“Do yourself and the world a favor – learn as much as you can to make an informed decision. You may discover you have strengths and passions you did not know existed.”
Financial Analyst, Ivana Miranda, never shies away from telling the honest truth: “I spent a lifetime running from math!”
Growing up with an aerospace engineer as a father, and a mother who insisted that she was placed in a Talented & Gifted Program with advanced classes in Math and Science, she was highly intimidated by numbers and just never felt that math was her calling.
“I discovered that it was not my inability to do math that hindered me, but my need to understand the entire process from beginning to end -- without shortcuts-- before I felt confident,” says Ivana. “I wanted to write out all of the steps long-hand instead of learning a quicker way to complete the process.”
Shortcuts, she says, felt like cheating. “I am not a quick thinker by nature, but I am a calculated one.” She ended up sidestepping a STEM high school and college – choosing instead a path in performing arts -- but that just wasn’t the right career fit.
In general, Ivana says, she likes things in life to ‘add up.’ And when her artistic aspirations did not, she took a leap of faith into finance and accounting…and has never looked back.
Her favorite areas of math are Algebra and Business Math. “Creating budgets, filing my own taxes and implementing control procedures have been means of crisis management and self-improvement for me, personally.”
Ivana, now an M.B.A., manages most of the financial aspects of one of USPTO’s most popular and widely-used benefits programs for the agency’s nationwide employee workforce: the transportation subsidy program. When you consider that USPTO’s headquarters is nestled within a metropolitan area whose claim to fame is being at the very top of U.S. cities with the worst place for traffic congestion, it’s a safe bet that thousands of agency employees are eager to use public transportation to get to and from the office.
Since she joined USPTO’s Chief Financial Office in 2014, her work to ensure that eligible employees receive the right amount of benefits based on the current statutory limits and fares negotiated with each transit provider is thorough and meticulous. The part she loves most about her job is that her work is customer-focused.
“I was drawn to this position because of the customer service component, but I quickly found out that the success or failure of the program highly depends on quantitative means,” she says. “I would not be able to complete my job without Math and an Excel spreadsheet.”
Most importantly, Ivana adds, she knows her work with the public transportation program ensures that USPTO employees can get to work on time and back home to be with their families safely.
Math is not only her career, it’s her passion. Ivana serves as PTA Treasurer and has been the Treasurer for ResponsAbility-one of USPTO’s Affinity Groups for several years.
Her advice to women in STEM with an emphasis on the “M”?
“Tracking progress, eliminating unnecessary variables, focusing on proving or disproving a hypothesis will come in handy almost every day. Math is not something that you run from…it is a lifeline. It is your foundation for almost everything else you do in life: from buying groceries, to purchasing your first home, to planning a vacation or even a wedding. A scientific process will save you time and energy in almost every endeavor.”
And that is the honest truth.