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accesso Breaking Boundaries Spotlight Series: Heather Mathies

At accesso, we take immense pride in the exceptional talent and diversity of our team, particularly the remarkable women who contribute to our success. The Women of accesso are not only fiercely skilled professionals but also catalysts for innovation, each bringing a wealth of unique experiences that propel our company forward. Yet, their path in the tech industry hasn't always been smooth. As we continue our celebration of Women's History Month, we're excited to introduce you to Heather Mathies, one of our skilled UI Engineers at accesso. Heather's journey initially took a different path, but join us as we uncover how she forged her way into the tech world!

Can you share with us your journey into the tech industry? What initially sparked your interest in technology?

My journey into the tech industry is deeply rooted in my upbringing, profoundly shaped by my mother—my unsung hero in software engineering. The Hollywood depiction of software engineers as “glamorous hackers” was a far cry from my mom's reality of meticulously crafting database queries. Watching her input seemingly incomprehensible characters into her terminal, I often wondered, "Why doesn't she pursue something more glamorous? Isn't she just typing nonsense?" It felt worlds apart from the thrilling narratives of cracking secret databases and coding in shadowy corners.

Despite my mother's profession, I didn’t initially follow in her footsteps. Like many women, I ventured into education and became a teacher. However, over the years, a growing sense of dissatisfaction took hold, and I yearned for a change. Meeting my now friend Matt was a turning point for me. As a software engineer in the tech industry for over 15 years, he introduced me to the captivating world of CSS, HTML, and JavaScript—a realm that somehow connected me to my mom's work, albeit in a shinier and more engaging context.

This newfound inspiration led me to dive into Udemy courses, attend meetups, and soak up as much knowledge as possible. Matt even included me in a project he was developing for fun, which sparked my interest further. This hands-on experience compelled me to pursue formal classes, marking the true beginning of my journey into software development.

What challenges did you face as a woman entering the tech field, and how did you overcome them?

Securing my first official tech job was challenging. Beyond being one of the few female developers, the sheer complexity of software engineering was daunting. There were moments filled with doubt, times when quitting seemed the only option. Yet, the support of those around me—those who believed in me—fueled my perseverance.

In the dynamic world of technology, where every line of code tells its story, mine is one of perseverance, growth, and steadfast support that turns obstacles into opportunities.

The environment at accesso has empowered me as a woman in tech, underscoring the importance of surrounding myself with positive influences and ignoring negativity. My commitment to self-improvement has helped shield me from these challenges, lead me to significant personal and professional growth.

Were there any particular mentors or role models who inspired or guided you along the way? How did they impact your career?

Aidan Clemente, a colleague here at accesso and an exceptional software engineer, played a crucial role during my early years. Her significant boost to my confidence has left a lasting impact on my career and I am eternally grateful for her influence.

My journey has been positively shaped by incredible managers as well. Adam Smith, my current manager, exudes kindness and provides unwavering support, creating a nurturing work environment. His empathetic listening and treatment of me as more than just an employee have been invaluable.

Likewise, Laura Hamczyk, our team's director, has been a cornerstone of support. Her openness and approachability ensure that I always feel comfortable sharing my thoughts and ideas. I extend my gratitude to my current colleagues, who have been instrumental in my journey.

What advice would you give to other women hoping to enter the tech space?

To women aspiring to make their mark in technology, my advice is to pursue what brings you joy. Cultivate a diverse and supportive network that values your unique perspective. Remember, networking transcends gender—it's about forming meaningful connections with those who appreciate your talents. Though careers in tech may not always seem glamorous or Hollywood-worthy, the ability to solve complex problems is both rewarding and empowering.

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