We all have our stories of how we got started in our careers. For fellow AppExchange team member Andrew Gothelf, it all stemmed from the kindness of a stranger, who decided to help a college kid at an airport. For me, helping an advertising agency work beyond traditional radio and television ads meant discovering social media monitoring software.
Thinking about these stories made us curious about how others got their start, as well as what they love about it, and advice for others. In the winter issue of The Exchange, the AppExchange magazine, we profile executives from IBM, Accounting Seed, Conga, and DocuSign, and reveal a range of career arcs and perspectives on working in technology. Here's a look at some helpful takeaways from the magazine.
How did you get started in tech?
“I studied Industrial Engineering at North Carolina State University where my love for engineering, solving problems, and technology began. When I started at IBM, I was planning on getting my PhD, and worked part time while getting my Masters. I fell in love with the work, the people, and the experience. At that time, I was working in the IBM Systems group, developing customized solutions in support of our IBM Personal Computer Division Operations Team.” - Rashida Hodge, VP, Watson AI Strategic Partnerships and Partner Product Management, IBM
“My first tech job was as a consultant in the Microsoft ERP space, implementing Microsoft mid-market ERP systems in 2005. I started my career as a CPA. From there, I took jobs as a controller, then a CFO working for different companies, helping them manage their accounting and their back office. Then I decided to get into technology.” - Tony Zorc, Chief Executive Officer, Accounting Seed
“I started in real estate during the refi boom. I owned a business and ran it when the market crashed. Then it was time to make a decision. I started investing in real estate and building an investment portfolio. I was in San Francisco at the time, and went to work with a company called Intuit, which owns QuickBooks, among other technologies.” - Justin Mongroo, VP of Sales Excellence, Conga
“I was always fascinated with technology, always interested in engineering. Art too. And so I thought that engineering would help me knock two birds out with one stone, like a little data engineering with a little creativity. That brought me into technology and eventually, through a series of conversations with myself about how I could better use my electrical engineering degree, came back to the Bay Area.” - Andy Tzou, Lead Product Manager, DocuSign
What do you like about working in tech?
“It's super fast moving. There's a lot of innovation that's always happening, so you get to talk to a lot of brilliant folks that are deeply passionate and knowledgeable about what they're working on. Every day, walking around this office, I get to have these conversations and see new technologies being developed.” - Andy Tzou, DocuSign
“As soon as we create a process, I’m somebody that wants to analyze it and figure out ways to improve it. Just like when I build something at my house, I want to figure out another project and continually innovate. To me, software is not a thing, it is continuous innovation, and that’s exciting. What we have today is not what we’ll have tomorrow; it will be the improved version of that.” - Justin Mongroo, Conga
“I love exploring endless boundaries of what can be used for customers, the customer experiences it can create, the savings it can create on the back-end, and the scaling options. It's very exciting to see how you can really scale operations through technology.” - Tony Zorc, Accounting Seed
“The exciting part is that every day is different, every year is different, and every job brings an awesome new challenge. For a company like IBM, with 400,000-plus employees, in 170 countries across the world, not only do I get to influence how offerings and products are brought to market, but get to interact with clients on a global scale and help them make a difference in society. That's fun, awesome, and amazing!” - Rashida Hodge, IBM
What advice do you have for those looking to get into tech?
“Don't give it another thought. Go for it! All the jobs in the future in this country are going to be heavily related to information technology and software — especially if you're a knowledge worker. Think about it: Computers, technology, and software will be ingrained in whatever you do. So I wouldn’t waste another day thinking about it. Just start. You cannot go wrong. There are so many tech jobs available that if you're even remotely interested, give it a shot.” – Tony Zorc, Accounting Seed
“Be open, be present, and have a spirit of exploration. We often go in to fields or study things because we are what we see…I think for people interested in getting into technology, or changing fields, or doing something different, say yes. Say yes to those roads that are less traveled by.” - Rashida Hodge, IBM
“Jump in. The tech community is very welcoming. I don't think I know a single person that would not encourage it. At the very least, investigate it and see if it's right. There's always an opportunity to talk to someone in technology that’s able to offer feedback, direct you to another resource, and gauge what's right for you. So just jump in!” – Andy Tzou, DocuSign
“For young people looking to do it, learn everything about the industry and all the different roles. Understand the companies. Don't be siloed in your approach to understanding software. For people looking to make a career change, be humble. The career you had when you made a career change is not the career you now have. You've got to make sure you have the same diligence to earn your stripes and cut your teeth in the software world as well.” – Justin Mongroo, Conga
Get more insights from these experts in the winter issue of The Exchange, the AppExchange magazine.
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