Jessie D’Amato Ford helps programmers from around the world achieve their dreams at Topcoder...all while living hers. She balances the 24/7 schedule of her full-time job with her two children and still finds time to write in her spare time. Her advice: Be open to new experiences! They could change your life.
Fairygodboss of the Week: Jessie D’Amato Ford
Community and Topcoder Open Manager - Topcoder
FGB: Tell us about your career. How did you get to where you are now?
JDF: I have been working for Topcoder and the Topcoder community for more than 11 years. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life after college but knew I was good with events and enjoyed doing them. I started working for Topcoder managing the annual event, the Topcoder Open (TCO) which is the ultimate programming and design tournament. I've loved it so much I'm still doing it to this day.
Every year many talented coders and designers from all over the world earn a trip to compete in the TCO onsite finals in the United States and I manage every aspect of the tournament (the website, promotions, event management, budget, and the list goes on...!).
I can honestly say I'm the only person in the world who does what I do because there is nothing exactly like the TCO anywhere else.
FGB: What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?
JDF: I am most proud of helping Topcoder members live their dreams. They work so hard to earn dream trips to the United States from all over the world. I help them get their visa, book their travel, and treat them like VIP guests as they arrive to compete. I love how much the trip and tournament means to them, and I'm proud to have played a part in their experience.
FGB: What is a challenge that you've faced and overcome?
JDF: Work/Life balance as a working mom is tough. I'm not going to lie, working full time from home with two little ones at my side is not for the faint of heart. Balancing childcare with conference calls and every day work is certainly a challenge. I've learned that the key is being flexible and not to sweat the small stuff. As long as I get my job done, it doesn't matter if it's at 5am or 10pm. I'm very lucky I have that flexibility.
Plus in my spare time I'm a writer so being able to laugh at myself and write helps me stay sane!
FGB: What do you do when you’re not working?
JDF: Trying to keep up with my toddler and first grader! We love to dance together and just hang out. I also love to write and have a website dedicated for my writing: jessiedamatoford.com.
I'm avid reader when there is time but I just love being with my family.
FGB: If you could have dinner with one famous person - dead or alive - who would it be?
JDF: Paul Simon! I love his music so very much!
FGB: What is your karaoke song?
JDF: Madonna's Like a Prayer.
FGB: What is your favorite movie
JDF: The Princess Bride.
FGB: What book would you bring with you on a desert island?
JDF: Really? That question is impossible! I love way too many books.
FGB: What is your shopping vice? What would you buy if you won the lottery?
JDF: Right now I'm obsessed with buying my kids things; especially adorable kids clothes and bathing suits. They are so cheap and so cute!
If I was a lottery winner, I'd give most of it away to family and charity. “Share the wealth” is how I feel!
FGB: Who is your Fairygodboss?
JDF: I worked under a special woman for a short time but she was the best boss I ever had. Not only did she care deeply for her team but she pushed us to think more and be better. I think I learned more from her in the few months we were a team than I could have imagined.
FGB: What is the #1 career tip you'd like to share with other women who want to have successful careers like you?
JDF: Be open. Try something new. I started working for a technology company and had no idea about technology. I have learned so much because I didn't let my lack of knowledge stop me. If you have a desire to learn and are open to trying something new, you may be surprised.
FGB: Why do you love where you work?
JDF: I love the flexibility and the people. I work from home full time with a flexible schedule. And, I work with some of the best people in the world. It makes working fun -- even when I’m up late nights on calls with other time zones.
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