Blog > May 2021 > From Swimwear Designer to Claims Adjuster to Software Architect; How my "Why” Led Me to a Technology

From Swimwear Designer to Claims Adjuster to Software Architect; How my "Why” Led Me to a Technology Path

If you asked me as a kid if I wanted to be a software architect when I grew up, I wouldn’t have had any idea what that was. Over the years, I had various answers like race car driver, lawyer and even fashion designer. It took me years to figure out it was less important to ask “what” I wanted to do and more important to ask “why” I wanted to do it.

Junior high school is where I developed an interest in fashion design. For extra credit, I enrolled in a fashion design course and entered competitions. I did this because I enjoyed making my own clothes and wanted to learn more about how to make my ideas materialize.  This eventually led me to designing my own swimwear line for a local surf shop in California while I was in college.

In high school, my math teacher and guidance counselor strongly encouraged me to pursue computer science in college. My parents loved that idea – but I wanted to pursue fashion design and art. Why? Because even though I was always good in math and science, I had that dominant creative and artistic side. I enjoyed creating things that came from a vision I had in my mind. I also enjoyed improving upon the things I created. I just didn’t see how computer science could have anything to do with that.

I succumbed to the strong encouragement and enrolled in college as a computer science major.  I had never touched a computer and my first computer programming course wasn’t a positive experience. As the only young woman in the class, I felt completely out of my element and had trouble keeping up with the guys in the class who had worked with computers before. I dropped that class, never looked back, and graduated with a degree in Business Administration and Art.

After graduation the questions shifted from who I wanted to be to what I wanted to do; nothing about why I wanted to do it. And it never occurred to me to ask myself that question.

I accepted a job at Liberty Mutual as a claims adjuster. It was a good job and I enjoyed working for the company. After several years, I felt like something was missing, but I wasn’t sure what it was. A great thing about Liberty Mutual is the support they provide to individuals wanting to pursue opportunities within the company. My manager knew I was looking for something different and brought an opportunity to my attention. They needed someone with claims handling experience to re-imagine the business process, find opportunities for automation and provide requirements. This sounded interesting. I liked finding ways to make things better and more efficient.

As a business analyst, I became fascinated with how my requirements could turn into a working application. I stuck my nose in all the technical stuff and had a couple mentors who supported me playing with code. It was at this point I realized that I had lost track of my “why.” The job I had wasn’t the job I wanted. I was missing creating things that came from a vision in my mind. This time around, it was materializing requirements into working software.

What I didn’t have a chance to see back in college was how a career in technology could fuel my creativity, giving me a different medium for creating things and finding innovative ways to solve problems and make new and better products. For me, this is the truly exciting part of my job and why I love my job. It started me on my career path in technology and kept me on the path to my software architect role. Over the last 7-8 years, my “why” has changed slightly and shifted some of my focus to giving back. I am still driven by creating things, but now I hope I am a role model for other girls and women in technology.

Now, I can’t imagine not ever wanting to be a Software Architect.  Ask yourself, what is your “why”?  Listen to it and let it guide your path.