Tracey Richardson: Women in Tech at Ohio State
It is no secret that IT as an industry is constantly evolving. This means that as a university we are constantly evaluating our current systems and ways they can grow and change to meet the growing needs of students and faculty. The process of bringing new services to campus, identifying improvements, and understanding the big picture of IT services employed at the university falls to Tracy Richardson. Her role allows her to collaborate and embrace the growing and changing feild and promote productive change at the Ohio State University.
As part of our #OSUWomenInTech series, we had a chance to sit down with Richardson to learn more about her daily job, how she stays up on industry news and what technology she is most excited about.
Can you describe your day-to-day job?
I lead our Service Management Office. My role focuses on the “big picture” of IT Service Management within our organization. IT Service Management is everything we do to stand up, deliver, maintain, improve and gracefully retire technology services. It involves leveraging “just enough process” to perform those activities consistently across the organization. My day-to-day is usually very collaborative. I work with individuals or teams across our organization and the university to bring new IT services to campus – focusing on how doing so aligns with strategic direction and our service portfolio; identify improvements to our existing IT based on customer feedback; or improve processes that negatively impact our customers’ experience with our services.
When (and how) did you decide to work in the technology field?
My mom knew that I loved math and science. One day, she mentioned to me that she’d been reading and hearing about computers. She thought computers would be really important in the future and suggested I check it out. So, I had an opportunity to take a computer class in high school. It involved your typical “Hello World” project. When I successfully made the little square robot walk across the screen, turn towards me and say “Hello World”, I was hooked! I knew then that technology was the field I wanted to be in. I entered Ohio State, declared my major as a freshman, and graduated with a B.S. in Computer and Information Sciences. I’ve never regretted my decision to be in the IT field. I continue to enjoy the challenge that comes with turning an idea into something real or solving a challenging problem in a way that makes life easier from someone else.
What advice can you give young women who would like to take on a position in the technology field?
- You are good enough - no matter your gender or your race or the world’s view of both
- Never be afraid to shake things up
- Change is constant and necessary; learn to make it work for you
- View the world through the eyes of a child – keep looking for opportunities and possibilities where others may see none
- Wholeheartedly embrace your inner techie – give her a name, give her an attitude, and give her a voice
How do you stay up-to-date with new trends in the technology world?
My “goto” resources tend to be: CIO.com, Campustechnology.com, EDUCAUSE, Process Excellence Network, VentureBeat, Forbes, technology webinars and peers.
What has been your favorite moment/experience from working in the technology field?
There have been so many! One that always inspires me is the Wireless Project, which brought wi-fi to Ohio State on a grand scale. Having led a portion of that project, I had a lot of “oh, wow!” moments. Most of those moments came from witnessing our team and other talented staff from across the university collaborate and engage on a level I had never experienced up to that point. No matter what challenge we faced, there were always a group of talented people voluntarily stepping up to pitch in and figure it out. It was amazing to watch the talent across the university take a challenge, talk it out, map it out, disagree, find consensus and ultimately arrive at a solution that worked! The Wireless project and others since then always reaffirm for me the high level of talent at Ohio State, and what we can accomplish when we work together towards a common goal.
What has been the hardest part of working in the technology field?
For me, the most difficult part of working in the technology field is the constant change in technology. It’s both a blessing and a challenge. It’s a blessing because it shows the power of imagination and how technology can be used to make a difference across every major field of study and in everyday life. It’s also a challenge because it compels IT professionals to ensure their skills and professional tool kits keep pace. Rapid technology changes push IT professionals into a life-long learning journey. We have to be committed to learning new skills, adding new tools to our professional toolboxes and then using those items to consistently add value in our current roles. When you add family and life to the equation, it can be challenging to keep up. But, I believe it’s necessary to keep learning and using that knowledge to make a difference, inside and outside of work.
Is there any technology that you are particularly excited about right now? Why?
I am most excited about a group of services I’ll call “disrupters”. Examples are: Workday, Skype for Business, Distance Education, and major cloud services. I call them “disrupters” because they are big, complex, scary initiatives that drive major changes and help us fall forward on purpose. They “shake things up”. They take us out of our comfort zones. They upend our ideas of “business as usual” and “we’ve always done it this way”. They drive us to think differently - to reinvent and reimagine IT and learning at Ohio State. Most importantly, their success can’t be realized by one person or Ohio State area alone. Their success is driven by massive or complex collaborations and effort of talented people across the entire university. You can’t get more exciting than that!
This feature blog post is part of our #OSUWomenInTech campaign. Hear more stories from female leaders involved in technology at Ohio State by following us on Twitter @TechHubOSU and stopping in store to see our digital signage features. Are you interested in getting involved with technology? Don’t forget to check out our Student Developer Kit and student project development grant opportunities.