Tell us about the work you do.
I am a New York City civil servant in the Information Technology (IT) realm. In a quick sentence I help other NYC Agencies by designing and creating Cloud infrastructure as a home to future applications that serve City residents and tourist alike, and enabling a more connected and efficient City.
What issue inspired you to pursue your current path? Is this what you envisioned to do when you were younger?
When I was younger, I was certain that I’d end up in outer space, as I was always fascinated by Science and the Extra Terrestrial. A healthy fear of heights squashed that dream, but it didn’t stop me from admiring upward and keeping up with new developments in Space and Technology. You can’t help but think about how connected we all are, and that is what attracted me to Telecommunications and eventually IT. Well, that and the night shift at the Computer Lab on campus paid about $1 extra.
How did you get over your initial fears or barriers and take your first step?
I don’t recall having fears about entering my field. It was more of insecurities about feeling inadequate or not qualified enough to apply for certain positions. A lot of my success I attribute to those around me that gave me the courage to take certain leaps or alternately to stay where I was at the time. Always talking to folks that are older is a great thing because they have a perspective that is invaluable and you can make that your own after listening to several people’s stories and advices. It is important to make the final decisions your own, but a good set of homework helps!!
Government has a reputation for being antiquated or inefficient, as opposed to keeping up with the innovation of our times. Why is that?
We joke about our governmental IT roles “bringing you yesterday’s technology, tomorrow.” But the reality is that NYC is far ahead of many Cities in the realm of technology. We have a robust network and have attracted talented and dedicated people in our work force — many native New Yorkers that have resourcefulness and ambition in their blood. I think, the more we focus on transparency, accountability and use technology as a means to continue to provide it, everyone benefits. There is a lot of work to do, especially as a government worker, but times are changing and NYC at least is moving with that, once our Mayors continue to invest in tech.
What is the most common form of resistance you face, and how do you overcome it?
Resistance shows its head in so many ways. The challenge is recognizing the magnitude, the target and tactic to overcome it. When the challenge is across the board and not particular to a specific group or person, it is easy to rationalize. However, when you feel like a challenge is tailored just for you, because of a factor you have zero control over (e.g. gender, race, age) or something you do (e.g. personality, attitude, skillset), then I have two schools of thought. If someone is judging me on something without my control, I address it quickly and privately and directly. If that doesn’t change things, I chalk it up to perhaps they have a hang-up I cannot fix, and I move on; I work around them. Most times people aren’t aware they are behaving in such a manner and a call out will tune that behavior and give them the chance to be more self-aware. If someone is judging me on something within my control, then I address it with myself first. I am my own worst critic and will usually try to either gain the skill or adjust my attitude to see if that affects a change in me and how others react to me.
What keeps you going?
People keep me going. I love knowing that my work has purpose and indirectly makes a fellow New Yorker, or global tourist’s lives a little easier or better. Having a good team helps a lot too. I’m okay staying with a good group where the relationships are symbiotic and a lot like family. The reward might be longer term to realize but I never question loyalties and motives after seeing how someone behaves in hot water, and they can say the same for me. My work is my pride, and technically it is part of my legacy here on Earth. It doesn’t make sense to nickle and dime the City because it is all helping me become a better person, a more empathetic person and it tests my limits for flexibility through changing leadership (every 4 years per elections).
Lately, I have been echoing the saying “lead, follow, or get out of the way.” I do each of these within a day.
How can people support the work you’re doing?
The work I do is for you. If you want to join that movement, also consider becoming a New York City government employee. Break the stereotypes of the City-worker and revitalize it with your drive and passion to invoke a change in the status quo. If you are in the position to hire, give people chances that are different from you but show a capacity for innovation or resourcefulness. If you are a technical worker, don’t throw things over the fence until you’ve exhausted all avenues and know for sure you cannot do anything about it, then make it your business to follow up and see it through.
Stir the pot. It might get ugly, but no one wants a crappy foundation – no matter what industry you are in.
I’m called the Batman of Social Impact. What would be your superhero name?
As a huge GOT fan, my husband and I together created a tagline for my twitter account @kloudeesi: Halstormborn of the House Ramlogan. The first of her name, the Unbullied, Khaleesi of the Great Hybrid-Datacenter, Breaker of Glass Ceiling and Mother of Cloud.