Name: Alicia Lockaby-Cotter
Drupal.org ID: AliciaBurrito
Location: Boston, MA
Job Title: Web Operations Analyst
In March, we’re celebrating Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day to recognize women who are overcoming barriers and biases to carve new paths to achievement. This year’s International Women theme, Choose to Challenge, encourages us to stand up against gender-based assumptions and share our knowledge and resources with future generations in the push toward equality. The need to build more inclusive spaces for women and other underrepresented groups is part of the Drupal community’s founding principles: everyone has something great to contribute.
In this month’s Women of Drupal feature, I had the pleasure of interviewing Alicia Lockaby-Cotter, Acquia’s Web Operations Analyst, who has spent almost two years building and improving the Drupal experience of Acquia.com. Alicia was a fundamental force in relaunching the brand new Acquia website this year, and completing our successful move from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9. A true tech wizard, Alicia regularly helps Acquia’s marketing team learn the ins-and-outs of Drupal, tests new site features, creates content updates and makes sure every part of Acquia’s web presence is delivering the same exceptional, smooth digital experiences that we promise our customers. Alicia regularly shares her web knowledge with the rest of the marketing team (including me!) by providing clear, valuable training sessions on using Drupal, so that more people can take advantage of what the Drupal community has to offer.
Keep reading to learn how Alicia makes magic happen on her light-up mechanical keyboard. And hear how she believes we can create a more encouraging environment to get women and other underrepresented groups to discover their passion for technology early and nurture that passion into lifelong careers.
How did you get your start in tech?
Growing up, I’ve always been the curious type, pressing every button and trying to break everything I could, and I think my love of technology stems from that curious nature. I really got my start when my parents purchased an iMac G3 in either 1999 or 2000. That opened up an entirely new world that I had never experienced. I got involved with a lot of early online communities at the time, particularly forums that discussed glitches and exploits of my favorite two games at the time — The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. For me, this bridged my new love of technology with video games, and it showed a new side of how the tech worked behind the scenes in my favorite games.
In middle school, I met my now good friend, Marie, who further expanded my interests. She introduced me to hackintoshing, building computers, programming and even my first job. I’m really grateful that I met her as she’s been the largest driving force in my life just in general, but especially when it comes to technology.
How did you first discover Drupal?
I first discovered Drupal when I began an internship at a Drupal-focused web agency (and Acquia partner) called Third and Grove. Marie was interning as a Junior Developer at the time and referred me for the Quality Assurance position. Eventually we were both pulled on full-time and I later transitioned to be a Technical Project Manager to oversee and manage the support clients.
What Drupal function, project or contribution are you working on and/or most proud of?
Easily the most ambitious project that I have worked on has to be Acquia’s new, rebuilt Drupal 9 site. I couldn’t be more grateful to be able to work alongside such an incredible team of developers, designers, and marketers. It took a long concerted effort from everyone, but I think I can say that we’re all proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish.
What inspires you? What keeps you passionate about your work?
The jack-of-all-trades nature of my position keeps my day to day unique and fresh and allows for a lot of creative freedom in how I handle whichever task comes my way. Most importantly, I think just being able to help others and feeling like I can make impactful changes keeps me passionate and motivated.
What are some other aspects of the Drupal community that you're involved in?
I have mostly been involved with Acquia-centric events such as Engage, but I would love to branch out!
How do you think we can help empower women in tech and work toward better gender inclusion?
That’s a really tough question, and I think it’s one where if you ask 10 different women you’d get 10 different answers. Ultimately, I think it comes down to needing to make systemic changes, and to lessen the importance of gender roles on young women and introduce them to technology earlier in life.
I also think a lot of people misunderstand the driving forces behind the inequalities and lack of representation that women face. It is certainly not a black and white situation. Often it's not necessarily led by misogynists or even people acting in bad faith — but generally the apathy to fix the situation or properly acknowledge the very real effects that it has.
A lot of women often feel unheard or pushed away, and it can be frustrating to be told that a very real experience that women face doesn't exist. I really don't want to make it feel like I am singling anyone out, but I think a lot of men are used to society and the systems in place catering to them, and they legitimately don't believe certain inequalities could exist. I have certainly been in that boat when it has come to other social issues in the past, and I think it's important to give men the benefit of the doubt.
We're making a lot of positive progress to be more represented in tech, but there is definitely a long way to go.
What does the future of Drupal look like in your opinion? More adoption, new features, any major changes?
Drupal has been becoming more and more accessible over the years, and I think the advancements of page building tools in particular like Layout Builder or Site Studio will be huge boons to future adoption. If you can get more people hands-on with such intuitive tools, I think you’ll be able to easily convert quite a few people.
What advice would you give your younger self or someone who is just starting out?
I think work/life balance is so incredibly important, and I wish it was something that I took more seriously as I was starting my career. I’ve definitely been burned hard from overworking and taking on more than I could chew.
Don’t be afraid to take it easy if you need to, and I can’t stress enough that you should limit yourself from working overtime even if you think you can manage. You will eventually hit burnout, and that will impact you much more negatively in the long run.
See more Acquians share examples of times they’ve challenged the status quo and overcome challenges in our International Women’s Day 2021 blog post.