Why a Witch?

When we experience life changing technology for the first time, we might think, “This is magical! How did I live without this?”. Later, great technology fades into the background and we don’t think about it because the experience is well-designed and it doesn’t get in the way. And there’s a certain magic in that too. I strive to create magical experiences. And witches practice magic. Hence, the IT Witch. But there’s more to it.

Witches work on the outskirts of society. They’re often women, but not always. They challenge hierarchies and oppressive systems of power. They mediate access to the unknown. They develop a deep understanding of the forces at work in the world around them and can challenge those forces. While they may work alone, but they often work in together. They’re more powerful when they work together.

So when I call myself an IT Witch, it’s because I’m here to help you challenge the way that things are. I’m here to help you build inclusive, human-centered technology experiences. I’m here to help you work as a team. I’m here to help you explore and understand the systems and forces at play in your organization before making big changes. Technology is powerful magic!

Professional Background

I was privileged enough to live in a household where my parents could buy a PC when I was in preschool and to attend an elementary school where there was a Mac computer lab. Throughout elementary school I helped family, friends, and teacher with technology. I attended a high school where all students contributed to the schools operations (e.g., kitchens, cleaning) for four hours a week. I was lucky enough to get to help my peers with their computers as my job and then work in the IT department over the summers.

While I studied Classics and Political Science at UMass Amherst, I continued developing my technology skills by working in the IT Department as a student both during the semester and over the summers. After graduating, I continued working at UMass Amherst professionally for a few years as a systems administrator before moving to Boston to work at a startup.

As the first full-time hire at Fiksu, I continued my systems administration and support work. I built an amazing team of IT Operations and Salesforce professionals. I worked on some big projects. I led IT as the company moved offices in Boston and expanded to six satellite offices around the world. I learned a lot about how the “platonic ideal” of running IT just doesn’t work at a scrappy startup: you have to choose an approach that’s reasonable for the company’s level of maturity and appetite for risk.

A few years later, a friend working at edX invited me to apply to be their first full-time hire in IT. I had the privilege of building another amazing team of IT Operations and Business Systems professionals, transforming IT from a reactive help-desk into a true strategic partner for the business. I led IT through edX’s expansion of Salesforce to support several functions in the business, including a new B2B Sales team; through edX’s divestiture from MIT as our incubator; through building out a new office; and through its acquisition for $800MM by 2U.

Since October 2022, I’ve been enjoying a career sabbatical. where I’ve traveled, started ceramics and woodworking, rested, recharged, and considered what I want my professional future to look like. While I’m still very much open to full-time employment, I’m excited to take what I’ve learned and help IT Professionals grow and hone their craft as well as help organizations transform their IT capabilities into strategic capabilities.

Core Values

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of things that guide my approach to leadership and making IT magical. Of course, these may change over time because I’m always learning and sorting through new information and experiences.

💻 Tech has no inherent value.

Technology only has value when it helps people achieve their goals more effectively than without it. This might mean being able to make better, faster decisions or providing service at lower costs. No matter the mechanism for value creation, technology solutions must account for the people who use them, the data that they ingest and output, and the business processes they support or transform. If the process becomes less effective, the data becomes more unreliable, or the people don’t want to use it, is it really valuable?

🏃️ The best tech solutions are developed in an agile environment.

Priorities change. Ideas don’t translate into value. We learn things as we go. I ask my teams to include their customers at every stage of the value delivery process, from the definition of the problem and exploration of the problem space through the building, testing, and iterating upon solutions. By delivering value in smaller increments more often, we get to learn and pivot, reducing potential waste and building better products and services.

🤝 The “IT” vs. “Business” dichotomy is unhelpful.

I’ve spent most of my career trying to break down silos between different groups, even within IT. There are few problems that are truly “IT only problems”, so there few problems that can be solved by IT in a vacuum. Bring in experts from across the business. Seek out difference perspectives. We build better together.

🥳 The best teams are diverse, inclusive, and psychologically safe.

I work to build and maintain a culture where my team feels like they can bring as much of their selves to work as they would like – but never more than they want. I ask my teams to show up with curiosity, empathy, and humility and treat themselves and others with respect. I ask my teams to get curious about their privilege and how changes in their behavior might help others feel more included.

💖 “Intent is important, but impact matters more.”

This is something that one of my mentors, Alyssa Boehm, said a few years ago and it’s stuck with me. It’s a principle to live by, both in my personal life and when building team culture. I expect people to make mistakes, but I also expect them to learn about the impact of those mistakes, believe those who were impacted, and then work to make it right.

🤔 Tech isn’t easy, but people and culture are often harder.

I work with my teams, other leaders, and directly with customers (often end-users) to consider how people technology impacts employee experience and organizational culture. Rolling out Slack without considering how default notification settings will affect work life and personal life boundaries or deploying a new HR System that doesn’t support pronouns could both have big impacts on culture. Likewise, rolling out a new CRM without understanding the impact on existing business processes and team culture might result in attrition, bad customer experiences, and not achieving a return on the investment. The best technology experiences put people first.