UK Oracle User Group

Maria Colgan

 Maria ColganName: Maria Colgan

Organisation: Oracle

Job Title: Master Product Manager

Tell us about your role in a couple of sentences: 

I'm the Product Manager for the new Oracle Database In-Memory option. My responsibilities include representing the customers voice during the design and implementation of the functionality, building awareness of the new functionality via technical presentations, papers, and blogs, and helping to support our customers as they adopt the new features.

Why did you first get into IT?

I really liked maths and physics at school, so I went to university to do a Science degree thinking I would major in physics. In our first year we had to pick four subjects, so I picked computer science since one of the lads I knew said it would help me with physics. As I progressed through my degree, I had to drop subjects and realised that I actually enjoyed the computer science courses more than anything else, so I ended up majoring in that.

Once I left university, I started working for Oracle in Dublin, where I was a programmer on the IBM OS2 product line. That lasted all of 9 months, as I quickly discovered the writing code at my desk alone all day was not for me.

I got an opportunity to join a new team that was starting up called the Real-World Performance that ran competitive customer benchmarks and did some onsite database tuning engagements. I absolutely loved it! I didn't know I had much of a competitive streak until then, but getting to kick the ass of our competitors was a real joy! I spent 10 years in the performance team and moved to Oracle's HQ during this time to be closer to the developers.

When I got sick of being on the road all of the time, I moved into product management and took on the role of Product Manger for the Oracle Optimizer.

What advice would you give to people, especially women looking for a role in IT? 

When it comes to picking your career, my advise would be pick something you enjoy because you're going to be doing for a long time!

The IT industry isn't just programmers writing code. There's a ton of other aspects to it. Take my role as a Product Manager, which takes a mix of technical skills and people skills, something women have more naturally then men.

Product management isn't the only role like this in the industry either, there are tons of roles that allow folks to tap into both sides of their brain.

So, if you are logical and enjoy understanding how something works, the IT work is definitely for you, even if programming isn't.

Have you encountered any issues with being a woman in IT? 

Overall I would say no. I've been very lucky to be surrounded by strong and encouraging women all my life who never adhered to gender bias. From a very young age I was encouraged to pursue maths and science not because of my gender but because I was good at it.

I chose a career in IT because I enjoyed it, not because of my gender. Throughout my career I have gone after the roles I wanted and have been judged on what I have delivered. I don't believe I have been held back or treated any differently because I'm a woman. Nor have I asked to be treated any differently because I'm a woman. I have never asked for special treatment because of the life choices I have made outside of my career.

Anyone can succeed in an IT career if they are organised, logical and an excellent communicator. 





Download Maria's UKOUG Technology Conference and Exhibition 2014 presentations at

  • Oracle Database In-Memory & the Optimizer

And check out her Oracle blog entries.

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