Senior IT Specialist
Lula Hester is a senior IT specialist with Wolverine. She has been with the Akima family of companies for 11 years.
Lula Hester grew up in Augusta, Georgia, with one big aspiration: to become a fashion designer. But as so often happens, life changes. When she got married and had a child, Lula traded her dreams of sewing machines for computers and got a degree in computer science. Lula decided to go back to school and earned another degree, this time in electronic engineering—and there was no turning back.
Now one of the most senior employees with Akima, Lula says she still enjoys a career that keeps her on her toes, and she uses her experience from her 40-year career to encourage and advise other women in the tech field.
Back in the early 1980s, one of Lula’s first jobs was as a keypunch operator. She landed at Fort Gordon, Georgia’s Army installation, in an era where automated systems had not yet gone mainstream. It wasn’t until 1987 that Lula was introduced to the IBM mainframe. She had made a trail-blazing decision that would alter her career when she accepted a position in the IT department as a computer operator.
“When I first entered the IT field, it was very challenging yet interesting as a female in that department,” Lula says. But that didn’t stop her. Lula was tasked with running the IBM mainframe system to process work orders and timesheets. “Going from keypunch cards, running them through a card reader and putting them on the tape, and going to a totally different type of new system — that was amazing to me,” Lula says.
Despite the dearth of women as role models in her field, Lula kept pushing forward. “As a single mother it wasn’t easy working a fulltime job and going to school fulltime at night but I was determine to succeed. I’m really driven by wanting to see results, to know that I can accomplish what I set out to accomplish,” she says.
Her rise up the career ladder—from keypunch operator to computer operator to help desk analyst to network administrator to senior IT specialist—was helped by her strong work ethics and a growing list of certifications, such as Security+, Microsoft Windows Configuration, and others required by the government for some of the roles she’s taken on.
Nearly a year into her role at Wolverine, another Akima subsidiary, Lula’s daily tasks consist of providing high level IT support to 163 users and manages 189 workstations in an enterprise infrastructure environment. If the network or a system is down or an application is malfunctioning, Lula springs into action. She also handles the information assurance for Wolverine, training and certifying users to access government systems and makes sure both user and system remain compliant with government policies and regulations. As a telecommunications officer, Lula is also responsible for maintaining the organization’s phone systems.
“There’s always something new to learn in IT, so that’s a challenge that I like,” she says, adding, “I love interacting with people and being able to mitigate their IT issues.”
At this point in her career, Lula has more than enough experience and the hindsight to counsel young women wanting to get into her field. Be determined and persistent while develop strong work ethics, she says, and you can reach whatever goal you set.”