Alumna Alexis Hancock: Change Management Meets Web Technology

Alexis_HancockRecent Milano alumna Alexis Hancock (OCM ‘13) is a software engineer at CBS Local Digital Media Group. In her professional life, Alexis combines her knowledge of the latest web technologies with all she learned as a student in the Organizational Change Management (OCM) program. It was always part of her plan to add change management skills to her technological background. We wanted to ask her about that.

How does change management add value to your high-skilled tech job?

It added the element of being able to sense and prepare for upcoming changes in group dynamics. The development team I am on is currently changing processes and adding new people. As an engineer, it’s very easy to get isolated in one’s work and just “go with the flow” and brace for the storm of frustrations that will come with not being engaged. The OCM program actually has instilled in me the courage to just go ahead and take action in change rather than just letting the project managers and senior engineers handle all the heavy lifting.

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote not long ago that we used to “find” a job, but more and more we need to “invent” a job. Is that what you have done?

Even though for now I still develop for the web as the primary function at my job, I have done things that haven’t really been required of me but have helped my team. For example, I created technical documentation for the on-boarding of new engineers. Three new engineers have already used my document and are able to add to the document themselves. Participating in knowledge management within the first month of my job was recognized and I was glad I was able to make some sort of impact through such a small task. I believe staying active in these initiatives will prepare me for future management positions, especially in periods of transition and culture management within the tech field.

Has your ability to manage change effectively created new opportunities at work?

It has opened the door and established my reputation as more than “just an engineer” with higher ups and as a young techie that gives me much optimism for future opportunities.

How did Milano help you take the initiative to imagine and shape your career?

Coming from a stiff academic world I entered Milano with great fear of the “grey areas” that Milano loves to explore. I was used to being in defined parameters and strict rules via my discipline. However, after the first semester and getting involved with several ongoing Milano initiatives, I was able to envision my skills in a new way. I discovered disciplines I had never heard about and went from being blank and dormant about my next career moves to a plethora of possibilities.

What challenges did you face in forming your career while still a student at Milano? How did you work through them?

One of the biggest challenges I faced was how could I possibly be seen as a credible change consultant with my lack of management experience. I was somewhat younger than most students in the OCM program when I started. To resolve this issue I aligned myself often with projects in my courses that reflected my technical knowledge (for example, brand management). By the time I graduated, I consulted with several organizations and interned at two organizations creating significant change. I felt very confident and grounded with sharpened change management tools.

What advice would you offer current students about inventing or reimagining their career?

Try to get outside of your major and get involved with the various programs that The New School as a whole has to offer, especially if you had trouble creating a path for yourself like I did. I took electives offered outside of my program that added new skills but related everything back to one vision for my career and how I wanted to impact my sector. Once you see your discipline in different ways, you might actually start to see emerging career trends that not many have thought about. At least, that is what has happened to me.



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