By Melissa Hart
“Often times I refer to business intelligence (BI) as the glue between technology and the business,” Sprangers said. “I drive business decisions with data. BI is broad and has a different definition across organizations, with the common denominator being the technology-driven process. My job doesn't exist without technology.”
Building on her social sciences background, Sprangers took an unconventional road to a technology job via her love of numbers. After finishing graduate school with a master’s degree in sociology, she joined a small company as an analyst. She found herself waiting on an understaffed team of software developers to hit deadlines. So, with the help of a supportive mentor, she taught herself to write SQL to help move projects along at a faster pace.
Those skills propelled her into the next stage of her career. “You can use technology in a vast number of businesses. I have worked in veterinary pharmaceuticals, an online brokerage, at a large retailer, in human resources, and with wine and an online dating company, and am currently working for a phone accessory called PopSockets,” she said.
Sprangers credits her mentor at her first job with pushing her to do better and engaging the competitive spirit she acquired growing up while playing various sports. “He gave me a memento, a porcelain bobblehead, which was an inside joke, after I left my first job. It comes with me to every new business I'm on and is now in its fourth state. It reminds me of always having the drive to figure it out.” she said.
As a member of the millennial generation, Sprangers sees more paths opening up for women to get ahead in IT. “Progress isn't always linear, but I think we are getting there. More and more opportunities exist for women at a younger age, remembering that progress isn't something that happens overnight and that small actions can make a big difference,” she said.
One key to success is to connect girls with technologist role models. “Kids want to be movie stars, singers, and athletes when they grow up. We need relatable women in IT that young girls can look up to and some PR support behind them. I think we need to continue to be persistent and have advocates continue to speak up,” said Sprangers.
Melissa Hart is an entrepreneur, writer and technologist living and working in Upstate New York.