An old-fashion soda fountain attendant
“Unlocking Us” with Brené Brown
How you unwind
Reading, chatting and laughing with my family, or escaping with a TV show or movie with my hubs
What was your background before joining Blueprint?
I went to college at Northeastern State University thinking I wanted to be an accountant, but I realized pretty quickly I didn’t want to do that for the rest of my life. I still got an accounting degree, but I liked my information systems studies more, so I also got an MIS degree. I was recruited out of college in 1999 into an IT role for a Telecommunications company. My whole career has been in information technology, mostly in data – that’s database administration, data engineering, BI, analytics and data governance. I’ve spent the last ten years or so in IT leadership, leading data and application development teams. Joining Blueprint as a Delivery Manager was a unique move for me because I had spent 21 years in IT, and this role was a little different. But I had had the opportunity to work with some of the Blueprint team in one of my previous roles, and when they approached me about this position, I couldn’t say no because I was eager to work with such great people doing cool stuff.
How did your previous career set you up to take on your new role at Blueprint?
I was able to jump in on day one as a Delivery Manager and talk to clients with a unique perspective, having spent a career in their shoes. My previous experiences also helped with the engagement teams I was working with because we could talk architecture, tech and all the nitty-gritty details. When the Technical Delivery Director opportunity came up, I jumped at the chance because it fits my skill set perfectly. This role really marries people and technology, which is my jam. Some technical people don’t really like the people management side of things. They want to be hands-on-keyboard, solving technical challenges day in and day out. I enjoy that, but as I’ve grown in my career, the people part has become just as important to me. I love bringing a team together to collaborate on a mission and then developing the organized, actionable steps to make it a reality. This is where I love to be and what my background has set me up to do.
What is your focus in this new role?
I get to pour into people and help them grow in their careers, but at the same time, I get to help Blueprint evolve and constantly improve the technology solutions we deliver to our clients. Two big focuses will be ensuring Blueprint’s technology workers are trained and have the skills they need to thrive in their positions with our clients and overseeing the technical solutions built for our clients, so we can identify repeatable patterns and practices that will help us operate more efficiently across all our engagements.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Kansas City, Missouri, and though I love my Kansas City Chiefs, I grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma and consider that home. I was always very focused on school, cheered and played volleyball. I worked at a small local drug store in downtown Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, until I was 16. They had an old-fashioned soda fountain where I took orders and made and served food and beverages. I could make a mean Reese’s Peanut Butter shake. After that, I worked at Walgreens all through high school and college – I’d drive home and work on the weekends because I loved my manager there.
Tell us about your family.
My husband is also in data and IT – he leads data services and platform systems at QuikTrip here in Tulsa. We’ve been married for 19 years and have four kids: two girls ages 12 and 17 and two boys ages 13 and 15. We homeschool all four kids. My girls both dance competitively and my boys play basketball. Between my 4 kiddos, the jobs we love and our involvement in our community, we stay pretty busy.
Amy and her family outside of downtown Tulsa, OK.
What made you want to homeschool?
My oldest was in private school for four years, and honestly part of the decision to homeschool was money. Education is super important to my husband and me. We wanted to be part of their education, and we had a lot of goals for our kids. I’ll be honest, though, I never saw myself homeschooling until it happened. As a kid, my only idea of homeschoolers was that they were kind of weird. But four kids in private school was going to be expensive. Randomly, one summer several strangers just happened to start talking to me about homeschool, which planted the seed. I realized we were stereotyping and were not trying it because it was going to be harder for us as parents and could affect our careers. We decided to go for it, though, knowing that it didn’t have to be permanent. We just wrapped up our 10th year. It turned out to be one of the best things we’ve ever done as parents, for many reasons, one of which was that it led to co-founding The Aspire Group.
Why did you want to found The Aspire Group?
Doing homeschool was great, but after the first year, I realized there were a lot of traditional experiences my kids were missing out on by being at home. My husband and I are very community-minded, so we wanted other people in our children’s lives. So, my friend and I started The Aspire Group. It started out small with 12 families, and we would do field trips, hands-on learning, family gatherings and things like that. Last year, before Covid hit, we had roughly 350 families with over 850 students. We’ve evolved over the last eight years into an organization with 12 programs across five campuses. We have an academy program that is like a university model school. The professors there are the only paid staff of The Aspire Group. All other staff and the administration are volunteers, keeping costs down so more families can afford it. We also have a special needs program, a community service program, a college & career program, social and support opportunities and a cooperative program where our communities come together to teach fun electives in art, health & fitness, foreign studies, life skills and music. I’ve taught many classes over the year – often computer science. In our last normal operating year, we taught almost 400 classes across our 5 campuses.
If you didn’t go into IT, what career might you have gone after?
Growing up, I always wanted to be a lawyer. I liked my speech, communications and government classes, and I was interested in politics at a pretty young age. Now I’m glad I didn’t go that route because I love the working mom/homeschool parent/nonprofit balance that I have. It is hard to think about doing anything else when I truly enjoy my career and life as it is.
What is your approach to mentorship?
The most important thing in mentorship, whether career or personal, is to really get to know someone. I don’t march into a mentorship with some set plan where at the end I will have bestowed all my wisdom. I want to get to know a person and as I get to know them, I get to understand their passions and what motivates them. That helps me to better understand who they are and who they want to become. Then I can take the things I’ve been lucky enough to learn and experience and share them in a way that will serve their best interest based on what I know about them. I also try to create an environment of transparency and candor. You have to bring your whole self to a mentor relationship. What we’re going through at any given time is not always pretty, but through candid transparency, you learn how best to help someone where they are. It’s about learning what someone is facing in life and understanding how you can best support them now and in their goals for the future. I think by creating this kind of transparency, more positive change is made because you’re getting to the heart of what is important in their life, not just the surface-level stuff. It takes time and effort to reach this level of rapport with someone.
If you could go back in time and give yourself career advice, what would it be?
Always request and listen to feedback and constructive criticism from your manager, peers and direct reports. The only way we grow and become a better version of ourselves is to be aware of our weaknesses, then understand and acknowledge these as opportunities to grow and make positive life and career changes.
When you think about the next five years in the technology space, what are you most excited about?
I honestly don’t think we can even imagine where we’re going to be five years from now. I’m thankful that I landed in data when I graduated college. It’s such an exciting space, and it’s become the currency of the world. We’ve only cracked the door on it. Data volumes will continue to grow, and our abilities to deliver actionable, intelligent data faster and more securely will increase. Data powers AI and machine learning, and those are two of the most exciting things that will change our reality over the next five years. We should buckle up because it’s gonna be a wild ride.