In addition to supporting the CPD team, Eric is involved in Perficient’s Women in Tech (WiT) Employee Resource Group as an ally and co-lead for the WiT Membership and Expansion Committee. Currently residing in Austin, Texas, Eric is passionate about fostering a sense of community, even in a remote working environment.
I sat down with fellow WiT member Madeline McDermott to learn more about Eric, his path to Perficient, his involvement with WiT, and what it means to be a good ally.
What got you interested in technology?
I’ve always played and tinkered with technology. I was a Nintendo kid, and I studied computer engineering at Texas A&M.
I took the electrical engineering route of computer engineering, where you did hands-on soldering, circuit work, and studied the ins and outs of the hardware required for software development. This was all accompanied by the more traditional computer science classes, of course. It was beneficial for me to learn and appreciate the capabilities of the hardware itself.
I went on to intern for IBM and worked on the chip that ultimately became the driving technology for the PlayStation 3 console, which I was stoked to be a part of. To this day, I still have a PlayStation 3 in my closet!
If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
Loyal, empathetic, and talkative.
Who has been a mentor/inspiration in your career?
Marianne Thomas — she was my manager for my internship at IBM. She graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign as one of the only female electrical engineering students in the ‘60s. She then went to work at IBM, back when the industry was mostly men. She fought through all the politics of what it meant to be a woman in a technical role.
By imparting her experience to all of us interns, she definitely made us all more mindful of the societal and structural challenges that others were facing. In her lab, it was demonstrated there that we couldn’t just say whatever we wanted. We had to be cognizant of our language and the jokes we made.
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From her, I learned that even though one person can’t singlehandedly solve the gender disparity in tech, we can do what we can (even if it doesn’t happen overnight!). She wanted to make sure that no matter where we ended up after our internship, we would keep this in mind.
Having met her so early in my career made a huge difference in being able to change my behavior and my perspective early on.
What motivates you?
Relationships. Personal connection is so important. As remote employees, it is easy to miss out on these connections. As much as I like “nerding out” on the technical stuff, the connections are what you’re going to remember in the end.
How do you stay connected with coworkers in a WFH environment?
I connect with colleagues a lot through dedicated Microsoft Teams channels, social committees, LinkedIn, and just taking the extra time to reach out to people.
How did you learn about WiT? Why did you decide to join?
I believe Shannon Geraci did a presentation on WiT during one of my first Perficient town halls, explaining that it is an employee resource group that strives to foster community among women and allies within Perficient. I filled out a questionnaire to signal my interest, and the rest is history! I was just getting started at Perficient, and I thought, “Let’s just see how this goes.”
It’s not a huge time commitment, and I thought it would be a good way to get to know more colleagues across departments whom I wouldn’t have otherwise had reason to interact with.
What is your favorite thing you’ve participated in as a WiT member?
I really enjoyed recently hosting one of WiT’s career growth panels. I sort of got thrown into the hosting role, but I had a ton of fun with it and did my best to facilitate educational conversation.
Why is it important to be an ally? What do you say to people that are hesitant to join WiT?
For men in general to join, we’re hesitant because we don’t want to dominate the space. I don’t want to be one of those men that take all the air out of the room and interrupt.
The best advice I can give any man is to listen. It’s hard for me. Being quiet and listening is something I’ve had a problem with since I was a little kid. But my recommendation for men to be good allies is to simply listen. Don’t always be the first person that has to speak. Or have to have the last word. Or have to be “right.”It’s okay to be wrong. It’s okay to go with someone else’s idea.
Also, volunteer. The commitment is not a lot of time. Perficient gives you the support you need to be involved.
What are your career goals?
Continue learning and growing.
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