Three Questions with Jennifer Mitchell, Education Services Technical Lead at SailPoint
Jennifer Mitchell’s career path has been a winding road, unpredictable but fulfilling. With a degree in management information systems, she spent the early years of her career as a system analyst at a handful of Fortune 100 companies. After taking a few years off to raise her young children, she restarted her career when an opportunity appeared that she couldn’t pass up: becoming a technical writer. In that role, she was able to combine her developer background with another passion—writing.
Jennifer is no stranger to following her passion: after a few years of working in software and process documentation she took another brief detour into the world of (semi) professional gluten-free baking – a long story for another day. In 2011, she returned to technical writing and joined the SailPoint team. Jennifer has always been a team player so when the need for a French-speaking trainer popped up, she raised her hand. From there, her career gradually drifted from documentation toward teaching and curriculum development. As her expertise expanded across SailPoint’s products and courses, she took on the role she holds today: technical lead for the education services group.
Jennifer has a lot of experience and wisdom to share with other women heading down their career path. Here’s more of our conversation.
If you had to start over from scratch, knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?
The problem with second-guessing what I did, in pursuit of what I’d do differently, is that all the choices I made have brought me to where I am now. If I’d made a different choice at juncture A, juncture C might never have happened! If I’d move to this city or taken that job, I wouldn’t have met this person who introduced me to that opportunity. Was every move along the path always the right one? Certainly not. But I’m grateful for where it has gotten me.
2020 has been an interesting year. What’s the most important business or other discovery you’ve made in the past six months?
I really like my team—this isn’t news, but our remote world is shining an even brighter light on that for me. I miss being able to spend time face-to-face with them. I miss calling over the cube wall to ask a question or sitting together at lunch to shoot the breeze. We’ve all adapted and learned to make all the remote technologies work for us, for everything from informal communications to the actual business of training, but I’m hopeful that things will return to “normal” eventually.
What is the biggest challenge you face as a leader in your role?
My job has generally been an individual-contributor position, but I am the most valuable to my team if I can be a force multiplier. I love to help people—to answer questions, do research, wordsmith, etc. but sometimes that kind of help can be short-sighted. My biggest challenge is slowing down to make sure I’m not just helping with results but also sharing my process. In the long run, that’s the best way for us all to build on each other’s strengths and knowledge and prevent process bottlenecks.