AMS Series #8: Women in Leadership

September 19, 2022

This week our Women in Leadership spotlight shines on Shannon Crader, AMS’ Software Development Manager. Shannon began working with AMS back in 2000, when she worked at Morse Data Corporation writing the InOrder software. Through the years, she supported AMS as a vendor and as a consultant. She became an employee of AMS in the fall of 2017 working in IT as a software developer. In the summer of 2020 Shannon accepted the position of Software Development Manager.

Shannon spoke about her new position as follows: “I have enjoyed the challenge and personal growth that has come about as a result of my position here at AMS. I am eager to work with the team; developing new tools for AMS and promoting efficiencies to help make everyone’s lives easier.”

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Thank you for being in the AMS Women in Leadership spotlight, Shannon. Your job with AMS is unique. You work remotely, and always have, first as a vendor then as an employee. Your view would be of the people you have dealt with in your specialized work. Is there any way that you, working remotely, can experience any benefit from AMS being a B Corporation?

Yes, I have always worked remotely. It’s an interesting challenge at times. You can learn so much from being out on the floor and seeing processes and applications actively in use. Before the pandemic, I was out once a year just to get that exposure.

I participate when I can in programs, but it can be tough. I focus on the ones that I can do. I recycle at home; I sponsor friends doing walks for great causes; I participate in the adopt a family programs at the holidays.

What I think I like most about AMS though, is the feeling that we are more than just co-workers. People reach out and care how you are; how your day is going. The sense that you are seen as an actual person outside of your role and abilities is the best part of AMS. And I get to experience that every day, even when working remotely.

 

When we think of the IT field and developing software we usually imagine men in those positions. Did you ever experience any negatives to being a woman in that field?

I know that many women have experienced gate-checking, prejudice and discrimination while working in IT. I have been quite fortunate in my career to have run into very little of it. Most people that I have worked with have considered my ability to solve their issue far more important than my gender. In fact, when I was working at a private university, it was 90% female in my department!

 

In your years of work and your varied experiences did you have a mentor, or have you been a mentor? Have you had the opportunity to mentor another woman?

I have had a couple of mentors through the years. Both were compassionate leaders that taught me a lot about myself, as well as the job. I am lucky to still be working with one of them today.

Yes, I have been a mentor in a couple of different ways. I have mentored new employees (male and female) throughout my career; helping them learn the ropes and become a successful member of the team.

Also, while I was working at the university, I was asked to mentor a young woman going through her final semester of her graduate degree. I like to think that was a wonderful time for both of us. I think I may have learned just as much as she did!

 

The field you work in, developing software, is so unfamiliar to most of us that maybe you could answer one more question. What does a typical day look like for you? How do you develop software or manage a team developing software for Fulfillment?

A typical day involves

*identifying the priority items for the day & then ensuring my team and I are doing all we can to complete them

*touching base with the members of my team to ensure they have all the information they need for their tasks

*attending meetings on: new projects, the current week’s deployment, strategy/planning meetings

*working on open issues/quotes/requests for help

When we develop software, we are looking to solve a problem. That doesn’t mean that is has to be a bug or something that isn’t working correctly. The problem could be as simple as: “The current returns process is too cumbersome. We need something better.”

To start working on a solution, we first need to understand the issue. That often involves asking for the existing steps that are being used, or a sample order, so that we can see what the issue is.

Once we can see the issue, we sit down and review the logic and software processes involved. In some cases, there is a lot to go through!

Then, we propose a solution. The solution could have side effects that may would impact the existing processes in use, so we work to minimize those and adjust the solution accordingly.

At that time, the best solution has been identified and a member of the team is assigned the work. They begin making the required changes. Also, they identify the scenarios that a user may be trying to complete and test those. They then go back and test the original scenario to ensure that the solution is doing what was requested/needed.

Once a week, the entire dev team gets together, and we review the solutions that are ready to be released. We share best practices and our insights and experiences with each other. Finally, if everyone agrees, then the solution is rolled out for AMS to use.

When written out, it sounds so complicated!

 

What an excellent interview!! Thank you Shannon – we’re so glad you’re on our team!