This week's we spoke to Information Technology Director April Sargent, CSPO. She has been with SVP since June 2020 and is responsible for supporting and protecting SVP hospitals by providing technology improvements.
Tell us about your career journey. How did you get to where you are now?
My Information Technology career began while working in the Circulation Department of the Birmingham News. Six years into my 12 years there, I was approached by our new CIO, who wanted to know how I had turned my Circulation Management role into a fledgling developer one through self-study to solve a problem for my team. Because our system was outdated, our Circulation Marketing team was having a difficult time tracking and understanding how to reach our long-term readers. I taught myself COBOL (a 1980’s programming language) to extract data from our old system and move it into SQL, modernizing our data structure. The success of the project led the CIO to recruit me into the IT department, where I was fortunate to work with five IT professionals who were generous with their expertise and time. These five men (and one female CIO) gave me the confidence and tools I needed to move away from Operations and into Information Technology. Their guidance and leadership was the true launching point for my career.
I moved to EBSCO Industries in 2014 as a Business Analyst, and was promoted within six months to Application Management, leading a team of five rock stars who supported over 120 applications as well as our internal ticketing system. From there, I was given the opportunity to become a Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) and to use my love of problem solving to help our teams become and remain efficient with service delivery. In 2018, I was promoted to Director of Infrastructure Services, and served a team of 23 Technology Professionals worldwide. It was a great honor to receive the Leader of the Year award that same year, which was voted on by all of Information Technology, and an even bigger one to be part of such a cohesive and talented team.
How has SVP been instrumental to your development?
Southern Veterinary Partners has given me the opportunity to build an incredible team and to further develop my leadership skills. SVP IT’s vision is to improve the hospital experience through implementing processes and scalable technology. Our Service Desk, System Administrators, Project Coordinators, Engineers, Architects, and Leaders work incredibly hard to bring that vision to light, and each teammate is vital to our team’s success. I was also given the chance to be part of a Leadership Cohort at SVP, allowing me to build relationships with the many talented leaders at SVP who I learn from every day. Additionally, SVP afforded me the opportunity to join and serve as Member Co-Chair for Alabama CIO, which provides networking and learning opportunities with other technology leaders in Birmingham.
As a woman leader in a predominantly male-led industry, what impact do you hope to leave?
What is most important to me is to do my part in diversifying Information Technology and closing the opportunity divide. To that end, I started a volunteer group of women and minority IT Professionals who donate their time - providing interview prep and holding mock interviews for those just starting out in IT. Through Alabama CIO, I was given the honor of speaking to students of the YearUp talent development program in Atlanta, to offer advice and support for young adults interested in technology careers.
What are your tips for maintaining your health and well-being as a working professional?
Surrounding yourself with people that challenge and inspire you. Remember that you are taking time from your loved ones for work, not the other way around, so treat time as the commodity that it is.
What is your advice to other women looking to join the veterinary industry in a role similar to yours?
Know your worth and advocate for yourself. Find a network of like-minded female professionals and use every interaction as a learning and growth opportunity. Once you are in a place of influence, GIVE BACK and pay it forward to other trailblazing women in your industry.
Name a woman who has served as an inspiration in your life and why.
I have been inspired by many, and my number one inspiration is my daughter, Abbey. She was a 2020 high school graduate, and the way that she navigated the difficulties of an isolated last year of high school was nothing short of amazing. She will be graduating this year from UAB with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and her drive to serve and help others shines through in all that she does. Every difficult decision I make, I think of her and how she would respond with grace and love. Every challenge I work through, I aim to do so in a way she will be proud of. I want to do everything I can to make the future for her generation of women a better one.