Women in Identity Security: Vicki Sainz
From physical therapy to bookkeeping to AI, Vicki Sainz, Staff QA Engineer, has had an eventful journey to identity security. In this blog, Vicki details her path to AI and shares how SailPoint’s culture has provided her with the tools for success.
How did you come to your identity security career?
I came from a family where going to college was an expectation, and my father was there to help me search for a career. I was so sure I wanted to be a caretaker; my choices took the form of physical therapy, teaching, or social work. I narrowed it down to Special Education and enrolled. Computers, waaaaaay back then, filled a room and used punch cards. Literally!!! I used to write my class papers with a pen and go into class to turn them in! What??? However, I was a math nerd, and kids turned out to be scary, and special education required a person that didn’t need a solution but patience. I realized soon enough that I wasn’t that person. But there was a long road of food service, desk clerking, and bookkeeping before I found out computers and I had a synergy.
When I did go back and get my CS degree, when personal computers were coming to a home near you, my first internship was a good indication of what I would face in this field. Two of us worked for one engineer, and the male intern got all the programming work, and I got all the documentation. Well, good for him, because it was Cobol. =) It has been an uphill battle to find my footing. Fast forward, and I’ve changed companies (16x) and specialties (dev, support, dev ops, build, and QA) searching for a place to feel appreciated, listened to, and find meaningful work.
SailPoint provides a great team and meaningful work for me and is the one place (no lie) where I haven’t felt that being a female was any different than any other engineer. Quality Engineering fits me perfectly, with the opportunity to know an entire organization’s software and help make it work the best for our customers.
What are you working on right now?
I have been with SailPoint for four years in a Quality lead position, hired to work on the Identity AI team, initially coordinating quality for a new product. Now there are two of us, and we work with many data, databases, and algorithms. We test feature integrations on IDN and IIQ and try to cover as much as we possibly can. We want our features to be beneficial to our customers, easy to use, and accurate. After all, we are an essential set of products for our customers.
What has been the biggest learning moment in your career?
Career-wise, I have realized that I am personally responsible for my career. Others can facilitate it, but I am the one that must drive it. Don’t wait for your manager to ask you how to help you with your career; explain to your manager how they can help you move your career forward. They have enough to worry about.
Technology-wise, learning new technologies has kept me relevant in an ever-changing software field. If you choose the technology path for your career, don’t get comfortable using your current technology, or you will be staying in one place without helping your team think out of the box.
Who do you look up to as a woman in identity?
We have incredible women in our company and on our team – and I love and respect every one of them. As Michelle mentioned me in her blog, I will say that she, and Jostine Ho, Staff Data Scientist, deserve respect for becoming the women scientists early in their careers that I wished I was. They are solid and intelligent and know what they love to do. It took me so much longer to do that.
But the woman I respect over others is RBG (Ruth Bader Ginsburg,) who worked so hard to move women closer to equality while being a mother and a caretaker to her husband. If you don’t know much about her, do yourself a favor and watch one of her documentaries, or start first with an easy-to-watch movie on her early years. Things you take for granted now, she fought for.
What can schools do to drum up women’s empowerment in the technology sector?
The initial general computer classes, both in high school and college, give a lot of dry, detailed information on the engineering of computers, terminology, and history. Very little speaks to what working in computers might be like, nor all the different fields within computers. Starting STEM early in education, with small, interesting projects that aren’t just gaming, volcano making, or robotics, but projects that might grab a young girl’s interest, are imperative.