and valuable to have mentors and supporters along the way, as I did.
My team, which includes around 100 employees, is comprised of entry level and more experienced professionals. Our company goal, no matter the experience level, is to alert the customer to any type of incident that might interrupt their normal operations within the first 15 minutes of the occurrence. My personal goal, however, is to always lend a helping hand to my QTS team members so they can grow and gain the expertise they need to move up the ladder. I’m proud to have reached a position at QTS where I can offer my advice to the women AND men who are looking to get where I am in my career. In fact, I am a mentor to many at QTS. Often sitting down with young adults, both men and women, who are on my support team and providing them with guidance and constructive feedback.
Did you know, according to dosomething.org, that U.S. women working in science and high-tech fields are 45 percent more likely than their male peers to leave the industry within a year, often due to gender bias and feelings that they are being weighed against male counterparts? Based on my experience, women in technology often need an extra boost to fully gain the confidence in their STEM skills and embrace their strength. I want them to feel empowered in their positions, so they don’t feel the urge to leave. While every company has turnover, I think QTS does an incredible job of encouraging our more experienced team members to mentor those in need of further encouragement and growth.
We’ve all read about the potential for toxic environments in the tech world. Those environments can lead to intimidation and a loss of self-confidence. As I mentor young people, I share the following tips below to specifically reduce or eliminate the feelings, which are counterproductive to succeed in a male-dominated industry.
Identify what makes you passionate about technology. Use that passion to further drive your knowledge and strive to learn something new every day.
- Work hard to understand how the technology solutions work, which in turn will gain you credibility within the company.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions and explore new areas of interest.Take on new projects or get involved beyond your daily job requirements.This exposes you to new opportunities and perhaps new leadership roles.
- Surround yourself with trustworthy people who you see as role models and who can help you understand the company’s core values and advance.
- These tips will help women (and men) increase their confidence, while making them stand out from the rest.
More from the Data Center Knowledge Women Warriors series: