Women's History Month: Kara
March 02, 2023
Principal Engineer, Information Systems
Kara Schiebler joined Legacy Health six years ago for a very specific project: Move most of the organization’s computer network to Citrix NetScaler. It was a challenge the principal engineer gladly embraced. As Legacy celebrates Women’s History Month, Kara spoke with us about this enormous project, how Legacy embraces diversity and an early career path that almost sidetracked her journey into IT.
Tell us about the work you do at Legacy.
I’m the principal engineer for the Citrix NetScaler team. This means all the work that I do provides services for about 90% of the applications or access that our entire organization uses.
For example, when you access Epic, MyHealth or Myportal, they all leverage the system I designed and support. The same goes for when Legacy exchanges health information with other entities.
I understand that you were hired at Legacy specifically for your experience and to build the Citrix system. Is that correct?
Yes. Legacy was transitioning to Citrix NetScaler, which I’ve been working with for more than 20 years. I designed, architected and migrated Legacy’s information to Citrix NetScaler.
How did you become interested in this field?
I grew up in the age when computers were just beginning. I call the IT infrastructure industry a gray color because it’s somewhere between being a well-trained expert field and an artistic form.
That spoke to me that you were able to express who you are or what you do through technology. It was amazing. I grew up building computers, playing video games and back then there were no networks. So, if you wanted to play with your friends, you had to learn how to make those computers work together.
I had plenty of other jobs growing up in high school and college like working in a grocery store and being a pilot. But ultimately, I found my passion working on computers.
Sorry to get sidetracked, but you were a pilot?
One of my interests as a younger person was to fly planes. I thought that would be my career. I got my private pilot’s license and passed my written commercial license test. But I quickly realized how expensive it is to fly twin-engine planes to get the required number of hours for your commercial license. Generally, you enter the Air Force to obtain your hours. But that wasn’t for me. I still fly planes to this day.
How interesting. Who were your role models growing up?
That’s an interesting question. Being that I always knew computers would be my desired field of interest, I looked at Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. I even admired IBM. I always thought as a child that I’d work for IBM.
When was that “aha” moment for you when you knew: "This is what I want to do for my career”?
As a kid playing video games and learning how to network computers, you could see the writing on the wall that our whole society was moving into the new technology age. It’s an amazing field where you can bring a thought into reality with the technology we have.
How could the workplace be improved for young women who may want to enter the field?
I do not see it in those terms. I see it as improving the workplace in general. Women have been marginalized and excluded from this field for a long time. Legacy has been making great strides to be inclusive, and I believe that is a cornerstone to the success of all people regardless of race, color, religion or sexual identity.
What words of encouragement would you give to women looking to enter your field?
Success is more about your desire and willingness to commit than it is the opportunities you are provided. In the IT field, the more time you spend educating yourself with skillsets, the more successful you will be. Your gender or sexual identity have nothing to do with your capabilities. You should keep that in mind as there are people who don’t subscribe to the same belief and you undoubtably run into them at some point in your career.
What do you bring to Legacy that adds value to the organization?
Personality, leadership and historic knowledge. When I walk into a room, I don’t view the room as managers and employees. I look at the room as a whole. By that I mean, who are the leaders in the room?
Management and leadership are not always mutually exclusive. Managers often provide framework and structure for meetings but not necessarily leadership. In most meetings I stand out as a leader, something that suits my personality and abilities well but will also work with others if leadership needs to be shared.
One of my favorite quotes is from Simon Senek. He said, “Leadership is a choice and not a rank or position.” Something I truly believe.
What is your favorite thing about working at Legacy?
For me, every day is different, challenging, interesting and never boring. However, I think my favorite part is knowing that the work I do ultimately helps people or could even save their life.
How do you see yourself building a better tomorrow?
I think I’m building a better tomorrow by being a leader or a pioneer in our society. I’m a transgender lesbian female, possibly one of the smallest and most marginalized minorities on the planet, and yet I am a successful leader. I refuse to let my identity dictate my success.