One of the first questions people ask me about a career in technology is “what do you do?”. The second question is always “how did you start?”. In this series, Techie of the Month, we will highlight members of Long Island Women in Tech and share a bit about who they are, what they do [in tech] and how they got where they are today.
To kick us off, I’m excited to highlight our amazing Director of Events, Samantha Seymour as our Techie of the Month!
Samantha Seymour is the Director of Application Services & Maintenance at Altice USA – a Telecommunications & Media company on Long Island (formerly Cablevision). She has been in the tech industry for over 20 years and currently resides in Suffolk County.
Here’s my interview with Samantha:
How did you find your way to the field of technology?
[Samantha] I would like to say I got into technology intentionally, but that would not be accurate. I am an extremely practical individual and that quality is how I found my way to technology … by a series of very pragmatic decisions.
As is true of some, I did not have a clue what I wanted to do when I graduated high school. Due to my lack of direction AND a lack of funds I signed up for classes at a local community college. So what does an underachieving overachiever study? General Studies, of course! Over the course of the next 2 years I earned my first degree an AAS in Business Administration. I then transferred to a 4 year college where I enrolled in the Business School. I had one semester to make a matriculation decision. The options available to me were: Management, Marketing, Finance, Accounting, Administrative Science and Computer Information Technology. I did some quick rationalization, Marketing and Management were a dime a dozen, Accounting and Finance were excruciating, I did not want to teach Business, so that left me with CIS. I was a financially challenged college student, so my thought was I could make a decent living with that, right?!?!? And that was my first step into IT. So far, so good!
In basic terms, what does a “Director of Application Services & Maintenance” do?
[Samantha] I’m responsible for managing 40 resources across 4 locations (Bethpage,NY; Plano, TX; St Louis, MO & India) that make up the Application Services & Maintenance organization. We are tasked with implementing and maintaining all of the IT database technology solutions, big data platform clusters and ensuring the stability and reliability of production business systems. My team and I own and implement the software technology solutions that underlie the business application and our software solutions created by the development organizations in the production space. This enables Altice USA to move our product strategy and business efficiencies forward aiding in the achievement of our corporate goals.
As a woman in a technology field, what challenges have you observed or experienced?
[Samantha] I would say the biggest challenges for women in technology is (though hopefully changing) a lack of strong female role models. “Growing up” in the Tech sector, it was always apparent that it was a male dominated industry. The vast majority of my colleagues and leaders were men. Now do not misinterpret my remarks, I have worked with many highly skilled, intelligent and supportive male colleagues and leaders but a very small number of female leaders. As a female IT professional, I realize that being a women is something you should not ignore or try to camouflage. There are inherent qualities in women that add value to the technical landscape. Use them. Your knowledge and skill is your tool belt, how you present them is up to you.
What advice would you impart on someone just starting out?
[Samantha] Learn to be comfortable with yourself, know you have a voice and realize you are entitled to an opinion. Participate, contribute to the conversation or simply ask a question, silence may be golden, but it does not get you noticed.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
[Samantha] “You can love work, but work can not love you back.”
“Balance requires constant recalibration.” & “Balance does not mean 50/50, it means being present with what you are doing when you are doing it. At work, at home, in life”
“Remember who you are, don’t try to be someone else.”
What are you passionate about?
[Samantha] I LOVE to learn new things, read books … nonfiction & fiction, assemble challenging puzzles (1000+ pieces) and travel, especially travel! I also found ways of giving back through volunteering – currently Dress For Success, LIWiT & STEM outreach programs through Altice USA.
How can people get in touch with you?
I really enjoyed interviewing Samantha for our first blog in the Techie of the Month series. Want to be next month’s pick? Fill out this form and let us know all about you!