Hi, Could you introduce yourself?
I'm Zura, a Software Engineer from Mexico. I’ve been working in the past 6 years for startups in Latin America, some of them on FinTech and RiskTech products. Since 2017 I’ve being a “business” nomad: networking and traveling for work around different cities in Latin America. I’m actually self-taught, never enrolled in an university, but was always experimenting with computers since I was a kid (had a Linux phase before coding and everything). I started my first business when I was 17 (a tattoo shop in Mexico City), it didn’t work out and after some months figuring out what to do next, I rediscovered my fascination for computers playing around with code to make art. Computer Science is something I enjoy reading about on my free time, so I’ve been complementing my learnings from work with my own experiments and readings.
What are you working on?
I'm building a startup that’s still in stealth mode. This new project was the perfect pretext to research more about innovation ecosystems in emerging economies, so I’ve been informing myself more on subjects like Economics, Finance, Politics and History.
What are the challenges and successes you’ve faced at this project?
It’s challenging to create a company from scratch: you’re deciding to commit some years of your life to an idea. If you already worked for a 'Big Tech' company, it’s particularly counter-intuitive to bootstrap a business: the salaries are high and you’re in high demand. So I guess my first success was getting to start this project along a very talented co-founder with a strong professional profile and willing to take the risk. Not a success per se, but serendipity has also been very favorable these past months to achieve milestones (ex. the pandemic making the world go remote, thus more accessible to take calls vs in-person meetings).
What are your goals?
It’s a tough question. In general, I like to devote my life to learn about everything. It’s also another counter-intuitive thing: you’re supposed to master something in life (a profession) and maybe, if you still have time, become very good at another thing (a hobby). I’ve always been a jack-of-all-trades: it’s extremely hard in the beginning (progress is slow per discipline), but it unlocks a beautiful way to appreciate life in its complexity. I’d like to share my findings on reconciling disciplines; and cultures too: I’m obsessed with finding commonalities across cultures.
Do you have a mentor?
I'd say I have a lot of mentors, actually! I actively ask for advice to people that I respect professionally. At my last company I met one of my now best girl friends: a senior Data Scientist that helped me realize how important it is for a technical woman to loudly and shamelessly advocate for herself. She has also been crucial for me to start learning about Data Science.
Do you mentor anyone?
I’m in general very open to help people whenever they feel I can contribute to something they’re doing in any way, so yes. I’m always on small side-quests.
What could society do to better foster female talent?
Empower women. Not as in saying to women that they can do whatever they want, but actually putting them in charge. Just give power to women, the rest will follow. I’m very bullish about women leading the next decades in startups, actually: female investors funding female-led companies, with female execs and female engineers as the main decision-makers.
What advice would you give to people getting into your field?
Learn to appreciate what different people in Software Engineering bring to the table and learn how to use it in your favor: for example and in my experience, highly-technical people raise the technical bar, but tend to over-engineer and fail to meet business objectives in small companies; mid-senior pragmatic developers are good at bootstrapping products and help a business make their first money, but tend to create messy systems that become expensive to maintain. Multigenerational teams are amazing when the most senior engineers don't have a know-it-all attitude and the junior ones actually care about learning the craft. And another piece of general advice: even if you read all the advice available in the world, when executing you're going to fail miserably many times and often. Get used to it: honor your mistakes, learn from them and move on fast.
Honor your mistakes, learn from them and move on fast.
What’s the best and worst advice you have received?
The best: focus.
The worst: know your place.
What’s the best way to keep up to date with what you’re doing?
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