Every month we ask one individual in our network a few questions about their way into tech, their motivation and their lessons learned.
Let’s start from the beginning. Tell us about where you’re from!
I was born in the U.S. in the sunshine state of Florida to a Puerto Rican mother and a Swiss father. When I was four years old we moved to Switzerland and I’ve lived here ever since.
What valuable advice did you get from your parents?
My mom always reminded me of how important it is to be a good student and work hard. And she’s living proof of that this formula works. She grew up in poverty with not much to look forward to. But being an excellent student and always willing to stick her nose into books, she received a scholarship for college and earned a degree in accounting. She later went on to work as an accountant for large firms and international banks. I believe that her example shaped me significantly.
How did you become interested in tech?
When I was around nine years old, my father purchased his first computer. The previous owner had installed the game Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Action Game. I was instantly hooked! I loved to spend hours in front of the computer. My best friend was also a gamer, so we would spend quite some time playing the game together. When the time came to decide what I wanted to do after high school, I initially wanted to do an IT apprenticeship but at that time, only boys were doing so. So, instead, I decided to do my education as an office clerk because that was what most girls did and I wanted to fit in. But my interest in tech never faded and in my early 20’s, I started working as a software and hardware supporter for the Toshiba Notebook Service Center, which was owned by a friend of my husband. Working at the Toshiba Notebook Service Center taught me a lot about how software and hardware work together as I would answer the calls and emails of the customers who were having technical problems with their devices. In the end, I did get into tech!
What aspects of your work are you proudest of?
I officially joined the Master21 team in January 2019 as the Lead Teacher for all of our coding courses and events. My job gives me the opportunity to combine two things I’m very passionate about: tech and teaching. I simply love it when our students grasp for the first time technically complex concepts that they’ve always heard of but never understood. Especially having women tell me that after visiting our course they feel more confident in their job is very rewarding. Just the other day one of our alumna told me that she felt more respected by her male colleagues and is actually thinking of transitioning into a more technical role. Such feedback is great news because we definitely need more women in tech!
What drives you at work?
The challenge of explaining complex, technical things so that anyone can grasp them and understand how this new knowledge can benefit them. I’m constantly refining our teaching resources and striving to better cater to the needs of our students.
What has been your toughest challenge you faced while working in tech?
Back when I was an IT project manager at a large corporate company, some of my male colleagues thought of me as “a cute girl that knows nothing about tech.” To hear that open discrimination was quite hard. I think that’s why I’m so keen on helping other women in tech because I want them to succeed. Their male colleagues might not see their potential, but I do. And if I was capable of standing my ground, then they can too!
What advice would you give other women in tech?
Let’s share our knowledge and experiences together and show young women and girls that tech is a wonderful thing and that they are more than welcome to join our community.