Contact Us

accesso Breaking Boundaries Spotlight Series: Jennifer McKeown

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 thrilled to introduce you to Jen McKeown, our Senior UX Designer and co-leader of the DEI council. Jen is a driving force behind our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and her journey in the tech industry is nothing short of inspiring.

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

My journey into the tech industry was sparked by a deep-rooted passion for 2D Animation, which gradually evolved into a love for 3D Animation and immersive video game experiences. This initial curiosity led me towards pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Arts & Technology from the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) while working at the Business School’s Computer & Print Lab. Upon graduating, I immediately took on a role as a Graphic Artist role with a prominent Government contractor, while also serving as an animator, story boarder, and concept artist for a small indie game development studio. Yes both at the same time! After that I found my way to accesso as a UI Designer, eight years later and I’m still loving it here!

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

As a woman entering into the tech world, I faced my fair share of hurdles, one of the biggest being that I was often the only female in my department. Many times, this led to me feeling underestimated, and underappreciated. I faced the harsh reality of gender bias, particularly prevalent in the male-dominated landscape of Government contracting. While these topics aren’t particularly fun to write about, I quickly learned the importance of seeking out allies in the company. This was challenging, but you always know the genuine ones when you cross paths with them. In navigating this 'boy’s club' culture, I realized how important it was for me stand up for others when I saw discrimination happening, and encourage others to do the same in a way that felt comfortable to them. I’m fortunate to have had a major ally and mentor in my manager at the time, which was immensely helpful, although I know not everyone is so lucky. My single mother also instilled in me the importance of knowing my worth and not taking disrespect from anyone.

Rockstar award

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

Aside from my mother who has always supported me and has never been afraid to talk about the tough realities of life, my manager while I worked in UTD’s Business School’s Computer & Print Lab was a gamechanger in my life. Shout-out to Thuan Nguyen, who has the patience of a saint, always had a helpful anecdote ready, and never believed failure was a bad thing; just something to learn from for next time. His mentorship ultimately helped me learn how to fend off “imposter syndrome” and accept that it’s okay to not know the answer sometimes, but that ultimately you have the tools and agency you need to go find it. He also taught me what to look for in a good company, which was helpful in finding my home at accesso!

As we celebrate Women's History Month, what do you hope to see in terms of progress and advancements for women in the tech industry in the future?

One thing I'd love to see is more support for employee groups specifically for women in tech. This would create an opportunity to discuss both personal and professional challenges, that may not otherwise come up organically. After all, everyone's journey is different, and it always helps to speak with peers and get a view on where the ship is ultimately going and whether it’s a good direction for everyone.

Want to know more about #accessolife? Learn more about our team of innovators by signing up for the accesso Careers newsletter – your all-access pass to the people of accesso!