IT Skills Set Stage for Diverse Career Options

A journey through Abbott's IT professional development program.

IT Skills Set Stage for Diverse Career Options
Reaching Your Potential | May 28, 2021

Technology careers have evolved at a speed, depth and impact that has inspired students at all levels to pursue degrees in the computer sciences. Students who want to create the next breakthrough technology and be a part of innovative enterprises should consider an IT career in healthcare.

Donna Vu, senior IT business analyst, and Miguel Carrazza, emerging technology specialist, started as Abbott college interns, before earning spots in the IT professional development program (PDP), consisting of four six-month rotations across different businesses.

Growing up in a small Kansas town, Vu felt certain she would become a doctor. She took science classes in middle school and high school, volunteered at the local hospital and later worked in an urgent care center.

Donna Vu, Senior Business Systems Analyst
Donna Vu, Senior Business Systems Analyst

"I fell in love with healthcare and the opportunity to provide critical services that improved the life and the health of people," she said.

Vu started as a pre-med major at the University of Notre Dame. But as she explored business-related electives, she discovered new interests and strengths that prompted her to switch her major to business administration IT management. One example is a class that exposed her to the increasing use of wearable technology and its ability to help people and healthcare professionals use data to improve and inform lifestyle decisions, such as how and when people eat, sleep or exercise.

Vu wanted to apply her business and marketing skills in a healthcare- and technology-focused industry for her internship.

"Coming to Abbott was a perfect pathway for me," she said.

PDP Rotations Give Fuller View
The PDP was Vu's next step, and her four IT rotations over the course of two years cemented her passion for healthcare technology as she gained insights across multiple aspects of IT at Abbott.

"Although you might be working in a specific function or focus like cybersecurity, you still need to know quality processes," said Vu, whose job is based in Abbott Park, Illinois. "You can only learn so much in six months, but the exposure to the different processes, businesses and functions you are supporting or partnering with provides a great foundation for future success and learning."

Vu received that exposure during an IT business relationship management rotation with Abbott's vascular team in California. Vu helped with the rollout of a tool that gave the sales team easy access to marketing collateral and training materials.

Abbott developed, reviewed and approved materials internally. The IT team, using a third-party program, made the materials available through an app that the sales team could access on mobile devices. This helped during training discussions with healthcare professionals.

After completing her PDP program, Vu now supports business relationship tools for Abbott's global marketing team. It's critical for her to understand the importance of data integrity and data privacy of technologies that are available to do reporting, tracking and surveying on such projects as Abbott's annual sustainability report. She also has worked on the company's COVID-19 testing efforts, particularly the NAVICA app that pairs with Abbott's COVID-19 antigen test, and she "loved it."

Inspiration for IT Innovation
Carrazza, who graduated from DePaul University, credits his internship in Abbott's diagnostic business and his time in the PDP for helping him discover and explore his passion for user experience (UX).

Carrazza's internship gave him the opportunity to help design an app aimed at making it easier to donate blood. His PDP experience included time with the global IT team and nutrition business and led him to his current role working in emerging technology, said Carrazza, a trumpet player who started as a music major and enjoys blending the technical aspects of his work with his creative side to solve problems.

A key challenge for Carrazza during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 was virtually training members of Abbott's rapid diagnostics team to work on coronavirus tests. He used Microsoft HoloLens, a mixed-reality technology device, sensors and holograms, to train in virtual face-to-face sessions.

Carrazza received his first glimpse of IT's possibilities while in the PDP, and the variety continues in his current role.

"Depending on where you're working, you may not get to interact with every part of Abbott's business, but we (in IT) have the opportunity to go anywhere in the company and work with any product, and that keeps things new and fresh. It also keeps us really connected to what Abbott does, and that feeds into the pride that we have," Carrazza said.

A Closer Look at Leadership
Carrazza, who was born in and grew up in Venezuela, said he appreciated learning from executives about how Abbott's purpose includes helping people who may not have the same kind of access to healthcare as he does in the U.S. When he learned more about Abbott's investments in sustainability, he knew he was at the right place.

"It meant a lot to me, and I wanted to work in a place where leaders thought and worked like that," Carrazza said.

Vu also enjoys the intersection her IT role has with the company's purpose – helping people live their healthiest lives.

"Although I support global marketing, I'm constantly working on other projects and opportunities that arise across the business," she said.

Someday, Vu said she wants to manage an IT product's development because she enjoys understanding the end-to-end customer experience: the need, how it's fulfilled and how it's supported.

Both Vu and Carrazza say it's fulfilling to use their IT skills to positively affect people's health and well-being. Abbott products and services touch people's health experiences in many ways, from infant nutritional products to diabetes care to medical devices.

"And that, to me, is very inspiring," Vu said.