Women in Technology Spotlight: July Perham

Product Owner, Product Management

Tell me a little bit about where you attended school and your work history.

I received a Music Degree from Smith College in Northampton, MA. My well-rounded liberal arts education helped me sharpen my analysis skills, since I learned how to analyze music and sharpened my writing skills. After working at a music store for some time, I realized I wanted to work in an industry with more opportunity.

How did you start your career at Ascensus, and how long have you worked here?

In 2004 I was hired by Upromise, and we merged with Ascensus in 2014. When I first joined Upromise, I started working in the Client Services department. While working in Client Services, I became interested in learning about the software program we had been using. I saw that there was a job opening on the user acceptance testing team, so I jumped at the chance to learn testing.

After learning about testing, I noticed that business system analysts encountered many opportunities to grow. I was able to participate in a job sharing agreement, which allowed me to stay in user acceptance testing while learning how business systems analysis worked. For 6 months I was able to spend half of my time as a business systems analyst and the other half of my time as a tester. Since early 2009, I’ve been doing Business Systems Analysis full time. Now, I’ve been with Ascensus for 14 years.

What makes working on the IT team at Ascensus different or unique?

I love working here because of our core value that people matter. All of the IT is done in-house and I get to build strong relationships with the testers and developers working on my projects on a daily basis.

Looking back five or ten years, what career advice would you give your younger self?

If I could go back in time, I’d tell my younger self to believe in myself. Over the years, one thing I’ve gained is confidence. If you just remind yourself that you know what you’re doing, you’ll have the confidence to face all kinds of challenges.

In your opinion, what’s the biggest challenge women face in the technology industry?

Women in technology positions may have to prove their ability above and beyond their male counterparts. We can reverse those attitudes by encouraging more women to apply for technology leadership positions.

Are there any current technology trends that emerging technologists need to know about?

User interface (UI) and user experience (UX) are a couple of trends future technologists should learn more about. We integrated UX into our project design process, in order to get more users onto our site. It’s also very obvious when a company hasn’t used UX design, because their site is hard to navigate. Users are more likely to come back to your website if you invest in your technology.

Who is your biggest role model and how did they inspire you?

My mom is my biggest role model. In the 1980s, she started attending night classes for Computer Science. She always loved working as a programmer, and passed down her passion for technology onto me.

Why do you like working for a company that helps people save for life’s most important events?

I enjoy working for a company whose mission is to help people, opposed to just making money. Helping our clients gives me a higher purpose when I come to work every day. I care about people, and I enjoy working at a company that allows me to help others.