Free IEEE-USA September E-Book for Members Shares Career Challenges, Lessons, Passions

By Georgia C. Stelluto

In IEEE-USA’s September free e-book for members, IEEE-USA Women in Engineering, Book 3: Passions Can Sustain You–A Personal Career History, author Sherry Gillespie shares her personal story about her life’s work in science and technology.

Gillespie is a technology management consultant in Washington, D.C. A past IEEE-USA Congressional Fellow, Gillespie provides readers with a look at her career journey:  stints as a high school physics teacher; extraordinary opportunities to lead cross-organizational, as well as international, technology programs; and five years serving on a major industry consortium’s Board of Directors.

An active IEEE-USA volunteer, in this e-book, she also shares her career challenges, and the lessons she learned along the way. “Science is not gender specific,” Gillespie notes, and “Passions can sustain you; priorities can shift.”

Studying Physics and the Humanities

The author decided to pursue a physics career while in high school.  Due to her academic achievements, she received a full scholarship to Vassar College. The liberal arts environment suited her well.  Gillespie took as many math and science classes as she wanted, while also satisfying her need to explore philosophy, music and literature. She explains that by the time she got to graduate school, the curriculum was much harder, and persistence was crucial.  Nevertheless, she found an inner drive to keep pushing forward.  “Such is the nature of passion for science,” she writes.

Gillespie describes an early encounter with IBM (during her undergraduate studies at Vassar) as less than positive… On a class field trip to the IBM plant in Poughkeepsie, she witnessed endless rows of women employees stringing ferrite cores for computer memory, “in what looked like the world’s largest sewing bee!”  However, by the time she arrived at IBM in Vermont for work some years later–things had changed significantly, and IBM had its semiconductor memory well established.


IBM, Engineering and Management

Gillespie’s first assignment at IBM was in engineering reliability.  She took an intensive course sequence in engineering at IBM; in tandem, exploring and finding the physics of semiconductor devices particularly fascinating. Gillespie quickly progressed into a professionally and personally fulfilling engineering position in IBM’s Electron Beam Lithography Group. Along the way, she received IBM’s Technology Innovator Award, and picked up a patent in Electron Beam Lithography.

Gillespie’s fast-track career was off to a great start. After spending several years as an engineer, the company tapped her for management. IBM executives took leading and managing very seriously; and Gillespie embarked on three years of progressive training in “the art of management.”

During this time, she learned that “a hallmark of a good manager is to take pride in the accomplishments of others”; and “As a manager, even in highly technical areas, people skills are just as important as technical skills.”

In September, IEEE-USA is offering this $7.99 e-book, from the award-winning IEEE-USA Women in Engineering series, free to IEEE members only!

From 1 September through 15 October, IEEE members can get their free download by going to:

Log in with your IEEE account, add the book to your cart, and use promo code SEPTFREE17 at checkout.


Georgia C. Stelluto is IEEE-USA’s publishing manager; manager and editor for IEEE-USA E-BOOKS; editor for IEEE-USA Conference Brief; and InFocus department editor for IEEE-USA InSight.

Guest Contributor

IEEE-USA is an organizational unit of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE), created in 1973 to support the career and public policy interests of IEEE’s U.S. members. IEEE-USA is primarily supported by an annual assessment paid by U.S. IEEE Members.

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