Maria found her career in tech starting with no previous experience but has since found her professional calling. Moving from project to account management, she tells us more about her experience of getting into the tech world and the advice she would have given to herself when she first started her tech journey.
how did you get into your role in tech?
I got into it straight after university: I worked in Lloyds Bank for a couple of years, and I was supposed to go into the management track after graduating, but I was ready for a change and a different challenge. I was putting out a lot of application forms for a bunch of different things and a Shopify agency reached out to me to interview for a project manager role, which I'd never considered before. So, I thought, “why not?”.
They offered me a role fairly quickly. I came in with no experience, no contacts whatsoever and now I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I always wanted to get into tech - I was really interested in the scientific side. But I just didn't know how I would get into tech without any connections or a background in it. So as soon as they reached out to me, I knew that was my step in, and I just took it.
I was a project manager, but as I said, I had no background or training as I did economics in university. I then progressed to being an account manager which was a mix of many different aspects. When I joined Statement, I wanted to focus more on the account management side of things and that’s where I’m at now.
tell us about a highlight of your career so far.
This is quite general, but I think the fact that I've tapped into the rich ecosystem of knowledge with Shopify because I hadn’t heard of Shopify before, and I didn't know anything about it. Now that I'm involved in this circle, it’s very exciting for me because there are different avenues I could take and I could even explore different career paths if I wanted to. Now I’ve built this knowledge of Shopify, I can continue to build on it.
why do you think tech has ended up with a reputation of a male-dominated career path?
I think it's because traditionally when somebody would say tech, people would assume it's more data-driven, and women tend to be known as the gender that has more soft skills such as relationship building. It’s hard because I feel like women are seen as being less assertive. But when we are being assertive, we're seen as being more emotional and tough to navigate. I think that's why this awareness is so important to shed light on women's experiences.
Plus, lots of businesses have been going online recently. I think this has given a rise to the requirements for people with softer skills such as service skills and client-facing skills. So, I think that’s where the shift has become more prominent, but it is still a male-dominated field, especially on the data and development side.
There are definitely more women in tech now, like we even have women in tech events which we didn’t use to. I'm Filipino and I don't know any other Filipinos from my circle that work in tech or are even interested in tech. So, I feel like I didn't have any examples to follow when I jumped in, so I was just taking it as it comes.
what advice you would give to a woman who’s thinking about a career in tech?
I feel like a lot of people say networking is important, and I agree, but I didn't have a network of people. From my point of view, I think the main thing is to have faith in your abilities and be confident in yourself. There are so many different things that you could get into if you find the right agency or the right business to work within. They appreciate the fact that you have the right skills and the right characteristics, and then you can build from that point.
You can't be taught innate characteristics that you're born with, but you can learn to be a designer, you can learn to be a developer, you can learn to be a project manager.
On my first day when I joined, we were actually discussing the topic of women in tech, and I’d never experienced that before. I've seen threads on LinkedIn and read it about it, but I have never been in a room with women having a conversation about it and that made me feel really empowered and a lot more confident in myself.
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