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The Open Source “Community Brain Trust” & More: Interview with Ogilvy’s Director of Technology Management Jessica Criscione

We’re just a weekend away from Cloud Foundry Summit in Silicon Valley! Next week promises to be a multi-day event dedicated to developers, cloud and digital transformation. We sat down with Jessica Criscione, Director of Technology Management at Ogilvy, to discuss her foray into cloud, her usage of Cloud Foundry and her varied career.

Jessica is Director of Technology Management at Ogilvy, a New York City-based advertising, marketing and public relations agency, where she serves critical client relationships. With over 19 years of experience in digital, her work has included everything from websites and mobile apps to experiential installations. Jessica is a self-admitted data geek and promotes developer initiatives within the company to enhance marketing efforts for clients — with a smarter use of available technologies.

Be sure to see her keynote Leveraging Cloud Foundry for Development Efficiencies on Thursday, June 15, in Santa Clara.


When did you first hear about Cloud Foundry?

Jessica: I first heard about it in relation to AppFog, about four years ago. I was looking at PaaS options for a project and back then there weren’t many players in that area.

What intrigued you about it?

Jessica: At the time, I was looking for a quick way to deploy and test a couple of apps for a client and it seemed like a great solution for our needs. The company I was working for then didn’t have a dedicated DevOps team and our timelines didn’t really allow us to be dependent on our client’s IT team for our environments.

What do you love best about the open source community?

  • The sharing of knowledge and general support of learning.
  • That people get excited about something and are willing to donate their time and energy to something bigger than themselves without money being the motivator.
  • Because there are so many projects out there that people can pick up and leverage, it saves everyone a lot of time when they are trying to solve their own issues.
  • That availability means people can focus on new problems that are unique to their situation, rather than rehashing something that has already been solved (and probably better) by a much larger community brain trust.

How did you end up in the cloud space?

Jessica: My reasons are likely very similar to most other people out there. It was a result of having to manage a lot of servers for clients over the years and needing to find solutions that could scale with high demand really quickly for things like major client events and then be scaled back for cost savings right after the event was over. I’ve had a lot of jobs where I was the primary DevOps/IT support for my projects and moving to the cloud was massively cheaper — and also gave me more flexibility to do what I needed quickly.

What has been your path through tech?

Jessica: My journey has been a rather strange one. I studied computer science in college and my first job was as a web designer waaaay back when — during the first internet bubble. I knew how to code, but didn’t use it in my first job. I quickly moved over to doing UX and realized I missed the problem solving and rapid learning cycle that’s inherent to the tech field. I switched back to doing just programming around 2000 — and never regretted it.

A good chunk of my career has been a blend of front end, architecting projects, server support and — lately — a lot of back end node work. Pretty much anything I needed to know for a project, I’d teach myself (and ask a lot of questions of specialists).

I’ve been a tech lead now for around ten years. My current interests are more in the area of data science and machine learning, with a little IoT thrown in. I’ve been teaching myself a lot of that on the side, and am lucky enough to be able to leverage that knowledge for client work lately.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Jessica: I get to learn new things every day. I know a lot of people are scared of constant change, but I love running into something I don’t understand and obsessively ripping it apart until I do. My clients and coworkers bring me challenges that I have to figure out quickly because everything in the agency world has a really short timeline. I love it and the pressure to find new ways to creatively solve problems.

What advice would you give to women considering technology as a career?

Jessica: Do it! Don’t let anyone pressure you into thinking that you’re not good at math or any of that other b.s. that seems to happen a lot. I’ve certainly run into my fair share of sexism, but I’m also just incredibly stubborn and refuse to let someone tell me I can’t do something just because I’m a certain gender/race/etc. Those statements reflect more on the speaker’s insecurities than anything to do with you and your capabilities. I firmly believe that any reasonably intelligent person who puts their mind to something can find a way to make it happen.

One of the things I love about tech is that you can choose what your career path is more easily than in other fields as things are shifting so quickly. Pick what you love and run with it.

What was your favorite game/past time as a kid?

Jessica: I read a scary amount as a kid — probably a side effect of being an only kid with parents that worked all the time as professors. There would regularly be about five books in process at any time in my room. I’d just pick up whichever one I was in the mood to continue with at that moment.

What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Cloud Foundry Summit?

Jessica: Seeing how everyone has solved their own tech puzzles. I find that seeing others’ solutions is a great way of stimulating new ways of thinking about my own challenges.

What advice would you give to people attending Cloud Foundry Summit for the first time?

Jessica: Be sure to engage with the other attendees! It’s always tempting to just run around to the sessions — of which there are always many great ones — but you can learn a lot of interesting things from talking to other attendees as well as to the companies present.

Take Jessica’s advice and spark conversations with your fellow attendees. Look for Cloud Foundry Ambassadors to answer any questions you might have and follow along with the online conversation using #CloudFoundry.

Caitlyn O'Connell Profile Image

Caitlyn O'Connell, AUTHOR

As Senior Marketing Manager of Cloud Foundry Foundation, Caitlyn runs content and manages diversity programming.