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Women in DevOps: Lorelei Mccollum

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Women in DevOps: Lorelei Mccollum

In this series, women in DevOps share their experiences, thoughts on leadership, and more. This week, learn about "DevOps queen" Lorelei McCollum.

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In our Women in DevOps blog series, you'll hear from talented women in DevOps. They will share their experiences in DevOps, their thoughts on leadership, lessons learned and also how we can encourage more women to focus on an IT career.

Hi Lorelei! Tell us a little about yourself. As a DevOps queen yourself, how can we encourage more women to get into this industry?

I have been a software engineer for over ten years, focused mainly on automation and testing. In my most recent role as an IBM Verse Test Architect, I was responsible for the build, deploy and testing pipeline for IBM Verse. I was in charge of the infrastructure and automation for a massively parallel system that tests both desktop and web clients for on-premise and cloud IBM offerings.

In your experience, what skills are needed to become a DevOps Leader?

I think a lot of people with computer science degrees, not just women, have this idea that they need to go get a development job on a product after college. I think there are MANY other jobs in this line of work that all involve coding and applying your computer science skills, but at my time in college, it was just not marketed that way. For me, I never wanted to be a product developer, but eventually found I could still apply all my computer science skills to automation. CD/CI and pipelines are what every company wants these days, and you have to build them properly, so those computer science skills come into play and need to be applied. I think now people are starting to see there are many other ways you can apply your computer science degrees and still write code all day long. I also think the more people see you can go pretty far in this line of work, it becomes more appealing to them as well.

What personalities/habits do you think make you successful in DevOps?

I think being passionate about your work and what you do is key. People will see this, and see your drive and I think that helps to motivate them. Other skills that are definitely required is staying up on the new technologies that continue to come out. It is very fast paced and you need to make sure you are on top of them. It requires a lot of self-teaching, learning and exploring.

If you could have given your younger self some advice for the future, what would you tell her?

I think the fact that I will call out people when they regress the build or pipeline no matter who they are. Developers usually just want to write the code and not the test. You have to make the test and deploy portions easy for them if you want them to implement/execute, and when they break things or don't follow the process you have to stand up to them, even if they may be more senior then you. Having high standards for the test side of things shows the developers that it is important to test the code you deliver.

Don't be afraid to voice your opinion, especially if you have facts to back it up.

What set you on your DevOps career path?

One thing I always tell myself is if I am in a meeting with higher-ups, or more technical leaders; people I look up to, or that are further along on the same career path as me, I make sure to speak up and say something, no matter what it is. Visibility is key I think in this business, and speaking up is how you get your ideas heard.

You're not only a woman in DevOps - what else do you like to do?

My love for automation. DevOps is a pretty big category of work and things people do. It has different meanings to a lot of people. I have always loved automating stuff, and that was how I got into the test and pipeline side of things. For any manual task, I always think about how we can automate it with code.

Interests outside of work and DevOps are hiking, camping, running, biking and I love to travel around the world!

Readers! Check out a few other posts from this series, highlighting other DevOps queens:  Women in DevOps: Karen Taggart
Women in DevOps: Jayne Groll.

Thanks, Lorelei!

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