How 3 women are shaking up the developer community

  • Application Development
  • Solutions
  • 2022
  • Lana Gates
April 27, 2022

3 women developers

Three women from different backgrounds, inclinations, and industries have two things in common:

  1. They’re all self-taught developers on the Now Platform®.
  2. They didn’t set out to become developers.

Let’s explore how they’re shaking up the developer community.

Driven by determination

Talented in both art and logic, Maria Gabriela Ochoa Perez Waechter wanted to become a graphic designer or illustrator. But when injuries and expenses resulting from a car accident prevented her from finishing college, she began working instead. Before long, she found herself at a company that makes point-of-sale systems for golf courses—her introduction to IT.

She got her foot in the door of another tech company by telling her interviewer how she used a YouTube video to fix her car when it broke down. In 2017, her boss mentioned he needed to find and hire a ServiceNow administrator. “Nah, don’t worry about it,” Waechter told him. “I can figure it out.”

Three months later, Waechter was a Certified System Administrator. But she didn’t stop there. She committed more time and effort to becoming a ServiceNow Administrator.

Today, she’s a senior ServiceNow developer at a security firm. “ServiceNow changed my life,” she says. “I learned about Agile development. I learned about ITIL and KCS. I learned about all these business processes and so much more, thanks to my exposure to ServiceNow,” she adds.

“Suddenly, there was so much more to learn, and it was OK for me to learn a little bit here and there because I could immediately apply these skills to what I was doing at work. I was able to hone what I previously thought of as ‘inability to concentrate’ [undiagnosed ADHD] into fantastic research and learning skills.”

Passionate about improving efficiency

Paige Duffey never wanted to sit at a computer all day. Yet, her talents led her to a service desk job. “Despite my initial hesitation, I was quite successful,” she says. “I often found ways to improve the processes we had in place and ways to make our jobs more efficient.”

In 2010, her employer implemented ServiceNow and asked her to assist in the build and technical aspects. Although unsure where to start, Duffey jumped in, eager for the challenge. “The implementation was a crash course in development, and I rapidly learned everything I could about the platform and how to support it,” she says.

At the end of that, Duffey was a bona fide developer. As she spent more time working on the Now Platform over the next several years, “I realized it was something I wanted to develop from just a role into a full-fledged career,” she notes.

Five years ago, Duffey became the ServiceNow platform owner at a large healthcare company that was pushing the boundaries of what could be done with the platform. She found that experience pushed her out of her comfort zone too, with rewarding results.

“Over the last few years, I’ve had the opportunity to help build a number of applications that shine a light on how large an impact ServiceNow can have on the healthcare industry,” Duffey adds. “The ability to rapidly spin up new applications, with very little limitation beyond your imagination, has positioned ServiceNow to help shape the future of healthcare in the digital world.”

Empowering others through collaboration

Duffey and Waechter met online in the ServiceNow developer Slack community and in person at Knowledge 2018. In 2020, while discussing the lack of women in the ServiceNow developer community, they decided to do something to change the tide.

They created, a collaborative website open to all women and allies to post about various topics, from starting a career to becoming an admin to standing out and more.

“I was uncomfortable putting myself out there in a way that could be considered political,” Duffey admits. “But I hoped by doing so, others would feel more comfortable themselves. And I’m proud to say that's exactly what happened.” Women have stepped up to share about difficulties they’ve encountered in their careers, as well as ServiceNow tips and tutorials.

Duffey’s and Waechter’s contributions to launching the site earned them recognition from the ServiceNow developer relations team as two of the 2021 and 2022 Dev MVPs. “That inclusion would not have happened if I had not been willing to push beyond my comfort zone,” Duffey shares.

Dedicated to public service

Sarah Toulson had planned to attend law school, with the hope of becoming a senator to represent her state of North Carolina. A change of direction led her to forgo law school in pursuit of a Master of Public Administration degree.

“At the time, I figured it was a good intermediary step. But, ultimately, my internships and roles in local government absolutely changed me,” she says. “I fell completely in love with life in public service.”

Toulson continually found herself seeking ways to improve processes. She became familiar with the Now Platform and the functionality it offered to provide better service to citizens. Working as a self-taught graphic and web designer on the side, “the idea of a beautiful, user-friendly service portal where citizens could easily make requests from their phone especially appealed to me,” she says.

After a stint as a full-time freelance designer, Toulson fully embraced ServiceNow development and pursued a public-facing job in it. Her desire to build beautiful, efficient solutions for state and local governments led her to her current position as a developer and experience lead at a premier ServiceNow partner. “I saw huge potential for the platform in state and local government,” she says.

“As a ServiceNow developer, my passion for development on the platform comes from knowing that real, everyday citizens living in communities just like mine are the ones at the other end of the technology I’m building.”

Encouraging fellow developers

Toulson advises other developers to keep in mind the people they’re serving. “IT mishaps and HR requests can be so frustrating, but the solutions you and I build on the platform will make that person’s day just a little easier, even if they don’t realize it,” she says.

“You have the potential to affect the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of people every day with the flows you build, scripts you code, and portals you design.” She encourages developers to use ServiceNow to improve the lives of people, no matter where they are.

That’s what attracted Duffey to ServiceNow: “its ability to do just about anything,” she points out. “Seeing its power outside of the IT space hooked me. If you can imagine something cool to do, you can do it.” Some cool creations she got to be part of include an app to track immunizations, an app to provide relief funds to employees during the pandemic, and building out a robust citizen development program.

“If you want to see your career advance in leaps and bounds,” she adds, “don’t be afraid to take on things that force you to lean and develop your knowledge. You may be surprised by what new aptitude you discover, just as I was.”

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