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 Monica Beate Tvedt, who is based in Oslo, Norway.
My name is Monica Beate Tvedt, Head of .NET Development at Sopra Steria, entering a new role as Partner & Director of Technology. I'm also the owner of the Scandinavian Microsoft Developer Community at Sopra Steria and organizer of Oslo Xamarin Meetup.
I was a keynote speaker at this year's Women in Tech Summit, where I talked about my journey from being a single mom with no education, to where I am today, a hands-on technology director, doing what I love - trying to encourage more women into tech.
As programming is my greatest passion, I strive to contribute back to the development community by giving tech talks and hands-on workshops. Next up is the Global AI on Tour 2020 the 4th of April at Microsoft Oslo, where we will teach you more about Azure's AI and Machine learning services.
When did you first become interested in technology and what sparked this interest?
I’ve always been very visual. Growing up, I loved solving number-, pattern- and logical problems, at the same time spending a lot of time drawing cartoon characters, as I was fascinated by Walt Disney and how they drew each frame to animate a given gesture.
Being a kid from the 80s, I also play a lot of video games (Atari, Nintendo), again fascinated by the animation, the logic, and graphics used. When we then got our first computer it was only a matter of time before I created my first website showcasing my drawing and animation skills. Programming enabled me to do what I loved the most, solving both logical problems and being creative in designing user interfaces. There’s really nothing quite like it...
What education do you have?
Computer Engineering - Software development.
Describe your way towards your first job in tech; how did you land this job?
I started out as a freelancer in 2001 before I took my engineering degree. I created websites for family and friends, and asked local companies if they needed help going digital. It was literally a door-to-door job, often being rejected, but every time I didn't, I made sure my work was added to my online portfolio, building my brand.
I then started volunteering as a teacher assistant in multiple engineering subjects and one day I was asked to do an interview for a school paper where I talked about my passion for software development. I did the interview and later I got a phone call from a company who had read my story, asking if I would come work for them. Which I did.
This is why I cannot stress enough the importance of showcasing your work and your passions, as this has been the recipe for almost every one of my job offers ever since.
Do you have any role models that influenced you?
Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. I loved them when I was growing up - their mindset, their business acumen and what they achieved. I was, and still am, in absolute awe of their accomplishments...
Who were/are the biggest supporters in your career?
It has been a somewhat lonely journey, being a woman in the tech industry. But time has changed and today I’m very thankful for the enormous support I get from the Oslo tech community, and the people I work with day to day.
I would especially like to mention Eirik Lie, Kjetil Kværne, and Hilde Solberg Holm, who have all made their impact and let their support be known, each in their own way. They're hard-working and talented individuals, bringing out the best in others - it really is all about having the right mindset!
My two beautiful children have also been a huge motivation, making me work even harder trying to achieve my goals.
What does your typical day look like?
Lately, I’ve been working on a project for Kværner, where we developed a new mobile app at the same time as running our .NET departments at Sopra Steria.
A typical day running our .NET departments will start with me checking our department's current productive billable rate, noting any planned deviations preparing for next month's business review, going through our department's profit and loss.
Then off to meetings about the relocation of resources, bids, and new leads. Throughout the day I follow up with my consultants, making sure they thrive at work, answering any questions they may have. Depending on my main focus of the day, I’m spending the rest of the day either planning our next community meetup with our community leads, preparing slides for a department meeting, taking actions on my department's current strategy, interviewing .NET developers or advising our customers on what to do next.
When working as a developer at Kværner, the day is quite different, starting with us fetching a cup of coffee or opening a can of Monster Energy, catching up during our daily stand-up and then just enjoying ourselves coding all day, making awesome apps. Working Lean in autonomous teams using Azure DevOps, building our apps using .NET Core, Xamarin and Azure, all while getting continuous feedback from our pilot users.
What do you do in your free time?
I’ll proudly admit I’m mostly at my computer: programming, learning new things or playing chess at chess.com, often simultaneously while watching a movie. There is no shortcut in this business, so you need to put in the hours and most importantly not feel guilty for doing so or feel the need to apologize for it. Do what you love and do more of it. When my laptop finally runs out of battery - it may happen - I enjoy playing tennis, eating out or going skiing.
What advice will you give to women and girls who dream about a career in tech?
Start building your brand today. Document your journey both for your own motivation and for future employers to see. Do more volunteering work for the Tech community and say yes more often, but only if it will add real value to your CV. If you get an opportunity but you’re not sure how or if you can do it, say yes. You will learn as you go, but the opportunity may not come again.
Remember that you have all the cards, so try to play them well. There are too few software developers out there so the world is yours if you take the time and effort to become really good at it.
There are not that many women in Tech, so if you are ever in the need of advice, are stuck programming a school assignment or at work, just give me a shout on SoMe and we’ll try to solve it together. I would love to help in any way I can, so do not hesitate to reach out!