Be Bold. Be at the table. Be you.
Women in tech reveal steps to business success, and why you can do it, too.
Meet Sudha, Deborah, Collette and Ines. Four women. Four different backgrounds. Each united by a passion for challenge, teamwork and testing the limits. They’re women in technology – and collectively, they’re empowering a new generation to seize the potential within themselves.
In honor of International Women’s Day, here’s how they’re doing it.
Sudha Nandam _______________________________________________
State Farm® Software Developer
(Tenure: 2 years)
“I grew up in South India (Ponnur).There were 32 of us living under one roof! My parents, their siblings, grandparents, brothers, sisters, cousins. I always liked math and science – and wanted to pursue higher education. This took many by surprise. In those days women often stayed home. My father told me, 'If this is what you want to do, do it with all your heart.' I was the first woman in my family to go to college. I attended a technical university (JNTU, Kakinada) and studied engineering. During this journey I met my husband, who’s also in information technology. We came to the United States in 2008. As a software developer at State Farm, my focus is Java. I work on web services for agency marketing and customer care data. I love working here. No matter who you are, there are opportunities to develop your skills. It’s exciting to be part of a tech company dedicated to forward thinking and new ways of working."
"My pursuit of technology inspired the younger women in my family to go to college. ‘We want to study like you!’ they said. Today, they work in IT. My 18-year-old son also plans to study IT in college. No matter who you are, or where you come from – if you’re committed to learning, you can accomplish anything.”
Deborah Hallick ______________________________________________
State Farm® Scrum Master
(Tenure: 14 years)
“I’ve been in IT my entire career and worked for a variety of companies. Nothing compares to State Farm and its zest for learning. As a scrum master, it’s about data, communication and progress. In IT you can impact hundreds, if not thousands, of people with one key stroke. That’s incredible! To top it off, when I discover something the computer doesn’t know, I get a huge rush."
Collette Fung _________________________________________________
State Farm® Technology Director
(Tenure: 15 years)
“I grew up in Jamaica. One of five children. My parents knew an education was the way to a better future. My mom relocated to the United States, where she knew we would have multiple opportunities. She earned her LPN in nursing and worked two jobs to ensure we had an education. I went to Fordham University in New York and earned a degree in computer science. I had a knack for math and science, started as pre-med then quickly switched to computer science. My older brother had just earned his master’s degree in computer science, so it was an easy decision. State Farm is actually my third job after college. The minute I came to State Farm, I knew this was a great place to work. When we say, ‘Like a Good Neighbor,’ it’s not a tagline. It’s the truth. Here it’s family.”
"My philosophy has always been, when you learn, teach. When you get, give. People saw potential in me. They said, ‘You CAN do this.’ I stayed on the path. As a leader in tech, my focus is on the workforce – identifying talent, building skillsets, extending our brand to colleges and universities across the country and sponsoring STEM programs like Girls Who Code in Atlanta. When I look at my grandma, mother, myself and my two strong, intelligent daughters, I’m thrilled by the progress we’ve made and what’s to come. Ten years ago, when I attended tech conferences there was no line for the ladies restroom. Today, there’s a line! As women we’re blazing a trail. It’s about goals, not excuses. Remember, you are not a victim. You are in control. If my story helps inspire more women to make their dreams a reality, it’s my responsibility to share it."
Ines Halloran _________________________________________________
State Farm® Technology Executive
(Tenure: 29 years)
"The harder the issue, the better. Give me the tough stuff. I like challenge! I’ve had a passion for math and science since I was little. I grew up in Germany, near Munich and met my husband when he was stationed here. We moved to the United States in the '80s, and I began an internship with State Farm in 1990. The moment I walked in the door, I realized this place is special. In Europe, business is formal, structured and traditional. The State Farm culture is creative, friendly and open to ideas. Originally, I thought this would be a short-term way to get experience. I had no intention of being an executive. But people pulled me in, gave me opportunities – and I seized them. As technology evolves, we need more people in the industry, including women. Just as my peers said to me, 'You CAN do this, we BELIEVE in you,' – today, I’m mentoring the next generation – helping them see themselves as a true competitor in this field. By sharing our stories, we inspire more women to come into the pipeline.”
In April, Ines will be honored as one of this year’s Top 50 Most Powerful Women in Tech. The award, presented by the National Diversity Council, recognizes the achievements of women with a proven track record for breaking barriers, driving change and inspiring others to succeed.
“I’m thrilled to receive this honor and represent State Farm,” said Ines. “It’s awesome to show the rest of the world State Farm is part of the technology conversation. To all the women out there: Be bold. Be at the table. Challenge your own bias and celebrate success. You can do this.”