Woman Crush July: Wendi Pannell

Ladies that UX was introduced to Wendi through the rvatech Women in Technology board and we couldn’t wait to feature her as a woman crush. What we didn’t see coming was a binary code tattoo, her hunt for a Richmond dance club, and the awesome advice she has for other women working in technology. Get to know Wendi!

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m a computer nerd at heart but I love high heels and a great lipstick. Though I’m not that old, I struggle to say I’ve been working in IT for over 19 years. I have become an asset in my roles through my ability to get things done, translate business outcomes into a technical requirement, lead, inspire and drive a good customer experience. My passion is around simplifying work & life. My other passion and probably my greatest accomplishments are my 3 boys and maintaining a marriage for 17 years. I’m currently at GE as part of a team that is re-imagining how IT support can actually be a likable solution for end users. Fun fact – I have a tattoo on my forearm of my 3 kids first initials in binary, combining my love of tech & kids – more fun fact – my husband and I got tattoos together on a ‘date night’ a few years ago.

 

What do you do? How did you get involved in the industry?

My introduction to tech was through this cool looking small computer called a Grid that my dad let me play with. Then I discovered computer games from my fellow computer nerds that worked for my Dad. I played Doom against them at lunchtime. Even though I was exposed to technology at a young age I went to college with the dreams of becoming a Hotel/Restaurant manager. After an internship at the Renaissance resort during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, I realized the field wasn’t for me and changed my major to Information Technology. To be honest, I’m not sure I knew what I was going to do after college. My natural tendency to organize and my ability to understand the fundamentals of technology quickly put me into a Project Manager role out of the gate. Having this skillset has enabled me to move around into diverse industries and different verticals within IT because a good PM doesn’t have boundaries of what they can manage. I’ve done a little bit of everything from pulling cable under data center floors to learning and then teaching HP Unix. What I am doing now – is a space I have not necessarily touched before – IT Support. Right now, I’m working on building and rolling out a new component of IT support that gives a face to IT for over 350,000 end users. Literally giving our users a support advocate that works within their geographic area to reach out to when nothing else is working. This partner will work within our user’s office and manufacturing sites to make sure they have the right technology to successfully do their job. While my roles in the past focused on enterprise platforms, software development and project management for all – Site Management as a Service is developing a feature that relies on a community of people globally to simplify and personalize the services that IT offers.

How do you define UX in your role?

User experience for me in this role is everything; it is how our users consume and learn about the service. From communications to meeting collateral to websites that enable end users to find what they need. UX includes the tools we create to enable our partners to serve our end users and develop the soft skills that we train them up on to interact with end users that might not be happy.

What’s your favorite part of your job? Least favorite part?

Right now, the part of my job I enjoy most is learning about the different needs, expectations and regulations that are required around the world to provide IT services. Then I get to cobble together all of my experiences from my different roles to deliver outcomes that will cross borders and oceans. I’ve taken bits and pieces from those 19 years and we are applying parts of agile and product methodologies to enable us to leverage our global teams to deliver faster. And I’m learning EVERY. DAY. Least favorite part of my job is some of the politics, but I’ve learned to overcome some of that through candor.

What’s your biggest piece of advice for other women in technology?

I have so many. I’ve been through a few seasons, personally and professionally. Number 1 – build your board of advisors, mentors, work friends that will give you candid feedback. They will change based on your season, but keep in touch. It’s not easy to keep these relationships when you get busy, but necessary. Number 2 – accept and embrace the concept of seasons. Every experience is making you stronger and smarter for something. If you’re in a season of groundhog day or not wanting to go work, or just being tired because you’re also a Mom or taking care of parents or a new puppy….this is just a season. It will end. You might not realize what you are learning until it has passed. Number 3 – take time to learn, take time for yourself. No matter how much people love you or how great your manager is – you have to promote and respect yourself. Others will respect that in you. 4 – Get involved, a little or a lot. You might only be able to patriciate right now, but this will prepare you for your season of giving back. This also helps your #1, 2, and 3 above. I co-lead our women’s network in Richmond for GE and I’m on the board for the Women in Technology for RVATech. This fills my tank. This community of women and men – recharge me, educate me and sit on my board.

What brought you to Richmond? What do you love about RVA?

We moved to Richmond so my husband could attend VCU and graduate from their Homeland Security Bachelor’s program. My previous job had flexibility that allowed me to move anywhere because I traveled for work. So we landed in Richmond and once we had kids we didn’t want to leave our village that we had built because they have really made life easier and more fun! I love that Richmond is central to the beach, the mountains, and the city. We’re also getting into a phase where we can get out and enjoy the finer things in Richmond like all of the amazing restaurants. My only request is for a dance club that’s suitable for 40 somethings. I married my husband because he can dance.

Thank you for participating, Wendi!

 

P.S. Wendi, LTUX, and other awesome Richmonders are hard at work planning the 2018 rvatech/Women conference. rvatech/Women is Virginia’s premier women in technology conference drawing over 500 attendees. The event features a robust panel of keynote speakers, breakout sessions, and ample networking opportunities. Keep an eye out for announcements, and clear your schedule for October 18th!


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