“Transferable Skills are the Reason I’m in the Industry Today” | CAPRE’s Women of Mission Critical Summit Weighs Recruitment Strategies

LEESBURG, VA – CAPRE’s inaugural Women of Mission Critical Summit tackled the data center industry’s diversity challenges head on, from many angles. The culminating panel of the day, “Seeking Talent and Skills: Best Practices for Recruitment in Today’s Environment,” was perhaps the most focused on shining a light on specific problems in our industry.

That’s why Moderator Robin Aron, Executive Director of the 7×24 Exchange, Carolina’s Chapter looked to panelist Krystyna Witt, Sales Engineering, Evoque Data Center Solutions with a question about workforce re-entry. “Christina, are employers and recruiters taking enough interest and action in providing a good plat form to assist women who are considering re-entering the workforce?” she asked.

“I think that obviously we have come a long way, but there is a longer road ahead of us. And today, just having to travel and work abroad, I’d have to say that European nations are a bit more advanced than us as far as providing a family-friendly leave policy,” replied Witt. “As women, we get very stressed out when we think of having to go on maternity leave – we have to think of the baby and we have to multi-task. In Europe, females have up to 2 years to return to the workforce. And in some countries, it doesn’t even have to be that same position – there’s a more open policy referring to the entire company.”

Krystyna Witt, Sales Engineering, Evoque Data Center Solutions

In other words, here in the U.S., we have some work to do. “That’s why I’d absolutely encourage any of the young ladies who are here today to make those connections – with mentors, with your co-workers, build them,” she recommended. “It’s so, so critical. I left the tech industry about 7 years ago. I left and traveled with my better half. I went and worked abroad with the State Department. And coming back to the industry, it proved to be that my network connections were how I returned to the workforce.”

“So make sure that you have a solid profile online and continue to make those connections – they are just absolutely critical,” she stressed.

Next Heather Dooley, Chief of Staff for Data Center Business Operations at Google chimed in. “As a hiring manager, and as someone who regularly works with hiring managers across Google, the thing that I try to remind folks of is transferable skills,” she revealed. “So whether it’s coming from a different industry or soft skills that you might learn in education or other industries, those transferable skills are what we’re looking for in our industry”

Heather Dooley, Chief of Staff for Data Center Business Operations Google

According to Dooley, what we need are people who can communicate. “We need people who are systems-thinkers. People who have a variety of different perspectives and diverse, innovative ways of thinking,” she listed. “We have folks with credentials in mechanical and electrical engineering, and that’s fantastic, but I look for the people with those transferable skills who will change the dynamics of my team.”

With that, Aron offered a bit of a personal note for some further resonance. “Ten years ago, I couldn’t have told you what HVAC stood for. I couldn’t have told you a single thing about a data center,” she shared. “I was the Executive Director of a non-profit Pregnancy Center and ran a trophy and awards business. I ran an interior decorating business before that. I stepped my foot into this industry a decade ago, simply because a headhunter told me that People who work for that company don’t leave. And I thought, Hey, I think I’ll try that.”

Fast forward to today, and Aron is now Vice-President of that company and a proud supporter of the organization 7×24 Exchange. “I then used my transferable skills to start a non-profit in Norther Carolina with our local chapter of the 7×24 Exchange,” she concluded. “That’s why I’m here today – transferable skills.”

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