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Anna Figueroa: A Rising Star Women Can Look to for Data Center Career Inspiration

Sometimes the stars align. In this case, it’s “rising star” Anna Figueroa, DCO Tech, and International Women’s Day. Read about Anna’s journey and learn why her story can inspire more women to explore a career in the data center industry.

Two ongoing issues plague the data center industry. Women represent only about 10% of data center staff, and attracting and retaining talent is a top concern.* Anna Figueroa is putting a dent in both issues.

Anna recently was named a finalist in the Rising Star category of the Northern Virginia Technology Council’s Data Center Awards. She also is working as a Data Center Operations Technician at CoreSite’s VA3 facility in Reston, Virginia, while at the same time earning a CSC in Data Center Operations from the Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA).

Female colocation data center technician
Anna Figueroa, DCO Technician, has been recognized by the Northern Virginia Technology Council as a “Rising Star.”

International Women’s Day seemed to be a great time to share Anna’s story and perhaps inspire other women to explore a career in data centers. We sat down with Anna to get her thoughts and do just that.

What got you interested in data centers?

My interest in the data center industry began when I attended a tour of an Equinix data center in Ashburn, Virginia, sponsored by Northern Virginia Community College. Previously, I had curiously observed the massive data center construction efforts underway in Ashburn and Loudoun, and yet I was unaware of the diversity of opportunities for employment that lie in the data center industry.

I was further intrigued when I participated in a NOVA career day event, which brought leaders from various industries together to speak to students about entry into the fields of engineering technology, cybersecurity and information technology. During this event, I met Chris Lettiere, Director of Operations, and Miguel Ramos, Senior Manager of Data Center Operations at CoreSite. Chris and Miguel invited me to visit a CoreSite data center for a tour, which created the foundation for what would later become my first employment opportunity.

What were some of the challenges you faced early in your pursuit of a position in the data center space?

By the time I knew I wanted to continue to learn about the industry, I still felt that so much of what happens within the day-to-day operations of these facilities was a mystery. As I sought out resources and podcasts, I discovered Carrie Goetz and her book “Jumpstart Your Career in Data Centers.” I really enjoyed Carrie’s confidence, energy, enthusiasm and commitment to increasing diversity in the industry. Reading Carrie’s book helped to “jumpstart” my understanding of the fundamentals.

What else helped you get past those challenges?

One thing that helped me immensely during my journey was discovering data center organizations, such as the 7x24 Exchange and Data Center Young Professionals DMV chapter. My engagement with these groups allowed me to build a community among my peers in the industry, as well as the opportunity to find mentorship among men and women in roles that I admire.

Tell us about what you are doing at VA3.

The DCO role at CoreSite is unique among the data center providers in that, as a technician, I am responsible both for monitoring the supporting mechanical and electrical infrastructure as well as assisting customers with technical requests for remote hands support. While most data center providers have a distinct remote hands role, I enjoy the opportunity to interact with customers while gaining IT equipment experience. Our team also works alongside the operations team at VA1/VA2 to provide customers with interconnectivity to cloud providers and networks between our campuses.

Let’s talk about the Rising Star nomination. How did that come about?

I believe my enthusiasm for the industry coupled with my eagerness to learn highlighted me as a candidate for nomination. I feel fortunate to have discovered this field and the wide range of prospects within the industry and I seek to increase interest in data center careers within my sphere of influence. I welcomed opportunities to speak about my experience transitioning into engineering technology at NOVA’s Career Day event to local high school students who are interested in STEM careers.

Where do you see yourself in a year and maybe five years from now?

That’s a big question! Right now, I am focused on furthering my knowledge of mechanical and electrical systems. One of my goals is to gain a deeper understanding, beyond the function of our critical infrastructure. I would like to dive in and learn about the individual components that comprise these systems and how they interconnect to support our customers.

As for the future, I am always looking for additional mentors throughout CoreSite as I explore ways that I can contribute my talent. For example, I’m currently exploring sales engineering, and I have been able spend time with Benjamin Lundquist, Director of Sales Engineering.

What would you say to encourage people to learn about the data center industry?

I am a firm believer in continuous learning, and I’ve have always made a habit of asking thoughtful questions. I have met some of the friendliest and most supportive individuals throughout the data center industry, who have been more than willing to share their knowledge with me. For those interested in exploring the data center industry, I recommend joining local data center organizations, as well as NOVA’s data center operations program. Listen actively and formulate questions that will help increase your understanding.

Intrigued or inspired by Anna’s experience? We hope so! Take the next step by checking out the NOVA Data Center Operations Program or, if you are an experienced technician looking to take your career to the next level and beyond, visit CoreSite’s Careers Page.

The CoreSite Team
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