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4 Questions with Renee J. Robley

Activations Technician at Ultimate Software

Renee J. Robley (she/her) is an Activations Technician at Ultimate Software in South Florida, and boy-mom of one. She is also head cook, bottle washer, and IT guy for her food blog, HomeMadeZagat, highlighting the multicultural influences of Caribbean foods and encouraging home cooks to feel more comfortable creating these dishes.

1. Where’s your hometown?

Tobago, Trinidad and Tobago.

2. How did you get into STEM?

I actually had all intentions of doing physical therapy when I started school on a tennis scholarship. Then I had one computer class elective and was hooked. It was a simple programming class, but I loved the idea of things working in order. I settled into Information Systems while doing my Bachelor’s but got more interested in security systems and breaches. During my four-year stint teaching IT, I became obsessed with security and law enforcement. (Blame CSI!) I eventually narrowed my IT focus to security and went into forensics and information security.

3. What’s a challenge you’ve faced, and how did you get through it?

For my Master’s, I was the only woman in my program. The majority of the class was made up of military men. Trying to get my voice heard during that program was tough. In a few classes, I decided to just sit back and not try to say much. But I had a teacher from my previous school who kept checking up on me and reminding me that I was in MY field and not to be deterred.

So I started making sure I was heard more in my classes. At the end of my final presentation, my professor (a former NSA/FBI agent) messaged me that he was so proud I pushed past the noise and didn’t crumble. I graduated top of that class as the only woman.

4. What’s something you’ve done that you are immensely proud of?

Funnily enough, it’s my food blog — HomeMadeZagat. I started this while pursuing my Master’s as a brain break, and it went from being my therapy to my side hustle. But it’s not even about the additional cash flow. Seeing people use my recipes, and knowing they found it just by searching on Google (because of my good SEO practices), are enough to make this IT person happy.

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In honor of Caribbean American Heritage Month, we’re celebrating amazing Caribbean women and non-binary folks in tech.

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Telling the stories of resilient women & genderqueer techies, especially those of color.

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