Julie Andreacola is a Premier Field Engineer with Microsoft specializing in client operating systems. For the last 15 years, she has been working for medium to large enterprises in Retail, Finance, and K-12 Education. Her past areas of focus include Configuration Manager, Application Packaging, and PowerShell scripting, In her free time, she enjoys trying out great local restaurants, travel, and cheering on the Virginia Tech Hokies with her husband, Michael.
1. Describe what you do for a living – to someone who has no idea what it means.
I help the technical teams of large enterprises with their Microsoft software. My specialty is Windows 7, Windows 10 and System Center Configuration Manager. Configuration Manager is the way enterprises setup computers and take care of all the updates and software for the user.
2. How did you get into this type of work?
This is my second career. I grew up with computers (my Dad worked for IBM). He insisted that I know how to fix the computer when it broke or didn’t work correctly so I was always learning. He sent me off to college with an IBM portable computer. It weighed 30 lbs and I still have scars on my shin from hauling that thing around. After graduating with a degree in forestry, I worked out of a pulp mill helping land owners manage their forests. Computer skills were scarce in those days, so I was often called on to fix the office computers. I shifted into manufacturing management until I chose to leave the workforce and raise my young children.
Continuing to build my computer skills, I had a part time opportunity to do helpfile work and some light coding during this time. When I returned to the workforce after being home full time with my children, I got a job with the local school system fixing the school computers. Hardware, software, networking, there was always something new to learn and I loved working with the teachers to help them leverage technology in the classroom.
When the school system installed SCCM 2007, I packaged all of the applications for deployments and walked into the world of system management. I learned PowerShell and became active in the local PowerShell user group. My next job change brought me into the world of consulting with a focus on SCCM. I recently started with Microsoft and am loving all of the amazing learning opportunities.
3. What area or aspect of technology are you most excited about?
I’m excited about all the different devices available, phones, tablets, laptops. I love how you can do work across all these devices while keeping all the content in the cloud.
4. What gives you the most satisfaction today?
Teaching or helping others be successful. I love to mentor others and watch them grow in their career.
5. Name the 3 most inspiring people in your life or career?
In my current career, my father. He expected me to know and use technology. He didn’t fix it for me, but would teach me how to troubleshoot it.
Kent Agerlund, his teachings through books, blogs and MMSMOA has really helped me learn and grow. He spends a lot of time and energy to make self-learning for Configuration Manager available for everyone.
Ed Wilson (The Scripting Guy) – I met him after a presentation for a local IT Pro event. He convinced me to come to the Charlotte PowerShell User Group. I did and loved it. Once a month, we had free pizza, great discussions, and help with any scripting questions. Whatever the topic, Ed would participate and eventually say “I wrote a blog about that.”
6. If I hadn’t gone into this field, I’d probably be… ?
Some sort of planner? maybe events or travel planning?
7. Favorite place to travel?
Mountains feed my soul, but I love traveling everywhere. In the last year had great trips to Italy and Paris.
8. What 3 books, movies or other works have inspired or influenced you most in life?
The Bible, taught me about life and my place in the world.
The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman showed me how to have better relationships with others.
Gone With The Wind showed me a strong woman finding a way to provide for her family in a man’s world.
9. There’s never enough ____.
Time to learn all this new technology.
10. There’s way too much ____.
Hate and division in the world.
11. What are your thoughts about the roles of women in technology today? And does the discussion topic bring up hope or dread when you hear it?
I think women can be extremely effective with technology. As a community, we need to continue to reach out and mentor students and women already in the profession, especially in technical roles. While there are large numbers of women in technology, there is a small percentage who are in a purely technical role. This results in many people with a unconscious bias that the woman in the room or in the meeting is not technical.
As a technical woman, it gets old really fast to always have to work to change people’s perceptions. The continuing discussion of women in technology brings me hope. I’m hopeful the discussions will encourage women, and everyone might consider how gender bias manifests in the workplace.
12. If you could go back in time and change the course of any one, specific, area of technology, so that it turns out different today, what would it be, and why?
It would be wonderful to change history so that there are no chemical weapons. Genocide, terrorism, and war are all awful and chemical weapons are an easy weapon of evil.
On a lighter note, ink jet printers. I so wish they had never been invented. Dried up ink cartridges, terrible USB drivers, and those evil all in one machines. So cheap, so slow, so problematic, the discarded carcasses just stack up at Goodwill.
13. How do you feel about the importance of college degrees, and certifications as it pertains to IT careers? Do those credentials mean as much, or more, than they use to?
This is always a hot topic in my household. I’m a firm believer in the importance of a college degree (but don’t pay a fortune for it, be savvy in your choice). It opens doors and the process of obtaining that degree teaches a person many things that are not academic.
I do pity those organizations that require a college degree, no exceptions. This eliminates some fantastic people who have found success through a different path. For example, military service teaches many of the same life lessons learned when getting a college degree.
An organization should recruit the best people for the role regardless of academic accomplishments. Certifications don’t mean much as the experience and actual accomplishments of an individual, but they are a resume checkbox recruiters love. Certifications can get you that first interview, but you better have a thorough understanding of the product and be able to articulate it. For those in consulting, they are often a requirement of the customer.
I don’t expect this to change as it an easy way for companies to create a vendor requirement. I am interested to see how certifications will keep up with rapid change in products. A great example is the Azure certifications. With the product changing and evolving monthly, the certification test has to change to keep up. At what point does the test become a different test?
14. Will most people still be using desktop computers in 2022? Why or why not?
I don’t think most people are using desktops now, especially in the consumer space. I think they will disappear just like floppy disks and CD drives. As tablets and phones continue to become more powerful, why have a desktop that stuck in one place? Technology is racing to provide the security needed with mobile devices to make this a reality.
15. If you could transport yourself back to ancient times, like say the 1100’s AD, somewhere in Europe, and you brought along a Surface Book (with a full battery charge), and you turned it on and used it in a room full of town locals, what do you think would happen?
Since most would be illiterate, I think they would find the device confusing and frightening. The glowing display and keyboard would seem very magical. With my red hair, I would probably be labeled as a witch and killed. I think I will stay firmly in the current century clutching my Surface Book tightly because it is just that awesome!
I don’t have any links to add. Blog in the process of getting created.
(note: I will gladly update this when the link is ready)