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IT Fire – Sharol Süess-O’Reggio

Sharol Süess-O’Reggio

Sharol Süess-O’Reggio

Product Owner

Born: 1961
Children: yes

“You are in charge of designing your life. Your circumstances are your raw materials. They will to an extent impact the path you take. Some of them can be controlled or influenced. Others are like gravity – they are a given that you can’t eliminate, but you can use to your advantage.”

Education/Career: Eidgenössisch anerkannte EDV-Anwenderin, MAS in Leadership and Management, various certificates. Worked (among others) as tester, test manager, technical writer, programmer, line manager, Scrum master, and product owner.

How did you get into the IT industry?

What was your first encounter with IT?  When, how and why did you catch fire then?
One of my friends, a gamer and Usenet enthusiast, introduced me to his PC. I was intrigued and started using a computer for various tasks. I enjoyed learning about computing so much, I soon began toying with the idea of a career in IT.

How old were you at that time?
25 years.

How old were you when it became serious and you had to decide on an apprenticeship or a field of study, respectively?
27 years.

What alternative professions or fields of study were you also interested in at the time?
I had originally studied to be a high school teacher, majoring in English Literature and History. This career path was not a realistic option for me in Switzerland.

What information did you have at that time about education and the opportunities afterwards?
Other than information from my friends, I only had pamphlets from the college I applied to.

What spoke against it from your point of view at the time?

Who, which people, which circumstances spoke against a career in IT for you at that time?
I don’t remember anyone trying to discourage me.

What was ultimately decisive for your decision to go into IT?
It was an easy decision, as I was very eager to learn more about the subject. It never occurred to me that I would not enjoy the work.

Who, which persons, supported you at that time?
My teachers and of course my friend.

What was your path after your apprenticeship or studies?

What were your first steps after graduation?
I went straight into a job.

Where were you in your career 5 years after the end of your training/studies?
•  Professionally: I was working as a junior programmer after 4 ½ years in testing and technical writing.
•  Private situation: In my private life I was very busy. My daughter was in primary school and I was raising her alone. Whenever I could, I was out mountain-biking.

Did you have
a) The same salary as your male colleagues?

See below.

b) The same career opportunities? If no, why not?
I don’t know if I had the same salary as my male colleagues in the early years of my career, and I can’t really say if I’ve had the same opportunities. I think that many factors influence how easily a career advances, not just gender.

Looking back, how do you assess the decision for IT?

Which of your expectations were met?
Something one of the lecturers said when I was taking that first course has stuck with me. He told us that we needed to be aware that – unlike in other careers – the technology and skills required changed rapidly and continually. Being an IT professional was being a life-long learner. After 30 years in IT, I can confirm that he was right. My curiosity and love of learning have served me well.

What do you enjoy most about your current professional situation?
I appreciate the fact that there are so many different career paths available in IT. I was able to take on multiple roles over the years and gain a broad and rich experience.

Which of your expectations were not met?
I tried programming a couple of times, expecting that I would enjoy it, but it didn’t suit me.

Would you make the same decision again?

What do you regret or criticise?
Nothing comes to mind.

How had your career been different if you were a man?
If only my gender changed, but none of the other factors that impact a career path, then I don’t think there would have been much difference.

What would you do differently, and how exactly, if you could?
Nothing comes to mind.

If you had a magic wand, what would you wish for?
The health and strength to continue learning and growing.

What advice would you give to your daughter?

What advice would you give to your 15-year-old daughter if she would like to go into IT?
You don’t know everything and you never will. Stay curious, share what you learn with others, seek out new experiences, try new ways of doing things. Hone your craft. Be honest and kind with yourself and others.

What is important to you in life from a professional point of view?
Knowing that what I do is useful.

What would a young woman retiring in 2061 have to consider when shaping her career?
It’s important to be open to change.

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Sharol Süess-O’Reggio

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The Swiss Informatics Society SI is the association of Informatics professionals in Switzerland.

Die Schweizer Informatik Gesellschaft SI ist der Verband der Informatikfachleute in der Schweiz.

La Société Suisse d’Informatique SI est l’association des professionnels de l’informatique en Suisse.

La Società Svizzera di Informatica SI è l’associazione dei professionisti dell’informatica in Svizzera.