This installment of Behind the Click features Sophia Marnell, owner and president of Washington D.C.-based Alexton, a software development, network configuration, and system administration company, all under the IT umbrella. Her clients include NASA, just to name one. Not bad, huh? Sophia also participates in some special philanthropic activities as well — and, she’s a veteran! Read on to get the full scoop.
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Madame Noire: I read in your bio that you attended Maine Maritime Academy. Not your average school! How did you decide upon that institution?
Sophia Marnell: Deciding to go to Maine Maritime seemed like a standard next step to get guidance to becoming a mechanical engineer. My father was a Master Sergeant in the US Air Force, career military, and was stationed in Maine. I love the structure, organization, and challenge of attending the school. However, at 17, we are naive on how the world really works, and must learn valuable lessons to build the steps to success. Being the only African-American girl was challenging and it made me adapt to an environment that I was not accustomed to. I realized that hard work and humor was the key to making it through many things.
MN: So it seems you acquired your interest in IT prior to college. How did it come about? I read that you are a veteran — our first as a profile! Did you work somehow in IT while serving?
SM: I was in the Army Intelligence Corp as an intelligence analyst. Being in the Army as an analyst gave me the opportunity to work with high level technology systems and solutions that most people dream about. With knowledge gained from my college courses and an interest in the emerging technology scene, IT became a good fit quite quickly. As a veteran, you have to make hard choices as to where you go next, while remembering all the things you learned. By using my analyzing expertise and technology, it soon became my mission to create and develop IT solutions as a career.
MN: Your earlier positions after school were at places like the the State Department and NASA. Tell me more about what you did.
SM: Government contracting looked to be a promising career. With my background and plenty of agencies looking for good people, the Washington metropolitan area became my home. I worked as a IT consultant developing and creating solutions for identified problems in various aspects of the government spaces such as software, financial, trend analysis, or career development.
Technology was moving quickly, and I worked my full-time job during the day and studied emerging technologies at night while trying to be the best wife and mother I could. I was very lucky to have a strong family support that helped me to get to the next level and understood that at times I was off my game! I tried to keep up with the changes knowing that information technology was going to change the way the government operated. I wanted to be a part of and lead that change.