STEM Up: Tamara Johanna

My career journey has taken me on a complete rollercoaster of a ride to get to where I am today.

From the age of 10 it was my dream to join Cirque du Soleil, I travelled all around Australia on tour with the circus, whilst undertaking the same schooling as any normal kid. In my graduating year I got injured, and I came to the realisation that I needed a plan B.

This led me to studying Business and Accounting at university, I fell in love with studying and left my circus dreams behind. I naturally excelled at Accounting which subsequently led me to believe this was the career for me. I studied part time and worked part time at a tax accounting firm, whilst managing 4 other casual jobs.

By the time I graduated I realised accounting was definitely not for me. Feeling a bit lost I found myself starting up a recruitment division in Melbourne specialising in Salesforce. After almost a year into my role I caught myself spending more time learning about Salesforce and Marc Benioff then actually recruiting. So I took one day off and did what I knew best and that was to recruit. I called all the companies in Australia that specialised in Salesforce implementations and sold myself in as a junior candidate.

Before I knew it I was working for a Platinum Salesforce Marketing Cloud partner, learning to code and configure the platform for our customers.

At this point I started my side hustle FIIT Collective, and 2 years later joined Salesforce. 

1. What is your specific area of STEM?
Salesforce Solution Engineer and Founder of FIIT Collective

2. How would you explain your STEM field?
In my full time role at Salesforce I support Account Executives in the pre-sales cycle. I spend a lot of my time understanding the business challenges organisations face, and solution design how the Salesforce platform can help overcome those challenges. As a part of my role I need to understand the full technical capability of the Salesforce platform as well as, implementation best practices and industry trends relevant to the customers I am working with.  
As a founder of a small business supporting women in tech, I feel the responsibility to help close the gender gap in tech. It’s my dream to live in a world where diversity and inclusion is second nature, and society no longer uses labels such as “Female CEO”, just CEO. Where women feel confident in applying for jobs when they only meeting a fraction of requirements, in the same way men do. A world where women can be their authentic self at work, and leverage their female superpowers, rather than adopting male characteristics. And most importantly for women to know they can “have it all” and do not have to choose between motherhood, or their career.

3. What are some challenges you face in this field?
You’re often considered as the smartest person in the room, with that I find myself putting pressure on myself to know everything – which is completely unrealistic. 

4. What made you choose this STEM discipline? Were you inspired by someone?
I honestly fell into it. It wasn’t planned… I have always followed my passion and that led me to the great success I have had today.

5. What’s the best way to enter your field?
I honestly believe aptitude and attitude go so much further then your technical knowledge. You can teach tech, you can’t teach attitude.
What helped me land my role at Salesforce was enthusiasm and specialisation. I saw opportunities in the market very early on to specialise in a platform that very little people knew about. I took a calculated risk, knowing that this specialisation would sky-rocket my career when the market demanded for this skillset.
I was right, this skill set along with my hunger to learn helped me land my dream job. 


6. What are some really cool things that people in your profession work on?
I love that every single day is different… and with technology rapidly advancing each day, it requires me as a solution engineer to keep up to date with the latest tech, industry trends and product releases.
Outside of my role I have submitted two innovations to the US patent office which is pretty cool.
I also get to present a lot at events, about our latest innovations…

 7. What keeps you going in your profession?
I am very aligned to my purpose which is to empower and educate females in tech to live a more purposeful career and life. Every single day I get to pursue that purpose in both my day job and side hustle.
When you know your purpose you’re intrinsically motivated and don’t need external factors to keep you on track and productive.


8. What is FIIT Collective?
It’s a platform to educate and empower women in tech to live a more purposeful career and life. It all started with my instagram, then progressed into a female in tech blog and podcast. Soon I will be releasing e-learning products and webinars to help women accelerate their career in tech.

9. What is the biggest challenge you face as a woman in STEM?
Being a blonde female, I sometimes find it challenging to be taken seriously in customer meetings. People subconsciously judge me for being female, and at times question my technical capability because of the way I look. I used to take this personally, but now I use it to my advantage… 

10. What message would you like to give to our young readers?
Personal branding played a big role in the success I have had today. I didn’t have the luxury of having family connections to get into big tech or consulting corporate giants…  I had to find my own way into my dream company, and I did that through my personal brand.
Regardless if you have these internal connections or not, your personal brand will help you get the salary and promotions you deserve. 
I encourage you to take time out weekly to build your personal brand and become a thought leader with people inside and outside of your workplace. You never know where your next opportunity might be…

Thank you for reading our ninth STEM Up interview! To know more about what Tamara is up to, follow her journey at @tamarajohanna_

Follow us on Instagram for more women in STEM interviews at codejammies

We are nearing the end of STEM Up season 1 but want to get your story featured for season 2? Email us at codejammies@gmail.com

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