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Meet Victorian ACS W Committee member, Janet Kistler

Thursday, 10 Dec 2015

Janet Kistler is a Business Analyst working at EnergyAustralia. Janet has worked with them for the past 4 years and during that time has had the fortune of working across a diverse range of areas from enterprise system replacement, retail system upgrades, and finance process improvement initiatives.

We asked Janet a series of questions to get you well acquainted with your new ACS Women in Victoria committee member.

Janet Kistler
How long have you been in IT?

I’ve spent 5 years working in IT, starting with a non-profit organisation, WISE Employment, before moving on to EnergyAustralia.

Why do you love working in IT?
I began my career in HR and found my passion for IT while working on configuring a HR system to meet management needs. To move my career into IT, I began a masters degree in business analysis and systems at The University of Melbourne. The knowledge and skills I obtained from this degree allowed me to start my IT career with EnergyAustralia as a Business Analyst. To further build my technical knowledge, I embarked on another masters degree, this time in information systems. During this degree, I not only learned from my lecturers who opened my mind to real world applications of technology innovations around the world but I also unexpectedly found myself learning from fellow students and their professional experiences.

Why did you join the ACS Vic Women’s committee?
My reasons for joining ACS W was in part to contribute back to the community as I had done through my work with a non-for-profit, and also to pay forward the support I previously and still receive from the women who helped me along my career path.

Finally, in an age where career change is becoming the new norm, I want to raise awareness to female professionals that IT is not only a viable but also desirable career option.

What do you see are the challenges for women in IT?
ABS figures show that women comprise of 24% of the total technology workforce. Technology professions have an image problem. From TV portrayals of IT as mostly male-dominated and occupied by socially awkward shut-ins, to technology magazine articles of men in suits or flannel. This reinforces the unconscious bias that girls and women are not suited to the industry and thereby discouraging entry in to IT professions.

What do you think it will take for gender equality in the IT sector?
Education is necessary to raise awareness that there is a multitude of IT career paths, both technical and non-technical, available within the IT industry. Also, entry in to IT can be done at any stage of a person’s career.

Organisations also have an important role to play in encouraging greater female representation in technology. Often a culture change to advocate for female technologists is required. Organisational leadership programs for women in IT are a great start to send a message to employees and women in general that it is an advocate for building female talent.

Do you have any inspiring words of wisdom for girls/women wanting to work in IT?
Be brave. Don’t be afraid to reach out and seek support from other women in IT. I have learned so much from my mentors and value the advice and perspective they have given me. I’ll also pass on words that inspired me. Don’t self-select out of opportunities.

Have you had any key milestones in your life that changed the direction of your career?
My first milestone was working on configuring HR systems to meet business needs, which led to my passion for IT and eventual career change from HR to IT.

My second milestone led to my interest in working on innovative and greenfield projects when I supported WISE Employment’s strategic goal to achieve a zero carbon footprint.

What is your hope for the IT industry?
A greater partnership between universities, government, and corporations with the aim of fostering technology innovation and entrepreneurship in Australia is needed. Focusing on technology areas that are unique to Australia’s economic environment including the energy, healthcare, and international education sectors.

Why would you encourage others to become more involved in ACS?

For me, ACS has to given me a wealth of connections with technologists from a variety of industries that I would never have met. Every industry and organisation has its own style and persona, when we face similar technological problems the way that each organisation approaches it and the resulting outcomes are different. You learn there is no blanket rule to manage a particular situation or problem, and environmental awareness is key when building an approach.