March 29th, 2019 | Sterling

Sterling Celebrates Women’s History Month: Women in the Tech Field

In our concluding twin post celebrating Women’s History month, meet Karissa Johnson, Software Engineer; Shilpa Shastri, Software Engineering Manager; and, Faye Ackeret, UX Designer, from the SureID Engineering division of Sterling that specializes in securely managing biometric data using next generation technology. If you missed the first of this twin, click here to read it.

Left to right: Karissa, Shilpa and Faye

Women in Tech 02:

Ten years ago, if someone told Karissa that she would be a software engineer, she would have laughed. Pursuing a BFA in Applied Visual Arts (graphite, oil paint, charcoal et al), Karissa finished with a Bachelor of Science in Business Information System! The turning point came when she chanced upon an intro class to programing and was instantly hooked. Karissa found her calling as a software engineer, happy to exercise the mathematical and analytical part of her brain as well as using her innate creativity for problem solving.

With Shilpa, it was her fascination for the software industry and how it makes the lives of everyone, young and old, easier. Shilpa too, didn’t start out in computer science. Her master’s degree from India was in biochemistry! She’s the kind of person who finds the next challenge rather than waiting for it to come to her, evident in her penchant for details and delivering the very best!

For Faye, challenges are like a cup of coffee on a Monday morning! And designing a great user experience can be a considerable challenge. Considering user plus business needs along with technological constraints, then interpret that through layout, imagery, content, interactive elements and the wordless language of design is not easy. “When your team gets this right, it’s a beautiful thing,” she adds, with her hallmark soft smile.

Celebrating Women’s History Month is Important Because. . .

Karissa accepts that the focus on issues women face today is important. However, she believes the need to celebrate the accomplishments of amazing women despite those issues is critical. Karissa volunteers once a year during computer science week assisting 1st and 2nd graders as they work through one-hour tutorials on coding ( She uses this platform to teach the kids about Grace Hopper, one of the pioneers of computer programming, a Computer Scientist, and United States Navy Rear Admiral! Computer Science Week is celebrated in December, to honor her birth month. While she acknowledges the gender gap in STEM fields, the hope lies in celebrating women who were influential to those fields and how it can inspire young minds to narrow that gap.

Shilpa agrees and sums it up nicely, when she says, “While History teaches, it also repeats.” Celebrating women’s history month empowers women and girls to live their dreams and strive to achieve the unimaginable. This is beneficial not just for women but for all of us, as a society.

Honoring the achievements of women, helps bring their stories to the forefront. “Those stories help to expand our collective belief system about what can be achieved by women,” adds Faye.

Mission Driven Camaraderie at Sterling:

Karissa loves her team. She witnesses daily, the care for one another as much as for their work, and most importantly, the people using Sterling software. She says, “I really feel that it’s the people and pride in the product we make that creates loyalty and a sense of camaraderie. Every single person here has the users best interest at heart.”

“Every day I get to solve an exciting challenge! Even so, it never feels like a burden, knowing all my colleagues are there supporting me at every step. Our team spirit shows as we fight for the best solution and as we learn from each other,” adds Shilpa.

Faye’s voice adds to the unanimous opinion, “First and foremost, it is the people. This is what makes the challenge of the work and our collaboration meaningful by providing value and service.”

On Their Bookshelves:

Karissa: ‘Click Here to Kill Everybody’ by Bruce Schneier, is about the risks and security implications of the hyper connected world we live in. Also, ‘Rebel Code’ by Glyn Moody, describes the open source revolution and the significance of free software. Her favorites: all Harry Potter books! When Karissa needs to relax and especially unwind the analytical parts of her mind, she picks up a Harry Potter book and is instantly transported to its parallel universe.

Shilpa: ‘Primed to Perform’ by Neel Doshi and Lindsay McGregor, which is also the office book of the week! The book teaches you how to use cutting edge human psychology to build high performing workplace cultures. She has queued two books by women: ‘Strong Women Stay Young’ and ‘Clean Protein’. Her all-time favorite book is ‘Inner Engineering’ by Jaggi Vasudev, as it offers the tool-set to improve from within, especially in the current context of fast technology and human prowess in engineering.

Faye: ‘Wabi Sabi: The Art of Everyday Life’ by Diane Durston. Wabi Sabi is a Japanese philosophy often described as appreciating the beauty in imperfection. The book is a collection of imagery, concepts and stories exemplifying this philosophy.

Sterling celebrates diversity and draws strength from the amazing women and men who place the importance of building trust, among people and the community, as their prime duty. Do you want to partake in this amazing cause? Click here to learn more.

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