This month, WCT decided to interview one of our very own—BC Chapter Co-Chair and National Board Director Christin Wiedemann. Christin's history with WCT dates back to 2015, when she took part in WCT's inaugural career sponsorship program, The Protégé Project. Since then, Christin has made a name for herself within and outside of WCT as a representative of WCT's ten regional chapters on WCT's National Board and a trained Ph.D. particle physicist.
Christin uses her scientific background and analytical skills to dissect complex problems involving large computer software systems. Her career in the technology sector has primarily been spent in the professional services industry, starting as a quality assurance consultant and progressing through different manager and director roles. As Practice Area Lead of Quality Engineering at Slalom Build, she is part of an incredible team of quality advocates, working collaboratively with clients to create groundbreaking products, while simultaneously advancing quality engineering practices.
Christin is an outspoken advocate for equity, diversity, and inclusion; a passion partially fueled by having studied and worked in primarily male-dominated environments. Between 2015 and 2018, she served on the SCWIST (Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology) Board, and she has stayed actively engaged with the organization as an advisor. Christin currently chairs the steering committee for the organization’s largest program.
We spoke with Christin about who she looks up to (hint: it's another familiar name!) and why women shouldn't feel pressured to change. Check it out below!
WCT: How did you first become interested in particle physics, software, and technology as a whole?
Christin Wiedemann: I have been interested in natural sciences and technology for as long as I can remember, and I have always wanted to understand how the world around me works. Curiosity and continuous learning remain my driving forces, and though technology and software is my focus, my interests have broadened and expanded over time.
WCT: What or who has been a major influence on your career trajectory? Who do you look up to?
CW: There are so many people I look up to and consider role models, including WCT's own Joanne Stanley. The person that has had the most profound impact on me though is my Ph.D. supervisor, Per Olof Hulth. He was an amazing role model; inspirational, kind, and brave. He was an outspoken advocate for diversity, and a feminist. He provided me with amazing opportunities and endless support, but more importantly: he showed me how to be a good person.
WCT: What are the current opportunities and challenges for women in your field? Do you have advice for your younger self, or for women who are studying and working in these environments?
CW: I think there are endless opportunities, but unfortunately there are also still challenges. There is a plethora of suggestions and recommendations for how to succeed in these environments as a woman, but my advice for everyone is to remember that women don't need to change; there is nothing wrong with women. The challenges that exist are societal and systematic, and can only be addressed by changing society.
WCT: What is your long-term professional goal?
CW: I'm not really a goal-driven person, and I tend to not set long-term professional, or personal, goals. What does drive me is a very strong desire to have a positive impact; on people, on my profession, and ideally also on society as a whole. That might sound very lofty, but I think that even small actions can have big impacts, and every day I try to enact positive change.
WCT: What motivates you?
CW: People motivate me. Hearing or seeing first-hand that something I did or said had a positive impact on someone else is the most amazing motivation. I'm also motivated by challenges. Things that are difficult or uncomfortable prompt me to push myself outside of my comfort zone, and to try to not only manage, but to excel.
WCT: Do you have a quote or a book you live by?
CW: My personal motto has become "memento vivere" (remember to live) and I actually have a daily notification set that reminds me to live. I think it is easy to focus on everything that is difficult, frightening, and unpleasant, or to get caught up planning for a future that never seems to happen. Memento vivere reminds me to find joy in simple every-day things, and to be content with where and who I am, today.