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martha Moniz

Engineering team lead, Paddle

 

And - Writer as published on UKTN

If you are good at what you do, regardless of gender, companies will be competing to hire you.

What do you do?

I lead a cross-functional Product team of Software Engineers. I have many different points of focus as a Lead, but my main priority is the people. I am a first point of call for anything they need — mentoring, coaching, or discussing things they might need day to day, as well as tasks of line management. We have a strong learning culture and the budget to back it up at Paddle, so I can also be a sounding board if people want to consult on what to learn next.

Secondly, I focus on the technical leadership of the team. When a new set of requirements comes in, I work alongside the Product Manager to scope them out from a technical perspective, break them down and provide estimates. This also involves working with high-level systems architecture and thinking big picture, rather than the specifics of certain area of the codebase.

Additionally, part of my role is to remove waste for the team, improve how we do things, and make sure their work is prepared ahead of time. This translates into having to oversee the past (what has and hasn't gone well so we can make it better), the present (what is blocking them now?) and the future.

Why did you choose this field?

"Great managers can greatly contribute to a person's self improvement."

Both of my parents are accountants, and I have two older sisters, both of whom are Engineers. I think an inclination towards maths and sciences runs in my family, but my mum also imparted in me her love for reading and literature since I was young. I have always had a passion for stories and a big fascination with the human mind and that's where I get my inclination to work in a people-focused role.

I’ve lived the experience of having someone cheer for you and believe in you, and how that can push you further. This is what made me want to lead - people can be their best only if you offer them the support they need, and your trust. The key is in celebrating everyone's differences.

In terms of being a Software Engineer, it comes from my love of LEGOs when I was young. I love building things and fitting pieces together to solve a problem, and I think there is real beauty in technology. Tech is a lot more than code on a screen, it is about a single goal and creating something from nothing with a few commands. It is all about what you are building - why are you doing this? what will the flow be like? who benefits and how will this make their lives easier? Each stage of the process has its own challenges and rewards.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

"Study Software Engineering and you can work from anywhere."

Born and raised in Venezuela, I never imagined I'd end up living in London and let alone in a leadership position. I'm half Portuguese, so due to the political and economic crisis, it made sense to get a one-way ticket to Europe and make a new life. 

I have been in London for four years and my love for London has only intensified. The main, single reason why it has been so smooth for me to move here? STEM, and tech in particular. Software Engineering will take you anywhere you want to go in the world. If I told my 17-year-old self that was starting Computer Engineering at university that 10 years later I'd be an Engineering Team Lead in London, I would've never believed it. I wish she'd known that for the simple reason studying was very difficult, and sometimes I felt like giving up. Exams, endless lines of code, difficult advanced math classes, it is all worth it. 

Why do you love working in STEM?

"I love working in STEM because it's not just a job, it's a lifestyle ."

Good tech companies offer out-of-this-world benefits. They treat you as a person, and ensure you have everything you need to make work a part of your life, as opposed to a burden. You will be more energised and able to provide your best work, you will feel that you have autonomy and power of decision, and so you will learn more, and much quicker.

Agile culture in the tech industry is also a way of life; lean values such as "fail fast" are not applicable just to the industry, but to life itself. Experimentation is key and failure is accepted as an essential factor in order to grow. And the personal satisfaction you can get from taking a real life problem and translating it into working software that solves it is huge.

Best advice for the next generation

A bit over a 100 years ago, women had no right to vote. A bit over half a century ago, there were little to no women in the workplace. The reason we are where we are is because some of them decided it has to stop. And so let's decide this has to stop now. If you're someone who likes math and science, dive into it wholeheartedly. Technology is absolutely limitless. There is so much opportunity in it, always more to learn, to improve, and so many interesting people from endless backgrounds. For every person who is insensitive, there are a hundred who are willing to mentor you, and even motivate you to pursue what you never thought you could, such as leadership in my case.

 

Every passing day there are more allies. Every day diversity and inclusion are more of a priority. And the abundance of roles in technology gives you an advantage no other industry does - if you are good at what you do, regardless of gender, companies will be competing to hire you. 

Role model 

Maya Angelou. Coming from a difficult childhood, and being black and poor during a time of racial segregation in America, she managed to overcome it and become one of the most respected poets of all time, aside from all her contributions to the civil rights movement, her singing, producing, directing and acting. In spite of all her personal tragedies, through her poems she always displays a deeply positive and optimistic view of the world and life, and the beauty that can stem even from damaged places.