By Leslie Steere
In Part 1 of this interview, published in Oracle Magazine, March/April 2018, Oracle Applications User Group (OAUG) President Christine Hipp discussed emerging technology and the various paths OAUG members are taking toward cloud computing. Here, Hipp dives into the other topics important to OAUG members, including diversity in the workforce, mentorships, and networking.
Oracle Magazine: What was your introduction to Oracle technology and OAUG?
Hipp: I started working with Oracle technology in 2003, when the company I worked for selected Oracle E-Business Suite for its first implementation of an ERP [enterprise resource planning] system. I’ve been heavily involved with it ever since.
Those years following our original implementation were extremely busy. We were rolling out modules and upgrading continuously, and OAUG became my touchstone. It remained a constant resource for me in my career, even as I changed roles from systems analyst to project manager to IT manager. So it was a natural progression for me to say, “I’ve received such a great benefit from this organization. I would like to see this continue for other people and give back.”
I’m a firm believer in the idea of a diversified team, whether it’s age, gender, or ethnicity. The more diversity you have on your team, the better your product.”–Christine Hipp, President, Oracle Applications User Group
Oracle Magazine: In addition to its focus on education and networking, how else does OAUG support its members?
Hipp: The community looks to OAUG to be up to date on what’s happening with Oracle and to pass that information along. Our members need to know that Oracle is there for them as they continue to leverage their Oracle E-Business Suite, Oracle Hyperion enterprise performance management, and other applications investments while they are evaluating, planning, and transitioning to the cloud. Another major component of OAUG’s mission is advocacy, and through our partnership with Oracle, we are able to use this influence for our users. Whether they are on premises or in the cloud, our members still want a combined voice to share valuable feedback, which helps Oracle deliver technology solutions that best support their business.
Oracle Magazine: In what ways is OAUG expanding its membership reach?
Hipp: At OAUG we are committed to the next generation of Oracle professionals. We have a committee at OAUG focused on emerging leaders. These leaders range in age—they’re not necessarily all 22 and right out of college, but they are people who are in the early part of their careers and looking for opportunities to share information, find mentors, and expand their careers.
This year we’re also broadening our focus on professional and career development. The OAUG Collegiate Forum held its first meeting last fall with 40 students from the Penn State Behrend Black School of Business. The program was really well received, and we’ll look to continue down this path with a more comprehensive student program.
Mentoring, education, and even assistance with finding jobs are very important to us, because we do want to see people from 20 to 65 at our conferences. The reality is that baby boomers are still in the workforce and providing valuable work to companies, and the newer generations are coming in. Our goal is to provide opportunities for members at all phases of their careers.
Oracle Magazine: Can you talk about the value of finding—or being—a mentor?
Hipp: Personally, as a woman in technology, I think we all have an obligation and an opportunity to encourage and assist others—all others, but especially our female peers.
I have the advantage of having a top IT leader at my organization, who also happens to be a woman, as my mentor. This has been invaluable for me both personally and professionally. You can’t always find that within your own company, but there are opportunities to find them within OAUG. The members are open and willing to share their information and insights.
One of my favorite things about OAUG and user conferences such as COLLABORATE has always been the networking. Every time I go to a conference, I meet 5 to 10 new people who are going to be able to help me in my job, or I’m going to be able to help them. But I do think that’s something that happens organically, and it would be great to see a more formal opportunity for mentorship.
Oracle Magazine: Is one of your objectives to bring more women and more minorities into the technology area, and do you see that happening?
The reality is that baby boomers are still in the workforce and providing valuable work to companies, and the newer generations are coming in. Our goal is to provide opportunities for members at all phases of their careers.”–Christine Hipp, President, Oracle Applications User Group
Hipp: My personal observation has been that although we have a number of women in technology, they aren’t necessarily in positions of leadership. I think it is essential to have women at all levels of the tech industry. Programs such as OAUG’s Emerging Leaders and Collegiate Forum can help attract more women and minorities into tech positions. Any activity where we are reaching out—we being the senior women or experienced professionals—to this next generation and talking to them about the opportunities is going to have a positive effect. Obviously, if they’re studying computer science, we want to tell them how that translates into a real-world job, and we want those jobs to be available for everyone, including women and minorities.
I’ve been thinking recently about what the critical factor is for attracting more women and minorities into tech positions. And I think, from my experience leading at a STEM conference for fifth- through eighth-grade girls, it is to engage them while they are young. Just the pure interest and lack of barriers that exist at those young ages allow them to believe that they could be interested in computer science and technology careers—that this could be an opportunity for them.
So code and STEM conferences are great places to start. I also was really excited to read about Oracle’s new Design Tech High School, because this kind of vision plays a big part in creating a next generation of technologist that includes women and minorities. I’m a firm believer in the idea of a diversified team, whether it’s age, gender, or ethnicity. The more diversity you have on your team, the better your product.
Photography by Rick Scibelli/The Verbatim Agency