20 Oct

Never say never!

By Joanna Iturbe

We’ve all been told to never say “never”, but we all say it. As a 13-year-old it was a part of my daily attitude. One of the things I said I’d never do was follow in my parent’s career paths – not because they were unhappy (quite the contrary!) or because I was one of those kids who rebelled against anything my parents did.  It just looked hard.

Joanna Iturbe with the University of Colorado Boulder. (Photo by Casey A. Cass/University of Colorado)So much math.

So much staring at computer screens.

So much patience.

They were both computer scientists.  My mom was a senior systems analyst in the central IT department at Baylor University, and my dad was a professor and Chair of the Computer Science Department at Baylor.

ComputerWhen I was young, I was struggling with multiplying and dividing fractions. My dad
disappeared into my parent’s room where the one and only computer we owned, a Macintosh Classic, resided.  A couple of hours later he called me in to sit at the computer. He had written a program that helped me practice multiplying and dividing fractions and then quizzed me on it.  What?  Is that not a ‘normal’ way for a father to help his daughter study?

My mom still talks about how much she loved being a developer because it was like working a jigsaw puzzle every day, which she loves to do.  I HATE jigsaw puzzles.  I set out to do anything but teach or develop. I got a PR degree.

My first job out of college was as a live marketing manager in Austin, Texas.  Six months into the job, at age 22, our market – along with most others in the company – was eliminated, and I had to lay off a team of people.  I loved Austin and had met a guy (who would be my future husband) there, but after that humbling experience, I decided it was time to get closer to my roots.  I got a job as an admissions coordinator for the MBA and graduate programs in the Hankamer School of Business – back at Baylor!

This is where I was first introduced to Salesforce.  We did a small implementation focused on recruitment and application tracking, and I had a knack for it, so I became the admin.  I started looking for more IT-focused jobs but wanted to stay in higher ed because that’s what I knew and loved.  I stumbled across a job at the University of Colorado Boulder in 2011.

Over the last four years, my family has expanded with the addition of two daughters, and my professional role has evolved into my current role as Senior Software Applications and Project Manager in the distributed IT group, Leeds Technology Services, at the Leeds School of Business at CU.  I am the subject matter expert and manager of a suite of about 10 applications ranging from scholarship applications to survey tools, room reservation systems and more, including our CRM, Salesforce.com, which I have led the phased implementation of over the past two years.

I am often asked, “How do you use Salesforce in higher ed?”  My response is generally something like, “I don’t know any ways higher ed doesn’t use it!”  Salesforce was created as a sales tool, and what do we do in higher ed?  We sell education to students.  We sell involvement and participation to donors and alumni.  We sell our student’s skill-sets to potential employers.  We sell a quality degree worth the investment by parents.

With the support of an amazing boss, staff and implementation partner, ACF Solutions, who specializes in Salesforce implementations for higher ed and non-profit clients, we have implemented three phases of Salesforce with more to come.  We use it across every functional area of the school, including recruitment, scholarships, career advising, tracking co-curricular activities and involvement of current students, internship and job placement, and corporate and employer relations, among other things.  We are also doing some really exciting things in faculty and course management.  We have several integrations, and it’s truly becoming our system of engagement for the 360-degree constituent view to better serve our customers (students, faculty, parents, alumni, donors, corporate partners, etc.)

I’m happy I “fell” into a career similar to what my parents and so many of my siblings have chosen.  It’s one more bit of proof that I really should never say “never”.  Now, I have two smart, witty daughters I can gently nudge towards STEM toys, projects and coursework.  Maybe, one or both of them will choose to go into this line of work.  Or, I may have a 13-year-old telling me what I do is hard and she’ll NEVER do that, to which I’ll gently respond, “Never say never.”

Since 2011, Joanna Iturbe has served as the Senior Software Applications and Project Manager for Leeds Technology Services where she is the senior technical expert and manager in leading the development, configuration, installation, upgrade, delivery and day-to-day management and maintenance of applications at the Leeds School of Business.  Her certifications include Salesforce Administrator, Salesforce Developer, Database Management and Project Management. She is on the Girlforce Leadership Team and is active in the Denver Women In Tech user group.  Joanna serves as Co-Chair on the Boulder Campus Staff Council (BCSC) and is a delegate on the University of Colorado (System) Staff Council (UCSC). Joanna enjoys skiing, traveling, hiking and camping with her husband and daughters.

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