Meet our Closing the Gap guest, physicist, Amber Barber!
Q: Please describe your educational/training background
I earned my B.S and M.S. in Physics. I am trained and certified as a Lean Six Sigma master black belt and project/program manager
Q: Please describe where you work & your occupation
I currently work at Jade Global, a software consulting company. My role there is senior director of program management – I oversee all of the customer projects in the company, ensure our project managers are well trained and supported, and drive a positive customer experience.
Q: Career-wise, what have been your proudest moments/highlights/accomplishments so far?
I’ve had a diverse path in my 22-year career so far. I started in the semiconductor industry, doing hands-on work with chemicals and measurement equipment, before moving into reliability (testing and lots of data analysis), then quality. I spent a short time at Microsoft working on a manufacturing floor, leading the quality testing and customer return sections. I then moved to a semiconductor equipment company – Lam Research – working to improve the manufacturing process, the supply chain, and other aspects of the overall operation. My latest change has been this move to software consulting – and while I’m not a coding expert, I find that my previous skills for leading projects, leading teams, and training/mentoring others apply here just as much as at my previous companies. Starting about 10 years ago I became more engaged with outreach to women and girls in STEM. I’ve participated in on-site workshops showing middle-school girls what tech is really like, held several talks with different groups, and judged local science fairs. I also helped form the “Women in Global Operations” employee group, serving as Global Chair for 2 years, for Lam Research in Tualatin, to support women in different roles and locations as they navigate some of the challenges of women in tech.
Q: What are some of your future goals or things you would like to accomplish?
The biggest thing for me is to keep learning and growing, ideally while helping others do the same. I don’t always know where that will take me, and that’s part of the fun.
Q: What have been some of your biggest career challenges?
As a woman, I am usually not seen as “technical enough” when I start a new job, or when working with new groups (especially engineering teams). I have to prove that I know what I’m doing each time, which is time-consuming and annoying. Even introducing myself as a physicist first doesn’t seem to help.
Q: Many young women might not be aware of the career available in STEM fields. What do you think can be done to spread the word to women about career options in these fields?
We need to get away from STEM = tech = coding. The various “girls who code” programs are nice, but there are so many more roles within tech (STEM in general) that don’t require it, where being creative is a big asset.
Q: Do you have any advice for women who are looking to follow a similar career path?
Try new things, even when they are a little scary. Find allies within your company and/or industry – start with people who look like you if you aren’t sure where to go. Be there for others if you want others to help you.
Q: What do you like to do for fun in your spare time?
Read, play with my cats, travel (especially to other countries)