Career Notes 11.26.23
Ep 177 | 11.26.23

Chris Hare: Find just three people. [Development]


Chris Hare: Hi, my name is Chris Hare, and I'm a Project Management Specialist Content Developer at N2K.

Chris Hare: Growing up, I wanted to be a veterinarian and, uh, this was a recurring theme in my imaginative play in my backyard. I think that the animal world keeps a special binder with a list of names of people who are in their camp because I would always have a group of neighborhood dogs waiting outside my front door peering in through the screen waiting for me to come play each day and I just found out throughout my life random dogs come up to me and snuggle at my feet or jump on my lap and so as I grew older, my focus shifted to wanting to be a zoo veterinarian and be surrounded by African animals, as I've got a special soft spot for elephants. So while I didn't end up as a zoo vet or an Egyptologist, as I later aspired to, because I became fascinated with King Tut, I'm speaking to you now from a parallel professional universe in the realm of cybersecurity.

Chris Hare: Well, I think as you can probably tell from my verbosity, I ended up being a writer for the first phase of my career, I wrote marketing copy for the technology and E-commerce space, writing for everyone from NASA to adopting the written voice of the comedian, Wayne Brady, of all people for an Avaya online campaign. So after my husband and I were expecting twins, I decided to pivot to project management as I piqued my interest in multitasking, something I apparently needed to learn rather imminently given that I was going to be a parent of multiples. So I think the best way to storytell where I ended up is to share what worked for me in terms of how I amassed all my learnings and experience.

Chris Hare: I became what I like to think of as a Pied Piper of seeking out three types of people. First, someone who needed help. Second, a person who served as a mechanism for my self improvement through my jealousy of them. And third, a person who gave me the nudge to continuously improve. So, for the first use case, I basically got into project management by volun-talking myself into the field, which means I volunteered to do it by talking someone into it. I had a colleague who was a PM, and I offered to create a schedule in Excel for him, this was back in the day, days before all the project management tools we have now, long before AI, even long before Meta was Facebook. So my colleague remembered this kindness and my interest, and he called me up one day years later when he was at a new company and he helped me land my first junior project manager role and that's how it all began.

Chris Hare: So from there, my career took on the most varied of experiences as I went on to manage hundreds of technology projects and programs for everyone from Patagonia, Adobe, Guitar Center, Harbor Freight Tools, and Wrike, just to name a few. So, on to the next use case, the person who made me jealous as a mechanism for self improvement. I had another coworker who had earned a highly regarded project management certification, the PMP, the granddaddy of them all, and I knew I had to earn it to take my career to the next level, and I dreaded studying for it, and I really dreaded the thought of a three hour, 200 question test that was proctored in person at some testing facility. But my goal anchor was set, my colleague had it, so I knew I needed to achieve it to get to where he was. So I buckled down, I took way too much time to study for it, and then I passed it.

Chris Hare: The thing about technology and being a woman in it is that you sense that maybe others in the room feel that you don't know as much about technology as maybe you do. And that sort of thought repelled and propelled me at the same time. While I was at my starter project management job, I didn't have the technical chops that the other PMs around me had. I was managing all technology based work, CMS migrations, open source implementations, reverse engineered CRMs, you name it. My boss Kevin at the time saw in me that I needed that aspect to round out my experience. So he gently pushed, without tech shaming me, to take some classes. I learned some basics of HTML, SQL Database, and PHP. They were hard, but they were well worth the effort and when it came time for him to write a book on XML, he gave me an opportunity to be his technical editor.

Chris Hare: It basically started as a nascent interest when I was managing PCI projects and those were always my favorite because I found it fascinating how simple changes quickly affected the gestalt of how secure a company's data can be and from there, it would take a long time before I actually landed a role in the cybersecurity industry, but I finally made it and I get to be in the mix with amazingly brilliant people, forging a path of inclusivity through professional education and strategic workforce initiatives and as an advocate for women and people with disabilities, I'm really excited to be involved with my company's Women in Cybersecurity program. If you're a woman or an individual who identifies as female or a person with a disability, and you're interested in getting into technology or cybersecurity and you need that next step, well, go out and find your three people and feel free to let me be one of them. 

Chris Hare: I would say my leadership style is, people like to say servant leader, but I think I'm more of a, kind of, uh, just appear in terms of how I sit alongside my colleagues and I try to help them and just make that a reciprocal relationship and I think the more that you give the more that you get out of the relationship, and I found that so much in that same starter job where I was a brand new PM, so green, working with developers, and I would take on tasks that they hated doing, and then they, in turn, worked harder for me. So I think it's a really sort of, I have kind of a peer reciprocal relationship in terms of my leadership style. 

Chris Hare: Really It comes down to if you're wanting to take that leap into cybersecurity or into technology in general, get as many certifications as you can in terms of things that are relevant and are interesting to you, um, volunteer. So it's similar to my path, you know, help someone out, volunteer. If you want to be a project manager, people need project managers all the time. If you want to get into a specific industry, take on some volunteer projects. I think the combination of education, volunteering, that leads to networking, that leads to opportunities.

Chris Hare: I'd like to be remembered as someone who helped the underdog succeed. Um, I want to make an impact and help as many people with disabilities achieve their career goals and eventually I do want to create a non profit to do just that. So that's kind of what I'd like my legacy to be.