About ITS

Women in IT: Lisa Sawin

Associate Director of User Experience and Web Services

September 2013 - Present

I lead a team of web professionals providing website planning and build services. My group is newly formed at Yale and is tasked with crafting an in-house web shop for the university community, with a sustainable service model tailored to user needs.




LISA's Career Path 

1. How did you get started in a career in IT?

As a stay at home mom with school age kids, I took an Intro to Computer Science class thinking that I might enjoy coding as a part time job. I started working for my professor’s small business as a junior developer and tech support provider, and loved it. The senior developer was a terrific mentor who helped me expand my skills. I also worked my way through a bunch of books and web based tutorials. 

2. Why would you recommend your job to others?

Because it's incredibly rewarding to be a multiplier, getting to build on the awesome work each member of your team delivers.  Everything I add to the group gets multiplied by their effort into projects we can all be proud of. It's satisfying to help unblock their obstacles, to help them figure out which solution feels right. I also would add that the role is intellectually challenging - most days have new puzzles to think through, which I find essential. 

3. What is the biggest challenge in you role?

The transition from individual contributor to manager is sometimes difficult, as I've had to learn to let go of the details. It helps that my team is amazing, and thinks of things before I do! But it's still sometimes unnerving to be responsible for things that I don't have direct control over. 

4. What are the top 3 skills you need to have in order to be successful in this role? 
  • Operational skill; A passion for process
  • Building consensus
  • Ability to quickly understand complex systems
5. What do you like about working in IT?

We get to solve real world problems with fun tools. IT challenges are like puzzles - they're satisfying to think through, but sterile for me without the motivation of meeting real needs for real people. I like getting to a peak into the world of each of our clients and helping to solve their IT puzzle with them. 

6. What are the benefits you have gained since you began working in this role? 

This is my first management position and I'm am so thrilled to learn how satisfying and just plain fun it is to lead an awesome team. I learn more about real life and being a human every day in this role. 

7. What courses can someone take to see if this might be a career that interests them? (i.e. Lynda.com videos, classes/courses relevant to job) 

I don't know of any to recommend, sorry! I think that specific coursework is less important than experience in the work your team is doing, and a passion for helping others solve problems. Any courses which facilitate deep thinking about hard problems would certainly be a plus.