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Barbara Cain ('83)

Alumna Barbara Cain

Barbara Taylor Cain 
Vice President, Miklos Systems, Inc.
Class of ’83

I have been very fortunate to use my computer science skills in diverse ways over the past 30+ years. I started out as a software developer for a large contractor in the Washington, D.C. area building custom applications for the Federal Government. Eventually, I moved into project management and then business management for a global software vendor. Each step of the way, I was able to build upon the foundation I received at Virginia Tech.

For the past 15 years, I have been the Vice President of Operations for Miklos Systems, Inc. (MSI). MSI is a small employee-owned company that provides the flexibility to grow both my technical and business management skills. On a daily basis, I work directly with our customers building custom applications to support their mission. This hands-on experience and knowledge of the customers’ priorities contributes to our company growth.

Personally, I live in Berryville Virginia about an hour outside of Washington, D.C. in the beautiful foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. My husband and I have 40+ acres and enjoy listening to music and spending time outdoors with our family and friends.

 How did the department equip you for the ‘real world’…

During my senior year, I had a year-long course where we built a custom application for the Virginia Tech Extension Agency. This course was the closest experience to what the real world would be like. We split into small teams of seven to eight people and I ended up being co-team lead. We were responsible for building a pesticide tracking system with a custom-made database. The course culminated with a live demonstration to the customer in the spring. The biggest learning experience was figuring out how to use the diverse skills of the team in order to get to a successful end product. I also learned that going without sleep for a week to meet the  final deadline takes a long time to recover.

 Being a Virginia Tech alumna means…

For me, it means to never stop learning in both my professional and personal life. That as well as Go Hokies!

My fondest memory from the time in the department is…

Hands down, McBryde computer lab. I remember many long nights working in McBryde with midnight raids for fast food. One of the virtues of studying computer science, before the advent of laptops, is that you had to go to the lab to do all of your programs. There was a great sense of camaraderie in the lab and there was always someone to help out when you got stuck.  

Qualities of a good leader/manager in tech are…

The best leaders that I have had are the ones that have a sense of dedication and concern for the people on their team. They take the time to mentor, to provide the resources needed, and to jump in to help when needed.  

My advice for women just getting started in computer science is…

Don’t be intimidated. Although computer science has been a predominantly male field, I have been fortunate to have worked with diverse teams and have had both male and female mentors.  We need to get past the archaic gender stereotypes by encouraging people to be the best they can be and appreciating everyone for the expertise they bring to the workforce.