From early days, I was enamored with writing, encouraged by both my mother (a teacher and librarian) and 4th grade recognition in a regional Great American Inventors essay contest sponsored by the Daughters of the American Revolution. My topic: the Wright Brothers. It’s anyone’s guess as to why I still have that medal in my top desk drawer.
In Junior High, the year-end career predictions included “Lisa Barowsky will write her own dictionary,” and it was a big deal to be voted Brain of the Class in my math class (unheard of for girls, at that time).
In high school, I took many art classes, and garnered recognition at the school, district and regional levels. I was definitely not the person you wanted on stage, but I provided decent hand-drawn artwork for a number of programs and tickets for school plays (long before the days of computer artwork, mind you). A bounty of certificates and praise; alas, very little financial reward.
I was voted Most Organized in my high school senior class. At the time, I did not feel particularly honored, but the skills that led to recognition certainly proved helpful. I always thought my naturally curly hair was deserving of Best Hair recognition, but it wasn’t appreciated by my peers, only adults who were spending a fortune on perms.
A favorite weekend treat was venturing to Walgreen’s with my father to test broken radio tubes on the machine, while he fixed various appliances for both our family and neighbors. To my mother’s chagrin, we lingered at the family dining table long after dinner, working math problems on paper napkins, and preventing her from completing her clean-up tasks. Clearly, technical skills were genetically transferred.
Under the circumstances, my skills in both writing and art were not seen as a sure career path, so I turned to technology, having been told, after all, that I was “pretty good at math — for a girl.”
My first programming work was in FORTRAN in high school, in an era prior to the arrival of home computers. I was the lone girl in a group of boys who were ferried to the district office down the street at lunchtime, to run our decks of punch cards through their computer.
Fortunately, a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from UC San Diego (1980), and an M.S. in Computer Science from Stanford (1985) enhanced those rudimentary skills and provided a solid foundation for a career spanning engineering, software development, knowledge management system design, process development and technical writing.
My corporate career included positions at Hewlett-Packard, Logitech and Quantum, with Director-level responsibilities in Engineering, Quality Systems and IT. I’ve also worked at start-ups, focusing on the initial organizational set-up, developing complete process architectures covering all aspects of the business — from establishing policies and procedures for operations, to creation of IT infrastructure, intranets and external websites. These experiences provided a solid base in business understanding and client focus.
In addition to my work in professional technical and website writing, some of my non-technical writing has been published in print and online venues, including East Bay Monthly, American Fitness, Consumer Health Interactive, Suite101 and CIO Insight. My book, Web Diva Wisdom: How to Find, Hire, and Partner With the Right Web Designer for You, will be published in June, 2014.
I’m a member of both the Fremont and Mission San Jose Chambers of Commerce. I enjoy working with local nonprofit organizations to help them establish and develop an Internet presence, and also enjoy volunteering in a variety of non-technical capacities. Some of my favorite projects have included working on costumes for a fabulous local musical theater company and putting my knitting and quilting skills to work providing items for sale or auction at various fundraising events. In 1990 I designed the curriculum for a semester-long seminar course, Women in Science and Technology, which was taught at Ohlone College in Fremont, California, and several local high schools, for over 10 years.
Nothing beats those awards of my youth, but the grown-up recognition of which I am most proud includes a Leadership Award from Hewlett-Packard, an Outstanding Faculty Commendation from Ohlone College and the Don Gercich and People with Purpose awards, both for service and volunteer activities.