Professional Development

How I Got Here: How Octaria’s Matthew Lowinger says anxiety and imposter syndrome can help find the human behind the tech

Lowinger spoke to his experience about building a career while moving through anxiety, founding a nonprofit and finding the right path.

Matt Lowinger.

(Courtesy photo)

While a student at Towson University in Maryland, project manager Matthew Lowinger had to flip through a few different majors to find the right one. He began in finance and switched to economics, but things still didn’t feel quite right. Then, he had an epiphany.

“Every single Friday, I used to sit on the couch, eat sushi and watch ‘Shark Tank,'” the Tysons Corner, Virginia-based Lowinger told Technical.ly. “So, why not do this entrepreneurship track?”

Lowinger, now a product manager and team lead at Octaria Software Development, didn’t quite end up going the founder route that was inspired by the hit show, though. After graduating, he took a role as operations coordinator for ByteLion in Baltimore, Maryland. After a promotion, he moved on to a software product specialist post at InVita Healthcare Technologies.

As he moved through his different roles — particularly the ones that involved pitching and other types of public speaking — he struggled with a constant source of anxiety: a stutter, something he’s dealt with his whole life.

“It was a big challenge for me, given my anxiety, sometimes even just speaking with people with my stutter,” Lowinger said. “So representing companies, giving sales pitches, and talking to customers about their issues or bugs or whatever — it really pushed me out of my comfort zone.”

In these earlier roles, Lowinger said that imposter syndrome felt very real and it was difficult to keep pushing through and growing in his roles. In the back of his mind, he was wondering whether or not the person he was speaking with would be judgemental, not pick his company for the gig or even speak to his supervisor in the wake of the pitch.

But through this experience, the one thing he was truly passionate about was getting others excited about their ideas and what they wanted to build, which is how he landed in product management. And with the help of some great mentors (and his speech therapy methods such as deep breathing), he was able to push through and even gained a promotion at Octaria.

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While he was at Towson, Lowinger said he also found his attraction to “entrepreneurship,” or the idea that you can carry an entrepreneurial mindset into any number of roles, including at existing companies. The idea led him to cofound Innov8MD, a nonprofit that connects entrepreneurial students from local universities. With the nonprofit, which hosts a conference for students, he hoped to help those who were student founders and needed some extra support.

Something that really helped him move past the anxiety, Lowinger said, was remembering that there are others out there to help. At the end of the day, while he’s working with technology, there’s still a human behind the tech.

And for those in the conference rooms, he hopes they remember that just because someone doesn’t speak much or appears anxious, it doesn’t mean they don’t have good, helpful ideas to contribute. In fact, Lowinger thinks they often have the best ideas.

“Just because you’re anxious, it shouldn’t limit your growth of who you want to be,” Lowinger said. “It shouldn’t limit who you want to talk to and who you want to network with because, at the end of the day, technology and entrepreneurship are humanizing. So, we’re all humans, always remember that.”

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