Mary Jo McClelland Mueller

Version 2
How many years have you been in tech?

31 years

Tell me about your background. What were your early years like?

I have always been interested in science and technology. I followed the Moon missions and Space Shuttle launches. I stole my father’s Erector set and played with it. Earned monies for chemistry and biology lab sets and worked on them in the basement of our house. My early years were hard. No one in my family was geeky like me and my school friends were not either. I felt very very alone. Science was an escape, the promise of a place where I fit in. I took all of the science classes I could in high school and devoured technical magazines in the library. I applied to and was accepted to engineering school. It was the first time in my life that I felt that I belonged.

How were you exposed to tech?

Tech was everywhere: rocket launches, moon missions, Star Trek reruns. It was in magazines and movies. I was also fortunate to live next door to a man who had been in the Signal Corps in WWII who told me about their exploits.

What is your current role?

Senior Quality Advocate at Asynchrony Labs

What is your proudest accomplishment?

While working for the Department of Defense, I gave briefings at McDill Air Force Base and at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C., about a piece of hardware I had worked on. I had graduated from engineering school with a bachelor’s of science in Electrical Engineering and a minor in Psychology. I then took a job with the Department of Defense in Maryland designing communication devices. I was the only woman on the engineering team and the team was very supportive to all members, including myself.

“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” Tell us about a time that this applied to you.

When I was a senior in high school, I talked to a boy in my Physics class about my future plans. I told him that I was going to pursue a degree in Electrical Engineering. He told me I couldn’t do that. When I asked him why, since I had already been accepted in an engineering school, he informed me that women didn’t have the brain power necessary for higher math. I leaned in, close to him, and said two words “Watch me.”

What are you learning right now?

Cybersecurity and applying it to mobile applications

Describe a time where you solved a problem in a creative way. For example, did something in your personal life trigger a solution to a problem at work?

Lately, I have been working on a presentation for QA’s about security and testing mobile applications on Android device. The presentation kept getting longer and longer as I found more and more to discuss. At the same time I was creating the presentation, I was jotting down suggestions on what to look for/avoid for myself. When I was done, I had a very large, unwieldy presentation and a concise checklist. I archived the presentation, and presented the checklist. It was a hit.

What was the last fear that you faced? How did you feel after you conquered it?

The last fear I faced was involving feedback. Our company thrives on constant feedback on how we do our jobs as well as how we interact with others. I am very uncomfortable with others telling me how I am doing because I don’t like to be wrong or appear dumb. Asking for feedback is hard, I feel like I am asking to be put on the spot. Fortunately, at Asynchrony Labs, everyone asks for feedback and learns how to offer constructive not critical feedback. I am feeling better about feedback but it is an ongoing struggle for me.

What advice do you wish someone had given to you? What advice would you give to others starting out?

I wish someone had told me not to sweat changing jobs or fields, that it is more important to follow your star than the corporate ladder. I would tell a new techie to believe in yourself. To take what others tell them with a grain of salt, to understand that many people are self centered and narrow minded and cannot comprehend how their words can hurt.

What are your hobbies?

Lampworking, Kumihimo braiding, Jewelry making, Mideastern dancing

What do you like about St. Louis? The midwest? Why do you live here?

I like the friendliness of St Louis and the Midwest. I like that you can find affordable housing, fuel, and food here as well as culture and sports. I love Cardinals baseball and the Missouri Botanical Gardens. My family has lived in this region since it was owned by Spain and it is home.

Who inspires you?

Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill – people who succeeded in the face of depression and anxiety, the countless women who have worked in science and technology and never gotten credit for it, and to the wonderful women at Asynchrony Labs who support me and make me smile

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