Shilla Saebi, operations engineer at Comcast, provides her equation for success with OpenStack.

This post is part of the Women of OpenStack Open Mic Series to spotlight women in various roles within our community, who have helped make OpenStack successful. With each post, we learn more about each woman’s involvement in the community and how they see the future of OpenStack taking shape. If you’d like to be featured, please email [email protected]

Shilla Saebi is an OpenStack operations engineer at Comcast. She has spent over a decade in the tech industry in diverse positions with organizations in the Washington, D.C. area. In the last five years at Comcast, she’s worked on the business class services team as an operations engineer. A true believer in the open-source paradigm, Saebi began contributing to OpenStack in 2013, after the Icehouse summit in Hong Kong. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and spending time with her Goldendoodle, Pixel.

What is your role in the OpenStack community?

I try to contribute to the community as much as I can. I have helped advocate, promote and evangelize OpenStack. I am a core reviewer for documentation and have gotten my hands into several different projects within OpenStack.

Why do you think it’s important for women to get involved with OpenStack?

I think we are all aware that there is a massive gender gap when it comes to women in OpenStack and technology as a whole. Hiring women is absolutely essential and teams that have diverse viewpoints definitely bring strength into an organization.

What obstacles do you think women face when getting involved in the OpenStack community?

For a woman, getting involved with the OpenStack community can be intimidating especially because of the ratio of males to females. Stereotyping seems to be an issue that comes up frequently as well as sexism. There are challenges we face, but I believe they can be turned into positive experiences. You may be the only female working on a project with OpenStack or the only female in the room, but if you start constructing something of substance, you will find that there are countless supporters in the community.

What do you think can help get women more involved with OpenStack?

We discussed this topic at the women of OpenStack working breakfast session in Paris. One of the ways we came up with was through communication. Communicating about future events and the important roles women play in OpenStack and technology is vital. We should encourage women to explore the field and get more involved. Internships and mentoring programs are a great way to grow the number of women in OpenStack. Continued support for the advancement of women with OpenStack will certainly help drive them in.

If you went back in time, what is the most important single piece of advice that you would give to yourself?

This is a tough question! If I were to give my younger self some advice, it would be to do something you are passionate about and put 100 percent into the work you do. If you are passionate about your work, you will succeed and you will stand out way more than you think.

Cover Photo by Kalyan Kanuri // CC BY 2.0