Welcome to Part Two of our “Women at Pega” blog series, where we highlight Pega’s outstanding female workforce and learn more about their cutting-edge careers.
As more women pursue degrees and professions in STEM fields, they’re spearheading technical and cultural transformations of traditionally male workplaces. Pega’s increasingly diverse staff contains a number of women leaders looking to push the innovative and social boundaries of the technology industry.
This week we meet Deb MacCallum, Pega’s Vice President of Software Engineering. Deb, who has over 25 years’ experience in the software industry, has been a member of the Pega family since March 2016. She was inspired to join the staff after noting Pega’s commitment to usable yet forward-thinking solutions.
“I was excited by the company’s fundamental mission of enabling business stakeholders in an increasingly technology driven world. In particular, how this mission might be reflected in our journey to the cloud,” she said.
From the stars to the cloud
Before she set her sights on the cloud, Deb sharpened her tech expertise around the stars: Her first professional role in software was working on NASA’s shuttle program. This experience not only reinforced her passion for innovative tech - it also provided her with strong women mentors who helped shape her professional path.
“The teams [at NASA] were very diverse and some of the strongest personalities were women. They lead by example and had high expectations for everyone that worked with them,” explained Deb. “For me, early in my career, some of my best mentors were those that set examples that I could follow. Later in my career, my mentors evolved. Mentorship focused on enabling me to work in a variety of cultures – how to be heard, how to influence, etc.”
Deb’s favorite nuggets of advice from these powerful women mentors?
“The failure to make a decision is a decision,” she said. “Over analysis of a problem is a typical challenge within any engineering organization. It is important to drive a culture where failing quickly is recognized as a critical component to moving forward.”
Bringing women into the tech workforce
These days, Deb pays it forward by acting as a mentor to other software professionals looking to emulate her career success. Her demographic of mentees is becoming increasingly diverse as gender equality becomes a priority in STEM workplaces.
“In the engineering field, more and more women leaders are taking their own path, starting their own companies, setting new examples. The number of women founders doubled between the years of 2009 and 2014, up from 10 percent of all startups to 20 percent in 2014,” she noted.
Although she’s worked at Pega for under a year, Deb said she’s already seen this trend pulsing through the company’s culture.
“I have been with Pega less than 9 months. Even in that short time span, I have seen [women’s] sphere of influence in leadership positions grow. Whether it is driving requirements for a new critical customer, like the U.S Census, or expanding the responsibilities of GCS in the Cloud. For most individuals, recognition comes in the form of responsibility.”
To bring even more intelligent women into tech-focused roles, Deb believes recruitment efforts should highlight the industry’s many outlets for growth, education, and leadership opportunities.
“It is as important to paint that picture of opportunity to a candidate as it is to qualify the individual for the job,” she said. “The key to keeping those candidates is to follow-through with that opportunity.”
Deb noted that male tech leaders can’t be complacent when it comes to expanding gender equality in their field. From selecting candidates to managing onboarding, men are involved in all aspects of the STEM hiring process, and therefore must be advocates for workplace diversity.
“[Men] play more day-to-day roles in deciding who participates, who is invited, and who is heard,” she explained. “We all play a role.”
Maintaining success in a fast-paced field
While she spends her work week accelerating toward innovation, Deb doesn’t let her cutting-edge professional role impede her ability to maintain a health work/life balance. Creating this equilibrium can be difficult, but it’s essential for personal and professional success.
“You need to understand your own priorities first. On different occasions I have had to strike different balances. Getting family to understand the needed commitment to work. In other situations, working with my employer to ensure I am focused on family. In the final analysis, family will always be first,” she explained. “Finding a company that has the same value system is important.”
For Deb, Pega is proving to be that company.
“I have worked my entire career at software companies. Given my experience at large companies and startups, I have been struck by the sense of community that has been maintained at Pega - an admirable trait you typically only find at smaller organizations,” she said.