With the majority of the workforce going remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the world has witnessed how technology is changing the fundamental nature of work. The education industry has also had to quickly adapt to online learning, as did parents and caregivers. While this process was challenging for many parents and children, professionals in the online learning community are rising to the occasion to help others.
Meet Katelin Jordan, Senior Instructional Designer and Developer at Netskope. Netskope is a security vendor that provides unrivaled visibility and real-time data and threat protection when accessing cloud services, websites, and private apps from anywhere, on any device. Jordan leads the online learning side of Netskope Academy. She recently told Fairygodboss: “I went into technology because I believe in the power of technology to better our world, and I hope throughout my career to be part of organizations whose work, directly or indirectly, provides a better and safer society for us all.”
Read on as Jordan tells us why she chose a career in tech, how she’s overcome obstacles as a woman in the industry, and the most memorable piece of career advice she’s received.
Tell us a bit about your job. What’s your current role and how long have you been in this role?
I have been with Netskope for a little over two and a half years now. I lead the online learning side of Netskope Academy as a Senior Instructional Designer and Developer, designing and developing eLearning courses, job aids, videos, microlearning, and comprehensive programs to meet the training needs of the organization — primarily our customers, partners, and sales engineers. I work cross-functionally with colleagues to source and develop the content, ensuring our audiences receive valid, high-fidelity training material.
What first got you interested in pursuing a career in tech?
I “grew up” in tech as a child of parents who both have PhDs in engineering — I am a Silicon Valley native. I was primed to go into tech from the start, but, in all honesty, my interest in tech evolved from an interest in helping others and the benefit that technology can impart on our world. Technology is evolving at breakneck speed and many likely see this as fantastic. While I can see the benefits that technology has for our world, I feel that the current speed at which technology is evolving and changing our world has the potential for wonderful improvements for society or, on the flip side, a world of harm to our society. Technology can either be used to lift people into a better society or cause significant damage and strife. I think we have seen this dramatic shift during the pandemic this year in some ways for the better, others for the worse. I went into technology because I believe in the power of technology to better our world, and I hope throughout my career to be part of organizations whose work, directly or indirectly, provides a better and safer society for us all.
What has been the biggest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced working as a woman in tech?
As a tech employee who identifies as part of the LGBTQ community, and a woman who hasn’t fit into the stereotypical mold of a ‘female’ worker, I have faced my fair share of issues with people who find my more “masculine” style of working to be a bit abrasive (apparently, my aunts have had this issue as well!). Not everyone is comfortable with a woman who embodies the more traditionally male traits in the work environment — stereotypes that we still have not quite managed to do away with within the workplace. I have had to gain an awareness of how my differences in style are perceived, but ultimately, I am who I am. Hopefully, we will get to a point where male/female/woman/man traits are no longer tied to gender identity.
What is your favorite aspect of the culture at Netskope?
People define a culture. Netskope has done a particularly good job at sourcing good people who have worked together to make Netskope the company it is today. Regardless of our geographic location, social and political beliefs, we share a unified set of norms within our company that define us as Netskopers. Netskope has also been unusually successful at maintaining a “flat” hierarchy despite the growth of our executive team. Almost three years (and 600 employees) later, I can still approach our CEO, Sanjay, a VP, or an SVP directly without it being considered unusual.
What are you trying to improve on?
Given the time on our hands this year, I have been focusing heavily on professional development efforts. I have spent an average of 20 hours a week, outside of work, working on projects, attending webinars, and working with others in the L&D area to hone my skills and improve in areas of weakness.
What is the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?
I have had several of my close coworkers remind me that my happiness is more important than my job or working at a specific company. This is hard to remember but important to your health and wellbeing, particularly in times like these. It is easy to get emotionally attached to your work, and it can be important to remind yourself that your value is not tied to your work.
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