Brooke CandeloreBrooke Candelore is the Product Manager for BrightGauge, a ConnectWise solution.

After graduating in 2015 with her Masters in Computer Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, Brooke gained experience in web application development and artificial intelligence while working for BAE Systems. She joined the BrightGauge team nearly three years ago and since October 2019, has been defining the strategy for ConnectWise to expand its BrightGauge BI and Reporting offering for Managed Service Providers (MSPs) to serve SMBs.

Tell us about yourself, your background and your current role

I’m currently a product manager at BrightGauge, a business intelligence platform that helps IT service providers better manage their data and demonstrate the value of their work to clients.

BrightGauge came into the ConnectWise family in October 2019 as part of its acquisition of Continuum. My role is to define the strategy for ConnectWise to expand and enhance the BrightGauge business intelligence (BI) product. I work closely with the engineering team to construct and drive the roadmap for ConnectWise’s BI/reporting offerings.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I’m very fortunate to love my job – but I never imagined a career in computer science was something I’d follow. In high school I wasn’t particularly interested in computers. The terms CPU and OS meant nothing to me! When I went to college I started as a Mathematics Major but I didn’t know what I wanted to do with this knowledge.  I definitely didn’t want to be a lawyer or an actuary!

I think it’s fair to say that my career has been a series of plans and pivots! My introduction to computer science came through a friend’s father. He suggested that there were going to be lots of jobs coming down the line in computer science. I was intrigued and spoke to the head of Computer Science at my college. He turned out to be one of my career’s biggest – and earliest – influencers.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome them?

One of the early challenges I faced was attending computer science classes that were largely male-dominated. They spoke a language I just didn’t know. Bits, bytes and reboots. I had no clue what they were talking about! This was a world I knew nothing about and felt completely uncomfortable in. Added to that, a lot of the guys were really into computing gaming, something I just wasn’t interested in.  To be honest, I felt like a fish out of water.

The key thing that helped me overcome these early challenges was gaining confidence – confidence in myself as a person, and confidence in my abilities. Plus the realisation that everyone had things to learn definitely helped! I remember doing one class on CPU and cache design. Many of my male fellow students knew all the theory and statistics – but had no clue about how it all worked in practice. The field was well and truly-leveled after that I can tell you.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in your achieving success?

Confidence has been instrumental in my success. It’s about celebrating the wins, and learning from the things that didn’t go so well. If I’m finding something challenging I think about the achievements I’ve had. I tell myself that if I could do that thing well, then I can certainly do this thing too!

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

There are two things that I’m most proud of. The first is becoming the lead of the integrations team at BrightGauge. Under my leadership we went live with 28 integrations – all achieved in just a couple of years.  This doubled the total number of integrations that had been done previously.

The second is that I’ve been privileged to mentor some really smart women, all of whom have gone on to achieve really significant goals in the technology and engineering industries. One of the ladies I mentored came out of a Boot Camp. At the time she was very new to IT.  I mentored her in computer science and after about a year she secured an apprenticeship with Microsoft. She’s still there now!

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

My tips are equally applicable to a career in technology as they are to any other line of work. First, I’d say keep an open mind. Be flexible. Be prepared to change direction. A great example from my own personal experience is when I went to graduate school I entered a PhD program. I loved the topic so much that I wanted to spend all my time researching and increasing my knowledge. But after a while I realised I didn’t like the environment. The nature of what I was doing was very uncollaborative. I didn’t want to spend 8 hours every day with my own thoughts. I wanted something with a faster pace, something with more collaboration. So I switched and completed a Masters in Computer Architecture instead!

The second tip I’d give is to be passionate about what you’re doing. If you’re passionate about something you will be successful.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

When I was a graduate student I went to a lot of conferences. Typically there were three women in the room for every 100-200 men. I didn’t feel comfortable, especially because I didn’t want the guys to see how slow I typed my notes! The Grace Hopper conferences were an eye opener for me. The aim of these events is to bring together and connect women in computing. It was inspiring to hear other women’s challenges and to know I wasn’t alone.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

Yes, I think there are still barriers. In my experience, it can be a challenge to build a rapport and relationships with men in the same way I do with women. But try hard to find other women wherever they are. If you hire a female, have her sit close to another female – at least in the early days. Harness the value of girl-power!

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