The second installment of our Women Powering Technology series features:
Evelyn Miraglia, Senior Manager, Business Continuity at Coach.
A former UNIX production engineer, Miraglia currently specializes in business continuity management, business continuity planning, crisis management and disaster recovery planning for the New York-based luxury leather goods company. She has 19 years of experience in information management, information systems and technology within various industries, including financial, pharmaceutical, healthcare, government, insurance and retail.
-Kimberly Fahey, Vice President, Global Client Solutions at Randstad.
KF: Tell me more about your career path in IT industry? What changes have you witnessed over the past few decades regarding the representation of women in the male-dominated tech world?
EM: I consider myself one of the female pioneers in the IT industry, and I was the lone woman worker on many tech teams, especially in the UNIX world where all-male teams handled network, firewalls, storage and backup. The Windows sector was a close second, with about 98 percent male representation and Mainframe was about 89 percent male. However, from 1980 to 2008, more women began occupying the more "docile side" of IT, such as DBA, developers, e-commerce, application administrators, desktop and data center operators.
KF: What does the tech industry look like today as far as gender balance? What barriers and misconceptions do women continue to face in this industry?
EM: Today, I'm pleased to say that many more women are interested in applying for enterprise core IT positions. But sadly, it remains a highly populated male field and male managers seldom hire qualified women, regardless if that company is an equal opportunity employer. I've noticed that male managers tend to exclude women because most IT core positions have 24/7 support and there's a misconception that women with children would not have the full commitment to work certain shifts.
Cultural differences also play a vast role on candidate decision factors. Another barrier is that many male managers are intimidated by strong women or find that hiring a woman would cause a “disruption” to the team. Consequently, these attitudes circumstantially lead to women getting being passed over for promotions and career advancements. The good news is that although this reality has steered many women away from IT in the past, today more woman are looking beyond these barriers and pursuing their dreams of working in IT.
even if I was the only one wearing high heels." -Evelyn Miraglia
KF: For female college students hoping to earn an IT-related degree, what's the best route to take as far as choosing a major?
EM: I highly recommend that women entering the IT field pursue an MBA degree before or during their career. Women with business majors tend to gravitate toward strategic solutions for business initiatives within the IT space, and have a solid foundation for pursuing CIO and CFO positions.
KF: What's one trait that propelled you throughout your career in IT and what's some advice you can offer young women hoping to make their marks in this industry?
EM: For me, I found that self-confidence, along with the required skills, has led to my success in this field. I refused to take the submissive role and that gave me the ability to lead and build strong teams, even if I was the only one wearing high heels. To this day, I enjoy the essence, versatility and extraordinary pleasure of being a woman. Would I hire or recommend hiring a woman in IT? If qualified, absolutely! My advice to women working in IT is this: Speak up and make yourself heard. Your ideas are being considered among many. Don’t be afraid to say, “Can you further explain that please” or ask for clarification during a meeting or discussion. Request training in areas where you have an interest or volunteer to do work for other IT teams to gain experience. Get involved in change management meetings to see where your company’s IT initiative is heading. And always take a step back and look at the broader picture of your organization.
KF: Describe a day in the life of your career at Coach.
EM: Presently, I split my time managing projects within business continuity management and disaster recovery management. These are closely related practices that describe an organization's preparation for unforeseen risks and its ability to resume continued operations. The trend of combining business continuity and disaster recovery has resulted from a growing recognition that both business executives and technology executives need to collaborate closely instead of developing plans in isolation.
Within my business continuity role as Coach, I’ve created systems of accountability for all business units to update their own disaster recovery plans. One of the challenges we have faced is that the application support teams are not fully aware of their business partners’ short- and long-term strategies within their respective recovery plans. However, new takeaways are being identified and incorporated into these respective recovery plans for workforce and process resiliency.
Within my disaster recovery role, I am presently updating disaster recovery contracts for contractual hardware and services for our data centers. I am also working with our disaster recovery service provider, Coach U.S. IT teams and global IT resources for the upcoming semi-annual, 144-hour disaster recovery test. I ensure all aspects of recovery are updated and provided, such as procedures for 200 plus servers, network configurations, backups/storage solutions, middle ware appliances, security access and documentation, contractual hardware and services.
I also work with executive management, IT teams, security, audit and application partners to ensure the company’s disaster recovery strategy is supported with a resilient and robust plan.