December 2, 2014 - No Comments!

Woman in Tech: Tamara Freeman

12_3_blog_H&L Tamara[9]

Tamara joined Hook & Loop two months ago as a product manager. She is currently working on Infor Glide, a design paradigm that will allow users to naturally and quickly traverse data across multiple sources.

What excites you about enterprise software?
What initially struck me about Infor/H&L was that this is an organization that cares about creating quality experiences for people at work. Work is a necessity, so why not do all that we can to make it more enjoyable, easier, and better?

Software use in business is mandatory, unless users passive-aggressively refuse to engage with it. I believe it’s a waste of time to create software that users either won’t use or won’t enjoy using. In the past, there was a lack of trust in the user; there existed a notion that the developer had to “protect users from themselves” and to refrain from allowing them to see anything that wasn’t quite polished. User-centered design, on the other hand, says, “It’s okay—they can handle it.” Designing for the user is about getting at the true requirements of a user. When you give users what they need, it may not be what they asked for.

How did you come into your current role as a Product Manager?
It came about pretty organically. My initial interest was in back-end development and design. From there, I made my way into technical architecture and then to project management with a focus on roadmap and framework creation and implementation. It’s a priority for me to be able to approach my work with a broad understanding of the processes involved.

I’m an all or nothing kind of girl. A few months ago I quit my job at a major financial institution where I had worked for almost eight years in a range of technical roles and began an intensive UX course at General Assembly. Because of my past experience, I knew the true needs of the user were not being addressed, but I didn’t know how to apply user-centered design to address those needs. GA allowed me to bridge that gap. Now I’m here, and what I love most about my current role is applying user-centered design while getting to stick my nose into all of the other things that I love.

When did you become interested in tech? Do you think it’s important for kids to start learning to code at an early age?
I was fortunate enough to go to an elementary school in Brooklyn where learning to code was just one of the many interesting opportunities we were offered. I first learned to code at age ten and was originally introduced to an educational programming language. Although I remember not particularly enjoying it at first, that education served two very essential purposes: it demystified computer programming, and planted the seeds that I needed to pursue a degree in computer science and to then further explore development, technical architecture, and now, product management.

My aunt teaches third grade and I recently spoke to her class about programming. They consider their devices—smartphones, laptops, etc.—as these “magical” things, when in reality they’re these dumb little boxes that do exactly what humans tell them to do. The sooner kids begin programming, the sooner you’re able to empower them to understand that with a viable idea and the desire to create something, you control the little boxes. You remove the barrier that lies between your idea and its reality.

Fun fact: Tamara’s playlist for laser-focus consists of anything that’s “not in English.” She enjoys work-jamming to Gregorian chants, Thelonius Monk, and Buena Vista Social Club!

Published by: Natalie Byrnes in Blog