Women in IT Series: Elisa Limbaugh

Name: Elisa Limbaugh

Company:  Employed by AAC (Advanced Automation Consulting)

Job Title: CIO (Chief Information Officer) for the City of Columbia, Senior Consultant with AAC www.aacsc.net

Personal hobbies and/or interests: Interior design, scrapbooking, gardening, running, and keeping up with my two young children!

What does your company do? The City provides a range of services to its citizens and the businesses operating within its limits.  AAC serves its clients by providing highly qualified IT consultants, primarily on a contracted basis.

Yes, but what do you actually do? In my current assignment, I am helping the City position its IT department to have greater impact by aligning its resources, human and monetary, with its strategic goals.  Practically speaking, this means introducing and implementing concepts such as IT governance, business process management, and project portfolio management.

Where did you go to college? What is your degree in? At Penn State, I earned my Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering and my Master of Engineering in Computer Engineering.  About 10 years into my career, I earned an International Master of Business Administration with emphasis in Marketing from the University of South Carolina and the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration.

Did you always want to work in IT?I grew up in the “pre-IT” era, back in the 1960s and 70s.  I was inspired in part by a tour of the Hershey chocolate, particularly fascinated by the automation in the plant.   My interest in math and science led me to study engineering.  I was first exposed to computer programming during undergraduate engineering school, I used “ancient” technology such as punch cards!  I took as many computer science electives as I could and worked in the engineering department programming in FORTRAN on a DEC PDP-10.

What is your favorite part of the job?Being able to work in various environments and industries over time as a consultant—I love new challenges and continually learning.

Describe the work environment at your company. Fast-paced, open, and committed.  I am struck by two things working in the public sector: 1) how “public” nearly every aspect of what you do is, and 2) the refreshing attitude of service many City employees possess.

What qualities do you need to have to do your job? A few that come to mind are diplomacy, integrity, patience, perceptivity, and flexibility.

What is (in your opinion) the biggest misconception about working in technology/IT? That it does not have a lot to with working with people!  Throughout my career I have not come across an IT job where communication skills were not key.

Any advice for students or professionals going into your field? 

I would offer the following suggestions:

  • Seek out opportunities to observe first-hand the types of positions you are considering, and, as possible, in more than one company—this sort of practical insight is invaluable.
  • Inform yourself about all types of IT jobs, not just those with which you may be familiar.
  • Consider combining your interest in IT with another passion you may have. For example, if you are a musician, you could aim for an IT job in a business that serves that market.

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