How an Economist Became a Business Architect

A twenty-year networking and IT veteran discusses where the industry is headed and offers advice on how to get started in a technology career.

Cynthia Harvey

September 10, 2018

2 Min Read
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Denise Donohue currently works as a business architect for NetCraftsmen. She spends her days advising clients how to find the right technological solutions to meet their business needs.

But she didn't set out to have a career in IT.

“I actually started out as an economist,” Donohue explained. As part of her job then, she regularly used computers to run tests, and she soon became the go-to person that everyone asked for help when they had trouble with technology. “It turned out I liked computers more than I liked economics,” she laughed.

Her love for computers stuck, and after taking some time off to raise her family, Donohoe has worked full-time in IT for more than 20 years. On her LinkedIn profile, she wrote, “Over my career, I have designed networks and data centers for enterprises of all sizes, including an entire country. I'm passionate about the power of technology to transform organizations and vice versa. This is particularly true in healthcare, which has been my recent focus.”

(Image: Olivier Le Moal/Shutterstock)

Donohue is a Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert — Routing and Switching, and a Cisco Certified Business Value Practitioner. And she literally wrote the book on networking, having authored or co-authored twelve Cisco Press books, including “The Art of Network Architecture: Business-Driven Design,” several CCNP Quick Reference Guides, “CCNP Routing and Switching v2.0 Exam Practice Pack,” and “Cisco Voice Gateways and Gatekeepers.” In addition, she frequently speaks at industry events.

When asked about what in technology excites her today, Donohue said, “So much is happening in tech right now. So many things that we saw the beginnings of a long time ago are now coming to fruition.”

She noted that “technology has become an integral part of our lives,” and she is particularly interested in the ways that tech can improve people’s lives, especially in the healthcare field.

She is also very interested in automation. She said that today’s networks and infrastructure have an incredible level of complexity. “Creating solutions to deal with that complexity is exciting,” she added.

Advice for the Next Generation

In response to a question about her advice for people just beginning their careers, Donohue noted that IT is really a huge field with a lot of different specialties.

“Find the thing that turns you on and learn it really well,” she said. “Then expand once you’ve got the basics.”

In particular, Donohue recommended that new IT professionals might want to consider adding business skills to their capabilities. She herself works closely with both business-side and technology-side professionals.

Donohue concluded with a few words of encouragement and inspiration. "If I can do it, anybody can do it," she said. "It really is such a wonderful, fascinating field.

You can follow Denise Donohue on Twitter @LadyNetwkr.

About the Author(s)

Cynthia Harvey


Cynthia Harvey is a freelance writer and editor based in the Detroit area. She has been covering the technology industry for more than fifteen years.

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