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Making a Change

Kellyn Pot’Vin embraces the evolution of Oracle technology and speaks up for women in technology.

By Jeff Erickson

January/February 2014

Kellyn Pot’Vin is an expert in Oracle Exadata and Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c. She is also a DBA and senior technical consultant at Enkitec, an Oracle ACE Director, and a writer of a noted technical blog ( Last June, I caught up with her at ODTUG Kscope13 in New Orleans, Louisiana, where she talked about changing technology and changing roles.

Pot’Vin has been involved in the change brought on by the introduction of Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c, database as a service, and Oracle Exadata into the data center. When we sat down between conference sessions, I asked her to talk about how that introduction has affected companies.

“Take Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c and database as a service,” she said. “Instead of having to install a new Oracle VM, create a new database, and do all the things that can be time-consuming and tedious, those tasks can be automated.”

Of course, administrators will have to adjust to the change. “DBAs want control,” she said. “The idea that we are going to give up the control of creating databases and, with Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c, set up profiles and service templates and grant roles to our users and say, ‘You are now going to request a database’ could take many administrators out of their comfort zone. But I love it.”

I asked Pot’Vin what changes Oracle Exadata has introduced. “It’s an amazing engineered system,” she said. “Oracle Exadata provides the most optimal performance for an Oracle environment. But it can also be initially overwhelming for companies that are not technically savvy.” A knowledgeable DBA can help companies meet the challenge, she said.

Changing Roles

Pot’Vin was at Kscope13 to talk about technology but also about the need for change when it comes to women in technology. She participated in a symposium that explored the reasons why more women aren’t attending technical conferences, pursuing high-tech careers, and succeeding beyond their job responsibilities.

“Only 7 percent or lower of the attendees at high-tech conferences such as Kscope, Hotsos, and Rocky Mountain Oracle Users Group Training Days are women,” Pot’Vin noted. In comparison, roughly 30 percent of the staff members in IT departments are women,1 she said.

Pot’Vin explained that women face a variety of challenges in the high technology industry that are affecting conference attendance and advancement at work. “Until their children are out on their own, women are so often still looked to by society as the primary caregiver.2 So women have a tendency to get into their technical careers a little later in life, and because of that role of caregiver, they often don’t become as involved in their careers as men do.”

Not only are women turning down speaking, writing, and management opportunities, but many are leaving high technology because of the challenges they face. “I started out in a DBA group of five women. I’m the only one who is still in the industry. All the others have left to work in either soft tech or nontechnical careers,” she said.

So what’s the answer? Pot’Vin stressed the importance of the Kscope13 symposium and similar events, where women leaders provided information, advice, and encouragement to help women “lean in,” Pot’Vin said, referring to Sheryl Sandberg’s book that focuses on ways women can become leaders in the workplace.

Attitudes in society and the workplace need to change regarding women’s roles, and according to Pot’Vin, that includes women’s attitudes regarding what they can accomplish. They don’t need to necessarily work harder or longer. They need to focus on the career-building steps.

What about the glass ceiling in technology? “That ceiling can disappear when you’re leaning in, taking on management responsibilities, writing books and blogs, and speaking on the technology conference circuit,” she said. “People see your name. The ceiling is gone.”


Next Steps

 Learn about ODTUG Kscope14

 Read Pot’Vin’s blog


Photography by Jakob Owens, Unsplash