Founder and President, European Program Manager
Workshop4Me a.s.b.l, Montrium
What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I always loved technology and computers. When I started in Standard 9 with GW Basic, I thought it was so cool to make a program do what I want and print such cool computer printed cards using a dot matrix printer – it’s funny but back in the day that was cool! I did my professional diploma in software technology and systems management at the same time as my Bachelor of Commerce in Accountancy Honors as I could do the course quite effortlessly and also ended up getting scholarships on the computer course based on my grades.
When I graduated with my Bachelor of Commerce and Software diploma at the same time, the software institute offered me to do another semester that included internship working on a real life software project at a company. It was an opportunity to earn back the amount i had spent on the 2 year program within the year. It sounded like a great thing to work on a real software project that a company will use. Also, the opportunity to repay my Dad for the course was enticing. That’s what got me into a software profession. I loved the 24 hours 7 days a week project to help a securities and stock brokerage company go from manual to computerization. After that I just kept going. It has been 21 years and it has been an exciting journey.
What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
Lots of cool projects over the period of 21 years. Will mention three :
- Client satisfaction – It was wonderful to help a courier company bring the Track and trace feature on the package which was quite unique at the time. It was great to see all the courier companies quickly bring in that feature into their website soon after.
- Corporate Social responsibility – As part of IBM, it was great to work on the Computer Literacy project for under privileged youth in order to get them into jobs, bring more girls into technology through the Women in Technology K-12 program. This experience helped me to co-found and run a non-profit organization Workshop4Me.
- Managing a custom software development project to manage logistics for a life sciences company that was finding a unique cancer cure using blood transfusion. This project was very special since it showed me how lines of code and managing the project was directly impacting the lives of human beings.
Role models and heroes:
Have been fortunate to have several heroes and role models…they are not all necessarily known world over. My Dad who always encouraged me to do the best in what I choose to do. When I said I wanted to sit for the Chartered Accountancy exam because all my friends were doing it and I would just give it a shot and not necessarily put my best to it, he said, if I wanted to do something I should put my entire focus and effort on it, or else not go for it at all. I did my software course instead as I told him I was more interested in that. This focus helped me to succeed.
Several colleagues from work have been role models showing that it is possible to be a wife, daughter, mother and STEMinist at the same time. It is important to “see it and then be it.”
Why do you loving working in STEM?
It gives me an opportunity to create, build, share and see the fruits of labor within a short period of time. The problem solving in order to make something better is exciting. Workshop4Me, through which we inspire the pre-teens and teens to take up coding in order to move from being ‘consumer’ using technology to ‘creator’ using technology is fun. The joy on the faces of the 7-16 year olds when they make something happen using code is rewarding. Getting to see how stuff works and sharing it with others is heart warming.
Advice for future STEMinists?
Give it a shot! You might enjoy it more than you think. Try to learn something new as often as you can. Just because you have not done it before does not mean you cannot do it now. Be curious and do not be scared of opening up something to figure out how it works even if you will not be able to put it back together. Ask questions. Speak up. Don’t worry too much about what people will think or say ; just do your thing. Time is the most valuable resource you have. Decide wisely what you want to do with it. Do not follow anyone’s advice, do what feels right to you!
Favorite website or app:Google, Workshop4Me.org, MIT Technology Review, Fortune, Time, MIT Open courseware Nightsky, compass, Google maps