Interview by Angela Dannhorn
Every month we ask one individual in our network a few questions about their way into tech, their motivation and their lessons learned.
Hi Silva, let’s start from the beginning. Tell us where you’re from!
I have had an interesting journey across the world. I was born in Tirana, Albania and moved to New Jersey with my family when I was 11 years old. I consider myself essentially American. But after having lived two years in sunny San Francisco before moving to Zurich, I would say California is home, or the “place where I’m from”.
What valuable advice did you get from your parents?
As any child of immigrant parents in the US, the number one lesson taught to us as kids was to work hard and study hard. I was always surrounded by books and I understood the importance of knowledge and education as the key to my future.
How did you become interested in tech?
Completely by coincidence when I found a position as a client partner at Ginetta, a web design agency. I worked in the art and design world in NYC and San Francisco before coming to Zurich. My exposure to the tech world before Zurich was only through all the people I got to know in the Bay Area. My husband is a computational physicists and once secretly signed me up for online coding classes. I learned quickly that I wasn’t cut out for coding, but I realize now that my love for working with people can serve as a good bridge to the tech community.
What aspects of your work are you proudest of?
I feel I can very easily connect with people and I want to be someone that others feel good around. If I’m successful at that, then that’s what I’m most proud of.
What drives you at work?
The drive to do excellent work. I don’t like the word perfectionist as I think it has an element of “obsession” in it, but I do strive for excellence. I want to inspire those around me to also not take any shortcuts and always do a thorough and good job. Of course this doesn’t mean that you should take months to get a small task done!
What has been your toughest challenge you faced while working in tech?
Not being able to always speak the tech lingo during discussions. It’s very intimidating to enter the tech world and not have a detailed understanding of the technical topics being discussed. But this gets easier and easier over time and you learn that simply asking questions can be extremely rewarding.
What advice would you give other women in tech?
Learn! Learn as much as you can. It’s obvious that men are the majority in this field and I truly believe that only surpassing them in knowledge can bring us closer to equal representation.