We can’t go halfway through June without another Fēnom employee spotlight! We invite you to get to know Donna Wanczowski, one of our fantastic, self-taught Senior Technical Architects. She architects solutions to meet business requirements, manage day-to-day client activities, provide site maintenance, create technical specification documents, perform code reviews, manage DevOps, and more. Donna is always willing to lend a helping hand whether that is on her projects or mentoring teammates, which we are ever appreciative for!
Where are you located and how did you get connected to Fēnom?
I am in Northport, NY. I came to Fēnom through Chris Liotta (our Director of Technology) because I worked with him at MediaHive and Accenture. He tried to get me to come to Fēnom once or twice before, and I was not interested in working for a startup. But I decided now, if any time, would be the time to try that out and I started at Fēnom in February 2020.
Where did you earn your chops?
I’m completely self-taught in everything computer science. It took me 10 years to get my bachelor’s degree because I had no idea what I wanted to do. Eventually, I got my degree in business, not in computer science. I worked in banking for a while in the IT Department doing data entry-type tasks. While I was taking one HTML class in college, the web person at the bank left and told the leadership I had enough experience to fill in until they found someone. That was it. I knew I found a career that I actually enjoyed, and I went from banking to publishing to eCommerce.
Interestingly enough, I took computer science classes as electives in high school and my teacher at the time suggested I get into the field as it was emerging, especially for females at the time. I had zero interest in doing that, but I often wonder where I would be today had I listened the first time around.
What are the most valuable skills you’ve learned while at Fēnom?
In eCommerce overall, I’ve learned more at Fēnom than in previous companies. Previously, I was focused more on coding and not as worried about the big picture as it pertains to the clients’ businesses, which I now have because of Fēnom.
I have learned a lot more about process and the business side of projects. Dylan Runne (our Managing Partner) gets me pretty involved in requirements and business use cases, not just the nitty gritty of the technical side. David Jockin (our VP of Technology) has also taught me a lot about customer relationships and how to approach interactions with the clients.
What are the trademark traits of a stellar technical architect like you?
- The ability to troubleshoot is the number one thing. Being able to research and Google things (an underrated skill) – you need to check the documentation and run down the path. The simplest of tasks can unfold issues you’d never thought of in scoping or planning, and you need to be able to recoup and move forward with solutions.
- Having a broad understanding of the landscape and all the downstream systems, OMS, PSP, etc. and all the other integrations. I do not do a lot of hands-on coding anymore, but knowing the platform, keeping up with new features in the platform and new functionality are key.
What are some eCommerce, tech trends or products that you’re really excited about?
Omni is big with customer journey experience and marketing. It makes you comprehensively think about a client’s site and how it functions across every single device and platform. I learned a ton about Omni from our project with Leslie’s Pool Supplies. I would also like to learn more about analytics, like Google Analytics 4 coming out soon. It will be beneficial to learn and help drive some site conversion, so clients can get a better view of what is going on on their sites.
I would love to be involved in Headless for Salesforce and am signed up for PWA training in June. I’m really interested to learn some of the other Salesforce cloud products to have a more cohesive knowledge of B2C across service, marketing, and more.
What do you find to be most unique about Fēnom?
I can’t say enough good things about Fēnom, especially because I started one month before the pandemic hit. I am a mother of two who works from home, and I have never felt miserable. They have been very flexible and supportive. Dylan really wants to see everyone succeed and tries to focus on the employees’ well-being. I think our approach to projects is very forward-looking and manageable.
The fact that we’re hiring from all different areas and working so in sync is unique. When people come on, the ramp up is quick, and everyone jumps in together. We are very team-oriented, which can be hard to find.
What’s the next item on your bucket list?
Personally, traveling more. Professionally, getting my MBA.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I would really like to stress that I’m completely self-taught and technology is such an open field for people to learn and grow. This field presents chances to people in a way I think other fields do not. I fell ass backwards into this field, have built an entire career here, and I love it.