Women in Tech@ODU

WIT@ODU works to periodically highlight members or groups in the ITS department who are working on new, exciting projects or have made valuable contributions to ITS. We hope to help create a culture of shared knowledge and community. We want you to find champions, partners and life-long friends here in ITS. If you would like to identify an ITS staff member or you would be interested in participating in the Women in Tech spotlight series please email WIT@ODU.






Meet Charlotte Kimbro

Desktop Support Group Supervisor

I was attending ODU to become an elementary school teacher and one Saturday I took a free seminar about computers.  Afterward, I walked up to the instructor and said, “I want to learn everything you know about computers. How do I start?”  And like many of us in ITS, I was hired as a student worker eventually becoming a full-time Technical Support Professional (TSP) and then a supervisor in the ITS Desktop Support Group.   

You can do IT anywhere, but being in higher education is special. The environment is always changing. There is always something new to learn and do!

Actually, most of my previous professional work has been in the arts from building sets for the opera, films, & commercials to being a stage manager for festival events.  It’s strange to think that such a background would lend itself to a career in IT, but the skills you develop on any job have enormous value.  With every endeavor you build those core strengths like communication and confidence that serve you well in your career.

I also worked as a laboratory technician at EVMS for a few years, so I feel I’ve come full circle with this merger!

The thing I am most recently excited about is not a project but a practical concept.  Another supervisor, Chelsey Zirkle, and I have been developing what we call “Rapid Fire Workshops.”  It’s based on the “tiger team” approach from the 70s where you bring together a cross-functional group of people temporarily to solve a problem. (Yes, I’m quoting Wikipedia!)

We have flipped the idea of the long workshop on its head by hosting multiple, short, sessions to hammer out solutions.  There’s no social chit-chat, no texting, and no checking email, or Teams.  This is like going to a personal trainer.  It’s high-intensity 30-minute workouts of discovery and rapid-fire decision-making.  Okay, sometimes we go for 45 minutes 😉.  Topics we’ve worked on are on-boarding, site license software, and asset management. While we’ve only recently started, it’s been very gratifying! 

We also started “IT Coffee Conversations” where we invite a current or former ITS employee to join a handful of TSPs at Borjo’s for a little coffee and casual conversation about what they do every day and how they got there.  John Pratt and Terry Stilwell started us off with “Cloud Coffee” and Olivia Hoernlein followed up with “Cyber Coffee.”  Both were extremely informative and enjoyable.  We hope to do “Comm & Coll Coffee” next!

I’m most proud and in awe when the Desktop Support Group pulls together to accomplish things like life cycle replacements, lab flips or moving whole departments. The amount of teamwork it takes to pull these things off is astounding!

In between semesters, we physically flipped 11 computer labs for a total of 197 devices.

Our team participated in eight major moves totaling more than 75 computers, monitors, printers, phones, and port activations.

Our biggest accomplishment to date is the completion of a two-year project converting all ODU devices to our new Windows management system known as Microsoft Intune. The Desktop Support Group had to touch over 6,000 desktops and laptops! And our inventory keeps growing at a little over 8,000 Windows devices and about 2,000 Macs.

The numbers are overwhelming but with each accomplishment we get stronger! We know we’re there for each other!

Create an educational arm of ITS. Get more involved in providing hands-on experience for our students. It’s a great way to cultivate the next generation of IT specialists for ITS and to send ODU graduates out into the job market with real-world experience.

Recently a student finishing her internship spent two weeks with us in the Desktop Support Group. She got to do all sorts of things like building bootable Windows 11 USB drives, using software to wipe hard drives to DOD standards, running a script to import devices into Autopilot and assigning devices in Intune. While she was with us, that student took a call from a recruiter, and she was able to answer the technical questions about imaging computers with Microsoft tools because she had just learned it the day before. She was so excited!

When I was first starting out as a supervisor in ITS, I happened to be fixing the computer of another female supervisor, Jennifer Midgett, who was in the Housing department at the time and eventually retired as the University Webb Center manager. Jennifer had this internal confidence that was so special. Just watching how she interacted with others was a valuable lesson. Whenever she had a computer issue, I volunteered to fix it, so I could ask her a ton of questions!

It would be great if ODU created a program to partner new supervisors with more experienced ones. As a new supervisor just knowing you have someone you can connect with to get their take on a situation or ask a quick question is a great comfort and helps you develop. At this stage in my career, I hope I’m a good sounding board for others, and I’m honored when women just starting out reach out for advice.

Start by getting to know the members of the different groups that make up ITS, so you have a better understanding what each group does and how we all overlap. Also go out and meet your customers. Building relationships upfront will serve you well.

But what I love most about ITS is that the job is what you make it. You can define your position and shape your future without even asking for permission. Find a need and fill it with your great ideas!

And never be afraid to share your thoughts whether it’s at a public forum, a staff meeting with colleagues, or one-on-one with your supervisor. Remember those who show up - get to make the decisions!

Past Spotlights

I graduated in Computer Science from ODU in the summer of 1987 and started working in ITS two days after graduation. I have been with ITS for over 34 years.

There are many ways that my previous work has helped me with my current position as an application developer. One of my first jobs was like the current TSP (Technical Support Professional) position. It was a great early job where I learned so much about PC hardware and software as well as the ODU community. In the beginning we did everything command line. I still use these commands and am glad I became proficient many years ago. It is also where I learned the customer service and troubleshooting skills that I have used over the years. I have great respect for what the TSPs do for the campus. What I learned as an email administrator helped me later in developing an application that generates emails. All the utility scripts I wrote during the early years helped me gain skills and recognize that application development is what I wanted to do full-time.

I have been working with the Office of Clinical Experiences in the College of Education and Professional Services. I developed a system for the students to request and be placed in schools for their observation and practicum courses. I also created an online form and workflow for the Undergraduate Teacher Education Program application process.

I am proud of my first PHP application which was converting the Dental Hygiene Clinical Evaluation System from a Lotus Notes application to a PHP/Oracle application. I had to learn PHP and Oracle, work with an unfamiliar medical/technical field, and convert a production system. This was in 2009 and it confirmed for me that I could do application development.

I hope that ITS will continue to find ways to maintain the work/life balance for its employees. The COVID crisis and ongoing security threats have added to the workload and there is a new normal for the foreseeable future. I hope the work/life balance can evolve and continue despite the growing challenges and changes.

Outsourcing has grown over the years to help keep pace with the needs of the campus. I hope there will continue to be opportunities for in-house application projects. I was fortunate to have training when I started working with a new (to me) technology which was invaluable. I hope these training opportunities will also continue to create a foundation for succeeding with new technologies.

When I started working, ITS was located on one floor of Hughes Hall and it was easy to know everyone. Now that ITS is much larger and more scattered, I am glad to see opportunities such as the 'Women + Allies in Tech' group to promote communication and meeting others in the department. I hope that WIT will continue and there will be other similar efforts.

Over the years I have been fortunate to have mentors who helped me grow in technical abilities as well as personally. Herb Ketchum was a mentor during the early days I worked as a TSP and supported some of the first LANs on campus. Thomas Symborski was a mentor when I started learning how to develop a PHP-based web application. Grace Little was a mentor for me through her personal values, leadership style and interpersonal skills. I look back in gratitude to them for their exceptional skills and accomplishments and what I was able to learn from them.

A new job is always challenging, and technology adds its challenges to the mix. This first job may or may not be exactly what you want to do. Either way there will be more opportunities - some of which may not even exist yet. In 1987, I was hired to do ad-hoc reporting on the mainframe. That lasted only a short time. I moved to a new project that started with putting PCs in the President's Office with connectivity. Later I worked with a new initiative to support the Macs on campus. Then I was an email administrator for Lotus Notes and finally a web application developer. None of this could I have seen when I sat down at my Telex terminal in Hughes Hall on my first day.

Know who you are and what your strengths and interests are. Use your strengths and follow your interests. Learn from those who have different strengths.

I will be with the University a year end of March which would be a year in Higher Education. My background is with DoD which has very specific compliance requirements and no major deviations. Coming to work in Higher Education has presented a new set of challenges that I was excited to take on. I work in Risk and Compliance which is not always the priority when an organization is looking for a solution or wants to seize an opportunity. Higher Ed and specifically ODU, is giving me the opportunity to really expand my knowledge and challenge myself. I now take on data security, privacy governance and ethical use, data governance, information security programs, policy development, IT risk management and compliance, and anything else that comes my way. I am really interested in the CMMC initiatives and enhancing our Privacy Program. I believe in being a lifelong learner, and this position has accepted that challenge.

Every position I have held has given me a different perspective of how things can be done. I have been able to take something from all my previous experiences, even the bad ones, and found those experiences affect process changes and solutions in my current position. I have also learned that the people at the table are not smarter than me, they have been doing things longer or been with that organization longer, and I will be there.

I have recently started to see risk and compliance added to more projects, even in small ways, which is great to see! This means people are having conversations relating to IT Security, risk, and compliance! *I call this winning hearts and minds. 😊

One project I am working on is System Risk Assessment Business Process Improvement and updates. We have around 60 risk assessments when you itemize them to update. Some may view that as a compliance check box or audit check box, however there is a much bigger picture. I am working with departments across the University and having conversations relating to risks and risk levels, data, privacy, security controls and more. These conversations are with University staff and faculty in person as a shared model. I use these opportunities for in person training and awareness regarding data handling and best practices, account management, and cover other threat vectors or privacy concerns relating to University data. Having current documentation is great and gets us a pass on audits, but the larger win is the conversation with departments outside of ITS. Our boundary of security extends beyond the physical University but to our cloud hosted systems as well. I am working with departments to understand, identify, document, and create plan of actions for these systems.

I haven't been with the University long, so I don't have too many under my belt. I think it is safe to say, when the Risk Assessment project is complete, that will be the one I am most proud of. Although, risk assessment is continuous, having a baseline and the education and awareness will lead to more acceptance of a shared model. It's a culture shift.

Security as a shared model. Regulations and threats change, the University environment is in a constant state of flux, it becomes more and more important to have security shared across departments as well as top tiered. There's a saying in ITS, "Security is baked in not bolted on". This becomes truer as Privacy continues to go beyond governance and into ethics, as regulations change, and more solutions or data are moved to the cloud; IT security should be shifting to the start of conversations.

I have my own "Champion" here, but Joanna Gramma as a mentor. I found her through someone on an Educause Slack station. I was asking if anyone had their CIPT. Next thing I knew, Joanna and I had an almost 2-hour call. She has all the certifications I am striving for, experiences, education, and a working mom and wife. She was so down to earth and honest. I appreciated that. She agreed family will sacrifice for work at times and work will sacrifice for family sometimes, that's the integration vs. a balance. She was so refreshing.

Find a champion, male or female, that is in a position or area you would like to see yourself in. This person may have advice or experiences to share that can help guide you and navigate your career here. Read, read a lot, read anything available relating to your new position such as policies, articles, etc. Get on a mailing lists for things relating to your field to keep you current with trends and the conversations. IT is always changing and so is this environment, stay on top of your skills and enhance your skills. Find ways to self-study. Trust me, as a working mom who commutes, you can find time. I find webinars that I listen to during my commute, I receive article updates from certain blogs on threats, etc.

Talk yourself up! You got the job for a reason. Don't be apologetic, own your position and your confidence.

AND... take time off when you need it. Burnout is easy in IT, especially if you have a family at home. As a mom, my job doesn't stop when I'm off, my job just changes. I look at emails at home, etc. so when I need time off, I take it and don't feel guilty about it. It's there for a reason and you'll be more focused and ready when you return. I don't think there is a work-life balance, I think there is a work-life integration. Finding a healthy one is key.



Women + Allies in Tech