International Women’s Day – Terri Frohmiller

Women in Big Data is spotlighting 8 amazing women on March 8th, International Women’s Day.
Terri Frohmiller is a VMware Solution Engineering Manager for Hyper-converged & Hybrid Cloud. She leads a team of Specialist Solutions Engineers focused on supporting US public sector customers with their strategic cloud and IT initiatives. Terri recently became a Network Director of the WITI (Women in Technology International) Sacramento chapter.

My Journey…

One of favorite quotes is from my grandmother, passed to my mother > to me > my children: Pretty is is pretty does”.  My English Lit Major daughter corrects the grammar of it, but the sentiment is that regardless of what you look like, your behavior can make you beautiful/accepted or ugly/rejected!  I think this is an important message to young girls and women that are often judged about their physical traits both in person and (especially) on social media. Understanding that your behavior, skills, resourcefulness, kindness to others and hard work can provide the confidence to get the job you want or be very successful at what you choose can be a game changer.

A vegetarian, a dog lover, a traveler, a technology enthusiast, a wife and a proud mother of three amazing confident women—yeah, that’s all me.

I ended up working in technology by accident over 30 years ago. My original plan was to work in law while attending night school for several years to get a law degree. However, sometimes (most of the time), our paths take different twists and turns. I ended up spending time in the law firm’s data center (a large closet) helping with data backup and recovery. My path then swerved to having my first daughter, and I put my career on hold for a while. While getting back into a career, I did various temp jobs and again was drawn into technology. While working at a healthcare company, the IT Director asked me to help start a Customer Support Desk. I loved tech support!  I know you don’t hear that often, but solving problems was my specialty. From that point on I continued to study for certifications, learned as much as possible about software and hardware, and spent a lot of time configuring or fixing systems, learning how to do DBA and System Admin work. Technology has always fascinated me, and I still find troubleshooting fun! It was in this role that I realized that there was more to it than just technology, since we collected data that helped improve outcomes for patients. That was an unexpected bonus!

I have worked as a customer-facing Solution Engineer for three companies over the past 20 years.  It’s a unique and interesting job because it can get very technical at times: architecture, hardware and software integrations, coding and configurations, troubleshooting, application support, plus the constant of upgrades, patching, and continuous development and change; and it can include other skills, such as teaching, marketing, building custom demos, plus collaborating with a diverse group of people with varied expertise. For the past two years I have been leading a team of specialist solution engineers focused on hyper-converged technology in the public sector market. Our customers are cities, counties, states, and higher education.  I’ve also worked with healthcare and federal customers in recent years. It’s exciting to see how compute, networking and storage have become so integrated and “software defined,” more and more powerful, as well as condensed in size. I’ve witnessed Moore’s Law first-hand for 2+ decades!

My Motivation…

I love to learn! I love to discover and research just about anything. I learn from others in almost every interaction—whether it’s with a 4th grade student attempting an Hour of Code for the first time, or a large system integrator on how they are developing for the future. Connecting with people is the best part of my job. My philosophy is that we are all just humans trying to get along and make the world a good place to be. My other motivation is two-fold: seeing the customers I work with succeed and serve their customers…students, teachers, lawmakers, doctors, patients, soldiers, citizens; and seeing technology develop and change the world we live in (mostly for good!).

Nothing bothers me more than inequality and bias (except maybe for war and violence!). I cannot sugar-coat the fact that being a woman working in technology I have seen more than my fair share of unconscious bias, sexual harassment, and inequality. Frankly it can be taxing trying to impact social norms and change ingrained behaviors. I still have hope that things will continue to get better for my children and their children’s futures, and do what I can to help make small changes without being full-time bias police (which we still need some days!).

My Favorite Quote…

We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.”
Carlos Castaneda 

There is a lot to unpack in that statement!  But it’s a reminder that however we decide to handle situations is how they will be. We can let them defeat us or we can choose to let them make us stronger, and ultimately it takes the same amount of effort and energy.

Leave a Reply