Computer Science Legend Dr. Sue Black On Careers, Recharging, And More

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And you need to know when to pause and recharge your batteries. “I’m not a train that just keeps going,” she says. “Sometimes I wake up with no energy and just slouch in front of the TV all day.”

Black used to give her younger self a hard time whenever she dipped below the level of relentless pursuit. But she came to realize that you come back more focused and productive after giving yourself a break. “I take a morning off, walk up a hill, see a view…just get back some perspective,” she says.

That exercise usually anchors Black to three principles that she now shares with anyone who asks her for career advice. First, surround yourself with people who care about you and what you want to accomplish. Second, work out what part of your job you really enjoy and navigate to doing more of it. Third, when you’re in a difficult period, don’t look too far into the future; instead, tackle things day by day, hour by hour.

Cautious Optimism

Black, as one would expect, is hopeful about social movements that encourage more women to join the technology industry. But she is only cautiously optimistic. “I’ve been at this more than 20 years, and before me, a lot of women were pushing for change,” Black says. “It continues to be slow going.”

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