"Women in Tech" Q&A with Bethany Johnston, Corporate HRIS Manager, Northwest Pipe

Bethany Johnston, Northwest Pipe’s (NWP) Corporate HRIS Manager, says that the work she contributed to an implementation project completed in 2019 — which helped the company increase its visibility into labor scheduling, provide real-time workforce data to the finance team, and improve decision making with data analysis — led to her progression from an HR and safety manager in the field to her current role. Read NWP’s full case study story, “Strategic Workforce Management Drives Agile Decision Making at Northwest Pipe: How One National Manufacturer Improved Job Efficiency and Continues to Deliver On a 50+ Year Commitment to Quality,” which appears online and in the Q4 edition of SAPinsider Magazine.

Bethany Johnston, Corporate HRIS Manager, Northwest Pipe

What got you interested in the technology field?

My interest in the technology field stems from a desire to understand the “why” behind how things are done, continually improve processes, and make life easier for the end user. Although my background is in HR, I have always been curious about using technology to improve transparency and ease of communications within my team.

What specific skills have you found to be most helpful in getting you where you are today?

A mix of drive, desire to fix problems and learn from others, curiosity, and tenacity. Also, the ability to work when inspiration hits — a good idea might pop into your head when you are brushing your teeth or feeding the animals, for example, so you have to be ready to sink your teeth in at a moment’s notice.

As a minority in the tech industry, what is it like to work alongside predominantly male colleagues?

I work at the crossroads of the predominantly female-led HR field and the traditionally male-dominated IT industry. I don’t think about the gender, race, or specific orientation of my teammates; I look to the quality of work they complete and how they contribute to the team. Looking forward, there will be more opportunities for women in IT. This starts at a young age and with ensuring that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programing is available to all. I hope to see the playing field continue to level in the future.

What advice do you have for women who are just starting out in their careers in technology?

Ask questions, don’t take no for an answer, find a mentor, and consider non-direct technology routes by identifying your passion and how it connects with technology.