Meet Mary Primorac

February 10th, 2017

Anyone connected to today’s tech workforce would agree far too few females work in traditional computer science or computer-related fields. Statistics support this observation; in 2015 less than 25 percent of the computing workforce were women. Fewer female techies mean fewer role models for young girls to revere and replicate.

Nextech is on a mission to change this trajectory and inspire more girls to explore tech careers. In December we celebrated three women who have pioneered their own journeys as technologists: Linda Whitehill Norkin (73), retiree; Lindsay Siovaila (29), Lead Solutions Developer at Salesforce; and Becky Phillips (41), co-founder of /Halvsies. Last month we shared more of Lindsay’s journey.

This month we’d like to introduce you to Mary Primorac. A 1965 graduate of DePaul University, Mary spent her career growing from programmer trainee to computer programmer to programmer analyst and eventually an EDI consultant. Her career spanned many businesses, including American Oil Company.

Nextech: Describe your work in technology.
Mary: After graduating from DePaul University in 1965, American Oil Company hired and trained me in computer programming by way of company-sponsored IBM classes in computer usage, COBAL and Assembler Language programming. I primarily wrote programs for the Accounting Department. After promotion to analyst, I designed and developed systems. The technical environment was IBM 7080, IBM 360, OS and COBOL.

I left the tech world to raise a family and returned to the workforce in 1985. Continental Bank hired me as a Financial Information Specialist. Our team managed corporate information, asset, liability and relationship reporting for senior management. I developed new programs and maintained existing systems. The technical environment advanced to IBM 3090 and MVS and still utilized COBAL.

Then in 1995, I accepted a position at McDonald’s Corporation as an EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) consultant. Our team was responsible for eliminating paper invoices between 300 suppliers and 40 distribution centers. Technical knowledge included, EDI, Bar Coding and EFT and the ability to use PC software (Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Access).

Nextech: What inspired you to pursue a tech career?
Mary: I studied mathematics at DePaul. I took a FORTRAN programming course in my last year at college and found it interesting, fun and easy.

Nextech: What did you most enjoy about having a career in tech?
Mary: A career in tech allowed me to be creative and use my problem-solving skills. Technical careers are challenging. I never stopped learning something new. I was never bored. Tech jobs also pay very well and are plentiful, whether working for a corporation or as an independent consultant. I found advancement happened at a fairly fast pace.

Nextech: Any words of advice for young girls interested in a tech career?
Mary: Learn a programming language in school or online and see if you like doing the detailed work. Use LinkedIn and research the skills necessary for the job you want. Look at job descriptions and requirements and develop those skills. Also, research other types of tech careers besides programming, such as sales, marketing and technical writing.

Be sure to check out the blog in the coming weeks as we celebrate our next female tech pioneer: Janet Kark Tindall. You won’t want to miss her expert tips—such as “remember, if guys can do it, so can YOU!”—for pursuing a tech career.

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