Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Catherine Malone Habas ’93

Catherine Malone Habas ’93

  • Principal
  • CMH Communications, San Francisco

Since beginning her career in Silicon Valley after her graduation in 1993, Catherine Malone Habas has witnessed the changing role of women in the field of technology. “At that time, few of my female clients were in the executive suite.”

She now counsels many women executives in technology companies. “Diversity, whether it be gender, ethnicity or age, is critical, because with it comes different life experiences.”

Women in technology
In the spirit of the Sit With Me project, the Quarterly is showcasing several alumnae working in the industry. Coming from backgrounds that include a variety of majors and working in a wide range of jobs, from designing Navy destroyers to creating educational software, they illustrate the many opportunities available and the many paths into the field that a liberal arts education offers.

In her work for CMH Communications, a technology-focused public relations firm, Habas partners with companies to create brand identity and develop messages about software that are easily understood. From there, she may pitch a story to the business press, draft a speech for an executive, or establish a meaningful social media presence for a client.

“Public relations encompasses many strategies, and during my 20 years in the field I have been part of the evolution from print to online and social media.”

At Wheaton, Habas majored in international relations with minors in economics and political science. She says her liberal arts education taught her to quickly grasp and digest complex content. “Software designed for business users can be difficult to comprehend, much like the challenging economics classes I took with [Professor of Economics] Gordon Weil,” she says.

Habas is also a big believer in internships. “I held three during my time at Wheaton, and each one allowed me to develop a skill set that I drew from during my early professional years.”

Her most memorable was interning at the office of the late Senator Edward Kennedy in Washington, D.C., during her junior year. “The best thing a college student can do is find work outside the classroom.”

Melissa Namiot ’88

Melissa Namiot '88

  • Systems analyst
  • Fidelity Investments, Smithfield, R.I.

“I fell into a career in technology, and I’m glad I did,” says Melissa Namiot. While working for an educational company in Cambridge, Mass., she was asked to cover for a co-worker in the computer department who was on vacation. “That was my first introduction to technology,” she says.

Namiot discovered that her analytical nature and her strength in learning languages—gleaned from her major in French and international relations—gave her an edge in technology.

Women in technology
In the spirit of the Sit With Me project, the Quarterly is showcasing several alumnae working in the industry. Coming from backgrounds that include a variety of majors and working in a wide range of jobs, from designing Navy destroyers to creating educational software, they illustrate the many opportunities available and the many paths into the field that a liberal arts education offers.

Now, with more than 10 years in the field, she works as a systems analyst with Fidelity Investments. Namiot spends her days troubleshooting technical issues, changing or creating software to meet her organization’s business needs and challenges. “People come to me to solve their problems, and when I can deliver on that it’s very satisfying,” she says.

She’s proud of her success in the field despite her lack of a technology degree. “My career path is more like a labyrinth,” she says. (Her first job out of college was as a recruiter for a French company.) “Being exposed to so many different offerings at Wheaton allowed me to be comfortable with new challenges.”

Sara Nausch ’11

sophomore symposium smile

  • Associate
  • K2 Partnering Solutions, Boston

A sociology and history major at Wheaton, Sara Nausch works in the staffing end of the technology industry, assessing the hiring needs of chief information officers and IT managers and connecting them with talented professionals throughout the United States.

She typically engages with executives when they are implementing a new system or enhancing an existing one. “I have an interesting perspective on the technology industry, because I’m able to see trends on both sides of the table.” She knows what companies are looking for in new hires, and she also understands what job seekers expect from employers.

Women in technology
In the spirit of the Sit With Me project, the Quarterly is showcasing several alumnae working in the industry. Coming from backgrounds that include a variety of majors and working in a wide range of jobs, from designing Navy destroyers to creating educational software, they illustrate the many opportunities available and the many paths into the field that a liberal arts education offers.

“To be successful, you need to listen to your client, develop a plan for implementation, and articulate to your team what needs to be done,” she says.

Although Nausch knows that women excel in this work, it is still a male-dominated industry, she says. “I don’t see many female IT managers and have yet to speak with a female CIO. You must be a trailblazer. Be prepared to be the only female on-site. Relish in that fact and make your voice heard.”

Christina Nelson ’11

Christina Nelson ’11

  • Systems engineer
  • Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems, Portsmouth, R.I.

Christina Nelson is responsible for the software integration and testing on a new class of Navy destroyer. Working for defense contractor Raytheon, she and her team take software from various development groups, put it all together and make sure it works as designed. After integrating all the software, finding problems and testing solutions, she and her team communicate with Navy officials and run tests to make sure the software meets the Navy’s standards.

When she came to Wheaton, she had no experience in computer science and didn’t see herself in a technology career, but that changed the summer after her freshman year. While working on the Lexomics project with Professor of Computer Science Mark LeBlanc, she became “hooked on programming.” (Lexomics is the analysis of the frequency, distribution and arrangement of words in large-scale patterns.)

Women in technology
In the spirit of the Sit With Me project, the Quarterly is showcasing several alumnae working in the industry. Coming from backgrounds that include a variety of majors and working in a wide range of jobs, from designing Navy destroyers to creating educational software, they illustrate the many opportunities available and the many paths into the field that a liberal arts education offers.

“I liked seeing that you could use new methods to solve old problems,” she says. She went on to a major in computer science and mathematics. Professor LeBlanc recommended her for a summer internship at Raytheon, and a full-time position followed.

“My liberal arts education taught me how to problem solve, pulling from different experiences when trying to find a solution,” she says. “Having studied a wide variety of subjects at Wheaton, I feel comfortable taking on tasks that involve more than just a software background.” With less than one year on the job, she was asked to be the primary author on the testing her team performed.