From Historian to Program Manager: Capsulator Cynthia Burke

Cynthia Burke is a Program Manager at Capsule8. She gets projects across the finish line-collaborating across the company with engineers, product managers, marketing, and the executive team to keep things on track and deliver value to our customers.

She joined Capsule8 about a year and a half ago, with a background that includes a long stint in program management at a professional services firm and IT experience in the early days at an internet service provider.  

But her journey isn’t typical. In college, she got a BA and then an MA in history A liberal-arts major in technology? You bet—and Cynthia has a strong feeling about that.

If you’re old enough to remember the mid-1990s, you’ll know they were extraordinary times. The dot-com boom was on. Technology startups were everywhere. Everyone wanted to get online and lots of companies were jumping into the game. Cynthia wanted to be in the action.

“My first kind of real ‘IT’ job was working as tech support on the launch of AT&T WorldNet, which was one of the first commercial internet service providers,” she says. “And I moved into working with Unix—actually, AIX. We were doing something at AT&T that no one had ever done before.” It was a crazy time, and they needed to hire a lot of people in a short time.

“We had to quickly ramp up, and, because of my background, everyone asked me, ‘How do we find this workforce? What do we look for?’ And I said, ‘Look for liberal arts majors who are bright and actually interested in this field.’ Less than a year later, the team had grown from 17 to 300+. And I was the lead trainer.”

That experience at WorldNet was a springboard for a career that led her to a number of fascinating IT positions over the years. But things were about to change.

“I made a conscious choice in 2009 that I didn’t want to be the kid who stayed up all night coding. And with technology changing so fast, I decided to focus on what I knew I did well and that was manage projects and manage programs.” So that’s when she shifted to program management.

“I went to a hedge fund to work as an IT project manager. It was a 50-person company, with 10 people in IT and 10 engineers. They all worked on their own and I started team-building as part of my program management duties. We were building high-frequency trading systems; options market making systems and in house options pricing engines. ”

Armed with deep fintech experience, Cynthia moved to Phoenix, Arizona to consult with a bank on implementing compliance controls across all IT disciplines. Cynthia spent all of her waking hours developing a three-year IT strategy for all the IT disciplines and whipped the bank into shape.

But, much as she liked life in the desert, she wanted to head back east. So she landed at KPMG’s International Audit division. 

So, what attracted her to Capsule8—which ended up being her fourth startup? 

“It reminded me of those early days at WorldNet. I knew Capsule8 was doing something that had never been done before.” Cynthia says her experience at the hedge fund and KPMG prepared her for the challenges Capsule8 presented.

“It was an exciting opportunity to start a program management discipline at such an important time for the company. And since I joined the team, we’ve moved from a collection of individual contributors to a cohesive team with a common goal in mind.”

Over that relatively short time at Capsule8, things have changed a lot.

“Releases used to be event-driven. But as we’ve built sales, we’ve all become more programmatic about releases. And right now, I am focused on getting our next release out the door.  John and the leadership team have done an amazing job focusing on bringing in quality people, into every facet of the organization. I feel incredibly lucky about that every day. It is a wonderful team.”

Outside of work, Cynthia is an avid gardener. “Gardening has always been a huge part of my life. I am lucky enough to have a 600 square foot garden. Tending that garden can feel like a second job. It has a mature plum tree, cherry tree, and roses. It’s really beautiful—my happy place.”

At Capsule8, our place is made happier with Cynthia on the team.

Are you interested in joining the Capsule8 team? You can check out our open listings on the Capsule8 Careers page!

Hear more from Cynthia in a live CNCF member webinar tomorrow!

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