As a society we tend to focus on titles and roles, and we forget that behind each title there is a person who has a story to tell. And truly every person’s story is unique.
In honor of International Women's day, we interview inspiring women from the community on the story of how they got into Tech, and where they are today.
In this post, I interview Laura Nicolas who is based in Madrid, Spain.
I am a Cloud Solution Architect at Microsoft helping partners across Europe design, build and deliver cloud solutions. My background is in infrastructure, moving from legacy UNIX systems to open source and to now Cloud & automation. I love new, misunderstood, and weird technologies.
When did you first become interested in technology and what sparked this interest?
I think I always had an interest for it. As a child I always enjoyed games that involved logical problem solving and strategy, that evolved into my interests in physics and mathematics. Then as I grew older I realize how I could use solving challenging problems capabilities into programming and computing in general. Also, given the innovation that we have nowadays it becomes a never-ending story: you always face new challenges and explore new solutions to solve them, it cannot get boring when there is so much to explore!
What education do you have?
I studied Telecommunications Engineering at UCAB in Caracas, Venezuela, my hometown. After that took a Master in International Management at IE Business School in Madrid, Spain. As much as I loved tech, I thought it was also important to understand businesses to get an overall view of the challenges they face and align with a business strategy.
Describe your way towards your first job in tech; how did you land this job?
My first job came right after I finished my Masters, it was a tough time due to the recession but I was given the opportunity with one of the Microsoft partners in Spain, called Indra. It's a multinational consulting company operating in a wide range of markets. I was fortunate enough to work in a team that did many different things, so I got to work with many different technologies, markets, solution areas, as well to work for different countries and cultures. I got to learn a lot in my first job, not only because there were many projects but also because I pushed myself to work on as many of them as I could.
Do you have any role models that influenced you?
I'd say my parents and grandparents, although they do not work in tech. They embody what hard work means. Hearing their stories of their struggles to make it in a foreign country, starting from scratch, helped me see what they had do to get to where they are now. They taught me how you need to work for what you want and how all that hard work pays off.
Who were/are your biggest supporters in your career?
First and foremost, my parents. They have not only given me all the tools to get to this point, but also guided me in the right way. They always encouraged me to achieve more and never settle. My husband is also in IT and we get to share that common interest. For many people it might be bringing your work home but for us it is fun, and we challenge one another to get better every day.
Tell us more about your current job – e.g. what do you like most about your role?
What I like most about my role is that I get to do what I like the most every single day: logical problem solving. I get to interact with partners every single day and see how Microsoft's Azure can help them solve those problems building new solutions. Every single day is different, you work with many different partners, different countries, backgrounds and industries so you get to see all that Microsoft has to offer and how it is being used and leveraged in many different ways. Every day I get to learn something new!
What does your typical day look like?
As I mentioned there is not a "typical day". Every day is different from the other. As Cloud Solution Architects we get to help partners in building new practices and help them translate technical requirements into a design architecture. We get to see common partner's business problems and come up with and end-to-end technology solution. Our activities vary, whether it is delivering a webinar, bootcamp or working hand-in-hand with a Microsoft partner. My day-to-day is enabling and building partner’s technical capability, lead technical activities for building solutions, and support them.
What do you do in your free time?
In my free time I like to watch TV shows and movies, especially anything that starts with "based on true events". I also like to travel to the farthest destinations with my husband; just to disconnect and get to experience new cultures.
What advice would you give to women and girls who dream about a career in tech?
If you have a passion for tech and innovation go for it, don't let anyone discourage you or tell you it is not for you! Once you are in an IT role, I'd say don't be afraid to say yes to the most challenging projects, the ones most people would not take and especially when you are young. It will be tough but you will get to learn the most. If you are afraid of something, instead of backing down, go for it (like public speaking). Keep getting out of your comfort zone. It is easy to settle, instead seek new knowledge, soft-skills and technologies, cultivate them and then show it off.