Career Spotlight: Project Manager for IBM

IMG_3957Name: Karen Mariela Siles

Hometown: Born and raised in Cochabamba, Bolivia; moved to the US, Northern Virginia area when I was 15 however due to a full time offer I moved to Austin, TX after college graduation.

Employer : IBM Corporation in Austin, TX

Job Title: Project Manager for IBM Cloud Organization

What are some of your job responsibilities?
The goal of a project manager is essentially take a project from beginning to end, making sure that all the components that are needed are facilitated in order to get to our deadline. In my case, I work with software developers and ensure that we are reaching deadlines for our project to deliver cutting edge technology for IBM Cloud.

What is your educational background?
In May, 2007, I got my Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from George Mason University in Fairfax,VA.

How did you find your current job?
I have been with IBM for eight years; this is my fourth career path that I have taken. My first job with IBM was due to an organization called Society of Hispanic Professional Engineer (SHPE). Through SHPE ,I was able to attend their National Conference that offers professional development, networking, and a career fair. Through these conferences IBM was able to recruit me and I was offered a full time position with IBM in Austin, TX

What did you do to prepare for this career?
I graduated as an Electrical Engineering in college but my first choice of major was Computer Science. I took a lot of programming courses so I got my first internship as a Computer Programmer during my Junior year of college. As a senior I had to opportunity to stay with CACI as a computer programmer, but I decided to take the IBM offer in Texas. My first job with IBM was a Software Engineer helping people with their middleware and making sure that I helped customers solve their problems.

What is your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my current job is when my team reaches their deadline and we have a developed product. The best part is always when you see that you have completed your project and you can see the affects of your work.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
I always find it challenging when developers need help but are not able to find the righ resources to get the help they need. As a Project Manager, I need to ensure that they have all the  capabilities in getting the right aid, but sometimes you depend on other teams to deliver their part before you can start yours.

What advice would you give to help a girl prepare for a job like yours?
In my opinion, everyone should study a career in STEM. The thinking and the tools that STEM classes give you are very hard to get if you are pursuing a non technical career. As a Software Engineer,  I wish I would have taken more engineering and computer science courses in high school. Some teachers at the university cannot spend a lot of time with you as a high school teacher can, so I wish I would have learned more basic science, engineer, math and computer science in High School. My advice would be to take STEM classes throughout high school; it will give you a strong basis for whatever you decide to do in the future.

What do you do for fun when you aren’t working?
Most of my career advancement was through my networks and meeting people who wanted to mentor me. Therefore, most of my free time is given towards community service organizations like Latinitas where we can empower young people, or mentor them to become amazing individuals. Giving back is the best part of my day and I like to spend a lot of time volunteering. However, if I am not volunteering, I enjoy spending time with my dog, Kasper. Currently, I am training for a half marathon, which has caused  me to enjoy running in my spare time. I did my first half marathon with the Disneyworld, Princess Half Marathon.  I am very excited for my first half marathon, but I doubt it will be my last.

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