Ep 23: Heidi Slade:Successful Merger of Art and Technology

Diva Tech Talk interviewed Heidi Slade, Senior Analyst, Business & Design, and Professional Scrum Master at Tyler Technologies, headquartered in Plano, Texas. Tyler Tech is a leading provider of end-to-end information management solutions and services for local governments.  Eight times on the Forbes list of America’s Best Small Companies, Tyler partners with clients to empower efficiency in the public sector, serving cities, counties, schools and other government entities.

Heidi is a great example of a woman entering the field of technology through an unconventional path.  “I didn’t grow up with computers, at all,” she says. Getting her first “real” computer in college, Heidi originally majored in fine arts at the University of North Texas.  She switched majors, midstream, to get her B.A. in literature since she considered that more marketable in terms of her future mission.

Joining Tyler Technologies directly after college, Heidi spent the first 6 years building her career as an award-winning technical writer, while increasing her familiarity with software and coding.  

“Being on the back end,” she says, “your ego starts to grow.”  Reviewing the solutions for which she was creating documentation, she would often think: “Man, I would have done that better!”  Along the way, she also taught herself HTML and CSS and created some of her own personal websites while getting comfortable in the world of code.  Finally, she took the plunge and became a business analyst at Tyler.

In that role, Heidi directly works with public sector clients and performs a full analysis of their current laborious processes. Then she lays out those solutions as paperless processes, and hands the requirements and potential design over to developers who create the actual efficiency-enhancing public sector Web-based software solutions.  Heidi also verifies the efficacy of the final solutions, created by the developers, when they are in alpha and beta releases prior to full formal release to the client base.  

One of the functions about her role that Heidi loves is she ensures that any user with visual or other physical disabilities can use the Tyler Tech systems, seamlessly.  This is crucial. If they are not appropriately created, “our clients can get sued,” she says, “and that comes back to me!”  

Because these applications are also utilized by a wide swath of the general population, “I need to make sure that these applications are very simple,” Heidi says.  “You have to consider the personality of the human being, who is on the other side of your technology. “  Some Tyler Tech systems are used by court systems and the people with whom they deal.  Heidi says “I am creating communication between the public and the courts. So everything I do has to facilitate positive, healthy communication between those two entities.”

In Heidi’s mind “developers are absolutely artists. Being a business analyst for Web apps is the perfect merge of art and technology for me.”

What are her tips for achieving career momentum?  Heidi advises other women to be courageous; to never consider their gender or lack of experience as a factor in their success.  “I walked in and said I know I can do this,” she says. “I really didn’t know how to but I learned along the way. “  She also credits her ability to speak in front of large crowds as a door opener to experiences she might not have, otherwise, had.  

Heidi recommends that young women pay attention to etiquette.  “When your clients are people like judges, high-powered attorneys and mayors, they notice things like etiquette,” she says.  Another bit of advice she offers is: “Pay attention to your audience,” in terms of dress, and how you speak.  To underscore this last piece of advice, Heidi recommends Women, Work and The Art of Savoir Faire, written by the former female CEO of Veuve Cliquot  --- a book that inspired her along the way.

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