As a society we tend to focus on titles and roles, and we forget that behind each title there is a person who has a story to tell. And truly every person’s story is unique.
In honor of International Women's day, we interview inspiring women from the community on the story of how they got into Tech, and where they are today.
In this post, I interview Esther Barthel, who is based in the Netherlands.
Hi, I'm Esther Barthel and have been an End User Computing (EUC) consultant for over 20 years. After my Masters in Computer Science I wanted to get as much hands-on experience in the field as I could get, so I've been exploring different roles. I really found my passion in the EUC field, engineering Virtual Desktops and architecting the new modern workplace with more Cloud oriented services from Microsoft Azure.
While I'm passionate about my job as a solutions architect, it's also important that I can stay hands-on my other passion: Automating Infrastructure deployments and configurations with PowerShell & REST APIs and more recently all things (Azure) DevOps.
Next to my professional life, I've actively been sharing my knowledge and experience in the community. Whether it's by writing a technical book, or by giving presentations in local user groups and conferences. As a result of all this, and truly and honor, I've been recognized as an MVP for the third time and CTP for the sixth time.
Together with two other female CTPs Theresa Miller and Jo Harder, I founded a Women in Tech mentorship program in 2016, offering one-on-one mentoring sessions. The goal is to help and sponsor other women in tech to reach their personal and professional goals and become more visible in the tech industry.
When did you first become interested in technology and what sparked this interest?
Growing up, my dad already had a job in IT and I was fascinated by the computer he brought home. And as I was allowed to play on the computer with some BASICS game, I immediately knew I wanted to learn everything I could on how to use this piece of technology to aid in various jobs.
What education do you have?
I have a Masters of science in Computer Science.
Describe your way towards your first job in tech; how did you land this job?
With my first job I basically turned a hobby, building websites (with nothing more than notepad), into a full time job.
I had different job interviews before I found a company that offered me the chance to explore different interests. So I first started building websites for a Dutch consultancy firm and then quickly moved into server administration and network engineering. I was always interested in the impact of design decisions on the overall infrastructure.
Do you have any role models that influenced you?
One such person is Ruben Spruijt, who has been a great role model to help me find a job that fits my passion and helps me realize my dreams.
And more recently some awesome women in tech as well, like Perrine Crampton, Eva Helen, Theresa Miller, Barbera Forbes, my mentee Kari Ludvigsen and fellow mentor Jen Sheerin.
I also feel blessed to be part of communities that allow me to meet so many inspiring people, like dr. Benny Tritsch, Steve Greenberg, Jim Moyle, and Jeffrey Snover.
They all have given me insights in growing as a person and a professional and inspire me each and every day to learn and evolve.
Who were/are your biggest supporters in your career?
The biggest support in my career has been my partner, Jozé. She has not just encouraged me to follow my dream and share my passion for IT with the communities, but she also patiently listened to so many presentation practice sessions (even though she's not a techie and it all sounds like some alien language to her). She took personal time off to travel with me to different events. Not just to see me in action on stage, but to also meet my community friends and give a warm welcome to a whole new extended family!
And of course my mom, who keeps telling me how proud she is. She is my biggest fan and as challenging as programming the VCR was to her, she has mastered Google search to keep track of all my community activities and spots most social media mentions before I am even aware of them.
Tell us more about your current job – e.g. what do you like most about your role?
Three years ago, I decided to take on a new adventure and started my own business to become a freelancer. What I like about my freelance career is that I have different roles in different projects, all within the same week. I can further grow my EUC expertise, while also learning more about DevOps.
Being a freelancer also gives me the opportunity to stay actively involved in the community.
What does your typical day look like?
Many Dutch government agencies still need to adopt a more flexible workstyle, especially for IT administrators and engineers, which means I spend most of my days at the customer site. There I work with and coach the admins that have to implement my designs and provide them with automation scripts to make those repetitive tasks consume less time.
And after a days work, I like to visit a local user group or meetup in the area to gain more insights into some cool new technology.
What do you do in your free time?
In my free time I try not to dive into new automation projects, though I cannot help myself most of the time. I try to share some quality time with my partner, support her as much as I can with her social community projects or relax by building a new Lego creator series box.
What advice will you give to women and girls who dream about a career in tech?
Believe in yourself and your unique qualities! Follow your dream, find your passion, and create a job that gives you energy. Don't forget to recognize your sponsors: co-workers, friends and family that love to cheer you on, become a mentor or are eager to sponsor your ideas and career!
I have learned on different occasions how important it is to surround yourself with positive vibes and not let the naysayers make you doubt your own qualities and skills!