Mackenzie Britton

How many years have you been in tech?


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

I grew up in a small town in Kansas. Growing up, I was a strong student and really enjoyed school. Right before my junior year of high school I moved to a bigger town and started a new high school. I was involved in Scholars Bowl, Forensics, and Theater. I grew up in a family that valued travel and worldly experience so I was extremely fortunate to travel throughout Europe and Asia through my school years. After gaining a love for places outside Kansas, I decided to move south for college. I attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas and majored in Computer Engineering and Mathematics. In college I was involved in the leadership of an engineering fraternity, Theta Tau as well as an engineering honor society, Tau Beta Pi. Outside of the engineering school I spent time as a resident advisor.

How were you exposed to tech?

I was always interested in computers. My grandma was the first in our family to have a computer in her home and my cousins and I would play games on it. Eventually my dad bought a computer for our home. It was back when AOL charged by the hour and I was allowed one hour per weekend. On top of the insane hourly charge, we lived in a small town in Kansas so we had to dial long distance into AOL. I would scour Teen magazine through the week looking at articles and advertisements writing down URL’s to visit during that precious hour. Eventually my dad announced that our hometown was getting ‘unlimited internet’ and I couldn’t even imagine the freedom that would come with it. As my time on the internet increased, so did my curiosity. I started by creating simple websites on Geocities and eventually took a Visual Basic course during my senior year of high school which was my first experience programming.

Through all of high school I knew what I wanted to study in college. I always felt lucky for that because so many of my classmates had a hard time deciding on a school when they weren’t sure what they would study. I think that deciding early and being passionate about my choice helped my application to college be stronger and stand out more, which contributed to a lot of scholarships that made it possible for me to attend a pricey private school.

What is your current role?

I’m a software engineer at Asynchrony. I’m currently leading a team for the first time.

What is your proudest accomplishment?

Realizing when I needed to take a break from school/work for my own mental state and also recognizing when I was ready to return. In college I withdrew for a semester after my dad suffered very major health problems. A few years later, I took two years off from work after he passed away. Getting back into the work force was scary and hard. Explaining a gap in you resume is difficult, but I kept interviewing until I found a place that was willing to give me a chance.

It’s not always possible to take a break like I did but I was fortunate to have a supportive family that helped me take the time I needed to be in the right frame of mind to continue onwards in my career.

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

When I transferred to the high school I eventually graduated from during my junior year, I was exposed to advanced placement and honors courses for the first time in my life. I was very excited to enroll in them and be challenged. I had friends and family members that doubted my abilities and told me that just because I was near the top of my prior (smaller) school it didn’t mean I could cut it in the new bigger school in the toughest classes. It hurt but my dad was always my champion and he helped me push forward and prove them all wrong.

Sadly that negative mentality followed me to my freshman year in college and I wasn’t confident in my abilities to get through the difficult math required by an engineering degree. I worked hard and wasn’t afraid to seek extra help when I needed it and by the end of my sophomore year I added math as my second major.

What are you learning right now?

Lately I’m learning more and more about project management including forecasting and gathering metrics. Also I’m trying to learn more soft skills in what it takes to successfully lead a team.

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

Deciding to lead a team. I wouldn’t say I’ve conquered the fear yet but I’ve taken steps to lessen the fear. Every time I get positive feedback from my team I feel like I’m on top of the world, but anytime I get constructive feedback I quickly remember how far I still need to grow. I’ve never grown so fast so quickly.

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

Through my whole career I have been given advice to be more assertive. I wish I had been given that advice earlier so that I could have tested out being assertive in an academic environment where I felt safer.

What are your hobbies?

Taking trips over long weekends, attending musicals, learning to knit, playing with my cat, adult coloring, playing board games, video games, obsessively following Tori Amos when she goes on tour, collecting all things purple.

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

I live here because I like to be within driving distance of my family in Kansas and I think the midwest is a friendly place to live. It’s centrally located for travel. I love St Louis for the food, summer festivals, art fairs, theater scene, and company I work for.

Who inspires you?

My dad, always. He’s been gone for years now but I doubt I’ll ever have someone as supportive as he was. He knew when to push me and when to let up and allow me to catch up. He was extraordinarily selfless when it came to me and was willing to do anything to ensure I was happy and headed in the right direction.

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