What do you do?
As the President of Codette, the largest community for diversity and inclusion in STEM in Romania, my mission is to help people enter tech fields or navigate them, and create a culture of mentorship and equality for all to benefit.
As a software engineer, I write code, and that changes the whole digital space. Just think of how software has changed in the past 20 years: how it was as far back as you remember it and how it looks now. Coders did that.
In my case, I work in the Cyber Threat Intelligence Lab, for one of the world's leading antivirus companies. It's amazing to know how your software helps to protect people online.
Why did you choose this field?
I first came into contact with programming in an extracurricular class I took in second grade. I was 8 years old and I didn't know what I was doing, but solving problems came naturally to me. Understanding of what I did would only come 1-2 years later, when I was already building web pages. I was also passionate about electronics and radio communications, and got my ham radio transmitter license at 14 years old. During high school I took a break from all my science hobbies, mostly because of peer pressure. These things were un-lady like, and I saw myself as someone who could be a lady. Back then, having hard skills and being feminine were advertised as mutually exclusive. And while I know this to be false, there are many people of all age groups still perpetuating these harmful stereotypes. In 12th grade, when I had to choose a career, I chose programming. It was a challenge and I wanted to prove myself. Lucky for me I was stubborn, because it was a battle: I had grown, but the stereotypes surrounding women in tech were stronger, especially in the decisive moments of my life. After a B.Sc., a M.Sc and a PhD in Computer Science, I know better than to let someone not from the tech bubble tell me what I can and cannot do with my skills. But the stereotype is still there, which is my motivation behind Codette. We represent all people, of all age groups, all levels of experience and all tech branches. Having such a visible community of women and men who believe in a shared vision of equality sends a strong message.
What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?
Usually, when I set my mind to something, I'd get there. I was and am naturally stubborn. However, the amount of push back I received from peers, parents, teachers etc was not the same, it differed depending on the task at hand. So if I were to go back in time and give myself a bit of advice, I'd say "Never evaluate a task based on what the others think you can achieve. They're just mirroring their abilities in you, and each time you reflect back, you lose a piece of yourself. If I lose, I want to lose as myself, not because I accepted I amount to less than my potential."
Why do you love working in STEM?
Changing the world with the touch of my fingertips. Combine tech with any of your aspirations, and you suddenly get unlimited possibilities!
Best advice for next generation?
Whatever you're into, learn a bit of computing, for that extra magic to help you along the way!
Literature + computing = language recognition; automatic content creation; and programming is nothing but a foreign language!
Health + computing = e-Health and everything that comes with it!
Finance + computing = the currencies of tomorrow.
There is literally no subject you cannot augment with tech and make it more fun, scalable, and with the potential to touch millions of lives!
Inspo quote / fun fact / role model
“Never interrupt someone doing something you said couldn't be done.” ― Amelia Earhart