Automation Engineer, VP, BNY Mellon
We sat down with Suzanne Sheets, Automation Engineer at BNY Mellon. In her role, Suzanne works to streamline the deployment of systems in a variety of environments. She collaborates across lines of business to coordinate and execute the implementation of applications on a diverse set of platforms and is also a co-lead of BNY Mellon’s Women In Technology (WIT) Americas.
Thank you for taking the time to speak with us, Suzanne. You’ve been in the tech industry over 25 years and amassed a diverse technical portfolio that includes teaching, data, development, infrastructure, and support. How have you adapted to the times?
One of the interesting things about technology is it changes so quickly. So anything I used to do back in the 90s is just gone. That technology doesn’t exist anymore. That company doesn’t exist anymore. Rather than be a subject matter expert in any one technology, I love being involved in different things so I have become a Jane of all trades.
How did you, practically, keep your certifications and credentials current with the constant changes in technology?
BNY Mellon has internal resources and sometimes we partner with a vendor for additional training. They also have created an environment where application groups include members with different levels of experience. A developer who is a subject matter expert in a current technology can quickly build but I am able to assist and translate it to a bunch of different parties to find a solution that fits our environment but still utilizes the newest technologies.
That’s impressive! Having longevity in tech is impressive enough, but you’ve also navigated your career as a woman in tech. Did that bring its own set of challenges?
I will say the bulk of my career I have been the only woman in my group. In all of my years in technology, I’ve had one female boss. If you interview someone and they look like you, and they talk like you, and they have ideas like you, human nature is that you’re going to lean towards them. I don’t want people around me that agree with me all the time on what technologies to use or to tell me whether I’m being too risky or not risky enough. When you’re building technology, diversity in conversation is good. And when you start talking about artificial intelligence, you can’t leave women out of the conversation. You can’t let men build all the AI or you will end up with tech like the earlier iPhones that were too big for women’s hands.
Is this why you became a co-lead of BNY Mellon’s Women In Technology (WIT) Americas?
Yes, I want to be part of pushing the envelope on diversity in age, race, gender, etc. I was co-chair of Pittsburgh and then this past year I applied for the Americas. It’s great because it bleeds into my day job. I make a lot of contacts. I meet a lot of women who work within the bank so when someone says “how are we going to query this system?”, I know someone who works on that system. I’ll ping them and I’ll get that information.
So you focus heavily on making connections and networking?
It’s all organic. Sometimes we have in person events. We all went to a career fair last year. When I hear someone’s hiring, I always have a diverse group of resumes at the ready. We help each other in a variety of ways.
How did you get plugged into AWE?
Our sponsor for women in technology sponsored a group of us for AWE Accelerator. She is a powerhouse! I enjoyed all the Accelerator sessions, I don’t think I would pick one over the other. I particularly loved the breakout sessions because it forces you into smaller groups for discussion. I think it worked out really really great.
My last question is, I have to ask about your “frequent experiments with the art of baking”?
Now that I’m an empty nester, I have more time and I’m a huge fan of the Food Network. I get excited every Monday night when The Kids Baking Championships come on. Watching those episodes inspires me to experiment with different flavors. I made a successful batch of cream puffs from scratch yesterday. It’s fun and I’m not afraid to mess things up.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.