This month's Women of Raven Spotlight is Alli Fluth, Senior IT Software Developer for Raven Industries.
Provide a brief overview of your education and job history.
I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Augustana University (formerly Augustana College) in 2011, with majors in Music and Business Administration. Filling some open time with a Computer Science class during one of my last semesters is what sparked my interest in programming and data. After college, I worked for a financial software company, where I cut my “data teeth” as a database conversion analyst, then took a role as a quality assurance analyst with the software development group. During this time, I completed my MBA with a specialization in Business Intelligence. After completing my MBA, I worked for a large healthcare organization as a Senior Business Intelligence Systems Developer supporting a team of report developers, business analysts, and data scientists. I started at Raven in the summer of 2019 as a Senior Software Developer.
Provide a brief overview of your current role and responsibilities at Raven.
My role at Raven is to provide people access to data. Whether it comes from reports or dashboards, or it magically appears in their email inbox, my responsibility is to make sure that the data is timely, accurate, and reliable. While most of the data-needs I fulfill are financial or operational, I occasionally have the opportunity to work on requests from other areas of the business, like manufacturing.
How do you use math and science in your role?
My job requires me to use math daily. When building a report or dashboard, it is important to understand how the data is going to be used by the end user. That involves understanding the possible ways the data needs to be aggregated and making any necessary calculations correctly. Using math, I can identify any errors within the data set I am building, helping me ensure that I am providing the most accurate solution to the user.
What inspired you to pursue this career path?
While I ultimately did not pursue a career in music, there are many aspects of that education that inspired me to pursue my current path. I truly enjoyed analyzing music scores, and data analysis is a little bit like analyzing music. While there are established and predictable patterns, you can often find things you don’t expect — or other nuances that may not seem obvious — unless you look at it from another point of view. I was able to take my enjoyment of analysis and translate it into a career that is very fulfilling. This career path offers me the chance to push the boundaries of my knowledge and experience a wide variety of new and exciting opportunities.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Creating new ways to utilize and leverage data is a very rewarding aspect of my job. Seeing customers use the reports or dashboards I create and hearing feedback about how the information has saved Raven money or created new efficiencies is what I enjoy the most. It is also enjoyable to stay current with the rapidly changing technologies and identify ways I can improve the solutions I provide using new skills or tech.
What advice do you have for young women who are currently pursuing or considering a career in a STEM field?
I took a non-traditional path to arrive at my position at Raven. The seemingly random computer science class that I took in college encouraged me to think, “It would be really great if I could pursue a career writing code.” My advice is this: Always be open to new experiences, even if you aren’t sure you’re going to like it. The worst thing that can happen is you learning that you aren’t interested in it. The best thing that can happen is that you learn that you have an aptitude or interest in something you didn’t expect. Take pride in learning new things and stepping outside your comfort zone.