Alum finds the best of both worlds with info systems
Program: MS in Information Systems Management ’11
Occupation: Scrum Master at Solstice
Deena McKay (MSISM ’11) was drawn to both technology and business. She found her career in information systems, where she balances the two, while also managing a team.
She sat down with us to discuss her journey.
Why did you choose your program?
I knew I liked technology and business, and information systems is kind of the best of both worlds. You get to interact with both sides.
My undergraduate degree was in information systems, and I decided I wanted to go back to school to build my skillset and prepare to lead a team. I liked Quinlan and the Water Tower Campus, and the program looked great. The program offered me not only tech aspects, but the opportunity to learn business skills as well such as marketing. I even got the opportunity to study abroad while in the program. Overall, with the variety of classes and opportunities it allowed me to learn what I liked to do.
What was your favorite Quinlan experience?
The most memorable part of the program was going to London with my marketing class for five days. We worked on a project to market tennis products while there and then presented our work to the company. We looked at a data set and found insights that the company could act on. I had always wanted to go to London and this opportunity came up, so I made the leap.
The opportunity allowed me to diversify my experience and apply my learning to a real-world scenario.
Do you have any advice for students?
Take your time to figure out what your focus should be. It’s a huge field, and there are a lot of things you can do with it. Try different internships to see what you like. Be sure to network, find opportunities to connect with people, and see what happens.
Also, reach out to the professors for help, if you need it. They’re willing to work with you.
What are you doing now?
I’m a scrum master at Solstice, an emerging technology consulting firm in Chicago. I manage developers to make sure we’re hitting important dates and deadlines. My main goal is to take down barriers in order to help my developers to succeed.
The transferrable soft skills I learned while at Quinlan have helped me to step beyond the technical side and effectively manage my team. I learned how to be adaptable and problem solve.
What is the most rewarding part of your job? The Most challenging?
I think building relationships with my team has been great. Sometimes working in tech can be a very individual job, but we have a good team. I also love how innovative the work is. We’re always looking for the latest emerging technology and how we can bring it to our clients. It’s a field where you fail fast and then try again. It’s a challenge but it also makes it a lot of fun.