The Bridge - Issue 1, 2021 - 25

Professional Profile

Susan K. " Kathy " Land
2021 IEEE President
Eta Chapter
Susan K. (Kathy) Land is a Program Manager for the U.S.
Department of Defense's Missile Defense Agency. She
has more than 30 years of industry experience in the
application of software engineering methodologies, the
management of information systems, and leadership of
software development teams.
Kathy served as the 2018 Vice President, IEEE Technical
Activities. She also served two additional terms on the
IEEE Board of Directors as Division VIII Director/Delegate
in 2011 and 2012 and as Division V Director/Delegate
in 2014 and 2015. She was President of the IEEE
Computer Society in 2009. Kathy was a member of the
IEEE-USA Board of
Directors in 2013
and 2016.
Kathy has been an
active member of
the IEEE Standards
Association for
more than 20 years
and served as the Computer Society Vice President for
Standards in 2004. She was the recipient of the 2007
IEEE Standards Medallion.
An IEEE Fellow, and Professional member of IEEEHKN, Kathy is the author and co-author of a number of
texts and publications supporting software engineering
principles and the practical application of software
process methodologies. She is an IEEE Computer
Society Richard E. Merwin Award recipient.

Professional Profile

What inspired you to choose your career field?

What do you love about your career?

My professional background is a bit different from most
of HKN members inducted as students. My induction
into HKN was as a professional member later in my
career. It is important for people to understand that
IEEE brings together, and welcomes to membership,
not only engineers, but also technologists from
the fields of computer sciences and information
technology, physical science, biological and medical
science, mathematics, technical communications,
education, management and law and policy.

Like many working in the field of Computing, my
success is based on my ability. What I love most about
my career field is that it is not about what is on the
'outside' but what is on the 'inside' that counts. If you
are in a room full of people and you have the best
technical idea that is what is important. It is that simple.
Our message to those considering technical careers
should be that technology allows individuals (regardless
of their color, gender, or nationality) to express their
intellect and allows them to be evaluated on their
performance; that working in technology is the great
equalizer. We should tell kids, who have an aptitude
for the sciences, that a career in technology is a career
where they will be in high demand and where they will
never lack for opportunities. We should also emphasize
that jobs in technical fields will provide for lifelong
learning, excitement and satisfaction. That these jobs
never become routine or boring. This is where IEEE
and HKN come in, providing career assistance and
life-long mentoring.

When I started college in the 1980s, presenting an
obvious aptitude in math and science, I was not
encouraged to pursue engineering or science. In fact,
the University of Georgia Department of Computer
Science was established the year I graduated, in 1984.
When I entered the work force it was the 'wild, wild,
west' of computing. It was the advent of personal
computing and team programming and the challenge
was to keep up with an evolving and constantly
changing technical landscape. It was an exciting and
wonderful time to be a woman in technology, as
opportunity was abundant.
The computer science landscape for women in the
1960s and 1970s was vastly different from that of
the 1980s. The pioneers of women in computing, the
true groundbreakers, were regarded as second-class
citizens, not receiving full credit for their contributions.
Given the legacy of women in computer science, the
biggest question for me personally was 'Why?' 'Why
the field of computer science?' This was a new field,
and I knew no one-male or female-in this field. In
addition, the examples of women in early computing
were not very attractive. My answer, is that in the
1980s and 1990s, employers were willing and able
to hire anyone, regardless of gender who understood
computing technology. Employers understood that
this new and growing field was critical to their future
success and they were willing to hire based upon
performance-rather than academic pedigree. I went
into Computer Science, because of the equitable
opportunities available and what looked like a
promising career.

Best advice for new graduates...
To pay attention to your soft skills. There is a joke, 'How
can you tell if an engineer is an extrovert?'... 'They look
at your shoes when they are speaking to you.' Most
programmers and engineers are introverts preferring
to focus on their 'inner worlds.' Interpersonal soft skills
are important because they help us develop and
foster strong working relationships; they contribute to
increasing team and organizational productivity, and are
particularly important when working in fast-paced or
constantly changing technical work environments.
Recent data I found backs this up: 72 percent of CEOs
believe that soft skills are more important to the success
of their business than hard skills. Some 94 percent of
recruiters believe that soft skills outweigh experience
and 94 percent of recruiting professionals believe
that an employee with stronger soft skills has a better
chance of promotion to a leadership position (than
an employee with more years of experience but with
weaker soft skills).

that simple. Employers recognize when you bring the
excellence of IEEE and HKN into their organization. I
would encourage recent graduates to stay engaged
with IEEE. Sometimes it is hard to find opportunities for
engagement. The IEEE Young Professionals launched
a web portal last year to help with these connections,
visit the site at to explore and find an
opportunity where you might connect.
Do you have any final parting words for our
IEEE-HKN readers?
Today, within IEEE and HKN their missions and purpose
are broader than what those originally conceived.
IEEE's mission 'to advance technology for humanity'
requires embracing these broader technology fields
and individuals during all stages of their technology
development. HKN's has grown from that original
mission of helping engineering graduates find
employment and gain footholds in their careers to
the addition of assisting its members throughout
their lives in becoming better professionals as well as
better citizens. I am proud to be a member of IEEE
and HKN. As a member of HKN I am inspired when I
see this purpose put into action by the peer advising,
exam prep, mentoring and tutoring programs, and
programming activities at each one of the over 260
HKN chapters across the globe.
When each of us took the HKN pledge, we promised
to live up to the principles of IEEE-Eta Kappa Nu and
to bind ourselves to the faithful observance of these
promises. I would like to encourage each of you,
particularly during these challenging times. Remember
how special you are. Remain steadfast and committed
to the goals you set and do not waiver, we will all move
forward together toward a brighter future. By belonging
to IEEE and HKN, you are building character and
enhancing the meaning of your life.
In closing, I found a great quote by Jim George:
" Serving Others Prepares you to Lead Others "

This is where graduates should leverage IEEE and
HKN. I can tell you, without question, that the technical
information, leadership experience and mentorship I
gained through my volunteer activities with IEEE placed
me in front of my work colleagues. I was promoted
earlier, got better assignments, and better raises. It is


The Bridge - Issue 1, 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Bridge - Issue 1, 2021

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