We are proud to announce the launch of our Leaders in Tech editorial series. Speaking to leaders in the industry to capture their stories, career highs and lows, their trials and successes, their current company and their role, most recent projects, advice to others, and the individuals who they most look up to in the industry.
Aimee Bechtle is the Head of DevOps and Cloud Platform Engineering at S&P Global. Aimee specializes in helping large organizations deliver value to the business faster with safety, by working backward from the customer to solve their problems and then unleash innovation using the power of Agile, DevOps and the Cloud.
So, we sat down with Aimee to find out more about why she joined the tech industry, what her role entails, what are the challenges she faces as a tech leader and her advice to aspiring engineers and developers.
What are your current role and responsibilities?
I am the Head of DevOps and Cloud Platform Engineering for S&P Global’s Market Intelligence Division. I am responsible for the system that enables application teams to deliver high quality working software at a high frequency into a scalable, highly available cloud infrastructure.
You work at S&P Global, what was your journey like? How did you get where you are now?
My journey has been and still is, an unpredictable and exciting journey. I am a late bloomer. In 1998, I was planning to be a stay-at-home mom and raise a family when I got an opportunity to work part-time in a corporate IT department at a federally funded research company. I was there for 16 years of my 27-year career in IT. The job afforded me the work-life balance I needed to raise my kids while my husband traveled, and it allowed me to stay current with technology. I got my first leadership position in 2004 leading a small automated test team. I planned to stay at that company until I retired, suppressing, or denying my ambition. But In 2013, I led the implementation of a Continuous Delivery pipeline and got introduced to DevOps. I fell in love and this unleashed my ambition. When the opportunity to practice DevOps and learn the Cloud, and grow as a leader, became available to me at a different and much larger company I took it. The uncertainty that comes with change was scary and I struggled to adapt at first, I questioned and doubted my decision. But I had strong leaders who gave me time and space to learn, who coached me and championed me. I was at that company for four years and I absorbed everything I could and took opportunities, and risks, to lead and learn how transformation-at-scale works. I learned what I was capable of as a leader and driving change. When I got the opportunity to do it at S&P as a more senior leader I took it.
The answer to how I got to where I am is having leaders who invested in me, I think they invested in me because of my grit, my ability to learn and be curious, my ability to collaborate and engage and align others to achieve goals, taking risks and becoming comfortable with uncertainty.
What inspired you to go on this journey? What drew you to the tech industry?
It isn’t so much of an inspiration but rather a calling. It is a natural inclination of mine to expand my scope, step in, and lead when there’s an opportunity to do so, and take personal risks to foster growth and development. I am drawn to the tech industry because I am a maker at heart and you can make some pretty incredible solutions and change people’s lives with technology. I also love technology because it is rapidly changing. I love change and am comfortable with new environments, challenges, and circumstances. I get to help others adopt technology and get through the change that comes with that adoption.
Who do you look up to for inspiration or mentorship?
I look to my existing leadership for inspiration and mentorship. If I can’t then I am working for the wrong person. Every leader I have had has shaped me as a leader and left me with a theme, lesson, or point-of-view that sticks with me. There’s a cliché that people don’t leave a job, they leave leaders. That has not been true for me. I have left jobs because I outgrew them, I outgrew them because I had great leaders.
What do you think are the most important qualities of successful tech leaders today?
The most important qualities are empathy, agility, authenticity, and grit.
How do you keep your team motivated despite conflicts and obstacles?
Always know and communicate the “why” and where you are going. Be really clear on the mission and vision and do not waiver. Acknowledge that change is challenging, validate feelings, and set an example. This is why I mention empathy and authenticity as important qualities in leadership. Your people need to know you are human and you understand change is hard, and that you know what they are going through. Sharing your personal stories of perseverance and persistence resonates and helps them to see themselves in you.
What is expected of you? What are your expectations for your team?
I am expected to establish goals and deliver results that benefit the business and create value, and to leave my team and environment better off than when I started. I am expected to drive high performing teams and bring out the best in my people. My team is expected to deliver to the goals and outcomes I establish and to solve problems.
What are your current goals? What projects are you currently working on?
My goals are to implement a system that accelerates the delivery of value to our customers and create an environment where our technology talent does the best work of their lives and innovates to create a competitive advantage.
I am working on a cloud-native architecture leveraging containers, microservices, and a continuous delivery pipeline.
What are you the proudest of in your career so far?
Seeing some really talented people I led to grow and move into leadership positions and lead other people.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Working with really smart and talented people that make it fun to come to work. And working with cutting edge technology that challenges us to learn.
What has been your greatest challenge from working as a tech leader?
Keeping up with technology and skills. It is challenging to find the time to learn new technologies and understand them enough to be respected by engineers and be able to ask the right questions. I’ve been dying to learn Kubernetes and get my hands on the keyboard but it is hard to find the time.
What’s the most important risk you took in your career and why?
Leaving a job I was comfortable in and at for 16 years to join a fortune 100 company. It was a risk because I left a quasi-government, non-competitive environment and went into a competitive commercial environment of top talent. I had to quickly learn and adapt, especially learn the cloud. I was petrified I would fail and return to my previous employer where I would be told “I told you so” about the commercial world.
How do you continue to grow and develop as a tech leader?
I am never done learning and I surround myself with people who are smarter than me and go to them for answers.
How do you align your team and company with your vision and mission?
By being clear about the mission and vision, making it visible and actionable, and then executing on it and showing the results backed up by data. I look for a story to tell that showcases the mission and vision and I tell it over and over again to key stakeholders.
What have you learned from your experience so far?
The journey is never finished, and you can always grow and learn. Challenge yourself and know what you are capable of.
Do you have a memorable story or an anecdote from your experience you’d like to tell?
I’d have to write a book to capture them all. One that stands out is I worked with a Product Manager who wanted to deliver features faster and was willing to slow down development for a while to focus on continuous delivery and upskilling his organization. He said to me “you have to slow down to go fast”. I have it on a t-shirt and use it with Product Managers I’m trying to influence.
Finally, do you have any advice to aspiring engineers and developers who want to grow in the tech industry?
Yes, don’t be an expert. Experts stop asking questions and have all the answers. Be a learner, ask questions, and know that the journey is never finished. Listen, learn then lead.