Did you know that in each of the past 4 years the VMware’s Hands-on Labs (HOL) have doubled the number of women staff members from one year to the next? Impressive? Yes. Accidental? No.
The Hands-on Labs team is staffed by hundreds of VMware technical experts. These volunteers create lab content so that customers and partners can try any VMware product online 24×7, 365 days a year. Since Jan 2013 The Hands-on Labs Online portal has delivered over 400,000 labs to over 122,000 unique users from 4 data centers around the world. Customers and partners visit the labs at VMworld to connect with the expert staff who create the content.
Lab Captains are the backbone of the program. They author the lab content and commit to over 300 hours of development and support effort annually. In 2012 the HOL team recruited our first woman Captain: Kim Delgado. Kim is a Staff Solutions Engineer in MSBU R&D and has been at VMware for more than 5 years. She loves working in the labs as it has helped her to build a deep knowledge of VMware products and strong relationships across the company. Kim was motivated to become an engineer by her high school computer science teacher, as well as her father who bought her first computer in middle school. As the first woman Lab Captain, Kim wants to tell women “This is a great opportunity to meet other experts and network with VMware’s best and brightest!”
In 2013 Rebecca Grider joined as a Captain. Rebecca is a Senior Member of Technical Staff within Performance R&D. The Hands-on Labs have provided Rebecca a fabulous learning opportunity to understand customers’ real world challenges and bring that knowledge back to engineering. She gained perspective from directly interacting with our customers, which makes her a better engineer, focused on ease of use and customers’ performance challenges. Rebecca pursued computer science because she wanted to solve real world problems, and loves the diversity and pace of change in technology. Rebecca wants to motivate more women engineers to join the HOL team so they can educate customers about their product.
The following year, in 2014, Mousumi Mullick, Judy Snow and Jodi Shely joined as Captains. Mousumi is a Senior Member of Technical Staff within Storage Engineering in R&D. She joined VMware 5 years ago, and loves engaging customers to discover their challenges. “I see customer pain points and share them with R&D folks to bring them new feature ideas.” Her interactions on the HOL team have given her significant insights for her QE role. Mousumi comes from a family of engineers who encouraged her, and thinks of herself as “inquisitive and kind of geeky”. Judy Snow, Staff Technical Program Manager for EVO:RAIL in R&D, was always good at math & science. As a teenager her dad inspired her by giving her a programmable computer. Judy loves to educate customers about her product, interact with them at VMworld to learn their pain points and bring improvements back to her team.
This year with the addition of Kelly Montgomery, Laurel Spadaro, Cindy Mazeika, Julie Roman & Melanie Spencer, we again doubled the number of women Captains! They are all passionate to deliver high quality lab content, and bring new ideas back to their teams.
The Hands-on Labs program is capably shepherded by our Program Manager, Tina Valle. Tina is a former Marine who came to the Hands-on Labs team in 2013. She works incredibly hard all year to make sure the team is fully prepared to deliver labs at VMworld. Tina was drawn to high tech as she loves gadgets and solving problems. Tina is well respected by the entire Hands-on Labs staff. The running joke is that Tina will make them do push-ups if they do not follow the processes established to run this large operation.
Chris Romano, Principal Systems Engineer, is an almost 15-year veteran at VMware and acts as staffing manager for the Hands-on Labs. He has always been very proud of the high number of women in leadership positions at VMware. Chris has a teenage daughter, and actively seeks to recruit women into this career enhancing role. Chris says “My vision for the future is to bring in more women from R&D as Captains. They bring a different type of creativity and perspective.”
Chris broadened his net and connected newly recruited women with each other and other experienced staff members. The newbies are comfortable asking questions of those with more experience. In addition to Captains, this year Chris recruited more than ten woman Proctors! He found himself in a position to make a difference, and quietly and persistently he has increased the number of women serving in the labs.
We are proud of our talented technical women who have contributed significantly to the Hands-on Labs program. We look forward to more women joining us in the future as word gets out about this exciting opportunity. If you are interested in learning more about the labs please visit hol.vmware.com. Together the women of the Hands-on Labs are moving the needle and that is inspiring!