Spotlight on Commerce: Pamela K. Isom, Director, Office of Application Engineering and Development, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Mar072016

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Pamela K. Isom, Director, Office of Application Engineering and Development in the Office of the Chief Information Officer, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Pamela K. Isom, Director, Office of Application Engineering and Development in the Office of the Chief Information Officer, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to the Open for Business Agenda.

Guest blog post by Pamela K. Isom, Director, Office of Application Engineering and Development in the Office of the Chief Information Officer, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

It is an exciting time to be at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and help lead the development of new software that has an impact on the economy.  Not only are we building next-generation examination systems, we are part of the new engineering culture in the U.S. – one that is customer-centric and where women lead day to day.  Having long ago adopted Agile practices in software development, our engineers are no longer isolated from customers and the needs of the business. Usability and user-centered design are core parts of development here.  We also value learning from our peers in the tech community. That’s why we hold public events and invite engineers from the private and public sectors nationwide to share the very best of what they know works. 

I joined the agency in 2015 from the private sector. I received my undergraduate degree from Chaminade University of Honolulu. Despite wanting to be a psychologist, a mentor encouraged me to take programming classes. After the first class, I knew software development was my passion so I worked as a computer science lab assistant to get experience outside of class. Upon graduation I was honored to receive an offer as a computer programmer for a small firm that developed software for municipalities. This was my first real professional job. Later in my career, I pursued and earned a Masters in Information Systems from Walden University.

I’m also an inventor. One of my patents covers office ergonomics. With my IBM colleagues, I devised an automated way to detect any ergonomic issues in the way a person uses their workstation. The patented software has an algorithm that automatically generates a recommended ergonomic fix when a problem is detected. The focus of my other patents is the strategic side of “Enterprise Architecture”—how the right system architecture in an enterprise can really help solve business problems in the end. 

Anyone who knows me knows that l love problem solving and creating products to resolve business issues. That is in fact how my ergonomics invention came about. I used to dream of things that could be developed to make the world better.

I was drawn to the USPTO because it’s a place that doesn’t just say they want women leaders; women here are leaders, at every level of the organization. As my colleague Jyostna Jame said recently, “Here you can indeed make a difference. It’s rare in one’s career that you get to revamp the systems that fuel economic innovation in the country.”

And at the USPTO, many women not only hold STEM jobs but are technology leaders building software and systems that can transform the business. The USPTO offers flexible work schedules and telework to eligible employees so they can strive to balance work and their personal lives. And there are robust training and mentorship programs so we can always seize opportunities to sharpen our skills.

This is important to me. I am very thankful for the mentors, teachers, and professors who recognized my interest in logic and reasoning and encouraged me to stick with science and technology and to leverage my strengths and establish my own brand. In turn, I encourage my teams to do the same.

Being a mentor is something we all should consider; helping others navigate a career path helps increase the chances that more women will be successful.

Learn more about other women’s stories at the USPTO through it’s All in STEM campaign at www.uspto.gov/allinstem.

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Last updated: 2017-09-20 17:13

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