Lisa Mata

Dir. of Operations, Office of Admissions and Educational Financing, Columbia University School of General Studies

In my current position as Director of Operations for the Admissions and Educational Financing Office of the School of General Studies, I lead the team that is responsible for the daily operations of the office. In that respect, my team is responsible for the administrative work that takes place in Admissions and Financial Aid. A large part of this responsibility is made possible by the tools we use and for which I am responsible for setting up/maintaining.

How did you get to this point in your career as a woman in tech?

I have been working in Higher Education for the past 32 years, 18 of those have been here at Columbia University. My career started in a Student Finance office back in September of 1986. While there, I tried to learn as much as possible not only about the business of financial aid and student accounts but about the tools that we were using to accomplish needed work. Having shown an interest in gaining all of the knowledge that I could, my supervisor was supportive and encouraged that learning.

When I was hired to work here at Columbia University in the Student Information Systems group, I was given an opportunity to not only use the knowledge that I had gained in my prior work, but also an amazing opportunity to turn my learning in a new direction. I was given the opportunity to learn from some of the best people, the SIS Mainframe programmers. As the liaison between the Columbia Financial Aid users and the SIS programmers, a new world of opportunity and learning was opened and I took every advantage possible to learn.

From your experience, what is one recommendation or action that women in tech should be taking?

Ask questions, be curious, rely on the experts around you and learn what you can from them. We have so many experts around us who are willing to share their knowledge, we should take those opportunities and use them to our advantage.