Honoring Women in Tech, wherever they are! Vera Pereira is our Americas' Head of Delivery and in this special interview you can learn a little bit more about her journey in the IT market and at Do iT Lean
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself
I was born and raised in Lisbon but spent a lot of time in Viseu, where my family is from. I've studied Computer Science and Business Management at ISCTE in Lisbon. I started my career 14 years ago, as a Business Analyst, in a very competitive company - Capgemini. That hard and demanding start gave me skills that, allied with my many years of experience, made me a very strong and energetic woman who works with passion and feels a profound connection to my company, Do iT Lean. My drive is to lead the organization forward, every single day.
2. What influenced you to pursue a career in IT?
I have to admit that my career in IT began by accident. I chose this path because it included Business Management. The first year was a big shock for me as in high school I was in the science area and suddenly I was hearing about Java, C++ and so on. But, somehow, I found it very interesting and didn’t want to quit. During my last year in college, I started an internship at Capgemini. That experience helped me better understand what my professional life would be and how the IT industry - software specifically - works and I immediately fell in love. I found it very inspiring what people can do when given a computer and the knowledge to code. Software can make people’s lives easier, it can make their work more productive and it can connect people all over the world. It’s a big motivation for me to get to be part of an industry of problem solvers, idea-dreamers and virtual builders that help customers improve their business.
3. What is it like to be a Woman in Tech?
I was lucky to work in companies with a good culture that never treated me differently because I am a woman. I have been given incredible opportunities to grow. However, it’s important to remember that the tech industry is still a male-dominated space. Women need to be confident and don’t allow themselves to be intimidated by a room full of men.
4. What would you consider to be the biggest challenges and stereotypes? And the best parts?
With men comprising a high percentage of those in the tech space, it can be difficult as a woman trying to compete. Unfortunately, I often see women not being confident or underestimating their skills. I read one report that showed that women in computer science with eight years of programming experience are as confident in their skills as their male peers with zero to one year of programming experience. This is pretty scary… Women in tech need to train themselves to be extra confident and use direct language instead of using passive language as “being taken seriously” is often pointed as their number one challenge. Another challenge that I think it’s important to refer to is the ability to maintain a good work/life balance as this is a global industry and your customers and colleagues might be in totally different time zones. Last but not least, the fact that technology is an especially fast-paced career is also challenging. We have to make learning part of our commitment and keep up with the industry trends. And the best part of it? For me, definitely having the opportunity to make a positive impact on Do iT Lean, our customers and in this industry. I also believe that a flexible work environment, great compensation and opportunities for growth are major perks of working in tech.
5. Do you think that you changed, not only as a professional but also personally since you started working in IT? Especially at Do iT Lean.
Yes, I’ve changed a lot both personally and professionally! Since almost half of my career has been at Do iT Lean, and my responsibilities here have changed a lot over time, I have definitely experienced change here. I strongly believe that I’m a much better professional and human being now than I was before joining this amazing company.
6. Who are your biggest role models? How did they influence who you are?
To be honest, my parents have been my biggest source of inspiration in my life. They are an example of hard work and dedication. They taught me all my core values that I continue to use every single day. At Do iT Lean, I work with three great professionals that challenge me every single day: Frederico Ferreira (CEO), Pedro Delgado (CTO) and Mike Jones (General Manager, Americas). Also, because we are talking about women, I have two that I particularly admire: Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and former VP at Google, and Oprah Winfrey.
7. What advice would you give to women considering technology as her career?
The same one that I’ve received: If you want something you don't have, you have to do something you've never done. Every time that I changed my job role and responsibilities I was completely out of my comfort zone. Be prepared to challenge yourself, to do things that you don’t know how to do and to work hard to change who you are today to who you wanna be tomorrow.
8. How did this state of quarantine influence your work and the interaction between you and your team?
Do iT Lean has 4 offices in Portugal so a part of my team is actually not in the same office as me. Also, our focus is on the North American market so our customers are not located in Portugal. This means that remote work is already a big part of what I do on a daily basis. We use remote video conferencing tools like Zoom and Skype and we often choose to make calls rather than sending emails. Obviously that, as the coronavirus continues to spread, we’ve encouraged our employees to work from home. This is a whole new situation as working from home can be a bit more of a challenge. I’ve implemented some measures to help my team cope and thrive:
- Scheduled regular facetime meetings to ensure that no one feels disconnected or isolated
- Provide regular feedback to each team member, and encourage them to do the same. It helps everyone stay in sync with the team objectives
- And, do my best to support every single team member with a calm and positive attitude
9. What are your future goals and ambitions?
My long-term goals involve growing at Do iT Lean by helping take the company to the next level and contribute as much value as possible. By doing this I will continue to learn, take on additional responsibilities and gain additional experience. In order to do that, as short term goals, I am focused on encouraging the professional development of my team. I work with around 80 people and it’s very important for us as a company that they have the tools they need to be successful. To achieve this I’m working on defining the onboarding and training processes, performance reviews, coach them in our delivery process and try to give them the right projects to make them grow.