AN INTERVIEW WITH

Alaina Church

Engineer  |  Atlanta, Georgia

AN INTERVIEW WITH

Alaina Church

Electrical Engineer  |  Atlanta, Georgia

Could you begin with a brief overview of your background and journey to NCR?

I’m an electrical engineer. I went to Georgia Tech, and I’m from Atlanta, Georgia.

I wanted to learn more about computers, so Georgia Tech seemed like the obvious place. Starting my second year, I had a friend who interned at NCR and recommended the internship program to me. After sending in my resume and interviewing, I was hired on to complete a co-op until I graduated. Fast forward, I’ve been here for four years now.

What would you say is your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part is truly the moment you release the product—when you’re done with all of the various revisions and testing is completed.

When considering how widely used our terminals are going to be, globally, it is moderately anxiety-inducing, but incredibly exciting.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Due to the nature of technology and human error, customers are very likely to find a way to break things.

It’s a double edged sword because on one hand it makes the job the most interesting because new issues arise that expand and test our knowledge, but it also can be very stressful, especially when it’s on a tight timeline. 99% of the time, we figure it out and find a solution, but it can get stressful working through that space.

When you get stuck on a problem, how do you navigate that space—what do you do when you get stuck?

I’ve actually found a place I go to in the headquarters when I need a breather if I’m feeling stuck.

It’s a quiet, outdoor side garden with expansive trees and plants that have grown up. It's nice to sit outside for a little bit to destress and focus on my breathing for a moment before tackling the problem again.

I know that you are part of United, one of NCR‘s business resource groups and I would love to hear an overview of what that is and what organizational changes are you driving through this?

United is our business resource group for LGBTQIA+ employees at NCR.

In the past couple of years, there has been a bigger spotlight on acceptance and embracing who people are and who they want to be. That’s also the change we are hoping to make. For such a long time, it went from being something you had to hide, to being acknowledged but not spoken about. And now we’re finally moving into a phase of being able to celebrate every individual for how they authentically live their lives, being exactly who they are. NCR is and was a great place to work, but there’s always that last step of truly enjoying and celebrating everyone’s individuality, rather than just bypassing it.

“For such a long time, it went from being something you had to hide, to being acknowledged but not spoken about. And now we’re finally moving into a phase of being able to celebrate every individual for how they authentically live their lives, being exactly who they are.”

What is the most common misconception you hear about engineers and how do you feel about it?

Well, obviously the biggest misconception we all have about engineers is that they are the dorks who live in the basement, don’t know how to talk to people and hate the idea of windows and light. But here at NCR especially, we are not just a research company where everyone is siloed out to work with their head down.

At NCR, we are interfacing with customers, working with project management and making products that are exciting to sell because they will change the world. So OK, the dork part is still true, but all of us take a lot of time and effort to actually break down these advanced concepts to make them understandable to everybody because everybody can understand it— it just requires some good teachers.

For students entering this industry, what advice would you give them?

So I would say I went through the same process. I started out as an intern and eventually worked my way into full-time.

What I would say is just be excited to learn. At the time, school can feel like such an ordeal and you come out of it feeling as if you know so much about everything. Truly however, the concepts behind your classes and the actual doing or application of these concepts, is completely different. So, outside of knowing and understanding the fundamental concepts, everything will be taught on the job. You’re going to be helped through it by your teammates and managers. That’s one of the reasons I took this job—I was working with an amazing team of engineers that were so smart, experienced and taught me so much. Here, I felt like I could truly learn something and not be just another face in a huge crowd.

“Here, I felt like I could truly learn something and not be just another face in a huge crowd.”

Outside of work, what are you most often doing or where are we most likely to find you?

To me, there’s absolutely nothing better than a nice glass of wine, a book and sitting outside with the birds in the sun.

Just being in nature with the wind in the leaves, it’s great and so calming to me.