2014 Engineering Leader Under 40: Heather Johnson
Heather Johnson, 39
Interstates Control Systems Inc.
Sioux Center, Iowa
Education: BS Computer Science, Creighton University
Heather Johnson has advanced through many positions at Interstates, including systems analyst, lead control systems developer, and project manager. Today, she is division manager leading a seven-member team. Heather’s situation is unique: her entire Interstates career involves supporting a single client, though company ownership has changed over the years. As the client’s plant personnel changed, her historical knowledge and experience with their systems allowed her to provide continuity. Starting out, Heather’s projects were large and she worked on major portions of code as part of a team. Her role transitioned to smaller projects which she priced, planned, and executed on her own. As the projects she was securing grew larger, Heather needed additional programmers to help her execute them. While at times she misses being in the depths of programming, she has learned to let go of the details to develop and guide others to succeed in their careers.
In Heather’s opinion, keeping a balance between work and family is an important skill to have and to model for children. As a mother of four children ranging in age from 5 to 14, she finds herself working through K’Nex projects with them.
Why choose this career path?
“If a young person is interested in programming and computers, he or she should try some classes to test it out.” Heather always thought she would be involved in a health-related field, but found that her passion is programming and computer science. “If programming is of interest, stick with it because things are always changing and there are always new challenges every day,” said Johnson.