Faculty Recognition – Interview with Donna Hoffman

Faculty Recognition – Interview with Donna Hoffman

I am Donna Hoffman, a technical specialist in Database Architecture, Data Analytics, Business Intelligence and Data Warehouse solutions.  I hold a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and a Master of Science in Computer Information Systems with database certifications in Oracle and Microsoft technologies. I have been an online instructor for 14 years and enjoy collaboration, knowledge sharing and mentoring.  I hold a B.S. in Computer Science with a M.S. in Computer Information Systems and database certifications in Oracle and Microsoft technologies. 

Morgan: Donna, thank you for agreeing to be interviewed for the STC (School of Technology and Computing) Thursday Byte. Let us start off by telling us about your career path that brought you to where you are today.  

Donna: I graduated from a HBCU, Jackson State University with a B.S. in Computer Science with a Math minor. At that point, I only knew that I was intrigued by computers but not sure of a specific area. My search of employment led me to work in Houston, TX, San Diego then later Newport Beach, California. In Newport Beach, I was hired as a Computer Programmer by a healthcare company to be a part of a team to design and deliver their very first Data Warehouse. This is where I found my passion and love for data and database management systems. Through training, conferences, and incredibly good fortune, I met Dr. E.F. Codd, Claudia Imhoff (with Bill Inman’s Prism Solutions), and the person and instructor who formed my passion, in the art and science of Dimensional Data Modeling and Data Analytics, Ralph Kimball. After that, it was not going back to mainframe computers and ISAM files! 😊 

From California, I was recruited by a commercial software company in Austin, TX that led me to designing, deploying, and leading Data Warehouse solutions for Commercial Software, Computer Manufacturing and Healthcare companies, Law Enforcement and Universities in the private and public sector for the next 20 years! 

Morgan: What is one thing you wish you had known when you began your career?  

Donna: How important Mathematics is in the world. I would have paid more attention! 😊 And, I wish I had known the importance of investing in soft skills and learning how to build the confidence needed for public speaking or negotiating skills. The “Gift of Gab” can be quite the advantage sometimes. 

Morgan: How do you continue to learn to stay on top of things within your current role/area of expertise?  

Donna: I am a big proponent of relationship building, networking and collaborative organizations. I attain certifications, attend training courses, and participate in technical forums to ensure I remain current. I have lifetime colleagues that have become trusted friends that I collaborate with and still study with. Most importantly, I teach. You never truly learn a subject matter until you teach it. My mother taught me that, as a former Advanced Math teacher for 40 years. 😊 

Morgan: What are some of the things you are researching and/or learning right now?  

Donna: I am learning how to incorporate Data Analytic solutions into the Electrical Utility industry. A big part of having a specialty is understanding how to apply it in its most useful way in a domain, business, or industry. I am also slowly evolving into data security and the necessary controls needed to minimize data breaches. I started my studies and have an outstanding goal to complete my CISA exam. 

Morgan: We hear about success, but it is more powerful for our readers to hear you talk about your biggest failure (which I prefer to call biggest lesson); can you tell us about your ‘biggest lesson,’ and what you learned from it?  

Donna: My biggest lesson is to be Proactive and not Reactive. Always prepare.  Preparation gives you the confidence to work efficiently, deliver and communicate effectively. For example, I had a terrible fear of public speaking and interviewing for a job gave me the worst anxiety. I focused on “what if” scenarios and embarrassment instead of preparation and knowing the subject matter. I try to use this lesson in every aspect of my life and believe in it. In short, if you are Proactive, you minimize being Reactive and operating in firefighting mode. This minimizes critical mistakes. 

Morgan: What advice would you give someone wanting to pursue a career like yours?  

Donna: Be A Sponge. Find someone who is deeply knowledgeable in your field of study and learn from them.  Never stop learning and always have a learning attitude. When you stop learning, you stop growing. Lastly, stay hands-on. It keeps you current in your field. 

Morgan: Great advice! What are the best resources that have helped you along the way?  

Donna: Training classes and specialty certifications. Choose an area of expertise and become an expert in it. I am a believer in technical certifications because it requires you to build a foundation in the areas of a subject matter that you may never have used in your day-to-day work duties. My database certification studies gave me technical solutions to consider in my daily work problems and many of them I could use. I never would have considered those ideas had I not known about them through studying for the certification exam. 

Morgan: What is the one common myth about your profession or field that you want to debunk?  

Donna:Information Technologist (IT) are NOT all poor communicators, and many are very sociable. There are many types of IT personalities, and you just must get to know them. 

Morgan: What have you read or listened to recently that inspired you?   

Donna: World Travel Magazines and Smooth Jazz Music. I love music to relax and set my moods and I strive to learn about international cultures. Some of my favorite places are the Caribbean, Japan and I travel to Belize annually. 

Morgan: Where can our students connect with you online?  

Donna:LinkedIn or University Email or Personal Email and professional forums for Oracle, Microsoft, or Business Intelligence. I am not much of a social media person, but I am regularly active on LinkedIn. 

Morgan: Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed