Carey Payette is a senior software developer at American Electric Power (AEP). At AEP, she holds the role of Lead Developer or Technical Solution Owner on multiple projects. Carey defines the application architecture and technologies to use on these projects as well as participating in the actual coding. Projects range from customer self-service websites, to equipment inventory and maintenance systems, as well as work management software and call center systems.
Carey also sits on multiple company-wide panels to evaluate new technologies and make recommendations on the best ones to adopt. Because she learns these new technologies during the evaluation process, Carey is the go-to person for other employees coming up to speed. She is well-known within her company as an enthusiastic person who is excited about technology and willing to discuss it with anyone.
What is the best part of Carey’s job? "I really enjoy teaching and mentoring people. I like to get people excited about technology and where it’s going. It’s a constant struggle in a large enterprise to get new technologies accepted…it’s both a fun challenge and sometimes a source of a great deal of stress," she says with a smile.
Carey is inspired by the larger developer community who gets out there and discusses technology. "Enthusiasm is contagious!" The fast pace of technology excites her too. She recently had to predict what her company would need in 2010, and she joked that there had better be Surface computing in place. Carey reads technical magazines and websites to keep up with what’s going on. Carey is also addicted to Twitter; you can follow her at https://twitter.com/careypayette.
Carey is extremely active in the software development community. She serves as president of the Central Ohio .NET Developers Group, as well as president of AEP’s internal developers group. Carey also participates in the local speaker’s circuit, currently presenting on Silverlight, the DLR, and IronRuby. Finally, she is also forming a developers’ group in Sudbury, Ontario, her hometown. "Make friends in the developer community and inside your organization. The more people you know and network with, the more sources of expertise you can tap into when you need guidance in a particular area," she advises.
On top of her job and numerous contributions to the developer community, Carey has three young sons. "My guilty pleasure is that with my two-year-old, I can still get away with reading technical books to him like it’s Dr. Seuss. At long as you read in a sing-song tone, he doesn’t care what you say. Last night, we read The Ruby Way!"
Carey has a flex schedule at AEP. She works four 10-hour days (Monday-Thursday). She spends Fridays with her children. While her husband gets to work early and gets home early, Carey works from about 9am until 7 or 8pm. She has the flexibility to work from home as well, which allows her to have lunch with her kids and see them on breaks. While she’s working, a babysitter watches the children at her house. "Family is #1. If you feel like you’re not around enough for your family, you’re probably doing too much." Carey also advocates building downtime into the schedule. "Take some time for yourself, at least an hour a day. Even if it’s just an hour before bed, do something for yourself…not cleaning!!!"
Hopefully, girls who enjoy math and science are guided to computer science or engineering fields. Although Carey excels in logic, she was drawn to programming not for the math aspect, but for the language aspect. Carey is very good at picking up languages. Natively an English speaker, she went to French schools and studied German in college. Computer languages made sense to her as well. Carey learned Pascal in a programming class in 10th grade, and she was hooked. (She originally wanted to be an Air Force pilot!) In 1999, Carey earned her Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario. She is currently halfway through an MCIS from the University of Denver online, specializing in web development and information security. "I’m just a geek at heart!"
Carey’s advice to other women in technology: "Read The Pragmatic Programmer and learn a new language every year. Keep an open mind…every technology exists for a reason; you just need to find its strengths."