My choice of a career in technology was the result from a combination of personal evolution, the inspiring advancement of information technology, and a knack for math and science. As it is said, “being in the right place, at the right time” leads to challenging opportunities, and that was my personal experience. Initially, I was motivated to pursue engineering by my father and my brother who was already studying electrical engineering; they helped me in visualizing the role I could play. A bachelor’s degree in EE gave me the foundation to later pursue a graduate degree in computer science, followed by joining IBM Research, one of the largest industrial research institutions in the world. It was humbling to start my career by working alongside distinguished scientists and engineers in emerging technologies, on projects that had ambitious innovation goals and sought to have impactful results.
Professional Interests & Drive
I’ve always had a passion for turning ideas and emerging technological advancements into solutions that address challenges and opportunities in the marketplace and society, whether that is creating new user experiences, accelerating the speed of computation, securing critical infrastructure, or maximizing the benefits of 5G networks, to mention just a few. I have been fortunate to be able to apply that passion throughout time in the different domains I have worked, leading to tangible innovations in areas such as parallel computing, mobile computing, cybersecurity, and now the effective deployment of telecommunication networks that are virtualized while getting value of 5G communication networks. As a technology professional, I feel I have been able to contribute towards meaningful advances in the fields.
Mentors & Influencers
Throughout my career, I have been privileged to count on mentors and advisors that believed in my capabilities; even capabilities I had I not yet fully visualized. One of my mentors motivated me to go beyond my expected role and activities, made sure that I was publishing notable work, that I was filing ideas that later would become patents, that I pursued higher certifications to advance my position in the organization, while helping me cultivate relationships. Furthermore, technical executives sponsored my transition into an executive position. Those experiences influenced my career and helped me in becoming a mentor to others.
Mentoring, coaching, and sponsorship are very important to advance the careers of women in technology. Mentoring is about believing that a person has the capabilities to succeed, and about providing the guidance and support that can help a person achieve such success, specially by those in higher positions. I was fortunate to have managers in IBM Research who also acted as mentors and supported my career advancement with opportunities in new domains and with higher responsibilities.
Admired Leaders & Trailblazers
I began my career at IBM Research, where I had the opportunity to interact with Fran Allan, among other successful technical leaders. Fran was a computer scientist and a pioneer in the field of optimizing compilers for parallel computers. She was the first woman to become an IBM Fellow and the first woman to win the Turing Award, just to name a few of her many accolades. Most importantly, she served as a role model for many women in computer science. She was very inspiring to me, as a person and as a technical leader. I have also had the pleasure to work alongside female technical executives in creating and promoting programs for the advancement of women in technology, learning from them on how to secure sponsorship from senior leadership and how to develop graduate programs and training for women. These have been highlights in my career growth throughout the years.
Advancing Gender Parity
The advice I have for other women in the tech industry or considering a job in tech is to be disciplined, be curious, be persistent, and never give up. Pursuing a career in technology requires long hours of studying math and science, which are the fundamentals to technology. At times, these fields may seem overly complex or overwhelming, yet the concepts from these fields provide the principles and structured thinking process needed to analyze difficult problems and devise solutions for them. In addition, curiosity, and desire to continuously learn are fundamental in a field that is constantly evolving, as it is the case with technology.
Leading the Next Generation
The greatest challenge is getting young women to be interested in math, science, and technology, while encouraging and supporting them to remain interested and persist in the field despite the challenges that may arise in their path to success. In the workplace, I believe it is important to provide the opportunities and access to projects and positions where women can develop themselves to their highest potential and demonstrate their contributions.