How Quickbase Empowers Women Builders and Opens Doors to More Fulfilling Careers

Written By: Jessica Hawley
March 8, 2019
8 min read

Did you know that 46% of Quickbase builders are women? In an industry where app development is a predominantly male occupation you may be wondering what’s behind this unique trend.

The answer is Quickbase trailblazers like Joanna Schreck, Senior Manager of Operational Excellence and Data Analytics for Digital Reach at Informa Exhibitions.

Here’s what Joanna relayed about her own Quickbase journey; the role continuing education and mentorship has played in advancing her career; and her advice for new women builders everywhere.

A project that launched a career in app building

My first Quickbase app was one I volunteered to redesign for my team. It was an externally developed Quickbase solution for project and business management, and its rebuild was part of a bigger initiative for enterprise-wide product and process transformation.

At the time, I only had a small amount of back-end experience with the app, but I had a strong understanding of the department’s operations and that, along with a passion for problem solving, and the fact that the platform is designed for business builders, made me want to give it a try. I also felt that the relational database knowledge I had just gained from earning my master’s degree in Library Science and Informatics would be helpful.

Most important of all, I had the backing of our leadership team—three powerhouse women—Heather Haslinger, Katrina Schultz, and Christine Torinese, who believed in me and my strategy for the rebuild. I couldn’t have done any of it without their support.

The success of that rebuild in making work life easier not only helped me win the confidence of the end users (a Client Services & Delivery Operations team), but it also helped launch my career as a Quickbase resource for the company. Nearly 50% of my job is now Quickbase related, and I believe that the work I’m doing is important and impactful. Word is spreading fast about what we’re accomplishing with Quickbase.

“Nearly 50% of my job is now Quickbase related, and I believe that the work I’m doing is important and impactful. Word is spreading fast about what we’re accomplishing with Quickbase.”
– Joanna Schreck, Quickbase Administrator and Builder at Informa

Supercharging a calling

When I signed up for Library Science, I didn’t know that my education was going to translate into a technology career. My early successes with Quickbase gave me the confidence and the motivation to follow my interests and passions in that direction. My strategy is to continue my education in both to further my expertise and help bring even more value to our teams and business.

Here’s a recent example. I wanted to make the data coming in through Quickbase work even harder for the company. I learned of a program for Business Intelligence and Analytics through the University of Arizona online, and I am now on my way to earning that certificate. What I’m learning is helping us incorporate more analytics and extract more business intelligence out of our day-to-day Quickbase environment.

I also recently took advantage of an opportunity to validate my skills mastery through Quickbase’s new Certification Program. After preparing with the online learning modules, I took the Combined Builder/Expert Certification exam and passed. Like any good examination, it’s meant to be challenging and provoke thought, so in addition to being certified I walked away with a deeper understanding of the platform and a list of things I’d like to work on, like automations. I’m proud of my Quickbase Certification and posted it to LinkedIn the very next day.

Paying it forward; the value of mentorship

Drawing from my own experience, one of the best ways to encourage more women to enter the field of app building is to be a mentor. Support from the women on my leadership team made all the difference for me. They gave me opportunities to grow, shared my accomplishments, and took the initiative to introduce me and my work to the right people to share our progress. As an advocate for solutions through Quickbase, Operational Excellence’s reputation has grown, and we have expanded to building business apps for a growing use of industry applications. I try to pay that advocacy and support forward wherever I can.

I was not too long in my position when I had the opportunity. We had just hired Karen Gomez into the Operational Excellence team, in part to help support our Quickbase work. She was the perfect candidate, though new to Quickbase. So, before any sort of training or show-and-tell began, I took a moment to explain that the platform was a very powerful, highly customizable tool that might seem daunting at first, but was intuitive in many ways. In addition to sharing what I knew, I introduced her to the various resources and training tools Quickbase offers; I showed her the half dozen ways she could get her questions answered; how to submit trouble tickets, copy apps, etcetera.

Karen is a rising star in the app building space and has become my right hand. She also passed her App Builder exam, so we’re a fully certified team. Together we’ve spun up many applications and are always looking for ways to make a positive impact through app building.

Raising the visibility of women builders

At the 2018 Empower conference I was on the panel for the first Women’s Leadership Breakfast. I loved the idea and was thrilled to participate. The room was packed—it was standing-room only towards the back. There was so much interest and I really think it should a be a staple at future Empower events.

Despite preparing in advance for the panel, I found that I was feeding off the room, the other panelists, and especially the audience Q&A. The conversations that came up were candid and meaningful, and I think that really had an impact on all who attended. People asked about female mentorshow to find one, how to be oneand they wanted suggestions and advice on how to encourage and help more women to break into the field.

One of the things I’m studying right now in my Business Intelligence course are statistics on things like salary surveys, growth trends, and gender gaps. A 2012 article from Information Week showed that the gender pay gap for women in technology was closing, so I dug a bit deeper for more current information and while it’s getting better, we’re still not there yet.

I think it just returns to the reality that we need even more programs and articles featuring women and technology. We’re out there and doing great things, and why not showcase that? That’s why blogs like this one are so important.

“I think it just returns to the reality that we need even more programs and articles featuring women and technology. We’re out there and doing great things, and why not showcase that?”
– Joanna Schreck, Quickbase Administrator and Builder at Informa

Advice for the next generation of women builders

I think the number one thing anyone looking to be a Quickbase builder needs to have is a passion to problem solve. It doesn’t hurt to be tech or data savvy either but getting your foot in the door is less about coming to the table with specific knowledge and more about a mindset and desire to make a positive difference.

And while it’s great to have a mentor, you can still get there on your own. Quickbase offers so many resources for the new builder and lots of support to help get you started. They’ve also got a great user community and a library of almost 500 cloneable apps, in case you need to spin something up quickly and easily.

I came into this career in an online event producer role and as far as Quickbase was concerned, I was a user of forms, records, reports, and all that. I didn’t have a development background, but I could see where there was room for improvement and I took notes, made suggestions, and then took a leap of faith.

One of the things I talked about on the women’s panel is that fear is our biggest obstacle. Too often I’ve seen women afraid to speak up out of fear that their ideas might be shot down. In the past I’ve been guilty of being afraid to make too much noise, because I feared I may be looked down upon.

My recommendation to women is to just raise your hand. Go in there and try. You may not succeed every time, but you will ultimately create more opportunities for yourself, and gain more experience. Don’t be afraid, don’t worry about failure, don’t let fear hold you back. Taking that first step is the hardest part, but once you do, don’t look back, and you’ll be amazed at where it will take you. I can honestly say I would not be where I am today without having thrown my hat in the ring for a project I was only mostly sure I could tackle.

Meet Joanna at EMPOWER 2019 on June 10-13th in Miami. Click here to stay up-to-date on sessions, including Joanna’s beginner track session, “How Quickbase Jump-started My Career”.

Read more about how Joanna became her company’s in-house Quickbase expert here. Here’s more of our favorite stories about how problem solvers like Joanna are advancing their careers with Quickbase:

Written By: Jessica Hawley
Jessica Hawley is a marketing manager at Quickbase, focused on SEO, content and social media.

Never miss a post — subscribe to the Quickbase Blog.

Sign up to receive the latest posts on everything from Operational Excellence to Digital Transformation.